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Growing quickly and continuously since 2012, the digital economy in Ireland is expected to expand to about 7.9% of GDP next year. But is this growth sustainable? Prosperity takes a look at current trends and potential problems in the digital economy in an attempt to ascertain its future.

Growing Ireland’s digital economy

As we all know, tech giants like Google and Amazon have been putting further investment in cities like Dublin and Cork and creating new digital jobs every month. But it’s not just the big players who are making an impact. Earlier this year, Ireland recorded the highest start-up figures since 2006 with an average of 71 companies setting up every day.

According to this year’s Digital Economy and Society Index, Ireland also scored higher than any other EU member state on the integration of digital technology. This measures the digitisation of businesses and e-commerce. This rating is largely thanks to the fact that Irish SMEs excel in the use of e-commerce. 35% of Irish businesses sell online - more than any other EU country.

20% of Irish businesses also take advantage of big data - among the highest in the EU. And Ireland also recorded the highest growth in digital public services. With growing digitisation and e-commerce, the growth of Ireland’s digital economy will likely continue. But there are some developing problems which could hinder it’s speed.

Emerging issues for the digital economy

By adopting digital technologies, Irish businesses are improving efficiency and reducing costs. E-commerce also allows for access to wider markets, improving growth potential.

Despite this potential, Irish businesses within the digital economy also face a number of challenges, including Brexit and attracting skilled workers.

Throughout the year, headlines have highlighted an increasing shortage of digital skills. The Irish Times recently reported a 40% increase in cybersecurity vacancies, while the Marketing Sentiment Survey found that 44% of decision-makers were experiencing a shortage in marketing skills. Furthermore, an ICT skills audit in 2018 found there were 12,000 vacancies in the sector.

The future of the digital economy

At Prosperity, we often help clients who are experiencing a gap in their digital talent. We also hear concerns from both clients and candidates about the housing shortage in Dublin where the tech and digital economy is centred. In fact, we ran a survey of candidates and the results showed a clear dissatisfaction with accommodation in Dublin, as well as an openness to working in rural parts of Ireland. (Find out more in our digital economy report.)

For this reason, we believe the digital economy will begin to spread to more rural areas with businesses setting up outside of Dublin and offering more remote roles. Training and recruitment will become even more of a priority for businesses in the coming year. Though, we expect the Government’s National Digital Strategy, which is due to be released soon, will provide some digital training solutions too.

It is difficult to say precisely what impact Brexit will have on Ireland’s digital economy, but it could create many opportunities. The top international tech companies do most of their business in English and Ireland will be the only English-speaking country in the EU; this should encourage growth.

Experiencing a skills gap?

Prosperity specialises in digital recruitment. Get in touch today and we’ll provide you with top candidates in just seven days.


  • The digital economy is expected to expand to about €21.4 billion or 7.9% of GDP by 2020 - Source: Department of Communications
  • On Integration of digital technology, Ireland scored highest, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Hungary scored lowest. Integration of digital technology covers (a) ‘business digitisation’ and (b) ‘e-commerce’. - Source: DESI Report 2019
  • The EU Member States that have exploited e-commerce opportunities the most are Ireland, Sweden and Denmark. Source: DESI Report 2019
  • In Malta, almost one fourth of enterprises use big data. The Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland follow closely, with more than 20 % of enterprises taking advantage of big data. Source: DESI Report 2019
  • The percentage of enterprises selling online (web or EDI type) ranged from 8 % in Bulgaria to 35 % in Ireland (the highest). Source: DESI Report 2019
  • Among the EU-28, the percentage of enterprises exploiting the opportunities of e-sales to consumers ranged from 2.2 % in the UK to 18.2 % in Ireland. Source: DESI Report 2019
  • Ireland is number 1 in the EU in the Integration of digital technology dimension, particularly because Irish SMEs excel in the use of e-Commerce. Ireland records the highest growth in Digital public services with top ranking in open data and second place in services for business users Source: DESI Report 2019
  • Ireland ranked 13th overall for women’s use of use of internet and internet skills. Despite this, we ranked high when it came to women with specialist skills and employment we ranked 5th. With women making up 21.1% of ICT specialist - compared to the EU average of 17.2%.  Source: Women in Digital Scoreboard for 2019