Thomas Coats (J Swap Group of Companies)

Thomas is the IT Manager across the Matamata based J Swap Group of Companies, a renowned name in the Kiwi contracting industry with operations covering civil, aggregate, transport, stock foods, storage and logistics.

We interviewed Thomas to find out more about the what he does and how he works, key priorities, and for his thoughts on the ICT sector in Waikato.

What is your favourite habit to keep up to date with the latest technology trends? 

Although I spend a lot of time researching new products & services, I'm lucky to have a wide network of technologists across Australasia & Europe, so I often find out the most valuable information from sharing real experiences with other practitioners. 

What is your favourite habit to keep up to date with the latest technology trends? 

I use twitter, rss feeds, reddit and Slack channels to stay up to date. I’m happiest receiving news through other people because you can get their twist and interpretation. Everything is subjective so I’m selective about the people and organisations who I pay attention to.

What does J Swap do? 

J Swap is a vertically integrated family business employing over 480 people across New Zealand. Our main divisions – transport, aggregates, stockfood, civil, storage & logistics – are supported centrally by dispatch, administration, workshop and engineering groups based in Matamata, New Zealand.

What is your role at J Swap and what does your role involve?

As IT Manager I’m responsible for the digital services used at J Swap from servers and networks to software and cell phones. I work with our suppliers to provide the people who work at J Swap, our customers and suppliers the tools they need to do their jobs.Daily I spend my time meeting with people, planning and running projects, reacting to issues and working on strategy.

What are your priorities? 

Everything is to support the J Swap business which is 24/7. My attention is most focused on reliability and reducing risk. We’re also looking to the future which is about digital transformation and using data to be more productive.We are having a lot of success with simple consumer services - drawing on photos, syncing files with cloud storage. We are making use of SaaS products for workflow - Typeform, Zapier, Trello.My highest priority is raising the profile of digital across the organisation. Helping people to use technology to solve real problems.

What in your opinion are the greatest opportunities and challenges the ICT sector faces in the Waikato/NZ? 

There are so many software as a service products available that this is the greatest opportunity and also the greatest challenge for businesses in the Waikato. These services increase productivity, reduce overheads and make it easier to build processes. The challenge is knowledge and making sure we are using what is available.Many organisations feel unique, set in their ways or want an enterprise version which is rubbish. So many problems are solved with a free or $50 per month service that the time thinking and discussing alternatives would already pay for a year’s worth of services.

My wish is for all Waikato businesses to be aware of and utilise SaaS products. This would give us a tremendous edge in our markets. I don’t want us solving the same problems over and over again. I want us tackling the tough problems of the world and automating everything else.

For more information visit www.jswap.co.nz


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