GL Computing's Mike Lazarus talks to ARN
What was your first job?
In the late '70s, I was fortunate to be at a school (Sydney Grammar) that saw the early potential of a computing lab for students. They chose to fill a room with Apple II machines, which were then state-of-the-art. Much of the challenge came from being able to crack the copy protection on games of the time. This lead to a job while still at school creating copy-protection software for a company developing finance software. Later I became an Apple ProDOS developer. I had a couple of brief stints in the music industry during the 80s but have always returned to IT, where the constant changes have usually been for the better.
How did you progress to where you are today?
Via stints as a mainframe hardware engineer at IBM and Digital in the early '80s, I found my way to software support and then marketing at Sourceware and Tech Pacific. After being poached by PC Extras to help market products from Peter Norton Inc and a new contact manager called ACT!, I became addicted to ACT! I formed GL Computing in 1990 to focus on supporting resellers who carried it.
What do you like about your current job?
It's great to market and support resellers that implement a product I love to use. ACT! is one of the few products that still creates a near-religious fervour from users. After 17 years, it's a great feeling to be able to work with a product I am passionate about and to build rewarding partnerships. The reaction from our resellers is very positive when they find that we not only sell the product, but provide support, training and even implementation assistance to ensure they, in turn, boost their customer satisfaction. It was an amazing experience when I had a fire at home a few years ago and had three resellers offer me accommodation if I needed it as soon as they heard. This community spirit, even between most competitors selling ACT!, is something unique in my experience.
What is the biggest achievement of your career?
Being awarded the ACT! certified consultant's community contribution award in 2002. This was particularly special as it was voted by ACT! consultants globally for the level of support we provide.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
New vendor staff that refuse to take advantage of current knowledge and advice from their channel partners. Some insist on repeating errors rather than learning from them.
What will be the 'next big thing' in the industry?
I don't think the industry needs a next big thing. I would like to see more concentration on integration of current technologies and a focus on better system security. The IT industry should be mature enough by now that the big changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary. Creating a seamless flow of data between front-office and back-office applications as well as providing that data effortlessly to remote and mobile users is a direction we are working on to provide better returns on investment for customers.
What is the main focus for your company this year?
Promoting the integration of ACT! with phone systems as well as improved PDA solutions that we will be releasing this year. We are also starting to get some good traction with assisting new resellers in Asia which has other interesting issues such as dbl-byte operating system support as well as being a much newer market for this type of software.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I listen to a lot of live blues music and can often be found at The Basement in Sydney's Circular Quay - possibly the best music venue in Australia. Other than that, I love to watch rugby union and am a Life Member of NSW Waratahs.
Do you like gadgets?
You would need to prise my Blackberry from my cold dead hands.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A singer in a rock 'n' roll band.
What is your biggest ambition?
To sing with a rock/blues band ... if only I was good enough to make the living I can from IT or spare the time to do both.