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The right solution

Back in 1979, Chris Tyler, chief executive and managing director of software company Solution 6, stumbled on a video jukebox and instantly saw its potential. As a university student operating a restaurant and nightclub, he was `just smitten by this technology'.

Tyler says he experienced an immediate vision of its potential business applications to provide information, and where something like multimedia could go. Since that day, he has spent his life involved with these technologies. `Today the Internet is the evolution of those early digital multimedia applications.'

Tyler is, in fact, passionate about technology. He is one of those people who become animated when they talk about where it has come from, and where it is all going.

He describes how he had envisaged a rapid development of multimedia and the Internet - occurring a lot faster than it actually has - but had not realised how big it would become. `So it's gone slower but broader.'

Three years ago Tyler was recruited by Solution 6 to manage its global operations and turn the com-pany around.

Tyler felt that Solution 6 had lost its way in terms of execution and product delivery, but looked to be an exciting challenge because it was `in a strategic position to shape'.

He says the company's background in account- ing software and business-based Internet services meant it was in a unique position as a business operation to develop applications and services around e-commerce.

It was Tyler's views on accounting software and the impact of the Internet on commerce in general which most excited him about the position. `I have a passion for the Internet and software personally, so that was very inviting,' Tyler says.

`When this offer came up it was something which was well suited for my skills, was an environment I wanted to be in, and appeared a very interesting challenge.'

Prior to joining Solution 6, Tyler had spent time working for consulting firm A.T. Kearney, as well as spending two years with Telecom New Zealand. During his career, he has also been chief executive of four software companies. Tyler believes his past experience suited the role at Solution 6, which involved taking over management of the company from the founders.

`Founders and entrepreneurs are often suited for growing in the early stages of a company, but hit the wall when they get to certain size and scale,' Tyler says. After honing his skills building business processes and procedures to allow companies to operate efficiently on a global scale, his expectations of the role were pretty well met when he joined Solution 6.

Tyler says you never know what you're going to get yourself into until you actually start at a company. `Some components exceeded expectations,' he says. One of the things which struck him when he joined Solution 6 was the level of talent in the organisation.

`It allows us to compete effectively on a global scale.' This involved taking our Australian-based business and building it to compete effectively in the North American and European markets.

After being involved in early Internet technologies for 15 years, Tyler sees the opportunity to package intellectual property for software, and deliver significant value to economic performance and issues.

`As the chief executive of a company, one of my ambitions is to leave a legacy of shaping the way the economy performs and transacts.'

Despite a career involved in technology, and an obvious lifelong interest in it, Tyler says he has disciplined himself not to become carried away by the promise technologies offer. Instead, he says he tries to be a consumer advocate, to drive into developing new products and services the requirements for the non-technically literate. He describes how, in his position, there is a need to have a blend between understanding how the technology works and the business issues involved. `Having that balance is important to being successful.'

Tyler's vision of the future goes beyond the confines of the company he is working for. His focus extends to how technology will develop more generally.

He sees the world currently going through a significant period of change and likens it to the impact of the PC coming to market, and the re-engineering of the mainframe environment.

`The Internet is having a dramatic impact akin to inventions such as electricity, or the railroads, or the auto-mobile.' And Tyler believes the Internet is a more awesome invention.

Tyler believes a more homogenised world will develop, with many cultural barriers being broken down because of the speed and convergence of information delivered over the Internet. `I also see a more efficient economy, and that will have an impact on the cultural businesses of poorer nations . . . and again I view that with a positive lens.'

He also says he is `very excited' about what he sees as the benefits ahead of us for the appli- cation of the Internet to the traditional business environment.

He believes we will see value come through in the next three to five years, with productivity gains coming out of the emerging business-to-business and business-to-consumer Internet environment.


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