Intechnica seem to be everywhere at the moment.
SaaSJobs highlights them as one of the top 10 Manchester SaaS companies to work for, SiliconRepublic notes them as being ranked fourth in top tech companies making it in Manchester, and the Manchester Evening News lists them in the top 100 best and brightest tech companies.
Combined with the other recent great Manchester success stories, the continued recognition of their growth and the companies they are helping is a sure sign Manchester is the UKs undisputed Tech Centre outside of London.
I recently interviewed Adrian Moss, the COO of Intechnica - the world leading digital performance and scalability experts – to discuss the growth in technology skills and companies here in Manchester and the future of our city as European capital of technical excellence.
Intechnica are best known for providing digital strategy and infrastructure consultancy for eCommerce applications worldwide but most recently have released a new web traffic insight and management solution, TrafficDefender, which is taking the world of eCommerce by storm. It enables online retailers to enjoy the benefits of increased web traffic without worrying about their websites crashing and eliminating bot traffic from performing malicious activities
Adrian is a digital transformation veteran with experience growing high-tech companies across several sectors, previously working as the Product Director at AutoTrader and Project Director for RM plc. He has worked with leading eCommerce brands like Toys Are Us, Pets at Home, AO.com and JD Williams.
How long have you been based in Manchester?
I’ve been here for around 25 years. I came to college in Manchester and originally started working with the internet when it was very young. I built the UK’s first online mapping application as a developer and have worked in several start-ups and PLCs during my time here.
What do you like most about being in Manchester as a tech business?
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in a Manchester as a tech business. The tech sector is growing at a phenomenal rate. Take one look at all the cranes on the Manchester skyline building new office space for all the interesting companies we have on our doorsteps.
When I started work most of the tech was traditional businesses like IBM and Hewlett-Packard (now HP Inc and Hewlett Packard Enterprise), and then there was a wave of start-ups around the turn of the millennium which has continued ever since.
It’s really matured over the last five years. We had a thriving agency scene and off the back of that Manchester has developed the skills to sustain a much bigger business.
What I also find interesting and telling of the quality here in the City is the range of big businesses that have moved to Manchester. Autotrader, Sainsbury’s and the BBC being well-known examples of the top of my head. And it’s not just the big players, we’re seeing lots of innovative businesses, B2C, B2B tech and digital businesses all moving into the centre of Manchester. They’re recognising that it’s developed a rich seam of talent and it’s an exciting place to be.
Do you see any downsides to being based in Manchester?
As an employer, I suppose despite the great amount of talent we have in the city, the downside is good, fast transport links getting more people into the city. It’s quite difficult to commute from places near us, like Leeds and Liverpool. If we had some better transport links, Manchester could grow even faster. That is probably the biggest thing holding Manchester back now.
As a candidate, Manchester is a fantastic place to be – there’s such a variety of tech roles.
Where do you think are the key areas of growth?
For me, simple, it has to be Machine Learning. It will be the next super-growth sector within technology, one that will dominate all future development. Second to that I foresee building the next generation of really smart applications on top of the tech we’re seeing at the moment.
People talk a lot about big data but I feel we’re only just seeing the start of what big data means. Big data, cloud tech, machine learning – they’ll become more prevalent in all areas of life. This will have a profound effect on how we do business. They will make our lives easier, helping us to work smarter and faster.
I also think big data will really challenge the type of jobs out there. We’ll see some big shifts in the labour market driven by the fact you can put large quantities of data in the cloud and analyse it using machine learning - revealing patterns we haven’t seen before. That will have an enormous impact, perhaps even as big as the birth of the internet.
Do you feel that being in Manchester impacts your access to talent?
My experience is that if you look hard enough and you’ve got a remarkable story, you can find the right people. With so much high-quality talent, it is becoming the choice of the individual as to where they chose to be employed. You really must have a combination of being a great company, with leading technology and a clear mission to secure the best talent.
The founders of Intechnica made their reputation by building the high-power Glastonbury ticket sales engine (the one that actually stood up, as opposed to the ones that crashed under the weight). Having an interesting story behind how we got into building high-performing systems has assisted Intechnica’s recruitment and, in turn, our growth into delivering transactional, business critical systems.
Manchester has so much to offer, and I think candidates are fast realising that this is the case. As with any growing market, the demand for talent massively outweighs supply, but I’m seeing more and more people considering Manchester as their preferred location, over and above other big cities, including London which is starting to turn the tide and provide the foundations for more start-ups to appear and tech giants to relocate here.
What does the future hold for tech businesses in Manchester?
I think we’re in the middle of an enormous period of growth.
Going back a few years, there were questions around where would be the next big tech centre after London. Would it be Manchester, Liverpool, or Edinburgh? It’s undisputed nationally that Manchester is seen to be the UK’s next biggest technology hub.
Manchester is increasingly recognised on a European level as the hub for tech. People from across Europe look to come and work in Manchester.
Manchester has gone over the hump from being a regional centre for tech to a national centre of technical excellence.
What would you say to someone considering a move to Manchester from elsewhere?
In all seriousness, it deserves real consideration however I’ve met loads of people who’ve moved up after spending lots of time in London. The cost of living in Manchester is still relatively low so your money goes further. There’s an unbelievably rich and diverse culture here, with amazing nightlife and places to visit. The atmosphere in Manchester is very positive, particularly in comparison to other big cities.
I’d definitely recommend having a look around Manchester and meeting some businesses here - see the phenomenal depth and range of opportunities that Manchester has to offer.
More About Intechnica
They design, build and optimise cloud based systems for mission critical business operations, enabling organisation to serve more customers with less infrastructure and complexity. Allowing for investment and innovation to be made in other areas too.
Intechnica provides IT due diligence consultancy work with private equity businesses, typically when they’re looking to invest in or buy a business.
They provide a health check on how businesses operate and use IT. It takes a 360 degree view when looking at how businesses own and use their technology. Examining how they manage their roadmap, how the business and technology work together, how resilient their systems are, how well coded they are and what the organisational structure is.
After building the Glastonbury ticket sales engine that functioned, Intechnica have repeatedly worked with many of the most well-known eCommerce businesses, providing performance tuning and consulting on how they need to organise themselves to deliver better performing websites.
Everything they do has a mission critical aspect to it. Intechnica recently rewrote the insurance quote engine for a London insurance business. They work with eCommerce businesses providing their platforms and write all the management systems for other large retail businesses.
TrafficDefender Queue Management
Intechnica has also built a product from their performance heritage, in that they built it after noticing a trend in the market.
Speaking about the product Adrian said: “If a website goes down due to a performance issue it’s a really serious problem. If a website is down, you can miss peak trading periods. It’s very intensive trying to work out what transactions are complete, who has been sold what.
“We built TrafficDefender to protect websites in the event of traffic surges, forming a queue on the website.”
TrafficDefender Bot Detection
Having built TrafficDefender Queue Management Intechnica saw a lot of websites getting a huge amount of non-human traffic and created Bot Detection to help combat and control bot traffic.
Explaining the move into bot control and management, Adrian said: “Bot traffic can span a number of areas.”
“There are bots you would want on your website, like GoogleBot that you need to promote business, and there are bots you definitely don’t want on your site - people trying to penetrate your website and so on.”
But it not just a case of good vs. bad, he continues “In the middle, there’s a whole set of bots that depending on your business, you may or may not want on your site. Some businesses want them, to promote their product with third party sites, other businesses will regard it as price scraping and content theft.
“We’ve built a system that enables businesses to manage their web traffic, identifying what is not human traffic and challenging it. We’re currently scaling that product in the market.”