Alan Brown, business director, O2 Ireland

Cloud will open video conferencing to SMEs

Cloud or on-premise: how do I choose a video conferencing solution for my business? Deirdre Cashion finds out.

According to research conducted by O2, one third of Irish organisations are interested in or will adopt video conferencing in the near future.  This mirrors a growing trend in Europe where more organisations, public and private are subsuming video into their business operations.

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Leo McBride, AV business manager with Steljes_crop

To travel or not to travel.

The business case for video conferencing is often based on tangible reductions in travel costs.  But is that the full picture? Deirdre Cashion reports.

The most obvious and immediate benefit of video conferencing is the reduction in travel costs.  There’s little doubt that this tangible, measurable gain appeals to financial directors in particular, who can tick the box for high-yield cost/benefit analysis with a certain degree of confidence.

However, the video conferencing debate has moved beyond a simple question of cost reduction to encompass collaboration and teamwork and competitive differentiation.

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Niall Dunne - Polycom Territory Manager for Ireland

Video is the new voice.

From telepresence systems to smartphone apps, video communication has become as ubiquitous as the humble voice call, writes Deirdre Cashion.

The increased proliferation of mobile devices has caused a disruptive shift in how we consume technology.  And like most areas of business and life, the video conferencing landscape has not been left untouched by this unrelenting tidal wave of technological change.

With increasing interest in ‘Bring your own Device’ (BYOD) coupled with developments in smartphone apps, video communications now extends well beyond the boundaries of the stuffy boardroom, onto the desktop and right into our pockets.

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Web Summit 2013, Dublin

What’s in a number?

It was all about numbers at this year’s Web Summit; 10,000 visitors listened to 350 speakers across six stages while 950 start-up organisations hoped to prise open the fat wallets of angel investors and potential customers alike.

In fact, number crunching and data analytics (the next generation of customer research) were recurring themes at many presentations throughout the day.

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Is responsive design the solution for mobile woes?

Mobile app development isn’t the only way to provide mobile visitors with a quality browsing experience.  Responsive design could be the answer.

After almost 20 years, our love affair with the smart device is still going strong.  Over 1.6 million of us regularly use our smartphone to browse the internet, consume news, check our bank balance or chat to friends.

In the last six months alone, tablet ownership has doubled in Ireland and according to eircom’s most recent Household Sentiment Survey, 1.2 million people will have access to a tablet by the end of the year,

So what does this mean for the humble website? Read more

Information is power

In-depth analysis of your visitor traffic is the first step in improving your website performance.

The central tenet of any successful sales or marketing strategy is to understand your customer.  The same mantra applies to web strategy but this fundamental concept is very often neglected or overlooked entirely by organisations, large and small.

“It’s amazing how little time people spend analysing their website statistics and how many don’t have any stats at all,” according to Joe Conlon, sales and marketing director with Webtrade.

“Everything is measureable but having clear metrics on website performance is the first step in making improvements. We try to hammer home the necessity of metrics, regular performance reviews and getting the right blend of SEO, Adwords, social with targeted content,” he said. Read more

Substance or style

Despite the advent of new web technologies, effective web development is still about quality content.

Design fads come and go.  Technologies develop and evolve.  But in the world of the web, there’s always one constant: content is king.

Understanding the central motivation behind a customer’s visit to your website is the key to building an effective online presence, which will encourage interaction with your business and add to bottom line.

Website development tools are evolving at the speed of light.  And while most of us may only be vaguely familiar with new technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3, timely, accurate and engaging content is still central to turning your online presence from a cost centre to a valuable lead generation engine. Read more

“I’m a woman, a sister, a daughter, wife and mother. I have HIV.”

HIV is a manageable condition thanks to medical advancements.   But its psychological aspects can be far more destructive, writes Deirdre Cashion.

It would be easy to write about HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in the all-too-familiar context of social disadvantage, hard core drug use and promiscuous sexual behaviour.  But that would miss the point.

HIV is like many serious illnesses or diseases, its onset triggered by what is euphemistically referred to as ‘risky behaviour’.  Yet we all engage in ‘risky behaviour’ to a greater or lesser degree.

We smoke to excess; we drink to excess; we eat to excess and fail to exercise.  We engage in unprotected sex.  We often put our fragile lives in harm’s way with just a fleeting thought for our physical wellbeing and those dependent on us.

So why does a diagnosis of HIV still carry with it such deep-seated social stigma and severe psychological turmoil for those infected with the illness? Read more

Gone, but not forgotten

On March 26 1993, US citizen Annie McCarrick disappeared from her home in Sandymount.  Chief investigators tell Deirdre Cashion why this cold case still haunts them two decades on.

Easter Monday, April 12 1993.  Brian McCarthy pulls up a bar stool at the Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin’s Northside.  He’s just a stone’s throw from the seafront where the locals are enjoying a bright, clear, crisp day along the popular promenade.  But dark clouds far away on the horizon threaten the dazzling warmth of the early afternoon sun.

It’s been a busy week for the 35-year-old private investigator from Dublin but life is good.  The frothy pint, which sits tantalisingly close, is well deserved but as he settles down to take his first, gratifying sip, the phone rings.  It’s the US embassy, a client of his.

A cryptic voice at the other end of the line politely but firmly asks him to make his way to Ballsbridge immediately.  There is no explanation offered and none is given, even when prompted.

He reluctantly leaves his pint and quickly makes his way across the swelling Liffey, questions swirling through his head.  Little does he know that this decision will determine the course of his life for the next four years. Read more

Terror in the night

Research suggests that up to 20 per cent of adults experience some form of sleep disorder, including nightmares. Deirdre Cashion talks to sufferers and discovers how this condition can be managed.

It’s a familiar if not rare experience for many of us – waking with a sudden dart in the dead of night, heart pounding, pulse racing, brainwaves flooded with flashback images and an overwhelming sense of anxiety and confusion permeating our rousing consciousness.

While more common in children, adults can also suffer from persistent nightmares or night terrors from time to time. It’s a condition that can be very debilitating for those, whose sleep is regularly interrupted by spurious things that go bump in the night. Read more