Dermot Corrigan

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Archive for October, 2007

Pigsback.com enters Canadian market

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Sunday Business Post – Done Deal – Oct 28 2007

Online marketing website Pigsback.com has entered the Canadian market in a franchise deal with local operator Bell New Ventures (BNV). Under the terms of the contract, agreed in June, BNV, a division of Bell, the large Canadian telecoms company, will operate the Pigsback.com brand in Canada.

“You could call it an IP (intellectual property) licencing or franchising deal,” said Michael Dwyer, founder and chief executive of Pigsback.com. “BNV own the Pigsback Canada company. We are going to support them in all aspects of the business, including the technology bits, communicating with the members and producing content for the site, but primarily we are training and empowering them to do it for themselves.”

As part of the deal, BNV has undertaken to invest CAN$10 million (€7.2m) in the new Pigsback.ca operation to finance set-up costs, staff and marketing.

“It is a very, very big opportunity for Pigsback. Canada is a very mature internet advertising market, and a company like Bell would be looking to take a very big share of that,” O’Dwyer said.

“We will get a share of revenue and some support services fees as well. It would be premature to start quoting big numbers, but if it is successful this will be a very lucrative deal for us, as in multi-million lucrative annually.”

Dwyer said BNV approached Pigsback.com after the Canadian company had researched various online marketing options across the world. Initial contact was made early this year and the final deal was agreed in June.

The new Pigsback.ca site went live on October 16. The initial launch is centred on the city of Calgary, home to one million people, and the site will be rolled out across Canada during 2008. The total investment includes a CAN$1 million marketing spend.

“For the Canadians who are experiencing it, it may as well be a Canadian website,” said Dwyer. “You have the Pigsback system populated by local brands speaking to local consumers in a local accent. Early sign-ups of well-known national brands in Canada are well ahead of schedule.”

Pigsback.com was founded by Dwyer in 2000. It is headquartered at Citywest in Dublin and now employs 75 people.

This is Pigsback.com’s second overseas venture – its British operation, based in Soho, London, was launched in 2005.

Dwyer said the licencing arrangement was an effective method for growing the Pigsback brand.

“It is a realistic way of moving into new markets,” he said. “Our business is very investment heavy in the first few years as you have to try and build a brand and build a membership. This gives us access to a partner’s capital to extend the brand much more quickly.”

Pigsback.com’s turnover in 2006 was €4.5 million.

“We would expect to grow turnover to €6 million this year,” said Dwyer. “The Irish business is benefiting from very strong growth in internet advertising spend.”

Gareth Lambe, who was managing director of Pigsback.com in Ireland, has moved to Canada to oversee the set up the Canadian business, which is headquartered in Toronto and employs 15 staff.

Written by dermot

October 29th, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Posted in Business,Technology

New investment management certificate is to be introduced

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Sunday Business Post – Recruitment Pages – Oct 21 2007

The Institute of Bankers in Ireland and the Securities and Investment Institute (Ireland) have joined forces to launch a new certification programme to facilitate career progression in the investment management sector.

Diarmuid Bradley, director of education at the Institute of Bankers, said the Certificate in Investment Management would equip holders with the professional knowledge and skills necessary to successfully develop careers in the investment management space.

“Fund management has became a big growth area in Ireland,” said Bradley. “The sense we had was that there needed to be some education element to tie in with that and educate industry professionals. This would benefit the individuals in terms of their careers and also the customers who would use their service.”

The qualification is aimed at professionals engaged in managing investments, including areas such as private client asset management, advisory and discretionary portfolio management and fund management.

Bradley said employers would welcome the introduction of this qualification.

“To work effectively in the industry you need specialist knowledge and skills because of the complexity and the level of change,” he said.

Bradley said interest in the certification was expected to come from a broad spectrum of candidates employed in the financial services sector.

“We are expecting people who are working in both front and back office of investment organisations to apply,” he said.

He said that candidates interested in moving into a career in financial services might also consider the qualification.

“Because of the growth of the investment, funds and asset management sectors you get people coming from other degrees,” he said. “It is certainly not confined to people with a business degree.”

The course runs from October to September. It includes Saturday seminars at the School of Professional Finance in Dublin’s docklands (an externally recognised school of University College Dublin) and distance learning elements, which allows participants to continue to work full-time while studying.

“They are combining what they are learning on the job, with practical knowledge of the particular subject area,” said Bradley.

He said that the majority of candidates would already have third level degrees, although the minimum requirements for applicants are five passes in the Leaving Certificate including English and Maths. Applicants over 21 years can apply on mature grounds.

The course content includes a thorough overview of the Irish investment and funds management industry, said Bradley.

“One focus will be familiarity with the products in the investment and funds management industry,” he said. “There is a significant level of growth in the range of products and the complexity of products at present. They will understand the products and how they can be appropriate to different clients and people with different investment needs.”

The syllabus is divided into two modules: regulation and investment management. Tuition covers subjects including rules and regulation specific to firms trading on the Irish Stock Exchange, macro and micro economics, securities and derivatives, and investment appraisal and performance management.

There is a registration fee for students of €490 per module. This includes examination entry, study manual and seminars.

Written by dermot

October 22nd, 2007 at 11:37 am

Posted in Business

FMCG’s loss is financial services gain

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Sunday Business Post – Recruitment Pages – October 7 2007

Competitive salaries and the guarantee of an invigorating challenge are driving many marketing executives away from the FMCG sector and towards financial services, writes Dermot Corrigan

A growing number of high-level marketing executives in the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector are moving into new industries, including financial services and telecommunications, according to Marketing People director Rory Brennan.

“A brain drain is hitting most Irish FMCG companies,” Brennan said. “An example is Damien Devaney, who is now marketing director of O2 Ireland. He came from Coca Cola, and prior to that he was in Diageo. He had worked for the biggest brewery and soft drinks companies in the world. That is an asset that FMCG had developed up to a very high level, and now he is gone.”

Brennan said Vodafone, Bank of Ireland and Perlico had also recently taken senior marketing executives from employers in the FMCG sector.

Chris Small, director of interim, consulting and training with Alternatives, said increased competition within markets such as financial services was driving the demand for skillful and experienced marketing candidates.

“There is now a lot of competition between banks for customers, so they want to have the best marketing people out there,” said Small. “Consequently there is not as much available talent of the calibre that they – and we – would like.”

Key attractions

Brennan said the salaries on offer to marketing candidates in the financial services sector were generally higher than in FMCG.

“Financial services as a home would pay, broadly speaking, about ten per cent more to marketeers in basic salaries,” he said. “On top of that, you have packages which are slightly more lucrative.”

Brennan added, however, that many of the candidates who opted to leave FMCG for other sectors were not just attracted by the promise of a higher salary, but also the challenge within a new market.

“Marketeers are generally not, by their nature, money grabbers,” he said. “Their salaries are pretty healthy, but they are not generally as cut-throat as sales people. When I move people, particularly at the middle to senior end of the marketplace, they are not moving for money; they are moving for a more rounded experience which will add value to their CV and help them up the marketing ladder.”

Brennan said that the skills marketing departments developed in FMCG were easily transferable to both financial services and telecoms.

“If you build a good career in food and drink and get original advertising and really good branding experience with big budgets, you can quite easily apply that to a banking or communications environment,” said Brennan. “For example if I am marketing a beer, or marketing a mortgage, the market for those products is actually quite similar.”

Brennan said marketing candidates tended to prefer original ‘above the line’ advertising experience working for Irish-based brands, over ‘distributor’ experience localising international campaigns.

“The goal for most marketeers is to get original advertising, where they are really being creative,” said Brennan. “Most good marketeers will seek out experience that will get them that type of exposure so they know they can develop and will be attractive for most companies going forward.”

Marketing Salaries

Marketing People’s latest salary survey, released last month, profiled marketing salaries across the FMCG marketing sector in Ireland.

The data compiled in the survey was taken from a comprehensive range of industry sources, including a large selection of multinational and indigenous companies, key industry contacts and the company’s own internal data.

Brennan said salaries were relatively stable, with incremental rises the norm over the last year.

“Basic salary increases are at an average of 4.5 per cent,” he said. “The rate of increase is down from the previous 12, when the average was eight per cent. Salaries were growing at a serious speed, but they have definitely slowed down. I think it will even tighten again in the next twelve months.”

Brennan said salaries in certain senior roles were growing faster than the average, but at middle and lower levels, growth was generally negligible.

“The whole piece has slowed down, which ultimately is good for clients,” said Brennan. “People are staying longer and building their skills. A year ago, some people were coming in to us and saying they wanted €40,000 and, in my opinion, they were only worth about €32,000. There is a little more sense out there now.”

Tight market

Brian Sweeney, sales and marketing director with HRM Recruitment Group, said economic factors were driving recruitment trends in marketing.

“Some of the larger companies have reorganised their marketing departments and there has been a certain streamlining of roles,” he said. ” The markets are now saturated in areas such as telecoms and financial services, so they are looking for creative marketeers and trying to put in a different marketing structure.”

Sweeney said the trend meant some candidates were now less inclined to consider a career move.

“Senior candidates are being more particular about what they want,” he said. “There are a lot of senior people in the marketplace who maybe have less options than they may have had. They may be looking, but there might not be an awful lot there for them to choose from at the moment.”

Sweeney said an economic slowdown would mean both increased competition within particular sectors of the economy and greater demand for marketing expertise.

“There are a number of saturated markets in Ireland,” he said. “A lot of larger clients have slightly downsized their marketing departments, but companies need people with a very strong capacity for delivery.”

“Companies are looking to their marketeers for opportunities to get into new segments or broaden the distribution channels they are already in. They are looking to the marketing group to add that additional insight to their business.”

Sweeney said he did not expect a slowdown in marketing recruitment. He said HRM had recently added a new member to their marketing team, with plans to expand the team further in the near future.

Companies looking to manage scarcer resources often turn to interim marketeers to work on individual projects, rather than take on extra full time staff, said Small.

“Over the last two years the interim area has grown particularly well and we are certainly expecting it to continue to grow,” he said. “As general business conditions tighten, interim is a really good solution. It is ‘turn on, turn off’ so you can take what you need, when you need it.”

Skill-sets

Despite the general tightening of the market, Sweeney said certain specialised skill-sets were still in demand.

“On the services side, there is a strong emphasis on strong customer relationship management people who can put direct marketing and relevance marketing campaigns together,” he said.

“On the brand and product management side, we are seeing demand for managers who have had commercial responsibility for affecting change in their market and who really understand how to drive the triggers in their market.”

Small said Interim’s clients were looking for new staff with particular niche skill-sets.

“We are finding a strong demand for customer insight specialists who have a strong knowledge of how people think and act,” said Small. “It is a pretty refined skill and the sort of thing you only really find in the most senior candidates.

“Data analysis is an area where there are not as many people as there were in the past. There is also more demand for brand managers, particularly in the financial services sector.

“Technology is a growth area, but it is still a niche. A familiarity with online marketing is quite important in telecoms and financial services, but maybe a little less so in FMCG.”

In the current market Sweeney said clients were willing to wait for the right candidate to come along at the right price.

“Some clients are being very particular about the skills they are looking for,” he said. “They are saying we want somebody who can bring a more defined consumer orientation to what we are doing, or we would be looking for someone with a broad range of above the line or TV campaign experience. They will wait to find the right candidate and that can sometimes take some time.”

Written by dermot

October 8th, 2007 at 9:31 pm

Posted in Business

Hospital IT benefiting all patients

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Sunday Business Post – Better Business: Healthcare – September 30 2007

New systems enable levels of care to be continually improved, writes Dermot Corrigan

Ireland’s healthcare providers in both public and rapidly growing private sectors are continually investing in IT solutions and infrastructure to help them deliver an improved level of service to patients. The last year has seen a number of landmark projects reaching completion in some of Dublin’s larger hospitals.

“Over the last 12 months or so, our main focus has been on the electronic patient records,” said Martin Buckley, ICT manager at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. “One of our main projects is the addition of the PACS (picture archiving communications system).”

James’s chose a PACS from leading US vendor Cerner Corporation.

“It distributes digital X-rays and imaging for diagnostic results throughout the hospital,” said Buckley. “This has been a major success. Now at every point of care the X-ray image and report from the radiologist are immediately available.”

Across the river, the Mater Misericordiae Hospital has also been investing heavily in new ICT systems, according to its information management services manager Gerard Hurl.

“We are currently rolling out an integrated information system. It has been working quite successfully in a number of specialised areas over the last couple of years and this year we have been given funding to start rolling it out to all the other departments. It is effectively a multimedia system which allows doctors to order tests online and look at results and images on screen.”

Buckley said St. James’s had recently partnered with Cisco Systems to install a new 3,000 user voice over internet protocol (VoIP) network to handle their ever increasing ICT requirements.

“The VoIP system is in since June,” he said. “Our old analogue DBX router was 20 years old and in decline. We were faced with an urgent requirement to replace it, so instead of a phased approach, we were obliged to do a full scale changeover.”

“The big benefit is the convergence of voice and data on a single network,” said Buckley. “The investment is future proofed and easily expanded, and it also has less maintenance overheads.”


The Mater IT department also worked with Cisco to improve its communications network recently.

“It was really critical that our network was up to speed, resilient and all the rest,” said Hurl.

In the Mater, approximately 3,000 staff use the ICT system.

“In a hospital like the Mater, as in any of the other large hospitals in the state, every person uses the hospital system, from the financial department to consultants to porters,” said Hurl. “We have about 3,000 intelligent devices connected to the network including about 1,500 PCs.”

Hurl said the Mater’s ICT department has developed a unique solution to deal with the hospital’s requirements.

“We have the rights to develop this system and have been working on it with the users over the last couple of years,” he said. “It is based on one commercial system, and there are other similar systems available, but we have chosen to develop this one.”

Hurl said it was important to include the users in the development process.

“The user has to start looking at these systems the way they look at pen and paper, it has to become second nature to them as part of the process of care giving,” he said.

Martin Buckley said St. James’s preferred to use different solutions from a variety of different vendors.

“We do very little internal development,” he said. “We would have an information systems team with both medical and IT expertise. Their task is to take the best proven IT systems and fit them to St James’s own practices.”

James’s EPRS (electronic patient records system) holds information on current and past patients of the hospital, including test results, diagnoses and outcomes.

“The electronic patient record can be comprised of anything up to fifty or sixty components,” said Buckley. “Some of these would be speciality based, for example you have cancer and intensive care modules.”

Buckley said modules were chosen from competing suppliers, meaning that integrating different solutions was a real challenge.

“At the moment we might have 12 to 15 different suppliers,” he said. “From our point of view once the integration works well we can take advantage of competition between different suppliers.”

Buckley said further improvement of the hospital’s IT systems was vital to keep improving the level of care it provides.

“The next major piece of information that we are looking to computerise is medication management through electronic prescribing and distribution systems,” he said. “We have this implemented already in the intensive care unit and would like the same facilities across the 900 beds in the hospital.”

Most users currently access the James’s systems internally using stationary PCs. Buckley said this would soon change.

“We are now moving into mobile technology such as mobile laptops and tablets,” he said.

Hurl said the Mater was also looking at introducing electronic prescribing systems, as well as developing further its diagnostic imaging systems, physician support systems, teleworking capabilities and wireless patient monitoring.

“We want to make sure we are up to speed and can take advantage of all these technologies, but all of these, of course, are subject to funding,” he said. “With the introduction of the HSE (Health Services Executive) we work within a system and within that context we will be looking to develop. There is no point putting in the investment unless we have organised the processes so we can implement them properly and improve care.”

Written by dermot

October 1st, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Business,Technology