Already 50pc of online purchases by Irish consumers are with overseas websites and Irish firms that fail to tackle the digital economy face tough challenges down the line, the chief executive of UPC Ireland Dana Strong has warned.
Earlier today, UPC announced plans to transition all of its existing broadband subscribers to a minimum of 50Mbps.
The importance of this step cannot be underestimated – it will have the cumulative effect of bringing the number of broadband subscribers on connections exceeding 50Mbps from 10pc of broadband subscribers to 30pc of broadband subscribers. An important psychological leap for a country that has been trailing international league tables.
Strong has previously indicated that if Ireland were to match UK levels of online transactions (8pc of GDP), the size of the digital prize for the Irish economy would be €12bn a year.
However, Rome wasn’t built in a day and Strong pointed to Amárach research that estimates Ireland can realistically grow the percentage of the economy dependent upon online commerce from 3pc in 2012 to 6pc by 2016.
“The total size of the digital prize is just under €12bn which is enormous for this economy.”
She said the first step is to get small-to-medium sized businesses transacting online. This does not mean brochure-ware websites, it means actually buying and selling goods via the internet.
“The UPC/Amárach research found that only one-third of Irish businesses actually transact online – that leaves 66pc that don’t.”
She also pointed to a CSO report that showed that currently there are 144,000 businesses active in Ireland that actually don’t transact online.
‘An extraordinary opportunity’
Strong described the digital economy as a marketplace businesses interested in their actual survival can no longer afford to ignore.
“It’s quite an extraordinary opportunity when you consider that online purchasing is set to double over the next three years. So it’s a huge risk to Ireland’s economy if we don’t get Irish businesses transacting online.
“Over 50pc of purchases online from Irish households are made on websites that exist outside of Ireland and if this trend of online purchasing continues, more and more Irish consumption is going to end up going to international businesses,” Strong warned.
Dana Strong will be a panelist at the upcoming Digital Ireland Forum which takes place in Dublin’s Convention Centre at 8am on Friday, 19 April. For further information or to book your place, visit the event site.