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A non-technical history lesson

Andrew Fullen
July 01, 2019

I have the good fortune to work in the centre of the City of London and history is all around me. For me, and a history buff, it’s brilliant. Less than a couple of minutes from Sogeti’s office there are remains Roman and Medieval London still visible. A little further and there are several shops that have been trading for over 300 years. There are the Livery Companies which in some cases are well over 600 years old. There are castles, churches, and more that go back even further.

The ghosts of the older London have shaped the modern city, even down to the roads. Every new building that goes up, is built on the ruins of previous ones. Archaeological digs are common, and a legal requirement for most construction. Not far we have St.Paul’s by Christopher Wren, my second favourite building in the world, built on the ashes of the old.

What does this have to do with testing?

Quite a lot I’d say.

In this city the old has lived with the new for a long time. Even in computing terms, the old and the new exist side-by-side. The City of London still runs on mainframes and Cobol. It has startups operating on the bleeding edge of AI research. I’ve heard companies refer to Java as their legacy language and the desire to move to something more modern.

The old and the new exist in a thread of memory, a chain that reaches back long beyond a human life time. There is a history of adapting, of taking what works and improving it through new technology and ways of working. New ideas are sometimes welcomed and sometimes challenged quite strongly (we’ll skip over some of the times when the new ideas ended up on top of bonfires)

We are at an interesting time in the city. Parts of the country have turned inwards, while places like London have integrated into a very connected global community. London changes, adapts, keeps what works, and when it doesn’t it tries something new.

It’s a metaphor for a long term, successful IT strategy. Keep doing what works, try the new ideas, if they work, adopt them and make them your own, if they don’t work, then try something else. When the basics don’t work, then peel back to the very foundations and build again.

Sogeti’s been around for over 50 years, a long time in IT terms, by remembering to adopt, to adapt, by being adept. That’s why we can reach back to solve a legacy problem on a 40-year-old mainframe, or sit down and build a chatbot or a blockchain solution.

About the author

Head of Technology and Innovation | Sogeti UK
Andrew’s the Head of Technology and Innovation for Sogeti UK, joining the group back in 2009. In this role, he has worked with major clients across government and private sectors. Andrew joined Sogeti UK back in 2009 and is currently the UK’s head of technology and innovation.


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