Doing business with Michael Rich of Attache Software

Doing business with Michael Rich of Attache Software

'Stand in the business owners' shoes when talking about IT.'

Michael Rich Company: Attaché Software

Position: Managing director

Age: 62

Where were you educated? New Plymouth Boys High and Victoria University of Wellington. Both great institutions.

Where do you live? In Sydney, but we still own a house in Auckland. Attaché Software has businesses in both countries and I like to get back to New Zealand as often as I can.

Are you married? Kids? Married to Karen for 39 years with three children (all married and one grand-daughter). They work across tax, IT and M&A.

What are your interests outside work? Rugby, wine, fine food and bush walking — ideally all in the one weekend!

What are you reading at the moment? IT Savvy (Harvard Business Press) — It is based on research that concludes IT savvy businesses are 20 percent more profitable than their competitors. And it doesn’t mention cloud computing or virtualisation once!

Professionally, who do you admire most? Apple — for the ability to reinvent itself.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? “Get an accounting degree son and then figure out what to do.” It was from my father.

A lesson you’ve never forgotten? Stand in the business owners' shoes when talking about IT — if it can not be explained in plain English, odds are you are talking rubbish.

How long have you been working in IT? More than 30 years, mostly in financial applications and electronic document systems. I have always had a focus on how to improve my customer’s businesses. I’m always trying to figure out better ways of how to use IT to help reduce debtors, stock, expenses and fraud, while helping increase sales. Good old fashioned basic stuff!

What is the best thing about working with IT executives? I don’t spend much time with IT executives, but the industry certainly keeps your blood flowing as it reinvents itself every few years. I mainly speak with business owners and directors, plus bankers and accountants, who often ask me to translate what is going on.

What is the worst? I think the IT industry in general has lost touch with reality. They talk technical jargon rather than operational benefits. It is causing many business owners to feel inadequate and abdicate responsibility for IT decisions and implementation to people who aren’t up to the task — like their neighbour or bookkeeping! The result is they miss out on the tremendous benefits IT can bring a business and often end up in an IT train smash.

What is your favourite networking situation? I like to network with clever people, people who know what’s really happening in our marketplace. I am always trying to find out the kind of frustrations or challenges they face on a day to day basis.

What will you do when you retire? I really love what I do. I get a thrill when the letters and emails turn up from clients telling me how we have helped them, and there is so much left I want to do that it is difficult for me to even contemplate retiring.

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