Journalist Q&A with Bertrand Gare, Editor in Chief of L’informaticien

April 10, 2012

By @Rose_at_O, @Olivia_at_O

Bertrand Gare is Editor in Chief of French ICT publication L’informaticien (or, in English, “Computer Scientist”), a monthly magazine with an accompanying website that is updated daily, along with a free newsletter.

 Q. Tell us about yourself.

I’m Editor in Chief of L’informaticien, a French-language publication for IT professionals. I’m also Associate Director of analyst firm Jemm Research, which specialises in IT infrastructure and consulting for large enterprises. My first job was at IPSOS, where I was in charge of all the sourcing of people for juries on insurance. In 1992, I was asked by a friend with a radio station to be responsible for an Asian radio program; after that, I became a journalist for a press agency focused on Asia and slowly began to specialise in technology.

Q. Tell me about your publication and its interest in IT.

 The print magazine now has over 20,000 readers, including IT professionals, administrators and project chiefs. It is very focused on technology in the field; in fact, there is actually computing code within the magazine from time to time. The website is more news-led than the magazine. Compared with other French IT publications, our magazine’s articles are lengthy, running from three to eight pages. That means we always take the time to provide analysis, not just bald facts. With today’s free news model, information has no value other than that added by the magazine.

Q. What is your readers’ interest in security?

 Our readers are the IT managers and administrators, and they want practical tips and technical insights.  We also have a publication dedicated to information security, Mag Securs; I write the technical articles for that myself.  The topic of my next article is how to tackle the problem of securing Wi-Fi.

Q. What is your readers’ interest in storage?

Our approach to storage mirrors our readers’ demands: administrators want tools, tips on best practice, and a view on emerging technologies.  It’s all very practical.

Q. What about mobile?

For us it is quite new: mobile and mobility are subjects we have only recently added.  I started looking at it about three years ago.  Now, it’s a very real part of modern information systems and it’s impossible to talk about the subject without referencing tablets and smartphones.

Q. And the cloud?

The cloud is a subject that impacts everywhere these days.  Here in France the cloud is at an early stage, it’s not especially well-developed, and generally it’s limited to the big enterprises.  It’s always the same in France: technology starts at the top and flows down.  In the UK for example, innovation often starts in smaller organisations.

In France, businesses are less interested in cost, instead focusing on what works. For that reason they are never the first as it is considered too risky to be first.  The result is that cloud adoption is very slow in France. Businesses want it off the shelf, not a customised approach.

Q. What’s hot in security? Storage? Mobile? Cloud?

It’s all about the data, data, data and data.  The top issues, I believe, are the protection of data and the prevention of data leakage; the overall volume of data and its management; in mobile, management of growing demand for mobile data and how to monetise that demand – because it needs to replace voice revenues; and the management of data in the cloud.

Q. Which events do you attend?

I like user conferences, and attend all the big ones, such as LotusSphere, EMC World and Oracle World.  I like them because I get to meet users and attend technical sessions.  There are, inevitably, four or five other events besides: events such as RSA Expo, Les Assises de la Sécurité et des Système d’Information in Monaco, SNW Europe, CeBIT.  Sadly there is no more Comdex, at least not physically.

Q. Which event do you look forward to most?

I think Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, WPC.  It is by far the best way of determining strategy. The next on is in Toronto in July.

Q. What type of stories catch your interest?

I like the sort of stories that analysts do not: I like what my readers like, which is applied stories – real-world experiences in which users have made changes to improve their IT systems and want to tell the world about what that has delivered to their business.

Q. How many interviews do you per week?

Probably between 10 and 15 per week.  I am an old school journalist, so I prefer the interview to be an exchange, not just a conveyance of facts; for facts I can take look at the press release.  For this reason I also prefer to meet face-to-face.  I want to go beyond facts and get real, individual quotes.

We also prefer to talk to a pre- sales person, not a marketing person.  I need to be able to prove this person’s expert credentials to our readers, and has to be able to demonstrate technical expertise.  He/she has to be able to offer real advice to our ‘real user’ readers, not just say “here’s a new product”!

Q. How do you like to be pitched?

Definitely email initially, or IM – try MSN or Google Talk.

Q. Whom do you follow?

I watch for stories on HPCwire, and I also follow the UK’s Chris Mellor.

Q. What’s your favourite piece of technology?

ERP – this software delivers information ‘the business way’.  It’s integral to the business side of things in a way that’s not true of security or storage, which are IT concerns.

Q. What do you consider to be the biggest technological development in security, storage, mobile or the cloud?

In security, I think defence against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks remain a priority.  This is an old story, but still a topical one.  In storage, for me it’s SSD.  In mobile, I think that developments in the interface have been crucial: touchscreens and voice recognition technology stand out.

In the cloud, it’s strategic alliances to make the cloud more manageable.

Q. What is your advice to someone pitching a story to you?

My advice is: please, be sincere.  It’s a rare but a worthwhile approach. Forget the corporate pitch and ditch the “we are the global leader” spiel.

Q. What is the best press trip you’ve been on?

Definitely the first CA World, in New Orleans. It was just amazing, with very helpful PR people.  Before that trip, everything was all desk research.

Q. And the worst press trip?

That would be the openSUSE conference in Nuremburg: it was an absolute geek camp.  I am very sympathetic to the brain power that was gathered there, but it was too geeky to be valuable to me as a journalist.  Technically it’s interesting, but it wasn’t too much fun.

Q. Do you have a favourite restaurant?

Yes: Brandy Ho’s in San Francisco, serving Hunan food.  I also enjoy the Côté Parvis, a restaurant in the Hilton Hotel at Place de la Défense, Paris.

Q. Are you a social media lover?

No, not so much – it is too time consuming.  That said, I use LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

Q. Do you have a claim to fame?

No, I’m too famous already!

Q. Do you have interests outside work?

I’m a Category One chess player, and I also enjoy role playing games, and reading and writing fantasy fiction.  And I like being sociable too!

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