Ireland faces global competition for shared services crown of Europe

2 Mar 2016

Ireland holds Europe's shared services crown but faces mounting competition from other economies, warns PwC, which has begun benchmarking the sector here

Ireland holds Europe’s shared services crown for US multinationals in the tech, pharma and financial sectors and the sector is maturing. However, it faces increasing global competition for these operations, PwC has warned.

Multinationals from Google to HP and Apple have considerable administrative operations in Ireland and, the last time a benchmark study was done in 2009 by the IDA, the sector employed more than 35,000 people across 100 centres.

PwC is undertaking its inaugural research on shared services centres to benchmark the current size of the sector and is encouraging people who work and lead in the sector to take part and help develop an accurate picture.

“For the first time, we aim to benchmark the size, nature and range of activities of shared services operations based here,” explained Therese Cregg, PwC partner for shared services.

“We will also identify the key success factors and challenges, as well as the future trends and opportunities.”

Shared services have evolved in Ireland


Therese Cregg, PwC’s partner responsible for shared services in Ireland

Cregg said that, while there may be some challenges, the shared services market in Ireland is buoyant and has evolved beyond just supporting transactional activity.

“Multinationals continue to transform their shared services operations into high-value global centres of excellence. Our survey aims to capture this activity, harness the opportunities for Ireland Inc and provide a unique benchmark for the Irish sector.”

She said Ireland has played a pivotal role in the development of the global shared services industry.

“Over the past 20 years, the Irish market has developed and evolved to become a leading global player in providing value-added activities on a centralised basis far beyond traditional transactional processing activities. Indeed, the most mature Irish centres operate as European and global centres of excellence.”

However, there is increased competition internationally for shared service activities and Ireland cannot rest on its laurels.

“Many US multinationals in the tech, pharma and other traditional sectors recognise the inherent value proposition of their Irish operations, but this is normally based on their own direct experience.

“The objective of this survey is to provide some key independent benchmark data to showcase the value proposition here in Ireland in order to drive continued international investment in this sector.”

Dublin image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years