Ireland is coming to the fore as the ideal location to conduct global business, says Dell Ireland country manager Liam Halpin, with a business-ready graduate pool and the perfect environment for digital industries.
Technology giant Dell employs 2,500 people in Ireland across a number of locations, including Cherrywood in Dublin, where the company has EMEA sales, support and finance operations; Limerick, where it has a global hub for cloud, app development, business process outsourcing and global solutions; and Cork, where Dell set up shop after the company acquired Quest.
A fundamental advantage that Ireland has, Halpin believes, is the quality of the country’s workforce. “One of the dynamics of the Irish workforce in general is that Irish people are flexible, hard working and we have a large availability of people willing to retrain and reskill for organisations. It’s a good place to do business and it is recognised as such.”
Halpin says Ireland is the perfect location for digital businesses. “We have a massive advantage when it comes to our climate,” he says, referring to the large clusters of data centres in and around Dublin, where the climate promotes fresh air cooling.
“We’ve seen Microsoft and Google and other companies locate (in Ireland) for these reasons. Our ability to attract large organisations is second to none, thanks to the climate.”
He explains that one of the valuable elements for organisations that locate in Ireland is the large pool of employees coming from third-level and ready to work.
“It’s not a situation where you have people coming from university with theoretical opinions and ideas, but they are ready for the workforce.”
Halpin says Ireland can drive home this advantage by encouraging more linkages between third level and large employers, to offset future skills bottlenecks.
“For example, there is a pipelines of skills required, not just in tech industry but in the food-services industry, for example, which is currently a US$9bn industry and projected to grow to a US$12bn industry. Impediments are ready for work food scientists – so similarly in the IT industry what’s relevant today isn’t going to be relevant in three to five years’ time so we need to start getting people in secondary school prepared for the right types of courses to make them industry ready.”
He illustrates this point by indicating that children born after 1995 are considered by Gartner to be “digital natives”, whereas anyone born before that point is a “digital immigrant”.
To keep up with this pace of change it is vital, for the nation to support and anticipate the kind of skills and abilities that will be needed in the future, he adds.
“We may not be the people who have those ideas and if you look at the pervasive technologies such as YouTube, which didn’t exist 10 years ago, and Twitter, which didn’t exist five years ago, it is very much providing an environment where kids can learn and adapt to use as they use it.”
Ireland: a global hub for doing business
Halpin believes that despite much debate in Ireland about the causes and effects of the recession, externally the country is recognised as having rolled up its sleeves and put in the effort to resolve its economic difficulties.
“I think that if you look at the external view of Ireland, there is a very positive view if you look at the progress the Government has made getting us out of the economic crisis. We are recognised more externally for progress that’s been made.
“Similarly, if you look at how our parent company looks at Ireland as a place to do business: this is a country where we have 2,500 employees across a multitude of disciplines. We run significant EMEA-based sales from this building (in Cherrywood). We also do global logistics and global talent management, so Ireland is a good place to do business and is recognised by Dell as such.”
In terms of its core business, Dell competes aggressively in the market for technologies and services to support small, medium, large businesses and public-sector organisations in everything from devices right up to large-scale server and cloud installations.
The company has recently been honoured, along with Microsoft, for making a high-level EU EcoFin meeting at Dublin Castle an entirely paperless affair. EU ministers and Central Bank governors will be equipped with Dell Latitude 10 tablet computers, running Microsoft Windows 8 and Office 365 software, for the EcoFin meeting.
He believes that the recent appointment of a Government CIO and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin’s efforts to modernise the public sector through technology will ultimately result in savings for the nation.
“Interestingly, the Government is our ideal customer because a lot of the investment we are making in megatrends, be it how people connect, the transformation, the security. All of that is very much relevant to any organisation that has a large amount of legacy investment in middleware and also mainframes. Also you are talking about the services and the software.
“We very much view the appointment of a State CIO as a positive step, standardising and allowing the Government to get more bang for its buck when it comes to expenditure.
“We think it’s been a fantastic appointment and our view moving forward would be the more standardisation, the more consolidation that can happen at a shared services level, the more we and organisations like us can help Government take costs out of delivering IT.”
Liam Halpin will be a panelist at the Digital Ireland Forum: Global 2.0 on 20 September in Dublin, where digital leaders will discuss Ireland’s future as a hub for the best in internationally traded digital services.