IT Life: Payroll Man Has Floppy Nightmares

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Paul Byrne can sort your company’s auto-enrolment pension liability, but he still quakes at the memory of flaky floppies

Paul Byrne is CEO of Thesaurus Software, which makes the BrightPay pauroll products. He’s been working in the field of payroll, accounts and HR software for 21 years,

Making pensions easier

workplacediversity234What has been your favourite project so far?
BrightPay payroll software and getting auto enrolment to work smoothly in it. Auto enrolment [a new law that requires employees to automatically workers into a workplace pention] is going to be a real concern for small employers who have yet to be affected by it and it has been cool to work on something that cuts through all the guff and makes it really easy for the end user. I know that all sounds like shameless self promotion, however, making end users happy is what gives me the greatest kicks.

Floppy disks history old © Ingvar Bjork ShutterstockWhat tech were you involved with ten years ago?
Visual Basic 4. Some of our legacy code is still VB4! In essence there is no huge difference between then and now. The graphics and comms have come on a bit but the source code behind it all is pretty similar. The one other thing I remember from ten years ago is floppy disks and how flaky they were. Our postage bills have come down dramatically since users started to download their software.

What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
Whatever is trending then. Probably some cloud/desktop hybrid. It is hard to see everything going cloud. Internet speed and reliability is still too much of an issue and with the threats to net neutrality looming, it may even become non commercial. In addition, security is perceived as being a problem even though your own personal computer is more likely to be hacked than a cloud server. What it all boils down to is that for software with sensitive data, pure cloud solutions may not be appropriate or even sought. What will happen instead is that the cloud will be used to store backup/encrypted data.

Loving the iPhone

Steve-Jobs-BW-obit-squareWho’s your tech hero?
Steve Jobs because of his vision and clarity. He had the great ability to know what customers wanted before they did. His attention to detail and design is inspirational.

Who’s your tech villain?
Steve Jobs because having read his biography, I know I could never have worked with him. His people skills were woeful.

What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
I guess the iPhone has to be my favourite and the piece of tech I use the most. It is awesome being able to keep in touch by email, snapchat, whatsapp, facebook and even text all on the same phone. Being able to search the Internet, check the news, do my banking, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, take photos etc. etc. would have been considered impossible 20 years ago. The games available are also great. My high score in Flappy Bird is 35 which is not bad for an old codger!!

What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing?
Growing. Fortunately the economy is entering its cyclical upturn. Once the banks get back on track, things will really take off but hopefully not to the same dizzying heights as before. Our growth is also coming about as a result of a huge investment in R & D over the last 3 years. Fresh programming brains combined with inspirational design concepts have seen our software competing with the best.

Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
Apple because they did it right – really cool looking and bulletproof hardware backed up by pretty good software. Also, they don’t believe in rushing in. The best example of this is the smart watch. Whatever they come up with is bound to be pretty cool and a game changer. They have seen no need to be first to market. Instead, getting it right is their main priority.

Security is the challenge

What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
Security and just keeping the computers going. Security is paramount particularly where sensitive data is being stored. The potential PR costs of being hacked or even just losing memory sticks or laptops is far too high to ignore. It also impacts on the computers themselves as many threats are simply designed to disable.

Brain surgeon doctor medicine health © YanLev ShutterstockTo Cloud or not to Cloud?
Not full cloud but fast desktop or native software which uses the best features of the cloud. As suggested above, Internet speed, reliability and security are real concerns particularly if the task is time critical and sensitive. The cloud is handy for sharing and backing up data. Where the task is not time critical, the cloud becomes a more realistic proposition.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
A doctor but I would faint at the sight of blood!

Do you know all about domain names?

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