Ireland’s economy could be €9.5bn higher by 2025 than currently forecast if firms boost their digital skills.
A report by Google and market research company Amárach found that Ireland’s gross domestic product (GDP) could grow by an extra 0.5pc a year between 2022 and 2025, hitting €544bn by 2025.
Out of 1,000 firms surveyed, 28pc of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) believe they could increase wages and salaries if they had the right digital talent.
The report also found that 30pc of exporting companies say they could export more if they could draw on more digital skills.
Just 38pc of Irish SMEs said they are currently ‘well down the road’ or further ahead on their digital journey, with 10pc saying they are well advanced.
Out of the companies surveyed in December 2021, 11pc said they “haven’t done anything” so far to advance their digital skills, although 52pc expect to be further ahead by 2025.
The pandemic has incentivised 64pc of firms to invest more in digital skills, with 49pc of SMEs now saying that building an online presence is one of their top three priorities.
Most of the skills prioritised by SMEs relate to customer service, including online shopping and content marketing.
In Ireland, SMEs make up 99pc of all businesses and 70pc of employment.
“It is clear that Irish SMEs recognise the importance of digital adoption to their business goals but often feel there is a gap between where they are now and where they want to be,” said Alice Mansergh, director for small business at Google. “The potential prize for growing digital readiness among Irish SMEs is substantial.”
The news comes as online payments and banking specialist Klarna launches a new automated set-up system for Irish retailers wanting to take their businesses online.
“The new onboarding process will be key for merchants in Ireland, especially for SMEs who are trying to quickly adapt to the fast-evolving retail industry,” said Klarna’s head of business development in Ireland, Colin Creagh.
“Retailers will be able to integrate Klarna’s payment options in just a few steps, providing their consumers with more choice, flexibility and control over how they shop and pay.”