Digitalisation and Innovation

Respondents to Ibec’s survey of Experience Economy firms suggest that just one in seven small businesses in the sector regard digitalisation as being a priority, with 70% regarding it as a business risk. This points to a clear need to make all Experience Economy businesses aware of the opportunities that digitalisation presents and provide incentives to help more businesses harness this potential.

Policy Recommendations:

Promote digital proficiency for all businesses.

Ensure all businesses in the Experience Economy achieve fundamental digital proficiency, with a special emphasis on supporting small and micro enterprises. This effort demands sustained financial backing and adaptable support systems, which should be periodically evaluated to ensure they remain effective and responsive to current demands. The introduction of digital supports for business within the National Enterprise Hub is a positive development, its effectiveness as a support mechanism must be consistently monitored and refined to align with the changing needs of businesses. It is imperative that funding remains steady and that support services are frequently updated to address the evolving requirements of the sector.

Foster the skills, talent, and inclusion necessary to enhance the Experience Economy’s digital opportunities.

Funding needs to be provided for upskilling within existing jobs to support employees combining transversal skills with a basic level of ‘digital fluency’ and deliver key skills for the 21st century. Government needs to urgently progress options available to unlock the National Training Fund (NTF).

Support practical collaboration between smaller and larger enterprises.

Continue to fund business supports such as MentorsWork programme and the network of Digital Innovation Hubs to build communities of digital transformation through sharing best practices and mentoring small and micro firms on the benefits of embedding digital within their business.

Promote ongoing investment in digital infrastructure and innovation.

Strong digital and data infrastructure is key to bridging digital divides in our economy, enhancing services, and ensuring our regions develop and support businesses and their wider communities. To future-proof Ireland’s Experience Economy the digital readiness of our infrastructure is key, it also provides opportunities for new or enhanced experiences through the adoption of immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality. We need to have accelerated efforts on connectivity infrastructure which include the continued rapid rollout of the National Broadband Plan and address mobile blackspots.