The Next Leap



with 6 comments

In 2008, the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) identified Ireland’s competitiveness in the digital sector as a priority area for research. The trigger for this research was the warning by the Irish Technology Leadership Group in Silicon Valley that Ireland was no longer mentioned among the top five countries in the digital sector. The challenge was to identify the key factors inhibiting Ireland’s competitiveness and to reflect on how to rebrand Ireland as a digital leader.

This report represents one strand of a process that was initiated in the Institute in October 2007. It was compiled on the basis of the recent IIEA Digital Sector Stakeholders’ Consultation. The Institute will continue its work on the trends identified in these pages in the coming months.

The second strand of the Digital Futures work programme consists of a series of keynote addresses by digital thought leaders on issues as diverse as cyberwar, net neutrality, spectrum management, regulation, e-readiness, new media content and IP rights. Attendees at the IIEA Digital Future Group’s regular events have the opportunity to network with national and international policy makers, key stakeholders from industry, start-ups and representatives from research and financial circles.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the speakers at the Digital Future Group over the last twelve months who included Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia; H.E. Toomas Henrik Ilves, President of Estonia; Fabio Colasanti, Director General, DG Information Society & Media at the European Commission; Professor Jonathan Zittrain, Founding member of the Harvard Law School Berkman Centre for Internet & Society; US Congressman Rick Boucher, founder of the House Internet Caucus; Linnar Viik, Estonian E-guru; Susanne Dirks, Leader of the IBM Institute for Business Value; Triona Campbell, Producer of Sophia’s Diary; Martin Murphy, Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Ireland; and Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Chief Privacy Counsel.

I would also like to thank all the participants in the stakeholder consultation process for their generosity in sharing their insights with us. I am particularly grateful to Paul Rellis, Managing Director of Microsoft Ireland, and to Professor Joyce O’Connor, Chair of the Digital Hub Development Agency, for acting as chair and vice-chair of the Group and for their tremendous support for the project. Our peer reviewers, the Irish Technology Leadership Group, deserve warmest thanks for their invaluable inputs. I would especially like to thank Johnny Ryan, author of this report.

I hope that The Next Leap will prompt a wider debate on the Digital Future, and that it will stimulate its readers’ interest in exploring these issues in person at the IIEA’s Digital Future Group.

Jill Donoghue
Director General, IIEA


Written by johnnyryan

13/12/2008 at 01:15

6 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. What do the IIEA team make of the governement strategy, put out within a day or so? To some of us out here, it looks like a bit of a shopping list, without much substance, a long series of sound bites, some overaly concerned with image not substance. But some of those are good points. Only with a hundred or more, how many will ever be implemented?

    However the section on Ideas Economy has much in common with some parts of this report, and the points on schools are OK, if far divorced from reality. And they have missed the point you make about encouraging kids’ interest. Perhaps Ireland-the-Innovation-and-Knowledge-Economy on Second Life? Or a better harnessing of the diaspora?

    The third-level ideas also sound good, but how have the well-paid and secure academics missed so much for so long (what do the authors of the report make of our third-level offerings?), notably, with the honourable exception of a few, on work placements, and on rounding out Governing Bodies and Faculty Committees with well-developed graduates instead of political hacks. What needs to be done to change this?

    Tom Stevens

    18/12/2008 at 20:00

  2. And why are there so few comments?

    Tom Stevens

    18/12/2008 at 20:00

  3. Tom, I’m in studying the new strategy document and looking for synergies at the moment.
    What I’d like to hear is what people in the digital sector think.

    On the universities, there was useful input from a range of highly focussed and promising research centres based in universities.


    18/12/2008 at 20:27

  4. This mini-site is a worthwhile read on an important topic for those who care about Ireland, and not long. Give it a try, and do comment – in my experience, you have a good chance of some reply, even to critiques.

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:25

  5. But ready this too:, from a commentator of long-standing, who shares many of the views expressed in comments to this report on the viability of Government as an agent of change. The disaster is worst than I had realised.

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:32

  6. As someone said above, a worthwhile project. One that should have been done years ago, but that is a mistake by government, which should have looked more closely at what was powering the Celic Tiger, so it would know how to maintain it over time. The warning from the ITLG seems very timely, and I suspect reflects something which began some years ago, as Ireland became just a little bit complacent.

    Full marks to the IIEA for putting a fair-sized team on the case, and with a young leader with a rich and varied background. But I have to agree with another comment somewhere about, with regard to the contributor list: it is simply missing too many relevant players. There are PWC and Trinity College (or at least one or two aspects of TCD), the Chambers of Commerce and some teaching reps, and a range of private entrepreneurs and public bodies, but most of the third level sector appears to be missing, plus most consulting and SI businesses, most of the telecom vendor realm and most of IT, along with such sectors as finance (good re AIB), gaming, the arts and the “big media” (though the participation of a range of production houses, and practical players like SerCom, is good). Further involvement from tax specialists, and something from the various legal firms who have some specialisation in this area (such as MHC) would also have been nice. I note the answer by the lead author, and 600 requests to take part sounds a fair base, but I would suggest that a request-and-wait approach is not enough. To assure the authority of the report, perhaps a “minimum participation,” by sector, was needed, with active pursuit of comment to reach this. Delighted that Ed Walsh was involved: someone who really did see changes in the world coming, and need to evolve academic approaches, and who, with Danny O’Hare over in DCU, did something about it. The involvement of the Silicon Valley group was a very good idea: Ireland needs to make much more “use” of its contacts abroad, many of whom have good will and are happy to help. I would also demur on the question of bias raised above, I am sure it is genuinely the case that many in business had a notion to contribute and simply, under pressure of work, never got round to it. And I do not see such a large range of public sector participants either, anyway.

    What is done is done, and there is plenty of food for thought here, if people are listening, and some good, and some just provocative, ideas. I hope many more comments follow, as the response seems a little thin for now. And this in turn highlights another issue: Ireland is far from fully developed yet when it comes to online participation in what is broadly termed “Web 2.0.”

    We must as a nation be constructive, the more so in hard times, but I have to agree with several commentators, and with Ger O’Neill on the linked blog, that we can’t rely too much on government and the public sector, where a poor understanding and disastrous delivery have characterised too much of the “dialogue” with technology. I too had exposure to early projects in that field, and a quick scout through Phoenix (or, for true horrors, Private Eye, as the UK has done “IT disaster” to an unsurpassable degree, for all the expertise it holds).

    I am glad to understand that this, while the end of the three-stage “report process” is not the end of this line of work, and sometime when in Dublin would like to try one of the associated talks.

    J Doyle

    20/12/2008 at 11:20

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: