BUSI­NESS LES­SONS

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

Im­prove, don’t per­fect. changed sev­eral times over the years. To the credit of peo­ple in the or­gan­i­sa­tion here, they with­stood a lot of un­cer­tainty and change, as well as some pos­i­tives too. It has been a fairly dy­namic ex­pe­ri­ence for those peo­ple who have been here since the early 2000s.”

There has been no let-up and the pace of change is as crazy as it has ever been, he says. “I have been in­volved in the tech in­dus­try for the best part of 30 years. My view is that, with all the work hap­pen­ing in 5G, we are en­ter­ing an­other pe­riod of dy­namism that folks haven’t seen in a while.”

The of­fice has about 360 em­ploy­ees and the com­pany has a data cen­tre to the south of the city, em­ploy­ing en­gi­neers, re­search and de­vel­op­ment teams, busi­ness ser­vices, ad­ver­tis­ing, fi­nance, IT, le­gal, as well as cus­tomer care and sup­port. Tak­ing the wider Ver­i­zon group as a whole, it em­ploys up to 900 peo­ple at var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties across the city.

“We have ca­pac­ity here for an­other 100 em­ploy­ees and more ca­pac­ity around the city at other Ver­i­zon fa­cil­i­ties. It is up to us to iden­tify the op­por­tu­ni­ties and de­liver on them. There are no free passes though. It is all about value. If you de­liver value you get the op­por­tu­nity.”

The Dublin op­er­a­tion — one of Oath’s largest glob­ally — has lots of po­ten­tial, not least be­cause Ver­i­zon is “su­per keen to see what it can do in­ter­na­tion­ally”, he says.

Over the past 18 months Oath’s Dublin-based 200-strong en­gi­neer­ing team was heav­ily in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of the com­pany’s new ad­ver­tis­ing plat­form, one of the big­gest tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ments Oath has un­der­taken, says Scully.

“I want to see us en­gage fur­ther and deeper with Ver­i­zon be­cause our par­ent com­pany brings a whole lot of op­por­tu­nity that we didn’t have when we were sep­a­rate in­de­pen­dent com­pa­nies.”

In his role he has started to meet more of­ten with key peo­ple in other very dif­fer­ent Ver­i­zon op­er­a­tions also based in Dublin who do not sit un­der the Oath struc­ture. “We share sim­i­lar op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges. We are con­stantly ask­ing our­selves how we can add fur­ther value. As a lo­cal Ir­ish man­age­ment team who live and work here we ob­vi­ously have an as­pi­ra­tion to ex­pand here in Ire­land, but our abil­ity to de­liver on that will be down to whether we can do things that add value, the trac­tion we can get in the mar­ket and whether we can lever­age some of the 5G stuff that the wider Ver­i­zon group is in­volved in.

“We have a few ideas. We have al­ready done some re­ally cool things here on aug­mented re­al­ity and vir­tual re­al­ity that can make a big dif­fer­ence to the ad­ver­tiser ex­pe­ri­ence.”

En­gi­neers in the Dublin of­fice were re­cently heav­ily in­volved in a ma­jor cam­paign for HP’S In­stant Ink prod­uct that al­lowed peo­ple to use aug­mented re­al­ity to view how in­di­vid­ual pho­to­graphs would look if printed, framed and hung on their wall. An­other cam­paign was de­vel­oped by the Dublin-based team col­lab­o­rat­ing with oth­ers in Oath’s global or­gan­i­sa­tion with US fur­ni­ture com­pany Pot­tery Barn that al­lowed shop­pers take a 360-de­gree video of a room and then add in a fur­ni­ture item to see how it looks and fits be­fore they bought the item.

Much of that work is car­ried out in col­lab­o­ra­tion with other units of Oath in the US and else­where. So in­grained is that col­lab­o­ra­tive en­vi­ron­ment in Oath that ev­ery one of the Dublin of­fice’s plush meet­ing rooms and break­out spa­ces is equipped with video-con­fer­enc­ing equip­ment to al­low for quick and easy meet­ings with col­leagues in the US and else­where.

It makes for an ex­cit­ing and var­ied role for Scully, but it is not with­out its chal­lenges. The in­ter­net in­dus­try glob­ally faces in­creased scrutiny on many fronts. In Ire­land that plays out most with re­gard to tax­a­tion and what many see as the very cosy deal the in­dus­try has had in this re­gard. Few doubt that there will be change and, with pow­er­ful Eu­ro­pean com­peti­tors push­ing the is­sue, there have been con­cerns that a new tax­a­tion sys­tem could un­der­mine one of the foun­da­tion stones of the sec­tor here.

But Scully is san­guine about the threat. “It doesn’t keep me awake at night. We have a lot of ca­pa­bil­ity within Oath and within Ver­i­zon that spe­cialise in those ar­eas, be it pub­lic pol­icy, South of France tax­a­tion or data pro­tec­tion. All of those things are def­i­nitely mov­ing pieces and tax is im­por­tant be­cause busi­nesses like cer­tainty to al­low them to plan and ex­e­cute. So any kind of noise in re­la­tion to things like tax cre­ates the need for ac­tiv­ity in ob­ser­va­tion and ef­fort,” he says.

Oath — like the Ir­ish Gov­ern­ment and many other Ir­ish-based multi­na­tion­als — be­lieves that OECD plans to re­form the over­all global tax­a­tion sys­tem are the right way to go, even if coun­tries such as France are push­ing for more rapid lo­calised change that could hit the multi­na­tional sec­tor in Ire­land much harder.

“What­ever comes through those pro­cesses we will man­age on, but the Gov­ern­ment has been very sup­port­ive driv­ing for that OECD ap­proach and that gives col­lec­tive cer­tainty,” says Scully.

Data pro­tec­tion is an­other key chal­lenge. Yahoo has its own tor­tured his­tory on that front and has just agreed to pay $50m in dam­ages to 200 mil­lion peo­ple who had their per­sonal data breached in two huge in­ci­dents in 2013 and 2014.

“Those of us who have come to Oath from the Yahoo side of the house have sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence in this,” says Scully. “The legacy data breaches are a mat­ter of pub­lic record and we clearly learned a lot from that pe­riod. Thank­fully now with Ver­i­zon’s cor­po­rate foot­print we have a whole lot more ca­pac­ity, ex­per­tise and skill and we are in a much dif­fer­ent place hav­ing come through all of that.”

Over­all, Scully does not be­lieve that big reg­u­la­tory change in Ire­land or Eu­rope — on tax, data or any­thing else — would cause Amer­i­can tech com­pa­nies to aban­don Ir­ish shores. Oath, he says, re­mains in Ire­land for the long haul.

“I like to think that the struc­ture that we have set up here is fu­ture-proofed,” says Scully, look­ing out the huge win­dow at Dublin’s windy and rainy docks be­yond.

“Be­cause of our track record here and the trust that has built up with cor­po­rate head­quar­ters,” he says, “no mat­ter what wave height comes in — be it tidal or oth­er­wise — I feel good about our abil­ity to with­stand and to sus­tain our ac­tiv­i­ties here and that they are suf­fi­ciently ro­bust.”

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