8 questions for Noelle O’Reilly, CEO of Dublin Tech Summit
On February 15 the world’s leading technological minds will descend on Dublin. More than 10,000 visitors will fill the Silicon Docks to listen to insights from 200 speakers and leading global investors.
Keen also to showcase the benefits of gender diversity, especially across sectors such as IoT, FinTech, Big Data and Analytics and MedTech, Dublin Tech Summit aims to play host to as many women in technology as possible, both on and off stage, encouraging lively discussion and holistic perspectives at all times.
With the stage set, we went behind the scenes with summit CEO Noelle O’Reilly to find out more about her career and thoughts ahead of the event.
Talk to us about your career to date. What did your journey into technology look like?
My background is in media and from the time that I started in the industry, there’s been a huge transformation of how media is created, distributed and consumed, and that’s largely down to the developments of technology. So my journey from media to technology was a very natural progression.
Was a career in technology always something you wanted to pursue?
It’s definitely something I’ve always had a passion for. The technology industry is a perfect avenue for those looking for constant challenges in their work, it’s not just about coming up with new ideas – it involves figuring out how to make those ideas work. For someone like me who relishes that sort of challenge and who is naturally looking to the next step, it was a perfect fit.
Do you believe that more women are starting to take up careers in technology? What needs to be done to level the playing field?
While there are certainly more women turning towards careers in tech, I think the gender balance is definitely still a challenge. In terms of what can be done, I think initiatives that involve young girls in tech such as Girls who Code can be hugely instrumental but it’s also about the industry taking a stance. Here at Dublin Tech Summit, our team has a gender split of 50/50. We do this not only in the interest of fostering diversity but also because it is proven that teams like this outperform male dominated teams across the board.
One of the key principles behind DTS is that we were extremely keen to showcase the benefits of gender diversity across a range of sectors. We wanted to play host to as many women in technology as possible, both on and off stage, which was why DTS made 500 complimentary tickets available for women working in tech anywhere in the world.
What advice would you give to women looking to start or advance themselves in the sector?
Don’t be intimidated by those who seem to know more than you. Never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something. As you progress in your career and move towards being a manager, as opposed to an individual team member, you’ll see how it’s so much more important to ask the right questions than to have all the answers.
Introduce us to the Dublin Tech Summit 2017. What are you expectations and ambitions for the event this year?
DTS 2017 will bring together global leaders in innovation, technology and business for a two-day event held across Dublin’s iconic silicon docks. Participants will hear from leaders shaping the future of industries across our seven core pillars of Fintech, Business and Marketing, MedTech, Big Data, Creativity, Social Enterprise and the Internet of Things. The conference will see powerful and inspiring trailblazers offering unique viewpoints on some of today’s most pressing subjects.
We’re looking to cultivate an intimate experience for each participant and to enable them to foster lasting relationships. We expect to welcome people from a broad range of areas of technology who may not necessarily meet.
What are some of the highlights attendees can look forward to?
We have an incredible line up of 200+ speakers, from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines. Entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk is someone we are extremely proud to add to our line-up. He reinforces our commitment to bringing industry leaders to our attendees. His way of thinking is something we’ve definitely incorporated into our ethos at DTS and I think participants are really going to enjoy what he has to say.
We’re also very excited about the diverse selection of female trailblazers joining us in Dublin in February, from CEO of WPP China, Bessie Lee, to VP of Global Operations at PayPal, Louise Phelan and of course, TED Talk Sensation and Founder and CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn, Cindy Gallop.
Will Dublin Tech Summit serve as a networking platform for women in the industry?
We’re committed to ensuring that 50 percent of all participants are female and so we do hope that DTS will enable women in tech to foster and develop professional relationships. However, I think that the even gender split will also encourage and stimulate a more dynamic and spirited conversation and experience for all attendees, male and female.
Why is Ireland a leading global technology hub?
I think Ireland’s emergence as a tech hub can be attributed to a combination of factors, particularly our competitive tax structure and our geographical location. However, I do believe, and this has been affirmed by numerous multinationals, that it’s the talent we have here in Ireland that has led to the development and growth of the industry. One of the biggest challenges facing the global tech sector is access to the right talent, not just in terms of science, engineering and maths abilities, but also soft skills such as critical communications skills, teamwork and the ability to embrace and be comfortable with ambiguity.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”