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CTO Insights Part Three – Anthony Newman

In this series of articles, we speak to some of the UK’s most innovative technical minds, breaking the mould and disrupting their industry. In this edition of CTO Insights, we speak to Anthony Newman, technical director at Appleyard London and their parent company, Ecomnova.

Hi Anthony, thanks for speaking to Ribbonfish! Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about your role at Appleyard London?

As CTO, I manage the day-to-day production and management of websites, infrastructure and internal IT systems. In addition I provide business transformation consultancy to all parts of the business to help them get the most out of technology and make validated decisions about technology where needed. Lastly I try to keep up-to-date with the latest technology and best practices within the industry, and advocate this internally.

What exactly is unique about the Appleyard brand, and how are you making inroads in such a competitive market?

We have created a quintessentially English brand which represents luxury and boutique floral design. Our aim is to offer bespoke bouquets with the finest, locally-sourced stems which promote style, trend and longevity. Our head florist, Lauren Probert, was actually the head florist for the 2012 London Olympics and she hand-designs each of our modern bouquets that you see on site.

To give us a voice in such a competitive market we are offering next day delivery, 7 days a week across the UK with some of the latest cut-off points. In our products we aim to offer exclusively designed bouquets with the utmost of luxury and extravagance that last for a minimum of 7 days. Finally, our philosophy is that everyone should have a little luxury in their life and this is what drives the team each and every day!

Flowers are a relatively traditional product, yet you have an essential role in the organisation. How important is technology to your company?

We see ourselves as a marketing technology company to technology pivotal. We have built our company around enterprise-grade open source technologies, with in-house developers so we have complete flexibility to customise our consumer offering and tooling to best deliver our business plan.

What do you find to be the main challenges as CTO?

There are a few challenging aspects, but that’s a good thing. Firstly, balancing the development team efforts to deliver new features alongside maintenance of the current features platform. Also, working with the business stakeholders to make the best use of the IT budget. And finally, mentoring non-technical staff to be comfortable with our technology platform and to be able to effectively communicate problems and requests enhancements.

All challenges that many CTOs can relate to, surely! But what are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Working with a great team to solve difficult business problems in the best way, or sometimes not the best way! I love to look back and see what have built over the past 3 years – we’ve achieved a lot.

We all know that tech moves fast. How do you see this positively or negatively affecting your organisation in the coming years?

I keep referring to online web technology as the “2nd industrial revolution” because the online retail industry is all about automation of tasks that we manual just a few years ago – allowing companies to achieve much more in a shorter period of time. Marketing and/or operational executives are becoming skilled operators of automated tooling. The success of the business will largely be based on our ability to get the most out of the automated tools and know when to change the tools if they are no longer meeting requirements!

And to wrap up, what advice would you give to budding CTOs out there?

Focus on business requirements. Talk to your management team regularly. Stay up-to-date with industry trends and try to attend events with other CTOs. Foster technology innovation where possible!

Big thanks to Anthony for speaking to us. You can follow Appleyard on Twitter here.

See our other interviews with:

 

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