The former chief digital officer of Brisbane, Kieran O’Hea, says Cork’s digital economy needs to be appreciated and understood.
Cork’s digital economy is estimated to be worth in the region of €1bn, surpassing its €850m tourism economy.
That’s the view of Kieran O’Hea, former chief digital officer of the Australian city of Brisbane.
‘With Cork contributing 17pc of GDP and with 12pc of the population living in the region, Cork’s digital economy could be worth €1bn, which is more than tourism’
– KIERAN O’HEA
O’Hea has established Digital Cork, a new effort to see a digital economy plan prepared for the development of the city and its surrounding regions.
“Digital Cork aims to position Cork to succeed in the global digital economy,” O’Hea said.
“We want to make the digital economy front of mind in local plans and discussions about the economy. We want to measure, manage and grow the digital economy in a planned way, as this will create more economic value than can be achieved by organic growth. Nobody has yet put a value on Cork’s digital economy, but we estimate it is in the region of €1bn, which means it surpasses tourism at €850m.”
Digital Cork audit
With Digital Cork, O’Hea is focusing on revising current economic development plans to include sections on the digital economy.
“However, these actions would require intervention at local government level. What we can do independently is carry out a Cork digital audit. This would be modelled on the one I did in Brisbane when I was chief digital officer there.
“This will measure digital capability across a wide cross section of local businesses, identify digital champions and award Cork a digital maturity score.”
O’Hea said that each subsequent increase in this digital maturity score will generate considerable economic value.
“In Brisbane, for example, each 1pc increase in the city’s digital maturity score generated A$600m in additional economic value.”
The return of the native
O’Hea, a native of Cork, said that there are a number of ways in which businesses can participate and benefit.
“Most companies overestimate their digital capability, so if they participate in the Cork digital audit, they will get an accurate digital capability score that will help them position themselves for optimal engagement in the digital economy, leading to increased revenue opportunities and entry into overseas markets. Promoting Cork’s collective digital capability will create a compelling proposition aimed at showcasing local businesses in Ireland and abroad, and attracting new businesses to the Cork region.”
O’Hea explained that a number of private and public sector organisations are already involved in the Digital Cork interest group, and one of the priorities is to secure funding to carry out the Cork Digital audit.
“There is an immediate need for companies to contribute to this. Beyond that, we intend to evaluate the need for a Cork Digital Association, which would be subscription-based, and an annual Cork Digital Champion of the Year award, which companies would be encouraged to enter. The digital audit will give us the opportunity to gauge interest across the business community in both these initiatives.”
O’Hea said that Digital Cork will provide a unique service that focuses exclusively on measuring the Cork region’s digital capability and monitoring its digital economy.
“Ireland’s digital economy is worth €12bn, contributing 6pc of GDP. With Cork contributing 17pc of GDP and with 12pc of the population living in the region, Cork’s digital economy could be worth €1bn, which is more than tourism.
“It has the potential to grow by €150m a year and create 15,000 digital jobs over the next five years.
“This places great importance on Cork’s digital economy as a source of regional growth. It is imperative that we create a digital economy plan that can measure and develop it.”