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Simon Mone, Managing Director, SwarmOnline

SwarmOnline builds world-class apps for companies all over the world who are looking to use cutting edge technology to drive business improvement. We work in partnership with Sencha & AWS and are not only able to utilize this technology at an expert levelfor our clients but we also offer training and consultancy to other digital companies looking to expand their knowledge in these areas. Working with the latest technologies and leading innovation within the tech industry, SwarmOnline collaborates with its clients to turn ideas into realities. Since SwarmOnline was created in 2011, it has grown at a record speed with a growing team and now 2 offices located in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

What’s your favourite thing about the industry?

I have been lucky in my career to have worked in a variety of roles and with a large number and a wide range of businesses and clients. I have worked in start-ups, SME’s, family run businesses, global behemoths and the public sector. I have had the privilege of working with organisations of every kind in more sectors than I can remember and technology is important to them all. The variety and the constant change in the tech industry are the best things about it.

What’s your role and what does a typical day involve?

My title is Client Services Manager but my role is far more varied than that suggests. In a small company each member of the senior team has a responsibility to help bring in new business and support existing clients but I also work with the rest of the senior management team on the strategic elements of SwarmOnline and the other companies in the November Twenty One Group. As a result, there is no such thing as a typical day- I might be meeting with a new client to understand their business and their problems and to scope out their requirements to solve those problems; or working on a group innovation strategy; or talking with potential partners overseas regarding out international expansion plans. Never a dull day.

Looking to the future, what do you see as being the next big thing in tech?

Innovation is driving new tech at an ever-increasing rate so it’s difficult to know what the next big thing will be but I think the next big buzz will be around voice interaction. Smart homes and joined up services using voice for consumers are increasingly common (although security is concern) and there are exciting new business applications using voice and I think smarter offices (and home offices) will compliment flexible and agile working practices.

Any new products, services, events coming up for your business?

This is a very exciting time for SwarmOnline and the November 21 Group. November 21 is an innovation and incubation hub and SwarmOnline is the development engine. We are working towards commercialising the output from this activity. We are also expanding out offering and our reach with plans for our new operations in London and in the US later this year.

If you could give one piece of advice to an emerging business/startup, what would it be?

Validate your market and keep doing it. I think that the most common reason for companies failing, particularly start-ups, is a lack of market validation. There is a lot of lip service paid to the lean start up model but my experience of working with companies across all sectors in NPD and innovation is that validation is hard and is often not done well if at all. Talk to your existing and potential customers and never believe your own hype.

If you were speaking to a classroom full of 3rd year high school students how would you pitch the industry as the best place to be?

I think that if you love the idea of finding creative technology-based solutions to problems then the tech sector is the best place to be and technology is vital to every other sector. However, I would also say that its not for everyone. You need to find out what you love and what you are good at. Roles in the technology sector are really diverse and having a go is easier than ever before.  

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