Survey finds data regulation a key driver in investment decisions

21 Jun 2021

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The William Fry survey found executives are increasingly considering a country’s data-related regimes before investing.

Data regulation is front of mind for companies investing in Ireland, according to a survey from William Fry.

The Global Trends in Technology and Data survey, which included 300 C-suite executives, analysed the factors that go into data investments at companies.

It found that data regulation regimes were the top consideration when choosing a location, with 92pc of respondents saying Ireland’s status was good or excellent. This was followed in second place by access to talent and third by the local legal frameworks.

On the matter of data-related investments over the next 18 months, 62pc said that it was “likely” they would make further investments in Ireland and 31pc said it was “possible”.

“Comparing this report with our 2016 study, Europe for Big Data, is fascinating. Data regulation has replaced tax rate, now number eight, as the top driver for location decisions,” David Cullen, partner and head of William Fry’s technology department, said.

“Talent has become even more important as a consideration, whilst the importance of a jurisdiction’s legal framework remains at number three. There is also evidence of a significant and favourable shift in attitudes towards Ireland as a suitable location for data related location or investment since our last report in 2016.”

Ireland also scored high ratings for language and culture (93pc) and political and regulatory stability (90pc).

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Respondents said that while there is the EU-wide regulation of GDPR, there is a mishmash of implementations from country to country.

In the survey, 89pc said the interpretation and enforcement “varies significantly” between member states with many saying they would like to see greater coordination.

Elsewhere in the survey, 73pc of organisations said they were increasing their investment in information security with the recent spate of high-profile cyberattacks still lingering in people’s minds.

William Fry probed organisations more specifically on the types of technologies that they are investing in.

Top of the list was artificial intelligence, with 79pc of respondents saying they are pumping money into infrastructure for AI while 66pc plan to spend more on R&D.

A sizeable chunk of companies are also preparing investment plans in blockchain, 5G and the internet of things.

“Whilst our 2016 study found that companies across all industries have become data organisations, our latest report suggests that we are truly part of a data culture; adopting fast-evolving radical new technologies that reflect the changing ways in which we now work and live our lives,” Cullen said.

“In today’s world, smart data analysis is, more than ever before, a key differentiator for businesses.”

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin

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