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Talking about the revolution

Talking about the revolution

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It was September last year when Peter Granger made his first foray into the reseller environment, joining systems integrator Synergy Plus as its chief executive officer.

It's a move Granger is reveling in.

When he joined Synergy Plus the company had recently undergone a merger of a Melbourne-based and Sydney-based company. The new business was looking for somebody to create a common culture and lead the company forward.

"I saw that as a fantastic opportunity that doesn't come along very often," Granger says. "They were two businesses with very strong market positions, but they needed a new identity and a new culture. It gave me the opportunity to indulge in some creative work."

And it's the creativity in building up a business. Granger has been particularly enjoying. "It's really given me the chance to work with the other senior people in the company and fashion something new," he says. "Set a new strategy, set some new objectives and directions, and have everybody focus upon that. In the six months I've been with the company that's the sort of thing we've been doing, and I've found that very stimulating, very rewarding and very intellectually challenging."

But his role with Synergy Plus is only the latest installment in what has been a long career in IT for Granger.

Prior to working for Synergy Plus, Granger was running the Asian subsidiary of a US-listed software company. His role required him to provie total solutions to financial institutions such as insurance companies, superannuation funds and trust administrators.

Granger's interest in IT also dates back to the 1970s when he was studying for a Bachelor of Science with Honours, majoring in computer science, at Monash University. From there he moved to what was then Telecom Australia, working for six years as a programmer and systems analyst/designer.

Asked by ARN whether he thought it was different today for students moving into IT from university, Granger argues that he doesn't believe it's substantially different. "I think people leaving university and moving into the commercial world still face making the transition from an academic environment to, a more hard-nosed commercial environment. You've got to deliver either consulting revenue or specific product in a very definite period of time."

But Granger believes the transition students have to make has been somewhat assisted by tertiary institutions giving people more practical grounding what it's like to work in a corporate environment.

As for the type of person who is attracted to IT, Granger thinks that you get the same diversity in this industry as you do in all areas of life. "I've employed Maths graduates, Science graduates, Arts, Humanities, and History graduates . . . people from all walks of life, and I don't know that I could put a finger on any sort of particular characteristic."

It's also obvious from talking to Granger that he still gets a buzz out of working in IT. "I think what I enjoy most is seeing opportunities to exploit information technology to help businesses achieve their own business-related objectives," he asserts. "I get a kick out of seeing IT actually produce results and being regarded as a leverage instrument, rather than an expense."

He agrees that it's only natural that your perspective on the industry changes over the years. "If you start out as a programmer in an in-house development environment within a large corporation, such as I did, then you see a certain amount of the world. As you move into what I might describe as the general vendor environment, then you see a different perspective on the world." Granger says this perspective changes further when you enter executive roles, which he has been in for the past 12 to 15 years.

Asked about the changes he has seen during his time, Granger points to the movement towards e-business, which he finds quite revolutionary. "Ever since I can remember we've talked about the idea of the paperless office. And I guess the focus was very much on an internal paperless office," he says. "But I genuinely believe that, in the last year or two, we've commenced the first, early steps to actually creating an electronic world both within companies and between companies.

"And I think that's a revolution that'll go on for probably 20 or 30 years. We only vaguely appreciate the extent to which it's going to develop at this point in time. I think we're probably no more than 10 or 20 per cent into it."

Granger says he's seen people compare the information revolution to other changes, such as the industrial revolution, which also took time to develop. "And I think this similarity parallels today with some of the things that we're making use of now in the Internet area. The industrial revolution took 100 years to develop and come into full force. I don't think the information revolution will take that long, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it take 20 or 30 years to achieve somewhat of a plateauing."

And in the future, Granger's plans are to continuing working in IT. "I think it's what I'm good at. I've invested a lot of myself and my expertise over the last 25 years, and I'm at the point now where I'm getting a return out of that."


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