The Digital Hub predicts that by 2017 Irish people are expected to be spending €21bn online, but, without an effective national digital strategy in place, most of this expenditure will be lost to companies overseas.
Leonard Donnelly, chairman of the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA), says that a key challenge in the coming years will be persuading Irish consumers to make their online purchases with domestic businesses. “Ireland currently spends close to €4bn online each year, but 75pc of that goes overseas, mostly to the UK,” he said.
“The Digital Hub has projected that, by 2017, the online consumptive economy will be valued at €21bn in Ireland. If the trend for favouring overseas outlets for online purchases continues, however, the revenue loss to the domestic productive sectors will be immense,” he added.
The DHDA manages the Digital Hub in Dublin, where more than 70 digital enterprises are located, and Donnelly’s comments come with the publication of the DHDA’s annual report, which reports on the activities of the Digital Hub in 2011 and reveals plans for future development.
Education and infrastructure needed
Donnelly believes an effective national digital strategy needs to be implemented in order to ensure that indigenous companies can strengthen their share in the online marketplace. “The DHDA has been working closely with its parent department – the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources – to develop such a strategy, and we look forward to seeing this launched and implemented in the coming years,” he said.
For this strategy to be successful, Donnelly recommends re-education, particularly of marginalised groups, to train people in the skills required in a digital economy, as well as the roll out of a world-class communications infrastructure.
“The choice for how far Ireland reaches with a next-generation network is actually critical to our future success,” said Donnelly. “If you were offered the choice of a tricycle or a supersonic jet, which would you choose?”
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