What are the biggest challenges in Ireland’s IT landscape?

23 Nov 2022

Image: Digital Realty/kras99/Stock.adobe.com

Digital Realty’s Séamus Dunne says IT security is one of the biggest pain points Irish organisations are currently facing.

Last month, research commissioned by Digital Realty and Hewlett Packard Enterprise looked at the challenges businesses are facing when it comes to digital transformation in Ireland.

Conducted by Amárach Research, it involved a survey of 150 senior IT and business decision-makers and identified several pain points for organisations.

According to Digital Realty Ireland managing director Séamus Dunne, IT security is the most prevalent challenge for leaders surveyed.

“Security was a consistent theme that ran throughout the research findings, with it also being identified as the top skills gap in the Irish market when it comes to Irish organisations meeting their IT transformation needs,” he said.

“Beyond this, handling risk and compliance came in a close second (42pc), which isn’t entirely unexpected given Ireland, as a longstanding member of the EU, must adhere to strict regulations such as GDPR, EU taxonomy as well as data residency.”

The next challenge identified in the report was responding effectively to changing business requirements, most likely related to the need to adapt during the Covid-19 pandemic along with geopolitical factors.

Insufficient staff resources, budget constraints and managing legacy infrastructure were among the other pain points identified.

“It’s clear that Irish organisations are grappling with a lot right now, so having the right IT infrastructure is paramount,” said Dunne.

“It was encouraging then to see that nearly half (45pc) of Irish organisations plan to migrate to a hybrid IT environment to leverage both on-premises systems and off-premises cloud or hosted resources.”

Ireland has ‘lagged’ behind

While Dunne said this is a move in the right direction, the report found that 67pc of enterprises headquartered outside Ireland are embracing hybrid IT, compared to just 36pc of those headquartered in Ireland.

Ireland has “lagged somewhat when it comes to embracing a hybrid IT model”, according to Dunne, due to a number of factors such as workload placement, data management and skills shortages.

“Although the Covid-19 pandemic acted as a huge accelerant for Irish organisations wishing to embrace digital transformation, unlike the global shift away from storing data in owner-operated server rooms, many Irish enterprises continue to own and operate server rooms, which has a major bearing on Ireland’s current stance when it comes to hybrid IT,” he said.

“When managing data, nearly one in three (28pc) respondents said they grapple with the management of the ever-growing amounts of data within their organisation and more than a third (36pc) of organisations reported they would like to understand how to make better use of their data.

“Finally, another major revelation from our research that can be attributed to Ireland’s slower adoption of a hybrid IT approach, showed that few organisations surveyed have the necessary resources or skills to meet future IT demands including security expertise (53pc), compliance and governance (38pc), and application transformation and redevelopment skills (28pc).”

Tackling the challenges

Dunne said when it comes to addressing the pain points highlighted in the report, companies need to have “the right IT infrastructure” as well as a strong awareness of the cybersecurity challenges they face.

“By developing a hybrid IT strategy, to leverage both on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources, Irish enterprises can protect themselves from disruption as well as create efficiencies and new revenue streams, in particular around data, while remaining both compliant and competitive,” he said.

“Organisations seeking to effectively utilise a hybrid IT environment and move away from their own server rooms and the public internet need to consider colocation as an integral part of their digital transformation strategies.

“In a world where no one is bound by location and companies are undergoing international growth, knowing that you can make sensitive data available in locations where it will be geographically relevant, secure and also easily accessed by team members is critical to improving your organisation’s performance.”

The skills shortage is a much broader issue, one which needs to be tackled from all sides. However, Dunne said one way companies can address this challenge is through their IT partner ecosystem.

“In Ireland, there is a robust IT network of partners available for Irish businesses to lean on. It is prudent for companies who don’t have the relevant skillsets they need to embrace digital transformation to utilise these resources and support their teams with outsourced specialists,” he said.

“While partners are critical to supporting digital transformation, we can’t lose sight of the importance of on-the-job training and ongoing investment in skills development. Digital literacy is imperative to Ireland’s future economic success, so teaching this at the earliest level in school and investing in it from the roots up is also key.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic