Ireland’s changing IT infrastructure requirements: are Irish businesses ready?

We launched our inaugural research, ‘The Drivers and Challenges of Ireland’s IT landscape’, conducted by Amárach Research, and commissioned in partnership with HPE, earlier this month. It was designed to provide us with better insights to more effectively understand the behaviours driving Irish and international organisations when it comes to digital transformation in Ireland. Recently, The Irish Times published an article featuring commentary from our Managing Director for Ireland, Séamus Dunne where he discussed the research in detail and posing the question, are Irish businesses really ready for digital transformation? A summary from the article is outlined below. 

Digital Transformation

While Irish businesses may be embracing digitalisation to some degree, there are signs that it is not taking full advantage of the possibilities unlocked by true digital transformation despite the market opportunities at home and abroad and the need to remain competitive in terms of international players. 
As indicated in the article, the EU’s latest Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) study, published earlier this year, places Ireland fifth in the bloc for a second consecutive year, trailing only Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. The report stated that while enterprises in Ireland take advantage of some digital technologies (for example, social media, big data and cloud), other such technologies are not so widespread (for example, Artificial Intelligence (AI), electronic information sharing and e-invoices). 
So, where do Irish enterprises really stand when it comes to digital transformation, and what can they do to truly embrace it?
Our research found that although almost half of (45%) Irish organisations are making a move towards a Hybrid IT approach, whereby they plan to leverage both on-premises systems and off-premises cloud/hosted resources to support their IT infrastructure, a significant variance still exists between enterprises headquartered in Ireland versus those headquartered elsewhere (36% v 67%). This indicates that Irish enterprises have been slower to adopt hybrid IT, and therefore set themselves up for success to embrace digital transformation, versus their international peers. 

Top IT pain points

Our research also indicated that although 35% of Irish organisations still rely on company owned server rooms, there will be a significant (63%) reduction by Irish organisations on the reliance of on-premises facilities over the next two years. This is welcome news, not least of all from a security perspective, which unsurprisingly was among the top IT pain points (64%) Irish organisations hope to alleviate by deploying the right IT infrastructure for their business. When respondents were asked what the biggest data challenges their organisation faces, nearly one in three (28%) said they grapple with the management of the ever-growing amounts of data within their organisation and over a third (36%) of organisations reported they would like to understand how to make better use of their data. Just under a quarter of the Irish enterprises surveyed (20%) want to more effectively manage evolving and diverse data regulation. 

The right IT infrastructure and resources is key

Given the role data plays in underpinning digital transformation, having the right IT infrastructure to support this, is critical. However, you also need the right people to maintain and manage it. Alarmingly, another revelation from our research showed that few organisations surveyed have the necessary resources or skills to meet future IT demands including security expertise (53%), compliance and governance (38%), and finally, application transformation and redevelopment skills to support cloud migrations (28%). 
It comes as no shock then that the research also showed that a third (31%) of Irish enterprises currently use systems integrators or managed hosting providers to manage their infrastructure. The ecosystem doesn’t end there, with almost all the companies surveyed saying they rely on multiple software and hardware vendors, consultants, and cloud services providers to navigate their IT transformation journeys, with a fifth (21%) of companies stating they plan to use a data centre or colocation provider to support the deployment of their hybrid IT strategy in the short-to-medium term. 

Commenting on the key highlights from the report, Séamus remarked: “Organisations seeking to effectively utilise a hybrid IT environment and move away from their own server rooms and the public internet, need to consider colocation an integral part of their digital transformation strategies. In a world where no one is bound by location and companies are undergoing international growth, knowing that you can make sensitive data available in locations where it will be geographically relevant, secure and also easily accessed by team members is critical to improving your organisation’s performance. Enterprise grade network dense colocation facilities can play a central role in supporting this.”

Ultimately, the future is bright for Ireland when it comes to embracing a digital-first approach. There is no question that digital transformation is driving an ever-growing reliance on cloud and colocation to host, power and sustain organisational evolution. Developing the right IT strategy to face this future is a challenge, but it is also essential.