Judge – Andrew Seldon

“While pushing the boundaries is important, practical usability is possibly even more important.”

Here at Tech Trailblazers we firmly believe in helping you as much as possible with your entries. Here’s the second in our running series of interviews where we get to know the people who will be judging the Tech Trailblazer entries. Let me introduce you to Andrew Seldon.

Can you give me a brief history of yourself?

I graduated with a BSc in Computer Science and worked in the IT world for a few years, eventually running a support department for a startup. I then moved into the world of tech journalism and eventually ended up as the editor of Hi-Tech Security Solutions.
Along the way, I spent a couple of years as an editor in Germany and somehow delivered a lecture on Total Quality Management (TQM) at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.

What is your area of expertise and what’s hot/innovative in that area?

Security technology is where I am focused at the moment, that is, in the physical security arena, not cybersecurity. Although, cybersecurity is key to all areas of security, so it is an area of interest whether one wants it to be or not. The security market is going through a change that IT experienced a few years ago, in that individual products don’t make the grade any more and customers want ‘solutions’ which solve a problem. This is causing some consternation in the industry, not at all helped by the fact that the market still mostly makes buying decisions according to price.

According to the marketing people, AI and deep learning is the ‘big thing’ in the market at the moment, but it is still in its infancy. We should see some really cool stuff in a three to five-year period. Video analytics is the area (in the physical security market) where things will happen.

How long have you been a judge for Tech Trailblazers and why do you do it?

I have been involved since the beginning. The companies which enter seem to get better every year and it gets harder and harder to actually decide who deserves to win.

I do it to get a glimpse of what is happening at the edge. The companies which enter are not bleeding-edge in that they don’t have working solutions, but have working solutions that are at the edge of whatever segment they operate in, which gives you an insight into what the market will be doing over the next couple of years.

Which categories do you specialize in for Tech Trailblazers?

Security mainly, but due to constant convergence, I find myself in the IoT, storage, and even other areas sometimes.

What do you look for in an entry?

Naturally I look for something that takes technology a step forward, but the most important thing is that the solutions under review are actually working in the real world and producing the results companies require. So while pushing the boundaries is important, practical usability is possibly even more important.

Do you have any advice for a company entering the Awards?

The founder/owner/CEO should fill out the fields about what the product does. Sometimes they rely on their PR companies and sometimes they aren’t able to convey the essence of the solution which someone intricately involved is. Of course, using the PRs to ensure it all makes sense to the layman is not a bad idea either.

What words of encouragement would you give to a company which is weighing up whether to enter the Awards?

Highlighting any pilot sites or existing users is important, as it shows you have gone beyond a good idea and offer solutions that work in the real world.

Do you have any advice in general for startup companies, trying to survive in the current economic climate?

Watch the budget, get into a customer site as soon as possible (a “show client”).

Did you have a mentor who helped you in your early days? And was there one piece of advice that you got from them that you could share?

Mistakes are guaranteed, moving beyond them is up to you.

With diversity in the world of IT, could you think of one thing that the world could change to make a difference and improve matters?

Making technology cheap, broadly available, and useful. Not social media, but useful applications.

What fantastic invention will the future bring?

Proper voice-controlled technology will make a huge difference (not just doing Google searches and switching on the lights).