Andrew Boswell is chief technology officer (CTO) at ICL, a company that over the past couple of years has repositioned itself as an e-systems and services specialist. He is responsible for ensuring that ICL has the technical capability to compete in a global marketplace; he also oversees its network of alliances and ensures that it is properly understood as a technology company.
When did you first become interested in the internet?
I guess to start with in the early '90s. During the '80s, a lot of companies put proprietary e-mail systems in place, but there was very little inter-company traffic. In terms of the web, it was 1993 when I first got a demon account - it was all text-based then.
How much time do you spend surfing each day?
At work, I spend a fair amount of time browsing within ICL's 'Cafe Vic' intranet, which is a knowledge management system for the company's 22,000 employees. I use the internet more at home and probably spend one to two hours an evening on it, depending on what it is I'm doing. I use it a lot for my hobbies and last weekend I put up a web site detailing our family tree back to 1521.
What sites do you use regularly?
For work, it's mainly ICL's site, although I also visit Microsoft's, as we have a global alliance with them. In terms of external stuff, I use a lot of shareware to develop my own Palm Pilot software; there's a lot of information on the Palm site. I also use news groups to gather information. And, finally, I'm a keen digital photographer, so I spend a fair amount of time on sites that cater for digital photography fanatics such as myself.
Who are your advisors?
Really, we're our own advisors as we're a leading provider of e-commerce systems in Europe, with 5,000 people working on e-systems.
What is your company's web strategy?
It's to make ICL very easy to do business with for our customers, suppliers, employees, analysts and investors (basically, all our stakeholders), through the provision of electronic services. We're in the business of implementing web strategies for major corporations around the world, making it easier for them to serve consumers and citizens.
What are the most significant changes the internet will bring about?
The greatest change - and one where it's already making itself felt - is its ability to bring people together. Our employees are scattered around the world and it's already much easier for people on different continents to work closely. This process will intensify as more and more people start to use mobile phone technology to access the net. We have WAP phones now and by the end of the year most phones sold will have WAP capability, so soon tens of millions and then hundreds of millions of people will be joining the net via mobile devices.