The digital business week

29 Mar 2010

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Rise of the paywalls

The Times and the Sunday Times websites will begin charging for access from June of this year, their owner News International announced. Users will be asked to pay £1 for a day’s access and £2 for a weekly subscription. Both the Times and the Sunday Times will launch new, separate websites in May. These will be free to registered customers for a trial period. Any payment on either website will allow access to the other site. “This is just the start. The Times and the Sunday Times are the first of our four titles in the UK to move to this new approach. We will continue to develop our digital products and to invest and innovate for our customers,” said Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, which also publishes the Sun and News of the World.

Innovate or fade away

Irish companies must innovate, otherwise they will disappear from the market, a leading entrepreneurship expert has warned. However, according to Prof Peter Russo, founder and director of the Strascheg Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the European Business School in Frankfurt, the real innovation bottleneck faced by companies lies not in generating good ideas but in successfully commercialising them. Russo made his comments last week as he delivered the InterTradeIreland 2010 Innovation Lecture at University College Dublin. According to Russo, if companies are to successfully commercialise their good ideas they must engage in corporate entrepreneurship, which means giving their employees the freedom to act as entrepreneurs and creating an entrepreneurial environment within their workplaces.

Securing the cloud for business

Irish cloud security player Vordel is working with Dell to manufacture cloud security products and is on the verge of an alliance with online marketplace to create cloud security services for businesses. Dublin-headquartered Vordel, which has offices in the States and origins in XML and SOA governance products, has in the past year added 32 customers to its growing enterprise client base. Its customers include finance firms like EBS, Allianz and BNP Paribas, as well as government customers like the US Federal Government and the EU Council, and prominent telecoms providers like Telefonica and Telecom Italia.

Changes at the top at BT

Chris Clark is to step down as CEO of BT Ireland to take up a Group role as managing director of BT Enterprises. Clark is to be succeeded by seasoned telecoms executive Graham Sutherland as CEO. Sutherland has held the role of chief financial officer in BT Ireland since 2006. He joined BT from NTL Communications, where he was managing director in Ireland for four years. “Chris, Graham and the BT Ireland management team are delivering excellent results at our all-island operation through the successful execution of our managed services strategy and a relentless focus on cost management,” said Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Retail. “Chris has made a tremendous contribution as CEO and under his stewardship the company has secured a number of landmark managed services contracts and moved to profitability in the Republic.”

Irish mobile players go West

Ireland is the 10th largest investor in the States, with cumulative investment of €33bn so far, it emerged last week as some 26 Irish telecoms and wireless tech firms showcased their latest technologies at the CTIA Wireless Conference in Las Vegas. At the Ireland Pavilion, Altobridge, Accuris, Benetel, FeedHenry, Fifth Province Ventures, Mingoa, NewBay Software, Openet, Tango Telecom and showcased technology firsts for the market. “The connection between Ireland and the US continues to grow, as more and more Irish companies launch technologies for the US market,” said David Smith, senior vice-president (telecoms) at Enterprise Ireland. “The technology here at CTIA is truly ground-breaking and represents the cutting edge of innovation for the wireless and telecoms market.”

Heavey RF expands into UK market

Irish-owned logistics supplier Heavey RF is to expand into the UK market on the back of deals valued at more than stg£250,000 struck with existing and new customers in the UK since January 2010. The Dublin-based IT company has opened an office in the UK and will hire three new employees there. “This is an exciting next step in the company’s growth strategy,” said Ronan Clinton, managing director, Heavey RF. “The new office serves to strengthen our relationships with key Irish clients that have operations in the UK, as well as winning lucrative business in the UK marketplace. Our main strength is our technical ability and our understanding of all the components needed to deliver cost effective and operational solutions,” he added. 

By John Kennedy

Photo: Prof Peter Russo, European Business School, Germany, prior to delivering the InterTradeIreland2010 Innovation Lecture at University College Dublin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years