The Friday Interview: John Randles, PolarLake

17 Aug 2007

John Randles is the CEO of Dublin software firm PolarLake, who is intent on capturing Wall Street’s financial community with important customers like JP Morgan.

While the financial market is a key target of PolarLake, you’ve also been involved in major e-government wins. Tell us about that.

We worked on a criminal justice system for the UK government whereby data flow between various organisations is more seamless.

The focus on the financial systems market is more recent and eight different project wins with JP Morgan have helped me to get where I’m sitting now near Wall St.

We are currently working on projects with Pioneer Investments, part of UniCredit, the second largest bank in Europe.

How did PolarLake come into existence?

We are a spin-out of another Irish software company called Xiam.

We had a division specialising in extensible markup language (XML) and decided that on its own merit it deserved its own focus as a company; the technology was ideal for data distribution and integration in financial and government systems.

We’ve packaged the technology to be ideal for specific markets such as the financial derivatives market.

No matter what organisation we walk into, we’re not selling them something that is a commodity technology they’ve seen before.

How does the technology work?

The technology allows companies to deploy IT projects 75pc faster with 80pc less resources.

If a bank was acquiring another bank it would need to integrate the other bank’s IT systems. Instead of rebuilding everything we put a layer on top of the old system and everything works together.

The Irish software sector has proved effective at winning global blue-chip business. Is this recognised at home?

No. Sometimes I get very frustrated hearing about the doom and gloom in the industry.
The reality is that exciting things are happening on an indigenous level and the constant negative news is not very good for encouraging young people to take up careers in the industry. That will hurt us all in the long term if not addressed.

But the local software industry also needs to be better at telling its own story. The Irish software industry has a PR job to do.

Is the Irish software company of today different from five years ago?

Other than trying to be the next HP or IBM, they are focused on where their value proposition is and where they can add value.

By John Kennedy

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