Irish Examiner: Aspiring to global digital excellence in midst of pandemic

Aspira‘s MD for Europe, Peter Ryan appears in Irish Examiner newspaper discussing Aspira‘s recent expansion, the impact Brexit will have and the affect Covid-19 has had on businesses this year.

Last month Aspira announced the opening of its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Malaysia and the expansion of its mainland European operations with the opening of its second office in the Netherlands.

 

The new offices are in response to increased growth in Asia-Pacific and the Benelux region, with Aspira prioritising an on-the-ground presence to further build local relationships.

The company also announced the creation of 30 high-level jobs.

The opening of the company’s first mainland Europe office in Amsterdam in 2019 was part of a strategic decision to give Aspira a physical presence in these markets and a broader foundation in reducing vulnerability to Brexit.

“Aspira has always been on the leading edge of technology, enabling digital transformation and helping large scale businesses to unleash the power of e-commerce technology solutions,” said managing director Peter Ryan.

“There has been a really positive response by companies in the Netherlands to our unique blend of technology and consulting services.

 

“To meet this increased demand, we are excited to grow our Dutch team, who will be based primarily in our newoffice in The Hague.”

As businesses transform to cope with the pandemic, Aspira has seen a threefold increase in demand for digital transformation services as companies enhance their e-commerce capabilities and supply chain networks resulting directly from the impact of Covid-19.

No longer able to take long-haul flights to work alongside global clients, Aspira is augmenting its ability to support clients remotely by having a physical presence in diverse parts of the world. The company has forecast sales to double again over the next three years, with international sales growing at an even faster pace.

 

“I can’t say I’m really surprised that so much uncertainty still exists,” he says of the Brexit talks deadlock.

Regardless of the type of deal, it is simply a matter of degrees of damage that will be caused to Ireland. 

“Outside of the UK, Ireland will be the number one impacted country negatively affected by Brexit, so while we hope for the best, we must continue to prepare for the worst.

“Brexit will markedly slow Irish economic growth through 2021, with companies trading in or through the UK impacted the most. We are also alert to the risks that our company can be exposed to — those that we can control and those that we cannot. The Aspira strategy to balance these two factors is to drive diversity in our business model.”

That diversity of clients exists in numerous industry locations from Ireland to Malaysia, the UAE to the Netherlands. The company has over 200 international clients, including leading players in the IT, financial services, pharma/med devices, healthcare, and energy sectors.

 

“This Aspira diversification model has reduced our exposure to Brexit, permitting our ambition to continue, but we are alert that we can never afford to become complacent.”

The new offices in The Hague and Kuala Lumpur are a reflection of the growth Aspira expects in the near term, he says: “Emphatically, yes. Aspira has seen double-digit growth for the past 11 years and forecasts this to continue.”

To fuel this we seek to invest and grow in line with our clients, current and future.

The opening of our Kuala Lumpur office in Malaysia as our regional HQ for Asia/ Pacific, reflects the growth of a number of our key clients in that
region; a region at the leading edge of e-commerce growth globally, not to mention the recent announcement of the largest free-trade agreement ever — the Asian-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

 

The opening of our Hague office reflects our push into the Dutch/EU/Global public sector; here we are situated at the heart of the Netherlands governmental apparatus and in the international capital of justice and peace.”

While Covid-19 has been extremely challenging for global economies, it has resulted in Aspira expanding due to increased need for its services.

“Doubling in size in the last three-plus years, 2020 marked the best year on record for Aspira. What has fuelled this? Two things: Aspira’s positioning and the world we live in,” says Mr Ryan.

“Over recent years it has been stated that we live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.”

We see this in negative contexts such as Brexit and Covid-19 and positive contexts such as digital transformation and the pace of technology innovation.

In fact, Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, in the way most of us have to work, shop, and function from home, he says. Aspira’s purpose is to deliver digital technology projects for clients, resulting in the business having grown in most industry sectors it operates in. The surge in e-commerce is key to its expansion in the Netherlands and Asia.

 

Aspira has offices in five countries serving 227 clients in 25 countries. “We are well used to video conferencing and related technology-enabled sharing platforms to get our work done and projects delivered successfully. We trust and support our people to work as they see best fits their lifestyle and team productivity.”

Covid-19 has not changed Aspira’s priorities, but reshaped how to deliver them.

“We have always focused on enabling our clients, supporting our people and driving progress in our business. We knew early on we needed to pivot to really be there for our clients and our people, as each person and organisation adapted and responded in their own unique way.”

It is not about focusing hard on pulling back and keeping costs down, he says, but more about reaching out and being there for people and clients in these challenging times.

“Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformations with an immediate effect of enabling a more flexible workforce approach.”

 

“Digital transformations will occur faster and in places that we did not expect even today — everything digital, at the speed of a click.

“Customers have come to expect that all things should be digital; from their phone to their car to their fridge; everywhere. We are no longer surprised about what can be digitalise. We are surprised when it cannot be.

“Customers want IT, and IT equals digital, and want it now; and they have the right to be so demanding, as it is all doable,” he says.

It all began in Cork for Aspira, a situation that will not change.

“Despite the company founders coming from Limerick and Kerry, Aspira chose Cork as its capital, and as a Corkonian myself I will never stop repeating that statement.

 

“Cork is the Irish city that will expand the most, with ambitious plans in the program for development 2040.”

Listing some of the reasons for industry and professionals to choose Cork, Mr Ryan highlights that it is home to leading global and indigenous companies such as Apple, Dell, Musgraves and AIG Laya Healthcare — many of which are Aspira clients.

“A good transport network, great international culture, the starting point for the majestic Wild Atlantic Way, worldclass educational institutions and with a cost of living markedly lower than other major cities — all these benefits mean professionals and their families can benefit from a wonderful life in Cork.”

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