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Why Irish cyber start-ups are best placed to respond to the new and challenging environment

2020 has presented enormous challenges for organizations. For the cybersecurity sector, it has given rise to opportunities.

Prior to Covid, the cybersecurity sector was already projected to grow by 10%. Since the pandemic, the potential for growth has risen further still.

“Cyber is one of the sectors that has stayed strong during Covid,” says Aoife O’Leary, Enterprise Ireland’s vice president digital technologies, who is based in San Francisco, California.

“The rise in working from home has seen people often working on their own devices at home, and always off their home networks, with major implications for enterprises and for cybersecurity. That has definitely increased market opportunity.”

Securing their future

It’s an opportunity Irish cyber companies are well placed to capture.

Irish cybersecurity technology is already found in digital applications around the world, helping to safeguard people and data at a time when the need for such protection has never been greater.

There is one reason why so many of today’s most effective cybersecurity innovations are emanating from Ireland: the power of the cluster.

Ireland scores in this space because it is home to the top five worldwide security companies. It is the location of choice for more than 40 multinational companies with cybersecurity operations. It is also home to over 60 indigenous cybersecurity companies and start-ups.

Securing Europe’s data

As well as hosting the European Headquarters of many of the world’s largest technology companies, Ireland is estimated to be home to more than 30% of all EU data.

Ireland’s economic success is therefore closely bound up with its ongoing ability to provide a secure environment for these companies to operate here.

With the advent of cloud computing, data centers are no longer simple repositories but home to live operational software environments. Any outage or incident could have immediate disruptive effects on infrastructure throughout the EU – and globally.

In short, in Ireland, cybersecurity is serious business.

Supporting security

The Irish government recognized this early, establishing the National Cyber Security Centre in 2011.

The country has had a national cybersecurity strategy since 2015. Its current strategy maps development until 2024.

“Chief security officers internationally see the way cyber strategy has been placed front and center by the Irish government. That is interesting to US executives in particular,” says O’Leary, pointing out that the California Consumer Privacy Act came two years after Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

As new technological developments in the sector have emerged, centered around virtualized networks using tools such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, Ireland’s ability to stay at the leading edge has been driven by ongoing, state-backed support for the development of cyber skills.

Despite a population of just under 5 million people, more than 6,500 people are employed in cybersecurity in Ireland, where it is rightly acknowledged as a key part of the technology sector.

Sustaining and building on this success has been seen by successive governments as an essential part of ensuring the country’s future economic growth.

Rich eco-system

All these supports have enabled Ireland to develop a uniquely rich cybersecurity eco-system, with the critical mass to sustain it now and into the future.

Education plays a huge role in this.

In Ireland, second and third level training in computer science and cybersecurity is constantly being developed and deployed.

Ireland has dedicated cybersecurity bachelors and master’s degrees and the subject is embedded as a module in a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.

Science Foundation Ireland, the national foundation for investment in scientific and engineering research, supports cybersecurity research initiatives.

Cyber Ireland

In 2019 Cyber Ireland, another national initiative was established to provide a framework to support the country’s increasingly valuable cybersecurity cluster.  Cyber Ireland actively fosters industry, academic, and government collaboration.

Indeed, Ireland is unique in having a cybersecurity sector that is so clearly driven by industry, fuelled by academia, and supported by the government, with a dedicated agency, Cyber Ireland, to address its needs and challenges.

“Ireland is a leader in cybersecurity thanks to this unique and cohesive mix of enterprise, academic and policy initiatives,” says O’Leary.

“It’s because of this mix that its status as a global hub of cybersecurity excellence is growing both in strength and reputation.”

Seeding start-up success

Enterprise Ireland plays a pivotal role in this. Ireland’s innovation agency is also the Venture Capital arm of the Irish government. It is one of the world’s largest seed-stage VCs by deal flow and is dedicated to supporting Irish start-ups in their global ambitions.

Through its network of more than 40 international offices, it supports a portfolio of 1300 startups, including 60 cyber companies, with over $260M in annual revenue.

Its support for cybersecurity start-ups makes clear commercial sense, given the scale of the market opportunity ahead. Prior to Covid-19 spending on cybersecurity was predicted to hit $248 billion by 2023, with the cost of cybercrime globally running to hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Ireland’s strong cybersecurity academic programs are producing graduates that are plugging into government-backed business accelerators to create innovative cybersecurity startups.

Enterprise Ireland provides them with funding, advisory, and soft supports in Ireland, plus the assistance of its network of in-market experts worldwide. 

Investor attention

All of this support is why the cyber start-ups coming out of Ireland are attracting so much international investor attention.

These include start-ups such as Tines, a security orchestration, automation, and response (SOAR) platform that allows security teams to automate any workflow, regardless of complexity, without relying on pre-built integrations.

Its founder was a senior director in cybersecurity at DocuSign, and previously a senior information security engineer at eBay. The start-up has to date raised in excess of USD 11m from VC firms such as Accel and Index Ventures.

Encryption technology start-up Evervault headed up by 19-year-old founder, Shane Curran, raised USD 3.2 million in seed funding led by US firms Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and SV Angel.

Cyber Demo Days

To find out more about Ireland’s cybersecurity start-up success, and to join a dynamic conversation about the industry’s global future, sign up for Enterprise Ireland’s Cyber Demo Day.

The online event, which takes place on Wednesday, September 23, is entitled The Nexus of Cyber Security and Public Policy. It features an amazing panel of global leaders including Chief Security Officer of TikTok & Bytedance, Roland Cloutier, and Ann Johnson, Corporate Vice President of the Cyber Security Solutions Group for Microsoft.

Because it is online, the event will allow for wider networking opportunities than ever before.

Join executives dialing in from all across North America to build relationships with cyber industry thought leaders from Ireland and the US.

Take the opportunity to tap into Ireland’s rich cyber eco-system yourself, to meet more than 20 of Ireland’s leading cyber companies.

To secure your place, register here

Investment to fuel the expanding global collaboration with Microsoft and brings to €8.5m total funds raised to date.

Solgari, the provider of the  All-Channel Cloud Communications Solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365,  announced it has completed a €4m funding round with a number of private investors, Enterprise Ireland & GAN Ventures in the US, UK, and Ireland. The investment in sales, marketing, R&D resources is in response to global demand as companies rapidly shift the delivery of customer care to cloud software solutions that provide unlimited operational flexibility while offering the customer the choice of any channel they wish to use.

Solgari is the first all-channel cloud communications ISV solution that is available with zero-touch set up in  Dynamics 365 or simply in any browser, delivering voice, video, chat, SMS, and social media customer channels on top of integrated contact center, compliant recording & archiving, analytics & reporting utilities. Today, the solution is used by customers in over 40 countries including recent wins in collaboration with Microsoft in the US, UK & South Africa across financial services, consumer goods, healthcare & education.

The funding news follows the elevation in 2020 of Solgari to the Premium Tier of Microsoft Business Applications ISV Connect Program as well as the  Microsoft Inner Circle of Business Application Partners. Solgari is working with Microsoft sales teams and leading system integrators globally, driving monthly recurring revenues 3 times higher so far in 2020.

The solution delivers the following outcomes for our customers:

  • Drive operational flexibility, work from anywhere with easy access to communications inside your browser.
  • Transformed customer experience by having the conversation on the channel of their choice – chat, SMS, voice, video & more – while allowing multiple channels in a conversation.
  • Provide agents with all the communication tools through a fully integrated solution sitting inside Dynamics 365.
  • Automatic compliance around financial services and privacy regulations such as PCI DSS & GDPR when record & archiving all customer conversations, instant search & retrieval providing a single customer data view.
  • Simple pricing per user per month model vs alternative of using multiple vendors, reducing costs, and driving performance.

“The continued rapid development of our product combined with our global route to market in collaboration with Microsoft has created a fantastic opportunity that we are already grasping with both hands,” said John Colgan, CEO at Solgari. “We are pleased to announce this funding round as we continue our investment in building the leading global all-channel cloud communications ISV.”

“Our vision is to allow our customers converse with their own customers across any communications channel and from anywhere, therefore creating a fully integrated digital experience,” added Vance Harris, CTO at Solgari. “Today, this is the reality for our customers who have heavy customer communications across multiple channels while their agents work seamlessly from home.”

Toby Bowers, General Manager, Product Marketing at Microsoft commented, “Solgari continues to showcase the extent of the opportunity for ISVs in our Business Applications ISV Connect Program. The All-Channel Solution for Dynamics 365 addresses critical customer care requirements, leading to significant customer wins. As a result, Solgari has earned its status as an Inner Circle, Premium Tier and Global ISV partner.”

David Byrne, Manager, Digital Technologies at Enterprise Ireland added “Enterprise Ireland is delighted with the success achieved by Solgari through its close partnership with Microsoft and the deployment of its advanced communications solution on the Dynamics 365 platform. Enterprise Ireland will look to support Solgari in its further development.”

Solgari was advised by Q Advisors, the leading cloud communications boutique investment bank, in the US, by Primary Access & Research in the UK, and Kagi Consulting, Pat Landy Corporate Finance, and Grant & Co in Ireland.

In the current pandemic environment, face-to-face physical therapy visits are less viable due to increasing demands on the healthcare system, as well as the enactment of stay-at-home measures and the reticence of patients particularly those from at-risk groups to visit a clinic or hospital setting. The Salaso Health platform is a HIPAA-compliant and secure telemedicine service that allows healthcare providers to continue patient-centered care remotely, including secure video consultations and live exercise demonstrations.

Using the Salaso platform, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and physical therapists can reach out to patients through a telemedicine visit and assign specific exercises during the virtual appointment. During the visit, providers can prescribe exercises based on evidence-based protocols in the form of HD videos developed by Salaso. The platform features more than 3,000 exercise videos and 260 evidence-based templates for up to 60 different Musculoskeletal conditions from early to late rehabilitation. It includes educational content, records patient adherence and pain levels, and provides patient reminders.

“We are an experienced provider of virtual patient care, and with the first reports of COVID-19 cases, we put all our resources toward helping healthcare teams adapt to this crisis,” said Aoife Ní Mhuirí, CEO, Salaso. “Our platform ensures healthcare systems can deliver safe and efficient patient care remotely, and its utilization by hospitals and healthcare practices has increased rapidly over the last couple of months. Our research and development team are also working closely with clinical and academic partners to create specialized rehabilitation resources for the expected Tsunami of rehabilitation needs of patients who recover from COVID-19 over the next 12-18 months. During these challenging times, we want to provide any support we can.”

Aoife Ni Mhuiri, CEO and President of Salaso

The Salaso platform has been adopted across healthcare services in Ireland and the UK over the last few years and supported by Enterprise Ireland, Ireland’s trade and innovation agency. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company supported many hospital and rehabilitation services in switching from mainly face to face therapy services to fully remote and virtual rehabilitation services. As telehealth was already accepted as a model of care delivery in physical therapy in Europe, many services switched overnight or within a short space of time to delivering care remotely using the Salaso platform.

As face-to-face rehabilitation classes were canceled due to the pandemic, Salaso was able to support services in delivering virtual rehabilitation classes where patients were able to continue to engage and access classes from the comfort of their own homes.

One Irish hospital that continued to deliver pulmonary rehabilitation classes virtually during the lockdown period for groups of patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) found that all patients improved exercise capacity, 83% improved COPD health status, 71% improved Quality of Life score, and 75% reported that they preferred exercising at home than in a hospital setting.

The experience of Salaso in delivering virtual rehabilitation in value-based healthcare settings in Europe enables the company to bring insights in providing effective rehabilitation for both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients to its U.S. customers, including New York’s Northwell Health Hospitals.

“I found the Salaso platform invaluable in treating my stroke patients who were confined to their homes due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Salman Azhar, Director of Stroke, Northwell Health. “Using Salaso, my patients continued to engage with the regular exercise therapy which is vital to maximizing their recovery from the stroke and improving their quality of life. My patients found that the high quality of the exercise videos in the Salaso platform helped them in understanding both the importance of doing the exercises and how to perform them correctly at home.”

“Remote physical therapy and rehabilitation services are the keys to keeping people out of the hospital and safely in their own homes,” said Jennie Lynch, Senior Vice President, Lifesciences, Enterprise Ireland. “Patients needing rehabilitation after a stroke, brain injury, post-surgery, or a serious illness such as cancer, heart disease, or even COVID-19, may have limited access to rehab during the pandemic. The Salaso platform makes it possible for people to get the recovery exercises, information, and guidance they need from home.”

Jake Hargis, MPH, Vice President of Operations, discusses the use of Salaso Health at the Nevada-based Spine Nevada Minimally Invasive Spine Institute.

“Due to COVID-19, we are witnessing a rapid shift in rules and regulations surrounding telemedicine. The recent regulatory changes have allowed our practice to expand the use of virtual visits for all spine and musculoskeletal specialties, including physical therapy. The most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) update has further expanded telemedicine use. It allows physical therapists to be reimbursed for telehealth visits and the previously allowed e-visits,” explains Hargis. “At Spine Nevada, we implemented the Salaso Health platform several years ago as an added benefit to our patients. Salaso allows our physical therapy team to prescribe personalized at-home exercise programs with HD video instruction to help improve compliance and health outcomes for each patient. As we have ramped up our telemedicine department during COVID-19, Salaso has helped our physical therapy team maintain a high level of patient satisfaction and engagement, all while our patients remain safely at home. In the current environment, healthcare providers now more than ever need to adapt to remote care to stay relevant and competitive.”

The Ireland-based software development company, Eppione Solutions Ltd., was created with a vision to help employers and employees leverage technology to best manage the day-to-day needs of HR operations, employee benefits, and business insurance.

By offering a list of features such as holiday and employee absence management, data analytics, global employment compliance, employee training, and development, as well as recruiting and hiring tools, the Eppione platform helps organizations of all sizes operate with efficiency and position themselves to attract and retain the best talent possible.

But now faced with the coronavirus pandemic, companies have had to dramatically change how they communicate and work with their employees. David Kindlon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Eppione, explains that the duty of care placed on employers continues to increase. Organizations must now perform most functions from a distance.  Keeping employees safe, healthy, and engaged are prime concerns. To help with these issues, Eppione has launched  Screenin.me a secure cloud platform to assist business managers, Risk & HR professionals prepare for the return to place of work in this daunting new work environment.

“First and foremost, the Screenin.me system helps protect employees and prevent Covid-19 exposure within a company,” said Kindlon. “The system helps businesses and other organizations  keep employee well-being top of mind and establishes collaborative norms for safer work environments.”

Screenin.me is a cloud-based Covid-19 screening tool built to provide HR, Occupational Health, Health & Safety, and business leaders, a proactive method to help prevent COVID-19 exposure in the workplace and accurately analyze how their employees are doing.

Designed from the Guidance on Returning to Work guidelines, Screenin.me creates digital accountability systems for employees to regularly assess their Covid Symptoms and for employers to standardize public health measures for the work environment. The system’s mobile web application provides a structured framework for organizations to record and measure illness markers and incorporate the information into actionable steps. Organizations can create their own unique question sets or utilize public health return to work template questions.

Screenin.me properly implements and automates an effective screening process that maintains employee confidentiality. Through the platform, employers can also maintain definitive records of screening to quickly produce records of the screening process and swiftly track responses to help limit exposure.

Through the system’s quick and confidential record import process, organizations can directly register all employees into the Screenin.me platform. Employees respond to daily screening prompts based on Safely Return to Work Protocol guidelines and receive confirmation messages of their submission. 

PASS and FAIL results are updated in real-time for clearance into buildings, adding extra layers of accountability. All employee screening test answers are time-stamped for accurate record keeping and can be quickly presented to meet local or state health reporting requirements. The highly confidential system maintains records for organizations to maintain insight into employee health, help prevent spread, and assist contract trace in cases of exposure.

“By monitoring employee health and eliminating physical contact points, we can preserve our social distance and help reduce the spread of this virus, but companies can go so much further with a range of web-based tools and new best practices,” added Kindlon. “As we get through this pandemic, and employees start returning to the workplace, we can even help companies automate their return to work protocols and best manage and track facility access. I greatly encourage organizations  to look into all that is currently available — we’re all in this together.”

By Jack Callaghan, Senior Vice President (Digital Technology)

Digital Transformation of the modern workplace remains a crucial factor in preserving company culture, staying competitive, and enhancing customer connection.

The Covid-19 health crisis has resulted in extreme changes throughout the workplace which will have a lasting impact on various issues including how teams collaborate and interact, what tools and resources are available and what methods organizations engage to connect with customers.

And while there is no doubt that the pandemic posed many challenges across every sector, the mass transition to a more digital workplace has provided businesses with a taste of some of the productivity gains which can be achieved by the adoption of modern workplace applications and future workplace practices.

In this article, we will delve into the future of the workplace, the primary drivers of digital transformation, and the advantages of becoming an intelligent enterprise by investing in digital modern workplace solutions.

What is a Digital Modern Workplace?

The Digital Modern Workplace consists of digital processes and platforms which address the way organizational teams interact, drive insights, automate business processes, and sell effectively.

Every company’s digital workplace is customized by a toolbox of solutions chosen to best support their employees’ work practices, to preserve company culture, and also to strengthen their connection to the customer.

And the four key pillars which must be considered when organizations first implement their internal digital strategy are as follows:

  1. Collaboration: This refers to the tools, software applications, and systems designed to promote workplace collaboration, workflow productivity, and the sharing of project and task-related information across teams
  2. Automation: The processes which reduce the amount of time spent handling mundane and repetitive tasks which will free employees up to work on more creative briefs. Automation includes artificial intelligence solutions, robotic process automation, bots, and virtual assistants
  3. Sales Enablement: These are the solutions which support sales and marketing teams to engage customers more efficiently, sell more effectively, and keep connected
  4. Security: This is a major consideration when it comes to digital modern workplace applications, so it is vital to have adequate controls to protect the business

The marketplace for digital modern workplace applications has also undergone significant change. Most notably, the Cloud continues to redefine the channels which connect digital modern workplace solutions to end-users by making solutions more accessible (i.e. multi-cloud services & commercial cloud marketplaces) and enabling more functional integrations across applications.

This means that the process of deploying workplace software solutions has been made easier for organizations, allowing them to become more agile and flexible with the types of technologies they have in use while simultaneously saving significant expense and time – something which is necessary to onboard and scale new technologies as they become available.

Key Drivers of Digital Modern Workplace

While Covid-19 has had a severe impact on industry across all sectors globally, it is also true to say that even without it, we were heading into one of the most defining half-decade periods for major changes to the workplace.

How businesses prioritize digital transformation after the current crisis will play a major role in their ability to compete in the not-so-distant future. And a long-existing driver of this transformation has come from how we are evolving socially. So while undoubtedly, digital transformation has been accelerated by the pandemic, it hasn’t actually been the primary driver.

Currently millennials make up less than 50% of the workplace, but by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be made up by this age bracket – the majority of whom believe in having the option to work from anywhere and also to focus on working intelligently rather than harder.

So as more and more millennials take over decision making roles, the direction of the workplace will change to favor digital tools and processes which facilitate remote working, improve communication, and increase both accessibility to information and digital task management for teams.

Also, the next wave of disruptive technology will be another impacting factor. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will not only improve business efficiency, it will also reduce the number of mundane tasks employees are currently having to perform, freeing them to focus on more meaningful and creative briefs, and further speeding up the innovation cycle.

We have already seen early examples of workplace AI including chatbots, virtual assistants, intelligent analytics, and robotic process automation. But over the next five years, the reliance on solutions utilizing AI will become much more instrumental in all competitive workplaces.

Lastly, as customer expectations continue to rise, so too does the need for businesses to embrace solutions which more effectively connect sales and marketing teams to meet the needs of the customers.

Digital workplace applications have opened more and more channels which connect organizations to customers, and they continue to transform how we approach sales, marketing, and customer experience. Commonly known examples may include Sales Force Automation (SFA) technology and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions, which improve selling efficiency by allowing organizations to collect huge amounts of highly useful data which will continue to have an impact on future selling strategies.

Ireland as a Hub for Digital Modern Workplace Solutions

Irish companies are at the forefront of innovation in the digital workplace and are well-positioned to compete globally as companies seek new solutions to support employees digitally, preserve culture, automate process, and connect with their customer.

And below is a snapshot of some of the Irish innovators aligned to Collaboration Tech, Workplace AI Solutions, Sales Enablement, and Customer Experience.

Collaboration & Workflow Management Solutions

Teamwork is a work and project management tool which helps both in-house and remote teams to improve collaboration, visibility, accountability, and ultimately end results. Founded in Cork in 2007, Teamwork has continued to expand globally and currently they have seven offices worldwide, serving over 22,000 customers in 184 countries.

Workvivo is an internal communication and employee engagement platform which has been designed to connect employees with the goals and values of their organization, build a strong culture of recognition, and promote collaboration across teams. Workvivo serves as the primary intranet for many of its customers, with companies ranging in size from 200 people to 85,000 people globally. In February 2020 it announced the opening of its first overseas office in San Francisco, and shortly afterwards closed its series A round with Tiger Global Management and Frontline Ventures.

Poppulo is a global leader in employee communications technology offering pioneering software and expert advisory services to enable organizations to plan, target, publish, and measure the impact of their communications across multiple digital channels, all in one place.

Workplace AI Solutions

Boxever is a personalization platform which uses data and AI to help the world’s biggest brands make every customer interaction smarter and deliver game-changing customer experience. Boxever’s platform capabilities include omnichannel personalization, customer segmentation, customer journey automation, optimization and testing, and also analytics.

Webio, the Conversational Middleware Company, is on a mission to automate the worlds business to consumer conversations. Webio has built an interface platform which enables enterprises to automatically conduct all its existing customer interactions over any messaging platform. It is channel agnostic and is a fantastic solution which links information and services APIs to deliver the conversational interface.

Sales Enablement

Channel Mechanics transforms channel offerings through their Cloud-based channel enablement PRM Platform, allowing vendors to rapidly deploy programs with precision targeting and have real-time visibility into ROI. Ultimately this creates competitive advantage as it enables sales ideas to be quickly transformed into targeted and focused offers giving partners the offer they need, when they need them and eliminating the old ‘Spay and Pray’ approach.

Solgari is the enterprise solution for organizations with demanding, multi-channel needs, who are looking to increase efficiency and effectiveness, meet all related compliance requirements, and to delight customers. Their solution has made a global impact and is being used in over 40 countries to-date, serving customers across financial services, fintech, retail, e-commerce, and many more, all on a per user per month SaaS model.

If you’d like to connect with innovative Irish companies, click here.

Born in Ireland, Carter Beauty brand combines professional-quality products with Instagram-worthy packaging. Carter Beauty’s mantra is, “Beauty shouldn’t leave you broke”. Carter Beauty is a cruelty-free company and prides itself on being a Peta-approved member of Beauty Without Bunnies.

The company’s family of Cocoa Brown products are sold in almost 15,000 stores worldwide, from the U.K. to Scandinavia, North America, Russia, Australia, and Europe. Cocoa Brown Tan is Ireland’s #1, U.K.’s #3, and Sweden’s #1 top-selling tan — and now Carter Beauty is firmly focused on aggressively expanding the availability of their unique beauty products throughout North America.

Currently in Canada, Carter Beauty products are offered by Hudson’s Bay department stores and Well.ca online. Carter Beauty is also increasing their online presence with sales and social media channels, including the recent launch of www.carterbeauty.ca as well as a new Instagram tag @carterbeautyusa and their U.S. website: https://carterbeautyusa.com/.

Carter Beauty is an Enterprise Ireland supported company and we recently interviewed the impressive female entrepreneur behind the company; Marissa Carter, the founder, and CEO of Cocoa Brown Tan, to learn more about how this Irish company continues to revolutionize the women’s makeup industry and the self-tanning process.

What was your initial passion for launching a cosmetic company?

I’ve always had a passion for beauty. I started with my own salon and then launched Cocoa Brown in 2012. From promoting Cocoa Brown online, I developed a following in Ireland and the U.K. My online community was always asking for product recommendations, so product trials and testing became a central part of our message. As an entrepreneur, I saw a gap in the market and decided, if not now, then when?

What differentiates your brand from others?  

The Carter Beauty product family based on mixing and matching. Once you find your shade, you can play around with finishes and textures, layering, and creating the perfect finish. It’s almost like a capsule wardrobe for your makeup bag.

The cosmetic industry is very competitive, did you have any worries venturing into the industry?

The way I look at it, I’m 37 years old and have another 30 working years ahead of me, and I want to do something that I enjoy and am passionate about. I’m a firm believer that you should never make decisions based on fear. As we like to say, “If not, now, when?”.

How would you define the quality of your products?

Before launching Carter Beauty, I created Cocoa Brown, the world’s first one-hour tan. I created the brand in the midst of a recession and brought out a product that was less than half of the RRP of the market leader. The brand has gone from strength to strength and become one of Europe’s leading tanning brands. One of the questions that I got when starting was how Cocoa Brown could be so inexpensive and still such good quality. My answer has always been to ask those other brands why they are so expensive. For me, inclusivity isn’t just about race and age; it’s economical too.

What advice do you have for anyone who’s looking to venture into the beauty industry?

My advice to anyone looking to venture into the beauty industry would be to focus on building the right team. Surround yourself with skilled, passionate people who have strengths where you have weaknesses. It’s imperative to find people who aren’t afraid to disagree with you and give a different perspective.

What’s next? Are there plans to expand the existing product-line or any new creative ventures/projects in the works?

Our mantra in the Carter Beauty office is, “What’s new, what’s next, what’s never been done?”. We’re always tapping away at new products and launches. Expanding into new markets and growing with retail partners. The top of the list for 2020 is growth in the U.S. and making Carter Beauty a household name.

Immersive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experiences are finally becoming an integral part of our lives, with many Irish companies producing innovative solutions in several industries. These industries include education & training, manufacturing & industrial, and the original use case of AR/VR, gaming & entertainment.

Education and Training

The use of immersive technology for education and training is anticipated to be one of the largest areas of growth, with predictions stating that it has the potential to boost global GDP by $294 billion by 2030. Fortune 500 companies including UPS and Walmart have introduced immersive technologies for employee training and development with Walmart reporting an increase in user retention across their academies of between 10-15%.

Irish technology companies have been responding to this trend, creating innovative and authentic training experiences to be consumed in an immersive environment. Irish VR production studio VRAI creates powerful VR training experiences with a focus on hazardous material training. Their platform Hazardous Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) uses both VR and artificial intelligence (AI) to make training more authentic and measurable while reducing risk to the employee. HEAT allows employers to track and measure progress over time by using AI to generate reports and insights to track training effectiveness and identify predictive indicators of future performance

Branching out from their traditional broadcast and media focus, Digisoft is using digital twin technology to create training environments for life sciences labs. Their product CyberTwin creates a digital replicate of labs and facilities to ensure an efficient and safe working environment by eliminating unnecessary visitors. This allows for new recruits to be kept away from the production area until they are ready to enter, while also ensuring a deeper level of learning through interactive engagement.

Improving accuracy and efficiency

Immersive technologies are also being used across the manufacturing, energy, and utilities sectors to improve efficiency and accuracy of workflows. For example, Boeing uses AR glasses to guide technicians as they wire aircraft, reducing production times by 25% and error rates to almost zero.

Irish company Utility AR creates AR solutions for sectors including manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and utilities that allow the user to interact with the real world while accessing existing databases and software systems. Their Remote Advisor platform allows a more experienced technician to use the forward-facing camera on a pair of AR smart glasses to see what the local technician is seeing. They can then provide feedback via audio or using onscreen markups. These technologies can prevent delays in getting crucial work completed while also helping to reduce the experience gap.

Immersive Gaming and Entertainment

AR/VR technologies originally had the most impact in the gaming industry, and this market still accounts for approximately 50% of total VR software sales. A well-known success in this space is Pokemon Go, an AR mobile app that garnered more than 500 million downloads and $470 million in revenue in its first 80 days.

Founded by Nikki Lannen in 2013, Irish game development studio War Ducks has released several best-selling VR games including Sneaky Bears and Rollercoaster Legends. The studio is now in the process of developing one of the industry’s most anticipated AR game for mobile, which will be released later this year.

In addition, holograms, 3D images created by photographic projections, have been steadily gaining momentum in the space. Volograms, a spin-out from Trinity College Dublin, has taken this technology to the next level. Their platform enables the capture of real people into volumetric holograms, volograms, which can be enjoyed within all kinds of AR & VR experiences, apps, and social media.

Finally, not all immersive experiences need to be enjoyed in a headset or through a screen, with immersive in-person events increasing in popularity as society demands more interactive experiences and brands work to create more engaging live content. Creative production studio Algorithm specializes in creating powerful immersive experiences using a variety of creative technologies including 3D mapping projections, LED arrays, and holograms. Their focus on live experiences ensures the audience member watches the real world interact with the digital as part of artistic performances, festivals, and events.

Immersive technologies are on their way to becoming significant parts of both our personal and professional lives. At Enterprise Ireland, we are committed to working closely with Irish companies that are becoming major global players in this exciting sector.

For more information, please get in touch with our San Francisco-based market advisor, Hannah Dobson – hannah.dobson@enterprise-ireland.com

With a huge leap in the number of people out of work around the world and some employers lacking the confidence to hire right now given wider macroeconomic uncertainties, it can seem like a bleak time for the jobs market.

It’s not all bad news, however, with many sectors temporarily stopped or slowed down rather than being in a long-term funk, meaning hiring plans are still active, if delayed in some cases. In some sectors hiring is continuing at pace, but recruitment teams can find themselves overwhelmed or frustrated by bottlenecks.

Two Irish talent tech companies offer solutions that not only enable companies to source their talent pipelines in a much more efficient, engaging and forward-thinking way but also enable them to level up their entire candidate management process.

Rezoomo: future-focused talent acquisition

For companies anticipating increased workforce needs down the line, talent acquisition software firm Rezoomo has the answer. With its Future Roles feature, companies can post roles they expect to need to fill in three, six or 12 months’ time. Not only does this offer hope to candidates, but it also enables companies to build up talent pools.

“We have companies use it to build up a database of talent when they know they have an upcoming project or will be opening a new office or, in the case of hospitals, adding a new ward,” says Cathal Doorley, founder and CEO of Rezoomo.

This feature is just one element of Rezoomo’s recruitment software. “It includes an applicant tracking system, candidate relationship management, employer branding, candidate experience, and candidate management into one intuitive all-inclusive solution with video at its core,” says Doorley. “Effectively, we take the offerings of four or five companies and roll them into one easy-to-use, intuitive platform.”

Video has become critical to companies seeking to recruit at scale, he says, pointing out that candidates are more likely to look at video first than any other information in a job ad. “We see job ads with video get 34% more applications,” he says.

Rezoomo comes with a built-in recording system, making it easy to create rich and engaging recruitment campaigns, but also to send video and audio messages to candidates during the hiring process.

“Every time you engage with a candidate, you can send a video or audio message instead of a text message. For example, you could make a video rejection or thank you. It creates a more personalized approach for candidates and allows recruiters to build a rapport with them.”

Furthermore, if someone applies for a job, they can update it any time they want, meaning the employer always has an updated version of that CV if they are reviewing their pipeline of potential candidates.

Set up seven years ago and used by hotel groups, retail groups, and foodservice chains among others, Rezoomo also counts multiple hospitals and healthcare providers among its users. “It’s built to be used by any company of any size anywhere,” says Doorley.

vsource: boosting efficiency and diversity in hiring

When it comes to scaling recruitment efforts, companies can feel they have to choose between recruitment software companies that use machine learning to find candidates or recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firms that use people to recruit candidates. You can have the best of both worlds, however. Vsource combines both approaches, using technology and human input.

A talent sourcing and engagement platform, vsource uses artificial intelligence, search algorithms, and skilled human insights to find and engage with candidates, including passive candidates who are not actively seeking a new role. Household name global tech companies, including Amazon, Cisco, Google, McAfee, and Pandora, use it to hire for open positions, scale projects, and expand the talent pool in their pipelines.

“It’s about transforming the recruitment process from a relationship-based activity based on gut feel to a data-informed broader system,” says James Galvin, founder, and CEO of vsource. Furthermore, he says, it can reduce bottlenecks and make hiring fairer, especially as remote work is commonplace now, says Galvin.

“Up to now, recruiters have often ended up hiring people they already know, but if you want to really scale and be fair to people from different backgrounds, you need to know who is out there and the skills they have.”

As recruiters reimagine how they work, it’s also an ideal time to shift to hiring based on potential rather than seeking candidates who are an exact fit based on current needs. vSource offers that talent pipeline and also enables recruiters to build networks of candidates for the future.

“They might think, ‘Well, in three years we expect we will be hiring a lot of people similar to this candidate’, so they can start talking to and getting to know people in the pipeline. Instead of looking at the same small group of candidates, they can cast the net much wider. It is much fairer from a diversity perspective — it’s all about the pond you’re fishing in.”

Stakeholder engagement firm Connect the Dots, based in Dublin, Ireland and Philadelphia, Penn., in the U.S., focuses on developing stakeholder engagement tools and processes to enable insight-led decision making for public and private sectors. Their current client list includes Dublin City Council, South Dublin Co Council, the National Disability Authority, and Meath County Council in Ireland and Comcast NBCUniversal, Independence Blue Cross, South Street Headhouse District, and Center City District Philadelphia in the U.S.

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Connect the Dots has been working to redefine the processes that drive this core work. The company has translated its traditional in-person, end-to-end stakeholder engagement activity into a robust, remote process due to restrictions on face-to-face contact on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now more than ever, Connect the Dots Co-Founders, and Directors Marisa Denker and Naomi Murphy emphasize that there are four key points that companies should adhere to in order to remain virtually engaged with employees, partners, and customers:

  1. Empathy: It’s essential to understand the evolving needs of stakeholders in order to adapt responses and solutions in an agile way.
  2. Transparency: Organizations of all types and sizes need to develop transparent, accessible, and clear two-way communications to keep stakeholders connected.
  3. Collaboration: Empathetic and transparent collaboration leads to innovation and resilience; important pillars for any organization.
  4. Creativity: Fostering creative methods, cultures, and working environments is a powerful tool for driving engagement across the entire organization, benefiting internal and external customers alike.

“We help our clients to understand and work with their stakeholders to gather insights, enabling them to make optimum decisions based on people’s needs and ideas,” said Denker. “And right now, empathy is more important than ever — all our needs are quickly evolving, and priorities are changing as the situation progresses, so it’s imperative to build trust with all stakeholders and take the time to carefully listen and understand their concerns is very important right now.”

Denker explained that it’s critical right now to understand people’s comfort levels with their remote working situations and if they need help and support with navigating the technology or perhaps help in keeping a healthy work/life balance. It’s vital to understanding where people are mentally, and to make decisions with them, based on understanding their strengths and concerns.

“What we’ve found is that it’s important to make sure that each person involved is prepared and is comfortable with participating with remote business events,” added Denker. “This may mean offering one-to-one virtual prep sessions, sending out demonstrations beforehand, and doing training ahead of time. Practice sessions for a workshop or an event can greatly reduce anxiety, resulting in much more positive outcomes for all involved.”

Murphy explains that because things are particularly tumultuous right now, it is even more important for people to get clarity and have two-way communications happening in the workplace just to stay connected, stay on board, build trust during this time. With transparency, it’s about keeping stakeholders, clients, and staff engaged with openness and feedback.

“Another way of staying engaged with stakeholders and staff is to take anonymous surveys to make sure everyone has a chance to be candid and honest about their feelings and thoughts,” said Murphy. “Focus groups are a good tool as well, and the point is to gather insights and make sure that people have an equal voice and to share challenges as well as solutions across the organization.”

Denker and Murphy explain that their third point — collaboration — is critical in this unprecedented time. They explain that there’s no way one person can have the answers, so it’s particularly important to bring together stakeholders to solve challenges.

“We often take a design-thinking approach, putting ourselves in the place of the user or attendee as they move through a virtual event,” said Denker. “We do this for in-person events where we think about participants walking into a room, being greeted, and thinking through the interactions and available tools and information in a room — we do this for virtual events as well. It’s a way to think through and test what parts will work, and what parts might need adjustment in this new virtual way.”

The team’s fourth point is focused on an organization’s creativity. Connect the Dots finds that creativity and innovation greatly support a company’s work, especially in challenging times. Companies need to come up with solutions to stay positive, proactive, and keep moving forward.

“We recommend using a variety of different tools, especially in a virtual workshop or a focus group,” said Murphy “In Zoom, for example, we can incorporate images, diagrams, and graphic collaboration tools like MURAL to make work-related presentations more engaging for everyone.”

From a more social perspective, it’s also essential to find creative ways to foster personal moments and to create social cohesion. The classic water-cooler moments within the office aren’t happening right now, but they are an important form of communication.

“In addition to professional communications, we all need informal spaces in the workplace where we can connect and be creative,” added Denker. “It’s important to encourage those moments and possibly structure them into the workflow experience. Creating virtual spaces for people to come together and have a moment to share coffee or celebrate a birthday or work anniversary — just as they would normally do in person — is critical to everyone’s mental and emotional well-being and to the health of the entire organization.”

To find out more about Connect the Dot’s work in Ireland and the US, visit www.connectthedots.ie

In this era of widespread remote working, employee engagement and wellbeing matter more than ever. Isolated workers need to feel a sense of community and get support from their employers in line with their company’s values.

From boosting physical and psychological health to enabling better employee communications and performance management, Irish talent tech companies are leading the way.

The three companies showcased below provide companies around the world with cutting-edge digital solutions to enable streamlined, effective work by HR departments, managers, and employees.

Most are also focused on integrating with the existing technologies used by companies, meaning those in charge of IT budgets can maximize their legacy investments.

  1. Workvivo: engaging employees with a highly social experience

Workvivo is an enterprise social network, designed to enable organizations to engage as well as communicate with their employee communities.

“We took things like sharing content and giving kudos, which people were used to on social outside the workplace, but brought it into the business context, enabling people to really live the company’s values,” says Pete Rawlinson, Chief Marketing Officer at Workvivo.

“Disengagement was an issue for as many as 70% of businesses even before the pandemic,” he adds. “One-to-one communication tools such as email or messaging facilitate communication but don’t do anything to provide that sense of community and culture. Millennials, in particular, need to feel part of something.”

Since the pandemic spread, Workvivo has seen a significant increase in inquiries. “Companies are seeing remote workers can become isolated. They want to bring employees together and use tools on the platform such as quizzes and competitions.”

Woodies, an Irish chain of DIY stores, found that its Workvivo activity went up when its workers were furloughed due to Covid-19. “These were mainly employees with no work email account or company device, but they wanted to stay engaged,” says Rawlinson.

Workvivo has sought to ensure it can integrate with existing customer tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Workday, and also includes built-in sentiment analysis, he says, adding that customers report higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement than before. “Tools like this also lead to better talent retention and acquisition,” he said.

Established three years ago, Workvivo now has 25 employees and is coming out of start-up mode, says Rawlinson. With users in 35 countries including significant operations in Ireland and the UK, the company’s clients range from small businesses with 20 employees to global firms with 90,000 employees. Having recently secured $16m (€14.2m) in Series A funding, it is now focused on expanding its US client base — it recently opened an office in Sacramento.

  1. Workhuman: motivating teams with human connection

Workhuman is on a mission to make work more human for millions of people and organizations worldwide. Through its Workhuman Cloud suite of products, companies can strengthen employee performance and the connection between people and teams on a more positive, emotional level – in tune with how work gets done.

Today, Workhuman is the world’s fastest-growing social recognition and continuous performance management platform. The company’s growth acknowledges both the traction and effectiveness of their platform and the demand from progressive global organizations who want to motivate and empower their people to do their best work.

Around the globe, more than 5 million humans at hundreds of companies are celebrating the power of humanity in the workplace through gratitude and peer-to-peer recognition. Since 1999, Workhuman (then Globoforce) has facilitated millions of positive interactions between people in the workplace. Indeed, turnover is cut in half for employees who receive a moment of gratitude from a fellow employee at least once every 60 days. And safety records are more than 80 percent better for teams that express gratitude.

Workhuman applications are shaping the future of work by helping forward-thinking companies energize their cultures, unlock their employees’ passion and potential, and unite their workforce around a shared purpose. Companies like LinkedIn, Cisco, Eaton, JetBlue, Cardinal Health, Merck, Intuit, P&G, and UnitedHealth Group have all experienced the undeniable ROI of making their workplaces more human.

  1. Poppulo: creating connected and successful organizations globally

When many of the world’s largest companies want to solve complex challenges in their communications with their global workforces, they look to a highly-innovative Irish software company, Poppulo.

The Cork-based technology company has for several years been at the forefront in the creation of pioneering employee communications technology and counts a long list of the world’s most successful companies as clients.

Today, with the Covid-19 pandemic radically transforming the world of work, internal company communications have become a business-critical function and Poppulo is leading the way, transforming workplace communications and employee experience globally. Every day, secure communications to over 25 million employees in 900+ companies across more than 100 countries are managed through technology developed by Poppulo in Cork.

Over 30% of the largest employers in Europe are Poppulo customers, as are 1 in 5 of those in the United States. Clients include Unilever, Bank of America, Nestlé, Telefonica, Johnson Controls, Rolls-Royce, almost half the world’s top pharma companies, and Irish multinationals Kerry Group, CRH and the Ardagh Group.

Poppulo developed the world’s first all-in-one internal communication platform which gives organizations the ability to manage their communications and measure their performance across multiple digital channels: company mobile app, email, intranet, video, enterprise social networks, etc.

The platform not only makes it easy to disseminate highly-targeted internal communications, it gives the company visibility on how different audiences interact with those messages. For example, are emails read or ignored? Is there a difference in how messages are received depending on business function, employee grade, or geographic locations, and how should the organization respond to these differences?

Poppulo has been voted one of Ireland’s Best Places to Work for several years in a row. It currently employs 210 people in Cork and 59 at its American HQ in Boston, Massachusetts.

HireUp, a leading talent technology solution provider, won the Most Innovative Talent Technology Award 2020, presented by Enterprise Ireland. This award showcases and recognizes HireUp as innovators in HR and talent recruitment technology. The winner of the award was voted on by a group of global heads of U.S. talent acquisition and human resources, and by various other senior industry professionals.

“I am so thrilled and incredibly proud of the team here at HireUp,” said Gary Berney, Head of Engagement, HireUp. “From the start of HireUp as a concept at a kitchen table, through tireless hours of development, then listening, learning and adapting from client feedback, to now achieving this recognition from leaders in the industry is pretty surreal.”

The HireUp solution empowers the modern workforce with a simple, yet powerful platform for internal mobility, employee referrals, and alumni networks. The suite of HireUp solutions work together to help companies achieve future hiring success, whether they are looking to promote internal talent or hire new talent through networking.

“Traditional referral and internal mobility programs are very manual and time-consuming for HR professionals, and provide a really poor employee experience,” Berney explained. “Our system streamlines and automates those processes, while heat mapping all interactions to help companies make quick, iterative improvements, saving costs, improving retention rates, and speeding up the hiring process.”

“There were many great companies in the running for this recognition, but we are thrilled to recognize HireUp as our winner,” said Hannah Webb, Senior Vice President of Talent Technology, Enterprise Ireland. “HireUp has shown excellent growth and business resilience in the four short years since they began and we look forward to continuing to support them as they grow, innovate and deliver new solutions to the professional talent recruitment industry.”

In ETU’s latest blog they discuss the need for a different approach to learning measurement in this new world.

Founded in Trinity College in 2002 by Declan Dagger and Vincent Wade, ETU provides immersive simulations that optimize employee behavior to drive learning and business outcomes, on a global scale.

COVID-19 has had a major impact on how learning and development functions operate. Pre-Covid, organizations were converting strategic programs to digital formats including simulations and augmented- and virtual reality. However, with most employees now working from home and many unlikely to return to a traditional office setting in 2020, learning and development functions have accelerated the transition as they rapidly move their critical programs to facilitated and self-directed platforms.

Learning and development leaders acknowledge that moving in-person programs to virtual platforms requires rethinking the end-to-end design and development process to ensure high-quality, high-impact learning. What is not being said—but is equally important—is that learning and development practitioners need to rethink what and how programs are measured.

“If a learning and development department already has robust measurement practices in place, a few small tweaks might be all that’s needed,” said Declan Dagger, CEO, ETU. “However, if data has not been measured, or if it has been monitored half-heartedly, now is a good time to get serious. In this new world, it is critical to know what impact your virtually-delivered programs are having on business outcomes.”

Dagger explained that learning and development teams need to know if online training is working, and if not, they need to understand why it’s not working. Does a distracting home environment impede learning? Does Zoom enable or inhibit virtual networking? Are managers less likely to coach their employees when they are “out of sight and out of mind”?

ETU recommends that if measurement efforts need a reboot, here are four steps to consider:

  • Remember the mantra: start with the end in mind. This means that before you design the program, clearly identify the ultimate outcome the program should impact (e.g. improved customer loyalty, accelerated innovation, enhanced employee engagement). These outcomes are the touchstone of your measurement efforts.
  • Work backwards from the planned outcomes using a framework called a logic model. This process produces a graphic depiction that shows the shared relationships among the resources, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact for your program.
  • Develop your measurement plan. Document the data you need to gather and when to gather it (before, during, immediately after, 90-days post).
  • Take a reality check. Can you get the business impact data with the necessary level of granularity to isolate the impact of training? If you cannot get the business data, then get the next best thing: behavioral improvement data supplemented by data from learning surveys.

Read their full blog post on this here: https://www.etu.co/resources/its-time-to-reboot-your-learning-measurement