Firms making use of digital agencies like FCR Media will certainly have reason to take interest in the National Digital Strategy (NDS) for Ireland. Launched last July, the Government initiative aims to get more of the country online, increasing the significance of digital not only for the individual citizen, but for the purposes of wider education, business and entrepreneurship.
The NDS was launched by Pat Rabbitte T.D, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, with a strategy document being available for download on the Department’s website and right here.
Aims of the first phase of the NDS include assisting small businesses in the country to expand online for the stimulation of the indigenous economy, in addition to the preparation of the next generation of citizens for future jobs and ensuring that digital is of benefit to all Irish citizens.
Why the need for a National Digital Strategy?
There’s no question that digital is becoming an increasingly prominent driver of the Irish economy. The National Digital Strategy’s own economic research reveals that digital now supports 95,000 jobs and represents 4.4 per cent of GDP.
This makes the size of the Irish digital industry equal to Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, and only slighter smaller than Financial Services. Another indicator of the importance of a well-coordinated National Digital Strategy is the industry’s growth of 16 per cent each year, which outstrips the rate of growth of the rest of the economy ten-fold.
So what will really happen?
The aforementioned help for small firms will take the form of €2,500 vouchers for the development of a greater web presence. 2,000 Irish businesses will benefit from funds that will help them to “prioritise digital, get the resources, training and expertise needed to develop an online trading presence.” The NDS also includes a target to cut the number of “non-liners” – people who don’t use the Internet – to 288,000 by the end of 2016, which would be half present levels.
In his foreword for the report accompanying the launch of phase 1 of the National Digital Strategy, Doing more with Digital: National Digital Strategy for Ireland Phase 1 – Digital Engagement, Minister Rabbitte commented: “The internet is a resource for everyone. It provides all of us with new ways to interact, communicate, be creative and productive. This means new possibilities and opportunities in terms of how we live, work, conduct business, and learn.
“To achieve more of the potential we need to address the level of engagement with technology, which is enabled by the internet– both its extent and its depth.”
“A central goal”, and more stages to come
Describing it as “a central goal of mine” to encourage online activity by both people and businesses, the minister said that the first phase was “critically important” to achieving this. However, he added that in light of the dynamism of a digital environment that would “continue to change rapidly”, the Digital Strategy will see various subsequent stages.
Those are stages that we will certainly look forward to with interest at FCR Media, particularly with regard to how it will benefit our digital agency clients.