Review of the year part 2

30 Dec 2003

2003 may go down in the annals as the year when Ireland truly set itself on course to become a knowledge economy — a shift in direction that comes at a price and is far from complete. Revisit the highs and lows in a month-by-month flashback of the year that was. APRIL-JUNE

Security was clearly to the fore for Microsoft when was given a sneak preview of Windows Server 2003 operating system, while saving money was the driver for Beaumont Hospital when it elected to deploy Sun’s StarOffice productivity suite. The result, Beaumont Hospital’s IT director Tony Kenny said, was a 75pc reduction in costs… Bank of Ireland confirmed that it was entering into a major outsourcing contract that will see more than 450 employees in the UK and Ireland move to HP, which will become its preferred IT supplier. The deal was said to be worth close to €80m over a four-year period… Esat BT launched IOL Broadband, a new high-speed ADSL service that it claimed undercut rival telco Eircom’s offering by as much as 20pc… Intel goes mobile with the launch of Centrino, a new processor and chipset with integrated wireless capability for notebooks…

Cable & Wireless connects Ireland directly into the same tier one backbone as major content providers such as Google, Yahoo! and, an upgrade that brought the US firm’s Irish investment to around €100m… IDA Ireland launched its new Strategic Competitiveness Programme to assist overseas companies to develop existing activities to a point where they can move up the value chain… Vodafone makes the deadline for a subdued 3G launch, a first for Ireland and a European first for the global operator. The earlier-than-expected launch came as a consequence of the 3G tendering process. When Vodafone won its licence it was committed to building a network that would cover a third of the population by the 1 May launch date… Sometimes, if you want a job done well, you had better do it yourself. In the case of Iona Technologies, self-control rather than remote control became the order of the day as founder and chairman Chris Horn led a management reshuffle that saw the departure of CEO Barry Morris and Horn reinstated as CEO. The move is suggestive of a growing resurgence of original stakeholders in Irish tech firms that fell sway to the rigours of Wall Street…

UTV became a new entrant into Ireland’s fledgling DSL market with its ClickSilver product, deployed using Eircom’s wholesale service… A Rescon survey revealed that salaries within the IT sector were staying flat despite growing signs of recovery in the industry. Topping the wage charts are chief information and chief technical officers who can earn up to €139k and €152k respectively. IT directors typically earn between €95k and €126k, while IT managers usually make up to €70k… The IDA dismissed another survey that revealed a dramatic drop in the number of foreign direct investment projects made in Ireland last year and a virtual meltdown in software investment activity. According to the report by Ernst & Young on project-based foreign investment announcements in Europe, inward investment to Ireland fell by 55pc in two years… Better late than never, flat-rate surfing finally arrives on these shores with Esat BT first out of the traps and soon to be followed by Eircom… More good news when Tánaiste Mary Harney TD announced Intel’s plans for a €18.3m R&D project at its Communications Group Europe base in Shannon. The region got a double whammy when she also announced that up to €14m had been invested in 11 start-up companies in the Shannon region. Some €10m will come from the private sector with the remainder coming from the State through Shannon Development… On the global stage Oracle began its takeover bid for PeopleSoft, a move that was all the more surprising for its timing because it came just days after PeopleSoft announced its own plans to acquire JD Edwards. This one will run and run…

Something worth saying …

On the economy
“We never had a Celtic tiger, that was a term invented by an economist on paper. What we had was an American tiger on holiday in Ireland” — Dick Spring, former foreign affairs minister

On the public sector
“If we could supply the same vision, flexibility and drive that the government clearly had around when it came to attracting inward investment to the local ICT market then we’d be in a fantastic place” — Joe Macri, general manager, Microsoft Ireland

“The opportunity for the health service is to look at what we have [EHSS] in place and extend it out rather than investing again in other agencies, replicating what we already have. Invest instead on making them better so that everybody benefits” — Valerie Judge, chief officer, Eastern Health Shared Services (EHSS)