IDA, Internet of Things, IoT, Ireland, Ken Finnegan

Interview with Ken Finnegan, IDA Technologist, blogger, divemaster

By @SimonCocking

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What is your background?

Raised just outside Kells Co. Meath. Youngest of 8, many of whom are involved in the Technology Industry (electronic engineer/computer scientist).

Studied Information Technology and Telecommunications in University of Limerick. Graduated 2000 / / Masters in Strategic Management and Planning from UCD Smurfit 2014.

Moved to Holland on a graduate program with Logica as a software
engineering consultant. Lived in Amsterdam for about 5 years working in the Technology field there. Took a few years to travel / became a dive master in Koh Tao Thailand for a year 2005/06 then Australia. I worked as a diver in Sydney harbour when in Australia too. It was very nice!

Came back to Ireland just when the Celtic tiger was on its last breath 2007 and worked for Meteor as their Test and Development Lab Manager. (This role was the steepest learning curve – a startup environment, chaos, stress, very hands on but plenty of opportunity to learn, grow and understand enterprise mobile technology and the tech scene in Ireland).

In 2011 started working for Dunn and Bradstreet as the infrastructure manager for Dublin and ended up working as a technology project manager and strategic program manager (This role was excellent as I was studying a masters in Smurfit in Strategy at the time, so theory in class and practical experience in the office).

This summer I saw an opportunity to work for the IDA as their ICT
Technologist/Consultant, which has been a long time ambition applied and got the job

ida

What do you do now? (sounds like a fun role)

I work for the IDA as their Technologist /ICT Consultant – From a
‘Technology Ireland’ perspective this is a dream role and I feel very
privileged to have been chosen for it. The IDA is the foreign direct
investment organisation for Ireland and work to bring investment and jobs here.

As the ICT technologist my role is to support the IDA organisation in winning jobs and investment for Ireland by demonstrating our national resources and capabilities across the technology spectrum that Ireland has to offer and it only starts there. The scope of the role is at times intimidating, from identifying global technology trends that I believe the IDA should be involved in, to building a great relationship with the research centers across the nation. I am here to support the IDA from a technology perspective and if that means explaining to a CEO of a large multinational why Ireland is great for technology or driving an executive around the country for a day introducing her to specialists in specific areas then I’ll do that. The aim is to demonstrate why Ireland is the number 1 place to be for technology.

What made you interested in doing current role?

When I was studying, one of the lecturers in economics discussed the influence and power that Enterprise Ireland and the IDA had. I was intrigued. I logged onto the IDA site quite often and then one day last April the role was there.

To find the perfect job I have a simple framework. If a role can tick each box then I know it’s for me. The 3 P’s – People, Product and Purpose. I look for great people to work for. Most of us have been in jobs where there have been people that seem to feed off your energy and drain you.
This is unacceptable, I look for people that can inspire and build on the skills and talents of the team and individuals. When you work with great

people you are energised and motivated. In the IDA there is an abundance of great energy and people – this was my first box ticked.

Second is the product. In all jobs we are either selling, building,
managing or maintaining (or a combination of all) a product. If you don’t believe in that product then getting up in the morning is very difficult. The IDA’s product is Ireland. I get up in the morning so I can market Ireland’s talent and technology in order to create jobs. Despite not being a morning person, it’s a great reason to get up. Second box ticked.

Finally the last P – the purpose of a job. This is for me the most
important. We work at least 40 hours a week in our careers and having a solid purpose is what motivates you throughout life. I have had some really awful jobs in my life and some fantastic ones. When you take all the good and bad experiences from work you have done you can get a pretty clear picture of what motivates you and more importantly what doesn’t.

Ultimately the purpose of my job is to create jobs in Ireland and enhance our reputation as a technological power and influencer.

What role do you play within the Irish scene?
My role is to present Ireland as a location where companies will flourish specifically in and around technology. Whether that’s from the perspective

of the talent that we have here, the unmatched collaborative research eco-system, the grants and tax breaks for research, development and innovation or the innovative and brilliant startup scene, they all add to the technology eco-system in Ireland and enable the IDA to paint a picture that few other countries in the world can imitate.

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How can people take advantage of what you offer?

Simple – get in touch.

Emil me: Ken.finnegan@ida.ie <mailto:Ken.finnegan@ida.ie>

Telephone – +353872403732

LinedIn: ie.linkedin.com/in/kenfin/ <http://ie.linkedin.com/in/kenfin/>

Twitter: IDAKen

Whether your company needs some information about technology in Ireland or information about grants available we are here to support. In my 3 months here I have learned that the IDA employees are the most approachable and helpful people. There is no query too small.

We can provide support for any type of multinational that wants to find how to locate in Ireland or expand their operation here and I will support the process with regards to technology insights.

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What trends are you seeing emerge?

There are a lot of things happening right now and I believe that the world is at the start of a technology renaissance. This is great because over the past few decades Ireland has gained a justly respected reputation in the technology arena. There are many facts and successes that Ireland use to demonstrate its capability in the technology world. For example according to the Irish export association ‘Ireland is maintaining its position as the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world’ and in
materials research ‘has scored a world ranking of 6th in materials science, which is important to the semiconductor industry’). With the combination of capabilities in technology, government support and a very strong and industry led research scene Ireland is in a great position to lead in some of the emerging trends.

My top 3 are:

No 1 is the Internet of Things:

With current fervour and media attention in and around the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), there is sentiment in industry, government and academia that if you are not in you will have no chance to win in the next technological revolution.

The Internet of Things is promising to be a paradigm shift in connected technology and the digital world. Promising to digitise the analogue world we live in, the Internet of Things is already beginning to deliver sophistication, flexibility and value into industry, society and the individual. With the mix of a highly
educated young work force, a track record in delivering innovation such as S3’s smallest analogue-to-digital converter chip and a vibrant Technology sector, boasting 9 out of the top 10 global software and technology companies and 10 out of 10 born on the internet companies. I believe Ireland is poised and ready to lead the Internet of Things.

The mix of home grown talent and multinationals here present an amazing and complete value chain for IoT.

2. Big Data and Edge Analytics:

Data traffic is growing by 40% per annum and a massive 90% of the data in the world has been created in the last two years alone. Big Data is hard to move around (data gravity), cannot move data fast enough to the analytics, and therefore we need to move the analytics to the data. This will cause a dramatic growth in applications, specialised and optimised for analytics at the edge and we have a really strong semiconductor / microelectronic industry in Ireland for edge analysis as well as very strong data analytics capabilities e.g. The Insight research centre is the largest publically and industry funded data analytics centre in Europe.

3. Convergence.

The interlinking of computing and information technologies, media content and communication networks with various activities, products and services that have emerged in a digital media space. This is evolutionary in industries however with the emerging trends mentioned above (IOT, Cloud, and Analytics etc.) there will be opportunities in every industry to create value using technology.

I could continue writing but I’ll restrain myself!

Are Irish companies more or less interested in certain sectors?

There are areas in which our talents are stronger – Pharma, agriculture, medtech, and ICT.

The ICT industry is big in Ireland and looking at the sub sectors from the semiconductors and microelectronics all the way up to data hosting, analytics and the presentation layer we have outstanding companies bringing products and services to the global market.

We have a lot to be very proud of in Ireland, we play on a global playing field and from where I sit we definitely punch above our weight in technology areas.

We’re starting to see some interesting tech businesses grow out of Ireland. Do they need to move to California, or can they continue to grow from Ireland?

Good question. Ireland is a very entrepreneurial and innovative country.
It’s in our blood. Up until recently I believe it was very difficult for
indigenous companies to grow here due to the lack of financial support and adequate systems. However you can see that the support infrastructure is beginning to mature, talented people are moving home from California and beyond, multinational companies are investing more than ever here and we see some great success stories.

In the past few years there has been a lot of activity and support for startups. With funding from Enterprise Ireland and also Venture Capitalists setting up offices here the technology global community can see that there is a lot of potential, hopefully enough that will allow companies to scale up in Ireland, however if companies need to expand to other countries then why not, it’s great to see this too.

Also there is a lot of validation in our credentials as innovative and
entrepreneurial due to the fact that the likes of Dogpatch Labs, NOVA UCD, Wayra, NDRC, SVG Partners and Eirom, DCU Ryan Academy etc. are investing and supporting Irish talent and innovation.

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Your blog is great, interesting, informative – hard to find the time for it now? Do you create similar posts for the IDA now?

Honestly my personal blog http://www.kenfinnegan.com/blog has had to take a back seat since starting with the IDA. I have a passion for the collaborative economy and will follow it very closely but right now having only being employed with the IDA for just over 3 months I have to look at technology in Ireland from a holistic perspective. Once I have settled in the job I’ll get back to blogging,possibly expanding my focus not just on the collaborative economy but including the research and development scene here.

My biggest surprise when joining the IDA was the access I got to all the research centers in Ireland. One of my first jobs was to visit many of them and to be honest I was so impressed. We hit well above our weight for our size and the passion and commitment by the research community is infectious.

Your twitter feed has some great links, what’s your strategy for using social media to promote and engage with people within your work role?

Twitter is a very powerful tool both for informing and to learn from. I follow a lot of technology tweeters to stay informed and know what is happening around the world and here in Ireland. It’s a really great source for information especially to keep up to date on areas that you have a special interest in – for example I follow thought leaders in specific areas like: Jeremiah Owyang <https://twitter.com/jowyang> with regards to the collaborative economy or the twitter accounts for news sites like Irish Tech News and (ahem, that other crowd!) S*l*c*n R*p*bl*c.

For IDA information:

#whyIreland

#IDATechnology

When I tweet from my @IDAKen account I try to keep a consistent voice. I try to ensure that all my tweets are informative or fun or congratulatory, etc around anything technology. Not necessarily all about Ireland but global trends, interesting facts, quirky site, helpful information etc.

kf

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