Conference: “Get Digital”

“When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills.”

I had really hoped that they saved the best for last, the GET DIGITAL conference. Well, it was a very “cloudy” afternoon, April 16th 2013. My afternoon included presenting the research posters we had created as part of another DICE project prior to the actual conference and then, as part of the second National Conference on Cloud Computing and Commerce (NC4) we heard four speeches on cloud computing. 

After Dr. Theo Lynn’s opening remarks, the first speaker entered the stage. The first of four speakers for us, but a lot more presentations were held as part of the National Conference on Cloud Computing and Commerce.

Part 1: “Reshaping the Future of Industry and Society using Open Innovation 2.0” by Professor Martin Curley (vice president at Intel Corporation, director of Intel Labs Europe and co-director of the Innovation Value Institute)Martin Curley

The question that I asked myself when I first saw that long title was “What on earth is open innovation 2.0?” There is Closed Innovation, Open Innovation and Innovation Networks, which could also be described as Open Innovation 2.0. “Innovation doesn’t just change our lives; it’s how we make a living” (Barack Obama).quadruple helix Clearly, every business needs to be innovative in order to stay competitive, either developing their new products in-house, or using open innovation and develop products outside the company (open innovation). This process can even go further: Involving industry, academia, government and citizens is how we can raise the level of innovation. Here’s a really interesting TED talk by Charles Leadbeater on Open Innovation Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation

Although, that was the core of his speech (at least to me) it is impossible to stop here, as I haven’t even mentioned cloud computing. But to be honest, his speech focused on innovation, not on cloud computing. He talked about imagining and designing the future. What we imagine today, will be reality sooner than we think.
An interesting fact: if Moore’s law that predicts the progress in technology also applied to changes in the airline industry for the last 100 years, we could travel from Dublin to New York within just ½ second! Impossible? FutureinourhandsMaybe. But the point I’m trying to make is that technology transformed industries which were built up in centuries within a decade. And cloud computing is still at its beginning. Curley’s conclusion to this change is to focus on the three key elements of innovation: sustainability, mass-collaboration and shared value.

01-ConstantinPart 2: “The Economic Opportunity in Cloud Computing for Ireland” by Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev (Head of Research for St. Columbanus AG and Adjunct Lecturer in Finance with Trinity College)

The very beginning is a good place to start, and the first thing I learned is that cloud computing is not an economy, but a platform for perfectly disembodied services. We are now at the beginning of the cloud, and countries can compete in two different areas: the physical side of cloud computing or cloud-based services. Ireland has not a chance to compete on the physical level, only cloud-based services are possible, but there is a lot of work to do. Gurdgiev presented 10 steps and 2 massive reforms to make it possible.IBM

Clare-DillonPart 3: “Evangelising the Future” by Clare Dillon (Developer and Platform Group Lead, Microsoft Ireland)

We all know that the Cloud has many problems to solve, but there are many people working on it as well. Clare Dillon even dared to say that one day it’ll just be there, like electricity. That “one day” was what Clare told us about. First she showed us this video “A vision of the future” which was made in 2011. It shows the big trends in computing: multi device, social, connected and natural. Today we all have a lot of devices, computers, tablets, mobile phones, kindles…this part of the video seems to be reality already. Computing is everywhere. And these devices are connected, powered and enabled by the cloud! Last but not least the clip shows natural interaction, which Kinect already represents today.Future

Speaking of Kinect: this is a great example of how the world changed the product created beyond what Microsoft could even imagine: designed for games it is now even used to monitor if elderly people do exercises the right way to stay fit and helps surgeons operating in a sterile environment.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” – Alan Key

Part 4: “Marketing the Cloud” by Fergus Gloster (Managing Director Europe, Marketo)Fergus-Gloster

Fergus Gloster, a passionate believer in the cloud mainly confused me. First of all he said that our current sales and marketing model is at best obsolete, at worst it’s totally dysfunctional. Marketing now has a greater role than ever. The buyer’s decision is mostly already made when getting in touch with the sales person. But cloudcomputingthen he went on talking about how to run a cloud business, which just expected too much background knowledge for me to follow what he was trying to tell us. In his defence, he really tried to make it short as well, not to bore us too much, but I didn’t understand the numbers he was telling us in conjunction with the SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) Revenue Model, Pipeline Coverage per AE or Pipeline Inventory. Nonetheless, I understood that there is more to marketing, challenges and potential are waiting for us and not everything is just digital and social.IBM2

One of the best things about the conference was its duration: two hours were exactly enough to learn about cloud computing and commerce and not too long to lose my attention. And after all these hours, only one more thing:

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope” Albert Einstein

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Conference: “Get Started”


Grow It Yourself, The Fumbally Exchange, Camara and Hireland have quite a lot of things in common: they all are Social Enterprises, all are supported by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland…and all came to talk to us in the Helix for the third conference “Get Started”! I can’t wait to tell you more about the best conference so far, but: first things first

In line with everyone expectations the conference was opened by Dr Theo Lynn. The conference mainly consisted of Entrepreneurs sharing their stories and advice with us, Social Entrepreneurs in the first half and Commercial Entrepreneurs in the second one. Being an Entrepreneur himself (The founded a number of companies incl. Enki Information Systems, Educational Multimedia Group and Atomic), he said: “The majority of Start-Ups fail because Entrepreneurs run out of energy, not because of bad Business Ideas!”

Social Entrepreneurship

Seán Coughlan, CEO of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland guided us through the first half of the conference, consisting of the four most important steps for Start-Ups, focusing on Social Entrepreneurs: the right time to start, get going, building the team and getting the message out there.

2RoadsThat was when I asked myself what exactly social Entrepreneurship was. Darren Ryan explained that pretty well: It’s Making a Profit and Changing the World. With Entrepreneurship there is always one road leading to Value, but for social entrepreneurs there is a complicated and long journey towards to get to profit and impact.

tomsToday, being social is good for business. Just think of Toms: social and highly successful.

So in case any of you want to start their own business: deciding whether commercial or social entrepreneurship or setting up a charity is not the first step. Darren’s advice is to first look at the core of your idea, at the difference you want to make and then choose the right vehicle for your journey.

Social-Entrepreneurs-Ireland-Staff3When is the right time to start?

Download (1)DownloadMichael Kelly, Founder of Grow It Yourself (GIY), told us his story. I think that all those entrepreneurs telling us their very own stories made this conference very interesting. Michael for example had had a job in the IT branch and had later been working as a journalist, before one simple garlic from China made him come up with his business idea: he wanted to encourage people to grow more themselves, so something like garlic does not have to be shipped around the globe. Actually garlic from China contains more selenium than any other garlic and therefore is healthier, but that didn’t have any impact on Michaels plan: He set up a network, which has now groups in 32 countries. For a long time Michael was working on GIY and as a journalist simultaneously, until the right time to start had come, and GIY took over his life. According to him, you should ask yourself these questions in order to find out if it is the right time now:

  • Are you sure there is demand for the product/service? Do you have evidence of that?
  • Can you pay your bills?
  • Do you have what it takes to pull it off? If you don’t have the talent and skills, hook up with someone who does!
  • Do you have a support network? (Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, family, other entrepreneurs…)
  • Are you willing to dedicate your life to it?
  • What does your gut say?

But his most important advice: Do not, not, not die with your music still inside you!

Get going

Download (2)was the title of George Boyle’s talk. She also shared her story with us, told us that she was not lucky enough to wait for the right time to come but had to do something when unexpectedly losing her job when her employer liquidated and she was holding a baby in her arms. So George founded The Fumbally Exchange.

Download (1)In order to get going, she defined 7 principles:

  1. Impulse: realising that you should do something, having the idea and then setting up a plan
  2. Freedom: look at the space-time-continuum: Some people manage to fly, but chances are high of falling
  3. Guilt: fear, seeing the competition and doubting yourself
  4. Personal Responsibility: you create your own destiny
  5. Forgiveness: forgive yourself, in hell no one can hear you dream
  6. Permission: give yourself permission to dream
  7. Style: know when to quit

With a presentation based on pictures and George speaking very fast, I found it hard to remember what she said. I guess the others in the auditorium had similar troubles as the only picture that aroused any reaction was one showing the Pope who had resigned the previous day.

Building The Team

camaraJohn Fitzsimons is CEO, but not founder of Camara. Nonetheless he made an interesting speech about the importance of having the right team. “Lone heroes with good ideas only succeed in the movies” (investor Bill Liao) so it doesn’t make any sense just to focus on the product, you have to focus on the people. There are three key qualities that the team should have:


  1. Beliefs: The beliefs of the organisation and the individual have to match
  2. Brands: When designing the brand and logo, do not only consider customers but also potential employees.
  3. Passion: Your team needs passion, belief and skill alone is not enough. Do what you love, love what you do! If you want to find investors, passion matters more than the idea itself, says investor Frank Walsh.

A model for a really good, but not perfect, team for him obviously was Leinster Rugby.

How are you getting the message out there?

Download (2)What I remember best of Lucy Masterson’s part is that you have to tell a story that can spread. I think this is because I realized how important that is after the conference: I had indeed liked those speakers best, who shared their story with us, that’s what made this afternoon remarkable for me. So here are the 7 steps to make your voice heard

  1. Marketing: Tell a story that can be spread.
  2. Keep it simple: People have 50 different things in their head, and keeping it simple has prominent successful examples: Just do it, Yes we can,…
  3. Break the rules: No, not the law, but challenge the status quo!
  4. 1BillionRisingStart a movement: people want to be part of something: 1 Billion rising has been a true success
  5. Embrace evolving technology: There is no way you can get your message out there without being part of the online conversation.
  6. SoLoMo: Be Social, Local, Mobile.
  7. Be Bold: Fortune favours the bold. In her own story that meant continuously annoying people to sponsor, as she is the founder of it. All people can do is say “no”, but if you never ask, it’s impossible to ever get what you need!

Panel 1

DSC09645The end of the first part was a panel with the previous speakers. Generally I think it is a great opportunity to ask questions, but I didn’t particularly like the Panels during all conferences. I got the impression that sometimes the speakers don’t understand what the question actually is and then they are taking a long time because everyone practically says the same but has to say something even if there is nothing more to say.

What I took down beside the quote “just do it, never let anyone tell you that you can’t, you can become everything you want” which we’ve now heard at least a hundred times during those five conferences, was that there is also a project of Social Entrepreneurs Ireland specially designed for young people: Wave Change.

John Dennehy

John told us about his experience of being a co-founder and founder in four companies. I liked hearing his story, and it was extraordinary how he always stood up after failure. It was zero to hero to zero to hero and so on, but he always followed his principle: “A small deed accomplished is better than a bid deed imagined”

Panel 2

This panel was about raising money. We were told about excellent possibilities to get money for Start-ups: UStart, Ryan Academy, 30/60 Seed Accelerator Fund

USTartryan academyfund

Conor Winders

redwindConor has been talking to us before, but this time it was all about his own story. From the first idea that seemed ridiculous, then creating apps as a hobby and finally, years later setting up his own business with his best friend, starting Redwind Software.conor

He confirmed what we had heard in the first half of the conference: starting your own business should be fun, rewarding, doing something you are passionate about. He also highlighted the importance of a network.

Panel 3

I disliked this last panel, maybe it was because I missed a golden thread. It is great that DCU could encourage so many Entrepreneurs to come and speak to us, but the only person that made a lasting impression was Paddy O’Connell, and I think it was, again, because he told us his story and mainly because he had brought some of his PaddyO’s Granola bars.

Gerry Duffy


I think we were all pretty tired when the last speaker Gerry entered the stage.
Nonetheless, he got all my attention. At first I was somehow confused why he didn’t focus his own start-up, but I realized that he did something much more important: he was a motivational speaker. While I was tired of everyone telling us “You can do it, don’t let anybody tell you something else!” he told us how to approach that. His four key strategies are: Think Time and Fitness and Surrounding yourself with great people and Mindset.

That, combined with his own story, but much more important this very emotional and touching video made him an incredibly valuable speaker.

Real Heroes

Last but not least some advice which I think is what DICE is all about and it’s also the key point of a book that was recommended: ENTREPRENEURSHIP CAN BE LEARNED, it’s not something in your DNA that you either have or haven’t!

Further reading and videos

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Conference: “Get Mobile”

TheoOur latest conference, called “Get Mobile” covered the whole mobile marketing spectrum. Not only did we have five speakers this time and a panel discussion, but the conference also included a Company App Expo and introduced the apps we developed as part of our DICE projects for some DCU clubs and societies.

I liked Dr. Theo Lynn’s opening remarks, stressing the importance and potential of mobile marketing. Not music video this time, but very informative nevertheless.

PucaThe first speaker, Dominic Muldoon from Pùca, told us more about the importance of doing mobile marketing, than the strategies and campaigns itself. He believes that “mobile is the glue holding human experiences together”. And he made a good point: if you forget your wallet at home, most of us would probably just ask their friends for some money, but if you realize you left your phone at home, almost everyone would go back, right?

There is not much to be told about the speech of Nokia’s representative Eoin Cruise.Nokia Being Head of Sales and Marketing I am sure he could have told us more interesting things than showing us really old Nokia mobile phones (from the time where Nokia was very popular) and then in contrast the new Nokia Lumia. He showed us a video, explaining the new phone in detail, but I didn’t learn what a Head of Sales and Marketing has to do when the company changes the smartphone offering entirely within 12 months. Apart from promoting the phone to DCU students…

MicrosoftThe following speaker, Patrick Ward from Microsoft, did practically the same. Above all, he promoted Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. But it was more interesting, because I actually work with Windows 7, so I could compare it and clearly see the difference, how social networks changed our perception in a way that now, the centre of the screen is called “people”, an app managing our social network accounts.

PayPal’s Vice President Louise Phelan was my favourite part of the conference. Her speech included trends and data on mobile shoppers and information paypallogo

on the changing face of retail as well as mobile payments to drive sales. I did not only hear of “Cyber Monday” for the first time, learned that 80 % of shopping in the US happens on smartphones but also asked myself if I would notice if people beside me in a store do “showrooming”: looking at the product and actually right at that moment

paypal buying the product online. Highlighting the success of PayPal she gave us a lot of examples and ideas of how companies use PayPal either via app or browser, from virtual shopping in the subway, a cloud wallet (vouchers in the cloud) and ordering and paying for your take away coffee in before. So I was not surprised at all that amount of payments made via PayPal was 10 billion US-Dollars in 2012.

appsThe panel discussion that followed reminded me a lot of the last panel discussion. Eric Weaver, presenter, asked some interesting questions, but the main message of Joe Drumgoole, James Howell, Michael Barr, Conor Winders and Sylvie McDermott was the same as last time: Try everything, make something and release it, even if you don’t succeed – Adversity is the school of wisdom. However I realized that the focus companies should have now are security, mobile payment and local and relevant apps.

The last speaker, Johnny Walker, was totally different, because he talked about his project of mobile medicine treatment. He is the founder of “Global Diagnostics”, a leading international provider of diagnostic imaging services and radiology services through stand alone clinics. Their business is linking patients with diagnostic specialists around the globe.

GlobalDiagnosticsA first mobile US unit was their first humble, simple start and bit by bit they became an international leader in their branch of trade. He showed us the importance of being mobile, how crucial this can be for patients in the Australian outback, where the only solution in the dilemma used to be “if in doubt fly it out”!

Johnny Walker – Global Diagnostics

I admired his passion, he did not come to the Helix to sell us his product, but he also told us touching and hilarious stories of his journeys. He was a great example for what we have been told a lot during the last conferences: you should do something you like. Johnny did a fantastic job because of his real enthusiasm for what he was doing.

Through this conference I gained insight in the recent developments concerning mobile marketing, which dealt with a lot of topics I never considered important for me personally before owning no smartphone. So I would say the conference accomplished its mission of giving me an overview of the latest marketing strategies and ideas of what is yet to come.

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Conference: “Get Social”

Yes, I am a digital native. I grew up with the internet, I really couldn’t imagine everyday life without e-mail and google and to a certain extend youtube, facebook and twitter. The so-called Web 2.0 is part of my life. And this video is my point of view when it comes to social media marketing. How brands can use social media successfully was the main issue at the second conference “Get social” on the 16th of October in the Helix, DCU, a conference by nine different speakers including a panel discussion.

Social media is about people. People like us, using facebook to keep in touch with friends, following others on twitter and trying to get followers ourselves or even become famous on youtube. So why should a business do social media?

Mark Cahalane, Managing Director at Edelman Europe, who talked about the Edelman Trust Barometer said, that people are most likely to trust either an expert or a person like themselves. Social Media is one way to make people believe that a product is recommended by people like themselves, their friends, people they are looking up to. And once people already trust a brand, 40% of them will believe the information after hearing it once or twice, while others need to hear information three to five times until they notice the content.

Used cleverly, social media gives businesses the opportunity to not simply get attention but also to show public engagement and therefore gain the trust and the “license to lead, not only operate”.

Next question: How should a business do social media? That’s what Claire Wardle, Director of Services at Storyful, Darragh Doyle, Community Manager at World Irish, and Brian Herron, Community Manager at Google+ Local at Google Inc., considered in their speeches. The panel discussion about “The State of Social Media in Ireland” with experts from the field of social media was also largely concerned with that question.

Big companies can hire social agencies or community managers for social media purposes, but really everybody can do the job, so even the smallest company should be doing social media. What you always should consider when doing social media is that you want to understand your customers which are in this case the users. And to communicate with them you don’t only have to be a nice person, but you have to be part of the community, or else it won’t work. It’s about being like the customers, talking with them instead of talking to them. And then of course, it’s important not to talk nonsense, never to spam, not to do everything and to manage your message. In order to stand out online it’s essential to self-indicate projects, to have a passion, to love what you do. Then, everyone can be a blogger, designer, journalist … And if something goes wrong: just make the best out of it. Brian said: “It’s ok to fail, but fail with style”. And a lot of big companies make mistakes as well. When things go wrong, delete the embarrassing tweets and apologize with humor.

Tools for social marketing were presented by Jane White from Twitter and Catherine Flynn from Global Marketing Solutions (UK) at Facebook. According to their slogan “twitter brings your closer…also brands to customers”, they provide three promoted products so that brands can communicate with their target group and don’t only tweet to a random group of the 570.000 active users all over Ireland. There are Promoted Accounts, Promoted Tweets and Promoted Trends. Facebook supplies promoted posts and sponsored stories to make social marketing easier for everybody.

At this point I have to mention some examples of effective social marketing which we were confronted with during the afternoon. The opening by Dr. Theo Lynn from DCU Business School used an example which you are probably quite familiar with: Psy became famous, using social media, not trying to protect his rights, but sharing his video, publishing it for free and therefore earning attention.

We also heard about a good example of effective social marketing from Philip Kelly, Digital Marketing Executive at Electric Ireland, who talked about their experience of Social Media. After a complete makeover they used a blog, twitter, facebook and to talk with their customers, for example videos about energy efficiency and most recently the electric picnic tweet hunt and the tweet café at Dublin Web. 

Ultimately Eric Waver from IPG Brand presented us a short version of his speech as we were running out of time. However, answering the question “Where is social media going?” is very important. We’ve come from simple homepages to social media sites to apps, and Eric doesn’t believe that the journey is over yet. You may well ask where, but it is for sure, that whatever is coming, business has to solve some problems such as dealing with non-official sites and apps, the decreasing value of “find us on facebook” and with complaining customers.

Unfortunately the point of view of the customers was only slightly touched during the event. The power that social media gives the customers should never be underestimated. Now, people can actually achieve, because together they can attack every company. United Airlines had to experience that, after Dave Carrol released three songs about them.

To make a closing remark: Just do it. “Failure is success if we learn from it” – Malcolm Forbes

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Conference: “Get creative“ by Nigel Newman

Do you consider yourself a creative person? I don’t and so I was really looking forward to this first conference, titled “Get Creative” on the 2nd of October. Nigel Newman of the De Bono Foundation talked to us about how to get new ideas, manage and implement them.

Before getting creative, Nigel introduced himself, the Foundation and said a few words about what we had to expect during the afternoon. The Edward De Bono Foundation is “a charity in the teaching of serious creativity and constructive thinking skills” (for more information see ) Established worldwide, the foundation has been developing various courses to learn creative thinking for business and education over the last 35 years.

At the beginning Nigel explained how thinking works: We are probably not aware of it, but a lot of our thinking happens through thinking patterns. To be correct: the excellence of our brain arises directly from its ability to make, organise and use patterns. Just think of everyday life: putting the toothpaste on the right side of the brush, putting the left shoe on the left foot…Sadly these patterns also prevent us from being really creative.

A part of thinking that is usually underestimated is perception. Research by David Perkins at Harvard shows that 90% of errors in thinking are errors of perception not logic. Being creative means to see things slightly different and discover things others don’t see. A marvellous example for that would be Steve Jobs. And not only does the De Bono Foundation believe that, “Doing things differently leads to something exceptional” was a campaign by the ABSOLUTE Company in 2009.

Not only Nigel and Edward De Bono but also many other authors believe that our problem is that we don’t take enough time to think! We have to think slower to even get a chance to get out of our patterns and see things differently. One of Nigel’s favourite books by Guy Claxton has the subtitle: “Why intelligence increases when you think less”. Unfortunately just telling people “think slower!” won’t change anything. So here are 3 techniques to get more intelligent by thinking slower:

  1. The PMI-technique: Direct your attention by not only thinking about the positive (P=plus) and negative (M=minus) aspects of a problem, but don’t forget the interesting (I) points that come along with it. That’s actually the way post-it’s were invented. People saw the interesting aspect of glue that would not stick and developed a best-seller!
  2. The OPV-technique (other peoples’ views): just use more than your 2 own eyes, just image how something would affect the life of a child, an animal, an elderly person, an environmentalist….
  3. The six hats, a technique developed by Edward De Bono: In order to manage your creative thinking, just wear the 6 hats one after another (which is what Nigel literally did).

The green hat is the most important one: think about possibilities, the interesting part of your thoughts.

At this stage he made us be creative on our own, think apply the techniques he had talked about, just imagine that a new law came into force which says that all cars must be painted yellow,…? And he also told us stories or rather tales of how people solved problems by being creative, and gave us a Chinese horse puzzle (, or told us to try to fit our whole body through a hole in an A4 sheet of paper. (This works!)

As Nigel already mentioned patterns are important for the human brain, so why not use some methods to come up with something creative? For example:

–       Combination Thinking: Don’t we all love our smartphones? Some years ago someone came up with the crazy idea of combining the mobile phone with other functions, adding a camera. And that turned out great!

–       Wishful Thinking: What do you wish to happen? Maybe these things somehow could be realized? Years ago students must have been thinking “Wouldn’t it be nice, if we could get our food directly delivered to our accommodation” and now, we can order at Tesco online and get it unpacked at our kitchen table if we want.

–       Stop-Keep-Start Method: What should for example supermarkets do? Stop giving away plastic bags, keep offering a delivery service and start having around multilingual staff.

But being creative doesn’t stop once you have an idea! Here’s a plan what to do:

  1. Share the idea
  2. Nurture it
  3. Make a plan for action

In conclusion I can say that all my expectations were fulfilled. I did not only realize why I’m usually not creative, but also did I get to know some methods how to change that. And not to forget: I really enjoyed how Nigel told us these little stories and gave us some puzzles and riddles.

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“If at first the idea is not absurd then there is no hope” Albert Einstein

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