Opportunities for massive growth for Irish businesses exists online but are largely ignored, a leading technical consultant revealed during a Mayo Ideas Week seminar last week.
Speaking specifically on the potential for the creative sector to get involved in extending their businesses online, Dr Stephen Brennan who heads up the state-backed Digital Hub Development Agency in Dublin said that those working in animation, the arts, media, writing, TV production, and sales could and should capitalise on a massive new market that is growing exponentially, particularly in the area of electronic games, whose applications are now being used in everything from training to education.
Speaking on the topic of ‘helping Ireland develop in the internet space’, Dr Brennan suggested that Ireland has something really interesting to offer and the goal was to create a critical mass of creative talent to showcase this and build enterprise.
"We have something different to say and need to make our message competitive. It is so important that every business, university, creative artist, etc, be connected to and using the internet,” he said.
Citing up-to-date figures to prove the worth of this, he revealed that €2 million was spent online in Ireland in 2009, but 70 per cent of this money went to international suppliers outside Ireland; this compares to the UK where approximately 70 per cent of online purchases are supplied by local companies.
“So we have a problem, we’re way behind. It is very clear businesses are not taking a hold of the internet,” he said.
He further revealed that £1 in every £5 of sales in the UK is spent on the internet.
Dr Brennan also recommended business people open their minds to customers being more than someone walking in the door of their premises.
“Customers like me — who are always on a plane and buying stuff from a hotel somewhere in the world — that market is growing at a phenomenal rate. There is a huge and growing mass of consumers willing to spend money online. In Ireland today we need to develop how customers will be compelled to buy an Irish product.”
He added that there is not really any major centre for digital media in Ireland but that such enterprises, which amount to approximately 7,500, tend to be city based.
In a mind-boggling video presentation depicting squillions of numbers, online interactivity and global connectivity, further important statistics were revealed as follows:
• 1.3 billion people worldwide are connected to the internet;
• growth is led by users and developers;
• China is the biggest internet user — and also one of the world’s fastest growing economies;
• €4 billion of online income is spent via electronic devices other than computers, such as iPhones.
“The internet is essential for everybody,” Dr Brennan added. “You need to have connectivity. There is nothing stopping anyone in a room here in Ireland from launching a global product on the market tomorrow. We need to brand Ireland as a place the internet needs to be. The digital hub is open for business to make the necessary connections and provide support to you here in Mayo.”