REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Seize the Future
Ireland is in the middle of a revolution – a digital revolution. For all the economic difficulties and challenges we have faced in recent years, the story of digital technology in Ireland is a story of success.
Comparisons with other countries show that Ireland is on par or even ahead of OECD and EU nations when it comes to several key measures of digital adoption.
Ireland’s future progress towards the digital future will help us solve some of the economic problems we now face. Improving access to higher broadband speeds in households and businesses opens up new opportunities for citizens, consumers, employers and employees. By seizing the digital future, Ireland can secure a higher standard of living through faster economic growth, as well as tackling the scourges of unemployment and emigration through the creation of new jobs, new services and new businesses.
The Size of the Prize
If Ireland simply follows the trend in other countries at a similarly advanced stage of digitisation, then the Internet’s contribution to our economy will grow from about 3% of GDP at present to 6% by 2016.
That’s an increase in the value of Ireland’s digital economy from under €5 billion this year to over €11 billion in 2016, creating new jobs and new businesses along the way.
As for jobs potential, raising the level of digitisation in Ireland to that of our nearest neighbour, the UK, would reduce the numbers unemployed in Ireland by nearly 18,000; with even bigger reductions possible if the level rose to that of the leading Scandinavian countries.
UPC commissioned Amárach Research to carry out two, parallel surveys in August 2012: the first was an online survey comprising 1,000 adults aged 16 and over, representative of Ireland’s population; and the second comprised a telephone and web survey of 201 IT decision-makers in Irish SMEs and larger corporations, with quotas to ensure a cross-section of companies by size. The surveys were carried out on an entire market wide basis and included customers of all telecommunications providers.
Already, 8 in 10 adults use the Internet in Ireland, up from fewer than 5 in 10 in 2007. Indeed, broadband take-up in Ireland matches the EU average at two thirds of homes. The Internet is now a vital part of our everyday lives, and shapes how we work, relax, learn and shop. Internet users spend 156 minutes (2.6 hours) online on a typical weekday, rising higher at the weekend. On average there are two or more people using broadband in every home, with two or more devices connected at the same time – as smartphones become more common, more people and devices will be connected. Shopping and social networks are the most popular online activities, while a third of adults already use the Internet at home for work purposes. 6 in 10 workers are expected to work from home some or all of the time by 2016.
The Irish are digital optimists, and look forward to a host of new services that will enable them to study, shop, work and share from the comfort of their home in future. Indeed, half of all adults would be interested in running their own business from home at some stage, facilitated by digital technologies.