Noone can answer this better than our Head of Technology, Clinton McKillop. Having been with Evologic for over 15 years, Clinton has seen the way technology and managed IT has come to revolutionise business processes. Here, he explains what drew him into the world of tech, what has changed, and what businesses need to be looking out for.
What drew you to technology originally? Where did it all start?
My earliest memory was when Dad brought home a Commodore 64 from a garage sale. It had no built-in monitor – we connected it to the TV. It came with all of these floppy disks and I had no idea what was on them. I found the whole process of typing in commands to access and find the games really interesting.
What was your first personal computer?
Our first computer a home was made by a friend of my Dad’s. Back then, computers were a couple of thousand which was a fair bit. The computer we had was a Celeron. I realised that it wasn’t running the games I wanted because it wasn’t fast enough, but it wasn’t like you could just call up an IT person to upgrade your computer. That was too expensive. So, I started working out how I could make it better. That meant taking my pocket money and going to computer swap meets to buy parts.
Did you have an all-time favourite computer game?
I’ve given up on computer games and now play the consoles, but one of my original favourite PC games was Command & Conquer.
What was your first paid tech job?
Evologic! I’ve now been here for 15 and a half years. There was a computer class in Year 12 which was a bit more advanced than your typical IT classes. From this, I went on to TAFE to complete an Advanced Diploma of Computer Engineering. In one of my last classes, they said that this IT company in Geelong was hiring. I’d not long done a class on resumes so I did one up and threw it in the pile. On the day I went to the interview, I was late because I got a speeding fine. I took the speeding fine to the interview to show them. Chris (Davies) and Gary asked me to come back for a second interview, but I was told to “come back in proper attire”. I had worn baggy jeans, skate shoes and an oversized polo. I didn’t own business slacks. I didn’t own ‘business’ anything. So, on the way home I went to Kmart and bought ten-dollar shoes, shirt, and slacks and went back for a second interview.
I still don’t know why they invited me back after I was dressed like a bum, but that was my first proper job interview. It is also my last. These days 15 years is a while to be in one job, but my Dad spent 48 years at the post office. It might be old school but it’s the way I saw my Dad work.
What kinds of tech trends were you learning about during the earlier stages of your career?
When I first started out, email was still relatively new. Most businesses still had Hotmail accounts. Email wasn’t business-critical like it is now. The standard forms of communication were still letters and fax. In my early career, when a client called to say the email server was down, it was just like “No worries, we’ll sort it out tomorrow.” These days it needs to be sorted ASAP as a matter of urgency. Businesses depend on it.
Around that time, which was early to mid-noughties, we started seeing the first online stores and services popping up. People had just started getting broadband and the internet was getting a lot more traction. Virtualisation came out too, which is getting very technical, but this allowed you to put 5 virtual computers on your hardware and run them at the same time. Instead of buying 5 servers you could buy one and layer them virtually. It was a massive cost-saver.
What version of Windows were you using when you first started out?
Windows 2003 was the main operating system. Two or three years into when I started, 2008 became the standard.
Are there any revolutionary technology releases that you remember over others?
Smartphones were huge. I remember when I used to buy my phones at the Post Office. If you saw the photos on that phone compared to today’s, the images were barely legible.
MP3s were also massive. That technology meant you could just download digital versions of the songs you wanted to your iPod for example. Just like that, it took away the need for CDs, tapes and records.
The evolution of phone apps has been incredible to watch too.
What do you think has been the biggest game changer in technology over the last two decades?
From a hardware perspective, it has been kind of slow. Not that much has changed. The biggest game changer for business though would be the internet and cloud technology. This has essentially created an environment where people can work at home. People can work from anywhere. That’s changed everything. We used to sell servers to businesses. We don’t sell servers anymore. We sell cloud.
Do you remember what life was like at Evologic when you first started?
I do remember a few things that we take for granted now. We couldn’t ‘remote’ into computers. For example, if someone called with a tech issue I’d have to guide them over the phone to fix the problem, even though I couldn’t see the client’s screen. We were also on site a lot more, servicing servers or helping clients face to face.
We had no workflow phone system either. We had six lines into the building which went to my phone. I was basically a switchboard operator that offered technical assistance. Sometimes the lights would be flashing on other lines and I’d be juggling calls, putting two or three people on hold at once.
Because our office used to be in the CBD, we used to have ‘Fat Fridays’. We’d go and smash some shawarmas or noodles at the nash. We try to keep up this tradition with the current team by having Pizza Fridays once a month.
What are some of the newer technology challenges clients are facing?
Security and compliance. You can’t even go to a bank teller to get money out now. Online security is where it is all at for protecting assets. Because of this, businesses are now forced to be compliant with cyber policies. As a Managed IT provider, we try to be in front of what is required and advise them. Business automation and collaboration are also becoming standard in many operations. These automation solutions can be integrated without needing a software degree, so more people are expecting this level of service over traditional, manual service models.
One of the biggest threats to business remains cybersecurity and staff education around this. Some people see cybersecurity as a technology problem, but it is a business problem. People are still the weakest link when it comes to scams, hacks and leaks.
Why is it beneficial for growing businesses to invest in a managed IT services provider?
To make your own IT department is very expensive. If you have one IT guy, what if he gets sick? If you have two or three guys, you need a department manager. When a company outsources to someone like us, we have 35 staff with varying levels of experience across multiple technologies. There’s always someone there to help. We have a professional services division, a security division, and we’ve got everything a business needs without them needing to have it in-house. We also stay on the front foot, investing in learning about global technologies which we can then deploy.
What do you love most about working at Evologic?
The people. If you take away the people it’s just a job. The people you talk to and meet and converse with. It’s something we have gotten right here at Evologic. We hire people first, skills second. You can teach skills but you can’t teach personality and interaction.