Ireland still at the e-business races: Forfás

10 Dec 2003

Ireland can still catch up in the race to adopt e-business although it lags other countries, according to a report launched today by Forfás in conjunction with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The report, E-business Monitor, compares Ireland’s e-business performance with those of eight leading e-business economies worldwide. It reveals that e-business, while currently worth €77bn (within the EU), is forecast to grow to €2.2 trillion by the end of 2006, representing a significant growth opportunity for Irish industry.

“Ireland’s e-business environment has many strengths when compared with other leading e-business economies, particularly the availability of IT supports/skills within the economy, the pro-business fiscal environment and the commitment to e-government. A number of key issues remain to be addressed if Ireland is to retain and develop its current global e-business standing and if we are to promote greater e-business adoption and the creation of an environment which further supports e-business development,” said Martin Cronin, chief executive of Forfás.

“Action in areas such as broadband rollout, enterprise supports to SMEs, continued implementation of e-government, and increased societal adoption of internet technologies will have direct and substantial influence on the scale and timing of the development of e-business in Ireland,” he continued.

The report finds that while Ireland lagged in terms of the adoption of e-business by existing enterprise, it is more advanced than most other countries in terms of the sophistication of e-business applications. And while Ireland ranked poorly in terms of internet and broadband connections, it performed substantially better in terms of selling, accepting orders and purchasing online. The study also finds that Ireland has performed well in terms of developing e-business-related enterprises and attracting e-business related foreign direct investment (FDI) such as Google, eBay, Overture and Multis Group.

E-business Monitor also identifies the following inhibitors to further development of Ireland’s e-business environment:
* The limited availability and high price of DSL and the absence of widespread cable modem broadband services
* Relatively low levels of usage of PCs in primary and secondary schools
* Relatively low levels of e-business adoption by existing business.

The report makes four key recommendations to maximise Ireland’s e-business opportunity:
1. The Government’s implementation plan for the emerging knowledge society (‘New Connections’) needs to be supported by an underpinning vision and roadmap
2. The introduction of widespread availability of broadband access at competitive prices
3. The rollout of e-procurement in the public service should be progressed as a matter of priority
4. A review of e-business policies and supports should be undertaken.

By Brian Skelly