- Financial Broker
Dublin businessman Pat Walsh has launched a new smartphone app that he hopes will replace SMS messaging and printed notes as the go-to method of communication between teachers and parents in Irish schools.
Walsh has invested €120,000 in Komeer, a mobile two-way messaging service parents can download and use for free on iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows mobiles, using their email address to sign up via Facebook or Google.
Schools can also use the Komeer app for free to announce upcoming events and meetings, discuss security issues, or announce cases of head lice or chicken pox. Unlike SMS texting, Komeer alerts are not limited to 160 characters.
“They can create an unlimited number of groups – one for sports, one for each year, or class, and so on,” said Walsh, who has spent two-and- a-half years developing the app and testing the Beta version with 30 schools before its official release last week.
Users reading messages sent from schools via the Komeer app are required to tap their device to confirm receipt. Komeer automatically adds events to parents’ smartphone calendars.
Map and location information is another key feature.
Responses are summarised for the school on a dashboard, so the principal or administrator can see how many parents have received and responded to their message.
“SMS messaging is used by 4,000 schools but its cost is increasing, so currently most schools are paying 5.5 cent per text message or up to €5,000 a year,” said Walsh.
“The app is free for parents and schools and we will introduce some premium services later in the year – for example, Komeer Payments, which will allow schools to collect payments using our app.
“We are also looking at some specific location-based child alert services and we’re developing a parent-teacher meeting organiser.”
Walsh is also chief executive of Sky Business Centres, a lead mentor in Clontarf GAA Club, chairman of an Irish NGO, and chairman of Dublin City Enterprise Board Schools Enterprise Awards.
“I’m acutely aware of the pain points in organising events and group communications – getting the message out to large groups of people and getting responses back,” he said.
“Komeer came about as a better way for communicating rapidly and also encouraging participation and engagement or, in simple terms, getting people turning up at activities, getting more children attending speech and drama and sports activities like football or camogie.
“If an event or activity is cancelled or the school has to close unexpectedly, it’s about getting the message out and getting a response back so you know the parents have got the message.”
Komeer was one of 500 global start-ups accepted on the Facebook FbStart Programme in 2016 and was, last month, announced as one of two winners of the Dublin city Innovation Investment Fund programme.
“We want Komeer in every school in Ireland and we also want schools abroad,” said Walsh. “We’ve met with more than 200 principals in Ireland and we have exhibited at IPPN conferences here and conferences in Oxford in the UK, where we now have eight schools signed up, and Atlanta in the US.”
The arrival of the smart home in Ireland just took another big step. Amazon has launched its smart voice system, Alexa, in Ireland. The company is now selling its Amazon Echo and Amazon Dot smart speakers directly into the country. Alexa, the voice-controlled artificial intelligence system that powers the smart speakers, will now work for local Irish services such as Ryanair, RTE and local radio stations. The system allows you to ask it questions, phone calls, send messages, play music or get news or weather. It also allows you to set alarms. It works with smart home gadgets such as lighting and heating systems, allowing users to speak commands to control household functions.
Amazon has also announced that its rival to Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, is now available in Ireland for €3.99 per month per Amazon Echo device. Amazon Music Unlimited normally costs €9.99 per month for an individual plan that’s accessed from smartphones or other devices. The Echo smart speaker system uses “far-field voice recognition” with an array of seven microphones to hear users from across the room, while “beam-forming” technology combines the signals from the individual microphones to suppress noise, reverberation and competing speech. Amazon is bundling a Philips Hue smart lightbulb with the purchase of its Echo Plus smart speaker to encourage smart home adoption. The Alexa system ‘learns’ from users’ behaviour and habits. The company said that its ‘Alexa Skills Kit’ and ‘Alexa Voice Service’ is now available for local Irish developers to build compatible systems for locally.
Millennials have been stereotyped as the most demanding and ambitious generation to have entered the Irish workforce. This is the generation that will be leading organisations by 2025. Individuals aged between 18 and 36, millennials, have become the most influential segment of today’s workforce and population.
Experts recommend that instead of stereotyping them, we should, rather, transform workplaces in order to reflect their attitudes, needs and values. According to a new report titled The Workplace in 2025, millennials value flexible workplaces, salaries and career progression as key factors that influence job satisfaction. The online survey was compiled using the input of well over 3,400 Irish professionals.
Being raised in a world where social media and technology is ubiquitous, these individuals have a unique set of career and job expectations. They are therefore no longer motivated by the same factors that inspired older generations. A few years ago, we were motivated by the prospect of a life-long job. However, millennials in today’s workplace value a good work-life balance, flexibility and opportunity.
Millennials are fast starting to dominate the workforce, and they bring with them new perceptions of office life. Long- held management practices within the workplace are being transformed, and research shows that by 2025, the workplace will be much different to what we are seeing today.
Millennials don’t place stock in the practices and values that mattered in previous generations. Instead, they value collaboration, flexibility, mobility, equality and transparency.
A company’s future recruiting and talent retention will depend on its ability to embrace the shifts that are taking place at the hands of a millennial workforce. Companies who wish to stay current and remain competitive must adapt to the changes.
Seventy-five percent of millennials surveyed experienced high levels of job satisfaction. In contrast, a third were unhappy, which is significantly more than in previous generations.
Some of the reasons cited for job satisfaction among millennials include work/life balance, flexible working options, opportunities for development and progression, recognition and support from managers, relationships with colleagues, transparency and company culture. However, millennials don’t always leave their jobs because they are unhappy. Instead, they make a move in order to gain new experiences that may not be offered by their current employers. These are some of the reasons why they leave:
The survey suggests that 25% of millennials would gladly return to their previous employer after some time away, especially those who left for personal reasons, to travel, or to further their careers. These workers don’t leave because of negative reasons, but are known as boomerang employees. They are familiar with a company’s values and culture and typically have established employee-employer relationships. They love to gain new connections and experience, which will benefit the organisations to which they return.
Due to their propensity to return to former employers, it is important to negotiate the exit process carefully. Boomerang employees tend to achieve high levels of productivity quicker than first-time employees, which makes them the ideal workers. As such, some organisations have come to expect this as the norm. Provided the exit process is handled correctly, it creates the perfect foundation for easily re-hiring the boomerang employee in the future. Some organisations have started creating alumni networks, which enable them to actively design hiring strategies that target former employees.
The Irish economy has moved past its recovery phase and has enough strength and momentum to shrug off the impact of Brexit in 2018, according to an upbeat forecast from employers representative group IBEC
In its latest economic outlook, IBEC said the current phase of growth is more sustainable than the Celtic Tiger era as it is based on business investment rather than being fuelled by excessive borrowing.
IBEC’s latest outlook forecasts growth of 4.2% for this year following expected growth of almost 6% in 2017.
‘‘All indicators are now pointing to strong and sustainable growth in Ireland’s economy in 2017 and 2018 underpinned by business investment and strong consumer spending,’’ the employer’s body stated.
It said that Irish households are clearly benefiting with real disposable incomes growing at over four times the Eurozone average and per-capita income in working households now likely to have passed out its pre-crisis peak.
IBEC’s Head of Tax and Fiscal Policy Gerard Brady said this current phase of the Irish economy is more sustainable than the ‘‘boom’’ period as it is underpinned by business investment in plant, machinery, and equipment (excluding IP and aircraft leasing activities) of almost €1 billion per month.
‘‘In addition, figures show that Irish households are now in a positive net financial position (deposits outweigh loans outstanding) for the first time since the late 1990s. As a result, the net wealth position of Irish households in nominal terms has never been better whilst high Government debt is falling rapidly toward European norms,’’ Mr. Brady said.
But he said the major question facing the economy over the coming years will continue to be the ability of the economy to meet the needs of a growing population in a sustainable manner.
He said that major challenges are already clear in the housing sector.
‘‘Our estimates today show that to meet Rebuilding Ireland’s target of 26,000 house completions along with other construction needs by 2020 there will need to be in the region of 50,000 additional construction workers,’’ he stated.
Meeting 40,000 housing units a year would increase this to almost 80,000 workers, he added.
‘‘Delivering on the promise of growth with stretched capacity and a tight labour market, whilst also maintaining competitiveness, will be a key challenge ahead for both business and the Government,’’ Mr. Brady stated.
Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) has warned Irish companies to implement the changes to comply with a new data regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force May 28th of this year, replacing the existing protection frameworks under the EU data protection directive.
A new General Data Protection Regulations survey by ISME gives a breakdown of GDPR compliance among SMEs and the actions taken to date on GDPR compliance.
It found that:
ISME CEO Neil McDonnell said: ‘‘Today’s results paint an interesting picture of GDPR compliance.’’
‘‘We received a very healthy response to this survey, which tells us businesses are curious about it. One of the main findings is that businesses are aware of GDPR, but know very little about the intricacies of compliance.’’
‘‘The impact of non-compliance of GDPR on a business could be serious, as there is a serious fines regime in place to discourage it.’’
‘‘Businesses must take these new measures seriously’’.
Almost two-thirds of Irish companies use social media to promote their businesses and communicate with customers, the second highest number in Europe, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In 2017, 69 percent of Irish enterprises employing 10 or more people were using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, compared with an EU average of 47 percent.
The figures also reveals that the use of social media by Irish businesses rose from 64 percent in 2015 and 67 percent a year later. Facebook was by far the most popular social media platform used by Irish businesses to connect with customers, with 67 percent of companies saying they used it, up from 65 percent in 2016 and from 62 percent in 2015. In addition, 32 per cent of Irish firms said they used Twitter, with 23 per cent using YouTube. This compares with usage rates of 30 per cent and 21 per cent respectively in 2015.
Irish businesses are also ahead of the curve in using customer relationship management (CRM) software, with 34 per cent of companies saying they availed of it to capture, store and make information available for other functions. This compares to an EU average of 33 per cent. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) was used by 29 per cent of businesses, the figures show. Over 12 per cent of Irish enterprises reported that they shared information electronically using Supply Chain Management (SCM) in 2017. The most popular method was via websites or web portals. Unsurprisingly, large enterprises led the way in terms of conducting sales electronically. However, almost all businesses said they made more online purchases than sales online.
More than 19,000 jobs were created in Enterprise Ireland- backed companies last year. The agency said 209,338 people are now employed in companies it supports – a record high. There was a net jobs increase of 10,309, taking account of job losses. Job creation figures are up on 2016. Two thirds of the 19,332 new jobs were outside of Dublin. The agency also announced a Market Discovery Fund to support firms to diversify into new markets in the context of Brexit. There are three levels of funding available: up to €35,000, up to €75,000 and up to €150,000.
Irish professionals working overseas are opting to return home in greater numbers, with 56 per cent of the companies surveyed in a new report having hired returning Irish nationals in 2017, up from 47 per cent the previous year.
The trend was strongest in the finance and banking sector at 71 per cent, according to the 2018 Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey compiled by Abrivia Recruitment in partnership with Trinity Business School.
Some 7,400 companies and 45,000 employees were questioned for the report, which found that the shortage of rental accommodation continues to bite. Forty-seven per cent of employers surveyed in the report said it was impacting on their ability to hire staff, up from 40 per cent in the previous year. Thirty-seven per cent of the companies surveyed cited the cost of buying residential property as a major issue in recruiting staff in 2017, up from 27 per cent in 2016.
Seventy per cent of employers increased headcount in 2017, the majority by between 10 and 20 per cent. Thirty- one per cent of employers surveyed said ICT roles were the most difficult to fill. For a growing proportion of ICT firms, the report found that more than a quarter of their staff were coming from outside the EU.
“Eighty-five per cent of employers surveyed plan to take on new staff in 2018 with salaries in IT and finance pulling far ahead of other sectors,” said Donal O’Brien, managing director, Abrivia Recruitment. “In line with the general trend of staff shortages in key areas, 64 per cent of employers have employed a non-Irish applicant based outside Ireland in the past 12 months, up from 58 per cent in the previous survey.”
Do you wish to enjoy a peak summer trip with the family in 2018? Looking to save some money? Then now is the time to book your getaway!
According to Sarah Slattery, founder of thetravelexpert.ie, most of the popular holidays are already booked up. However, you can still snag some early booking discounts of up to 25% if you hurry, as some might run out in days or weeks. Read more
Written by Martin Duffy, Chartered Insurer, Head of Underwriting and Protection Claims, Irish Life
When you advice customers about protection, it is all about confidence. Confidence is the cornerstone of protection advice. Do customers have confidence in your advice, are they comfortable that the insurer may pay a claim, does the insurer have an efficient claims process when they or their family need money the most? Talking about the basics, i.e. actual claims paid by Irish Life is one way of directly seeking to increase a customer’s confidence by showing that claims experience matters. Read more
This economic outlook is provided by Dr Constantin Gurdgiev who is the Adjunct Assistant Professor of Finance with Trinity College, Dublin and serves as a co-founder and a Director of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation Ltd and the Chairman of Ireland Russia Business Association.
For many, the first few months of a New Year is a time of inflated waistlines and shrunken wallets – not to mention the bills piling up until they can no longer be ignored. If this describes your position right now, keep on reading…
A large percentage of people head straight to a bank instead of a financial broker when they want advice on financial products.
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