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2013 - The Year in Review: 
An Excellent Year For Irish Business 


2013 was a successful year for the Irish economy and business culture. Raking in numerous business accolades, coming top of many European and global business surveys, and officially exiting the European Union bailout this month.

Hardly a day has gone by this past year without their being a news story on a success in Irish business, or news of a company’s expansion in Ireland - bringing with it new jobs to the Irish economy. 


Here is a roundup of this past years business stories:
 

January
 

Huawei: Leading global ICT solutions provider Huawei announce the opening of two new research and development sites in Dublin and Cork.
 
Etsy: Online marketplace Etsy establish their EMEA headquarters in Dublin, with investment supported by Irish Government Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland.
 

February
 

Ebay: announce their creation of 450 new jobs in Dundalk
 
Facebook: Richard Bruton, minister for jobs, enterprise and innovation, announces Facebook will create over 100 new jobs at their international headquarters based in Facebook Ireland.
 
Quanticast: establish their EMEA Operations Centre in Dublin, citing Dublin’s mix of vibrant local technology business scene, an exceptional talent pool and easy accessibility to Europe’s major markets as influential in their location decision.
 

March
 

McAfee: the world’s largest digital security company, meet with Mr Edna Kenny TD to announce their creation of 60 new jobs with the company’s establishment of a worldwide Centre of Excellence for Enterprise Security Solutions in Cork.
 
Yahoo!: expands their operations centre in Dublin, creating 200 new jobs over the next year to support their EMEA business.
 
Zurich: Leading insurance group, Zurich announce the creation of two IT hubs in Dublin, along with 112 jobs.
 

April
 

Ireland announce planned bailout exit: Ireland’s foreign investment agency, the IDA, announces that their planned exit from the “troika” lending programme at the end of 2013 will bolster their global reputation.
 

May
 

Ireland Rises up World Competitiveness Rankings: Rising three places up the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2013 to number 17 Ireland sees itself improving in areas of government finance, growth and inflation. Competitive tax regime, skilled workforce, business-friendly environment and high qualities of education are referenced by executives are amongst the main attractions to Ireland.
 
Fujitsu: Fujitsu announce a series of collaborative Irish research projects to help inform the company’s future strategy.
 
Mafic: As a result of a multi-million Euro investment in their new production facility in Kells, Co. Meath, a part of the Succeed-in-Ireland Initiative, basalt production company Mafic will be creating 70 new jobs over the next three years.
 

June
 

EMC: A €100 million investment into Ireland brings with it the creation of 200 new high-skilled jobs and a new office for EMC. The new positions include engineering, customer support, sales, finance, research and development and IT which will take advantage of Ireland’s well-educated workforce.
 

July
 

Strong FDI: With seventy projects secured in the first half of 2013, there is a demonstration of a strong flow of foreign direct investment into Irish business economy.
 
Pfizer: $130million invested into two of Pfizer’s manufacturing sites, Grange Castle, Dublin and Ringaskiddy, Cork.
 
New Flight Path Expands Business: Future foreign investment stimulated by the announcement of a new direct flight link between Dublin and San Francisco by Aer Lingus.
 

August

Fugro: Dependent on the availability of global partnerships, high-value equipment, technology and software for their research and development, Fugro NV establishes their Photonics Global Research Centre in Ireland.


September
 
Twitter: Twitter announces plans to double their Irish workforce, adding an extra 100 new jobs to their Dublin office.
 

October
 

Success For "Succeed in Ireland": The government’s “Succeed in Ireland” initiative brings 83 new jobs to Ireland as four companies establish new offices in Cork and Dublin, introduced to Ireland through ConnectIreland.
 
First Irish Intel Chipboard: Intel announces the first chipset to be designed and developed at their facility in Co Kildare: the Galileo board, containing the Quark X1000 chip, both developed in Ireland.
 

November
 

Most Entrepreneurial Country: Ireland announced as the most entrepreneurial country in the whole of Europe.
 
Deutche Bank: Deutche Bank announces plans to expand their business to Eastpoint Business Park, Dublin. The expansion brings with it 700 new jobs, hiring at the start of 2014.
 
Facebook: Facebook announces expanding their office space in Ireland to Grand Canal Square in Dublin’s Silicon Docks. The move will bring with it 1000 new employees and double their presence in Dublin.
 

December

Ireland Best For Inward Investment: IBM’s Global Investment Locations Database, which tracks announcements from companies on their location decisions over the past year, produces their annual Global Location Trends Report that places Ireland as first in the world for inward investment by quality and value, first in Europe for number of investment jobs per-capita.

Irish-based US Employees Most-Profitable: A report created by PwC with data from the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland announces that Irish employees of US multinationals are more profitable than those located in any other European countries. The annual profit from an individual Irish employee averaged at 23,588euro, whilst others ranged from 4,021euro to 9,514euro.

Bailout Exit: Ireland officially leaves the EU bailout

Microsoft: Microsoft declares plans to their European datacentre located in Dublin as a result of a €170million investment. The project will create 380 building jobs, and space for 20 new employees at Microsoft’s datacentre.
 
Regeneron: Citing Ireland’s highly educated workforce and the already strong biopharma industry present, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals announces plans to establish a state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical site production facility in Limerick, along with the creation of 300 jobs.

 
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Magic & Simplicity:
An Interview with Soft Potential Director, Giancarlo Stoppani

 
Soft Potential, a company set up to design and develop software solutions and IT services for Healthcare, Document Management, Money Transfer and Cloud-based solutions, was founded by Riccardo Stoppani, Roberto Stoppani, Elisabetta Dalle Mese and is run by Giancarlo Stoppani as a Director. They started working together in 1995 and their skills are software engineering, system engineering and workflow management in the healthcare.

Originally based in his picturesque homeland Italy, Giancarlo - with the professional assistance of the International Digital Services Centre – is lean scaling his business and relocating in Dublin, Ireland.

I sat down with Giancarlo to discuss the reasons behind his move from Italy, capital of the renaissance, to Ireland.


Leaving Paradise
 

In recent years Italy has become notorious for a host of negative connotations when it comes to business deals, politics and economics. “Business in Italy today is highly complex” said Giancarlo, “the way everything has to be managed in business takes up an unnecessarily large amount of resources. At any one time multiple personnel must be dedicated to the sole process of bureaucracy.”
 
Italy has found itself restricted by a lack of a digital culture. Levels of digital confidence within the country’s population are among the lowest in the EU, at below 30%. This has left them using outdated methods, and confounded by administrative/bureaucratic red tape in their tax system.
 
It was not always this way however, “In the 1990’s it was different, better than today. Everything was simpler for business. Now it has become complex and overly-complicated”. This was the key impetus behind Giancarlo’s decision to relocate his business elsewhere.
 
Economic difficulties in Italy have seen worsening credit conditions and rising interest rates, making it harder for companies, particularly SME’s requiring vital funding, to secure much needed bank loans. Any application for funding from an Italian governmental body requires struggling through a long and tedious, drawn-out process.
 
A hard story for Giancarlo to tell, one where his much loved homeland of Italy: a country full of rich intellectual history, passionate people, iconic food and a beautiful profound culture, is no longer the right place to host his business. “It is a hard thing for me to speak badly of my country, I love it, but it is the truth.”
 
 
Scaling New Heights
 

Giancarlo was introduced to the International Digital Services Centre in April of this year, by Enterprise Ireland.
 
Asked for the reason behind choosing Ireland, a country which differs environmentally from Italy in almost every way, Giancarlo stated: “It is because it is simple”. The Irish business culture has provided him with a much needed breath of fresh air in contrast to the classic Italian way of doing things.
 
Through lean scaling his company and consultation with the IDSC Giancarlo was able to find a cost-effective solution and scale his business in an efficient manner.
 
The IDSC framework defines lean scaling as:
“The act of growing your business internationally, utilizing tried and tested scaling processes, using appropriate digital technologies and iterating effectively in response to local requirements on a global scale.”
 
This process of lean-scaling provides businesses with company incorporation, bank account set-up, a plug-in and go office space, directorships, and professional consultancy services for revenue operations.
 
“Business is so much easier. There is a better tax system, one which any business-person can understand.” Ireland currently enjoys a rate of 12.5% corporation tax. Italian corporations must pay up to 50% and even more, made up of a number of taxes, that drain out any possibility for investments. Moreover the 25% Irish tax credit on Research and Development expenditures is also a crucial help for software development companies who continuously innovate their products and services.  
 
Italy’s rich, complex, layered history has meant that it has become convoluted over so many years, and it is now easy to get lost inside the system. Companies are made to process more than 15 tax payments a year, taking on average 269 hours to deal with.
 
When asked how this tax system compares to that which he experienced in Italy, Giancarlo described it as equal to comparing “Black and white”, or similar to comparing the differences between Italian and Irish weather.
 
 
Talent Pool
 

Ranked fourth in the world by the World Bank for the availability of skilled labour and openness to new ideas, Ireland also gives companies access to a young, vibrant, multilingual and well-educated workforce.
 
“English-speaking countries are pragmatic; they have a way of making something that appears complex simple and practical”. Although this meant that Giancarlo could quite easily have chosen to base his company in England, he decided against it. “In England the system is much more Aristocratic. Irish people work from the ground up. This attitude appealed to me because it is similar to my Italian cultural roots. In Italy we admire those who have worked their way up from the dust”.
 
On a more personal level Giancarlo describes the transition to Ireland as being “sweet and sour”. Looking back on his first big move Giancarlo said “In some way I have the same feelings I had when I was 18 yrs old, when I moved from Macerata (a small town in the centre/east of Italy) to Rome, to apply for university. The only difference is that at that time I was young and essentially without any responsibility. Now at 46, with a family and great responsibilities in the business, I have to take more mature decisions”.
 
 
Gateway to New Markets
 

Currently in the middle of the move and hoping to become settled by summer 2014 Giancarlo is aware of the benefits it will provide. “For the business opportunities I am obviously happy, because I understand that this is a great opportunity for the company and even for me, my family and my brothers,” says Giancarlo
 
The move has strengthened already existing ties with American companies and expanded the possibility of access to new international markets.
 
 â€œHowever, it’s not straightforward to move from your home country, especially if you have a family with children and a thriving business… Luckily the fact that Italy and Ireland belong to EU makes a number of those points easier to understand and apply for”.
 
Ireland’s membership with the EU, and the availability of international travel from budget flight company Ryanair, means that Giancarlo is easily able to visit family and friends back in Italy, or other business contacts in other countries.
 
Once completing his move to Ireland Giancarlo’s dream is for his business to reach the international market. “Other countries may bog you down in the complexities of their internal systems, preventing you from any global potential.” But for Giancarlo and Soft Potential in Ireland, the future looks bright. Giancarlo and Soft Potential are ready to prepare themselves for business worldwide. 

 
For more information on Enterprise Ireland please visit: http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/

For more information on the IDSC please visit: http://theidsc.com/

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"Tweet all about it!"
How Has Digital Revolutionised Newspaper Publication in the 21st Century?


Gone are the days when men would walk to work along dusty pavements followed by the chorus of a 12 year old boy singing “Extra, extra! Read all about it” from a street corner. The rise of the digital transformation has changed this altogether.

Today those businessmen are reading their news from an Iphone and that boy is running his business online. His cheerful cries would be operating from a social media platform, probably Twitter.

It might present itself as something along the lines of this:

 
Breaking News Kid (@NewspaperKid): “Extra, extra! Get all your live news here! #ReadAllAboutIt”

Read All About It, All of the Time
 
Many consumers and newspaper publications alike are lamenting over this decline of the printed newspapers. But is the fall of print and the rise of the digital publication something news companies should fear, or is it an opportunity?
 
Online publication has opened up a whole host of new channels linking the newspapers to their readers. Smartphones, tablet devices, Kindles, websites and social media mean that the reader is now connected to the news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No longer do people wait until tomorrow morning for yesterday’s news; they expect their updates to be live.
 
This illustrates one of the necessities in the digital age. There must be anywhere, anytime access. The website should be accessible at any time on devices such as laptops, computers, and smartphones. The popularity and potential of apps should also not be ignored. Many of the most successful publications have their own apps that send live news updates to a person’s smartphone or tablet, or they collaborate with services such as the Windows 8 Bing News app.
 
It cannot be forgotten that these new channels between the reader and the newspaper are flowing both ways. The reader is now the newspaper’s unofficial reporter. Instead of waiting for postage, tech-savvy newspapers can take advantage of email, online article comments, social media (in particular Twitter and their hashtag facility) to directly interact with readers. It is commonplace for news websites to have an “Opinion” section and comment facilities under stories.
 
So how can companies keep up with these expectations?
 
The digital reporter undoubtedly should be connected and digitally enabled in order to function effectively in today’s world. Many publications have begun equipping their staff with iphones, tablets and laptops. This allows their reporters to tweet (and if it calls for it, upload a photo) live from the scene, then write an online article, all before writing their full story for tomorrow’s print.
 

Digitise for Success
 
Newspapers must move away from focusing on a completely traditional mindset of printed media and adopt digital.
 
Advertising revenue has accounted, on average, for 80% of total income. The revenue from printed advertisements however, dropped by 44% between 2005 and 2009. The only advertising revenue to rise was online.
 
The process should be taking advantage of the digital tools now available, and using these tools to improve the customer’s experience. In the digital transformation the customer is the co-creator.
 
A culture has developed whereby it has become the norm for news to be free. Almost all major news publications have all their news freely available on their website. Experiments have been made with paywalls, but these are short-term fixes and have been relatively unsuccessful. People no longer expect to be charged for online access.
 

Measuring Loyalty
 
Now the barriers that were once present in the form of overhead costs for printing equipment, paper and distribution have been removed, almost anyone can set up an online newspaper. As such, many newspapers struggle to generate online loyalty amidst the ever expanding population of digital publications.
 
In the face of this tidal wave of small and independent digital newspapers, companies need to transform their articles from one-click wonders into a gateway to the rest of their website.
 
To help enable this, one of best digital tools available comes in the form of analytics and big data.
 
Google analytics allows companies to measure traffic and track the popularity of different pages and articles on their website. This data is vital. It tells the company which areas are working, and which are not. Through proper analysis the data can be used to direct focus on areas that show success or promise, and to help locate exactly where to stimulate and direct traffic. Well analysed and organised data can also be used to promote precision advertising from relevant sources on the website.
 
Through this analytics provide an essential advantage exploiting the full potential of online advertising. Data, data, and more data can be used to compile information and statistics to help work out where to improve. This includes such information as the number and demographic of those visiting certain pages.
 
Bringing all this together can provide a company with essential pointers, directing where to target resources. It also provides evidence to those wishing to advertise, that the right kind of people are visiting the page where their advert will be hosted.
 
This is just a taste of what digital has to provide. There already is, and will not cease to be, many more tools created by the transformation which can aid any company’s development.
 

The Future of Print
 
In the end, the question everyone is really thinking is simply: will print media survive?
 
It is quite possible that it will, after all, radio survived television. Then again it may not; the cassette tape did not survive the CD or the MP3. It all depends if consumers still find something convenient in print. The radio survived television because people still like listening to music and talk shows, and for this video is not needed. The cassette tape however, did not provide anything not found in CD/MP3 apart from inferior quality and digital restrictions.
 
Companies must realise the division between print and digital. They must not be afraid to adopt digital as simply an extension of their publication, rather than fearing it as the death of their printed paper. Digital opens up their company to a huge new market, without (as many fear) destroying the market for their hard copy.

 
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Attention Startups!
How to Motivate Your Employees in 2014 with Mouna Kenzaoui

 
It is no secret that motivating your employees is crucial in a start up business.  It’s can also be more challenging in the absence of a proven concept, historical trading success and achievements.  As entrepreneurs we live and breathe our companies. 

So how can we get that same commitment from our employees? 

My experience as Founder and CEO of Martinsen Mayer, a recent start up Recruitment Company, is to work hard at motivating employees but at the same time I try not to be over bearing.  In other words engage with them but don’t try so hard that you distract them or micromanage in any way.

I’d like to share a couple of tips and learning experiences from my first 6 months as Founder and CEO.  I still have a lot to learn as a leader so if you have anything you would like to add I’d love to hear your comments.

 

Humility

As the CEO and founder of a start up I am very passionate about our business including our long-term vision and strategy for growth.

However I have witnessed and experienced first hand many entrepreneurs who are so passionate that they actually become self centered, forget to listen to their employees, don’t respect employees idea’s or embrace their individuality. 

Many entrepreneurs unintentionally demotivate their employees so it’s crucial to avoid falling into that trap.  Leave your ego at the door and ensure you motivate your team (from their perspective).

 
The Early Employees

The people you hire in the very early days help set the tone and culture for a start up. Hiring employees who are purely financially motivated is not a wise step in a start up. 

All or at least the majority of start ups will experience low points or challenging trading periods. These employees will be the first to jump ship in these circumstances. 

Financial motivation is a positive trait but a start up needs employees who also believe in the long term vision, the potential to be better than the competition and believe in the job they are doing.

Early employees should be excited to be part of a start ups journey and understand that there will be bumps along the way.  Of course it’s up to the leader to communicate the vision clearly - more about that later.

The early employees should be dynamic, hard working and most importantly not ‘yes men/women’. As leaders we often think we are always right (again going back to ‘ego’), however the reality is the power of a team who challenge me to think in different ways, to learn more and to improve as a leader has contributed greatly to early successes for Martinsen Mayer. 

Risk takers are essential in a start up- a team who simply follow every instruction without autonomy will stifle the growth of a start up.


Transparency and Communication.

Employees won’t get meaning from their jobs if they don’t believe they are part of a ‘shared vision’. The importance of regular and transparent communication is vital for employees to feel respected and part of the organisation’s vision. 

Encourage your employees to provide input as opposed to one-sided, top down communication. Be decisive while fostering a collaborative environment. Non-specific directions or threatening communication such as ‘get it right next time’ will not help or motivate employees. 

Be specific and if coaching is necessary do it in private, not in front of their peers. Management by fear is still very common and something I believe is important to avoid at all costs, especially if you or the business is having a bad day!


Variety

Martinsen Mayer is a recent start up recruitment business- most of the employees are recruitment consultants and managers. 

While it’s important that they are focused on their main goals we are still a relatively small team so I encourage and empower everyone to get involved in other areas such as blogging and social media.  Cross functional teams are encouraged. It encourages innovation, a dynamic environment and prevents monotony creeping in. 


Celebrate small and early successes

Even if the business isn't on track to achieving the overall target on time it is still important to celebrate any small victories along the way. 

Recognize an individual’s performance and celebrate it with the rest of the team. Even if it is something as simple as ordering in pizza’s for lunch. 

And it goes without saying: remember to say ‘thanks!’

 
More information on Martinsen Mayer can be found at: http://www.martinsenmayer.com
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Launchpad to the World: GconnTec & 451 Research's Host in Ireland Report


Last month GconnTec and 451 Research released Host In Ireland, a research-based online tool, designed to help organisations planning on Hosting Digital Assets into the EMEA region.

Through independent analysis with 451 Research, this website rates Ireland on it's ability as a hosting location for digital assets into the EMEA region. What emerged was a portrait of Ireland as launching point into the world.


Garry Connolly, founder of GconnTec, spoke to the IDSC about the research behind the report, what it has discovered and what he hopes the report will bring to the Irish business landscape.


What was the rationale behind this report? 
 

This report was intended to provide an objective assessment of the attractiveness of Ireland as a hosting destination for digital assets.
 
To bring an extra level of objectivity we tendered to the leading research companies in to conduct the Primary Research work and we appointed 451 Research in June 2013.
 

What factors did you use to score Ireland on the quality of its location for hosting digital assets? 
 

451 Research identified the key factors that drive destination selection decisions and mapped those against Ireland’s capabilities.
 
These factors were: 
Economic & Political Stability, Tax & Financial Benefits, Energy & Electricity Mix, Legislative Environment, Infrastructure Competitiveness, Hosting, Cloud & Big Data Readiness, Local Workforce, Government Support, Case Studies & Success Stories.  


How long did the report take to compile, and when was it released?
 

Around about 3 months, officially it was launched in November 2013.


What was the process used to decide the score behind each factor? 
 

We scored Ireland on a scale of 1 to 4, based on qualitative and quantitative findings. We relied on proprietary data sets as well as the knowledge of our subject-matter analysts, and other (58 external) local subject-matter experts covering all aspects of the Digital Hosting Industry in Ireland from Energy through to Intellectual property.

 
Were there any results that came as a surprise during your research? 
 

Not really. Maybe how aggressively Ireland is betting on energy efficiency and how accessible the information and the people who had the information where during our interviews.


Which areas in particular did Ireland perform well in?
 

Whilst Ireland scored well (In excess of 75% on each factor) Tax & Financial Benefits, Legislative Environment, Local Workforce, Government Support, and Case Studies & Success Stories in particular standout, Ireland also has standout performance on its commitment to renewable energy and the research indicated that it will exceed its targets well in advance of 2020.


From the findings of your report and also from a personal point of view, why is Ireland such a great location for hosting digital assets? 
 

It is the combination of various factors that collectively provide enterprises with a relatively low-risk and cost-effective location to host their digital assets. Ireland is not a new entrant to Digital Hosting area and has been home for International data for in excess of 50 Years; with this International companies are comfortable with how Ireland conducts itself with regard to security and compliance.
 

Does this report provide a glimpse of what Ireland will be like as a location for hosting digital assets in the future? If so, what does that glimpse look like?
 

We believe it does. As the location selection for Hosting Digital Assets has become a C level discussion, a blend of issues are considered which include Fiscal, connectivity and Total cost of ownership, Ireland scores well above average on all of the key factors and with the current initiatives and investments will yield benefits in the short and medium term, which will make Ireland even perform better in some areas (e.g. energy and connectivity)


What do you hope the effects of this report will be?
 

Mainly awareness and education. It will help put Ireland on the â€œdestination list” of more international digital-content and IP-centric businesses that are planning to expand their operations into the European market. 

 
More information on Host in Ireland can be found at: http://hostinireland.com/
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Start-up Showcase: Recommend.ly

 
The social media revolution is upon us, and it is well under way. Whilst domination appears to have been made by Facebook and Twitter, there is always room for expansion and innovation. Venkat Ramana of Recommendly is one of those hoping to help fill this space.
 
Recommendly is a social media tool aimed to help people increase their activity on social media by suggesting relevant, appealing and personalised content to share.
 

Ramana spoke to the IDSC on what makes his website stand out and what he sees in store for Recommendly down the road.

When did Recommend.ly come into conception? 
Recommend.ly was created in its current form this March in India
 
What is it that separates Recommend.ly from other similar social media services?
Recommendly is different from other social media platforms in its focus and objectives. Its main function is that it helps find content that could trigger better responses, and scores content based on its expected response rate for that person. We look for 'Conversation-Starters' that could be used by individuals or professionals or brands. It’s this focus these professional relationship-triggering aspects of our product which make us differ from the existing products in the market.

What is the biggest difficulty you have faced as a start-up? 
I think we have had too many options as to which direction to go as a product start-up. When you are a start-up there is such a huge amount of choice and potential presented to you, and you need to decide on one. Figuring out which option and direction to choose I think is the most interesting challenge.

What advice would you give to start-up companies in the early stages of development to help them avoid these difficulties?
I think if you always keep in mind what the product is meant to be giving your customers (its end objective) a start-up can be safe. To help this there must be a continuous feedback-loop from your users, especially for paid products, the users are paying for the product, listening to them will always help. 

Where does Recommend.ly see itself in the next 5 years? 
Recommendly aims to be an integral part of social media, as a standalone product and as an inclusive element in complementary products. We hope will be in everything from Facebook to Hootsuite, Google+ etc.
 

More information on recommend.ly can be found at: http://www.recommend.ly/
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Barry O'Leary, CEO of the IDA On Why Ireland Has Become More Attractive For Business

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