You may have seen these guys appear in competitions, expos and most recently winning the Student category at INVENT 2015! They are a team of recent graduates in Belfast going by the name of IVEA Labs. They are currently working on delivering proximity-based visitor interactions and experiences to attractions and exhibitions. It is their first major project and first step on the road to making technologies like Analytics and “Nearables” a common way for all kinds of businesses to develop and grow.
They call their new platform ‘Visit’, which they know can modernise tourist attractions and exhibitions across Northern Ireland. The focus is on being a cost-effective way to bring modern tools to improve a site’s evolution, while also bringing the benefits of a free, but awesome, experience to the audience, along with any premium paid content that sites want to make use of.
So what does it do? It’s a web platform that allows sites to easily create and manage an interactive experience, but also to view feedback and statistics on how their audience is actually seeing and experiencing what is around them. This is powered by an experience that would work on a visitor’s device, like a phone or a tablet. If you want to hear more about the team or see what they are up to, check out their website or follow them on social media!
When we caught up with the highly innovative IVEA team and asked them how important is digital technology for Northern Ireland? They claimed “It goes without saying that there are a lot of very unique businesses across NI, and behind them all are some even more unique people. Technology will never replace that, but it certainly stands to make it easier to be amazing. And while you’re at it, you can enhance your ability to create a large audience and take advantage of revenue streams that didn’t exist only a decade ago”.
According to the team, Northern Ireland is certainly leaning towards using a lot more technology and there are plenty of initiatives to raise awareness. However, there are still gaps in what we offer, or what we make use of, and when we consider the rest of the world, it is crucial that we maximise the use of all the tools at our disposal, to be heard on the global stage and to drive up efficient business development, and of course, make better business decisions.
They believe that, businesses today should lay the groundwork for what is to come. It’s not that technology has left people behind and ‘keeping up’ is the status quo, it’s that the status quo is that ‘wow there’s a whole lot more you can do now, why are you not doing it?’
The fact that iPhones and Androids are ‘every-where, every-when’, is a testament to how society has opened its arms to new technology, and “I don’t know what I would do without my [phone or tablet]” is an all too familiar statement, while iOS and Android interfaces are universally known. This isn’t just because it solves problems we didn’t have before, but also because it makes everyday things either more enjoyable or more efficient. This goes for businesses too- think about the amount of processing power that you can now fit in your pocket.
It is possible to have a conference call, do your finances, begin a large amount of preparation for the next day, research your social network, and donate goats, all from the train on the way home. To aid this, mobile internet has rapidly improved over the last number of years, and according to the GSMA, this actually correlates with development and increases in revenue in areas where the best possible connection is available. They now urge countries and cities to strengthen the connection available to their people, to encourage more and more people to make use of online services and shopping.
To name a technology of prominent importance, I would say that harnessing the power of Analytical Tools should be taken very seriously, in both growth and development. Analytics is the process of examining data and information to discover meaningful patterns. This works very well on the web and for a reason- people are naturally habitual and some of the patterns that can be identified immediately are profoundly insightful. However, collecting information to analyse is much more straightforward on the internet than in the physical world, so there are a lot more tools in that realm.
The startup scene in Northern Ireland makes excellent use of digital services and technology, not only offering tech that comes from nowhere else, but making use of technology in innovative ways to achieve their ends.
Take PlotBox, who use drones to map cemeteries in the US, or better yet, take BrewBot, who created a clever box that will brew beer for you. BrewBot was a successful Kickstarter campaign and is now doing international exports. You can’t argue with the effectiveness of technology when a technology company is successful through the use of digital technology.
I get hungry thinking about it, but in terms of growth, Boojum is a great example of using social media to improve web presence and customer awareness, although they do tend to use pre-contemporary cash registers! They have grown quickly and established themselves through social media, but have also managed to make very effective use of word of mouth. They have shown that it pays to be popular!
Plenty of companies around Belfast are now Knowledge-based companies, creating value out of information, and turning that into revenue. Companies like Adoreboard provide tools that offer business-ready customer sentiment analysis, and as you can see from a short peruse of the names of occupants of places like the Science Park, plenty of companies that make value from information are emerging. None of this would be possible without the efforts to foster the technology scene in the country, which is in no small part thanks to groups like Digital DNA, InvestNI, NISP, and the universities we have here.
The story behind Chain Reaction Cycles is probably the most significant and inspirational example, that I can think of, of a local business that used technology to grow, and how! Starting with just one shop in 1985, they slowly grew into a larger business, until 1999 when the company opened its online store. 16 years on and they are the largest online bike store in the universe! They have a vast social following and sponsor several riders. But to soar at those heights, interesting technology has to be made use of. With a very modern warehousing and picking system, and clever packaging strategies that reduce waste, these guys will be at the top of the chain for years to come!
A business with ambition for international growth?
It definitely depends on how the business wants to operate or present itself. If you want to make yourself international, you have to stand on many different legs, and make yourself more accessible to your customers. To do this, you need online support, for sales, online stores and suggestion engines, a social media channel that has genuine substance. Even if you’re just ‘not that kind of business’, you might want to look at social media and paid web-advertising, you cannot underestimate the power of Facebook and Twitter!
With the fantastic, and often free (in small amounts), web services now available for companies and developers, cloud computing recently became very popular, and will continue to. This allows smaller or medium companies to provide a better online experience or some really useful stuff that is specific to your business (like online processing of documents, or providing a much more substantial set of tools to their customers), helping you stand out even more while cloud content delivery can be used to make seamless experience that will quickly load and present information to a visitor.
IVEA Labs were delighted to be involved in Digital DNA 2015!
“The fact that there are clever individuals out there, who share a vision of a better digital country and are actively aiming to improve the situation, is something that I appreciate a great deal!
— IVEA Labs
Bringing big names and speakers who should really be household names (if they aren’t already) to show our businesses that there’s a whole lot more on offer is a fantastic way to show that this is the way forward. Industry leaders in our country can learn quite a bit from the leaders of vastly dissimilar markets from other parts of the world, not to mention the innovative ways in which they operate.
I am pleased that Digital DNA has taken off, and really, the more conferences we have here, the better placed on the map we are! So a big “Thank You” to all the lovely people at Digital DNA! We will try to help in any way we can to help Northern Ireland succeed, grow and prosper! (A massive Thanks guys, at least we are doing something right).
Stephanie Geddis – Marketing and Content Specialist @ Digital DNA