Centre stage with Donnie MacColl, Director Technical Services EMEA at HelpSystems

Centre stage with Donnie MacColl, Director Technical Services EMEA at HelpSystems


Born – Born in Glasgow, Scotland and my family moved to England at the age of 4.

Studied / Education background – Studied CNC programming to work on prototype printed circuit boards before specialising in Local Area Network design and implementations. Achieved a Masters Certified Engineer, moved into Midrange IBM Systems Management, working with some of the largest Data Centres in Europe, USA and Asia Pac.

Current role / bio – I have more than 25 years’ experience in the IT industry, initially specialising in the management of IBM systems in manufacturing and logistics companies, as well as developing expertise in network and enterprise management.

As a regular speaker at international events, I have worked with many industry sectors to help improve cost efficiencies and implementing solutions across some of the largest data centres in the United States, Asia Pacific, and Europe. I specialise in cyber security, IT governance & compliance, and advanced automation across multi-platform environments.


Who do you work for and what does your role entail?

Working for Help Systems as the Director of Technical Services in EMEA and also fulfilling the role of GDPR Data Protection Officer for HelpSystems worldwide. I ensure that our software solutions and services are delivered consistently to the highest standards. Our software secures IT environments, monitors and automates processes, and provides easy access to the information people need.

I work with Technical Services and delivery, Support Services and Development and Product Management teams to ensure customers make the most from their investments with HelpSystems and achieve regulatory compliance.

Digital Transformation, particularly in the area of Robotic Process Automation has been key to our client’s growth over the past 4 years and continues at a rapid pace.

What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?

Working with various size clients has different challenges, but a lot of the challenges are common and just differ in size and scale. Therefore, my biggest work achievement may not be for the biggest company it may be for the biggest improvement in efficiency and digital transformation for a company that creates the highest percentage increase in ROI.

The biggest work achievement that makes me smile, as I know what a difference it has made at so many levels in a company, is the automation of payroll runs by a client. Prior to utilising HelpSystems Automate solution for Robotic Process Automation payrolls were managed manually. By embracing Digital Transformation RPA techniques, more payroll clients have been acquired without increasing headcount. The effect is that the client is financially more secure, ensures existing job roles are secured and employees can do much more, arguably interesting work, but much higher value work.

What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

Fear of making a start with a Digital Transformation or RPA project is the biggest challenge I see with companies I work with. Commonly this is due to perceived lack of knowledge, although I’ve seen reasons given as budgetary and Infrastructure challenges. I suggest you start small and automate a small easily repeatable process. Then pick a larger process and break it down into a number of smaller manageable tasks.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

If in doubt, ask. This is the best piece of advice I have ever been given in my first paid role when I was 16 years old. To expand on that I fully believe in the quote from the Dalai Lama “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

What are your predictions for the IT industry for 2019/20 or beyond?

Digital Transformation, especially AI and RPA and machine learning will continue to mature and merge into rapid efficiencies for businesses and personnel. Alongside this will be the need to have solutions to the challenges of securing, monitoring, auditing and informing on the end to end Digital Transformation lifecycle.

How do you perceive the hype around AI, a big concern ethically or a huge opportunity?

Ethical concerns around people losing their employment is a common fear but I genuinely believe from what I’ve seen over the past 25 years with monitoring and automation techniques where the same fears were voiced and the reality was people did higher value work and different roles than they did before.

I see AI producing similar results. I feel AI will create new employment opportunities that we haven’t even thought of yet, just as we haven’t thought of the limitations of AI yet.

I personally see it as a huge opportunity to increase reliability and consistency and to absorb and understand the relevance of big data mining solutions that we just could not interpret before.

What do you think is going to be the next big technology development? Quantum Computing? Smart Robots?

Adaptive or Collaborative Robotic Technology working alongside as opposed to instead of humans. Understanding feel and touch and pressure is I feel a long way off for AI and Robots. So I feel we will see hardware physical robots (as opposed to software robots) with much more intelligence than we currently have that depends on human/robot collaboration.

Join Donnie at Digital Transformation EXPO Europe

If you want to demystify in 30 minutes what Robotic Process Automation is and how it Powers Digital Transformation, then come along.

Register FREE for your place at ExCeL London on 9-10 October 2019.

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