credit: Jackie Niam/Shutterstock
Toby Alcock is the CTO of Logicalis. Established in 1997, the UK based information and communication technology infrastructure and services provider today provides its services to a large number of organisations. It employs approximately 3,800 staff members across the web.
As CTO of Logicalis, Alcock has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the tech industry. However, this does not mean that he necessarily agrees with what is happening. For example, while tech campaigners have heralded the arrival of Web3 and celebrated non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse as major achievements, the Logicalis CTO has not been impressed. In fact, he tells Decision In our latest CTO Talk interview that he believes the NFT and the metaverse are overhyped.
The Logicalis CTO has a point. Ever since Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook to Meta, there’s certainly been talk about the Metaverse. They rebranded to show how the social media network is now going to focus on building a venture into the virtual world.
Other companies such as Disney, Microsoft and Epic Games have also announced plans to create their own metaverses. Even the Chinese government has said that it is not completely against the metaverse. Seoul is investing billions of dollars to make South Korea the center of metaverse development. It’s hardly a mystery why so many companies are looking for a piece of the market. According to Citi Global Insights, the metaverse will be a $13tn opportunity by 2030. However, the nascent virtual world is fraught with risks.
“The use of augmented reality, virtual reality and advertising will be integral in the metaverse, which in turn will escalate data privacy concerns,” warns GlobalData’s principal thematic analyst Rupantar Guha in a new podcast from the research firm. “As a result, regulators around the world will force Metaverse developers to address existing privacy issues associated with underlining technologies. So we see issues arise.”
NFTs have enjoyed a similar level of excitement. Being able to prove ownership of digital assets in the metaverse has been endorsed as a key aspect of the Brave New virtual world. The technology is closely linked to the cryptocurrency industry, thanks to both of these use cases being centered around the use of blockchain solutions.
Investment in industry initiatives increased during the pandemic. Venture capital backers injected $3.3 billion into the industry in 2020 in 532 deals, according to data from research and analytics firm GlobalData. That number rose to $26.4 billion in 1,010 deals in 2021. So far in 2022, VCs have injected $11.9bn into the industry in 613 deals.
But it looks like those happy days are about to end abruptly. The value of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether have crashed since their all-time highs in November. While the industry blames factors such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising inflation, others have suggested this is a sign of how flawed the current model of crypto is. It remains to be seen whether the current market downturn will have an impact on NFTs as well.
In addition to shutting down the Metaverse and NFTs, the Logicalis CTO also shares his biggest advice to other CTOs and why changing the boardroom’s attitude to technology is so important.
Eric Johansson: Tell us a little about yourself – how did you end up in your current role?
Toby Alcock:I have been working in technology for over 25 years now and have been in my current position at Logicalis since 2021. Early in my career, my first job was as a vineyard worker – turning my love of wine into a paying job! I spent my days planting grape vines in the Adelaide Hills in Australia between my terms at university.
After university, I moved into an IT engineering role, rolling out Windows NT 4 for a company called Comtech, which later became Dimension Data. I then started my own company, CNI, which specialized in using technology to deliver business value. I ran CNI for almost 20 years, working primarily with Microsoft Solutions, which led me to work as CTO at Logicalis Australia, since its partnership with Microsoft was already formed. Next, I went to the Logicalis group to understand how technology can impact global organizations.
Where did your interest in tech come from?
I guess I’ve always been interested in technology. Initially I wanted to be a pilot, and I still fly today; However, I failed my hearing test for the Australian Air Force because I had a cold. Instead, I went into computing and computer systems engineering. Initially it was just a hobby because I didn’t see it as a viable career path – how wrong I was!
What is the biggest technical challenge in your field right now?
To assist customers in addressing the variety of business challenges that they are facing. Labor scarcity, hybrid working, sustainability and safety are all huge for our customers at this time, regardless of their location.
How do you separate the hype from the actual innovation?
Genuine innovations deliver impact and value to customers as they are needed in the market. NFTs and the metaverse in general are some of the technologies that I believe are currently heavily invested in both, but I believe in real life The current ability to help people is out of proportion. When we think about innovation from a CTO perspective, we should think about whether the technology we are introducing to customers is going to solve a significant challenge, make a process more efficient, or Helping them achieve their business objectives.
What advice would you give to other CTOs?
Always be curious IT is such a fast-moving industry, so the skills you have today may not be entirely relevant tomorrow. Understanding the latest innovations is important as a CTO and understanding whether they are a good fit for your customers is so important. As our role as CTO becomes more strategic, being able to demonstrate how technology will impact business and customer goals is essential.
What is the most amazing thing about your job?
I have to do a variety of tasks on a daily basis, and I can cover the areas of business. At Logicalis, I receive input in many areas of business, including providing insight into how technology can impact the overall vision of the business, and where it can exceed the goals we set. I have a conversation about how our technology solutions can enable diversity and inclusion in our customers’ businesses, and where we can improve these to further enable D&I. Every day presents a new challenge, and a new opportunity to involve myself in another area of business, and I love every moment.
What is the biggest technological challenge facing humanity?
sustainability. Business and technology leaders are more aware than ever about the impact of technology on the environment. Despite the adoption of cloud technologies in businesses over the past two years, more needs to be done to address how energy inefficient IT can be. Businesses need data-backed plans to reduce emissions and reduce their impact on the environment. As business leaders, we need to rethink modern responsible business practices and work with partners and customers to make these a reality.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done for fun?
It’s a long list, I’ve found myself in many bizarre situations in my life, but they all make for great stories. I think skydiving sounds weird when you describe it to a kid, my daughter doesn’t understand why I would jump off a plane! And drinking coffee in which the beans have passed through the gut of a civet, otherwise known as “poop coffee”, must be there as well.
What is most important happening in your field at the moment?
The most important thing in my industry is the changing attitudes of business leaders to technology issues, away from sustainability and digitalisation. Traditionally, IT issues were dealt with by IT teams, regardless of the consequences on the business. Now, technology is part of the strategic center of the business. Decisions about technology are being made by the entire senior leadership team, and technology is becoming more involved in the conversation than ever before. I think the change in approach is mainly down to the benefits we’ve seen from technology during the pandemic, and business leaders are really starting to see its potential.
Will you be in another life?
pilot. Flying was my first love; I was really devastated when I failed that hearing test. I need to go back to my lessons.
GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its affiliated publications.