The Internet opens new roles to IT professionals

Dave Ashenhurst, technology architect at business architecture company Advizory, says the Internet has opened up a whole new way...

Dave Ashenhurst, technology architect at business architecture company Advizory, says the Internet has opened up a whole new way of working for IT professionals, writes Roisin Woolnough.

"The Internet gave technology people like me the opportunity to get involved with building applications that everyone can see and use," he says.

"I remember the first time I saw the Internet, I thought 'this gives the technical person a chance to do something interesting and visible'. It also meant that I got involved with graphic design and, more interestingly, branding."

Ashenhurst started his working life as a programmer, moved into consulting and then managed the e-business practice of software house Merant before setting up Advizory with three business acquaintances.

Two of the partners formerly worked for branding company Wolff Olins and the other was a consultant at Cap Gemini Ernst and Young. "We all met on specific projects while following the Internet bubble," says Ashenhurst. "We decided to get together and start this company in September last year. We call ourselves business architects and we help businesses define and deliver their brand, whether it is defining the communications channels to customers, employees and shareholders or defining technical architectures to allow brand extension."

For instance, Advizory might help an organisation to set up an enterprise portal or look at what handheld devices would best suit its needs and image.

Ashenhurst's money and hopes are pinned firmly on XML, which he believes will become the standard data communications technology worldwide. This will create what he calls "plug-and-play partnerships" that will enable people to focus on the core elements of their business and outsource the other components.

"The promise with XML is that you have a small, neat organisation and partner up with specialist organisations, that can deal with HR, accounts, etc," he explains. "XML will allow people to connect seamlessly together and it is outsourcing in a sense. I think it will be the biggest thing - even bigger than Windows."

Another hot technology that he believes will grow and grow is Bluetooth. Like XML, Ashenhurst thinks the wireless networking technology has enormous potential to increase brand awareness.

He uses the example of deploying Bluetooth in sports cars to add that little bit extra that makes people think they are special. "Sports cars are about performance, innovation and status. It is a very strong brand recognition. Innovative technology being proposed at the moment includes Bluetooth, which will enable the car to be recognised by IT systems."

Ashenhurst says Bluetooth could be used for all sorts of functions, including uploading data directly to the manufacturer for fault diagnosis, automatic payment systems in garages and car parks, and downloading MP3 music files from the driver's PC.

Working in such a customer-facing, brand-focused role, the skills Ashenhurst needs are endless. XML, Bluetooth, Java, Com, .net and Active Server Pages are just some of the technologies he uses regularly. On top of that, he also needs to be able to communicate his technical knowledge to IT illiterates and dress it up in terms they can understand. It is all about being what he calls "a technology enthusiast with creative flair".

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