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What a Year!

I'm writing this tethered to my phone after a massive storm has knocked down even more trees (and our internet) in Eyam. It's been a really great year for me personally.

I had the absolute pleasure of working with the great people at the Guardian, followed by some interesting tech lead and data projects with BP.

These last three months, however, have me really excited for 2024.

We launched Kind and built an analytics platform

In October I created Kind by launching our "idea labs" - a means to give dev academy students some practical real-world experience and see how their work (architecture, cloud, micro-services, development, etc) come together as a means to talk about decoupled teams and deployments, and the lovely people at the Guardian invited us in to showcase it for one of their "tech times".

The lab was an example not just of software engineering, but mostly as a way to showcase how to make real-world projects come to life for people getting into a career in tech.

We then designed a next generation consultancy

Having our first experience in bridging new tech learners with interesting tech and real-world examples, I got the band back together.

I invited past colleagues who collectively represent a cross section of three important dimensions: Location, Technology and Sectors.

On the call we had representatives from Edinburgh, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Bristol and London (preceded by a call to France and with apologies from Manchester).

They also represented a range of great experience in data, AI, software engineering, dev/ops and delivery across a number of sectors (health, fintech, education, etc) in addition to some very enthusiastic and talented newcomers to tech.

With our bases well and truly covered, we set out to debate what a world-class consultancy would be.

What we want is simply to use our skills to do meaningful and impactful work with like-minded people. Basically it's not about tech - it's about helping people use it effectively to do great things.

Unfortunately, our experience has been the tech equivalent of paying a decorator £500 to paint a room, but that decorator then discovering the walls are wonky. That £500 would be better spent re-plastering the wall, but instead the decorator simply does their job and takes the £500.

This has lead us to Kind's mission: To help companies leverage technology effectively so as to get maximum return on their IT investment. Basically the opposite of a boondoggle.

What goes wrong in the tech industry

At its core, it makes a lot of sense to use an IT consultancy. Running your business is hard enough, and people need to be able to engage experts who know how to leverage the ever-evolving landscape of technology to stay competitive.

Unfortunately IT projects go wrong more often than they go right - and they quite regularly solve the wrong problem or build the wrong thing.

What's worse, there is an inherent misalignment of incentives with any consultancy, which is the consultancy gets paid the more complicated the solution is and the longer it takes to complete.

We wanted to tackle this and other problems (more on that later) to arrive at model people can trust to know that they have a network of skilled and talented people focusing on solving the right problem in the right way, which ultimately gives our customers the peace of mind that they their IT spend it being put to the best use, and wha they get is the product of everyone's best work.

What's the next step?

You'll continue to hear more from us, but for now we have two challenges.

In 2024, we're gong to have to:

  • Find skilled professionals who are interested in using their talents to make a meaningful impact for people across the UK

  • Try and locate companies who are interested in having a network of tech professionals ensure they're getting the maximum value from their IT investment.

It may be a needle in a haystack, but we're willing to try!

Until then, I can't thank enough the wonderful women and men who have helped advise me, offer their scrutiny and perspectives, and their reassurance and enthusiasm that doing great things for people and delivering excellent value for clients doesn't have to be mutually exclusive.

Many of these people are working in some of the UK's top institutions (and I will respect their privacy here), but want to give a particular thanks to:

  • Brad Young who's energy and ambition getting into tech kicked this whole thing off

  • Emma Marshall for her guidance and patience

  • Tom Wolfenden and everyone at the Cooper Project

  • Gary Neville for all his time, perspective and help

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