We recently spoke with our co-founders, Conor Byrne and Ian Richardson, about TheICEway; this eco-system of companies is effectively the umbrella brand beneath which sits a variety of different sub-brands that provide services which, when combined, can provide clients with a complete end-to-end IT solution…
How did TheICEway come about?
Conor Byrne (CB): Richie actually wrote a blog piece about our very first meeting which I think you can find on the ICE Technology Services website (it is in the Innovation Hub, here): It was part-interview, part pub lunch but we hit it off straightaway.
Ian 'Richie' Richardson (IR): I was there for a role in Conor’s IT department and I remember initially thinking it was a bit strange but we had a great time talking about family, friends, life experiences and lots of other things. It was actually a very clever interview technique but more than that, it made me feel as though I’d made a good friend – and the friendship has grown from there.
CB: That was back in the mid-90’s.
IR: It was, and over the next 10 years or so Conor and I came to know each other really well. We knew what our different specialities were and how much we complimented each other, so in 2007 we decided to set up ICE Support Ltd.
CB: We spent a lot of time developing and fine-tuning a really strong set of services as ICE Support, which gradually led to the creation of TheICEway in 2017.
How was it in the very beginning?
IR: It wasn’t easy but we didn’t expect it to be; we knew that we had the combined knowledge and skill, so if we worked hard enough we felt that we could certainly deliver on the proposition of a complete solution under one roof. So we worked hard.
CB: Very hard, we’re still working hard to this day.
IR: And we’ll continue to do so, all the while we think we are in a position to help our existing clients and new clients too – there’s so much going on in the cruise industry right now, and so many new threats from a cyber security perspective, that the solutions and services we can provide with our dedicated team are exactly what companies need.
So you established TheICEway in 2017 but have actually been working together for almost 25 years – how does that feel?!
CB: It feels like 50 years!
IR: It does.
CB: We always knew when we started that we wanted to build something that would last, so to still be – touch wood – doing pretty well and getting some recognition a quarter of a decade on feels really special.
IR: I’ve been so busy recently that it feels like it’s flown by. It’s a remarkable achievement but it’s only worked so well because of the partnership Conor and I have built up over the years, plus of course as a result of the input from the various people we have worked with in all that time. Cruise is a growing industry and with the advancements in tech there are so many areas that cruise companies need guidance in, and while we are in a position to offer that guidance, we’ll continue to do so. Hopefully there are many more decades to come!
Is it just the cruise industry that you cater for?
IR: Not only cruise but I’d definitely say that we specialise in the cruise and ferry industry. We also have clients in travel, who we have worked with since the beginning, and also in healthcare and retail as well.
CB: Most companies nowadays need technology for even the most basic of processes and functions, so I think there will always be opportunities where we can help across a variety of different sectors. It just so happens that we’ve over 20 years of experience with cruise, which means that we know the industry really well.
IR: I’d spoken with a number of people in the cruise industry about a wide range of different topics and whenever we touched upon the challenges they faced, technology always seemed to be a particularly tough one. When they then went into what they were looking for with their IT, I knew that Conor and I could together deliver everything these companies needed to succeed.
CB: I’ve been in IT for what seems like forever now, so that combined with Richie’s cruise knowledge meant that we definitely felt we had something pretty special that people in cruise would particularly want and need.
You have offices in Australia, the USA and also around Europe, but are there any plans for expansion?
IR: Expansion yes, but not necessarily through additional offices. We have recently launched a new product for cruise through our CRIBB Cyber Security brand, CRIBB Maritime Cyber Assurance, so we’re very excited to be rolling that out in the coming months.
CB: We see ourselves as specialists in cruise so it makes sense for us to focus in on that; if that means opening an office in another part of the world then we’ll look at that but as Richie says, we’ll be looking at expansion with this new product.
What does this new product offer cruise companies?
CB: Cyber-attacks are on the up and ships are now like digital playgrounds so it makes sense that BIMCO are talking more and more about 2016’s “Industry Guidelines on cyber security onboard ships” initiative and really trying to raise awareness of the need to take proactive steps to try to stop cyber criminals in their tracks. Those guidelines were established in association with CLIA and Richie is actually the chair of the CLIA Executive Partner Technology Initiative right now, so we’re definitely on board with everything they are saying. What we here at TheICEway have done is to take a big step ourselves by putting the CMCA solution together via our CRIBB Cyber Security brand, which basically gives the cruise companies a framework allowing them to implement the guidelines based on the ISO27001 security standard and also on UK government-backed Cyber Essentials tools.
IR: We’re actually ahead of the game with this one which is great news for our existing clients and even better news for the ones that are thinking about taking the next steps.
CB: The recent announcement by the NCSC confirming their 5-year partnership with the IASME consortium is great news too because CRIBB Cyber Security is actually a Gold Certified company with IASME.
So you’re looking forward to a big year with cruise companies in 2020 with the CMCA product?
IR: That’s definitely one of our major goals for next year but we’ve also got a lot of other exciting developments coming up with our software testing arm, eTestware, plus our Managed Services and IT Consultancy through ICE Technology Services are other key areas that clients are reaping the benefits from. We’re mainly focusing on providing the best service we can to all of TheICEway’s clients, and we’re getting ready to put a lot more hard work in over the next year and beyond.
CB: It’ll be another 12 years of hard labour!
The team from TheICEway will be at WTM early next month, then you can catch Richie at the International Cruise Summit in Madrid from November 27-28 and again, with Conor, in Miami in December.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or enquiries you may have and our team of experts will be happy to help…