Bryan Richter (Ireland) - The Cloud Gone Emerald - Why Ireland Remains an IT Tiger in Europe

Many people have taken a very pessimistic view of Ireland's economic prospects in the short to medium term. But Ireland has good grounds to be optimistic about its long term prospects - its position as a technology innovator continues to grow and the technology sector is an area where Ireland continues to perform strongly.

In fact, you can make a very strong case that IT is the highly innovative ‘back bone' of the Irish economy. Let's take a look at the facts. According to ICT Ireland, (the voice of the Information and Communications Technology sector in Ireland):

• Over 75,000 people are employed in the ICT area, and it is responsible for 25% of the country's turnover - as much as a third of the country's export value - an impressive figure

• There are as many as 5,400 ICT enterprises in Ireland, while 233 ICT companies in Ireland are foreign owned

• While other sectors of the economy were down, IT industry hiring was up 6pc in 2010. Between January and October 2010, 2,500 new jobs were announced in the ICT sector

• Ireland is home to many successful games companies which are making their marks worldwide - some examples include Havok (now a part of Intel), Jolt, Hostelworld and DemonWare (now part of Activision Blizzard)

• The value of exports from indigenous agency-assisted software companies has reached nearly €1 billion. The sector employs 12,500 people in computer programming, consultancy and related activities.

There are several reasons why Ireland's doing well in the world of ICT. One is the farsighted policy of retaining a low rate of corporation tax, which supports R&D for the development of the sector and makes Ireland a natural ‘on ramp' for transatlantic IT investment. Ireland also boasts high productivity, falling labour costs and is a dynamic and proven business environment.

Of course Ireland's greatest asset is its well educated population which comprises of a young, skilled and dynamic workforce. An innovation taskforce from the Central Statistics Office has estimated that at least 177,000 jobs could be created by 2020 if innovation, research and development goals are adhered to.

Ireland's strategic position within Europe's IT Infrastructure

Ireland has become something of a tech hub within Europe. As many as nine of the ten global ICT companies maintain a presence in Ireland and all of the top five software companies have a significant presence in Ireland.

It has an ideal mix of data-centre infrastructure and software developers as well as a growing assortment of cloud services - all of this strongly positions it as a hub for cloud computing. If you are benefiting from cloud based services within Europe, more likely than not, they are being provided by the infrastructure and IT expertise within Ireland. To illustrate the point, Microsoft's own $500 million data centre lies in Ireland. As a business we can certainly vouch for the robustness of the cloud computing services emanating from Ireland - we're using Microsoft's Azure Data Centre for our own storage requirements.

So whilst there remain many current economic challenges for the country as a whole, none of which should be under-estimated, IT innovation and the skills of Ireland's IT workers continue to be an area that Ireland can be rightly proud of. I believe that there is a sunny future for Ireland's IT industry, and Ireland at large, as it continues to innovate into the future.

By Bryan Richter, UK & Ireland Country Manager, Mamut Software



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