NI companies urged to take up social media skills

27 Mar 2009

Northern Ireland companies have been urged by senior leaders at firms such as Palm, Adobe, Microsoft, Archos and Deutsche Bank to make better use of social media tools to connect with other professionals globally and nurture creative industries.

SMEs across the North have been encouraged at the ACE UnConference in Derry to instil re-invention and creativity into their businesses and practices by enabling them to access global expertise within an open innovation environment.

“The ingredients are all here in Northern Ireland, with careful nurturing, we should have resources, talent, ingenuity and the belief in ourselves to compete successfully in the creative industries worldwide,” said Lorraine McDowell, director of operations with the Arts Council.

Ian Hughes, Metaverse evangelist, director of Feeding Edge Ltd and formerly of IBM, showed delegates the benefits of communicating in social networks and virtual worlds.

“When you connect people from all different walks of life with different ideas, and you get them talking, get some dialogue going, some good things happen, and that is where the innovation springs.

“You are no longer in a position that you have to sit there as an individual and get permission from someone to get something done, there is a whole world out there of people to connect to, so you can be entrepreneurial in whatever you’re about. Whatever your business is, you can connect with some other people.”

Euan Semple, former director of knowledge for the BBC and leading authority on the use of social media in organisations, covered the speed of communication and the decentralisation of knowledge.

Using the example of the 2007 London bombings, he explained that within 30 minutes of the bombings, photos were posted on Flickr and the traditional media could not gain access to the area. Within a short time frame, major news organisations were getting in touch with these people to gain permission to use their photos.

Semple also urged businesses not to restrict their employees’ access to social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as increasingly complex conversations and valuable connections are being made in these spaces.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: guest speakers at the opening of the ACE (Awakening, Creative, Entrepreneurship) Conference. Front, from left, are: Ian Hughes, Metaverse Evangelist, director of Feeding Edge Ltd, and formerly of IBM; Lorraine McDowell, Arts Council for Northern Ireland; Alison J Malloy, general manager, Eastman Kodak; and Tim Kelley, NORIBIC, conference organisers. Back, from left, are: Gerry McGuckian, North West Regional College; Bill Dlfing, Consultant Resources Global Professionals; Andrew Shorten and Serge Jespers, platform evangelists, Adobe