Author: Diarmuid O'Briain CEng FIEI FIET, chief technical officer, Ripple Communications Limited/Computing Division, Engineers Ireland
It is estimated that the digital economy is worth €7.7 billion or 4.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) and this is growing. Additionally, there are 50,000 jobs directly attributed to sectors and activities which produce the goods facilitated by the internet and associated services (Indecon, 2012). The Industrial Development Authority (IDA) supports over 200 information and communications technology (ICT) companies in Ireland directly employing approximately 36,000 people – this represents 22% of total exports, estimated at €35 billion.
All of this demonstrates that the ICT and internet sector is an essential and growing part of our economy. Our nearest neighbour in the UK, however, has the largest internet economy in the world at 8.3% of GDP in 2010 and estimates that it will have grown to 12.4% by 2016. Online retail in the UK will represent 23% of all retail by 2016 (BCG, 2010).