Irish SMEs ‘behind the curve’ in grasping web opportunities, says Google director

THE Irish economy has failed to date to grasp the huge opportunities for growth offered by the internet.

Ireland is “behind the curve in grasping the potential of the internet to deliver economic prosperity at local, regional and national level,” said Ronan Harris, director online sales, Google, in an address to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce yesterday.

With two billion internet users worldwide, 1.4 million emails are exchanged every second and three billion YouTube videos are watched daily.

“No other revolution has had a greater impact on how we live and work than the internet revolution,” but Ireland still has to grasp the enormous potential it offers, he said.

Irish consumers spend almost 20 hours per week online and with millions of people shopping online that represents a significant marketplace for Irish SMEs to exploit, he said.

“There is no reason why Ireland’s internet economy shouldn’t grow as quick [as Britain], or even more quickly in the same timeframe,” he said.

Ireland is “behind the curve in grasping the potential of the internet to deliver economic prosperity at local, regional and national level,” he said.

A survey of over 800 commercial SMEs, across various sectors surveyed by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Google, found that nearly 40% did not have any online presence while 60% do not have an entry in an online directory.

Some 97% of commercial SMEs online are still using the company website as brochureware, that did not enable their customers to buy products or services online.

“That’s the equivalent of renting a store on Grafton Street, putting a sign above the door and then keeping the doors locked,” he said.

Yet a report from consultants McKinsey shows how SMEs that make heavy use of the internet grow twice as fast as their counterparts that don’t, and export at “twice the rate,” he said.


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