Irish technology leaders are investing heavily as they focus their organisations on accelerating growth amidst global economic disruption, a dynamic landscape of rapidly advancing technology and shifting operating models. That’s a key finding of EY Ireland’s Technology Leaders Survey 2023, which also found that leaders are prioritising the development and retention of key talent in their organisations as they put people at the heart of the digital transformation journeys.
More than two-fifths (44%) of the 150 senior technology leaders surveyed by EY say they are currently planning or executing a digital transformation or change programme, indicating significant room for growth across digital and IT spend and talent acquisition. The momentum Irish tech leaders are delivering during their companies’ transformation journeys is supported by resilient IT budgets with tech leaders indicating they expect to increase (46%) or maintain (49%) current levels of spending over the next two years.
When it comes to staffing, the picture is also bullish, with 93% of Irish technology leaders planning to either increase or maintain current IT staffing levels, and only 2% saying they expect to reduce IT staff headcount over the next two years. In fact, the IT skills shortage remains a top concern for technology leaders, with more than a third (32%) naming it as the number one challenge to growth over the next two years, placing it above global recession fears (27%) and supply chain disruption (12%).
Irish tech leaders are firmly focused on delivering long term value for their organisations through technology but are slow to devote resources to what some see as nascent technologies. Instead, they are investing in the technologies seen as most likely to deliver immediate value, such as process automation (46%), data analytics (39%) and the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G (38%).
39% of leaders consider data analytics a critical technology for driving value creation and yet just 11% of respondents say their organisation is data-centric – that is, fully leveraging data analytics capabilities to be predictive, drive innovation and continually improve every aspect of the business.
“The focus for businesses in Ireland right now is firmly on adding value and future growth, and that is very welcome. Cost reduction is almost a by-product. It’s clear that Irish technology leaders do not view transformation programmes through a pure technology lens and are instead seeing them as enablers of growth and value creation across the entire organisation. But huge opportunities still remain when it comes to technology adoption and innovation, especially in relation to managing and harnessing the power of data, ” said Ronan Walsh, Consulting Partner and Head of Technology Consulting at EY Ireland.
Continuing Journey ahead for cloud adoption
Enterprise-wide cloud adoption remains some way off – indeed, only 15 per cent of respondents indicate that all their IT systems are already on the cloud, while only 26 per cent are pursuing a full cloud strategy and in the process of migrating.
“Irish organisations recognise the need to migrate their core systems to more modern, cloud-based IT architectures but they also know this transition will not be easy. While not without risk, it is ultimately a high reward journey that requires buy-in from the very top of the organisation. We need to see more Irish organisations leveraging their data to maximum effect given that almost 39 per cent of Irish leaders consider data analytics such a critical technology for driving value. Irish organisations must capitalise on the power of data, or we risk falling behind our global counterparts when it comes to innovation,” added Ronan Walsh.
Value drivers key to investment plans; Metaverse and Blockchain not a big focus in the near term
Interestingly, a number of technologies which have attracted and generated significant interest over recent years, such as Blockchain, the Metaverse, 3D Printing and Quantum Computers, are viewed by Irish tech leaders as capable of delivering some value, however, widespread adoption is still some way off.
Colin Reilly, EY Ireland Partner, SAP Practice Leader and Technology Consulting CIO said “This may well be a case of hype failing to survive first contact with reality. We are already seeing some of the main proponents of the metaverse pulling back on investments in the new virtual realm and the paucity of use cases for the majority of businesses will probably see it remain a fringe technology for some time to come. That is not to say that it will not deliver value to organisations at some point in the future, but for the moment at least, that point seems a long way off.”