New Innovator: Aficionado

Tap into talent and track workforce expertise with new online management solution

Kevin McCarthy: “Users have up-to-date information about where expertise is in their organisation.”

Kevin McCarthy: “Users have up-to-date information about where expertise is in their organisation.”


Within most organisations there is a deep reservoir of skills and expertise. But tracking knowledge in a formal way is a vast and ongoing task, especially in businesses with thousands of employees across multiple locations. As a result, most companies don’t bother and talent goes untapped.

A new online solution to the management of organisational expertise and knowledge has been developed by UCD research fellow Kevin McCarthy, who is attached to the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Insight Centre for Data Analytics. Called Aficionado, it is now poised for commercialisation through a spinout company to be located at NovaUCD.

Aficionado’s prototype was developed for the academic/research world and is already in use in Ireland and North America. The enterprise version of the system, which launches this summer, has wide application potential across many sectors from State organisations to industry, banking, finance, pharma and the professional recruitment market.

“This technology can be used within an organisation from an administration or HR point-of-view, but it can also be used externally to showcase expertise and skills to potential partners, customers or investors,” McCarthy says. “Our cloud-based software uses document repositories and other streams of data from internal networks to Twitter streams to build an expert profile of the individuals in an organisation and then run search and discovery services off the profiles.

“In comparison with other solutions, Aficionado is distinct in that the individual doesn’t need to fill out a form or regularly update their profile with recent work. This avoids data going out of date quickly,” McCarthy adds. “Instead, Aficionado builds expert profiles and updates them automatically. This means users have up-to-date information about where particular expertise is in their organisation.

“Aficionado is customised to reflect an organisation’s assets and objectives, targets and key performance indicators and is able to distinguish experts from non-experts using career and projects history, patents, awards and other information.

“We can categorise and grade data from any source and use the information to produce a comprehensive expertise profile for each person.”

McCarthy has already taken part in the Venture Launch Accelerator programme at NovaUCD and his mentor is academic entrepreneur Professor Barry Smyth, the force behind successful tech companies Changing Worlds and HeyStacks.

The fledgling company has also received support from Enterprise Ireland and INSIGHT UCD.

Funding for the technical development of Aficionado came from academic sources but McCarthy is now in search of investment for his spinout company which currently employs four people.

“The idea was to get a few customers under our belt, which we’ve done, and once we had a bit of traction from that to start approaching VCs.”


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