The Friday Interview: Andy O’Kelly, LAN Communications

15 Sep 2006

This week’s interviewee is Andrew O’Kelly, managing director of LAN Communications.

Do you think Irish companies see the value of ICT as being strategic or is it still perceived as just for ‘keeping the lights on’?

We’re seeing both approaches and it depends on the business vertical.
There are some organisations who remain quite tactical: they get their budget on a point solution-by-point solution basis. Others say: ‘If I buy this what else can I do with it and will it be an opportunity to deliver a business benefit in the future?’ For example, do you put in a network for one specific application? Other organisations look beyond that to what other things they can do with the same investment.

What marks out the strategic kinds of businesses?

The ability to execute ICT strategically in an organisation depends on how much the budget is in control of the people with vision. Increasingly there is a trend in larger organisations towards the strategic issues and looking at the broad business benefits [of IT].

What do you see as the new technologies most likely to have a real business benefit?

As a result of activity around regulatory compliance we’re seeing a lot of interest in the security space and we’re seeing at last better products and solutions, such as intrusion-detection systems and network-behaviour analysis.
We’re also seeing a reappearance of videoconferencing; it’s gone mainstream because of the quality people can achieve across their networks.
People need to connect rapidly, independent of location so mobility is a big requirement.

Do Irish businesses tend to be early adopters or do you think they prefer to see how technology is adopted elsewhere before trying it for themselves?

I wouldn’t think it’s a wait and see approach. We work very much with the national research network and HEAnet and there’s certainly enough capacity for innovation in the Irish networking market.

Are Irish organisations still spending more on hardware than on software and services or is this trend starting to change?

I think it’s changing. The big ticket item is still customer premises equipment; people are buying large infrastructure and that, in essence, is hardware. But that is frequently part of a deployment of a larger system.
The other view that I would have is that services are increasingly part of the spend, as well as providing services around investments that have been made in the past. Software is obviously what provides the intelligence around these things.

By Gordon Smith

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