Good morning everybody and you are all very welcome indeed to the Irish Internet Association’s Internet Congress for 2004. My name is Colm Lyon and I am Chairman of the Irish Internet Association. I hope that today will be an informative and enjoyable day for each and every one of you.
The internet industry is the industry in which we work – for some of us it may be an alternative distribution channel or connectivity solution, however I realise that for many people here today the internet is their business – I certainly speak as one of those whose business is utterly bound to the internet.
Either way – as a business that uses the internet in an auxiliary fashion or a business that exists only because of the internet – it is good that you are here. Why?
For a number of reasons, firstly our industry is gaining steady and sustainable momentum – momentum is a word I like a lot in business as it implies a gradual growth that builds on itself. It also implies building on reality and not perceptions or valuations. We in the IIA have seen evidence of this, in terms of the number of members, enquiries and in particular the number of people turning up for our events – all are rising steadily – this is good.
The second reason is that like other industries the internet needs to have a professional and effective association linking its members together – in an open and facilitating role. That is what the IIA needs to be and must become. To be this we need to formulate a new strategy and work with our members in a deep and meaningful way. Before outlining our strategy for the coming year, I would like to thank some people.
Last month (August 2004) a new board was elected and I delighted to be working with them for the coming year. I would like to thank our former Chairman – John O’Shea – for his hard work, time and effort made over the last year. He has paved the way for many of the changes that are now about to happen. I want to welcome the new board members and thank all the board for their efforts – all of which is voluntary. I pay special thanks to the officers Vice Chairman – Barry Rhodes, Secretary – Patrick Tully, Treasurer, Fergus O’Hehir, who dedicate a lot of time to the Association. I also pay tribute to Irene Gahan, the CEO of the IIA, for bringing about not just today but many other outputs with a tireless enthusiasm for all things internet related.
However, we and certainly I as chairman want to plot a course beyond where we are today and I look ahead and see the changes and challenges that we as an association must address if we are to become the effective industry association that we can be. In addressing these issues I am also a realist and understand that at present we, as an association are constrained by limited resources. We, the board have now agreed our objectives for the year and these include:
1. Running six industry working groups, three existing groups in the area of Legal, Domain Registration and The User Experience and three new groups have now been established with Government support in the area of Spam, The Digital Market Media and The Mobile Internet. Each group has a Board Member acting as chair and your involvement in these is critical to their success – it you have a view, an opinion, a minor contribution to make in these areas – then please get involved – simply ask any board member or email the IIA.
2. Secondly we must continue to build on the success of the events run over the last year by seeking more sponsorship so that we can run more events in more locations over the next twelve months.
3. Another key objective for the board is to consider the position of the IIA within and alongside other industry associations. We need to establish if we could benefit from closer connections to other bodies and thus we will examine the options that exist for our long-term development, in the New Year.
4. Finally we must work the Irish Internet people and businesses to understand what the issues of today really are. So your feedback is essential to the successful development of the IIA. In November we will have the 2004 Net Visionary Awards and I look forward to that event with great excitement. This evening is designed to honour the individuals that make the Irish Internet Industry great and I ask you to get involved by nominating, voting and coming along on the night.
The IIA offers its members access to information, business development opportunities and profile and credibility.
Our members are the association and your involvement is important, particularly at this time. If you are not a member then I ask you to join, if you are a member then get involved by joining a working group, email us your comments, come along to the events, sponsor one, speak at one and share with us your experience.
The internet levels the playing field – the small can compete with the big. Irish businesses can grow and blossom on the internet just much as a multi national. The IIA is and needs to be the catalyst via which these businesses can get access to information, engage in business development opportunities and gain profile and credibility.
I am proud to be chairman of the IIA and I look forward to working with our members, the board and the CEO as we seek to implement these objectives.
Thank You and enjoy the day.