Irish company 8 West Consulting has been building enterprise-scale software applications for a range of clients across the US and Europe for the past 20 years. Customers include household names, such as Levi’s, Estee Lauder, Jo Malone, Avon, Ralph Lauren, and eBay.
The company’s primary focus is to provide business and technology solutions to clients in the insurance, healthcare and retail space, along with others who require high-quality, scalable and maintainable software in fields ranging from publishing to community safety.
“We build very large-scale e-commerce solutions and integrate them with all client systems”, says joint CEO, John Murphy. “Our software handles billions of transactions for customers around the world every day. That is our core business and has been very successful for the last 20 years.”
The business became 100% Irish owned two years ago, following a management buyout from its US parent, led by Murphy and his co-CEO Eamonn Franklin. “We now have 220 employees based mainly in Cork in Ireland, with a few scattered around Europe and so on. Most of our customers are in the US and EMEA, and the great majority of our sales are overseas.”
New IoT developments with SafeTrx
The company embarked on a new departure in 2013, with the launch of the highly innovative SafeTrx maritime safety smartphone app. The app tracks vessels at sea and, on activation, sends the user’s location to the SafeTrx Monitoring Console. The coastguard or other emergency response services can instantly view the position of the vessel, access its name and last reported position, and despatch a lifeboat or other rescue craft to its location. The SafeTrx App also monitors boat journeys and alerts emergency contacts should the craft fail to return on time.
It is now the world’s leading maritime search and rescue application, with over 750,000 recorded hours of use around the world. SafeTrx is also the standard marine mobile safety platform in nine countries – Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Finland, Norway, Australia and South Africa.
The app has its origins in Murphy’s enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits, including mountaineering. He found himself stranded in bad weather and gathering darkness on the Mont Blanc du Tacul one evening in 2010. Fortunately, his mobile phone still worked and despite frostbitten fingers he was able to call for help and was eventually rescued by helicopter.
Eight years on, the app has become the de facto standard in northern Europe with new customers in other markets coming on board all the time. “The clients we sell to are national coastguards and other organisations responsible for marine rescue”, he says. “Take-up was slow at first, but the Dutch are seen as world leaders in this space and when they came on board the others followed very quickly.”
Work is already underway on the next generation of the SafeTrx product. “At present we are working with a customer on the development of new elements for the application which would see autonomous drones despatched to the vessel’s location in advance of the rescue services”, says Murphy. This would assist in the verification of call-outs and even allow for supplies to be brought to people in distress.
For the future he sees continued growth in both aspects of the business. “In a sense, we have two businesses. Our original service business and the newer SafeTrx business. We will continue to develop and grow the core software business and develop the SafeTrx app.”
But the business won’t stay the same. “If you stay the same, you can’t expect to stay in business for very long. We recognise that technology and society is about change and we won’t just allow change to happen to us. We will lead the change.”