Joe Gill: Ireland taps jobs in global online retail revolution

Last week two of the largest technology companies in the world — Apple and Amazon — were visible at a policy level in Ireland, writes Joe Gill

Both are reflective of fast changing dynamics in the global economy and both are critical elements in the progress of Ireland.

Amazon announced 1,000 jobs as it builds out its capabilities around

online retailing.

The speed at which online shopping is ripping apart traditional shops is a challenge to keep up with.

Massive job losses at big retail chains are happening because of what Amazon is offering consumers — a wide choice of goods at highly competitive prices.

The means by which it does that is tied into the second technology event noted in the past seven days.

Apple boss Tim Cook visited the Irish Government and his large facility in Cork to reinforce his company’s commitment to the Republic.

After the embarrassment of a chaotic planning process for a proposed new data centre, and the tax case with the European Commission you might expect Apple to be adopting a low profile.

Moreover, given the flak generated around Ireland’s legitimate 12.5% regime perhaps Apple should be shifting its focus away to other countries.

Instead, the IT giant is doubling down in its Irish investment, not least because of the quality of employee it has secured and nurtured here.

Apple is just one of the companies that provides the equipment by which you and I are revolutionising the way we work and play.

In doing so, we are participating in the structural disruption of traditional business models.

This article is a living example. I am writing it on an iPad while on leave on the West coast of France. It will find its way via wifi instantly to the Irish Examiner’s business editor for inclusion in this week’s paper.

Before penning this piece, I used the same tablet to order socks via Amazon. They will be at home before I get there and at a lower price than if bought in a physical store.

Ten years ago all of that was a challenge. Mobile phones and tablets were in their infancy and highly expensive. Wifi access was rare, especially on holiday.

Online retail offered a limited range of books and DVDs. It was also difficult to have items shipped to Ireland.

If you consider how far we have advanced in the last decade imagine what will happen in the next one.

The capabilities of phones and tablets will grow enormously while the price of buying and using them will fall materially.

Online retail will expand in ways we cannot even envisage, allowing all sorts of products and probably services to be made available at

competitive costs.

The power of broadband will improve everywhere, too, and at better prices, allowing consumers and workers to operate not just in cities but in rural bases too.

This vision will be driven by companies like Apple and Amazon.

That is why they are investing heavily now to deliver solutions that are bigger and better in 10 years time.

Having Ireland at the centre of this IT revolution is strategically important.

By doing so we have a shot at creating jobs that can not only remain amid dramatic changes in the way products are bought and sold but can actually grow further.

Leveraging that installed base of high-end IT capabilities should also be considered for other revolutionary changes such as autonomous vehicles.

Apple and Amazon are showing us a way forward in that context.

- Joe Gill is director of corporate booking with Goodbody Stockbrokers. His views are personal

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