Posted on Tuesday 19 January 2010 by Ulster Business

Darren Lemon

Darren Lemon - eircom Northern Ireland

Leaders in Business - The real mark of a well-run business is its performance during difficult economic conditions. eircom Northern Ireland has forged ahead during the recessionary months of 2009 and, crucially, bagged a £70 million government contract. Darren Lemon has been at the helm of the company since 2008 and here gives us a rundown of how he has managed to post such a buoyant performance.

2009 was a good year for eircom Northern Ireland. In one of the most challenging years in recent business history, this young and growing telecoms company doubled in revenue terms and increased staff numbers by 50%. The last few months of the old year not only saw the completion of the implementation phase of the prestigious £70m Network NI for the Northern Ireland Civil Service, but the securing of additional significant new business. This included multi-year contracts to provide services, with their partners to Northern Ireland Water and Viridian Group, as well as a further push into the private enterprise sector. The man at the helm is general manager Darren Lemon, who moved to eircom NI in 2008 after a long career in the IT business, including top level posts at Northgate Information Solutions, SX3, Aurora Unicomp and CEM. A Belfast man, old Instonian and keen tennis player, he says there are a lot more chapters to come in the eircom NI success story. “We plan to continue to grow the business in 2010 and realise that in order to do this we must remain innovative and competitive,” he said. “There is no doubt, as businesses face another challenging year, that the emphasis will be on improving quality of product and delivery of service while keeping costs down. “To help them do that, we will soon be launching a new range of communication solutions for our public sector and private enterprise customers – solutions which are designed to help organisations operate more effectively and to enhance how they provide services to their customers.” One of the ways large businesses can remain cost effective while ensuring they are competitive in the global marketplace, he says, is by looking at improvements that can be made to their communications infrastructure. “How we do business in Northern Ireland is changing, and will change even further in 2010,” Darren continued. “Optimisation of the communications infrastructure is a key enabler in boosting output, especially with employees working across sites, offices and teams. “Our unified communications solutions offer a viable and compelling alternative to what’s been around the commercial marketplace in recent years, enabling businesses to rethink what they do, how they do it and opening up new opportunities in operational efficiencies and best use of staff. “Put simply, unified communications is a really powerful tool which involves making all existing channels available to the user through a single access point, dramatically reducing time wastage and improving workplace collaboration.” Another tool which radically reduces wastage in time and resources is Telepresence which represents the next generation in video communications technology. The eircom NI Telepresence suite at their headquarters at Forsyth House, near Lanyon Place, is one of the most advanced in Europe. You need to experience it to appreciate just how amazing it is, but it is certainly the most advanced system in the country and takes conferencing to a whole new ‘lifelike’ level. “It’s a top end illustration of what can be achieved in the name of efficient and effective communications, and on a broader level it means we can play our part in the green agenda by reducing levels of international business travel,” explained Darren. The eircom NI chief believes that the biggest challenge to business in Northern Ireland this year will be the availability not just of capital but of sufficient levels of market confidence to kickstart the economic recovery. “Economic times are challenging, but adversity also brings opportunity – that is why, for example, eircom NI sponsored the Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2009,” he added. “It is that sort of ingenuity and drive which is the lifeblood of Northern Ireland’s future economic well-being.

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