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InBUSINESS provides up-to-date information on current business issues, giving the inside track for Ireland’s business community. Catch up on features that have been published in our magazine and hear opinions from industry leaders on how Ireland competes globally.

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Kinzen Co-Founder Talks Real News

Áine Kerr started her a career as a political correspondent writing for national papers before becoming head of content and then managing editor at Storyful. Up until 2017 she led global journalism partnerships at Facebook in New York.

Kerr’s dedication to improving how we consume news led her organically to her next venture as co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Kinzen, a start-up developing solutions to control your news experience. Along with her co-founders Paul Watson and Storyful founder and former Twitter Ireland boss Mark Little, Kerr sought to create a news experience that the user can control and tailor to suit their needs and tastes – a personalised, authentic experience amid an era of misinformation, mistrust and fake news.

The trio have been in research and development mode since October 2017 and the first version of the
Kinzen ios app was released in early February. In building the app, Kerr and her two co-founders looked long and hard at the trends in the market and research surrounding news consumption, recognising that “a correction was coming”.

“The future is personal. There is this move away from social and people want to take back that sense of control. That is why we built the ios app experience,” she explains.

Personalisation with a purpose

Kinzen’s community editor, along with a huge group of curators, built a source directory of trustworthy, authentic sources on the internet. The app pulls content based on your interests, your location and your profession, all chosen and specified by you the user. You can set up channels that are personalised to you, with the power to exclude or promote particular sources and topics.

You are also able to tailor your experience based on the time of the day you open the app, because
as Kerr so accurately puts it, “what you’re interested in in the morning is very different to what you’re interested in in the evening.”

“In the morning I can say, I’ve got a 20 minute walk to work, just give me enough content for that
20 minute window,” Kerr explains. This function provides users with a daily routine that is “personalised, meaningful and localised.”

The Kinzen app is available on a free basic membership or on a premium membership, costing
€4.99 a month.

“An important principle for us from the get-go, at a time when so much content is disappearing behind pay walls, was to make sure that there was a free experience at Kinzen,” Kerr explains.

That said, according to Kerr, there is a Netflix generation who have become sensitised to paying for news and are willing to pay for a service that will stop “the endless scroll” and provide some routine.

“Some will make comparisons to other news apps but we very much consider ourselves, first and foremost, a technology company that’s helping citizens engage with publishers who produce quality content,” says Kerr. “We absolutely believe that our differentiator is personalisation with a purpose.”

Community spirit

To keep things interesting and allow users to feel they are “being challenged, being empowered to
see other content, and becoming more informed about the world around them”, Kinzen has created a community, with dozens of channels ready for users to explore – the idea being that you can subscribe to other users’ channels.

“On the one hand you are personalising according to you, but on the other hand you’re going to broaden your mind, you’re going to be challenged and you’re going to see new sources,” she says.

Kerr believes this function sets Kinzen apart from others in the market.

Plug and play

While the ios app will continue to evolve every month, Kinzen’s second product, a personalised newsletter for publishers, is due to launch at the end of April. Reluctant to give too much away, Kerr says: “We are talking to a lot of international, national and local players in the market and this is definitely something that is resonating with publishers at the moment.”

The newsletter will offer a “plug and play” service to publishers. “We build them a beautiful personalised
newsletter according to their particular needs, and their logos and how they want it to look and feel, then they plug it in and off they go,” Kerr explains.

“Publishers gave up a lot of control to other platforms and distributors over the years. I see this as a way for them to build a personalised experience – one-to-one with their users – and hopefully build deeper engagement and loyalty. And, if the publisher wants to convert them to a member or a subscriber, this will be a good gateway to do it,” Kerr highlights.

Coming from journalism backgrounds, this is an exciting service for both Kerr and her co-founder Little.

“We want to do something that is going to help the industry at a time of massive losses in revenue. We hope in the months to come as people check back on our website, you will start to see some big name partners that we’re working with,” she teases.

Going the distance

Kerr is proud of having “built a community from the ground up”. She describes the Kinzen community as “incentivised”.

“There’s a recognition with the people who have come to us so far of, ‘this is broken’, and they want to play a part in fixing it. There’s this mantra in platforms of ‘move fast and break things’ and we very much have taken the opposite which is ‘let’s move slow and build things’,” she adds. “We’re in this for the long run. We’ve a global ambition to really help people take back control.”

Gillian Horan: The Inside Story

by Gillian Horan, The Pudding Brand

The availability of talent is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses in Ireland and internationally. To attract the best, you need a strong employer brand. If they don’t know what it’s like to work for your company, you risk losing valuable candidates to other employers.

Companies such as Workday know this. It has featured on the Great Place to Work list for the past five years and this year was the second time it achieved the top spot. Last year’s winner, AbbVie, was ranked second, followed by Salesforce, Version 1 and HubSpot.

All of these organisations have strong employer brands. It is vital for businesses to invest in employer branding, particularly if they are growing globally or hiring from a younger demographic.

Professionals under the age of 40 are 61% more likely to consider employer brand when it comes to job opportunities. Research shows that half of candidates won’t consider working for a company with a bad employer brand, regardless of salary. With millennials due to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, investment in employer branding is now more important than ever before.

So, what do brands need to do to attract the right talent? You must be relevant to your candidates before they even consider working for you. To do this, you will need an employer brand strategy and an employer value proposition (EVP) to take top talent off the market.

Simply put, your EVP should address the following:

• Why should someone come and work for your company?
• Why should they choose your company over any other?
• Apart from financial benefits, what can you offer?

Look at ways to differentiate the employee experience you offer and get your current employees on board to establish if and why your business is such a great place to work. They can also validate your EVP to ensure it’s realistic. Your employer brand strategy must be implemented internally by:

• introducing career development initiatives;
• creating a training and coaching culture;
• communicating your employer brand internally and externally;
• introducing a careers website to tell everyone about why your company is the place to work.

The mistake companies sometimes make with regard to their employer brand is failing to define a clear value proposition that is genuinely attractive for talent. It needs to be authentic. You need to be able to live and breathe it, so it is not just about values written on a wall. And it needs to be on the agenda at board level. Attracting, recruiting and retaining talent is costly and if it is not centred around the EVP, the process can become even more costly.

If you have a strong, clear message, you will be more likely to attract the right audience quickly. Your recruitment costs will drop, because you are not sifting through hundreds of CVs or interviewing the wrong type of candidate. Best of all, your new hires will already have started to onboard long before they accept a new position.

It is critical to involve your executive team in defining your EVP and don’t be afraid to go companywide. Profile your team on the online career page; video them. Give potential candidates an insight into your employer brand, before they ever set foot in your office.

 

Transformation in Action

Chamber Partner profile

by Karen Ferris, Ervia

Ireland’s second largest semi-State body, Ervia is focussed on safeguarding and upgrading key national infrastructure to meet the challenges of a growing population and support Ireland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

Responsible for operating the nation’s vital water and gas networks through its regulated businesses Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland, it also provides dark fibre broadband infrastructure through Aurora Telecom.

Ervia is overseeing one of the most significant programmes of capital delivery in the State as it continues to invest significantly in a number of large-scale infrastructure projects across the country.

By 2021, Ervia is predicted to represent about 20% of all construction activity in the State. Based on a recent report compiled by EY-DKM, the company spent €1.45bn in the Irish economy, supported 26,000 jobs and added €2bn to Ireland’s GDP in 2017 alone.

The scale of Ervia is clear when you consider that Irish Water provides water and wastewater treatment to over 1.5 million households and 200,000 businesses daily, with demand expected
to increase to a further 555,000 households between now and 2040. Gas Networks Ireland equally supplies around 700,000 customers with natural gas and is also an important component of our electricity system.

Gas-fired power stations provide a secure and flexible low-carbon back-up to the high levels of renewable energy integrated on the National Grid. This has included keeping the system going during a 10-day period in June 2018 when wind produced less than 5% of electricity demand.

The gas network also has tremendous potential to play a pivotal and game-changing role in transforming Ireland to a low-carbon economy by 2050. Ervia is investing in a series of grid injection points to increase the level of renewable gas in the network with a target of 20% by 2030.

Momentum in delivery

The positive impact of Irish Water’s investment in water and wastewater systems is already being felt by communities right across the country. Over €800m was spent in 2018 on new and upgraded water infrastructure to support economic growth and development through a number of critical projects to protect health and quality of life and directly improve the environment.

This was highlighted by the completion of a new link pipeline in Co Wicklow earlier this year, on time and on budget, which was part of a €200m investment in the Vartry Water Supply Scheme Project. The supply area stretches through North Wicklow to Dublin, and serves more than 200,000 people. The tunnel was at critical risk of collapse since the mid- 1990s. The investment removes this risk and provides a safer, more secure water supply to the people of Wicklow and Dublin.

Other key projects included the commencement of works on an €80m upgrade to the Ringsend plant and the rehabilitation of 135km of water pipes and the repair of over 5,700 leaks as part of a €500m spend on Irish Water’s ‘Leakage Reduction Programme’.

While there are significant challenges ahead, it’s important to reflect on the progress achieved and the momentum in delivery, particularly with critical projects ahead including the Greater Dublin Drainage scheme and the Water Supply Project.

Transforming our energy landscape

Looking ahead, Ervia is actively progressing a number of ambitious, innovative solutions to facilitate the significant transformation required to our energy network. Ervia has a key role to play in decarbonising Ireland, in particular the electricity, domestic heating and transport sectors. Imperative to achieving these CO2 reductions for Ireland are solutions such as carbon-free biomethane for heat and transport, compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and hydrogen.

Ervia is committed to supporting geo-engineering projects that can significantly reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions including assessing the potential for large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the near-depleted Kinsale gas field off the coast of Cork. Ervia has highlighted the potential for the gas network to reduce Ireland’s emissions by at least 15 million tonnes of CO2 per annum by 2050 as part of its submission to Ireland’s Draft National Energy & Climate Plan (NECP) 2021-2030.

In terms of security of supply in 2018, Gas Networks Ireland successfully completed commissioning the Cluden to Brighouse Bay pipeline in Scotland, resulting in full twinning of our two gas interconnectors between Ireland and the UK. This is crucial for Ireland in reinforcing security of energy supply for the island and supporting decarbonisation. It involved constructing a new 50km high pressure gas pipeline, which feeds two subsea pipelines between Ireland and the UK.

Project Ireland 2040

A key partner to Government in the rollout of Project Ireland 2040 and the transition to a low-carbon economy, Ervia is making significant progress in its investment plans for critical infrastructure to support Ireland’s ongoing economic development.

As well as being committed to the transformation necessary to ensure safe and reliable water infrastructure supporting development as the population grows, it is investing in its national dark fibre network to establish a return path between Cork and Dublin. In addition, it is actively supporting a combination of ambitious actions across a range of sectors to enable Ireland to significantly reduce its emissions targets and meet its climate targets.

Our national gas and water networks support the social and economic development of Ireland and are playing strategic roles in the transition of Ireland to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable economy by 2050.

Women in business. industry, STEM, women in technology, equality, ME TOO,

Ireland Among World Leaders in Women Leadership

Ireland ranks 17th in the 2018 Women in Leadership index conducted by the IESE Business School, with very strong progress in the social leadership dimension and a leading position in the business leadership sphere.

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