Get Digital!

Get Digital!

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Get Digital at DCU! After a full year in college, we have come to our fourth and final conference. Get Digital involved a slightly different format from our last three conferences. Instead of the typical 4 hour conference that we previously experienced, this time around we all presented our research posters for the first two hours and then listened to four individual speakers talking about technological advances for the last two hours. Now, our research posters were large A0 posters that each team designed based on the mobile app that we developed back in semester one. Our poster was supposed to be focusing on an improved and innovative part of our app. For me, this was really interesting. We decided to develop a booking function onto our app which had originally just been an app based on tourism in the Polish city of Poznan. This booking function allowed users of our app to book hotels, hostels and car rentals for their holiday in Poznan. During the presentation various academics and industry experts came around and judged our posters and questioned us on it. In particular, their questions referred to the overall theme of this research poster assignment which was the usage of cloud computing. People seem to get very flustered over the idea of this modern era concept when really cloud computing is a fancy name for the storing and accessing of data over the Internet rather than on your computer’s hard drive. For instance, storing your photos between your Windows laptop, Microsoft phone and tablet.

Anyway, enough about the research poster. I am here to tell you about our final conference, Get Digital. Get Digital kicked off with Mary Moloney the CEO and founder of CoderDojo. CoderDojo was set up with the aspiration of getting children to further understand the technology they consume. This is achieved by setting up local “Dojos” in different areas where kids can go and work on computers and learn how to code and become technologically creative children. CoderDojo has been a very apparent success not just nationally but internationally. Within three years, Mary and her team developed 600 Dojos in 58 countries worldwide.

Here is a short video outlining the work of CoderDojo.

However, I have my own opinion about this company. CoderDojo has the fundamentals of an excellent idea but I would say that is slightly extreme, or certainly the way in which it was presented to us is. In my opinion, allowing kids to adapt to and further understand the technology of the world they live in is hugely important so that we can create a more efficient future. However, there seems to be too much of an emphasis placed on this, up until a point where it becomes technological absorption. At the end of the day these are kids we are talking about and while we can certainly develop their minds we also have to let them enjoy their life. Mary appeared as a bit of an extremist when she stated that there are 2000 GAA clubs in Ireland and only 200 Dojos. To her, this is an issue because she doesn’t see how being able to handle a hurl is of any use or provides any future to a child. In this regard, I would have to say that I strongly disagree.

Our second speaker was Richard Garsthagen, Director of Cloud Business Development for the American company Oracle. Oracle specialise in making databases to store information. The main point of Richard’s presentation was to tell us how cloud computing is not just the transfer of storage from device to device. According to Richard, cloud computing means storing and accessing data over the Internet instead of over your computer’s hard drive. Richard brought us through the two types of cloud computing that Oracle use. The first, is the private cloud. This gives you a self-service provisionality of Oracle Fusion Middleware and Databse, programmatic access, comprehensive dashboards, automated backup, recovery and upgrades. The second type of cloud is the Oracle cloud (or Public Cloud). This cloud technology gives you instant access to full functionality of Oracle Fusion Middleware and Database. As well as all the benefits associated with the private cloud technology. With Oracle Cloud Technologies, you can transparently move workloads between on premise and oracle cloud.  If you decide to develop in Oracle Cloud and later decide to deploy to a Private Cloud, know that you are sharing the same technology with the same standards using the same Oracle Products that you are already familiar with. Richard’s speech was a helpful insight into cloud computing and Oracle’s usage and understanding of it.

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Our third speaker had quite a brief presentation with only 5 slides. John Massey is the EMEA Business Development Lead for SAP Ireland. SAP’s aim is to create solutions for businesses so that they can run better. SAP produces the software that helps some of the world’s best and most successful companies run their businesses. In my opinion, John’s presentation was quite poor and sparse. It lacked the detail and enthusiasm we had seen from previous speakers.

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Our fourth and final speaker wrapped the last conference up with a slightly more engaging speech. Shay Garvey is a founding partner of Frontline Ventures. He is also one of the most active and experienced early stage technology investors in Europe. I found this presentation engaging as Frontline Ventures are incorporating the use of cloud computing into venture capital investments.

In conclusion, I found the last conference to be slightly disappointing. I would have preferred to have had more speakers with larger detail in their presentations. However, it must be said that overall the four conferences were a unique and interesting way to learn about a variety of things all business-related.

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Get Started 2015

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‘Get Started’, our third of four conferences in The Helix, DCU. This conference was set to be an interesting one jam-packed with entrepreneurs from around the world telling their story of ‘getting started’ in the business world. I was intrigued from the start as I thought this would be an interesting way to hear personal anecdotes from real, successful entrepreneurs.

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Our first speaker, Niamh Bushnell, is the Dublin Commissioner for Start Ups. Niamh was involved in the DCU UStart program back in October. According to her it is a great initiative filled with student potential.                                                                                                                       Niamh has always been involved in techweb and when she was younger, she set up a market research company with her brother. To this day it is a success. Shortly after setting up the company she looked to take a new direction in her career and applied for a software executive job with Enterprise Ireland, this involved moving to New York and assisting Irish companies setting up in North America. From this, she moved to a company called OrbisCom which has been acquired by MasterCard.                                                                                                         She started to invest in startups in New York and realised she had a flair for working for startups. She pursued this career path and has been working in it ever since. The career proved to be a revelation for her as initially she noticed that she didn’t quite have the level of experience that she originally had thought. However, she developed herself and is now working as the Dublin Commissioner for Start Ups. So, as you can see, Niamh has a wealth of experience in her area of work. An interesting piece of advice that I took from her speech was that start-up companies need to “Stop selling the functionality of a product, and focus on the outcome for the customer.” I found Niamh’s change in careers coupled with her self-development in her employment to be very interesting.

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The second speaker was a particularly compelling story as it was by David McKearnan, the CEO of Java Republic!                                                                                                                     David founded Java Republic in 1998 after having worked for Bewleys for 12 years and getting a sense of what a successful coffee corporation looks like. David never went to college but stressed that the reason for his immense success was his confidence, self-belief and resilience. Particularly in relation the company’s name. Everyone told David that the name wouldn’t work and that it was too controversial but David knew the company must be called this and he followed his heart and has made millions as a result of the company’s iconic name. I found David’s speech, in particular, to be the most inspiring as it truly reflected the well-known ‘required entrepreneurial trait’ of resilience.                                                                                     He told us the story as to where Java Republic came from – a small cafe in New York called Cafe Roma. He gave us his perspective on modern-day funding as well as finishing his speech with an interesting summary on the 6 types of entrepreneurs;

  1. Hustlersentrepreneur
  2. Innovators
  3. Machines
  4. Prodigies
  5. Strategists
  6. Visionaries

The third speaker was an innovation panel consisting of 3 different directors from different schools of DCU. The first of the panel was; Richard Stokes, Director of Innovation DCU. The second was; Ronan Furlong, Executive Director of Innovation Campus. And the last, but not least, was Ryan Stack from The Ryan Academy. Each speaker talked about their individual organisation and what each does for various students, businessmen, organisations and companies.                                                                                                                                        Interestingly, the Innovation Campus has a lot of firms such as Fujifilm based there. These firms work together to improve their companies.                                                                              After the presentation of each organisation the three men did a Q&A panel for 20 minutes where we could ask them questions based on starting up in relation to the respective organisations. Personally, I thought the panel was an excellent idea because many of us students are oblivious to what it is that these organisations actually do even though it is us that they are set up for.

We were greeted next by Kealan Lennon of Clever Cards. Kealan has developed a niche market in the card business whereby people can design, customise and have their cards ready for their loved ones ahead of their birthday, anniversary, etc. Kealan’s aim is to eliminate the fear of forgetting a loved one’s birthday and always being prepared. Users can connect through Facebook and the site will remind them of the people that they are close to on Facebook’s birthdays. Algorithims that have been developed, determine the appropriateness and relevant register of the cards.                                                                                                                         I think that this is an interesting idea and one that seems to be working well for Kealan as he was approached by the President of American Greetings – a famous card company in the US and the President wanted to get involved in Kealan’s company.

The penultimate speaker was Sean Ahern, the founder of ThankFrank, another niche market online idea where he aims to place a ‘ThankFrank’ button on every web page. The total amount of thanks a webpage has determines it’s trustworthiness, effectiveness, etc.                                  Sean has been running ThankFrank for two and a half years unsuccessfully for the most part . However, it was not Sean’s business idea that I found to be interesting. Much like David McKearnan, I thought Sean’s life lessons and personal anecdotes were far more interesting and beneficial. He gave us a number of simple but effective tips in starting your own business:

  1. You need to be able to explain yourself simply.
  2. Don’t keep the idea to yourself.
  3. Love failure.
  4. Work with people.
  5. Prepare for the grind.
  6. Associate with successful people.
  7. Be resilient.

His discussion of these tips in business and in life were the most beneficial things that I took from his presentation.

Our conference finished with a man who had been between various jobs and universities. Paul Kerley was the CEO of Norkom and originally started his career by obtaining degrees in electronics, computer science and commerce in DCU.

Get Started 2015 was radically different from the rest. It was refreshing to hear the stories of successful entrepreneurs and their struggle to develop a successful firm. I took a lot away from it in terms of knowing for sure that constant resilience is something that must be applied when becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Get Mobile @ DCU!

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Hello again! It’s been almost a month since my last publication and since then I attended the second of four different conferences throughout this academic year. In my last blog, I spoke about Get Social (our first conference) and what a hugely successful and interesting event it had been. We heard from various different speakers from different firms around the world (although primarily from Ireland!) and how these firms were now revolutionising the way companies work and interact with their consumers through the use of social media. This time around however, we heard from six different speakers who all discussed and displayed the growth and size of technology in the world we live in today. It was truly fascinating.

We were once again introduced and welcomed to the event by Dr. Theo Lynn. His speech consisted of an overview of the conference as well as a brief talk that he gave himself. In hindsight, Dr. Theo’s speech gave us a taste as to what lay ahead for the following four hours. He spoke about technology in modern society and, in particular, mobile phones. He discussed the 4C’s of mobile, i.e. Cash, Credentials, Communication and Content. He also mentioned that 96% of 18-35 year olds own a smartphone and that 60% of those are iPhones. This shows that mobile ownership is becoming younger and younger every year and that some day we may see 5 year olds running around with iPhones in their hands! This reminded me of a video I once saw of a year two year old child using an iPad just as well as someone who was 20 years older than them! Food for thought!

digifeyeOur first official speaker was Mark Hughes, the CEO of a company called Digifeye. The idea behind this company intrigued me. There are 3 trillion images on the Internet and Digifeye enables you to take any of these images with clothing in it and put that image into the Digifeye server. It will then show you where you can purchase that product and for how much. Also, for the more expensive pieces of clothing that one might see a celebrity wearing, Digifeye will display similar products at a more affordable price. It does this through the development of a technology that enables computers to recognise pieces of clothing when it sees an image. I found the idea of this company fascinating and decided to look into it more. It turns out that Digifeye works with 3200 brands, 900 retailers, covering over 3 million products in 5 countries worldwide! The whole idea of training computers to be more like humans also comes into play in one of Mark’s spin-off companies, Style-Eyes. This company allows people to use an existing picture that they have or take a new picture of a piece of clothing and find that product or products similar to it online.

The next speaker was simply fascinating. Another domestic speaker, Dr. Cathal Gurrin is a lecturer here in DCU in the School of Computing and he spoke to us about the topic of ’10 Years of Pervasive Computing.’ This speech in particular opened my eyes to how vast and advanced the world of technology really is in today’s society. For example, did you know that the iPhone 5 is 60,000 times as powerful as the computer that guided Apollo 11 astronauts to the moon? Dr. Gurrin discussed how pervasive technology has become and how we now always have technology on our person at all times. He claimed that this decade was the decade for the growth in ‘Wearable Devices’ like the Google Glass and Google Watch. He even had a Google Glass with him! This brought him to the discussion of a concept called lifelogging. Lifelogging enables the concept of a surrogate memory and lifeloggers are those people  who wear small camera devices to document every second of their life. These commercial devices take 1000’s of photos, hours of audio, sensor readings and create a visual memory of 100’s of terabytes of data essentially documenting your life. Personally, I find the whole idea of lifelogging exceptionally invasive but also compellingly fascinating. The idea that you can document every single aspect of a person’s life and create a visual memory out of it with such ease is mind-blowing! Don’t you think?

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Eoin Cruise, the Market Lead for Microsoft Mobile Devices in Ireland came onto the stage next to talk to us about Microsoft. Eoin is also a former worker in Nokia. The fact that Nokia went from being one of the biggest mobile brands in the 90’s and early Noughties to one of the most unpopular mobile brands in a matter of years did not go unnoticed by the general public and Eoin discussed this with us at length. It was very interesting to hear what Nokia themselves thought of their situation and how they planned to get around it. He told us that Nokia had a sort of ‘four year plan’ to revive their brand: 2011 – Renewal, 2012 – Revitalise, 2013 – Momentum, 2014 – Consolidate. These steps involved the introduction of Nokia’s own smartphone, Lumia. As popularity began to grow, Nokia decided to focus on being the supplier of the ‘affordable smartphone’. Concentrating on this market allowed Nokia to grow much more than they had ever hoped. However, I could not help but think throughout his presentation that it was more a sales pitch for the new combination of Microsoft and Nokia rather than a talk based solely on the idea of ‘Get Social’.

ibmOur next speaker was of quite a high status. Paul Davey is the Mobile Leader in IBM. His speech was quite unique as he spoke about all the essential work that IBM do that – as he said himself – goes more or less unnoticed in today’s world. According to him IBM does all the behind-the-scenes work that nobody sees. To prove the unknown nature of IBM he asked everyone what the acronym IBM actually stands for. Nobody knew! It stands for International Business Machines and they make everything from ATM machines to microprocessor chips! Paul talked about how they are now cooperating with other multinational companies such as Apple and Twitter. They are currently using Twitter’s social data to further develop Watson. Watson is a cognitive technology that “acts as a natural extension to what humans can do at their best.” Paul showed us a video of Watson in use and it was impressive to say the least. The video showed the effort to make Watson capable of dealing with and treating cancer patients and showed one case where, in 17 seconds, Watson read 3500 texts and 400,000 other pieces of data and then provided the doctors with three potential methods of treating this particular patient! In 17 seconds!

Our final speaker was Alex Meisl, head of Wiforia and Sponge. Alex’s speech was a far more general talk but also execeptionally interesting at the same time. At first he spoke about the general growth in technology with particular reference to online shopping and business apps. According to research, 4 out of 10 shops will close in the next 5 years due to online shopping and this isdown to a simple lack of retailers understandingthe change in consumers’ behaviour in today’s society. He discussed the need for modern retailers to be able to adapt to the business world today. John Lewis, for example, has increased their IT spend by 600% in the last 5 years. As a result, their sales have doubled in the last 10 years to £16 billion! Take a look at this advertisement recently released by John Lewis for the Christmas season which has generated huge publicity for the company. John Lewis also performed a similar stunt last year and as a result have generated massive sales.

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Alex told us that 80% of apps published in the App Store get under 1,000 downloads. This implies that there is a huge amount of money in various companies being wasted on R&D and IT due to a lack of effective use. What I found very interesting was that Alex also referred to the purchasing funnel of consumers – much like Alan Coleman did in his speech about Wolfgang in our last conference. This tells me that concepts such as the purchasing funnel are fundamentally, very important ideas for a successful firm. More examples of firms not being effective in their adaptation to technology is that, one third of Google’s top 100 clients do not have mobile-optimized sites. This is quite a large figure considering the fact that most people do the majority of their research on their mobiles nowadays.

Alex Meisl concluded his speech by showing us a couple of effective uses of apps that businesses have developed. My favourite was by a company called Meat Pack in Guatemala. The ad speaks for itself but to put it simply; Meat Pack’s app would vibrate when you entered a competitors shop and a discount timer would stop and the discounted reduced by a percent every second until you reached the closest Meat Pack shop. Genius marketing!

Before finally finishing Alex gave us 6 top tips to be used by businesses to ensure they stay up to date with consumers needs:

  1. Don’t forget about standard business principles.
  2. MCommerce is more important than MShopping.
  3. Get all customers to achieve self-identity.
  4. Mobile makes anything a digital gateway.
  5. Context – especially location – is key.
  6. Don’t forget about ‘old tech’ such as SMS.

To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed Get Mobile. I think that this conference was more engaging and compelling than our previous conference. It was incredible to learn about the different types of technology that are out there today, technology that I had never even heard of before! It was truly fascinating.

Get Social @ DCU!

Get Social DCU

Hello, my name is David and I am a first year student in DCU and I am studying Global Business with French. This particular course enables me to spend the final two years of a four year course in North-East France. I have always been very engaged with the business world and business was always the type of career I pictured myself in whilst growing up. So far, the course has been great and I am learning an enormous amount about the business environment while also developing my French skills! On Tuesday 14th October, I attended a ‘Get Social’ conference in DCU which lasted for four hours and consisted of various different speakers from different businesses from different places around Ireland.

 

Our first speaker was more of an introductory speaker for the event. Dr. Theo Lynn is the DCU Digital Marketing Programme Chairperson and he gave us a run-down of what the entire conference was going to involve, ie. using social media to solve problems and to allow companies to be more efficient in their development and growth as a business. He also spoke about various different projects that himself and other colleagues were working on. One that I found very interesting is a project that is combining various technologies that they use, along with collaborating with two other centres: CNGL (Centre for Next Generation Localisation) and the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre to develop ways to prevent cyber-bullying. Their primary goal is to develop ways to identify speech patterns and linguistic patterns so that they can identify cyber-bullying before the situation climaxes and stop it from proceeding. I thought that this was a very interesting way of using social media and social media technologies to minimise a very real problem that exists in today’s world.

 

The second speaker was Dr. Deirdre Hogan, a Senior Research Fellow from DCU. I found Dr. Hogan’s speech particularly interesting as it revolved around a new software she was helping to develop called GAJO. The aim of this software was to enable companies who are strongly involved in social media to identify their real target audience so as time wasn’t wasted on those people who GAJOweren’t potential customers. She discussed the disadvantages of native search engines and key word targeting on sites like Twitter and showed how GAJO targets only relevant and potential customers through intent and demographic filters. I thought the idea of GAJO was fascinating as it offers such a genuine and efficient service to companies that wish to identify their target audience on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Next up was Jane McDaid, the director of an independent agency called Thinkhouse. I did some
independent research on Thinkhouse and it is a successful agency in connecting brands to youth communities. They work with many big brands such as Desperados, Timberland and Lynx. They also helped RTE in becoming more connected with the youth of Ireland by developing RTE 2 as a youth- only channel. Jane’s speech was highly interactive and amusing to listen to. The main point of her speech were the ‘7 Sins Of Killer Content’ a.k.a 7 characteristics of great advertising. These seven ‘sins’ included; Comic, Epic, Emotive, WTF, Zeitgeist, NSFW and Informative. For each sin she showed us an ad that epitomised each characteristic. In this way we could relate to things that we have all previously seen on TV and apply it to our newly-learned knowledge of what makes a great advertisement. Below is one of my favourite ads and one that came under the heading of ‘Epic’.

Following Jane we had Lucy Campbell, the Marketing Director of RTE Digital.damo It was quite interesting to have someone of such high status from the country’s biggest TV channel talking to us. Lucy spoke about RTE’s journey over the years from being a single TV channel to having a website, RTE Player, RTE News Now and the development of GAAGO – a joint initiative with GAA to broadcast GAA matches around the world. What I found quite interesting was RTE’s analysis of their viewership. In recent years, and especially with the development of GAAGO, RTE Digital’s viewership has increased vastly worldwide. 37% of online users are now outside Ireland and GAAGO has viewers in 150 countries worldwide.

Alan Coleman is the founder and CEO of Wolfgang Digital, Ireland’s leading search marketing agency. Wolfgang Digital aim to create brand advocacy through social media and Alan discussed a ‘purchase funnel’ as a kind of system for looking at how consumers react to purchasing. It went something like this. However, as Wolfgang Digital promote brand advocacy they have created their own version of a purchasing funnel. Wolfgang add ‘Loyalty’ and ‘Advocacy’ as two separate stages after ‘Action’. I found this approach to marketing really interesting, especially after he showed us a genuine Case Study that Wolfgang Digital had carried out with Abbey Travel that showed the positive impact their purchasing funnel had on attracting more customers to Abbey Travel.

Perhaps the highest job title that we encountered at this conference was the Sales Director at LinkedIn, Nicolas Cappiello. It was fascinating to have someone of Nicolas’ experience talk to us about generating sales at LinkedIn – a successful social media site for businesses. He talked about LinkedIn’s mission: To connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. He also discussed the importance of content on a social media platform such as LinkedIn.

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After three and a half hours I think we were all starting to get a little bit tired but our last speaker came out exceptionally bubbly and caught all of our attention with his presentation. Eric Weaver is the Chief Social Officer for Mediabrands Worldwide. He discussed the evident cycle of technology that exists today and how when each piece of technology arrives we gradually become more and more disillusioned and bored with it. His speech was about keeping products, technologies and services fresh. And so, as an example, he showed us the ‘Oreo Daily Twist‘. A remarkable marketing strategy that Oreo performed to celebrate 100 years in business. They wanted to make Oreo more modern and relevant to today’s society, and so, for 100 days they developed an ad each day based on the most topical stories that were circulating. The campaign was so successful that Oreo made 230 million impressions and over 1 million new Facebook fans in just 100 days!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed what was a hugely successful day. Each speaker brought something new to the table and intrigued us with their anecdotes, experience, videos and more.