It’s no secret that the global tech sector is advancing at an astonishingly rapid pace – not least in relation to the now integral role of digital transformation in spearheading growth and success. But no matter the size or scope or your organisation – or how sophisticated your innovation strategy is – the only way to drive significant change is to leverage the power of people.

So, to champion some of the industry’s finest talent, and gain insight into the minds of individuals from across the tech space, we’re inviting friends and partners of the business to take part in our quickfire Q&A.

This month, Sharon Annat, data analyst at leading shredder manufacturer UNTHA UK, takes centre stage…

Tell us about your role at UNTHA UK and the part you play in the tech sector:

My role is all things data. With a powerful software engine, Microsoft Dynamics 365, bringing increasingly more agility and efficiency to our specialist shredding operations, it’s my job to make sense of the data behind it. By providing dashboards, reports, and visualisations, our department leads and directors can proactively monitor daily, monthly, and annual activity to make data-driven decisions. These actionable insights are a critical source for us to cleanse data, further streamline processes, and optimise performance. 

What innovation was the turning point for your organisation, to get it to where you are now?

In the first instance, the introduction of Dynamics 365 in 2016 — the platform that leveraged our digital transformation. We were ahead of our time for an organisation of our size, which saw us garner acclaim in Digital Enterprise’s Top 100 three years running, including special recognition as one of ten Leading Lights in 2022. Then, the integration of Power BI empowered us with increased structure and visibility to enhance business intelligence.

And where’s next for your business?

At UNTHA, we pride ourselves on continual improvement, and this applies to our digital platform too. Bringing our remaining segregated processes under the Dynamics umbrella will enable us to further develop and strengthen our data analysis through Power BI. 

Finish the sentence: The biggest misconception faced by the tech sector is…

There are a number. However, the industry is always changing.  In line with International Women’s Day, I’d say one is that tech roles are male dominated. While the statistics support this notion as a whole, there is a growing number of women in tech roles today — many in leadership positions, driving companies forward.  As a mum to a daughter embarking on her own career journey, these amazing role models are essential for the next generation of young women, who are just starting out and forging their path. 

What do you think will be the biggest tech trend over the next 12 months?

The development of the data-driven business is upon us. Organisations are realising the value in their business intelligence to propel their company forward securely and effectively.  

Of course, AI is likely to play a key role in the coming months and years. However, as a mature analyst, I hope we don’t eliminate the satisfaction we experience from manually developing data, and never overlook the results humans can achieve with the support of innovative tech.  Automation that aids what we do is a positive benefit, role replacement is not. 

What top tip would you give to an individual trying to excel in their tech career?

If you’re embarking on years of study, choose a topic as broad as you can to allow you to diversify. What suits you now, may not in the future, so it’s great to have the ability to dip into other areas of specialism or branch out. Once you’ve found your niche, learn as much as you can and stay up to date with developments.

And, if the role is data related, KNOW YOUR DATA. It’s imperative that you have an understanding of your organisation’s and/or customer’s data before embarking on any development work. You have to be able to identify any rogue raw intelligence that doesn't have a place in your analysis. It’s all in the prep!

The next purchase on your personal tech wish list is…?

I’m not a huge techie, although a new camera would be very nice. Outside of work, I love the simple things in life — the great outdoors and fresh air. I think it’s important we nurture that balance in our lives, not least in a world so focused on tech and ‘the next big thing’.

And what is the earliest memory you have of tech in your life?

I think it was an Amstrad GX400 video game console. It’s the one with the little green square, that you hit against a wall like a game of squash. I’m showing my age now!

What is one long standing piece of tech that you are shocked is still used today?

Crikey, fax machines. 

If you are without the internet for an hour, what would be the first activity you resort to, to pass the time?

I’d do what I do now, and read. The feel and smell of a physical book is something you can’t get from a digital version, and it’s an immersive experience that I love. I have a very well stocked bookshelf.

Want more where this came from? Read our Q&A with Richard May, CEO of virtualDCS.