This week’s interview is with John Purdy, (pictured), managing director of Irish IT products and services company Ergo.
How would you surmise the Irish business landscape for investing in technology?
I think after the dotcom bubble and the hype about what could be achieved over the web dissipated we started to see organisations with real business needs make meaningful investments. In particular, we are seeing companies invest in the capture and manipulation of customer data. They want to know more about their customers and use that information to serve them better.
How can Irish firms use technology to compete internationally?
Smart owner-managers of Irish businesses are endeavoring to compete with competitors in different geographies. Because of the internet and better communications, the world essentially has become flat. The guys making pencils in a factory in Finglas are competing with guys doing the same in Germany. Ireland can’t compete with lower-cost locations on price but we can through smarter processes.
What are the most profound technologies you have seen come on the market?
Mobile communications, and in particular mobile data. Someone stuck in traffic or in an airport can get on with their work from anywhere, even to order flights and concert tickets. The whole onset of mobile has changed the way we spend our days. I know a guy who, if he got up in the middle of the night and noticed the red light on his BlackBerry flashing, would read his email in the middle of the night. I remember feeling anxious one day at Heathrow airport when I couldn’t get a signal on my BlackBerry for 10 minutes.
Microsoft and others are keen to take on BlackBerry on the push email space. How will this play out?
We ourselves have been trialling Microsoft’s push email. Until now the BlackBerry has been the preserve of the executive class. I think what will happen is that mobile email and devices will bring computing to the masses.
What will this do for the average business?
Anyone with a role that involves being out and about will have mobile computing and the business world will see massive benefits. CEOs and CIOs of businesses are looking for ways to do things smarter. They are looking to take the costs out of business. Mobile data, by getting information faster into the hands of people who could use it, could be a crucial way of helping companies to cut costs and retain the margin they should be getting back out of their businesses.