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Ice Tech Focuses on Doing The Business

Kildare company ICE Tech is taking its digital solutions worldwide with a spate of new agreements with global clients.

British Aerospace Engineering is using ICE’s staff enablement system to allow floor staff in its nuclear submarine manufacturing facilities to interact directly with its IT system.

The company is also making inroads into the Middle Eastern market, where it recently appointed a local distributor.

“Operating in the Middle East is about developing partnerships. It’s a key part of the marketing down there,” said Ivan O’Connor, managing director, ICE Tech.

“Our main focus now is on winning the first reference business in that market. That’s not a short-term strategy — we’re looking at three to five years.”

Clane-based ICE Tech is an IT systems integrator specialising in electronic kiosks and digital signage solutions.

The company has developed proprietary software for both markets and has grown its client base in the 11 years since its launch to include heavy-hitters like Wyeth, An Post, Boston Scientific and London Underground.

O’Connor established the company after he came across first generation self-service kiosks in the US and Australia in the late nineties.

At the time, he was working as a marketing executive in the food industry and had no experience in the IT field.

“The barriers to technology were a bit lower then than they probably are now. I was always fairly IT savvy even though I wasn’t in the IT sector,” he said.

“I would have been one of the first people in Ireland with email so I was fairly comfortable with technology.”

Reference clients are a priority for O’Connor, who believes that there is no better recommendation in business than the success of past projects.

His first two years with his new first venture were spent developing products and working to secure the company’s first reference client, Meath County Council.

ICE uses off-shoring to its advantage, keeping design and project management in-house and outsourcing software application development to China.

The company recently secured a new product line of kiosks from an Asian supplier.

Despite ICE’s increasingly global reach, however, the recession has forced O’Connor to cut staff numbers from 14 to nine.

“It is a matter of managing through the downturn now so we can come through the other side. Cutting deep has proven to be the right way to go,” he said.

O’Connor is confident about the long-term prospects of the digital signage market, where the falling cost of plasma and LCD screens is driving growth.

He sees a steadfast focus on business strategy in an ever-changing marketplace as essential to any growing business.

“It is easy at the start to get dragged from one contract to the next by the customer,” he said.

“You have to select a clear specialisation in the market where you have a sustainable competitive advantage or else you’re trying to be all things to all people and that’s not possible for a small business.”