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Sempre's Support Desk - Q&A with Tony Drew

Tony Drew works on our Support Desk, and is a vital part of the Sempre support provision. The support role is not like any other in the business so we sat down with Tony to find out a bit more about what makes it the perfect role for him.

18 months in, we thought it was time to let the world get to know you a bit better Tony! Tell us about yourself and your career before you became part of the team here at Sempre:

After finishing university with a degree in business studies majoring in information technology and international business, I found a position within the largest New Zealand IBM Business Analytics partner. The role involved a mixture of support and development with IBM TM1 and Cognos BI. The clients ranged from large regional and local government departments or Energy companies, through to smaller retail companies.

Because of my family history, I'm entitled to a UK Ancestry Visa. I thought I'd take advantage of the visa to travel and gain overseas work experience, so I moved here nearly two years ago and joined Sempre.

How are you enjoying England compared to NZ?

I'm having a great time here and I haven't had any regrets. The great thing about being in London is the ability to travel in Europe. My holidays always involve travelling to as many countries as possible and my last trip covered 9 countries in 17 days.

Describe a typical day on the Sempre support desk:

I don't think I could describe a typical day on the helpdesk as there's no such thing! Support calls range from technical hardware type error messages, to architecture or system issues, through to the more "how-to" and development questions within models or reports. There is also a wide range of clients from different sectors. They have different data and terminology to understand, as well as different requirements and expectations. On one call I could be helping to debug a complex report for a large insurance company, followed by a call to a small UK retailer who has problems with data transfer times over the web.

Sempre has recently launched Support Plus – what is that, and what makes it different to a standard support offering?

Support Plus enables our customers to obtain help beyond the typical support offering. Our customers are using an increasing number of tools, each with their own complexities; but the time constraints on customers also seem to increase each year. Support Plus provides a solution to both of these problems, by providing remote development of reports and models, as well as providing a service to answer more in-depth "how-to" type questions. We essentially become an extension to the customer development team. 

Contact us for more information on Support Plus.

What are the most enjoyable and the most challenging support desk queries?

The most enjoyable aspect is the satisfaction you get from solving customer problems. This often changes what was a bad day for the customer, to a great day. I also enjoy the variety of the role and the newer technologies such as Roambi, or cloud-based offerings, as it's interesting to see how it all fits together. It's also great to be one of the first to use new technology.

Support roles always provide a lot of variety and therefore require a great breadth of knowledge. This can be a real challenge, especially when the customer is stressed and in need of a quick resolution. Every client has a different environment, which can range in size and complexity, so I'd say the biggest challenge is understanding the problem, the impact and therefore providing a suitable fix. Also, some of the legacy technologies, such as Cognos EP, can be very challenging as there are often compatibility problems and or reduced resolution options.

How has the support desk changed as the company has grown?

Since joining, the support desk and everything around it has really grown. There has been an increase in the number of products we support, the complexity of each product and the scope within each product.

Also, the office now is much busier. When I started, you would often see just a handful of people in the office. Now it's not unusual to run out of desks! There are people on the phone all the time and the atmosphere is a lot more bustling; I'm really enjoying being part of the Sempre team.