Exclusive Q&A with Alan Walsh, CEO Amido

Alan Walsh has engaged in global delivery management roles for big brands such Marks and Spencer, Channel 4 and lastminute.com before setting up Amido in 2010. He speaks here exclusively about how Amido is rocking the IT consultancy boat.

amido

Q. So, Mr Walsh, how would you describe Amido to ‘the person on the street’?

A. We are a privately owned, vendor-agnostic technical consultancy that specialises in implementing cloud-first solutions to deliver business value, fast.

We help our clients build flexibility for the future and differentiation of customer experience. And, we do this while minimising business-risk and build-cost.

Q So, please tell my readers more about the market you’re in

A.  We believe companies are tired of paying large sums to global consultancies such as IBM and Cap Gemini and waiting years for innovative projects and new functionality to be delivered to the business.

Q So you’re trying to disrupt this dated model?

​A Yes. It currently takes too long for IT behemoths ​to deliver business value and we are ​disrupting the old model by​ going straight to the cloud
​and doing things faster, in a more agile way and on a more personal level.

Q. In the sector right now, what is hot apart from disruption?

A. Well, there’s the obvious rise in cloud technology adoption, there is a skills shortage in this area that needs to be addressed and we know there is an increased demand for solid engineering expertise in agile software development to enable digital transformation​.

​Q. What is the problem that Amido is solving?

A. We believe CIOs are asking: “How do I spend my IT budget on something that innovates and delivers real business value to the business and our customers, quickly?”.

That, effectively is us.

​We are assembling and integrating proven cloud technologies, often building solutions around an existing core while enabling clients to prioritise their investment between commodity services and those that deliver competitive advantage.

​Q. So which companies are you currently working with?

​A. We think we’re gathering an impressive client list, past and present. This includes​ ASOS, ​CBRE, ​Coats, ​Channel 4, Faithful+Gould (part of Atkins Global), Global Radio, ​London City Airport, ​the RSA and a couple of major high street banks and public sector bodies we can’t name… as much as we’d love to.​

​Q. Why do you think you’re a cut above your competitors?​

A.  A lot of our competitors are technically biased or aligned to particular vendors. We don’t operate like that.

Our choices for our clients are not based on kickbacks from enormous IT vendors. We make pragmatic choices.

Amido was set up because we felt that enterprises and digital agencies were trying to re-invent the wheel every time a new project came along.

​We think the real magic is hiring the best engineers, understanding what our clients need, knowing the technology that is available in the marketplace and aligning these technologies together in the most effective way.

Finally, tell us about the culture of the company​

​A. The company founders have all worked with each other in previous lives – software companies, digital agencies, client-side technical teams.

​We set up Amido as we were frustrated with how technology was being delivered in organisations and agencies/consultancies.

Consequently we only hire the best and we like to think he have a sense of humour in an industry that is generally considered dry and a little stolid.​ I think the video that you plan to run with this Q&A shows that pretty well.

​Q. Thanks for coming in, Alan, enjoyed the conversation, I think our readers will do as well

​A. My pleasure, thanks for having me.

Amido’s containerisation rolls out Coats web app

Industrial thread manufacturer stitches its industry’s digital agenda using Amido Azure container service.


amidoAmido, a technical consultancy specialising in assembling and integrating cloud technologies, has been chosen by Coats to build a scalable platform to help its customer base manage its corporate responsibility during the supply chain process.

Amido works with brands like ASOS, CBRE and Channel 5 to remove friction from their customers’ online and mobile experiences to drive revenue and engagement. The company are ranked 12th in The Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100 league table, the UK’s top 100 SMEs with the fastest-growing international sales

Furthering the company’s commitment to digitally transform its services, the application is one of the first enterprises to use Azure Container Services in a customer-facing environment. By using Amido’s technical expertise, Coats launched a web portal on a container-based platform, laying down a challenge to industry sceptics who are critical of container solutions.

Amido’s recommendation to use containers came from Coats’ requirements for an adaptable, scalable and manageable platform that would adhere to the strict regulations of global trading. With large investments from Amazon, Google and Microsoft, the option of containers is becoming an early viable solution. Over the next three years, Amido predicts that there will be a large rise in its implementation.

“Containers give clients more control over the infrastructure they are deploying. This is because you are not creating a Virtual Machine for every instance of an application, meaning deployments are rapid and the overhead of the operating system is significantly lower.

“It means that we can issue an upgrade/change that will take effect almost immediately, without disruption to the general use of the portal. This advantage of application upgrades and changes is vital, especially when committed to digitally transform its services – without the added costs legacy systems can bring,” said Chris Gray, Technical Director of Amido.

Amido warns that containers are not a magic fix for all legacy or monolithic solutions and the decision to containerise software needs to be considered carefully. Containers are valuable when monolithic applications can be split into smaller components which can be distributed across a containerised infrastructure.

“We are breaking new ground in our industry with this platform. Speed is everything, so scaling and adapting is very important to us. We looked for a partner that understood all technologies, platforms and applications to help us. Amido met these requirements and we were able to create a system that not only challenged container-use perception at an enterprise level, but also did so in a timely and cost-effective manner,” said Basheer Shahul, Digital Solutions Director, at Coats.

EXCLUSIVE Q&A: George Dixon, Strategy Director, Mobsta

After more than seven years at the mega-agency MediaCom, George Dixon has turned his attention to the new Wild West of mobile; geolocation and its leading exponent Mobsta. Here he explains the need for regulation and why the industry has to wise up and deliver on its undoubted promise.

mobstaMost of the readers of the blog are highly tech-savvy, but might not be aware of the challenges of geolocation and Mobsta’s position in the ecosystem. Pray tell us more.

We are a UK-based tech company working exclusively in the UK with US technology company Placecast and have a highly accurate location-powered product working with some of the UK’s biggest brands. Advertisers want to know now more than ever where their advertising £s are going. Demystifying technology is part of this as ensuring their media spend is served to their target audience in the right place and moment. We have recently demonstrated the accuracy of our technology and data at tracking visitors into store locations, proving that we can deliver on the promise of location.

But, rather like the early mobile games and advertising days, it appears there are some charlatans out there.

That’s unfortunately true. We believe our tech platform delivers on its promises of accurate and scalable location targeting and delivery. But we need more regulation in the industry so it can winnow out any companies that promise targets they will never deliver. A shake-out is definitely needed.

So it’s about delivering true geolcation results to brands that they can trust?

Now more than ever clients want to understand where their audience is and what they are doing. They need to prove the effect of their media beyond clicks and site visits. We can demonstrate the effect of a media spend on driving actual visits into stores
. By offering the most accurate solution in the market as well as being able to verify location data to demonstrate its accuracy.

So what does the product actually do?

Our location platform tracks consumer’s movements based on GPS signals passed from their phones (all done anonymously). This allows us to understand whether they are in market for a new car, seen on a BMW forecourt, regular cinema goers or frequent shoppers at Tesco.

Using this data, we deliver advertising campaigns in the optimum place and moment then monitor the location behaviour of those delivered ads to see if it leads them to a different store or location in the future i.e. to visit an Audi dealer after BMW or try Sainsbury having been to Tesco in the past.

So explain to me as if I’m Joe Public, not a highly respected tech writer.

All mobile phones give off location signals when they are being used. The signals give information about where someone is and how often they go there. Mobsta’s technology allows us to monitor these signals to create relevant groups of people to target for advertising. Such as new film releases to people who frequently go to the cinema or offers in their favourite shops.

Mobsta began as a media strategy company, so how did you get here?

Our founders are highly experienced media professionals who were keen to take advantage of the growing interest in mobile advertising. You’re right in saying Mobsta started as a mobile strategy company helping monetise products and publishers’ inventory. Location was one of those products, at the time with the unique ability to target people based on their current location according to the GPS signals shared by their phones.

So give me some numbers.

We track over 45 million users each month in the UK, 500 million globally to build audiences and gather insights. This is already a $2 billion business and those numbers are only going to increase.

Walk me through the use experience.

It’s very simple; a consumer doesn’t have to do anything. They opt in to share their location when they use apps on their phone. Their data is collected anonymously, no individual information is stored. As they use their phone location relevant adverts would be sent to their phone as they browse different apps.

I understand you recently came top in a survey based on the major geolocation players?

We believe we have proved the quality of our data and platform with two tests in the last 12 months, one in the US and one in the UK. Each of which we came out on top showing key silo and verticals. We are confident we have the most accurate platform in the market and are really proud of our performance in recent tests.

Where is the team based and what’s your funding history?

We are based in London, our tech is based in San Francisco whilst we have smaller offices in New York, Amsterdam and are working with partners in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
 As for funding, we are privately owned, but we may take seed, Series A etc when the time and opportunity is right.

Well, now my readers and I know more about the growing importance of geolocation. Thanks for sharing and coming in, George.

Thanks for having me.

BOOK REVIEW: The Dark North Volume 1

A collection of five Scandinavian illustrators and writers shines a light on the talent of fantastic art and unique storytelling.


northAs a print addict and graphic admirer, I am not immediately attracted to adult comic books, having left comics behind when I discovered girls.

In many ways, I find adults enjoying comic books and playing similar video games as not my favoured tribe. I find it a bit sad that these people should be out finding life, not living narrowly within their digital version of it; but maybe that’s because I’m an older bastard and was lucky enough to travel and see the world in the pre-surveillance days.

The Dark North (Volume 1), however, was a great and welcome surprise. Comprising of five stories that meld classic Norse mythology to fateful and modern-day road-trips, I found this collection of work unsettling and in many ways beautiful.

This is a coffee table book for those who look north for stories and not south. This is ice, not sand, darkness, not light. It is made by people who live by opposites, people born out of the aurora borealis, but who also spend discomfiting, different days.

The five stories here are wide-ranging, the first begins to be an American road trip, the driver following ghosts down and up a highway, lost in the quest. Wonderfully illustrated, it is like watching performance art in the Arctic circle, it is a great introduction to the other four stories.

These are less accessible to print addicts like myself, the art more gloomy and intense, where the power of Thor and the myths of local tales are wielded to overcome the reader.

This project came out of Kickstarter and the successful funding meant the dreams of the collective of individual were realised, Volume 2 is on its way and I will not only be reviewing it, I shall be reading and looking at it with great interest.

Geolocation, geolocation, geolocation?… Mobsta leads the way

London-based location targeting company Mobsta has come top in an independent ranking of geolocation providers in the UK, conducted by MediaCom, one of the world’s leading agencies.


MobstaThe mobile world has undergone several transformations since the mobile phone went mass market and at every stage of that development there have been Wild West situations.

Rather like a wagon train being surrounded by First Nation Americans, it has always been a business for explorers and not all of them honourable.

Mobile advertising, mobile games, mobile technologies… they’ve all attracted hucksters and bullshitters and not the new game in town is geolocation. An ecosystem is emerging, but there are no real regulations and standards for brands and agencies to refer to.

Fortunately, things are changing for the better and a recent independent ranking of geolocation providers in the UK. run by MediaCom, which can across three client brands, finally offers some form of yardstick.

The report was designed to determine the validity of the claims of many of the companies that they offer the best reach and accuracy and winner was… London-based location targeting company Mobsta.

Out of the nine participants, Mobsta, which employs Placecast’s programmatic technology, came first in both scale and accuracy tests. Out of the 15 providers were originally invited to participate in the test, nine companies declined to take part. I wonder why THAT was, maybe they shouldn’t have made it into the wagon train anyway.

“There are many companies who offer compelling targeting and measurement solutions but it’s difficult to know whose story is real and how accurately they can deliver on location targeting.

“We wanted to have confidence in our recommendations to clients, so created this test to help us cut through the claims, and offer definitive advice on how accurate hyper-local targeting is,” said Owain Wilson, Data Strategy Director at MediaCom.

Mobsta is a specialist in location targeting and audience profiling techniques and has the exclusive rights to the Placecast mobile data management platform (DMP) that aggregates location data and user behaviour across different devices in the physical world.

The company translates it into audience segments that can be targeted through mobile advertising campaigns via its Demand Side Platform (DSP). The platform delivers a understanding of the relationship between users and locations over time, enabling them to make smarter marketing decisions.

“With the ever-increasing use of mobile advertising and changes in format, we see a real opportunity for brands to use geolocation and welcome efforts like these to help brands navigate the crowded market place. Third party validation is key and we hope that this study will encourage more brands to invest in the technology to improve their campaigns,” concluded George Dixon, Strategy Director, Mobsta