The five minute CIO: Seamus McCarville

10 Feb 2012

Seamus McCarville, head of IT at Irish Continental Group

Welcome to a new series of exclusive interviews on, where we learn the thoughts of Ireland’s IT leaders on tech trends and strategy. Our first interview in this series is with Seamus McCarville, the head of IT at Irish Continental Group.

Irish Continental Group plc is a shipping and transport operator carrying cars and passengers through its Irish Ferries brand, as well as freight and container freight, on routes between Ireland, the UK and Continental Europe.

How big is your organisation – how many users across how many sites?

About 440 across 11 locations in Ireland, UK, France, and the Netherlands.

What major business applications do you use at ICG and do you prefer to build or buy?

As a group of companies, we have a multiple line of business systems that report into SAP financials at group level. We prefer to buy where possible.

How would you describe your own approach to IT?

Like any other functional area in business, it won’t work properly without good people, so make sure to hide amongst them!

You’re on record as preferring to outsource where possible, so maybe you could explain what are the business benefits to ICG by taking this approach?

Generally, to achieve cost savings, but also to get better access to skills and new technologies, and to improve service levels.

Do you have a preference for using indigenous IT service companies and consultants, or do you opt for the multinational names?

We have plenty of high-quality resources in Ireland and I prefer to use those where possible.

How do you stay on top of developments in IT that could help your organisation, and how much time do you spend on this?

It’s an ongoing process of keeping an eye on tech media, exchange with peer contacts and networks, as well as more formal conferences and vendor events.

Have you have any plans to add to your own skills this year and if so, in what area?

To develop a greater understanding of the standards and frameworks for IT.

Do you see your role primarily as a technical one, or a business one?

Understanding the technical stuff helps, but it’s definitely a business role.

Has your 2012 IT budget increased, decreased, or remained the same as last year?

About the same as last year.

What’s your main IT project for this year?

If I had to pick a single project, it would be business continuity.

What IT initiative are you most proud of?

A really complex piece of development that I built early on in my career which convinced me I had found something I could be good at!

What has been the hardest challenge since you took your current role?

There isn’t always a right way of dealing with people who find themselves in difficult situations.

What technology trends are of most interest to you personally and to your own organisation?

Understanding our data, and for our B2C customers, their behaviour.

Cloud computing: vendor hype or business revolution?

Largely vendor hype, we’ve all been building private clouds for years, it’s just a scale/cost argument.

Bring your own device to work: a logistical nightmare or a trend to be embraced?

A trend to be embraced.

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic