Reporting from across world markets, Enterprise Ireland’s Agritech Market Advisors have compiled this buyer sentiment update consisting of case studies from importers, distributors and leading dealerships of agricultural equipment.
As part of our Market Watch series, we have interviewed 23 companies to provide first-hand updates of the situation on the ground in key regions across the world.
Jens Altmann, Market Advisor, Automotive Industry, Enterprise Ireland Germany interviewed Robert Metzger CEO and publisher at eMove360°, a trade fair and community platform for Mobility 4.0 – electric – connected – autonomous in Munich.
eMove360° Europe is already now world’s biggest B2B trade fair for electric mobility and connected & autonomous driving.
The video interview discusses the effects of the current Covid-19 situation on new technologies, forecasts on the industry and alternative ways of connecting with stakeholder in the market.
- Effects of Covid-19 on technological development in the automotive industry
- Influence on regulations and Electromobility and its related supply chain
- How to counteract current contact restrictions e.g. alternatives for physical trade shows
See the webinar here.
Customer engagement is critical during the Covid-19 pandemic, as organisations across every industry look to connect, engage, reassure, and supply their customer base.
In this time of uncertainty and disruption, Irish BPO and IT companies have demonstrated impressive flexibility in providing their outsourced services to ensure international companies can overcome these engagement challenges from a remote setting and provide a positive customer experience.
Following Enterprise Ireland’s recent Industry Bulletin which looked at developments across the world affecting Irish BPO and IT Services companies, this edition of our Market Watch series focuses on the UK region and a key end-market for many Irish companies; the UK energy sector.
This webinar reflects on the
- Immediate impact of Covid-19 on the UK Energy sector
- Challenges for energy retailers and their customers
- Future opportunities in the sector for outsourced service providers to develop new and stronger partnerships with energy retailers in the UK.
See the webinar here.
David Corcoran, Senior Market Advisor, Enterprise Ireland UK
Peter Haigh, former Managing Director of Bristol Energy, CEO of ELEXON, and Director of Business Retail at E.ON.
The global supply chains for technology products like smartphones and laptop computers are now almost as complex as the products themselves.
A typical smartphone, for example, is made up of components and materials sourced from up to a dozen suppliers on multiple continents, which are shipped to a manufacturer for final assembly before being sent onwards to distributors, retailers and ultimately sold to consumers.
This presents two major problems for manufacturers and others involved in the chain – visibility and provenance. A new project led by Dublin-based Exertis Supply Chain Services, with funding from Ireland’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), is aimed at solving both of them.
A subsidiary of DCC, Exertis Supply Chain Services is a leader in materials supply chain design and operation. “Our focus is on technology and we provide global supply chain capability for the Exertis group and clients across the globe,” says Brian Cassidy, Head of IT and Director responsible for data protection with the company. “We are also a centre of excellence within the group for the use of blockchain technology.”
The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million fund run by Ireland’s Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, as part of the National Development Plan under Project Ireland 2040. It is administered by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency. An example of the country’s strong focus on developing some of the world’s most innovative companies, the initiative funds collaborations between research facilities and ambitious companies to develop innovative technologies that change the world in which we live.
Exertis solves visibility problems in the supply chain
The objective of Exertis’s DTIF-supported project, which also involves Dublin-based technology company Sonalake and the CeADAR Technology Centre located at University College Dublin, is to develop a blockchain-based platform, which will transform the technology product supply chain.
“The two problems we are focusing on is the need for end-to-end visibility of products and components along the supply chain and the need to prove the authenticity of products once they reach the market,” says Cassidy.
“We are using the blockchain to provide a peer-to-peer platform for authenticating provenance and we are providing visibility across the supply chain where multiple partners and a high volume of products are involved.”
The current lack of visibility and difficulty with provenance result in a number of issues. “In terms of visibility, for any participant in the supply chain it is very difficult to know what is selling and what is not,” says Cassidy.
This lack of visibility leads to problems with availability. “Typically, the retailer might know what the distributor has in stock but won’t know what the manufacturer has. Visibility is very much limited to one point up or down in the chain. A manufacturer may not know how much product distributors or retailers have because they usually don’t share that information.”
Provenance is another issue. “When the item does arrive at the retailer, proving its authenticity can be a really interesting challenge. If a fake product comes into a customer’s hands, a manufacturer wants to be able to see how it got there.”
Sharing information dynamically
The Exertis project is highly innovative in that it will provide an open platform for multiple users in multiple supply chains, with each participant being able to decide which other members of the chain they wish to share information with. Furthermore, it will allow them to share selected pieces of information with selected participants.
Once the data gets put on the blockchain it is immutable and cannot be deleted. “It is encrypted and decrypted at a granular level,” Cassidy adds. “A retailer might want to put a transaction on the platform but may not want competitors to know anything about it, whereas they do want the distributor and manufacturer to know. However, they may not be able to share with the manufacturer certain details such as the price they paid for it or what they sold it for. They can decrypt different parts of that dataset for different partners and their ERP system will be able to dynamically decide what information to share and who to share it with.”
Manufacturers will be able to see what is selling and how much product is in the channel in real time. This is important for planning manufacturing output, as well as for managing warranty liabilities. “Manufacturers will usually know how many units were sold, but don’t know exactly when. They need to know that for when the warranty starts. This platform will address that issue. It provides a place where all participants in the chain can contribute, but everyone controls their own data.”
Initial work on the project, began in 2018, with the DTIF-supported three-year project beginning in earnest in August 2019. “The DTIF funding has accelerated this project significantly and facilitated our collaboration with CeADAR and Sonalake. At Exertis, we have looked across our business and identified several exciting use cases, which we expect to roll out in several areas in the coming years”.
For more information and call dates for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund visit the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation website.
Download the bulletin here.
As a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Enterprise Ireland construction companies are experiencing unprecedented market disruption both domestically and across international markets.
Following our last market bulletin at the end of March, this report for April provides a high-level sector update from the Enterprise Ireland network of overseas construction advisors on their markets. Already we are noticing the loosening of restrictions and the strategic prioritisation of the construction industry by many national Governments.
Enterprise Ireland’s industry bulletin for the Aerospace & Aviation industry provides insights from Market Advisors across the world, on market developments in each region, exploring market conditions during the Covid-19 pandemic , developments, opportunities and supports.
Read the full report here.
Sean Long, Enterprise Ireland, Senior Market Advisor UK for Automotive interviewed Ian Henry of Auto Analysis on the changing landscape of European Vehicle Manufacturers.
The interview explores their
· current organizational structures
· plant operations
· purchasing contacts
· trade tariff considerations
· developments around new vehicle platforms.
The video interview took place on 10th March 2020, prior to Covid 19 restrictions.
Developing employee engagement now will pay dividends long into the future
Up until the pandemic, the biggest challenge facing many firms was attracting and retaining talent. That hasn’t changed, says Ryan Williams, CEO of Conscia, a training provider which specialises in employee engagement.
Conscia is the architect of a series of online modules designed to help companies maintain employee engagement throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
Each provides practical steps to take, plus easy to use templates and frameworks, to help companies maintain their employee value proposition (EVP).
Those that succeed in doing so will not only optimise productivity throughout this current, difficult time, but will be well placed to capture the opportunities of the post-pandemic surge.
Those that neglect employee engagement, however, risk damaging their reputation as an employer of choice long into the future. “It’s about asking yourself, how you want your company to be remembered after this pandemic,” says Williams.
Your EVP is an invaluable retention tool and should be robust enough to support employees in good times and in bad, he points out.
“The market for talent will be equally as competitive when we come out the other side of this as it was when we went in,” says Williams.
“Though some sectors will suffer more than others, the fact remains that if you needed a software developer before this, you will still need one after it, so it is important to get the best talent that is out there.”
The top priority for employers right now is communication.
By this stage new work practices will be established, either from home or, socially distanced, in the workplace.
“The novelty of the early stages has well and truly worn off, the buzz of setting up meetings on MS Teams and Zoom has ebbed, and people are starting to feel this will never end. The risk is that employers stop communicating when in fact it is vital to over-communicate now and throughout this process.”
Deliver your communications with confidence
In a period characterised by uncertainty and anxiety, it’s important to display “honest confidence” he says.
“Be honest and transparent and deliver your communications with confidence, even if it is bad news, such as, perhaps, having to take a pay cut to get through this. People can cope if they realise there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Empathetic leadership is essential. “You need to communicate your company’s vision and mission with empathy. It’s about understanding that your people are going through challenging times.”
Weekly ‘all hands’ meetings online are an opportunity to show that everybody is part of what is a communal effort.
“Be very honest about what you do and don’t know. The rumour mill can be difficult to manage so share the good, the bad and the ugly with honest confidence.”
Decision making in a time of crisis should be quick and decisive, with resources allocated speedily. Employee polls are a quick and effective tool for effecting change, offering maximum transparency and ‘buy in’.
Regular, scheduled and consistent communications help keep fear and anxiety at bay. Use video as much as possible. “People want to see their leaders.”
Be cognisant of the impact not just of your words, but of your tone and body language too. “Lean forward, be expressive, use your hands,” he says.
As well as large town hall type, and team meetings, make sure to set aside time for one to ones, to check in with people and see how they are doing.
Recognise and reward output. “Celebrate team wins and individual efforts more than in ordinary times. People are doing fantastic things right now so make time for shout outs in meetings and promote them on your social media too.”
Fostering ‘water cooler’ moments online helps to replicate the everyday interaction of the traditional workplace. “Don’t lose your social cohesion.”
Building trust and loyalty
At every step, focus on building trust and loyalty. “Very many companies have spent years building up their culture. Don’t lose it. Find new ways of maintaining it instead.”
Social distancing will likely continue for some time, as will working from home. “We are all living with uncertainty at present, so ‘What does this mean for me?’ is the key question people have. While you can’t control this, you can help by removing as much of the uncertainty for employees as possible.”
Provide purpose and stay positive
The current situation provides a great opportunity for learning and development. “This doesn’t have to cost you money,” he points out.
“It could be online learning opportunities, or a situation where an experienced member of staff helps train up others on a new software tool, such as cucumber. It could be a buddy system, where someone experienced is matched with someone who may be feeling overwhelmed.”
Spare capacity could be given over to executing planned projects that had previously been put off. “We have one client company, for example, who built an entire logistics platform in eight weeks, a project it had long wanted to do,” says Williams.
Such initiatives help provide purpose, an important component in employee engagement.
Set short term goals for long term results. “Focus on bite sized projects to help people navigate through.”
Finally, stay positive. “Remember, this is different from the financial crisis because it is the same for everybody. From Ireland to China to the US, the base line has lowered for everyone. So, while there is uncertainty, and a need to paint as honest a picture as possible, it’s also important to look to where the opportunities will be post-pandemic.”
To find out more about building employee engagement during the Covid-19 restrictions see here.
Download the bulletin here
Enterprise Ireland consumer retail and retail technology companies are experiencing extraordinary market conditions, resulting in massive increase in e-commerce, declining sales in non- essential items as well as fractured supply chains.
While these are certainly unprecedented and challenging times, there remain significant opportunities for clients within the global consumer retail and retail technology market, which we hope to help you identify.
Read more in our Consumer and Retail Industry bulletin.
The seismic fall-out from Covid-19 has created an unprecedented demand for Irish innovation, with our tech sector stepping up to aid the recovery of industries including health, travel and communications.
As mobile operators provide customers with Covid-related updates – typically struggling to get beyond an engagement rate of 1-2% via standard SMS and push notifications – an Irish software firm is making waves with a proprietary messaging channel that is pushing engagement rates closer to 20%.
Dublin-based mAdme provides a customer experience platform for mobile operators to engage with subscribers. The platform overlays rich content including images and video directly on phone screens, without the need for customers to go into an app or notification tray, delivering messages in real-time, triggered by customer usage.
Engagement rates up to 20%
“We’re seeing engagement rates up to around 20% for messages sent on our channel versus other channels like SMS and email,” says Dave Manzor, VP (Product) of mAdme Technologies. “Because of the scale and effectiveness of the platform, we can quickly disseminate important messages to huge numbers of people, which is proving hugely beneficial during the Covid-19 crisis.”
In India, mobile giant Reliance Jio used the mAdme platform to issue a message to its subscribers that linked to Covid-19 awareness information including a symptoms-checker. The campaign was viewed a colossal 250 million times.
“We’ve also seen operators use the software for Covid-related business messages including providing free data or removing data caps,” says mAdme’s Dave Manzor.
“It’s also been deployed to help manage the load on under-pressure call centres, for example by encouraging people to use self-care channels for things like topping up credit.”
mAdme software on 200 million phones
Mullane, who won the ‘Emerging’ category in last year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards, has overseen rapid growth and a hatful of industry awards for mAdme including a 7th place ranking in the 2019 Deloitte Technology Fast 50, and 2018 winner of the Disruptive Technology Award in association with Facebook.
The company has also overcome a few challenges along the way, the most notable of which was having to rapidly scale up to match the growth of Jio in India, going from zero to 100 million subscribers in the space of just five months.
Working with some of the biggest mobile brands in the world, mAdme is now focussing on improving operators’ customer care offerings, especially around the calling experience.
“We’ve developed a new experience in the phone dialler that directs callers to the information they’re looking for,” says Dave Manzor. “This is having a massively positive impact for operators because it reduces the number of calls they need to service in their call centres, but also benefits the caller who can get what they need without having to wait on hold.”
The Dublin-based firm is also looking into the broader enterprise space with relevance for any company that wants to improve how it engages with customers.
Disruption through innovation
“Innovation and R&D are at the core of everything we do,” says Manzor. “When you’re a small player from Ireland selling to a global market, you need to be innovating in every aspect of the business. We’re disrupting some very well-established industries and we couldn’t do that without continuous innovation.”
“From a R&D perspective, we’re building software to meet the needs of the market,” he goes on. “Every line of code we write, we make sure it’s adding value for all our customers and we have a really exciting technology roadmap that will enable us to continue adding value well into the future.”
“We’re also active in the IP space with a number of patent applications on the go,” Manzor says. “The first of these was successfully granted just last month, which was very pleasing and further proof that what we’re doing is genuinely innovative.”
Firmly established among the fastest-growing tech companies in Ireland, mAdme has its sights set on further international growth.
Irish tech credentials
“Irish companies have very strong history, credentials and reputation for delivering great innovation and it’s all the more impressive given that we’re coming from a small island on the edge of Europe,” says Dave Manzor. “I think it makes it all the more exciting to compete and win business in markets all over the world.”
The company has had support and investment from a range of sources including Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency. “Enterprise Ireland has been a huge supporter from day one, they continue to support us to this day and we really appreciate that,” says Manzor:
“On a global scale, Enterprise Ireland is so well-connected, they use the Irish network incredibly well and make it possible for companies like mAdme to make connections in countries where otherwise we’d be largely going it alone.”
“If you look at the trade shows Enterprise Ireland runs every year, without them it just wouldn’t be possible for small companies like ourselves to showcase our work but Enterprise Ireland makes that possible.”
Anam Technologies, an Enterprise Ireland-supported company, is partnering with mobile operators across the world to secure networks against messaging fraud during the Covid-19 crisis.
Working closely with Tier 1 network partners such as Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Digicel and Telenor in more than 85 countries, the aim is to identify and block fraudulent traffic while protecting messages from legitimate businesses and organisations. Such partnerships are essential in a time when fraudsters are primed to take advantage, according to Mary-Therese Fitzpatrick, Anam’s Marketing Director.
Anam is equipping operators with firewalls that detect fraudulent traffic, block it and keep the networks clean. The system is a win-win for all parties involved. The operators benefit from a revenue-sharing model on increased business messaging traffic, and their subscribers are safe from any fraudulent activity.
Partnering to stay safely connected during a crisis
Anam has been recognised 3 years running in independent surveys as the world’s leading SMS Firewall and A2P (application-to-person) monetisation service provider. Anam’s technology helps mobile operators to increase revenue per user by reducing the amount of spam & fraudulent messaging on their networks.
As the number of messages being sent increases, so too do the opportunities for fraud within the channel. While the Covid-19 pandemic contributes to a general relaxing of data protection rules, it may also be loosening our own digital defences. When this happens, fraudsters are at the ready.
Fitzpatrick compares Anam’s firewall technology to a tolled road. There will always be those who try to find back ways to the destination:
“Part of our solution is detecting that ‘grey route’ traffic; traffic that’s freeloading on an operator’s network,” Fitzpatrick says.
Anam blocks this traffic and filters it through the paid route, making sure that all traffic is legitimate and clean. They then share the revenue with the operators.
In the context of Covid-19, we see more messages from government services, health systems, e-commerce notifications and food delivery services. Some fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of this, sending texts containing key terms like ‘Covid’, ‘Coronavirus’ and even ‘testing’ that might mislead people into giving away sensitive information or clicking on fake links to legitimate-looking websites designed to do the same thing. This is known as phishing.
The texts may look like they are coming from a bank or the government. Some fraudsters even use a tactic known as “spoofing” in which they can make a message appear in a chain of text alongside previous genuine messages. There have also been reports of fraud messages promising free devices or financial relief to cope with the Covid-19 lockdowns.
“If the operator has a firewall installed on their network, they can protect themselves and their subscribers from this malicious messaging,” Fitzpatrick says.
A crucial way to communicate
During emergencies, SMS is an important method of communication due to its immediacy and reach. Most people in the world have a mobile device capable of receiving SMS, and 90% of the messages tend to be read within three minutes.
The success of the channel, unfortunately, means that some vulnerable groups are misled. They may be isolated and not aware of the fraud risk. They may not be tech-savvy, but they most likely know how to read an SMS. Fraudulent texts have the potential to reach everyone, even those without sufficient access to high-speed internet.
Fitzpatrick says that there has been an increase in fraudulent traffic. Although the process of detecting and blocking it is automated to a large extent using artificial intelligence and machine learning, there is still a manual element involved. The process itself benefits from the close partnership that now exists between Anam and international partners. “There are known addresses across international networks that can be identified and blocked once certain patterns of messaging are detected,” explains Fitzpatrick.
An industry evolution
Anam’s solution is a very clever evolution within the changing messaging landscape,” Fitzpatrick explains. And the fact that today Anam’s systems and services are being used in 85 countries to protect an estimated three-quarters of a billion subscribers is testament to this.
Speaking on the success of the solution and the importance of partnership during the Covid-19 crisis, Fitzpatrick notes that Anam is a preferred partner because they are independent.
“We work with the operator to secure the channel and make sure that all incoming and outgoing network traffic is clean,” she says. This makes them a trusted party, with no allegiances to middlemen.
After an initial €350,000 investment from Enterprise Ireland in 2018 to aid global expansion and R&D, Anam is currently in a growth phase, expanding its worldwide presence. In November last year, they opened an Africa headquarters in Kenya on the back of significant local contract wins. The new office builds out on the company’s other regional HQ office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and a presence in Egypt, Jamaica, Nigeria, Vietnam, Malta, United Kingdom, Czech Republic and Pakistan.