Tag Archives: United States

Irish government to appoint a CTO?

So the government published its paper: Knowledge Society Strategy: Technology Actions to Support the Smart Economy.

There is already plenty of comment – on twitter, in the blogs, on the news and there will be more over the next few days.  Comments ranging from ‘a lot of waffle’, ‘telling us what we already know’, ‘where’s the meat?’, etc.  But buried in the report are enough reference points to show where we’ve been making progress and where we’ve been falling behind.

When I read Friedman’s ‘The world is flat’, listing his concerns about the state of education, engineering in the US, I felt he could have been writing about Ireland.  Ironically he references Ireland as a country pulling itself up and leveraging the flatness of the world.  However the shortage of maths proficient secondary school leavers is a major concern and cannot be fixed over night.

The topics discussed in the paper are very worthy of attention – and do represent opportunities for Ireland Inc e.g. cloud, green data centres, networking.  Delighted to see reference to semantic web – not really that surprising after €25m of government investment.

I just picked out one small detail from the report (p45):

The Government should appoint a high level CTO with the authority to drive cultural change across the many departments and agencies.

I have commented previously on such appointments in the US – within the Obama administration.  I would strongly support such an initiative – though she/he will need plenty of support from Mssrs. Ryan and Lenihan.

Golf making most of web and social networking

I thought 3 made a brilliant job of promoting the Irish Open – using networks including facebook.  However I think the opportunity to play a virtual round at Bethpage for the US open beats this.

This is an example of the web adding significantly to the the user experience ie to the TV golf spectator or the golf newspaper article reader.  Anyone who takes the time to play 18 virtual holes at Bethpage (not having playing the real course) will have a greater understanding of the challenge to be faced by Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, etc.

And then there’s the traffic, the advertising potential, etc.

Good luck to all of you who try.  I hope you have more skill at virtual golf than this blogger.

Comparing Ireland and UK in these dark days

Interesting piece by Emmet Oliver in today’s Sunday Tribune – comparing the situation faced by Ireland and the UK.  Times are tough (grim) on both sides of the Irish Sea.  For us the massive devaluation of Sterling has been a killer – hitting our exports and producing this cross border shopping frenzy (further exacerbated by the VAT situation).

The UK has the 60m population to work with – and a currency of which it has control.  We have the young population, the low CT rate, the Irish diaspora, a small population and no control of the Euro currency.

Our very real crisis has forced the government to confront the population with a nasty budget.  The UK approach for now seems to include putting off the evil day.  This would also appear to be the case in the US – although Bernanke is beginning to remind people that having put all this extra money into the economy he will have to take it out again when growth appears again.

Learning from ‘the coach’

Short talk by famous US coach, John Wooden. 

Wooden outlines his own philosophy around teaching and coaching.  Makes it all seem simple and straightforward – and tells it as a good storyteller.  In these days of personal coaches, goal setting, emotional intelligence, Seven Habits…this guy makes a lot of sense.

Brought to my attention by www.twitter.com/missmcj

Is your Doctor (GP) using information technology?

Is your doctor still writing up manual cards to track your checkup visits?  Is your doctor writing out prescriptions for you to take to the local pharmacy?  When you attend a clinic for XRays, MRIs etc how are the records forwarded to you/ your GP?

Huge investments being approved in the US to drive ePateint records/ ePrescribing – with targets for cost saving, improved patient care, etc.

Interesting discussion in recent BusinessWeek article re adoption of these solutions – and major costs involved for individual doctors or small clinics (e.g. 3 doctors).   Also covered in a Reuters story re ePrescribing  last month.

Given all of the challenges facing us in the Irish economy will be interesting to see how we can implement these types of solutions in the Irish market place – to drive quality of service and greater efficiency (and cost savings).

Semantic web in Ireland

On a day of doom and gloom – the emergency budget in Ireland – was lucky enough to spend a couple of uplifting hours in the Institute of European Affairs, Ireland (www.iiea.com).

I was listening to and interacting with Liam Moran, business development manager, Digitial Enterprise Reseach Institute (Galway, Ireland).  DERI (www.deri.com) is the type of thing this country needs (‘The vision of the Digital Enterprise Research Institute is to be recognised as the leading international web science research institute interlinking technologies, information and people to advance business and benefit society’).  Set up with some real foresight, backed by the Irish government and Europe, real leadership (including Tim Berners Lee) and lots of brilliant minds.

Very exciting applications emerging from the research – the latest being SIOC to be adotped by the US government.  Visit the site (www.deri.com) for a better insight.

Liam gave a comprehensive review of Web o, 1, 2 & 3 and painted some great images of what could happen.

One particular observation caught my attention – how do we avoid getting bogged down in simply copying (even plagiarising) others to the exclusion of original, creative, thought?  Not being a music composer I often wonder where song writers continue to come up with new ideas?  Reminds me in some wasy of being back in school – when you were studying Shakepeare did you try to understand Hamlet for yourself and provide your own analysis/ commentary or did you simply buy ‘Coles Notes’ and regurgitate the standard bumph?

Does anyone have the stomach for the required changes?

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The Quiet Coup – by MIT’s Professor Simon Johnson (Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund during 2007 and 2008) – does not make for comfortable reading.  Johnson looks back to the last 18 months and questions the motivation for much of the bailout activity re banking/financial services in the US.  His theme is that Wall Street is in charge – through the ‘quiet coup’.

All of this has many echoes in Ireland – too big to fail, too close to government, etc.  And all of it leads to the uncertainty being experienced.  Johnson’s comments in light of his IMF experience also ring a few bells.

Interesting view from Johnson that the way forward is via nationalisation, selling off of toxic assets and breakup of any/all institutions which are ‘too big to fail’.

Damning assessment of Irish Economy

Dan O’Brien (senior Editor & Economist, the Economist Intelligence unit) did not hold back in his call to action in his article in the Irish Times yesterday.  O’Brien is a well known face to the Irish public – through his regular appearances on Prime Time.  Clearly he is very fearful for the outlook for the Irish economy.

O’Brien is critical of our political system – whereby he believes we do not get the most competent people in key positions at a time of crisis.  I would agree with this.  My previous urging for a National Government is just another example of this.  Interesting to see Buffett reminding Democrats and Republicans to work together to address this ‘Pear Harbour’ economic situation – in his recent CNN interviews.  At best Fianna Fail’s invitations to the opposition to put forward their ideas can be described as half hearted.  The Fine Gael response was less than half hearted – they are more like a ‘dog in heat’ – believing they have the opportunity to grab power in the near future.  Heaven help us.

Returning to Dan O’Brien – he obviously believes the government is avoiding the issues re management at the main banks.  I had presumed, that given that the government is represented on both boards, they were 100% satisifed with the recent appointment of a new CEO at Bank of Ireland.  I think O’Brien is very clear – they should all go.

Interesting to listen to Michael Soden (former CEO Bank of Ireland) on this morning’s Eamonn Dunphy radio show.  Soden suggested complete replacement of both main bank boards (on basis of being in place while 99% of the value disappeared) – rotating off 4 at a time – getting to a new Board within 12 months.  Seems like a reasonable approach – and perhaps a way to implement what O’Brien is suggesting.  Soden excludes from necessary removal those with less than 2 years on the Board.

Things are moving on.  Obviously Messrs Cowen and Lenihan have been engaged in a serious roadshow for the last week.  There have been distractions – including unhelpful – and supposedly unfounded – comments from a German politician – subsequently countered by the German Minister for Finance.  The move towards a ‘toxic bank’ seems to be gathering speed in the US.  But clearly the US is taking the view that is can continue to write money to kick start things.  Only David McWilliams seems to think Ireland can do something similar (listening to him on Prime Time during the week).

Here in Ireland the press continues to be highly sceptical/ critical.  I continue to believe that a right of centre govenment (combining FG and FF – and anyone else who wants to be part of it) – would provide a national response and have the capability to win over far greater support – both in the street and the press.  Within such a government there should be room for non elected experts in key cabinet positions – is that’s what it takes.  Dan O’Brien is just another well informed commentator putting up his hand (again) and warning us that we are not doing enough.