Ireland has yet to fully embrace the economic and social opportunities presented by the internet. That’s according to the Digital Hub Development Agency (DHDA), which today published its annual report for 2010.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Philip Flynn, Chief Executive Officer of the DHDA, highlighted the potential cost savings, time efficiencies and service improvements that could be delivered by public and private sector organisations through increased use of the internet and digital media tools.
“The internet has now become both a global cultural phenomenon and a disruptive economics engine – and this presents an opportunity on all fronts for increased income, cost savings and efficiencies, and improved customer service,” he said. “If harnessed well, it will allow our arts and cultural products to extend their reach to global audiences and our indigenous commercial businesses to grow and expand in world markets.
“Despite the huge advancements of recent years, many organisations have been slow to embrace the internet opportunity. Recent surveys indicate that only 20 per cent of SMEs in Ireland are truly active on the internet, for example, compared to 40 per cent in our nearest competitor market, the UK.
Mr. Flynn said that there was a number of basic ways in which public and private sector organisations can use the internet to offer better services and achieve efficiencies, including:
• First and foremost, making products and services available to purchase online, where feasible – and in the public sector delivering services more conveniently through the use of online tools.
• Capitalising on the pervasive use of social media to interact better with customers; to attract new business from new global markets; to build and sustain a loyal community of customers and clients; and to engage more effectively with members of the public.
• Increased use of ‘webinars’, virtual meetings and conference calls to cut back on meeting costs and travel expenses.
• Making calls via the internet, rather than through traditional telephone lines, to avail of cheaper rates.
Leonard Donnelly, Chairperson of the DHDA, said greater use of the internet would not only lead to Irish organisations becoming more efficient and achieving cost savings but would also – ultimately – create new jobs.