John Dennehy on Zartis and Make IT in Ireland

Grand and less grand assemblies of the good and not so good have gathered over the last few years united by a stated desire to resurrect Ireland from the builder’s rubble of the recent financial calamity. Many of the voiced aspirations are lofty and aspirational and Technology Voice offers what support it can to any activity which shows promise of getting Ireland on its feet and fighting fit again.

That is all very nice, but no amount of ‘help’ in the form of ambitious sentiment and rhetorical incitements to action can take the place of people being rewarded for their efforts through working in wealth creating jobs.

While the general economy still leaves much to be desired, Ireland’s Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) sector is a gem not only in the country’s crown but Europe’s as well — so carpet baggers need not apply.

According to these remarkable figures supplied to us by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation the ICT sector is not just surviving but is actually thriving.

All of the top 10 technology companies are present in Ireland

Current employment: 90,000+

Employment growth: 6% in 2009; 4% in 2010

Jobs announcements: 3,500 in 2010; over 4,000 in 2011

6,000 + jobs announced in 2012

5 of the top 10 exporters are technology companies

Total number of ICT enterprises: 5,402 – most are services

233 foreign owned ICT companies
Ireland receives one third of US European-investment

ICT Manufacturing:
39% foreign owned which represents 99% of turnover of ICT Manufacturing in Ireland
Average people employed in an ICT manufacturing company: 173 people; turnover: €230 million
51% of total ICT turnover

ICT Services:
45% foreign owned which represents 88% of turnover in ICT Services in Ireland
Average number employed: 11; turnover: €7 million
49% of total ICT turnover

Certainly, there is a way to go. In the temporary absence of a robust financial system, riskier innovation will need outside financing and International companies, large and small, will always be welcomed.

However, the most pressing need in the ICT sector at the moment is appropriately skilled people.

John Dennehy is trying to solve this problem from two angles. The first is with the recently launched Zartis of which he is the CEO. It is a web based recruitment service that promotes job opportunities that a company may have through the use of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. The Zartis software can then, in turn, help manage the responses from applicants. Storing their CVs in a database and so on.

According to John, “It is basically a software tool to find the right talent.”

“We have spent the last eight months working with a group of companies in Dublin. Talking to them about what the need and the types of people they need to hire. We spent a lot of time talking to the recruiting teams in the multi-nationals and the feedback is consistently that we need more people with IT skills, marketing, business analytics, and operations.”

Another category that is much desired by employers are people with native-language skills.

“The makeup of a lot of the jobs in the software sector come from the fact that we have a lot of US multi-nationals based over here and … they are serving local European countries. So if you are serving into a local European country the chances are you need a local language skill.

“At the moment in Ireland, there is an awful lot of people looking for people with native German skills, Dutch skills and Nordic language skills.”

This is understandable as, “They are the strongest economies that are the growing the fastest and buying the most products.”

Even with a sickening unemployment rate of 14+% unemployment rate, there are not enough Irish people with the requisite skills.

A solution to this shortfall is to bring people in from other countries that can do the jobs that are being offered. The question is how? Despite the astonishing health and promise of the ICT sector a casual overseas observer of Irish affairs could be forgiven, (even if mistaken) for thinking that the country was a basket case.

This is where John’s other project, Make IT in Ireland takes on significance.

“Make IT in Ireland is a completely industry-led project. We are trying to reach out to the people in Europe to effectively inform them of the opportunities that are here.”

Using some of the technology from Zartis it also uses social media to let people in Europe who have an interest in the ICT sector about the possibilities that are available in Ireland for employment and career progress.

“When people come to the Make IT in Ireland site we tell them about Ireland and about how to come over here. It also links them into the careers sites for the multi-national companies (MNC). The other thing we do is to allow the individual to submit their CV into a CV database so that any of the recruiters from the MNCs can log in and see those CVs.

“Make IT in Ireland is not a philanthropic venture. It is sponsored by business. Effectively, a group of multi-nationals run the project and we are paid to run it but on their behalf. The multi-nationals wouldn’t be paying money if there wasn’t a gap.

“There are no agencies or other companies, that I am aware of, that specifically have a major focus on targeting everyday people that might work in the technology sector and try and get them to move over to Ireland.”

Unlike the opportunities for talking and ‘exchanging ideas’ the opportunities for action are always constrained by relevance and time. Neither of which care for sentiment, however noble. As John warns:

“We need people with customer service skills, marketing skills and native-language skills. We need all of them here in Ireland. And if we don’t get them here and if the skills don’t come here to work with multi-nationals then the jobs will be set up in the local territory.”

Decisions [D4H] – Web App for Emergency Response Teams

Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue training

There is no such thing as a risk free life. There is no perfectly safe place. Making personal security your only focus can only lead to physical atrophy and certain madness. Conversely, at the other extreme, where the reckless and irresponsible hang out, you have the inescapable law of messy actions leading to messy results. However, keeping to the safer middle ground is no guarantee of staying free of mishap. Even with the best planning and preparation things can go wrong and help in a hurry from others may be needed.

Mercifully, in many of our societies, we have a whole gamut of organizations to get us out of trouble, rescue us from the elements, save us from folly, and extract us from disaster. The people involved commit their time and energy for low or no pay. They submit themselves to regular training and make themselves available to be called out in all sorts of weathers to come to the aid of those in trouble.

Along with acquisition of technique and competence a tremendous amount of local knowledge has been built up over the years. However, useful records that could have been otherwise easily accessed and shared have been stored away on pieces of paper in filing cabinets and the odd spread sheet here and there. Not a wholly efficient state of affairs.

Robin Blandford is an electrical engineering graduate from UCD and volunteer cliff-rescue climber for the Irish Coast Guard. He realised that not only would it be a good idea to create a web app to facilitate recording and accessing this information but that there was also a business opportunity. So, he started Decisions [D4H].

According to Robin, Decisions [D4H] runs and maintains, “A web application that is used by emergency response teams. They use it to make better decisions to save more lives. They use it as a daily management tool. It looks for patterns and trends in their data between their training, incident records, and equipment maintenance, etc., to help them optimize long-term what they’re doing.

“We’re making it easier. If you’re responding to an incident you’ll write up a report of what happened at the incident. Same with you’re training – you’ll take attendance records. We automate the process with a really nice, easy to use, interface that helps them all the way.”

Robin says his normal customer would be a team leader. For example, one of his clients is the emergency response team at a large oil refinery in Canada. “So, if there was a fire on site or if there was an accident those guys would be tasked internally. What we do is help the team leader, the training officer, the equipment maintenance guy, to make sure all their records are in place [and} the team is compliant.”

Robin is going to be in Galway on Tuesday, January 15, to give a talk at the second session of Exponential. The subject will be Awesome Methodology. This an approach to business creation that starts at the end first. When starting a project it is very worthwhile, and certainly more fun, to answer for oneself such questions as:

How do you come with an idea that is awesome?
How to have a company with great culture?
How to approach a general market or a niche market?

“When starting a business you are completely in control of what the end result will be. Build something somewhere that you would like to work so that it is the type of culture that you want to work in. Have a product that is the type of product that you want to have.

In Robin’s case he found that he had no interest at all in a business based on ordering and moving inventory so for him, “That means having a digital product.”

Of course, another person could envision something else entirely different by asking themselves these sort of questions. With its emphasis on creating a highly personal solution beyond just that has clear implications beyond the purely commercial, Awesome Methodology is a concept that can be applied to most life situations.

(Speaking of awesome — Decisions [D4H] is headquartered in the extraordinarily appropriate Bailey Lighthouse over looking Dublin Bay. It is still fully operational and has been guarding the one of the main shipping routes between Ireland the UK for almost 200 years.)

Exponential 2
Tuesday, January 15
6/7 Quay Lane,
Spanish Parade,