Colin James tells us how he used his construction background to found his own IT consultancy
What's your employment history?
After my degree I started out as a site engineer at Costain, ending up as a site agent after four years. Then I spent five years in Canada as a site manager in Vancouver. After that I returned to the UK and worked for various contractors, ending up as a regional manager at Millers. Along with a couple of other people I set up Globe Construction Management in 1997. In 2001 we split that company into three chunks. Myself and a colleague set up Info-Matrix, a software provider and IT consultancy. That was a major career change.

Why did you take such a big step?
While I was with Globe I'd got heavily into using web-based IT programmes such as project management tools. I fancied a career change; I had an urge to do something really different, while staying within the same sector. And I saw an opportunity – I felt the industry wasn't exploiting the opportunities that web-based technology can offer. It was a niche that people weren't exploiting.

What kind of help can you give to construction firms?
We do bespoke programmes: we figure out what the client and the industry want, and then we get developers to write the code to provide that programme. We're doing a lot of programmes for performance measurement, health and safety monitoring, and management applications. We've also got a series of off-the-shelf products. We're working with major companies including Longcross, Optima, Interserve and Sainsbury's, and we're also working with the Highways Agency and the HSE.

What changes do you think we'll see in construction's use of technology?
There's going to be a rapid increase in the use of web-based business applications because they suit the nature of the industry – they're multi-user, multi-location. It's becoming more cost-effective; you don't need to spend lots developing your own software, or installing a local area network to link up computers. It's becoming especially useable now that we've got broadband. Another change we'll see is wireless connectivity – that's a little way off but it's definitely going to be popular.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The buzz I get from opening people's eyes to the benefits of using internet technology to improve their business. And I love matching up the technology with the business' needs. Some of the applications we're developing are relevant to other industries too. Seeing that side of the business develop is a real thrill.

Colin James

Age 49
Current job Founder, Info-Matrix IT consultancy
Qualifications BSc Construction Management, Coventry University (then Lanchester Polytechnic)
Lives Stratford-upon-Avon
Hobbies Rowing, skiing, and my son has got me into wakeboarding – that’s waterskiing on a snowboard. You’re supposed to jump off the wake of the boat in front. I usually end up battered and bruised!