As part of our Q&A blog series, Tim FitzGerald, our EMEA Financial Services Sales Manager, tells us about his more than 30 years’ experience in IT sales and what it’s like to have dinner with an astronaut.
What’s your job role at InterSystems and what does it involve?
I joined InterSystems as UK Banking & Financial Services Sales Manager in April 2019. My role is to expand and develop InterSystems’ presence in the UK financial services marketplace, offering InterSystems IRIS as a data platform principally to end-user organisations such as banks, asset management firms, insurance companies and alike.
Can you give a brief background of your career prior to InterSystems?
Formerly, I was an engineer designing diagnostic imaging (x-ray) equipment for Philips Medical Systems. I took the leap of faith to go into IT sales in 1986 with most of my career selling enterprise-class software to the financial services industry. I’ve worn out a lot of shoe leather in my time walking the streets of the City of London.
What attracted you to the role/business?
Having an engineering degree and being an engineer, technology has always excited me and the PC and mini-computer boom of the 1980s was an exciting time with technology advancing and changing almost monthly. It was a fun industry full of young, dynamic and strong personalities where we worked hard and played even harder. Similarly, the de-regulation of the banking industry attracted a parallel group of people and we melded, and the cogs meshed very well. I felt I was part of something new, something big, and I was making a difference.
What do you like most about your job?
For me, the best part of the job is when the customer suddenly gets it, that Eureka movement, the moment they see the vision I have created and how this will solve the intangible problem they have been wrestling with. That moment of trust when we go from seller and buyer to partners in the joint resolution of their problem. That point of engagement is both thrilling and satisfying and continues right up to realisation of the solution and the implementation going live. I love it. Achieving this success is my main motivation at work.
Why does data matter?
Everyone in business, from the greengrocer on a market stall to the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate makes decisions and those decision are based on the best information they have at the time. The better the information, the more insightful a decision can be. Information is the lifeblood of industry and commerce. With technology data turns into information that turns into intelligence that turns into insight and becomes wisdom. Data, the effective harvesting, manipulation and presentation of data is probably THE most important aspect in any business.
What’s your view on utilising data for business benefits?
If one doesn’t utilise data for business benefits you will soon cease to be in business. Your competitors most surely will be using it and your customers expect you to in order to deliver them value. No data management, no business. It’s as simple as that.
What’s your biggest frustration in the world of data?
It’s probably the intransigence of customers demanding something to fix a problem the way they see it being fixed and not embracing transformational technologies like AI. If Henry Ford had just listened to customers and given them what they wanted he would have probably designed a faster horse. Disruptive and transformational technologies are met with scepticism by customers who are too busy fighting the war with bows and arrows to talk to the machine-gun salesman.
How do you see data and its uses evolving in the future?
If I knew that I’d be on a yacht somewhere! But, what I do know is that the effective harvesting and manipulation of data provides business insight. Using AI, like the capabilities we see in InterSystems IRIS to enhance that, to leverage robotic ‘brainpower’ to do things for you in a dynamic, self-learning and evolving way to deliver that improved insight quicker and more reliably will give a huge competitive advantage. We are doing amazing things today that were the subject of fantasy a few years ago. The exciting thing is we are at the cusp of it. This is only the beginning and it can only get better.
What are the biggest benefits you’ve seen in the utilisation of AI whilst working at InterSystems?
Speed with efficiency. We have seen with InterSystems IRIS, for one of our customers in particular, deliver information that it has manipulated on the fly and delivered to the point of consumption for the front office, skipping the query-hop back and forth to the database. At the same time, it is also massively increasing bandwidth, delivering insight, reducing risk and cutting cost by eyebrow raising amounts. This is probably one of THE most impressive deployments of technology I have seen in my career.
Just for Fun
If you could choose any job in the world, what would you choose?
To be a data platform salesperson selling InterSystems IRIS. Oh, wait, hang on…
Tell us something about yourself that your work colleagues wouldn’t know.
Ten or so years ago, I was fortunate to have dinner with Buzz Aldrin with whom I sat across the table enthralled for about 3 hours as he regaled to me first-hand experiences of things that were literally out of this world.