Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

The future's bright, the future's green

Andrew Cuthbert from Omnisoft Services
Andrew Cuthbert from Omnisoft Services

It is a weird and wonderful world. Let me give you weird first. Apparently the technology ‘eco-system’ that surrounds us contains 170 quadrillion (a quadrillion is one thousand million million) chips.

The number of neurons in your brain is similar to the number of transistors in the global network. The number of file links is similar to the number of synapse links in your brain.

The planetary electronic membrane surrounding the world is comparable to the complexity of the human brain. With 3bn artificial eyes (webcams, phones, etc) plugged in. The system has started to whisper to itself.

Some suggest we are close to this big brain becoming aware (Skynet!).

Why did I include these pieces of useless information? People that read my columns regularly know that I constantly harp on about the changes that are coming.

I can’t find more compelling statistics on how technology is becoming all-persuasive. Companies should prepare. Now! Before it is too late. Let me ask you a question to consider: what would a Skynet do for/to your business? How is that for weird?

The world is wonderful because thankfully we are seeing more and more businesses adapting to the changes and the opportunities that the weird world is bringing. We see that in social media, in materials, in services, in business models, in logistics, in travel, marketing, in ICT, in export and I can go on.

Actually export is no longer seen as a choice, it is seen as a given.

For all the right reasons. We don’t realise it, but every company that has survived the last three years is, by definition, a good company and can win abroad. You should pat yourself on the back. You are a survivor and you deserve applause.

As a result, your product or service is now world class, your management team has learned some valuable lessons, your organisation is lean and mean and you now can compete on the world market. Why waste a good crisis?

Rather than me quoting yet another book on the future, why don’t I make a prediction? Over the next few years, Irish companies north and south, based on the lessons learned in the Irish recession (which we like to capture on www.smallbusinesscan.com), will start realising their true potential and pounce on developing markets.

Our unique mindset, our investment in research, our ability to tell stories, the Diaspora, our history, our entrepreneurs, our ability to connect will all come together and Skynet will be green.

Innovative web support firm weaves path to success

Ever had a great idea for a website or social media business, but need the expertise to put it into action? That is the dilemma that a growing number of people face — with the result that a Bangor company is expanding rapidly to meet the demand.

Omnisoft Services is rare in offering this type of support. Although it was only formed in January last year, it already directly employs 25 staff, as well as working with a number of other local businesses as outsource partners. The company is currently recruiting two more developers and is likely to need another six staff by the end of the month.

“Some of our clients are starting small, but are growing fast,” says Omnisoft managing director and founder Andrew Cuthbert. “Very few companies in the UK are entering our sector, so we have picked up some major international clients. We work in support of agencies and aim to expand pay per connection — PPCo — as a real alternative to traditional PPC — Pay Per Click, with Google.”

Mr Cuthbert explains how the business was inspired. “I used to focus on designing and developing websites and software. I began to get interested in social media probably in 2008.

“We were commissioned in 2009 to build a computer game by a young client. I took some involvement in the business planning, and now through that and other experiences I decided to take the business down the route of focusing on ‘return on investment’ for clients rather than purely building software.”

That same business model is used by Omnisoft much more widely. “We usually manage social media, in some cases though we manage the whole online aspect of a business and work together with our client to get the client a return on their investment,” says Mr Cuthbert. “Our biggest project is keystagetwo.com. This is a major schools project, through which children can do their homework online in the form of a computer game. Sixty Northern Ireland schools are using this and that number is expanding all the time.

“The system has recently been installed in the first of English primary schools and this will be the first of many.”

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