Innovation

IT Life: Fit To Print

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Samsung’s Mark Ash tells us about his IT Life

Tell us about your current role, how long you have been in IT and what are your areas of expertise?

For the last three years I’ve headed up Samsung’s Print business in the UK and Ireland, after spending the best part of two decades working in direct and indirect channel roles at Xerox. It was because of this experience that I was brought in to Samsung, where I’ve helped its transformation from a retailer with a B2C focus, into a true player in the B2B market. I’d say business transformation is my key focus, something of which I believe is always achievable when you have the right people, the right processes, and the right technology.

What has been your favourite project so far?

Building Samsung’s Print Business. There’s simply no other company in the world that has such high expectations and the power to make them happen.

What tech were you using ten years ago?

I’ve always liked digital convergence, and the ability to combine multiple technologies into one. I was an early adopter of the PDA and smartphone, and always had the latest and greatest products on the market, from Palm Pilots, to Cassiopeias.

MarkAsh-02What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?

I’m privileged in that I get a sneak-peak of the future at our innovating museum within our Research & Development HQ.  Obviously I can’t disclose everything, but the next generation of tech will combine mobility, shared platforms and big data.  Technology will be more intuitive with predictive analytics driving the user experience. Physically speaking, surfaces such as fabrics, walls, and car windscreens will undergo a digital transformation, and will one day act as displays.

Who’s your tech hero?

Sir Tim Berners Lee.  He changed the world for ever and yet many people haven’t heard of him.

Who’s your tech villain?

I don’t have one!

What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?

I’m a technology fan through and through – there isn’t much I don’t or haven’t owned! I’d say the Samsung Galaxy S3 had the biggest impact on me, as it was the first device good enough to take the place of my camera, sat-nav, and mobile hotspot. Today, I seem to be surgically attached to my smartphone – as I said, I love digital convergence, so I’m always looking at how I can further integrate my phone into my life.

Apart from your own, which company to you admire most and why?

That would have to be Softcat.  The personality and culture there is completely unique, and it transcends from senior leaders through to the newest recruit.  Their business results are incredible, particularly in the way in which they achieve them as a team.

What is the challenge for an IT company/department today?

There are 15 billion devices connected to the internet, and yet this represents just 2% of the devices out there. There’s unimaginable opportunity here, but this will inevitably create huge challenges in the process.

I’d say digital convergence is one of them. For an effective working environment, IT departments need to ensure that platforms are interoperable. Big data is a key challenge, too, as companies must make sure it’s seamlessly integrated in an efficient way across the business. Security is also crucial – it’s so important for businesses and end users alike.

To cloud or not to cloud?

Cloud, all day long.  My entire life lives in the cloud: from contacts, to work; from music, to film, to books.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

A rock star, although that dream quickly diminished when I realised I couldn’t sing!

What I really wanted to be was confident.  I appeared to be an extrovert as a child, but I was painful shy and had a severe lack of self-belief.

Mark Ash, head of print, Samsung

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