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Q&A: Patricio Colombo, Jamie Oliver Ltd

We speak to the head of IT and systems about the hype surrounding cloud and why schools need a new approach to tech teaching.

It is difficult (not impossible, but difficult) sometimes to explain in layman's terms how corporate technology differs from consumer technology, as the lines blur more and more. It's a great time to be in IT due to the massive amount of innovation coming to the market, but the politics of implementing a solution can be tiring as well.

What was your first IT job?

When I was a teenager I did a bit of programming for a video club that had a Commodore 128, but professionally, a few years later, it was an Oracle developer.

How has the world of IT changed since you first started in the sector?

I started professionally in the 1990s, so it's a completely different world! I started just before the internet took off, so the difference is just incredible. I remember back then only a select number of people had access to the internet, whereas today that would be inconceivable.

What do you think are the most important skills people wanting to enter the IT job market should have nowadays?

Gone are the days when being good technically was enough. IT used to be an inwards looking department, away from everybody else. Today, good interpersonal skills are a must, as we need to work with the rest of the company as part of a team, and the "us and them" way of doing things is from a different century.

Good troubleshooting skills are also very hard to come by these days. Kids are not tinkering with equipment enough to learn, as consumer equipment is not designed to be repaired (or even opened) anymore. There should be more Raspberry Pis in schools and technical training and less designer equipment.

What advice would you give someone thinking of entering the IT jobs market/your younger self?

I see a lot of impatience in young people coming to work in IT. [There's no much] listening, paying attention to how more experienced people do things, and learning to follow up and troubleshoot a problem from detection until you can't do anything else with it anymore and need to escalate. I don't know how you would teach that, but that is what I would like to see young candidates do more of.

What is the biggest challenge facing IT professionals at the moment?

The biggest challenge facing IT is probably the distance between innovation and back office maintenance and support. The challenge we face as CIOs or heads of department, is to keep moving and looking at what is going on with the market, not stand still looking inwards.

Innovation doesn't happen if you are looking at your email server operating. You need to get your mindset out of that and move towards looking at better, more productive ways to use your time.

What technologies/trends are you currently watching and why?

The evolution of cloud services. I'd like the hype to calm a bit. I'd like cloud services to seen as the additional tool in our toolbox to use when necessary, and stop this silly thing in the media of 'cloud or die.' Some things should be moved to the cloud, some should be looked at more carefully.

Conversely, what current technology/trend are you not interested in and why?

Long-term contracts. The cloud computing model allows for short term pay as you use contracts, that you can get out of as soon as you finish using the resource you need. Expensive longer-term contracts that tie us in for years on a number of licenses with no flexibility should gradually disappear.

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