People Profile

Simon Verona, Dealer Management Services

1. How, when and under what circumstances did you get started in PICK?

My MultiValue story started in 1984. I was 13. My father ran a group of Auto Dealerships in London and had been an early user of Dealer Management Systems. Having installed a very simple system in 1978, he had the bug for how IT could transform a business.

He wanted a replacement system that could integrate all the departments of the business and deploy the business controls that he wanted but couldn’t find anything that did the job – the systems of the time were accounting products with bolt-on stock control.

Bravely, he decided to write one himself. He wasn’t a programmer but had some basic (no pun intended) programming experience and needed a simple-to-use development platform. A chance meeting with EDP (the UK distributors for ADDS) brought him in contact with the ADDS Mentor version of Pick.

As a 13-year-old, my computer experience was with home computers of the early 1980s. However, I was eager to help so, I worked alongside my father on weekends, earning money but also learning MultiValue.

Ironically, while the system was designed for use in-house, the dealerships previously run by my father were all sold. A computer company arose from the ashes.

Today our product is very different. The back-end database is written using OpenQM and delivered via a Cloud infrastructure to a Microsoft .Net client running on a Windows PC. It is far higher technology than the product we initially delivered all those years before.

2. Why do you think MultiValue applications continue to thrive despite being greatly exaggerated otherwise?

It’s simple. MultiValue allows business people to leverage the decades of deep experience in their vertical markets to write software solutions that are perfect for their market.

MultiValue still delivers the ability to come up with an idea at 9AM, have it written by Noon, and deployed to customers by the end of the day.

MultiValue development was Agile, years before the word was ever coined as a methodology.

Some of the code isn’t elegant but we write solutions that work, day in and day out. They are low-cost to write, deploy and maintain. This is our advantage.

3. What is a memorable event or funny story from your time in the market?

I’ve been doing this for 35 years now – three-quarters of my life – and there are funny stories all the time. I will recount a single memorable event – which was an online discussion with Jim Idle (the j in jBASE) back in maybe 2001. It was a discussion on a way of making a client-server product using jBASE Windows and message queuing to provide high tech interfaces between client and server. Jim was years ahead of his time, and probably still is, but this predated Web Service technology (which is essentially what this was).

4. What are you doing now?

Today, my company is about to celebrate its 23rd birthday, in what is probably the most difficult year of our existence. Still, we carry on, doing what we do. We have grown from 3 of us in a back bedroom in 1997 to a large office of 25 people delivering the highest technology solutions to the Motor Trade, Caravan Trade, and other similar markets here in the UK. We still have a MultiValue boiler room to our solution, with all our business logic still residing in Databasic.

However, we are also high tech, encompassing the latest in Object-Oriented Programming methods using Microsoft .Net and no longer need to justify our MultiValue roots.

5. What are you passionate about and why?

From a business perspective, I’m passionate about delivering solutions to our customers.

From a personal perspective, I’m realizing more that I have a responsibility both personally and in business to do all I can to create a better environment for the people that rely on me. From employees, suppliers, customers, and, most importantly, my family and children.
This has led me into being far more environmentally aware and responsible – reducing my personal and corporate footprints.

We now have a fleet of electric vehicles (I’m on my fourth Tesla) and we are moving to solar power and renewable power suppliers.

6. Who else would you like to see profiled or interviewed? Why?

The Late Richard Jowitt of EDP was a character. Liked by some, less so by others, but he was at least passionate!

Jim Idle, the co-founder of jBASE, is the most interesting person I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside, and probably to whom I owe the position I’m in now. Jim is technologically brilliant, very direct (maybe too much so), but is always able to give advice that makes sense.

These days, the lessons I learned from Jim still reign supreme – while the base of our system is still MultiValue, we always use the best tool for any job – whether that’s written in Basic, C# or leverages tools such as Curl or blat. An interview with Jim would be interesting!

7. Any words of advice during our current world situation?

Stay calm. Don’t do anything rash. If things are quiet, do all the things that you wanted to do – if only you had the time.

Don’t forget that while the whole world is focused on one thing now, that the future will be different, and we are generally well placed to take advantage.

Keep focused on the positives. Accept things you can’t change and work within the environment given to us.