Matt Wilkins believes in moving mobile retail technology forward
Matt Wilkins is currently Senior Vice President of product and engineering (EMEA) at RetailMeNot Inc (RMN), based in the offices of RMN’s UK subsidiary, Vouchercodes.co.uk. He’s spent 13 years in IT, working with companies of all shapes and sizes helping them shape their vision to build great international teams and achieve success in the global arena.
Today GeoFencing – tomorrow the world!
What has been your favourite project so far?
Since starting at RMN I’ve been working to bring our rapidly growing businesses across Europe together. There’s been a big focus on making sure all the international websites are on course to switch to the responsive web design we implemented for our UK brand VoucherCodes.co.uk.
I’m in the midst of sinking my teeth into an ambitious mobile plan which we’re launching in the UK with the VoucherCodes.co.uk brand imminently and rolling out to the other countries early next year. It starts with geo-fencing and ends somewhere close to world domination…. OK, so that last part’s not true!
In seriousness though, as one of the market leading technology sites in the retail space we are really seeing the expectations of consumers who are already comfortable shopping on a desktop, shifting their attention to mobile especially in the UK where the consumer approach to shopping is so close to that of those in the US.
As a result, we’re aiming to be one of the companies setting the standard for mobile retail. This starts with the roll out of geo-fencing and runs right through to helping retailers improve their own mobile offerings.
What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
Wow – that’s a long time ago! I was involved with dial up connections and writing video conference bridges. I was convinced back then that video conferencing should be a mainstream corporate communication channel, but wasn’t given the budget to implement anything substantial. So I wrote the bridge and convinced a couple of suppliers to loan me some endpoints.
Wearable tech companions
What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
Within the next ten years everyone will own a wearable device and walking around with a constant tech companion will be the norm. By then companies will have mastered the knack of respecting our privacy while offering us useful input for our day-to-day lives.
We’ll be more in control of what we see and advertising will be less offensive. Without a doubt the whole experience of using the internet and tech devices will be far more personalised – consumers are already growing to expect a more personalised experience from the tech they interact with now.
It’s down to large businesses in the tech space to lead the way in developing an experience tailored to each user while balancing this consumer expectation for a less intrusive, more seamless personal experience. I also expect we’ll see lots of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics for the masses.
Who’s your tech hero?
Alongside the usual suspects I’d have to say I really admire Elon Musk. He taught himself programming at the age of 12, and since then has achieved some incredible things as an inventor and investor. . While I admire anyone with that insatiable entrepreneurial spirit, it’s his work on developing science education and clean energy that I really follow. Plus he’s got a knack of making really cool stuff – the future is much easier to see and think about when you look at Musk’s work.
Who’s your tech villain?
The Microsoft paperclip…that little guy never helped me out!
What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
My favourite technology is without a doubt the watch. But to offer a less cut and dry second, I’d say video conferencing tops the list of functional tech I probably use most. I’d be living on a plane had it not been for video conferencing. Throughout my career I’ve meet with companies and colleagues in France, Japan, San Francisco and London all within the same day and at the drop of a hat through the medium of video conferencing.
Undoubtedly it saves a whole lot of personal time and just makes for more efficient business in this global arena we’re all now in. Video conferencing saved me hours, helped me build relationships and facilitated quick decision making.
What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing?
While the relationships we’ve fostered with our retail partners is the lifeblood of the business, engineering and product development are still at the heart of what we do. So with that in mind it’s safe to say we’re most certainly growing.
RetailMeNot IPO’d almost a year ago and going through that process gives any company more opportunities to invest heavily in its product. We also have access to a market (the US) that’s a few years ahead of Europe in terms of what consumers are demanding so we’re taking advantage of that insight to ensure we’ve got everything our VoucherCodes.co.uk consumers could want in place before they ask for it. We’ll then roll that out to the rest of our European subsidiaries as the market for our product matures there too.
We operate in a hugely competitive marketplace and to remain market leaders we need to be consistently innovating and improving our offering. As a technology brand our product is always going to be at the core of what we do so we’ll continue to invest in it heavily.
Loving the startups
Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
Having worked in the M&A space in Silicon Valley I have a great deal of admiration for the start-up community which continually generates amazing and exciting new ideas. Other than that it would have to be Google. The culture and innovation that they have instilled throughout the company is quite astonishing.
What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
Without a doubt the greatest challenge is creating an environment that both encourages and harnesses innovation… This applies to everything from the physical workspace you’re in, to the people you hire, the training programs you have in place, the vision you set and the creative faith you put in the brilliant brains you hire.
It’s so important that the teams who are in closest contact with the latest innovations have visibility and a voice in their organisation and I think it’s an important challenge for IT, tech and development managers facilitate this for their teams.
To Cloud or not to Cloud?
I have to say that it will always be “to Cloud” for me. Cloud offers increased flexibility and scalability, increases opportunities for fast-paced growth and is the perfect way for global companies to connect and operate in real time on an international level.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be both an astronaut and a teacher at the same time when I was younger… I now appreciate that it would be hard to find the time to do both, even with video conferencing!