GUEST BLOG FROM Steffen Breinholt Hedebrandt of Elance.com
Elance.com, the world’s leading online work platform, just spend three busy days in Dublin. Here we met a lot of inspiring and determined Irish people, who despite the challenges of the current economic environment are now launching new businesses.
Dublin has within the recent years been hailed as one of Europe’s most promising StartUp hubs, not least thanks to the
good work of Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Internet Association (IIA). But there are also challenges: around 1,500 IT developers are urgently needed, while on the other hand there is a high unemployment.
Elance.com offers a potential solution to these issues. Every month, more than 100,000 jobs and projects are posted on
the platform, by businesses looking for freelancers. The jobs range from IT development to Creative tasks, Marketing, Virtual Assistance to Translations, Accounting, Book keeping and Engineering. In fact, as long as a job does not demand a physical presence, it can be completed through Elance. For businesses facing the challenge of finding niche skills that can be immediate applied to projects Elance can provide the skills they need. On the other hand, for those who have been made redundant during the financial crisis, Elance is a place to apply your skills and find work.
How Elance has helped grow a Dublin business
Pat Walsh, a Dublin based Elance user has been hiring freelancers for five years on Elance, which has enabled him to grow
his Irish Businesses, amongst others, the Sky Business Centres network of Services office centres. Pat Walsh says “Elance has enabled Sky Business Centres to access a global talent pool as and when we need it. We have access to 24 hour workers and can upsize and downsize our development teams to suit whatever our current project commitments are.
In addition to providing Irish businesses access to a global workforce, Elance provides the opportunity for any Irish unemployed person with an internet connection to bid on the 100,000 jobs posted monthly on the Elance.com platform.
Areas in Ireland which have been hard hit by unemployment including administration, legal, architectural, and engineering
are in high demand on the global Elance platform. There is strong demand for native English speaking freelancers with professional skillsets.”
Start as a freelancer, become an entrepreneur – Elance Freelancer
If you are in the unfortunate situation that the financial crisis has left you redundant in your company due to decreasing turnover, there is a solution available online that might lead you to the next step in your career. Local Dublin-based business A-Cubed Software Limited had been using Elance.com since inception and Aditi Bhattacharya, their Head of Technology Adoption says: “Elance.com is a platform that takes your local business to a global audience and market. It is one of our main sales avenues with a genuinely low initial outlay (towards membership fees) and definitely proven return on investment. It’s almost like having a Sales team work for you as they bring a lot of buyers from around the world. It’s safe for the businesses to use too because Elance.com provides the basic checks on the prospective clients and offers the escrow facility which
means none of the project works will ever go unpaid. The feedback facility is an added bonus for serious businesses such as ourselves where we can showcase with conviction the skills and talent we have.
We see Elance.com as a strong tool for growth and already more than 50% of our revenue comes from outside Ireland thanks to Elance.com’s global reach. Kudos to the Elance.com team!”
How does the future look for online work?
The advantages of Elance, while very relevant to the current situation in Ireland, also reflect the wider global changes taking place in the way we work. Thanks to innovative and disruptive technologies, geographical location is a far less relevant factor in getting a job done. Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Times says:
“Anything that removes geography as a hiring impediment is a good thing for project teams. The bones of the Internet itself, the protocols that govern how machines communicate across it, were developed decades ago by people working at remote
locations and swapping reference documentation. Now that power of remote collaboration is open to businesses of all sizes, the market for labour and skills can be tapped in a way that suits agile businesses working on novel projects.”
Smart businesses and freelancers are reacting to this trend. By harnessing the power of remote collaboration, Irish businesses and those individuals affected by the downturn can turn the situation to their advantage.
www.buyersclub.ie Launch Scholarship Programme for the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Diploma in eCommerce Management
Today: Buyersclub.ie, Ireland’s first social superstore, has today (13th February) announced details of a new strategic partnership with the Irish Internet Association (IIA). Buyersclub.ie is to provide a scholarship programme for three candidates to undertake the IIA Diploma in eCommerce Management combined with a six-month internship programme.
The eleven-week, part-time diploma course starts on February 28th, with all course fees paid for by buyersclub.ie.
Speaking at the launch of the scholarship programme, Dara O’Mahony, founder and CEO of buyersclub.ie, said “Buyersclub.ie is delighted to provide this opportunity to support those wishing to upskill from offline to online retail. By collaborating with the Irish Internet Association, we know that candidates will experience the highest quality course lecturers, breadth of modules and learning outcomes that will deliver precisely what we look for in terms training and knowledge for a great eCommerce Manager. We are looking for candidates who are seeking to move from offline to online retail. Following
an interview process, we will place three successful candidates on the IIA eCommerce course and also offer them a six-month internship as part of this strategic partnership.
He added: “We know there are people out there who have significant retail experience in the market but who have also lost their jobs due to the downturn in traditional retail. Rather than have these skills leave our shores, we believe that we can retain these skills by offering a Jobsbridge place with buyersclub.ie while supporting them in formal training. Buyersclub.ie will be paying all the course fees for the successful candidates and we will support them in the workplace by allowing them to rotate experience across all aspects of an eCommerce business from warehousing and fulfilment, to digital marketing, to product buying and customer service and sales. As a fast-growing company, we believe that we will also be able to offer a full-time position to successful candidates once the programme ends.”
CEO of the IIA, Joan Mulvihill, highlighted the scale of opportunity within online sales in Ireland. “With €4billion being spent online by Irish shoppers annually, the growth opportunity for Irish retailers is enormous and with that comes increased demand for eCommerce professionals. Businesses such as buyersclub.ie are challenged to find candidates with the requisite skills. The very fact that buyersclub.ie have come forward to pay course fees for three candidates is testimony to their commitment to the sector and, indeed, to the scale of the skills challenge faced by so many retailers. For those considering the course, the value of combining the Diploma with an internship is a great way to optimise their career prospects. Other member companies are also offering internships in the hope of securing a full-time, talented
employee at the end. This is a truly industry-led programme”.
Mulvihill added: “For anyone wishing to avail of the internship, we would encourage them to send us their CVs as soon as possible. There are three scholarships available on the Diploma course starting in two weeks but also a number of other
This scholarship will be granted by BuyersClub.ie directly, and, along with the internships on offer, will be subject to interview procedures. This course has been designed by the Irish Internet Association and its leading industry expert lecturers and practitioners.
Course enrolment is now open and all details are available on www.iia.ie/eComDip
For further information, please contact:
Joan Mulvihill, Irish Internet Association: 01 5424154 / 086 389 7552 email@example.com
Karen White Hume Brophy, 0867713326, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick Donohoe, Hume Brophy, 0860293726, Patrick.email@example.com
IIA eCommerce Working Group Members
Tracy Glynn…………………………………………..Releax Payments
Graham Merriman…………………………………Carrickane Consulting
Kevin Murray…………………………………………Nightline’s ParcelMotel
Gordon Newman…………………………………….Life Style Sports
You may have read about it or even seen the bright orange, mobile training unit in your area but for those of you who haven’t, Digitise the Nation – A nationwide digital inclusion campaign is back and on the road!
The IIA have launched “Digitise the Nation” for 2012. The bright orange, mobile training unit has been taking to the road ensuring that all members of society have training and access to all the benefits that being online brings. This stand-out orange training unit will be visiting towns throughout Ireland over the coming twelve months and the IIA welcome everyone to get on board to get online.
A unique aspect of the Digitise the Nation Campaign is the number of sponsors involved and the breadth of industry collaboration. Microsoft, Independent.ie, Bonkers.ie and RaboDirect are coming together in a very hands-on way to support delivery of this training. No other digital inclusion initiative has enrolled such a range of supporters and the IIA is delighted to be the fulcrum for such a gathering.
The mobile nature of this Digitise the Nation training means that anyone from anywhere is invited to contact us via our www.digitisethenation.ie website to find training dates and locations as well as request training for their own locality.
Digitise the Nation has been designed to deliver the following;
- How to get started on email and internet calls to stay in touch with family and friends
- How to use the internet to find value and save money
- Using the internet to find jobs, news, information
- Building confidence and feeling included
The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
This is a guest blog post contributed by Chris Byrne of Newsletter.ie.
So youʼve used email marketing tools to send email, are comfortable with designing effective newsletters and you track email open rates for your campaigns. So whatʼs next? This article on welcome series will show how you can produce more effective and meaningful results than just knowing who opened your email or clicked on a link.
Whilst a single welcome or activation email is useful, a welcome series is a more effective strategy to continually engage, connect and up-sell with your subscriber over time. Let’s admit it, we’ve often purchased something online, then months later cannot recall where we bought it, right? This lack of recall could, and very often does, drive your hard-won customer to the competition. A Welcome series can help avoid that. Let’s look at an example of how this might work:
Amy buys a pair of running shoes online on Monday. Great, she gets an activation email with the usual shipping and returns info. All good so far. Now let’s look at how a Welcome series differs to sending repetitive promotional emails that could drive Amy away from your product.
On Wednesday Amy getʼs the running-shoes and goes for her first 10k in them; all is good. The next day she gets an email asking “How was your run?” and reminds her of the basic steps to share her running experience online. 3 weeks later Amy gets an email survey asking for feedback “How are the running shoes working for you?” and “Here’s some great stories from other runners just like you” . A special offer for a sports bra is included; f this were Keith, heʼd have an offer on running socks. 6 months later Amy getʼs an email with an offer on the latest running shoe and because sheʼs purchased before, a coupon code is included that she can redeem online or bring in-store. So how do we do that, without sending the same email to every subscriber or worse, in the wrong order? With Autoresponders, you can set these messages up ahead of time and create the rules that will only send the relevant email at the right time and importantly, in the right sequence. And knowing gender with integrated apps like Rapleaf saves some embarrassment too; Keith would not be too impressed with a Sportsbra email !
These welcome series emails can be completely automated if your email platform supports this and can be easily integrated with your transaction systems. Communications which are relevant to your subscribersʼ preference and behaviours are more likely to result in repeat purchases from you -not your competition.
This is a review of last week’s Annual Conference by Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations. Mark is also chair of the IIA Internation Working Group. This review was originally published on his own blog and he very nicely (cos he’s a very nice chap) allowed us to republish it here. Thanks Mark!
IIA Annual Conference: Open Data, Cloud Computing and the Future for Irish Entrepreneurs
Cloud Computing and Open Data
A tech-conference in Dublin these days is not a conference without an appearance by Josh Holmes – Microsoft’s evangelist. And Josh didn’t disappoint either, with some wonderful insights into deep fried mars bars and other Arkansas delicacies. Tech-details aside, the convergence of cloud computing and open data is starting to show signs of becoming a reality, well done to IIA for showcasing the strategic nature of this convergence. Check out our thoughts on m-cloud.
Future for Irish Entrepreneurs – a European Content Hub?
The final panel discussion really started to spark the imagination. Neil Leyden, joint-winner of “Your Country, Your Call”, outlined his fantastic ideas and visions for an Irish Content Services Centre (ICSC) here in Dublin. In short, it’s the IFSC Part II.
However, instead of funds, Neil suggests that we focus on our unique position and ability to play a central role in Content distribution to the European market – and beyond. Disney (www.disney.com) , EA (www.ea.com) , Sony (www.sony.com) etc could all be invited to set up European “content” centres here in Ireland.
Constantin Gurdgiev loved the opportunity to speak publicly and not mention the words “bailout” or “crisis”! Instead he focused on the opportunities for organisations to develop new technologies, not based on a defined and known market, but more along the lines of: build it, go to market and try and sell it, take on customer feedback, modify the product or service and go to market again. The future is un-known, as soon as you do market research, it’s out of date!
This is real entrepreneurship – heading into the future, not certain of where or how you’ll get there but knowing that you have the people, tools, resources and abilities to get there. With a sprinkling of deep fried “self-belief”, as Josh might say.
So instead of spending your €1million of investment in technology, spend €250k on the sales channel and sales person… and spend the next €500k on upgrading and improving. “K”s can also be dropped above ; – ). A bit like the Japanese Kaizen approach.
This approach ties in very nicely to a current LinkedIN debate in the Irish Software Association group on how tech start-ups can find the right sales people. What’s emerging is that IRELAND INC, as a collaborative community, could be doing a better job at supplying already existing information and / or contacts and networks to our entrepreneurs – so that they are better equipped to face into what is ahead. Perhaps Michael Gerber’s “E-myth” be made mandatory reading before anyone sets up a business. In reading the book it becomes clear:
- Most businesses are set up by folks who know the “technology”, myself included.
- The more successful they get, the busier they become in delivering product / service
- This leaves a gap in the business: Who’s going to sell my services
- Sometimes this realisation comes too late: the business goes under
- Successful entrepreneurs either delegate the technical aspects or hire a great sales person
- All businesses are the same; all entrepreneurs are the same – only with different challenges.
- So let’s just recognise the problem, consult others to see if it’s valid, and change our approach.
In Ireland, there are ever more green shoots appearing. The harvest is still some time away.
However those that are just starting along the road to global success can learn from those who are one step ahead, those that are one step ahead can give back to those that are just starting. Just check the newspapers last weekend, the Turley brothers netted €80m for the sale of their business CarTrawler. One of the brothers was in sales, one was in operations – it works!
A huge congratulations must go to Emma Henderson and the team at dotConf, who put on a fantastic day on Thursday in the National College of Ireland. It was a great turnout and the feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
We’d love to grab your attention for just another couple of minutes and ask you to give your thoughts on the day. Please fill in this quick survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PPWZGMR
Of course, there was a great many people who helped make the dotConf a success, from the superb speakers and presenters to the people who helped shape the day and, of course, everyone who came along, watched the live stream and blogged, tweeted or generally talked about the event.
We will update you when the videos of the day are available on the dotConf blog. Please, feel free to share them and tell the world about the dotConf.
Once again, be kind, take a moment to be surveyed: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PPWZGMR
To anyone who has ever struggled to maintain their site using a Content Management System (CMS): you’re not alone, we feel your pain.
Chris and Paul in DesignByFront.com are doing some research into the user experience of content management systems, so if you’ve ever been involved in managing a website, they’d love to get your insight.
Why are they doing this?
Front believe that every website should get better and better and better over time. Unfortunately, many people find it difficult enough to look after the site they have, rather than getting to focus on continuous improvement.
Almost every site delivered at Front uses a content management system so that non-technical users can take ownership of the site once its live.
Key to this is the regular addition of high-quality content. However, too often the design of Content Management Systems don’t reflect the way that those involved in authoring, editing or reviewing content actually work; despite claims to the contrary, almost all CMS tools are designed around how a site works for its users, rather than focusing on the needs of those who’ll be responsible for it once live.
This creates a barrier to publishing good content, and restricts the growth and quality of the site. A better CMS experience should result in better content being created for a site, which in turn results in a better experience for the site’s users.
Front are not the first to think about this. Jeff Veen wrote about the problems inherent in Content Management Systems way back in 2004, but things haven’t changed much since then, and now it’s time to get the discussion started again.
So, if you’ve ever been involved in managing a website with a CMS, they’d love to hear your thoughts.
According to Front:
To make sure we really understand what the key issues are, we’re carrying out a small piece of design research on content management. We want to know how the experience of using a CMS could be improved, and so along with performing user interviews and usability testing, we’ve put together a quick survey to gather input from the broader web community.
We’re doing this research because we realise that while we put a lot of time and attention into creating beautiful online experiences for our client’s users, we perhaps don’t give enough thought to the experience of our clients themselves.
To take part, fill in our quick survey
Last night, Dylan Collins was announced as the IIA and Enterprise Ireland Net Visionary 2010.
Congratulations to Dylan Collins, Net Visionary winner 2010. This award recognises his commitment to innovation and excellence within the Irish Internet industry.
Yesterday evening, in the Crowne Plaza Northwood, 15 category Awards were presented recognising the achievements across the gamut of the Irish Internet Industry. Closing the Awards, Maeve Kneafsey, Chairperson of the IIA, and Jennifer Condon of Enterprise Ireland, announced Dylan Collins as the 2010 Overall IIA and Enterprise Ireland Net Visionary.
Dylan Collins, serial entrepreneur of DemonWare and Jolt Games success is a true internet visionary. His meteoric success is unprecedented within the Irish Internet industry. In his early 30s, Dylan’s ability to innovate is unrivalled in the online gaming sector on an Irish and international stage. He is the embodiment of all that is great about this industry – ingenuity, pace and determination. Yet of all these qualities, it is his unstinting generosity in mentoring other internet start-ups and his commitment to the industry as a whole that truly sets him apart as a most worthy winner of this industry accolade.
While the IIA is busy digitizing the nation this week, let’s roll back 25 years when a previous digital revolution was lapping our shores. Readers of a certain age will instantly recognize the picture of WordStar, doing roughly what Microsoft Word does today. I say ‘roughly’ as WordStar belonged to an era without touchscreen or Mice, and where users had to had to use ‘ctrl-s’ and ‘ctrl-d’ to move right and left. While WordStar users understood copy and paste to mean actual glue and scissors, it was so dominant that even as a business studies student in the ‘90s, we were expected to pass an exam in its use.
So why do you now (most likely) use Microsoft Word instead ? The answer is Windows 3.1. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t even the first computer to use a mouse – but Windows was a revolution for mainstream computers. While there was (and still is) a version of Wordstar for Windows, when the dust had settled MS Word had came out on top.
Right now another revolution is happening as computing moves from your desktop to Cloud Services delivered over the internet. This time the revolution is bigger; Computers are more widespread, other devices (such as Mobile, iPads and Netbooks) are hooked up to internet, and the revolution will transform more sectors of the economy. It would be a pity if we digitized the nation, only to leave traditional software companies behind on the desktop.
The IIA Cloud paper shows as many opportunities as threats in this Software as a Service (SaaS) revolution. As a key driver of Exports, and export led jobs, Enterprise Ireland wants to help software companies to seize the opportunities. In the next part of the it’s ongoing SaaS activities (including the well regarded SaaS transition programme) Enterprise Ireland has two upcoming events to help Irish Software Companies;
- On May 19th, Companies can learn about how their business model needs to react to implement software as a service (Event: The Commercial Realities of Sofware as a Service). Speakers include John Appleby of SaasPoint, Gerry O’Connor of Zarion , Philip O’Doherty of eSpatial and Charles Cameron of Encore Ventures.
- On June 16th, it’s the turn of the Mananged Services (Event: Managed Services and the Cloud). Alongside speakers from Finance and PA Consulting, with be Gerry Power, Chair of the IIA’s cloud working group.