Richard Higgs, brightsolid CEO

Written by Alan Robertson on 14 October 2015 in Feature

For 100 days, Connect is running through our Tech 100 for 2015, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Richard Higgs (@h1gsy)

Job Title/Organisation: CEO of brightsolid

What does your role involve?

brightsolid is a private cloud provider that owns and operates world-class data centres in the north east of Scotland, providing industry leading IT solutions to oil and gas, public sector and enterprise organisations.

As CEO, my role is to lead the company and ensure that we are always delivering business excellence whilst living by our values. At brightsolid this means continually striving towards innovation and a personal service by taking the right technologies to market and remaining centred on delivering the outcomes our customers expect.

It is my responsibility to ensure that our shareholders, team, partners and customers really feel that we are surpassing their expectations and delivering on our mission of technical innovation with personal service.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

In the data centre and cloud industry, keeping pace with technical change is always the greatest challenge. Technology evolves so quickly and with it the cost paradigm shifts, so it is important that we always stay well ahead of technical developments.

One of the greatest challenges for us - and a situation that needs to be addressed in Scotland - is the inconsistency of telecom provision. Scotland has so much going for it as a home of tech innovation, but there needs to be greater investment in national infrastructure to improve connectivity and drive Scotland’s digital future.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

We have had the opportunity to truly help public sector organisations by providing them with the very best digital services. For example, we gave a “friends and family” rate to Unesco World Heritage – which is the records for Aberdeen City council. These records are a great historical resource, dating all the way to when Aberdeen City Council was a “court”. By helping them digitise their records, we have ensured that historians anywhere can access and research their wonderfully rich data set.

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

The way to bridge the skills gap is to get young people interested in technology, train them in the skills they need, and show them the opportunities that are out there. Tech companies need to work with the government to do this. For example, brightsolid employees act as coding trainers for schools in Dundee – an initiative I am extremely proud of.

It is a common misconception that there is a “type of person” right for a career in technology. We need to make sure that young people understand that it doesn’t matter if you didn’t study computer science at Dundee.

The most talented big data analyst I have ever met had a qualification in History of Art and one of the best sales people I have ever worked with in our industry was an ex US Marine with absolutely no formal qualifications that seemed relevant to the role. The tech industry has opportunities for everyone.

Which new technology excites you the most?

The technology I am most excited about is open source analytics, especially the recent announcements that have come from Amazon in this space. Getting access your data has been too expensive for too long and open source analytics will open up some really interesting information that can be used by businesses to great effect. Big data really is a game changer.

I’m also really excited about robotics. I saw a picture of a robotic mule carrying 100kg up a path and it made me realise that in 20 years that same technology would be able to carry me up the stairs, run a bath and put me in it and get me out. This will be a truly wonderful revolution in social care.

The critical thought I was left with was that nothing new is required to achieve this, just the ability to deliver a unit at less than £2,000. This will be a reality inside 20 years if a few of us pull together and make it happen.

What's your favourite app and why?

City Mapper is my favourite app because it unlocks the potential of big data to make decisions easy for the user. Put simply, it tells me what platform to stand on, without me having to think.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

2016 will be the year of reducing cost for our customers and the beginning of mainstream adoption of hybrid storage. Most organisations currently don’t store their data in the cloud but that is all about to change due to the availability of secure and cost-effective cloud solutions, such as the Microsoft Azure Cloud that is in our data centres.

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