OPINION27 February 2013

Week 5: The big switchover


Tom Holliss’s new tech venture went (sort of) live this week – shifting from a development to a production environment. Launch date moves ever closer.

For anyone unfamiliar with technical language (and I’m one of them), it is normal to have two sites running in parallel: your live environment where you conduct your business, and a mirrored development environment where you can make changes and updates before they are published.

Inevitably this has thrown up more issues and bugs, and has cluttered up my monitor with reams of code reminiscent of The Matrix. The fascinating thing for me is the translation of that code into consumer insight. Somewhere in that unintelligible scheme of characters and numbers are people’s lives; their opinions, their needs and their desires. If I only I could get my head round it.

I am by no means a programmer and six months ago I wouldn’t have described myself as particularly technically literate. Yet I have somehow been able to project manage the build of what is an incredibly complex system with multiple architects on different continents.

Sure, I have had to learn quickly. And someone with development experience would doubtless have made a better job of it at times. But the point is that the system is very much built.

What I’ve taken from this experience is that when you have a business concept you are passionate about, the most important thing is to find a group of incredibly talented people and make them share your passion and enthusiasm for it. If you do that, it doesn’t matter what technical challenges you come up against – the thing will get built.

Tom Holliss is a senior research executive at Spring Research, who is preparing to launch a new research technology company.