Part of the IT Leaders 100 - a list of the most influential IT leaders in the UK in 2023.
Ian is co-founder and CTO at IoT connectivity firm Eseye. He is passionate about developing technology-based solutions that deliver real improvements to businesses, the environment, and quality of life. Previously he co-founded CompXs to deliver the world's first ZigBee design. Prior to CompXs, Ian held senior software leadership roles at Philips.
How did you get into IT?
At school, stage and theatre were a big part of my life. From there, I began working behind the scenes on the stage lighting, which was a fun pastime and made for great pocket money.
I have always been interested in engineering and technology, and this curiosity led me to complete a Master of Engineering degree in Electronics at the University of Liverpool. With a background and interest in lighting, I could not help myself but have this as a fun side gig to run alongside my studies, so I began a lighting company and managed the lighting for multiple nightclubs in Liverpool. The business became quite established and saw me throughout my time at University and I could have easily carried it on, but decided I wanted to explore a career in a more corporate setting - which didn't involve working at 2am!
That led me to Philips Consumer Electronics in 1998. I was a Software Team Leader, and it was there that my path crossed with Paul Marshall. From this chance encounter, Paul and I went on to form our own company, CompXs, and founded the ZigBee technology that's used in smart meters and much more around the world.
Fast forward to 2007, following a successful exit from CompXs, Paul and I went on to start Eseye - an IoT connectivity solutions company - and patented the multi-IMSI (or multi-network) technology in our AnyNet+ SIMs.
How do you ensure diversity is taken into account in your IT recruitment?
It's really important to hire the right person for the role who has the right capabilities and skillset, and who can add value to the business. For us that's what it comes down to.
We're committed to making diversity, equity, and inclusion part of our global culture and believe working with talented individuals from different backgrounds and points of view is a strategic advantage. Our diversity enriches our creative solutions and adds value for our clients.
Gender equity is particularly important for us, especially as tech is a traditionally male-dominated industry. In the past five years, the number of women working here has increased by fourfold. Today, a third of women are in supervisory positions with one woman on the Executive Leadership team, and another on the board.
Which technology are you currently most excited by?
I love technology, not for the sake of it, but when it improves our lives, businesses or environment. I have had many roles and titles, but the common vein is 'getting things done'.
Technology which has real-world impact excites me most. By that I mean technology which has a lasting positive legacy, for example dealing with climate change or improving social mobility, or tech that has lifted 1.5 million out of poverty in Africa. Those technology use cases solve real problems and have phenomenal gravitas. I love working on IoT projects like these with our many tech-for-good customers at Eseye.
In terms of the latest innovations in the connectivity space, we're tracking a shift to multi-protocol connectivity technology which is really interesting. I expect to see more IoT devices with multiple modes of connectivity i.e., cellular, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, satellite, LoRaWan, Zigbee and NB-IoT. It's my job to follow emerging communication standards and protocols - the development of Thread and Matter is exciting, and I'm interested to see how the two working together will transform consumer IoT communications in the home.
I'm also hugely excited about improving the interoperability between public and private networks. Enabling IoT devices to switch bi-directionally between private and public is a real game changer and we're currently working on a mining project right now which will take full advantage of this advancement.
What would an outsider find the most surprising part of your job?
Most would find it surprising how much time and admin is involved with running a business. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how big a business gets that fundamental things still need to be ticked off. Eseye runs a continual service and there's a lot needed to run a service company - we're always-on for our customers.
What's your secret talent?
Attention to detail.
What makes you laugh?
Ironic humour always makes me laugh - unsurprising, being a Brit!