The newly published second edition of the forecast report into Ireland’s digital future predicts that the internet economy will grow from an annual value of €8.4bn to €21.1bn — or 10% of GDP — by 2020. It added that consumer spending will contribute 60% — or nearly €13bn — of this overall figure by 2020.
Communications firm UPC commissioned Amarach Consulting to carry out the study.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte said at the report launch that the findings are clear: “If we can capture the opportunity presented by digitisation, then this will contribute strongly to jobs and economic growth.”
He said that through the National Digital Strategy and National Broadband Plan, the Government is fundamentally committed to the expansion of high-speed internet accessibility across the country.
However, a major finding of the report is that many Irish firms are lagging behind their prospective customer base in terms of online usage and missing out on a potentially huge opportunity.
Currently, around 60% or €3.5bn of Irish consumers’ spending goes online and abroad.
“With some 60% of Irish online shopping going abroad and online spending due to grow to €13bn by 2020, the implications of these figures are clear. We cannot afford to capture only 40% of this opportunity,” said UPC Ireland chief executive Magnus Ternsjo.
He said SMEs will have a brighter future if they use the web to reach out to customers and capitalise on consumer demand.
“A quarter of Irish enterprises don’t have websites, let alone any trading capacity online,” he said, adding that this “is about 47,000 businesses who are missing out on the digital opportunity”.