Founder Interview - John Murphy, CTO Isle Systems
John Murphy is a Co-Founder and the Chief Technology Officer of Isle Systems. In this interview he gives an insight into the company’s beginnings in the lone worker solutions space and what still drives his approach to technology and innovation.
How did you get into this business?
“When we set up Isle Systems in 2005, there was very little in the way of lone worker solutions as we understand them today. And, by solutions I mean the full range of services and products a company can use to protect its lone workers, covering hardware, software, apps, support and so on. It wasn’t a defined area as such, it was largely unknown and it was very niche.
“I knew and had done work with Mark Hanley, who’s the other Co-Founder and CEO of Isle Systems. Back then – and this is before 2005 – Mark uncovered a communications problem in companies, a messaging problem if you like. When someone is already on the phone, and the receptionist receives another call for that person, there was no way for the receptionist to alert the person to the second call, which might be more important or more urgent. Mark asked me to develop an office-based messaging solution, because he knew he could sell it to his customers. If you remember this was about the time when instant messaging was emerging.”
What was this messaging solution?
“I built it and we called it Loop. It was our early instant messaging solution. Today you might think of WhatsApp or Viber in a much more general sense for communicating with multiple people at the same time. It could deliver messages desktop to desktop, and re-reroute them to mobile, or vice versa, and back again to facilitate multi-person, multi-device instant communications.”
How did Isle Systems come about?
“After we built this messaging solution, we heard about a company who had a pendant device for home use. This pendant device enabled the user to send an emergency text message to a call centre so that the call centre staff could respond accordingly. We already had our messaging solution and we wondered if we could put the two together so that the pendant could become a much more sophisticated and robust crisis communication device. Then, you could receive an instant SOS alert from a pendant on a desktop or mobile screen.
“Out of this came Isle Systems and our focus on the lone worker market, away from home users and into the environment where millions of people are working in unsupervised and isolated situations. Over the coming months, when we really got into lone worker solutions, we realised that there’s a serious science behind it. You might have two different city or county councils, for example, each with different types of lone workers, such as librarians, water treatment workers, warehouse operatives, traffic wardens and so on. Not only do the different types of lone workers have different requirements – a librarian has a less mobile and potentially less hazardous occupation than a water treatment worker – but the councils themselves have different processes for how they monitor and deal with alert situations. We had to build a system flexible enough to cater to and manage different lone worker profiles and different business processes.”
How do you maintain your passion for the business?
“I think that’s a bit like asking an artist why they like painting, when it’s a career doing something you love. I’ve always been fascinated by data communications, and making sense of data flying around a network. The complexity is the challenge. You accept it, find a way to succeed despite the complexity and that’s the satisfaction. At the end of it you have a solution that’s simple for a customer and their staff to use. It should be simple for them to use, even if it’s complex behind the scenes. When you achieve that, you know you’ve done it correctly.
“I think we’ve got the simplicity thing right for our customers, and for the market. I measure this by the very low amount of support calls we get. The stuff works, and people find it easy to use the devices and the technology. And behind the scenes is our messaging engine, managing critical and non-critical communications instantaneously across different devices, and different protocols, for different types of workers, according to different sets of business processes and rules.”
Contact us to have a conversation about how you can bring simplicity to your seemingly complex requirements for lone worker safety.