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James Alty, Managing director, Apteco

Path to power

 

Graduating from Manchester University in Computation, Alty began work as an analyst programmer with Logica in Rotterdam. In 1987, after 18 months in that role, he started his own business to combine paid and charitable consultancy work. His first commercial client, Market Location, set the direction of his subsequent career by introducing him to the marketing industry, data and analytics. Alty and his colleagues delivered the first FastStats system for Market Location in the early Nineties and converted the business from consultancy to product development. The scope of FastStats spread to cover analysis, predictive modelling, visualisation, marketing automation and reporting. Throughout this development, Alty’s role grew from hands-on technician to team leader to managing director, with a continuing emphasis on treating clients, partners and staff fairly. Supplying FastStats through a network of partners, Alty and his colleagues have grown Apteco to be a successful international business with thousands of users, hundreds of clients and over 70 partners worldwide. With established subsidiaries in Frankfurt, Sydney and Rotterdam, he has closed the loop back to where he started 30 years ago! Outside of work, Alty is a keen squash player, single-speed cyclist, private pilot, EV driver and volunteer in the justice system.

 

What has been the highlight of your career in the industry to date?

 

I enjoy every day at Apteco, seeing the great design, development and service work of our team. We work hard to enable our clients to create and communicate insight and to use their learnings to drive better marketing communication. Easy-to-use interfaces are key to this and I’ve enjoyed seeing our teams run usability studies to fit our software better to end-users’ expectations. Every year, a particular highlight for me is presenting these developments live on stage at the Apteco user group conference and seeing the enthusiasm of our clients and partners in delivering great insight and marketing campaign automation.

 

If you could give your younger self some advice about how to progress in this industry, what would it be?

 

Really use the analytics available to you. Access to data and the ability to produce insight is a great combination and will enable you to help clients across sectors and seniority. If you have facts to back up your position, you can act with confidence and improve an organisation’s activity. The dominant effect of GDPR on activities in 2018 was predictable, but events were not quite as expected. The flurry of GDPR opt-in requests brought data privacy to the fore of every inbox for a couple of months. The timing with the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal showed members of the public the worth of data privacy legislation. I believe this coincidence of regulation and misdemeanour has changed consumers’ expectations for the long term.

 

What do you expect 2019 to be like for the industry?

 

Fortunately, the data industry will be less affected by Brexit than many sectors. I expect projects to be delayed as organisations wait to see how the British economy operates within the new regime. I expect our transition to “third country” status for data privacy to be relatively painless given the work on GDPR last year, but many data practitioners will need to ensure compliance. AI and algorithms everywhere will be debated, with increasing consumer awareness of their private data processing. Most consumers, however, will find a balance in which technology assists them to live happier, healthier lives by actively managing the data they share.

 

Talent and skills are always a challenge to find - how are you tackling this in your organisation?

 

We start by looking after our team, so nobody leaves Apteco. Retaining skills in the company means we can be agile across our entire development and service scope. When recruiting, we use exceptional employment conditions to differentiate Apteco from other potential employers. Communicating the breadth of our benefits means we can attract top talent. We do now use some periodic engagements with recruitment agencies. This has led us to recruit from further afield. We offer many ways for home workers to join the team in Warwick, everything from a telepresence robot called Kryten to 360-degree cameras in meeting rooms!

 

What aspect of data, analytics or their use are you most optimistic about and why?

 

The availability of data means we have fantastic scope to use analytics to improve our client’s work. The use of algorithms is now openly understood and balanced by consumers with their data privacy imperatives. Data practitioners can be at the heart of the most dramatic changes in how consumers interact with their suppliers.Data and analytics technology/service provider

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