Digital transformation, cyber threats and finding people with IT skills are top of the agenda for Irish business leaders, according to the latest Virgin Media report.
The majority of Irish business leaders rate their growth prospects very high for 2017, but much of this hinges on digital transformation, according to this year’s Virgin Media Business Digital Insights report.
Around 86pc of businesses in Ireland surveyed by Amárach on behalf of Virgin Media said they have high growth prospects for the year ahead, up from 80pc last year.
‘Businesses are investing in digital technologies and online strategies to drive their potential’
– PAUL FARRELL
Around 74pc of these leaders say this growth will be down to digital technology, and they plan to invest accordingly.
E-commerce is finally growing up in Ireland
In terms of online sales, Irish businesses say the online channel will account for 40pc of sales, up from 33pc in 2015.
“It’s important that businesses are encouraged to trade online and to maximise the opportunities of the digital economy,” said Paul Farrell, commercial vice-president at Virgin Media.
“The overall picture revealed by the Virgin Media Business Insights Report shows a confident business community growing sales at home and abroad, increasing employment, developing new products and services, and investing in digital technologies and online strategies to drive their potential.
“That’s really great news for Irish businesses and for the country,” said Farrell.
On average, bosses believe revenues will grow by 19pc this year. With the addition of the right digital and online strategy, this could even rise by 26pc.
When it comes to hiring, the importance of digital skills has increased, with 88pc of businesses stating that IT capability is a significant precondition for considering potential candidates (up from 75pc in 2014).
Other important skills, according to businesses, include: analytics (70pc), programming (60pc), digital marketing (51pc) and social media (49pc).
Nearly 90pc of respondents said their business wouldn’t exist, or would be a lot smaller, if they didn’t have broadband, with over a third adding that their business would be less profitable.
However, threats such as cyberattacks and the looming impact of Brexit are also on the horizon.
Cybersecurity breaches were cited as a significant risk by 61pc of respondents, while 52pc were concerned about data protection infringements.
Only 20pc said increased competition from the UK, as a result of Brexit, represented a real risk to their businesses.