The Need for a National Digital Strategy

As the digital economy gathers momentum, Ireland has a critical need to develop a national digital strategy. With no indication that one is about to emerge, and as someone whose livelihood depends on a thriving digital economy, I feel compelled to write one myself. 

Note: The term “digital” includes infrastructure (broadband, the Internet, the cloud), content (digital media, social media, mobile apps), channels (Intranets, websites, smart phones), services (digital marketing, digital advertising) and e-business applications (e-marketing, e-commerce, e-CRM)

Rationale for a National Digital Strategy

by Kieran O'Hea

1. Growing the digital economy is vital for Ireland’s future competitiveness.

2. Despite this, Ireland does not have a coherent digital strategy.

3. Not having a coherent digital strategy will inhibit the development of Irish society, limit the digital capability of its companies and restrict the digital transformation of its economy.

4. Without a coherent digital strategy, the Government is unlikely to meet its ambition for Ireland to be the best small country in the world to do business in by 2016.

5. The following snapshot of the global digital landscape is intended to reflect the urgency:

  • Two billion people are online worldwide including 70% of Europeans. 
  • Six of the world’s top 10 global brands by value are in the digital sector.
  • Global monthly Internet traffic in 2010 was two-thirds higher than in 2009.
  • The capacity of the world’s international fibre-optic cables doubles every 18 months.
  • Video accounts for more than 50% of global Internet traffic.
  • Twenty hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Data generated by Facebook is expected to surpass that of all of the world’s e-mail.
  • There were over 450m broadband subscribers in the world in 2009.
  • There are more than 40m Smartphones in service in the US.
  • There are more than 30m BlackBerry devices and iPhones each globally.
  • Every month over 40m more people become mobile-phone users.
  • 50% of US online consumers are advanced users of smartphones and social media.
  • Over the next five years, companies will invest $122 billion into the Cloud.
6. Meanwhile in Ireland:

  • One million people are still not online.
  • Only 25% of businesses that do have broadband are actually doing business online.
  • Irish people bought €3.3bn online in 2010 of which €2.3bn was purchased abroad.
7. The reasons why Ireland has no coherent digital strategy include:

  • Too much focus on FDI and Internet start-ups.
  • Too much focus on infrastructure including broadband.
  • Failure to differentiate between ICT and digital.
  • Lack of vision and no digital champions at Government level.
  • Lack of understanding verging on indifference in some cases.
  • Fragmentation across different Government departments.
  • Correspondingly, a lack of ownership.
8. There is also a lack of joined-up effort. For example, national digital policy is the responsibility of the Department of Communications (DCENR) whereas the Department of Enterprise (DEJI) deals with international digital policy.

9. Previous attempts at producing a digital strategy have failed to deal in a balanced way with the relationship between infrastructure provision, increased utilisation and economic benefit.

10. Most digital strategies have been biased towards infrastructure and education and have not addressed how to help businesses to use the Internet more effectively.

11. This despite a prediction from McKinsey Global Institute that traditional enterprises will ultimately account for up to 75% of Internet impact on the economy.

12. A successful digital strategy will foster a thriving digital ecosystem in which businesses can prosper, citizen’s lives are enriched, Ireland's position in the smart economy is strengthened and it continues to attract investment from the global digital sector.

13. It’s not a case of can we afford to invest in the digital economy, it’s a case of we cannot afford not to invest in it.

Next Steps

The scoping is at an advanced stage, the next stage will be consultation followed by collation and publishing. Working at my own pace, between other assignments, this could take up to 12 months and there may not be an audience for it. However with sponsorship, it could be published in half this time and could be delivered to a specific audience. In my opinion the urgency is definitely there to justify the latter course of action.

Table of Contents 

  1. Rationale
  2. Approach
  3. Infrastructure
  4. Education
  5. Business
  6. Society
  7. Government
  8. Culture
  9. Skills
  10. Environment
  11. Ecosystem
  12. Legal
  13. Security
  14. Deliverables
  15. Impact 
Stradigí its content and logo are © Kieran O’Hea Digitigm October 2011
Digitigm 21 Northumberland Place Dublin 4 Ireland
T. +353 87 6481344 E. W.



  1. james says

    Great information thanks for sharing this with us.In fact in all topics of this blog their is something to learn . your work is very good and i appreciate your work and hopping for some more informative posts . Again thanks.
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