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2013 Action Plan for Jobs & Business On-line Voucher

Today the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Jobs & Enterprise Minister  launched the government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013, the next step in the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy based on enterprise, innovation and exports. The Plan contains 333 actions to be implemented in 2013 by 16 Government Departments and 46 agencies.  It has a significant technology element to it – ICT Skills and Big Data get specific focus having consideration for how they can impact the Irish economy in a positive way.

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[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]The timing of the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs may be just perfect for SMEs who want to sell online.

Today the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Jobs & Enterprise Minister  launched the government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013, the next step in the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and accelerate the transition to a sustainable, jobs-rich economy based on enterprise, innovation and exports. The Plan contains 333 actions to be implemented in 2013 by 16 Government Departments and 46 agencies.  It has a significant technology element to it – ICT Skills and Big Data get specific focus having consideration for how they can impact the Irish economy in a positive way.

The 2013 Action Plan has an added element over the 2012 initiative however;  seven Disruptive Reform measures, designed to be high-impact with agressive timelines,  these will be implemented in partnership with senior industry figures and selected because of their potential to have a significant effect on job-creation. Of the seven, one really caught my eye and builds on the very solid technology message I got listening to Minister Richard Bruton today:

“Trading Online – get 2,000 more small businesses trading online in 2013 and 2014, with the creation of 3,200 jobs.”

— Action Plan for Jobs, 2013

The last time I saw an initiative that promised as much for SMEs  was the Getting Irish Business Online in May, 2011. Today’s announcement, which will work via a Business On-line  Voucher could ignite online activity by SMEs in Ireland.  WIth only around a quarter of Irish SMEs selling online the timing for this announcement is perfect. Here’s why:

  • Irish online spend last year was c. €4 billion – 70% went to over-seas retailers
  • Smart-phone adoption is now over 40% – with two thirds of those users accessing the web every day from their smart-phone – and eight out of ten people researching products or services online.
  • Three-quarters of Irish SMEs are NOT selling online
So consumers are spending online and technology is available to connect sellers with buyers. Even a small one-woman business can be open all hours. So why are so few businesses doing it? Twenty-five percent or less is a dismal figure for a nation where there are more mobile phones than people!  It is difficult to explain. I don’t think there’s a single reason, but there is a sense of business owners being cautious about investment.

Like many sectors of the internet business (remember that SEO-slash-web-marketing expert a couple of years ago who charged you by the micro-second and wore silly trainers with a suit when he met you?), business owners became jaded from the quotes they received for average websites and when you went to add online selling to your website it was gong to cost you thousands of Euros.

Four years ago, I needed a banner-ad for a web advertising campaign – usually I’d have a go at doing this myself but I needed it in a hurry so I asked a local web-company that I did business with to produce the animated banner ad. Cool as a web-cucumber they quoted me 2,000 Euros, and they didn’t even sound embarassed. Once I got over the hyper-ventilation I Googled ‘banner-ad creation’, found a young guy in North Carolina, exchanged 3 emails and he did the ad. He emailed me the finished version the next day. I paid him $125 – via PayPal, which was his ‘rush fee’, his regular rate was $100. If an SME owner came up against this type of barrier these days when they looked at getting their business online, they may well just leave it at that.

One thing austerity has given us is a more balanced market – but we need continued temperance. And the ‘investment matching’ idea of the Business On-line voucher is a good one, but it needs to be monitored with specific parameters set around cost per feature, or some sort of scalability matrix. It’s important to prevent the state funding being swallowed up as a matter of course.

WIth trusted payment providers like Realex and Sage Pay offering SME specific packages the cost of getting paid online is low. Realex’s new product CaraPay for SMEs (in Beta right now) could create even an even greater opportunity for SMEs.

CaraPay allows bank-account payments from consumers, not just credit card payments, potentially increasing the market of consumers who can buy easily online, across a pan-European payment zone, called SEPA – many people in European markets don’t have credit-cards. but are regular debit-card users, and these pan-European consumers will be able to pay, with instant fund transfer, using their Sort Code and Bank Account number.

Then there’s PayPal, the first port of call for many SME owners. PayPal should be tried by all SME owners going online. I’d legislate for that if I could, because using Paypal is like a lesson in e-commerce. You’ll learn about how selling online works, checkouts and baskets, and does multi-currency matter to you? And their inventory tools teach you about the discipline of managing real world stock versus what you sell online – selling what you don’t have is bad practice from day one.

I also think we’re addressing a cultural issue at SMEs – “the website needs updating…”. Too often used as an excuse that pushed the maintenance element off websites off to a specific person in a small business. Everyone in an SME knows how the real-world sale works – the same needs to apply to the online part of the business. Cultural change, ditching the attitude, whichever affects you, needs to happen. The WebActivate program will help  this with e-friendly jobseekers re-entering employment as we see new hires increasing at SMEs, but business owners need to ensure that everyone knows how the web sale works. In fact, it isn’t a web sale. It’s a sale. The idea of one-price, retail or online, is upon us. Multi-channel selling is here. Successful retailers are now successful online and in real-world.

The Business On-line Voucher system requires some administration. The business assessment task needs to be scientific but flexible enough to admit the left-field ideas that come along with potential. Also, over-subscription by a specific region or sector needs to be avoided, so that SMEs have time and space to succeed. Two thousand SMEs who want to sell could benefit,  then there’s the web developers and trainers who can work with  SMEs to  get them online, and most of these technical companies are generally small businesses also.  Initially the scheme focusses on sectors where online adoption has has been low – great idea. This could genuinely transform thousands of SMEs in Ireland at a time when we really need them, more than ever.

External Link & Reference

  1. Action Plan for Jobs: 2013 [PDF]
  2. Think Insights with Google : Our Mobile Planet : Ireland – Understanding the mobile consumer
  3. Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation : 2013 Action Plan for Job
  4. Single European Payments Area & ireland
  5. Getting Irish Business Online : Register a doman and get started
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Business

The Mc Ginn sisters on Newstalk: Down To Business

Grace, Sarah and Jennie Mc Ginn know fashion. They know it inside out and back to front: OPSH.COM then will make sense when you think about it. An aggregation platform for the female shopper, it will launch in September after a years work. A couple of weeks ago, the serial entrepreneurs joined Margaret E. Ward on Newstalk’s Down To Business to talk about how they got here, and where they’re going.

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Grace, Sarah and Jennie Mc Ginn know fashion. They know it inside out and back to front: in that context OPSH.COM makes perfect sense. An aggregation platform for the female shopper, it will launch in September after a years work. A couple of weeks ago, the serial entrepreneurs joined Margaret E. Ward on Newstalk’s Down To Business to talk about how they got here, and where they’re going.

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Why I’ll miss Vizify

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Build a personal website in seconds, that’s what Vizify’s strap line used to say. It caused a stir when it launched and people started talking about it: Use Vizify to monitor and improve how you use Twitter wrote blogger Brian Thomas Humek, while Andrew Couts wrote about how it knows (well privacy is history) everything about you.

I forget how I found Vizify, but I’m glad I did. I’m really not sure how I used it or how often, but it’s a remarkably simple to use tool thats not so much a personal website like About.me, but a social business card. And when I used it, it honestly made me smile, sort of HootSuite meets WayBack Machine, but in 30 seconds. . The stand out feature is the micro-video it creates from your social posts, adding royalty free music, your top interactions and connections, and to prompt self-reflection if your fitness tracker has failed yet again to go in to sleep mode for a week, a useful little chart of when you Tweet the most.vizify_001

So as a result of the Yahoo! acquisition, Vizify will be ‘sunsetting’ the service, so now new sign-ups or paid plans and the service sill archive your profile until September. On their website, they don’t talk about the specifics of how they’ll bring Vizify to Yahoo!, but it’s fair to assume the service will be reappear at Yahoo! powering part of your Yahoo! account in an animated portrayal of the social elements of your profile encompassing your college details (a la Rivals.com), your blog posts (Tumblr) and your images (Flickr). It’s a good acquisition for Yahoo! giving them a a tool to combine images : aesthetics : social in to a catchy little box that is made for mobile. So no more grim avatar in your friends profile photo, instead a rich, animated informative overview of who they are and who they talk to.

It’s a good day for Yahoo!, more components for the revival of the web’s biggest sleeper, it’s a good day for founders, former Monsoon Commerce colleagues, Eli Tucker, Todd Silverstein <http://toddsilverstein.com/> and Jeff Cutler-Stamm, and investor Jonathan Sposato  but I’m not quite leaping with joy. I’ll miss Vizify; those videos, the quick interaction overview and the shock of seeing when I Tweet most; the sun’s setting one of the coolest, sharpest little tools the web’s served up in a while. Hurry up Yahoo!.

External links & references

  1. Read the announcement at Vizify.com
  2. The state of information visualisation, 2014: Robert Kosara
  3. Yahoo! acquires data visualisation star : InfoWorld

Yahoo timeline image by: Yahoo : Review CC Licence

vizify

Vizify statement

As part of our transition to Yahoo, we will no longer be allowing new signups or purchases of paid plans. We will also be sunsetting the Vizify service.

What does this mean for me?

As an existing Vizify account holder, look for an email in the coming weeks with more details. But for now, to make the transition process easier on you, we’re taking a few extra steps:

  • For all bioholders, free and paid, we’ll be providing a way for you to opt-in to “archive” a snapshot of your current bio that will remain live at the same URL through September 4, 2014.
  • For those of you with a current paid plan, we’ll be issuing a full refund for everything you’ve paid Vizify.
  • For Premium customers who registered a domain through Vizify (like your-name .com), we’ll be providing instructions so you can assume ownership of your domain, free of charge.

What do I need to do?

You’ll be getting an additional email from us next week with steps you’ll need to take. In the meantime, see our FAQ.

– Team Vizify

For any bioholders who do not opt-in to archive their bio by April 7, 2014, the Terms of Service will terminate and all licenses granted to you will be revoked on April 7, 2014.

Vizify is a registered trademark. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. 812 Washington St. #800, Portland, OR 97205

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Building Information Modeling, this could be big. Honestly.

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Building Information Modeling is not a glamorous phrase that conjures up images of turbo-charged start-ups around the world, full of enthusiastic coders adding another million dollars of shareholder value with every keystroke. It is a sector though, that is attracting the interest of tech investors – and that’s generally a clue as to the importance of an emerging industry. Building Information Modeling isn’t a new sector, the concept has been around for almost forty years, but it was only a decade ago that BIM became an ‘industry’ following a publication by CAD company Autodesk. With BIM software you create models of buildings or facilities – but not just CAD images traditionally used by architects and builders, but models that display other characteristics of buildings, for example the functional characteristics of a site. So you add digital images or files that show the air-conditioning system due to be fitted but what if you could get the manufacturers of various air-con systems to give you digital files for various types and capacities of cooling system?

[funky_quote align=”left”]“Technology companies are becoming the bright spot in the economic outlook based on their increasing role within macro-economic environments, 2013 has demonstrated the sector’s vibrant activity and its contribution to the global economic recovery. ” — Alex Vieux, Chairman, Red Herring.[/funky_quote]The power consumption, physical and aesthetic impact of building facilities can be examined, or ‘modeled.  What if you could add images and accompanying technical information about the walls that will be erected inside the building, and on those walls you could digitally ‘paint’ the exact type of covering or paint to be used. With manufacturer information integrated into the design and modeling process you could end up knowing how a building will look, feel and sound when people are in it.  Data assisted decision making from concept, through design and construction right through the life of a building and how its eventual demolition will impact a landscape and community.

BIMobject®, a leading Swedish BIM software provider has announced it’s been selected as a candidate for Red Herring’s 2013 Top 100 Global award. which recognises the year’s most promising private technology companies and entrepreneurs, which will be awarded on November 20th.The inclusion of

External Links & References

  1. Examine products at BIMObject.com
  2. BIMObject : YouTube channel
  3. Red Herring Global 100 Awards
  4. National BIM Library : NBS
  5. BIM Working Groups : Saved Google Search
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