‘I’ve long been a believer in the role of remote working in the modern workplace’

26 May 2020

Ronan Murphy. Image: CWSI

CWSI’s Ronan Murphy discusses enterprise mobility, future-proofing companies in the age of Covid-19, and what he enjoys about working from home.

Ronan Murphy has more than 30 years’ experience in the mobile technology sector, in founder, management and advisory roles. He co-founded mobile reseller Cellular World, which was acquired by O2 in 1998.

In 2011, Murphy co-founded enterprise mobility and security specialist CWSI. In his role as CEO, he now advises enterprise and government organisations in Ireland and the UK on mobile strategy.

‘The real opportunity for us is in future-proofing companies to enable them to thrive in the mobile world’

Describe your role and what you do.

As a founding member and CEO of CWSI, my primary responsibility is to set a vision for the company and drive our business strategy to realise that vision. I am privileged to lead an amazing team across both Ireland and the UK and am tasked with developing an organisational culture aligned with our strategic direction.

My role also involves ensuring the team is supported and equipped in whatever way is required to enable CWSI to achieve its goals and deliver successful outcomes for our clients.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

I believe looking after one’s own physical and mental health is as important a step as any that a leader can take to ensure a productive working day. In combat against a persistent bad back, I always begin my mornings with a mobilisation routine followed by some meditation, which helps set me up for the day ahead.

In terms of structuring my week, I try to schedule all one-to-ones and planning sessions with key team members on Monday, with the logic being that we all start the week on the same page. From there, I take tasks in order of priority, with things falling into place over the course of the week.

Even pre-Covid-19, Friday is my working-from-home day if I have no face-to-face meetings or travel. We specialise in remote working solutions and I’ve long been a believer in their role within the modern workplace. I take the extra time and space afforded by working from home to complete any outstanding tasks and review our progress to achieving our overarching business goals.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

In the wake of Covid-19, many IT providers have suddenly started shifting their focus to enabling remote working. While we are seeing an unprecedented demand for mobility solutions, the challenges to successfully migrating a workforce from on-premise to remote are ones we have helped organisations overcome for years.

The key challenge facing businesses at present is not simply enabling remote working, but doing so in a secure way. There is no longer a corporate perimeter for security; cloud and mobility have changed this, with employees accessing data through remote devices, moving the security challenge to multiple applications and end-points.

Our mission to help organisations thrive securely in a mobile-first world is more relevant now than ever and we have developed new products, such as our Empower Pack, as well as refining our services, like our system health-check, to enable organisation to rise above the current challenges.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

When we began securing mobile devices 10 years ago, we were early to the market and our business was considered niche. Now, we are witnessing the largest – albeit forced – proof-of-concept for both remote technology and a remote way of working that has ever been carried out.

In rushing to roll out a solution, organisations may inadvertently create new risks by overlooking the basics of mobility and security. There is certainly an opportunity for us to leverage our experience to help these organisations revise their mobile strategy and fill in any gaps.

However, the real opportunity for us is in future-proofing companies to enable them to not only survive but thrive in the mobile world. The journey of helping companies take stock of their current mobility capabilities, implementing measures to secure and enable a smoother remote experience, and finally managing and optimising these systems over time is where we offer true value to our clients.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

My background has always been in mobile and, over the years in the industry, I built up strong relationships with enterprise and government organisations, which has been helpful in growing CWSI.

The idea for CWSI as a business was sparked by the launch of the very first iPad and the realisation that few businesses had the IT knowledge or skills to get the best from these devices in an enterprise environment. With this initial insight and working from a single desk in the corner of my living room, CWSI underwent huge growth through strong partnerships, patience and careful planning.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

I think the biggest mistake we made was not opening a UK side to the business from the outset. Being cautious has its place but we always strive to be ambitious while controlling the risk.

The UK has 66m people who speak the same language, with a global financial centre less than an hour away by plane; it makes a lot of sense for Irish businesses to target that market and we have had significant success in the UK since launching there.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Well before the Covid-19 crisis, I have always encouraged and enabled my team to work flexibly. Every person working in an organisation has their own personal responsibilities, preferences and set of circumstances, which mean the traditional nine-to-five working day may not be best for them.

We always focus on the outcome rather than the activities or methods. This helps eliminate the mentality of posturing and staying late in the office for appearances. The client only cares about the outcome and we work hard to create a culture where the team can focus on delivering that outcome without distraction.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

Unfortunately, yes. The IT sector has traditionally been male-dominated but there are signs of this slowly changing. The overall number of women in IT is growing, but some roles are getting there faster than others. Two women sit on CWSI’s leadership team and it’s particularly encouraging to see the number of women in senior management growing steadily.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I have had many mentors over the years who have helped guide me through the various stages of my career – singling out just one would cause me grief!

It was a mentor of mine who told me to put “boots on the ground” in the UK or warned us that we would never succeed. This advice was pivotal for both me and for CWSI, being the catalyst for our investment in the UK market.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

My favourite is Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs – it is worth a read for anyone in any business. One of my colleagues also recently gave me a copy of The Greatest: The Quest for Sporting Perfection by Matthew Syed, which is also a super read with insights from sport that can be applied across life and business.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

We rolled out the Microsoft Office 365 stack a couple of years ago and this allows us to do whatever we need to do from wherever we are. I would have to say that Teams has been the essential tool in helping me manage partner, client and internal resources easily and without friction.

Microsoft recently revealed that in a single day in March, talk-time on Teams globally was over 2.7bn minutes. Having rolled it out throughout our organisation, I can understand its popularity.

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