03 Mar 2017 | 11.27 am
Digital Skills Focus As Businesses Rebound
Businesses are confident and growing, enabled all the way by digital technology
03 Mar 2017 | 11.27 am
The Virgin Media Business Digital Insights Report indicates strong employment and turnover growth in the year ahead, as the focus on digital increases
In spite of Brexit and other turmoil, business confidence is still very high among the vast majority of Irish companies, according to the Virgin Media Business Digital Insights Report, researched for Virgin by Amárach.
Virgin Media asked a panel of Irish business decision makers how they rate their growth prospects for 2017/18. The 200 senior decision makers in 200 businesses throughout Ireland were surveyed in late 2016. The survey replicated core elements of similar studies for Virgin Media in 2014 and 2012.
- 86% of businesses say they have good growth prospects and 75% say they will increase employment.
- 74% of businesses believe future growth will be driven by digital technology.
- Businesses expect turnover to grow by 19%, up from 11% in 2014. With the addition of the right digital and online strategy, businesses added that turnover could grow by 26%.
- Brexit ranked low in order of business risks compared with issues like cybersecurity and data protection.
Additionally, three-quarters of respondents say they expect to hire additional staff over the 2017/18 period. That’s a big increase on the 59% who said they intended to hire new staff in the 2014 survey.
When it comes to jobs and hiring, the importance of digital skills has increased, with 88% of businesses stating IT capability is an important precondition when considering potential candidates, up from 75% in 2014. Of these, the skills businesses think important are analytics (70%), programming (60%), digital marketing (51%) and social media (49%).
As Irish businesses become more digitally mature, the delivery of customer experiences becomes more dependent on digital. High-speed broadband is central to this for the business and for the customer.
Some 88% of business respondents said their business wouldn’t exist or would be a lot smaller if they didn’t have broadband, with over one-third believing their business would be less profitable. Customers having broadband was also rated as important to business by 77% of business decision makers.
Paul Farrell (pictured), Commercial Vice President of Virgin Media, commented: “The most significant findings are those that relate to business and employment growth enabled by digital technologies. The fact that so many business decision makers are confident about growth prospects and increasing employment over the next two years shows the strength of the economic recovery, and long may it last.”
The survey also revealed an encouraging trend around online sales. Respondents said one-third of their sales were online in 2015, almost double the level recorded in 2013. Furthermore, the online channel was expected to account for 40% of sales in 2016, again almost double the expected 2014 level of 21%.
Cybersecurity breaches were cited as a significant risk by 61% of respondents, 52% were concerned about data protection infringements, while only 20% said increased competition from the UK, as a result of Brexit, represented a real risk to their businesses.
Paul Farrell added: “It’s important that businesses are encouraged to trade online and to maximise the opportunities of the digital economy. The overall picture revealed by the Virgin Media Business Digital Insights Report shows a confident business community that is growing sales at home and abroad, increasing employment, developing new products and services, and investing in digital technologies and online strategies to drive their potential.”
Download the Digital Insights Report Online at www.virginmedia.ie/insights