Happy birthday to you

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you saw a sign above the door of a shop announcing that the proprietor established the business in 1993, you would probably shrug your shoulders and say so what? After all, 20 years is not a long time for a shop in the scheme of things.

In technology terms though, 2 decades is an eternity. Although Apple and Microsoft can trace their roots back nearly 40 years, there are not many tech firms that can. Amazon, eBay, Google & Facebook were just a twinkle in someone’s eye 20 years ago.

This year, my employer celebrates their 20th birthday and after working for them for 13 years, I can’t help but feel a certain pride in the achievement. It hasn’t always been plain sailing. The world collectively held its breath after 9/11 which meant that sales of banking software (among other things) fell off a cliff. The latest banking crisis (followed by the sovereign debt crisis) also meant that banks were a bit preoccupied. Still, we have emerged from these crises and the future looks bright for Temenos.

When any tech company first sets out, they’re going to need some IT. Assuming they went for the state of the art, then their machines  would have been powered by Pentiums – probably with a 60 MHz clock speed. Windows NT came out in 1993 so perhaps that would be the operating system of choice. If they waited until the end of the year, Windows 3.11 (or Windows for Workgroups) might be an option.

If they wanted to do some research on the internet, they would have found it fairly barren with only 50 World Wide Web servers. Just about every page would have a cute “Under Construction” graphic and their browser of choice would probably have been Mosaic (the Granddaddy of Netscape Navigator).

If they wanted to stay in touch with each other whilst out on the road, they would need some mobile phones. They would be fairly chunky, have terrible battery life and be analogue in nature. The mobile operators were still building their networks so the chances of holding a complete conversation free of interference were fairly slim.

No-0ne had heard of Big Data – after all – we transmit more data round the internet in a single second than we did in the whole of 1993. If people talked about clouds, they were the white, fluffy sort that float around in the sky. The words “Service Oriented Architecture” had yet to be uttered by overpaid consultants.

Today – a startup company has unbelievable resources at their fingertips. The internet is chock full of useful information. Social media makes it easy to build a network and get your message out. Cloud means a startup can commission a sophisticated network of IT for no capital outlay. It has never been so easy to start a company. Unfortunately, your competition also have all these resources at their disposal.

Temenos had none of these resources at their disposal and yet they have grown from nothing to a half a billion dollar company. They employ 4,000 people of which I am one. Happy birthday Temenos. Here’s to many more.

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A special thing…

 

English: Untidy Desk

English: Untidy Desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but when I walked into the Rose and Crown one Saturday afternoon clutching a thick tome all about Active Server Pages (ASPs), my life was to change yet again. The place was nearly empty save for two gentlemen sat on stools at the other end of the bar. I ordered a drink, opened up my book and started reading. Despite concentrating on the vagaries of Internet programming, I could not help but overhear snippets of their conversation. Apparently, they had been out on a company bash the night before and were a little the worse for wear.

Before too long, one of them looked over and enquired about my book – “What’s that – a computer book?” or something equally eloquent. After a few pleasantries were exchanged, the conversation turned to my professional life as they asked what I did for a living. Although I had enjoyed 6 excellent years at Pentyre, the work had started to dry up and I was intrigued when the two men started to talk about the company they worked for. Although their description of the company did not sound that exciting – what intrigued me was the passion they felt for their work.

I agreed to come along for an interview to find out more and a few days later, I was back in the Rose and Crown, the chosen venue. Arrayed in front of me was pretty much the entire company. As I sat there nervously, I was bombarded with questions from my would be colleagues. All of them shared the passion I had seen in the first two men. The company was called jBASE and had recently been acquired by another larger software house; Temenos (a Greek word meaning “a special thing”).

They liked me and I liked them and I readily accepted their offer of employment. Before too long, on my first day, I turned up at their offices. I had been given no directions, but managed to find my way to the top floor where I found a locked door. Before too long, someone else came along. Another recent joiner. Neither of us had the key, so we stood there chatting. Eventually, the door was unlocked and we were led into the office. The place was an absolute tip. There were computers everywhere. Some of them on people’s desks, some piled up haphazardly and a number of them atop a pool table which bowed disconcertedly under the strain.

There was not an inch of clear desk space in the building and I was led to my own cluttered desk. I was introduced to my new boss. I could barely see him behind piles of ageing computer manuals and printouts. As I logged into my machine – an email popped up. “Hi – my name’s Jason – I am sat opposite you!”. It was a sign of things to come as the only sounds in the office were the tapping of keyboards and the loud hum of fans straining to substitute for air conditioning.

Although it sounds dysfunctional – it was an amazing company to work for. In the early days we were an autonomous company, but as time went on we became assimilated into our parent company Temenos. Although Temenos was a larger company, they had much in common with jBASE. Passion was evident throughout the organisation. Being very entrepreneurial in nature, process and procedures have always lagged somewhat behind the relentless drive for growth. By any conventional measure, Temenos has been a phenomenally successful company and I have enjoyed working there immensely.

By far the most dynamic organisation I have worked for, Temenos is not for everyone. If you are looking for a job where you are told exactly what to do – you had better look elsewhere. If you want to become a force for transformation in the banking industry, look no further.