The Friday Interview: Donal Manning, it@cork

24 Nov 2006

The subject of this week’s interview is Donal Manning (pictured), chairman of it@cork, a regional network for technology

How significant is the concept of software (SaaS) as a service for businesses?
SaaS in terms of the bigger enterprises is really at the early stages. It’s probably more applicable to smaller businesses or one-man bands. That will change over time; there’s a reluctance in larger enterprises to accept SaaS and that’s probably a cultural thing.

Will that culture change?
First, bigger enterprises will start to experiment with SaaS away from the core applications. The other thing that will probably happen as computing becomes more pervasive is that individuals will be bringing consumerised IT into work with them. Look at the things you can do with Google, with blogs and podcasting; look at iTunes. There’s relentless demand from users that we allow access to sites and services that they can access on their home PC and find useful. For example, if we’ve got Lotus Notes in the office but people are using instant messaging (IM) at home, we’re going to get pressure to use IM more. We’ve got to be prepared for that kind of ‘encroachment’. The pressures are going to come from users rather than global CIOs.

Do you have to spend money to save it or are real cost savings possible with the new web technology?
Now a new business can kick off with no investment — that’s one of the differences between now and the dotcom era. Salim Ismael [an American angel investor and entrepreneur] has created a site offering services to a niche market which uses technology freely available on the net right now.

Does a technology like blogging have a role to play in business?
There are examples now where companies use blogging to announce product changes or launches and expect to get feedback from customers. People can instantly respond to them instead of paying consultants huge amounts of money to get feedback. With blogging you can do that online instantly.

Can new technology help Irish companies to compete globally?
Yes. As long as you’ve got some kind of broadband connection, using those types of technology it makes absolutely no difference where you are.

It@cork’s eighth National Technology and Business Conference takes place next Wednesday, 29 November, in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork.

By Gordon Smith

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