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Mid-West Ireland Not Keeping Pace with Cloud Technology

April 13, 2015

By Joe Rizzo - Virtual PBX Contributing Writer

In the later part of last year, an attempt was made to hook small businesses in Clare, Ireland into virtual networks in the hopes that it would stop its rural operators from falling further behind their continental rivals. The pilot was backed by the European Union (EU) and referred to as the “Create Project.”

The Create Project ran for the first time on Irish soil in County Clare, with the idea of finding solutions to the different ways struggling small and medium enterprises (SMEs) could improve through technology.

Majella O’Brien was the EU’s project officer for the region. She said that rural SMEs in Ireland were trailing their European competitors when it came to making the most of technology and investing in IT. She continued to say that as part of the pilot, rural SMEs would be able to experiment with “virtual clustering” with businesses elsewhere in Europe’s northwest which would help them to cut costs, as well as up their trade.

Unfortunately, it seems that seven months after the project began there is a failure on the part of SMEs in Clare to embrace cloud technology. Recently, a survey was conducted in the Mid-West region which was sponsored by Magnet Networks. Magnet is an Irish company that provides telephone, television and broadband Internet.

According to a study of 600 SMEs conducted by Amarach Research, only about 30 percent of small businesses in Clare and the Mid-West have made any attempt to implement a cloud solution. In addition close to 90 percent of SMEs in the Mid-West rely on and pay for a conventional phone system.

The bottom line is that this scenario is costing SMEs in Ireland somewhere in the neighborhood of $282 million per year. This is a figure that cloud computing could very easily lower and something that Dublin is beginning to take advantage of. Over 25 percent of SMEs in that region have already moved to Voice over IP (VoIP).

You would think that one of the first priorities for companies is to save money, so what is holding back Clare and the Mid-West region from taking advantage of cost-saving options? In addition to the technology, there are business grants available to the SMEs, such as the Enterprise Ireland voucher and the Government’s Online Trading Voucher. However, the research shows that only about three percent of the respondents are taking advantage of these offers.

Mark Kellett, CEO of Magnet, was addressing over 250 local business people as part of a Magnet roadshow across the country last week. He remarked that, “Staff in companies outside Dublin tend to work from home more and spend more time in their cars, so they are missing an obvious opportunity to work smarter. The very companies that need the technology aren’t availing of it. Our research shows that 90 percent of SMEs are unaware of or misunderstand the Online Trading Voucher Scheme as a support to engaging in e-commerce. We are encouraging more firms to take advantage of it and improve their competitiveness in the process. Used with our own package offering for SMEs it can equate to six months of totally free telecoms.”

Considering all of the options that are available to improve business through the use of cloud computing technology, not to mention the cost savings that go hand-in-hand, it seems like a no brainer. Is there another reason that these companies are so hesitant to embrace virtual technology? Only time will tell if they will listen to the rest of the world and move forward. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle


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