In the most comprehensive, first-of-its-kind look at the economic contribution that data provides to the Irish economy, The Data Economy Report reveals that the Republic of Ireland is tapping just over half of the potential value of its data – although the Data Economy is currently worth €9.96 billion annually to Ireland, this is only 52% of its full potential.


The report, commissioned by Digital Realty from economic consultancy Development Economics, highlights Ireland as home to one of the world’s fastest-growing data economies. The presence of global technology giants such as Apple and Google, alongside home-grown start-ups like Intercom, has been propelling 10.4% growth in the country’s Data Economy each year – twice that of the wider economy. Ireland’s growth is also nearly double that of the UK’s Data Economy.


However, there’s still more to be done. The UK remains more effective at refining value from the data it has, taking 58% of the potential value of its data each year, while Ireland accesses just 52%, missing out on an extra €9 billion each year.


Growth in the area has also brought high value jobs to Ireland, with 84,000 jobs currently supported by the Data Economy. They are also high value jobs, with each worker contributing €118,571 GVA each year on average.


And further opportunities are immense. Through continued investment in new technologies and big data management from businesses, infrastructure such as telecoms network and companies’ data centres, and training from businesses and government, Ireland can become an even stronger competitor on the global stage.


Long term investment and strategy from both business and Government could mean the difference between the Data Economy growing at its current rate and hitting €13.75 billion by 2025 and a best-case scenario in which it grows to €14.87 billion by 2025, creating a €1.12 billion per year data dividend.


The report outlines four steps that Irish businesses can take to turbo-charge their ability to turn data into financial value and grab a slice of that €1.12 billion:


  1. Invest in the next generation. New ‘internet of things’ (IoT) and analytics technologies are creating new, data-led ways to identify and access efficiencies and revenue streams across businesses. To achieve the full potential of their data, businesses need to invest in new technologies and make sure every relevant area of operation has access to those technologies, from production lines to logistics, management of premises and R&D.
  2. Assure customers. Consumer trust around data is low. Businesses need to rebuild confidence that they can and should be trusted to handle customer data. To do so, they need to invest in defences against cyber-attacks, create robust and transparent policies and learn from best practice in other businesses.
  3. Seize Open Data opportunities. Although the Irish government’s acceptance and implementation of Open Data policies has been improving, under current trends Ireland is not expected to become a top ten performer.
  4. Invest in the foundations. Whether it’s a business upgrading its data centre infrastructure or telecoms providers investing in fifth generation mobile phone networks, investment is needed at the foundations of a company’s data infrastructure.


“Data is key to the Irish economy, not only in newer sectors such as IT but also for more traditional sectors such as manufacturing. We have the talent, investment and presence in Ireland to super charge that data but businesses need to get better at extracting value from data for their operations, marketing and growth,” said Valerie Walsh, Vice President Asset Management, Digital Realty. “There’s a €1 billion opportunity dependent on businesses and the government investing right and doing so for the long term.”

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