A report produced by leading law firm William Fry in association with Forbes Insights, has found that 61% of leading companies around the world plan to increase their Big Data investments substantially over the next 18 months and 96% view Ireland as a favourable investment location. The report, which analyses the key factors driving big data strategies, is based on a survey of 200 C-suite executives in leading companies around the world and highlights that the business challenges and opportunities that Big Data offer are now a key part of decision making across most industries and sectors and can no longer be viewed as a technology issue. Key findings in the report include:
· 73% of non-technology companies are making extensive use of data
· 75% listed physical facilities as the focus of expected data-driven investment in Europe
· 76% believe tighter regulatory controls are the best way forward
· Data-related conditions and regulations rank as two of the top five drivers for new locations.
· 82% rate Irelands data-related regulatory climate as good to excellent
· Ireland ranks second for EU data driven investment – behind the UK and in front of Germany
David Cullen, Partner and Head of William Fry’s Technology Department, explained that, “This report provides some fascinating insights. The finding that 75% of survey participants believe physical facilities are the future of data driven investment in Europe is significant when one considers that 96% view Ireland as a favourable investment location and that 60% of the organisations surveyed have annual sales of between $1bn and $10bn. Taking this together, I strongly believe there is a real opportunity for Ireland to exploit Big Data and position itself as the jurisdiction of choice in Europe”.
When choosing a location, the survey found that two of the top five issues for international entities were legal framework (including data related laws) and data-related conditions and regulations. This demonstrates that international organisations are placing much greater focus on being able to rely on clear and harmonised data privacy and data security regulations even if this raises operating costs. It will come as a surprise to many that despite vastly increased fines and a more onerous compliance regime, 76% of respondents agree that tighter regulatory controls over data are the best way forward. Undeniably, regulation of data is becoming a key factor driving where to locate data control hubs within a region.
The survey reflects positively on Ireland’s high rating in terms of the merits of its data-related regulatory climate overall and its data-privacy regulatory regime. Specifically, 82% of respondents rate the Ireland data regulation regime as good or excellent.
David Cullen explained the significance of this ranking by saying, “Given that concern over privacy related issues is a key driver for international organisations, the reputation of Ireland’s regulatory regime as firm but fair, together with its ranking internationally as good to excellent, sees Ireland well placed as a jurisdiction of choice for the location of data operations for the European region. It is good to see recognition from Germany, renowned for its high standards on privacy matters, where respondents view Ireland as an excellent jurisdiction – giving Ireland an 86% good to excellent rating for its data related regulated regulatory climate and also its data privacy regulatory regime.”
International companies are increasingly deciding to locate their Big Data decision making, operations and strategies for each geographic region in that region. For example, in relation to Europe, the survey shows that 80% of international organisations already have a European business presence. Couple this fact with exponential growth in Big Data operations and it follows that a growing number of companies are or should be looking to open or expand data operations in Europe.
Importantly for Ireland, the most frequent form of data-driven expansion is an investment in facilities (including physical facilities and commercial property), cited by 75% of survey participants. This is followed closely by investment in technology assets (72%), personnel (70%), and finally R&D/intellectual property (43%). This is supported by the location in Ireland of key infrastructure by leading companies such as Microsoft, and also evident in Dublin’s Silicon Docks where a host of international Big Data organisations are based including Facebook, State Street, Twitter, Google, Airbnb and Citi.