Google: we cannot afford to get complacent about education

10 Jun 2011

Google’s managing director in charge of Media Platforms for Northern and Central Europe Damian Lawlor tells that in the move to a cloud-based world, our success and survival will be driven by mobility, flexibility and ultimately, skills. How versatile and innovative do you think Irish IT directors/CIO are in the present economy?

I would say that IT directors/CIOs are becoming more innovative because tightened budgets in the present economy are causing them to consider new IT models, such as cloud computing. This is driven by the need for more cost-effective IT solutions and the fact that a modern workforce is becoming even more mobile – the days when all work was done in the office are over. Employees need to work from different locations, access email and documents using mobile devices – the mobility and flexibility cloud computing offers is unprecedented. CIOs have expressed concern about the loss of skilled IT staff, is this a valid concern? IT employment in Ireland is up 6pc yet while unemployment is high, there appears to be a shortage of skilled IT workers …

Google has many vacancies for skilled and talented people – we currently have some 170 vacant positions advertised on our website, across a wide range of different jobs including technical roles ranging from software engineering to support sales, customer support, finance, marketing and HR. Every week, Google globally receives on average 75,000 job applications.

That is a phenomenal number of people and reflects the excellent reputation Google has both as an innovation-led company and as an excellent employer.

(The year) 2011 is set to be another great hiring year for Google and here in Ireland because of the nature of our business – we work with businesses in more than 56 countries – we need to hire people who are native language speakers to work with our clients. We therefore recruit across these markets to find the people we need, as well as recruiting in Ireland.

From a longer-term perspective, though, we cannot afford to get complacent about education standards in Ireland.

For years we have been talking about the superb standards of education in Ireland, and have held it up as a unique selling point for Ireland, but I think we need to constantly look at the global education league tables and objectively critique where Ireland falls in these tables.

This is equally true when we look at the intake and output from IT courses – we’re all familiar with the challenges we have in the STEM subjects in secondary schools, and with the challenge of finding suitably qualified teachers in STEM subjects. This all feeds into the numbers and quality of people entering IT in third level, which ultimately impacts the availability of skilled IT graduates available to the workforce. How well have Irish organisations done in your opinion in terms of adopting cloud computing?

More than 3m businesses across the world are now using Google Apps. In addition, we run our own business in Ireland on Google Apps, using the same infrastructure and applications that we develop and deploy for our customers.

Google was born in the cloud so we are strongly committed to it and we are seeing more and more Irish businesses realise its value and potential.

We have seen a lot of Irish businesses of all sizes benefit from using Google Apps, for example, this year – Louis Copeland – the renowned provider of men’s designer suits and master tailors, deployed Google Apps for Business across five stores in Dublin and one in Galway.

In 2010, LotusWorks, international provider of engineering, technical and construction management solutions to manufacturing and energy-related industries, switched almost 100 users to the web-based communication and collaboration suite to enhance the reliability of its email system for its operations in Ireland and the United States.

We see great potential for cloud computing in Ireland and we would like to see more Irish organisations making the move to web-based applications.  

The 13th annual Harvey Nash CIO Survey will be unveiled on Tuesday, 14 June, at 6pm at The Gibson Hotel, Point Village, Dublin.

Photo: Google’s managing director in charge of Media Platforms for Northern and Central Europe Damian Lawlor, who will be speaking at the launch of the 13th annual Harvey Nash CIO Survey