Infotronics' Phil Lancaster talks to ARN.
What was your first job?
I spent seven years in the Australian Navy doing Weapons Electronics.
How did you end up in the IT industry?
I moved on to machinery automation and process monitoring systems, which were computer-based. This provided me with good exposure to PCs. Next thing I had customers wanting me to help them with their computer setups.
How did you progress to where you are today?
After some years of doing both automation and networking I decided to focus on networking as that had become the majority of our business. We then further focused by specialising in Citrix and server-based computing. Working with Citrix, we saw the great opportunity around hosting and have now been doing this successfully for over five years.
We saw a gap in our local market that was keeping us behind the US and Europe: some of the smaller yet very useful software tools were not available locally. This led us to using our own technical experience to bring in a variety of administration tools which we sold through partners under our Infotronics company.
Given that we were clearly working in the channel and had built a high-quality engineering team, we then changed our integration business, Dunson, to ExpressApps and to focus on selling high quality services to other integrators and partners. So now Infotronics distributes product, while ExpressApps distributes services. ExpressApps is now used by most of the major integration companies.
What do you like about your current job?
Solving problems! I like applying many years of experience while still having to meet the challenge of understanding new technologies and using all this to put solutions together.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
Having a business that has maintained a very high reputation.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
It is too common for somebody who does not know much about IT to think somebody else is an expert - even though they have a low level of knowledge. It is like the saying - in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
The continual technology development, and need to use technology to be competitive - plus the limit of technical resource availability - will see hosting and/or managed services hit a whole new level. This will be enabled through technologies that allow server and application virtualisation on demand. After a false start in the era of the 'ASP', all the pieces are now coming together to make this model very appealing. Especially for smaller business, but medium to large businesses are also finding it more appealing to leave the technology to someone else as it gets more and more complex at the back-end.
What is the main focus for your company this year?
Our focus is on managing server resources through virtualisation, monitoring and control and delivering this via our partners.
What do you do when you are not at work? Apart from enjoying a good deal of family time, I still compete in Athletics, play squash and am a lifeguard in the summer. Athletics takes up much of my interest; my biggest buzz has been participating at the World Masters Athletics in Brisbane, followed by the World Masters in Melbourne, and being part of the 4 x 100 metre team that holds the current national record. It is great to be around so many motivated people that approach their sport with inspiring spirit.
Do you like gadgets? If so, what is your favourite?
Yes - I am a bit hopeless in this area. I love looking at new things. A good example, although it's a bit low tech, is that I had to buy a new chainsaw. I quickly got sold on the one with the self-starting mechanism, no tool chain adjustment and quick release service items.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
For a brief moment I remember wanting to be a dentist - but after that I guess I never really looked a long way ahead; I just tried to make the best out of what was in front of me.
What is your biggest ambition?
Highest in mind is always to enjoy my family time and to continue to enjoy working with a good team of people.