FIRSTS seem to come easy to Lorraine Butler, the straight-talking managing director of CPM Ireland, one of the country’s leaders in outsourced sales and marketing services where key customers include the likes of GSK, Harvey Norman and Eir. She was the only woman out of 13 on Eir’s business board before becoming the first woman managing director at CPM Ireland. And now she is overseeing another first. CPM Ireland is bringing data solutions in the form of predictive analytics to its client firms for the first time and has invested €1m a year over each of the past three years in the development of its data-science capabilities.
“Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated and artificial intelligence [AI] is now being built into systems.
“We are going to launch predictive analytics to the Irish market and we’ll be the first to do it in our industry.
“You have to have a differentiator. When a person is out in the field, presenting a brand and being the face of that brand they have to know what to do so predictive analytics helps them.
“There’s information available as to what worked for them and the customer and what might work better.”
She added that the system is based on big data where the company harnesses the power of AI through machine-learning algorithms to predict future events.
So just as she is bringing her technology background to CPM after over a decade at Eir, CPM is marrying its technology capabilities to improve its people-based offerings for its clients in the increasingly disrupted world of retail.
“We are a people business supported by technology. I do love technology, but it’s the people part that has helped me to make a difference at CPM. It’s the combination of the two that counts.
“Our data and research is being used by marketing teams at our client companies to make business plans with their own customers. Our clients tell us these new facts and figures have made a fundamental difference to how they do business.
“We use data scientists to create information that are used by humans, and by bringing the two together you have a powerful tool which is constantly evolving.”
CPM Ireland, which is part of the larger group Omnicom, in the main is a provider of field marketing and sales services to players in the retail market.
The Irish field marketing market is worth about €100m and the company has an estimated turnover of €20m a year.
While technology is clearly an increasingly important aspect of CPM’S business, finding the right people for its clients is the top priority.
However, given the low unemployment rates here against the backdrop of a booming economy, finding the right people for her clients has become a challenge over the past few years.
Potential employees have high expectations and are often not willing to put in the groundwork, she told the Sunday Independent.
“People are beginning to lose their social skills so people engagement is an issue. Technology is intervening too much and people are becoming more used to engaging with their devices more than other individuals.
“This comes across very strongly in interviews. So the personal touch, the personal engagement is not there as much it would have been before.
“For me I have to decipher the person and see what people can bring to us and the brands we work with versus the value and the value they’ll bring versus the cost to us and our clients.
“In the last three years I’ve seen an inflation ask from candidates of between 25pc and 45pc — and they are getting it.
“Then people begin to believe their own hype, and I’m finding it at the lower end of the market too, so as an outsourcing agency we can provide a lot of different services. But a big part of our business is merchandising and people coming in at the lower end work their way up the ladder and that pays off for them. But it’s very hard to find those gems.”