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Looking ahead to a ‘new normal’ or as some people are now calling it ‘a better normal’ we spend five minutes chatting to Tony Lackey, MD from SRO Solutions, about his experiences through lockdown, how technology is supporting change and what the future now looks like.

Tony grew up in Ulverston close to Barrow-in-Furness, infamous for its links with the ship building industry, so naturally it was only a matter of time before he pursued a livelihood which involved the seas. After spending a number of years working within the Merchant Navy and travelling the world, Tony set up SRO Solutions with friend and colleague Steve Driver over 15 years ago.

SRO are a recognised IBM gold business partner and were responsible for bringing IBM’s Asset Management software, Maximo to the marine and offshore industries due their domain experience and their own software specialising in Maximo database replication and migration as a toolkit

Tony, lovely to meet you and thanks for taking the time to chat with Claritas today. I don’t want to dwell too much on Covid-19 and lockdown but I think there are some really important questions to ask around technology, its impact and what ‘normal’ will look like in the ‘new’ world.

So first off, the technology sector has really come to the forefront over the last couple of months, how has your business changed?

Thankfully, we had already moved towards a cloud-based IT system, we started integrating this over two years ago – full credit to the IT team at SRO, who mobilised as soon as needed and continue to ensure we have everything we need to keep us on track, working remotely from home.

We always wanted to work with more flexibility, but never really found the time to make the shift from office working to remote working. Covid-19 forced our hand shall we say, and we won’t be looking back now – agility and flexibility are the two winners to come from the pandemic.

Looking ahead, you already mention a couple of changes which look like they’re here to stay, are there any others which you think you’ll adopt after lockdown is lifted?

We’ve actually accelerated a couple of projects we were planning prior to lockdown, such as an office move to give the team a better work/life balance. I don’t think you can ever underestimate the impact a long commute can have on a team, why spend time in your car if you don’t have to – the use of MS Teams, Zoom and other video conferencing facilities has been invaluable and enabled the team to trust each other to get the job done.

Believe it or not, tech has also bought us together as a team, we’re sharing chats and catching up much more with colleagues than we did before video conferencing became the norm. From a practical point of view, it also helps us with the companies we work with overseas, time differences can be an issue, but flexibility is now key.

On a personal level, I’m sure you’re like most of us, juggling home life and work life can sometimes become blurred. What opportunities has lockdown presented you with and how have they impacted your business?

Adaptability has been key throughout all of this. I’m not sure we were as agile and prepared as we thought we were before lockdown. It has really given myself and my board the opportunity to scrutinise the business and I’m pleased to say we will better off for it. We were always geared towards agile working, or so we thought! Covid-19 has just accelerated the need for us to look at our business objectively.

Looking back, to a time before Covid-19 entered our lives (if there was such a time?) – what innovations has the technology sector, in particular your business seen and are they likely to remain or change going forward?

I don’t think I can stress the importance of cloud-based systems and the agility they bring to a company, however, I know there are a huge amount of companies who still aren’t using the cloud – our business continuity plans now reflect the agility this brings us and our employees, as well as enabling flexibility with our partners overseas.

As a business our objectives haven’t changed, just refocussed, looking at ways we can now bring better efficiencies to our clients, whilst controlling costs and giving sound peace of mind and resilience.

Finally, Tony, what’s next for SRO Solutions?

Not wanting to sound like a stuck record but agility has a lot to play in the future of SRO Solutions, making sure we look ahead, as technology never really looks back.

We already work with a number of cutting-edge technologies, which have proven their worth over the last few months, being hugely robust in the crisis. We need to look to encourage our clients to move towards some of these technologies, especially cloud-based solutions.

Working closely with partners such as IBM, Arrow Electronics and Projetech we hope to be able to offer a much more cost-effective, agile approach than the usual large-scale projects with large upfront costs.

We will continue to maintain our area of expertise in the marine, oil and gas sector – we have such strong credentials and a bunch of really bright people with serious maritime engineering expertise which means we understand the complex challenges these organisations face and how to develop solutions to overcome them.

To find out more about Tony and SRO Solutions, visit their website at www.srosolutiuons.net or visit their LinkedIn pages – https://www.linkedin.com/company/sro-solutions-ltd/

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