1 days / 12 talks
Thought Leaders & Digital Innovators

13th June 2019, Royal Marine Hotel
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Microsoft : Irish organizations need to join the digital transformation 

Charlie Taylor reported in the Irish Times (5th of May) that a recent study from Microsoft found that Irish companies that fail to implement digital strategy are in danger of missing out on opportunities afforded by the digital economy, a sector anticipated to be worth $100 trillion by 2025.  

Two years is the time frame Microsoft gave Irish companies to digitize in order to survive the upcoming tech revolution. The study found that confusion about how precisely to implement technologies like cloud computing or data analytics prevent organizations from digitally transforming.

The research showed that digital disruption from competition could effect up to half of all Irish businesses. Many of these companies don’t know how to begin altering strategy or implementing digital in order to remain competitive.

Amarach Research, the organization conducting the study of 300 Irish companies, found that the organizations themselves had a very different view of how they interacted with digital. 80 percent of companies overestimated their readiness for the changing digital landscape. Further, 60 percent perceived themselves as disrupters.

Although half of all companies included in the study have digital strategies implemented already, 25 percent felt unsure of how to approach digital transformation. A lack of digital skills and slow-decision making were a few of the reasons cited for an absence of digital strategy. 
Digital Transformation Code

‘Disrupt or be Disrupted’

Amarach’s study corresponds with a joint Microsoft/Harvard Business Review report which found that although 80 percent of senior-level leaders felt digital transformation would have a positive impact on their business over the next three years, less than half of those had a strategy in place to take advantage of these opportunities.

Digital transformation impacts businesses of all sizes. According to small and medium solutions and partners director at Microsoft Ireland, Aisling Curtis, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company 50 years ago would have been about 75 years. “Today, it is less than 15 years due to digital transformation,” she said.

Curtis said that although there is quite a bit of confusion on how to approach digital transformation globally, it is particularly problematic in Ireland. “Many organisations are ill-prepared for dealing with it.”

“People are unclear about what priorities or trends to respond to, and this is giving rise to a digital myopia with many organisations thinking they are disrupters, while the reality is that 44 per cent of the companies we surveyed said they were only just keeping up.”

In order to be competitive in a digital landscape, Curtis said that transformation has to be implemented at all levels-from customers, to employees, to operations.

She said “It is also about a cultural adoption, and this needs to come from the chief executive downwards.” The digital revolution needs to be addressed by companies, said Curtis. “It really is a case of disrupt or be disrupted.”

Looking towards the future, “it is likely that digital savvy employees will increasingly have a big influence on future strategy.”

Aisling Curtis is Director of Small Medium Solutions and Partner at Microsoft Ireland. She will be speaking at the DLR Summit on 8 June 2017.  

Aisling Curtis
Aisling Curtis, Microsoft.
Picture by Shane O’Neill Photography.

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Online Retail Booming for Irish E-Commerce

From  Laura Slattery for the Irish Times on May 4, shopping in Ireland continues to move off high-street to online. According to a recent study by Wolfgang Digital, Irish e-commerce revenue grew by 45 percent in 2016, marking major growth for the second consecutive year.

Wolfgang Digital notes that this online growth translates into a rate at nine times the rate of Ireland’s gross domestic product. Chief executive Alan Coleman said that Ireland can “expect this rampant growth to continue” in years to come.

According to Coleman, online spending accounts for 6 percent of the Irish economy, where in “the advanced UK market, online’s share of spend is as high as 16 per cent.”

This recent report studied a sampling of Irish retail and travel companies. The organizations surveyed had combined earnings of nearly €300 million for the year 2016.

Retailers cited a revenue growth of 24 percent. As for Irish travel sites, Wolfgang determined these businesses had a “whopping” 79 percent swell in earnings. These sites also boasted a 15 percent rise in average transaction value, in addition to an improved rate for converting visitor traffic into revenue-earning transactions, likely due to a recent tourism boom in the country.

Holiday Holdings

Shoppers took to the Internet for the yearly Christmas shop, figures from the fourth quarter suggest. As transaction growth exceeded revenue growth, the study indicates that online retailers offered customers online discounts, which were readily taken advantage of by holiday shoppers.

Cutting-edge advertisement formats such as “conversion-focused” strategies earned retailers who adopted these formats early-on higher revenues. Google Shopper ranked as the top-performing revenue-driver for companies included in the study. The format, which promotes search results from various retail sites in response to keywords, was only launched in Ireland in 2016’s fourth quarter.

Online Shopping Credit

Wolfgang cited smartphones as the primary mode of shopping online. The devices accounted for 45 percent of online traffic, with desktop browsers holding 42 percent of traffic, and 13 percent generating from tablet devices.

Coleman wasn’t surprised by these results, despite this being the first Wolfgang study to find mobile traffic outpacing desktop.


Wolfgang Digital found that the portion of revenue for retail sites originating from outside of Ireland cooled from 36 percent in 2015 to 19 percent. The study cites this trend as a result of the weakening of the pound in comparison to the euro.

However, Coleman said Brexit offers Irish e-commerce retailers an opportunity in regards to the European market. Not only is competition in the UK is “floating further and further away from the valuable European market,” but also “the EU’s drive to enhance the Digital Single Market” make the European market a prime target for Irish e-retailers.

Alan Coleman is the CEO and founder of Wolfgang Digital. He will be speaking at the DLR Summit on 8 June 2017. 


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Digital Transformation in Irish Business ‘Struggling’ to Meet the Challenge

John Holden reports in today’s (4th May 2017) Irish Times, that “struggling” is the term most associated with Irish Businesses when it comes to Digital Transformation, according to the recently-released 2017 KingramRed Digital Transformation Report. Surveying a multitude of Irish business sectors, the report found senior-level staff are “not developing a vision of their digital future.” Further, “leadership capabilities and awareness are not sufficiently developed in this area to drive direction and mitigate risks.” 

Of the organizations included in the report, less than half had developed a set strategy for future digital improvement in order to stay competitive in a digital landscape. A mere 53 percent of businesses surveyed acknowledged an immediate necessity to establish a digital strategy. 

Autopilot: Digital Leadership

A majority of those surveyed felt the move to digital lay below upper-level management and executives, believing it was the responsibility of IT departments, instead. Out of the participants at management and senior-levels, 60 percent stated that digital transformation was not a crucial issue for CEOs. 

This neglect of senior-level employees in leading digital transformation has caused preparation efforts to become “dissipated in silos across organizations.”

Adoption Agents: Implementing Digital in Irish Business

Irish sectors including finance, analytics, and agriculture were included in this second report by the KingramRed digital consultancy firm. The survey considered businesses’ engagement with developing technologies, such as analytics, AI, smart devices, and robotics. 

Out of organizations surveyed, 65 percent were already engaged with technologies such as algorithms and data analytics, with a “further 20 percent expecting to take advantage within two years.”

Alternatively, robotics proved to be a technology that Irish businesses have been hesitant to adopt. Only “30 per cent of organisations” are currently examining how to implement robotic solutions in their business or considering adopting robotics.

Digital Transformation Screens

This lack of advancement in digital transformation could be boiled down to one major agreement in the report. A strong majority felt there is a current “shortage of skills and resources,” making it difficult to implement a digital transformation strategy. Although 72 percent of participants are funding digital in their businesses, only half of business are confident in their digital resources, claiming that their organizations have the skills necessary to implement digital action plans. 

Overall, the report claimed that “the shortage of resources and skills is a serious challenge to driving forward with change.”

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Conference Cool: Tips and Tricks for Making Your Next Conference a Success

Approaching a conference can be a little intimidating. While you know there are excellent networking opportunities at any conference, the experience could feel like a mind-boggling blitz of speaking events, chit-chat, and meet-and-greets. How do you make the most out of your conference without feeling frazzled? Read the following tips to ensure your next conference experience is a success! 

#1: Prep Before 

Spend some time thinking about what you want to get out of the conference. Take a minute in the days before the event to jot down some goals and questions. What do you hope to learn from the sessions? Are there particular groups you want to network with? Consider what you want to discuss with other attendees. 

When you’re at the conference, be aware that there could be some awkward moments. To ease the uncomfortable silences after saying hello, have some material ready to go. Be friendly and offer your details–who you are, what company you’re with, why you’ve decided to attend this conference. Keep the conversation rolling with a list of stock questions you can ask anyone you bump into. 

You won’t be the only one doing some hard work while networking. Be sure you’ve brought your laptop and mobile phone chargers with you! You’ll be using them to take notes, names, and numbers all day. Don’t get caught with a dead device.

#2 Make Connections

Approach the conference hoping to make purposeful connections, rather than a list of names and numbers. Avoid rushing around trying to pass your business card to every attendee or awe the big guns. It’ll be much more beneficial to establish the base for positive, rewarding business relationships by connecting in an authentic way. 

Make your first connection count. Perhaps this person is attending with a group of associates, who they can then connect you with. If they’re alone, the two of you can team up and approach larger groups. Don’t forget tip number one: be prepared with interesting, applicable dialogue.  

Breaking into a bigger group is a necessity, but it can be uncomfortable. Stay confident and ease into the conversation by approaching someone solo. Introduce yourself and bring up suitable industry topics. Ask for their opinions, and let the conversation flow naturally.

#3 Making It Social

Take advantage of the wonderful networking opportunities provided by social media. Search conference-related hashtags before the event to get a better idea of the conversation. 

When you’re at the conference, check in on Twitter! Use conference hashtags to find other attendees, or to make it easy for them to find you. Note the usernames of tweets you find engaging and be ready to bring up the topics you notice in conversation. 

If you’d feel more comfortable in a more formal setting, use LinkedIn to network online with other professionals. LinkedIn gives you a more in-depth look into professional backgrounds, so you are better informed as to who you’d like to network with, what their interests are, and how their experience can be relevant to yours. 

#4 Take Note

Between names, Twitter handles, presentations, and networking topics, there will be a lot of information to soak in. Know your best note taking strategies. What works best for you: pen and paper? Tablet word processors? Head in to every presentation prepared to jot down key information. 

After each session, take a few minutes to note a few main points. If you have follow-up questions or comments, write those down too. When you return to the office, you’ll have a list of handy info ready-to-go. 

#5: After the Conference

Networking is meant to help you establish rewarding business connections. In the days following the conference, send comments, questions, and requests to the people you want to follow-up with. 

Make your message stand-out by reminding your connection of what you discussed. Attendee inboxes will be overflowing after any networking opportunity, so it’s important your message is personal and memorable. 

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A version of this article can be found on the 3XE Digital Conference blog.



‘Digital Strategy for Business’

Speaker Hugh O’Byrne, VP Digital Sales for IBM, will be presenting “Digital Strategy for Business”. O’Byrne has an extensive background in the digital world. With over thirty years of experience, O’Byrne began programming as business use in computers was expanding from large corporations to medium-sized businesses.

“Everything had to be built, such as payroll,” O’Byrne says. “It was exciting as there was so much which needed to be done–very little existed.”

Currently, O’Byrne is responsible for digital sales at the $80 billion technology company, IBM. He created the largest digital sales center in Dublin for IBM globally, a project that employs 800 people in Dublin and another 120 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

O’Byrne’s presentation will cover digital strategy in business. “All business to business research is done online and companies often make choices about who to choose without ever talking to a vendor,” O’Byrne says. He hopes to highlight the importance of digital in business today. He advises businesses to not ignore the digital world. “It’s here to stay and how business will be increasingly done. You need to engage appropriately, choose some basic strategies and stick with them.”

Companies that engage with the Internet can be categorised in two ways, O’Byrne says: those which have grown up with the Internet and have always used it in business and those which are now applying it to their business models. “Whichever company you are–digital is a key element of your digital strategy going forward.” In his presentation, O’Byrne will exemplify how businesses can incorporate digital strategy into their models with an Irish company that uses digital in their business daily.

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In the thirteen years since it’s launch, Facebook has become an integral part of our everyday lives. We’ve been refreshing our Twitter feeds for eleven years, and in the five years since its inauguration, Instagram has rapidly developed from a place to share snapshots of lunch to a leading source for brand development.

The powerful pull of social media goes beyond a means of staying connected. These platforms are excellent points for consumer engagement and product endorsements.

If you’re looking to upgrade your marketing plan through social media or boost user engagement across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, here are the five key points you need to know.

#1 The Numbers

It can be difficult to see the big picture when you’re only using Twitter to retweet your favorite song lyrics. The stats below illustrate how widespread social media usage is!

  • How many people use Facebook each month? 1.28 billion, or the population of the world’s second most-populated country, India.
  • 44% of Twitter accounts go unused; nearly half of all accounts are tweet-less!
  • Each second Linked.in gets two new users.
  • More than latte art: Instagram has a per-follower engagement rate that exceeds Facebook’s by 50 times and crushes Twitter’s (120 times higher).
  • Pinterest boasts upwards of 400% more revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more per click than Facebook

#2: Social Media and Your Competitors 

When everyone from your co-workers to your mother-in-law are your Facebook friends, you know it’s imperative for your company to be active on social media. While the thought of surviving online alongside your competitors might be intimidating, there is an upside. Today’s analytics programs make it easy to track your competitors correctly. You can determine how they use social media and then figure how you compete.

Prior to Web 2.0, organizations would have to shell out huge amounts to get access to the details of their competitors. Now, that information is easily accessible and free with social media.


Take these tips to heart to compete effectively in the social media sphere:

  • Click the blue button: follow your competitors.
  • Track the content they’re generating. What types of details, products, or business aspects are they highlighting? Do they use graphics or copy-based content? How do they engage with customers?
  • Use Facebook Pages to Watch. Create a list of pages and Facebook will monitor their statistics for you!
  • Take advantage of Twitter Lists. Like Facebook Pages to Watch, prioritize certain profiles and keep track of your competitors’ tweets.
  • Check out Google+, Facebook Pages, and Yelp Reviews. See what customers have to say. What is working? What could they improve on? Compare your findings with your own strategies.

#3: Content is Key

Social media is all-over, all the time. Customers can get weary of the onslaught of articles, pictures, and media. Don’t let your content get scrolled past. Make sure your content is engaging, authentic, and attention-catching. Developing quality, relevant content is crucial.

#4: Keep up-to-date with the latest social media networks

While you’re developing strategies to implement across Facebook and Twitter, don’t let that distract you from the numerous new social media platforms that are popping up constantly. Engagement with consumers through platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat puts your business at the forefront of social media marketing.

As we move forward, video content is quickly moving into the limelight of social media strategy. Likewise, live-streaming promises to be a fixture that turns social media marketing to a real-time affair. Brands use platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to develop brand narratives that are engaging, exciting, and current.

Visual platforms incite consumer involvement. Your visual content must be enticing and interactive, inspiring shares, likes, and comments.

#5: Engage, analyze, activate with free applications

There are a wide-range of tools that can help you monitor content reception, engage consumers, and crunch the numbers produced by social media platforms. Luckily, many of these tools are free! Learn how to work with these applications to reach wider audiences and develop a better sense of your target audience.

  • Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools available. The application allows you to track social media posts across multiple channels, analyze reception, and schedule tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos.

  • Buffer

Buffer monitors engagement and activity data on each of your posts. This level of tracking allows you to schedule your posts for a time when they will give you the most exposure.

  • Followerwonk

Followerwonk gives you detailed insight into how your Twitter followers operate. Search for a username and find in-depth information on when your followers are likely to be online and what time they generally post. Plus, Followerwonk categorizes followers into specific categories, such as activity, follower count, or social authority, to help you better target content.

  • Viralwoot

A Pinterest-exclusive tool, Viralwoot helps you schedule and promote pins, helping you to gain new followers along the way.

These tools make it easy to plan social media campaigns. Additionally, they equip you with the data you need to target content, schedule posts at the best times, and better develop your social media strategy.

A version of this article can be found at the 3XE Digital Conference blog.


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With the rise of user-generated content, one of the biggest challenges facing digital marketers is losing control of brand image.

With the rise of social media, brands were excited about the opportunities this new network afforded, due in part to its low-cost. However, the direct-to-consumer experience of social media necessitated an evening of the playing field many marketing specialists didn’t anticipate.

Without the capital required for more traditional marketing strategy, brands found themselves navigating a marketing terrain that required innovation and consumer-understanding. Organizations that took this into consideration and developed social media marketing strategies that served to heighten the consumer experience online were the most successful. How to connect on a personal level is a problem many marketers today still puzzle over. This post examines how two brands rose to the challenge and launched successful social media marketing campaigns.

The early days of Web 2.0 saw user-generated content and social media networks dominate the digital scene. Social media in particular was perceived as the dawn of a new age, a method of connecting brands to the consumer base in an enduring, engaging manner. Additionally, social media provided organizations with an opportunity to access data about customer behavior and response that could be utilized to further micro-target and develop tailored messages for customers.

With so much open communication and interaction with customers, social media marketing originally proved to balance the scales. Brands suddenly found themselves struggling to be heard in the expanded sphere of marketing opportunities. Customers had the choice to reject brands they perceived as obtrusive. Transplanting conventional approaches to marketing into social networks ran the risk of alienating customers.

Brands are caught in the middle of a marketing tug-of-war in the social media age. As consumers now have the power to develop content, marketers become referees for brand perception. If marketers regulate consumer-generated content too strictly, the brand is perceived as opaque, which diminishes consumer communication. Alternatively, if marketers aren’t careful enough, the brand could be represented in a fashion that doesn’t correspond to the proper brand image.

The complications marketers face in developing marketing strategies for social media are intensified when considering the rapidly altering scope of technology. A study by IBM recently claimed that under 50% of of marketing managers felt prepared to meet the marketing challenges presented in social media. Despite these reservations, a CMO survey indicated that marketing managers are looking to double funds to social media campaigns over the next five years.

The outcomes of these studies indicate the complexities and prevalence of social media in today’s marketing mediascape. It’s beneficial to examine brands who have successfully incorporated consumer-concentrated marketing strategies into their social media marketing plans. By doing so, these brands curate engaged, transparent, and rewarding brand narratives for their customer base.

Proctor and Gamble’s Old Spice campaign is exemplary of a brand utilizing social media to successfully connect and engage with consumers. YouTube provided the forum for a coordinated campaign in which spokesman Isaiah Mustafa was recorded responding to customer questions and  comments.

Mountain Dew’s DEWMocracy campaign not only communicated with, but developed a new product entirely informed by, consumers via social media. Following the release of a promotional ad, consumers were given the opportunity to develop a new flavour of the soft drink, upload video content, and discuss the project online through comments, votes, and forums. The project was incredibly successful in terms of user involvement.

Both Proctor and Gamble and Mountain Dew engage with what is predicted to be the next wave of social media mania: video content. Cisco foresees that 80% of all consumer traffic will be video based by 2019. Brands must incorporate an interactive engagement with the consumer base into a natural, brand narrative in order to be successful in the era of social media.

Mountain Dew’s DEWMocracy used, successfully, a 2009 precursor to the concept of brand influencers. Influencers virtually embody the traits the brand desires customers to associate with that brand. In 2016, 95% of marketing professions attributed boosted brand awareness to influencer marketing, while 75% of marketers stated they felt influencer marketing provokes sales leads.

In 2017, engaging with a consumer base means generating a conversation with customers through social media networks. Additionally, as customer buying habits become more complicated and social media become more pervasive across various devices, brands need to be aware of how the needs of their target audience evolve across platforms and devices. A dual approach that incorporates both social media engagement and analytical tracking is the most effective approach to developing a successful social media strategy.

Negotiating the social media sphere can prove difficult for marketers. However, by developing a dialogue of engagement and user-created content with your consumer base, your brand can develop a rewarding marketing strategy. Establishing a user experience that is involved lends a value to the consumer that goes beyond material revenue.

A version of this article can be found here at the 3XE Digital Conference blog.


  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681311000036
  • http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681311000024
  • https://hbr.org/2016/07/fix-your-social-media-strategy-by-taking-it-back-to-basics
  • http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/complete-white-paper-c11-481360.pdf
  • http://www.pepsico.com/live/pressrelease/The-Mountain-Dew-DEWmocracy-2-Campaign-Empowers-Brand-Loyalists-Nationwide-to-Cr04202010


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Shop owners played many roles prior to the rise of vertical integration. Direct customer interaction and on-floor management allowed a shop owner to be not only a salesperson, but also a marketing manager, product distributor, customer service representative, accountant, and, frequently, product designer. The shop owner was present for all aspects of the sales process, from aiding customers in their search for products to redevelopment and design if these products failed to meet consumer requirements. They monitored and analyzed profits, returns, and revenue. The shop owner was present for the entire cycle, and understood the customer experience in an in-depth way.

Utilizing analytics to investigate and analyze the market and customer experience provides businesses the same opportunity as the shop owner, but with a larger scope. Customer journey mapping allows business owners to access the customer experience across all fields, providing a deeper insight into marketing, development, and customer service strategy and further improvements in these areas.

As customers interact with your organization, they come into contact with the business in countless ways. Perhaps a prospective customer locates your organization first through a search or social media. As paid campaigns kick in across email or social networking profiles, these prospects come into contact with reviews and access whitepapers and material from leading industry leaders. Consider the additional “face-to-face” interactions, the customer service representatives, sales teams, and further support a prospective connects with. Across all of these channels, the analytical information your organization accumulates grows rapidly.

Customer journey mapping is a convenient method for strategically analyzing all of that data. It’s particularly conducive for collaboration across departments. Customer journey mapping equips your organization with a structure that examines multiple channels of marketing together in order to help you better identify points in interactions with your organization that may be uncomfortable or jumbled for the customer, also known as gaps. Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to implementing a customer journey map is the shared understanding of how team members fit into the overall organization. A greater awareness of how individual roles correspond to the customer experience helps to facilitate team bonding and cooperation organization-wide.

Analytics provide businesses with the tools to develop a rich understanding of how marketing practices impact the consumer to further business results. An analytical approach to customer journey mapping allows for a comprehensive examination of the entire marketing experience, from customer acquisition to consumer patterns to results and revenue. Customer journey mapping provides a cohesive, “big-picture” visualization of data from the numerous data sources your organization uses: social networks, paid campaigns, email lists, and more. Combining these different strands grants your organization a clearer depiction of what strategies customers respond best to.

Customer journey mapping provides the analytical background your organization requires to implement the best marketing and development strategies possible, ensuring a clearer user experience. Additionally, it allows for cross-departmental dialogue and collaboration. Following a customer journey map is a quick route to ensuring a cohesive, valuable experience for both the prospect and your organization.

A version of this article can be found at the 3XE Digital Conference blog.

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