Fifth of Irish businesses invested significantly in digital tech during pandemic

Main areas of investment are IT hardware or infrastructure, and IT software and applications, followed by cloud storage or services
(L-R) Susan Furniss Radley, Dust + Rock; Shannon Forrest and Declan Malone, Rívesci; Lucy Erridge, Lucy Erridge; Stephen Jiang, Fervor and Hue; Emma Carmody and Marjorie Cunningham, Grounded Pottery

21 October 2021

In association with Virgin Media

One in five Irish businesses spent over €100,000 on digital technologies over the past year, with nearly a third of businesses intending to invest that much over the next two years.

Research conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Virgin Media found that 87% of businesses invested in digital technologies over the past year, as the pandemic has put a much greater emphasis on digital technologies and IT for Irish SMEs.




The research, which was carried out earlier this month, involved the participation of 200 SMEs across the Republic of Ireland.

  • Among the companies surveyed, main areas of investment are IT hardware or infrastructure (32%), IT software and applications (31%), followed by cloud storage or services (12%) and E-commerce and marketplace technologies (12%).
  • Over a quarter (27%) of SMEs surveyed said they are selling more online this year than last year, and this trend is expected to continue.
  • Six in 10 of all the businesses surveyed said they expect to have even more online sales a year from now than at present.
  • 38% of businesses – who have not yet put money into their IT infrastructure – expressed a view that to do so would increase their level of online sales.

This latest research coincides with Virgin Media announcing the five winning applicants of its Backing Business initiative, launched earlier this year in Munster. Each winner has successfully completed a digital transformation, enabling them to offer greater levels of e-commerce functionality and virtual customer support.

The five winning SMEs are:

  • Cork-based branded homeware company Fervor + Hue who offer an eclectic collection of select-piece furniture, soft furnishings, lighting, wall art and more
  • Kerry-based company Grounded Pottery who offer hand-crafted, ceramic reusable travel cups with designs inspired by the Irish countryside
  • Limerick-based artists Lucy Erridge, an artist who works with watercolours to create paintings inspired by nature and wildlife.
  • Tipperary-based food company, Rívesci who produce award-winning hand-made condiments which appear on menus in cafés and bistros around the country
  • Waterford-based company, Dust + Rock, founded by Susan Furniss Radley, designer of the ‘Wrist Pocket’, a unique take on an everyday purse with added functionality and peace of mind due to its really clever design

The five selected businesses received a total of €100,000 in support and have benefitted from the expertise and insights of each of the Virgin Media Backing Business partners including Digital Business Ireland, Milk Bottle Labs, Permanent TSB and their Local Enterprise Office.

Virgin Media and its partners will continue to mentor and support each of these businesses as they continue to offer digital e-commerce platforms and solutions for their customers.

“Empowering businesses to build and enhance their digital capabilities forms the core of our work at DBI, and we are proud to have proposed a campaign that values this,” said Secretary General of Digital Business Ireland, Lorraine Higgins. “Through this initiative, five small businesses have elevated their e-commerce offering and expanded their online trading platforms – allowing them to reach new customers across global markets. 

“From the outset, each of the selected businesses displayed true entrepreneurial spirit and we wish them the very best as they begin their digital journeys.”

Aidan D’Arcy, director of Virgin Media Business said: “More than ever, a strong online presence and ability to trade is critical to ensuring your business can thrive in today’s world. Proper e-commerce functionality can help position your business on a global stage and, having just completed their own digital transformation, thanks to Virgin Media’s Backing Business initiative, these 5 businesses are now showcasing what can be achieved. We’ll continue to support these fantastic Irish SMEs on their journeys, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”

Padraic McElwee, chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, said it observed “a 950% increase in our Trading Online Voucher scheme in 2020 as the Local Enterprise Offices helped over 13,000 businesses open their virtual doors when their physical doors had to shut.  The focus now is very much on enabling these small businesses to maximise this opportunity through specialised training and mentoring and this initiative was a great way to bring 5 businesses through the process where they can now see the benefits of starting their digitalisation journey.” 

TechCentral Reporters 

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