CSO figures reveal that Irish businesses stepped up to the online retail challenge, while many others are using cloud computing, AI and IoT tech.
There has been a modest, albeit notable, increase in the number of Irish companies relying on technology to aid their business in the past year. That’s according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which has released a report detailing e-commerce and ICT activities by enterprises in Ireland in 2021.
The report found that 82pc of businesses have a website or a homepage. This is an increase on 79pc in 2019 and 2020. The vast majority (97pc) use broadband in their day-to-day activities.
The most common facilities provided by a business on their website or homepage are links to their social media profiles (43pc) followed by access to online ordering or reservations (27pc).
According to CSO statistician Colin Hanley, “The Covid-19 pandemic has made enterprises across Ireland change how they do business.” Many of the enterprises surveyed purchased new tech equipment and began to rely on new ways of doing business online.
Over the past year, 59pc of businesses have purchased cloud computing services, an increase from 51pc the previous year. The most common type of cloud computing service in 2021 is e-mail, used by 47pc, followed by office software at 43pc.
More than a third of companies have made use of remotely monitored IoT devices for security reasons or monitoring energy consumption.
A smaller percentage (8pc) use AI and machine learning technologies in their business. The most common reasons for using AI is marketing and sales (3pc) and business administrative processes (3pc).
Large firms are more likely to use AI in their business. Almost a third of large enterprises use AI, compared to just 13pc of medium-sized firms and 6pc of small businesses.
Not only have businesses embraced the transition to online sales in recent months, consumers have also. Ireland is the most common location for online orders by customers, with a third of enterprises receiving orders via their websites or apps from Irish customers in 2021.
Almost one in five (19pc) of businesses experienced an increase in online sales during the pandemic. Around 40pc sell online while just over half (54pc) make purchases online, suggesting that Irish businesspeople are comfortable navigating e-commerce.
The report found that 18pc of businesses set up a dedicated click-and-collect service during the pandemic, while 31pc upped their social media presence in a bid to boost sales and 8pc of businesses took the plunge and set up a new social media page.
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