Call for next Government to create a Minister for Technology

27 Jan 2011

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The next Government should set a 100-day target to grasp Ireland’s cloud computing opportunity and spearhead this by appointing a Minister for Technology.

This is the view of Kevin O’Loughlan, managing director of Nostra Systems, who highlighted the need at cabinet level to set an ambitious early target to grasp the potential of cloud computing to deliver jobs, public service cost savings and attract foreign investment.

A report earlier this week by Goodbody Economic Consultants, commissioned by Microsoft, suggested that Ireland has many of the attributes to become a global cloud computing centre of excellence and could capture a large share of the cloud-computing industry, estimated to be worth €40bn worldwide, by 2014.

The report says Ireland alone has a chance to build a €9.5bn-a-year in revenues industry by 2014, resulting in 8,600 new jobs. Not only that but because cloud computing lowers costs to businesses, by migrating to the cloud, some 2,000 new non-IT small and medium-sized firms can be created that would in turn employ 11,000 people.

Speed is of the essence for the next Government

"Speed is of the essence,” says O’Loughlan. “Cloud computing is still in its infancy, but growing up fast. Other countries are eyeing up these opportunities, too. Ireland must move quickly and decisively to make itself a global cloud computing centre of excellence.

“There is broad agreement that our public services need major reform and cost reductions. Cloud computing offers productivity solutions that will deliver enhanced public services and demonstrate Ireland’s commitment to its use.

“Cloud technology offers big benefits to the public sector as it can deliver major productivity gains and lower the costs of delivery as well as improving the quality of services for people. The cloud provides centralised control and brings services closer to citizens at lower cost. Pilot projects such as the database of Irish cross-county planning applications already show what can be done.

“The new Government should implement a high-profile cloud project to showcase Ireland’s expertise to a global audience. The strong presence in Ireland of global technology and communications companies like Microsoft, Google, Intel and so many others will ensure an attentive, worldwide audience for what Ireland does,” O’Loughlan says.

He added that IDA Ireland has an opportunity to create a cluster of world leaders in cloud computing if it can convince them that the new Irish Government understands and embraces the potential of cloud. Not only that, but Irish SMEs can reach global markets with fewer barriers to entry.

“If the Irish Government grabs the opportunity to support small and medium firms, the cloud can generate additional economic growth and turn our economy around. Ireland can continue to assert its role as a site for technology leadership.

“Cloud computing is the coming force in technology. In time, it will be seen to have the same socio-economic impact on manufacturing and all categories of work as piped water and electricity did in the past.

“Our next Government, including a Minister for Technology, needs to listen to, and work closely with, national leaders in companies like Microsoft to map out how to attract cloud computing organisations to Ireland. We have a unique short-term opportunity. We must take it,” O’Loughlan recommends.

Siliconrepublic.com has embarked on its Cloud Centre campaign to better inform businesses about opportunities in cloud computing. To visit our Cloud Centre, click here

For the past two years, Silicon Republic has run a campaign to highlight the imperative of creating the digital infrastructure and services upon which the success of our economy depends.

The website for Digital 21 provides a forum for all those interested in accelerating the development of Ireland’s Digital Economy.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com