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20-20 Vision: How Businesses Can Benefit From New Technologies

20-20 Vision: How Businesses Can Benefit From New Technologies

20-20 Vision: How Businesses Can Benefit From New Technologies
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20-20 Vision: How Businesses Can Benefit From New Technologies

Many Irish businesses are adopting new interactive digital technologies which are saving them money, enhancing their business offering and opening access to new markets.

This is a view shared by Ergo CEO John Purdy and Microsoft technical evangelist Andrew Macadam. Both will feature prominently at the 20-20 Vision event in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island, Co Cork, on Wednesday, Apr 24, sponsored by Microsoft and HP.

The format will be similar to the recent 20-20 Vision in Croke Park, at which Citrix was also sponsor, along with Microsoft and HP. The event will draw executives from across the private and public sector, from large corporations to SMEs.

For smaller firms, one of the more appealing aspects of cloud computing is that it gives them an opportunity to start small and grow rapidly, while accessing huge servers and technology banks. “I am working with one client who has grown to 1.5 million customers, and yet they only spend €1,500 a month on cloud services,” said Andrew Macadam.

Macadam deals with customers ranging from start-ups to big businesses. Some want to achieve a cultural change in their IT department, others want to upskill internally or bring in external technology partners.

The cloud is of growing interest. Some want to access cloud solutions, perhaps a storage system like Office 365. Some want to see how technology can help them cut costs, achieve efficiencies or build sales with new customers or access new markets. With Microsoft for the past year, Macadam was previously with Vodafone for eight years. Some of his former colleagues attended 20-20 Vision in Dublin. Many people are now using the ubiquity of mobile phones to gain a competitive sales advantage.

“At 20-20 Vision, we will be looking at how people are blending physical and digital reality,” said Macadam. “This is used a lot in the marketing world. With the Nokia Lumia camera, for instance, you can super impose elements of the physical world into the digital."

“With Windows Phone 8, you can find your local restaurant, calculate the distance, get a star-rating on it."

“With NFC [near field communications] embedded into the device, you have the ability to control interaction with commercial machines. You can call a taxi, make a payment. And that is just where we’re at right now.”

Another 20-20 Vision topic is Big Data. Humans are now creating three petabytes — or three trillion gigabytes — of information every nine months. In the next four years, humans will create as much data as they did in the entire preceding years of human history.

This is already raising serious storage issues for companies. Many big companies’ IT systems can’t even independently differentiate between a staff member’s family photo album and their most sensitive information. The event in Little Island will offer some current and future solutions.

The event will also show a video of a Microsoft executive using the latest speech-to-speech translation technology to give a six-second “live” audio translation between speakers of English and Chinese.

“It’s not perfect yet, but it is a very usable translation into one of the most complex languages in the world,” said Andrew Macadam. You could see this being very useful for conference calls to France or Germany. We’re not talking about the future here, this is already in use. The only thing stopping people from accessing this now is their imagination.”

In Little Island, the Microsoft evangelist will also show how businesses can benefit from significant adoption of new technologies, and of new computing trends, machine learning, new keyboards, new Windows phones, Illumishare and the Kinect effect.

The main organisers of the event are John Purdy and his partners at Ergo, a rapidly growing ICT services company whose outsourcing solutions are allowing an increasing number of Irish businesses to focus on their core business, gain sales and develop into new markets. Ergo’s view is that people are now looking forward with more optimism. “All the recession cost-cutting and pruning is done, people are now looking to use technology to create value and agility in their business post-recession,” said John Purdy. “This is the second year we’ve held an event like this. Last year, we hosted Year Zero, in which we helped companies look at how to design their IT systems from scratch. Now we’re looking at driving value from the business, and deliver that value to customers."

“IT people attending 20-20 Vision know that their job is no longer just about keeping the lights on, they must be looking at new products, marketing and generating new income streams. Information Technology is there to act as an enabler of business activity and value creation.”

Purdy says the feedback from the Croke Park event was very positive. An Abtran MIS and business intelligence exec will be speaking at the Little Island event. Ergo themselves also bring hugely varied practical experience with their customers.

“We built a business intelligence system for one Topaz petrol retailer,” says John Purdy. “They used the data to support their decisions on promotions, like coffee and snacks at one hour, a carwash voucher at another. Their margins are not just about petrol sales."

“We also worked with Lakelands Dairies, a huge UHT milk exporter. They now use Lync, which they use to talk with customers in China via the internet, over IP. That speeds up their communications and reduces travel costs.”

20-20 Vision will also feature breakout sessions in visitors can meet the experts, and tease out how they can use technology augment their company’s skill sets, cut costs and build new sales.

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