AFTER official figures showed services businesses helped Scotland achieve surprisingly strong growth in the first quarter we hear from one of the technology firms that are helping to drive the success of the sector.


Doug More.



What is your business called?

AssureAPM Ltd.

Where is it based?

Edinburgh with an office in London.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

Assure APM provides advanced performance management of information technology with a range of services that are designed to give the customer more visibility and control of their IT systems.

Our software first of all establishes the ‘normal state’ of a company’s IT estate – from the software to the servers and everything in between. Once it has this it then monitors for anything that is unusual or potentially problematic. It looks at the complete system in real time, down to a granular level. This means that if there is an anomaly or problem anywhere in the system it can pin point straight away where action needs to be taken.

The software provides information on the entire IT environment in layman’s terms so that everyone will be able to understand exactly what the issue was and where it occurred.

We can also customise our technology for clients, educate them on how to use it to its full potential, and provide ongoing support. We also provide short-term services to troubleshoot issues, run health checks, predict growth and model the impact of changes.

To whom does it sell?

We do business with both the public and private sectors, from local councils to investment managers, Government agencies to private. Naturally, our clients have significant IT infrastructure. They include Baillie Gifford fund managers, Angus Council and the Scottish Government.

Our main business is to install our monitoring technology within the heart of the IT environment. This is what we provided to Baillie Gifford and they were delighted with the results. It has allowed them to improve end user experience and greatly decreased downtime. They’ve been able to spend more time on development and strategy as they no longer need to use valuable resources on firefighting.

What is its turnover?

Around £1 million.

How many employees?

Eight. We are looking to expand in the near future.

When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

I was semi-retired and sharing my knowledge and experience by mentoring SME businesses. To be honest I was a bit bored and restless. One night I met up with some ex-colleagues for a drink and they told me about some new technology they were using. I had a eureka moment, I saw a completely innovative and ground breaking way to use that technology. It would improve the collaboration culture between IT departments and the rest of the business and save costs. I really felt I could make a difference.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

When I was young I wanted to work in a number of roles, from footballer or golfer to dentist. There was even a particularly worrying period when I wanted to be a politician! However, as it turns out, I worked in IT for over 40 years.

I started at the University of Edinburgh where I was a member of the team that developed some of the first wide area computer networks in the world. I then took up a variety of IT management roles and was responsible for designing and implementing a number of ground- breaking innovations along the way.

I moved into sales for a while and then business management. I worked for multi-national brands and grew Stiell Networks organically from the ground up to a turnover of £50 million. I spent some time delivering high profile projects for the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government.

I have also been involved in the formulation, development, management and sale of IT businesses, most notably Stiell Networks, which was bought by Alfred McAlpine in 2002.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I am happy to say that we are self-funded.

What was your biggest break?

Being able to create something I believe was unique and innovative from tried and trusted technology was really the big step forward that Assure achieved. We proved it worked and we have not looked back since.

What was your worst moment?

There have been a few stressful moments but I believe that I thrive on stress. I know that at times those people working with me may not always have felt the same way as me so I try to make sure that we don’t take things too seriously. We can be determined in our business without it becoming all consuming. However, the truth is that apart from the usual ups and downs, I have enjoyed every minute of getting this business up and running and turning it into a success.

What do you enjoy most about running the business?

I really enjoy the innovation challenges I face on a daily basis and working with my colleagues to overcome these. I also relish the human relationships I build with clients, staff and partners. I try to be a good leader which, in my view, means having passion but also pragmatism, and someone who can inspire those around them with their vision and with their ethos.

What do you least enjoy?

Administrative paperwork.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

It will make me happy to know that Assure continues to make a real impact on the way businesses manage their IT and also that it is known for creating quality employment and training opportunities for talented young people.

What are your top five priorities?

Ensure we continue to offer the highest quality of service; maintain good communications as the business expands; motivate and inspire our staff; win more satisfied clients; continue to innovate in all aspects of what we do.

What could Westminster/the Scottish Government do to help?

I would like to see them offer tax break incentives for employment growth as well as help in subsidising industry specific training.

What was the most valuable lesson learned?

I really do believe that precise and unequivocal communication is king.

How do you relax?

I stay active and enjoy cycling, going to the gym, swimming and running. I also play a little golf from time to time. Having said that, the only time I truly switch off is when I am sitting in my season ticket seat at Tynecastle supporting the Jam Tarts.