Lack of skills is derailing one in two digital projects in Ireland
Image: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock

Lack of skills is derailing one in two digital projects in Ireland

13 Jul 2017

PwC study proves that now more than ever, upskilling is needed in Irish businesses.

Irish organisations are trailing behind their global peers in terms of adequacy of digital skill sets.

As a result, at least one in two digital projects are failing to deliver.

‘Digital projects have implications in areas like privacy and security, and organisations cannot afford to drop the ball’

Future Human

This gulf is going to grow as increases in automation, robotics and AI are taken into account, according to the PwC Irish Digital IQ survey 2017.

More than half (52pc) of companies around the world and in Ireland rate their digital IQ as strong compared to 67pc in 2015 and 66pc in 2014.

In Ireland, in particular, the lack of digital skills is holding back progress, almost one in two digital projects are not delivering, and more investment is needed in key emerging technologies.

Nearly half (48pc) of Irish executives reported that their strategic digital initiatives failed to deliver to their planned scope, which is similar to global levels (45pc). Furthermore, Ireland scores poorly (44pc) when it comes to measuring outcomes from digital investments, deteriorating from 60pc in 2015.

According to the survey, less than two-thirds (64pc) of Irish organisations have the digital skills required for an evolving digital economy, which is also close to the global figure (65pc).

At the same time, almost one out of two (46pc) Irish respondents admitted that the lack of properly skilled teams is a barrier when it comes to achieving expected results from digital technology initiatives.

Irish respondents rated their organisations’ digital skills behind that of global peers for all key capabilities.

For example, only around half of Irish respondents rated their skills’ competencies as ‘strong’ or ‘very strong’ in the areas of cybersecurity (Ireland: 58pc; global: 64pc), data analytics (Ireland: 54pc; global: 59pc) and evaluating emerging technologies (Ireland: 46pc; global: 55pc).

Skills development in Ireland is not as highly developed in key emerging technologies such as the internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics. This is noteworthy in light of the fact that these technologies are also identified to be some of the most disruptive to business models.

Failure to track IT investments is causing problems

Lack of digital skills is derailing 1 out of every 2 digital projects in Ireland

David Lee, technology partner, PwC Ireland. Image: PwC

According to David Lee, PwC Ireland technology partner, the problem is rigour attached to digital investments.

“Less than half of the firms have mechanisms to track investments,” Lee told

“This is not the same rigour that has been applied in the past with legacy systems, for example.”

Lee warned that this could be a major stumbling block when it comes to GDPR-related projects, which will have an emphasis on data architecture.

“In terms of the willingness or ability of an organisation’s culture to embrace change, from an Irish perspective, the country’s businesses scored lower.

“This is a real shame because unless firms get this right, it can have a damaging effect on employees and customer engagement.”

Lee said the survey showed that organisations need to get the basics right and have proper governance around their investments with proper tracking.

“Digital projects have implications in areas like privacy and security, and organisations cannot afford to drop the ball,” Lee warned.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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