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Interview of the month

A major report commissioned by Taylor Made Computer Solutions has been conducted to identify the catalysts for change and how owner-managers are approaching IT issues.

In the interview with Taylor Made Computer Solutions & InSync Technology, the directors reveal what they perceive to be the issues if IT is to deliver key objectives.

Companies are realising that IT is now driving transformation, re-shaping our marketplace and the way we do business.

The challenges and how they can be addressed are revealed in our interview with InSync Technology, as well as the opportunities that emerge with a Strategic approach to IT.

Barry Flannaghan

Managing Director
Barry is a recognised expert in the areas of broadcast audio and video design. A co-founder of InSync Technology in 2003, and former Managing Director, he has an impressive record of leading commercially successful product ranges.

His skills extend into the requirements of complex algorithm specification, detailed analogue and digital design and high speed FPGA design. His particular specialities include composite video decoding and encoding, standards conversion and video noise reduction techniques.

Barry previously worked at the BBC, IBA and then Snell & Wilcox (now Snell Advanced Media), where he had overall responsibility for a many of their products.

Interview

Everyone wants technology to make things faster and easier to use. But some businesses should be careful what they wish for, warns Barry Flannaghan, co-founder and director of InSync Technology.

He makes the point that as IT in his field – the design and manufacture of electronics hardware and software for the broadcasting industry improves, competition tends to increase.

The company has seen continuous growth in sales and manufacturing output and has clients based in North America, Europe and the Far East. But Flannaghan says the pace of change in broadcasting has been a challenge.

“When we started our customers had to have a camera, studio and a lot of infrastructure to get programmes around the world but now if you want a TV station you just buy a mobile phone and get a YouTube channel. Broadcasters have jettisoned a lot of the hardware that was our bread and butter.”

However, he goes on, there is still a market for what InSync do. “Everyone talks about content and a lot of it is live. It’s difficult to do live TV on YouTube or television, so broadcasters continue to buy our equipment which enables them to do it.”

The company was formed in 2003 as a subcontractor to what was then Snell & Wilcox, providers of applications for media production, where Flannaghan and his co-founder Dave Kitchen worked. Snell Advanced Media remain InSync’s biggest customer. They originally provided only broadcast engineering support services, but expanded their activities to complete product design using InSync-owned IP.

What InSync specialise in is standards conversion, a continuing necessity since there are different broadcasting standards in the UK and other parts of the world, particularly the US.

And the conversions are difficult to do well, Flannaghan says. “So the requirement for our main IP will never really go away because we can make better conversions than are available from elsewhere.” So for now, InSync Technology, a specialist in video image processing and standards conversion, remain a step ahead in broadcast technology.

Another selling point is quality, says Flannaghan. “The kit we produce lasts longer and is more reliable so that means less maintenance and fewer failures which is important to broadcasters.”

The business has multiple servers, both on and off site, some of which run the product and some storing the data. Very little is stored in the cloud, Flannaghan being reluctant to rely on a third-party to be responsible for InSync’s data.
As a company of IT experts, staff share responsibility for fixing IT issues, though Flannaghan admits that they don’t much enjoy the internal IT, preferring to work with IT on product development.

The company became fully employee owned, via an employee benefit trust, in 2013 as a solution to what could have become a succession planning problem. “We were not getting any younger and we thought what are we going to do next,” explains Flannaghan. “We have an incredibly loyal workforce.

The company is as much theirs is as it is ours, and we just formalised that. It will be really in 2018; the tax benefits kick in when employees have had their shares for five years.”

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