One-on-one with Martin McGregor of Devicie

Originally featured in ARN on 10 June, 2022.

Following his father’s footsteps into IT, Martin McGregor decided to branch out into setting up Devicie, focusing on security and device management.

His experience in working closely with business owners saw him gain a deep appreciation of their business requirements while learning the technique of how to influence people.

When he’s not trying to expand his customer base outside of Australian shores, you’ll find him with his fishing rod in some remote part of the world.

What was your first job?

I followed in my father’s footsteps and have always worked in IT. Through my father’s connections, I started working in tech jobs over the school holidays. I helped Data General, who ordered thousands of computers for a customer, to install network cards that had been forgotten. I also worked in its data centres, installing gear into racks and unboxing servers – all the stuff no one else wanted to do.

How did you get started in the IT industry and progress to where you are today?

After school, I worked with Uniq Systems, a partner of Data General, as a contractor doing IT helpdesk, and support for Kalamazoo, a company that made its revenue through paper goods. It was then acquired by Corporate Express, which was one of the first to sell office supplies online. I had a desk in a data centre and maintained servers and systems running Citrix Winframe. After that I spent years driving around to various customers fixing broken systems and building new ones.

I worked closely with the business owners and dealt directly with customers. The exposure to customers gave me a deep appreciation of their business requirements and taught me how to do business cases. I also learned how to influence people and apply the best technology solutions to solve their problems.

These experiences helped me later in my career to spot a gap for how to solve problems in device management. In today’s hybrid world, businesses need their people to be able to work securely from anywhere, across multiple devices, at any time, but IT and security teams face a challenge.

They must enable anywhere and anytime productivity on a wide variety of endpoint devices while keeping data and systems secure. This requires a delicate balancing act where security and compliance are important but can’t get in the way of employee productivity.

We set up Devicie to solve this problem and bring an innovative and cost-effective solution to the market to quickly close the gap, in a matter of weeks not years, without IT having to touch the device before it’s sent to end users. By leveraging automation, we’re able to support IT teams to gain more time to focus on other important work and mitigating risks.

What are some of your plans for Devicie in the coming months?

We are working to expand our customer base into the US, UK and EMEA and plan to double the size of our team over the next year.

We want to continue taking our innovative Australian solution global and help organisations and their people create a secure technology environment regardless of where they work.

With the increased focus on compliance and critical industries, device management remains one of the most commonly exploited vulnerabilities for organisations around the world. Using automation, we can support IT teams to rapidly uplift their security maturity in a way that enables fast employee productivity and operational efficiency for the entire business without complex or lengthy projects.

Devicie partners with Microsoft, Crayon, Somerville Group and Baidam Solutions. We are currently looking for more international channel partners providing modern workplace and security services to help us accelerate growth in key regions.

What has been your biggest business mistake and the lessons you’ve learnt from that experience?

We built Devicie on the back of decades of enterprise experience. We focused on scalability, so we can provide our product globally and service organisations with hundreds of thousands of devices.

At first, we thought larger enterprises wouldn’t want to take a chance on such a new company, so we focused on smaller organisations. However, it was the larger organisations that were most likely to benefit from our solution. They were suffering from scalability issues, remote work and cybercrime. If I could go back, I would have focused on larger enterprises first.

What are some of your ambitions – personally and professionally?

My driving professional ambition is to make a big global dent in cybercrime by protecting end users from cyber-attacks. And I want to make this possible for everyone – individuals, students, small- to medium-sized enterprises (SME) – and those who can’t afford expensive and lengthy security projects.

I also want to help people understand the importance of privacy and protecting it for everyone. Stifling privacy can stifle creativity and problem-solving ability.

Personally, I want to go on a big fishing trip every year to a beautiful remote place. My next one will be in a few weeks, 250 nautical miles offshore in the Coral Sea, halfway to New Caledonia.

What has been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

To stay technical and never lose sight of the context. When you stop understanding technology, you lose the ability to solve problems. It is important to be prepared to try and fail with technology; learning what doesn’t work is just as important as knowing what does work.

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