Christchurch-based distributor Dove has been in the business for 25 years and General Manager, Chris Rycroft, took time out of his fishing holiday to tell The Channel about the joys of working in an ever-changing industry, and his new-found respect for the iPhone
When did you first begin to work in IT and how did it come about?
During my days as a management consultant with Deloitte my work was generally geared towards systems development and implementation, so that would have been my first career exposure to IT. While in London I worked for a catalogue-based reseller of IT, Action Computer Supplies, for three years.
Tell us a bit about your career so far.
I qualified as an accountant with Deloitte in Christchurch, and was there from ’82-’90 working mainly on the consulting side around the implementation of computerised accounting systems. I also worked with SOEs that were going through privatisation at the time. At Action Computer Supplies, I managed the finance, purchasing, systems and order entry departments. In 1994 I became General Manager at Dove, which had been doing business for 10 years at that stage. Many years on Murray Jones, the owner, continues to be Managing Director.
What is the most memorable moment of your ICT career so far?
In terms of memorable milestones at Dove, implementing new enterprise software in 2001, completing the new Christchurch building in 2002 and the acquisition of IT Products in 2007 stand out as successful
projects, although they were a little stressful at the time. My most recent memorable moment was several weeks ago when I turned up for Loud Shirt Day suitably attired... but a week early!
What projects are you working on at present that particularly excite you?
We’re currently revamping some of the functionality and intuitiveness of the Dove dealer site which, while it’s more of a face lift than a rewrite, looks pretty good in demo, from what I’ve seen. We have just completed the move into new, larger premises in Auckland, so there’s not a lot on the immediate project horizon.
What do you see the future of cloud computing being?
I don’t see it as a specifi c tangible component of the IT industry – more as a progression of the way the internet is utilised by businesses and individuals. I can see that the personal computer as we know it will become as personal as a public telephone, ie: the devices will be shared but your applications (or in the cloud sense, the access to your applications) and data will be personal, much like transferring a SIM card to use another phone.
Apart from the internet, what do you think is the most important or exciting piece of technology to be invented in the last 100 years and why?
That’s too hard to call. Certainly the continuing developments in processor technology and storage capacity are leading
to some pretty amazing applications, but on a global stage I’m not sure just how material they are in a real sense, compared to, say, some of the technology being applied to get water to communities in arid parts of the world, or being applied to health research or space exploration. The continuing enhancement and availability of GPS technology is pretty exciting; it won’t be long before you’ll be able use your mobile device to track that all your mates are at the pub – and they haven’t invited you!
Apart from what your company produces, what is the most exciting technology out there today and why?
I have to say, despite having knocked the concept when it was launched, that the functionality of the iPhone and the applications for it being so readily available and seamless, are far more useful than I expected.
How have your studies prepared you for a career in the ICT industry?
Having a structured background in accounting, legal, fi nance and systems is certainly helpful in dealing with the issues in
IT distribution, given that our primary risk factors include working capital, logistics and relationship management.
Would you suggest that others follow your example?
Not particularly; I believe that different situations work best for different individuals. Ihave been very lucky to have had some great options and worked for some great people, and I’m grateful for that. Had I looked to enter the IT industry a few years before or a few years later, I may have had a considerably different outcome, and as much as I think running a distribution company in the IT sector is a great job, I’m sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I do suggest that people take a long-term view of training and employment options at the expense of some short-term pain or loss of income.
Who do you most admire in the technological world and why?
Many people or businesses have done things I admire, or created technologies or products that are amazing, but no particular individual stands out the most. From Dove’s perspective I admire, or should I say respect, those who operate ethically and with integrity; those who look at the long term and see the merits of a stable business relationship.
If you could work in any other field apart from ICT, what would it be and why?
I have a minor interest in a small engineering fabrication company, and I certainly enjoy seeing them work through
some engineering challenges. I get a real sense of satisfaction when they produce great products. The IT sector is great from the sheer speed of developments and the fact that many of the products are interesting, and that the industry continually reinvents its product base, but the enjoyment in the main comes from the people, which would probably be the case with any other industries I worked in.