Deloitte and Enterprise Ireland are hosting the CEO Forum at Dublin Castle today. The forum is an opportunity for chief executives to network and discuss the business landscape.

The business leaders attending today's event were surveyed about the Irish business landscape and the top challenges cited by CEOs included availability of skills, retention of talent and competitiveness. Nine out of ten CEOs are concerned that macro-economic issues would impact Ireland's competitiveness and the top concerns were Brexit, US tax reform, currency fluctuations and Irish taxes.

Almost seven in ten Irish CEOs also have said they have acted to mitigate against the potential impact of Brexit. The survey results reflect that business leaders have ambitious plans for future growth with 84% of CEOs planning to expand their business overseas in the next year, citing the euro zone as having strong market growth potential.

Susan Spence, the co-founder of software technology company SoftCo - which sponsored the Irish women's hockey team - has said the team's success at the Hockey World Cup during the summer, generated business success.

"We had huge brand awareness. We certainly won business as a result of it," said Susan Spence, one of the attendees at the CEO Forum today. "At the time when Irish Hockey approached us, it was really a no brainer. We had a World Cup on our doorstep. Our first two matches were against the US and the UK, our two biggest markets, and also, it was a women's team competing on a world stage, so for us, it made complete sense," she said.

Ms Spence said it was wonderful for the country, and wonderful for SoftCo. She said the morale in the software company was fantastic and SoftCo was thrilled to be associated with the women's hockey team.

SoftCo is an automate invoice processing for organisations from Primark to PwC, with a million users worldwide. The company is in a growth phase at the moment, having just launched its next generation of technology.

"We're applying AI to the business world," Ms Spence said. "In the past organisations focused on processing invoices, moving them from A to B to C. What we're finding now is that businesses want better decision making, so we are using AI technology to enable organisations to make better decisions because what AI can do is predict - predict spend, predict forecasting - and that's really where organisations are going," she said. 

Conor McCarthy, founder of Dublin Aerospace, is also attending today's forum at Dublin Castle. He said the two biggest challenges that the aircraft maintenance company faces are remaining competitive and retaining talent. "The unemployment level is effectively down to 2%. It remains a challenge, particularly in Leinster at this time," Mr McCarthy said. 

Mr McCarthy said Dublin Aerospace is making efforts to mitigate against Brexit, but is concerned that if sterling gets weaker, its competitors get stronger. "We'll have to be ready to compete with them if that happens. In the meantime, we just keep our eye on our customers, making sure we are competitive and remaining agile," he stated.