Google’s survival tips for the first downturn of the digital age

30 Oct 2008

The internet will play a fundamental role in rebuilding the world’s economies after the financial drubbing of recent months, Google’s head of online sales and operations, John Herlihy, told an Economist roundtable.

“The financial turmoil of the past few weeks has been without precedent and is impacting on economies, on businesses and on consumers,” said Herlihy (pictured) at an Economist Business Roundtable in Dublin today attended by Irish Government ministers and business leaders.

“This is the first downturn of the digital age, but there is no doubt that the internet has a major role to play in rebuilding the economy,” Herlihy added.

Future Human

“We are in the middle of a new economic revolution,” he continued. “How businesses harness the internet and apply the solutions it offers to drive productivity, innovation and improved financial performance will determine their longer-term success and ultimately the success of the economy.”

Herlihy said that the untapped potential of the online market provided opportunities for Irish business.

“Although 150 million EU citizens shop over the internet, this represents only a third of the European population, so the growth potential is huge. Smart companies are recognising this opportunity and are investing online, where the growth is.”

Herlihy said that for the first time ever, Ireland’s island location on the periphery of Europe is no longer a hindrance to success in global markets.

With its rich community of data centres and growing community of internet leaders like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay and Yahoo!, Ireland could be a launch pad for a thriving services economy for the world with the internet at its heart.

In Ireland, Google employs over 1,600 people serving 45 countries across EMEA in sales and operations support, as well as R&D.

“The internet is ubiquitous and provides instant access to billions of consumers. It also gives a level competitive playing field on which businesses of all sizes can compete.

“That brings benefits and opportunities for individual businesses and for the economy of Ireland,” Herlihy told the Economist briefing.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Google’s head of European online sales and operations, John Herlihy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years