June 13, 2024

‘Tis the season to be geeky

TripStax CTO Scott Wylie gives us an insight into what it's like to be a tech geek at Christmas, when he'll be 'on call' in his man cave

I love Christmas, but not for the same reason as most folk. For me, it means my phone rings less, fewer emails pile up in my inbox and therefore I can crack on with what I love best: indulging in being a total tech geek in the peace and quiet of my shed.

I do have just about enough self-awareness to realise systems development isn’t everyone’s idea of festive fun. So, although I am firmly in the Bah Humbug camp myself, I’m not Scrooge-like enough to make my UK team sweat over a hot PC instead of relaxing with their families.

However, many of our programmers are in India. For them, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, indeed the whole Yuletide period, have no special significance. They have numerous festivals at other times of the year, which, for many, signify more importance than Christmas. 

So, while some people are nibbling on mince pies, getting stuck into the sherry and winding down, I’m doing the opposite. I’m flying to India at the beginning of December to help agree an intense work schedule for the next few weeks so we can hit the ground running with new releases, get ahead and start the new year with a bang, or should I say a “BOOM’.

This does mean I will be ‘on call’ over Christmas. But that comes with the territory when you are a CTO, especially of a travel tech company, even one focused on business travel. Globally, there are roughly 100,000 flights every day and hotels continue to host guests, so there have to be travel service providers on standby for emergencies, including travel management companies and the tech companies like ours that support them.

Fortunately, incidents are rare. What is much more likely is that I will get a call from the team in India if they hit a development roadblock or need a decision only I can make.

I really don’t mind doing this. But I think carving out a big block of time off at Christmas is going to become increasingly tricky for any company whose offering includes technology – which means pretty much every business involved in corporate travel. 

Why? Two letters: AI. The artificial intelligence revolution (and for once that’s not an overstatement) which has swept the world during 2023 means what used to take a year to develop can now be done in a month. That piles the pressure on businesses to be continuous and fast to market with innovation.

Before you put a worried call into Workaholics Anonymous on my behalf, on Christmas Day the Wylie family – me, the missus (yes, believe it or not, there is a lady prepared to tolerate me), the children and grandchildren – will all be celebrating in our Christmas pyjamas and jumpers.

As the house chef, I will be serving up turkey with all the trimmings, including, before you ask, lots of brussels sprouts. Our cat Rocky will be climbing up the Christmas tree, like he always does, and our three dogs will be ripping into the wrapping paper and desperately longing for another pig in a blanket.

I will, no doubt, sneak off to my man cave occasionally, glass of Champagne in hand and antler headband wobbling on my head, to check if another urgent email has landed from colleagues in Mumbai, or at least that will be my excuse.