2008 ICT Report
In Northern Ireland the ICT sector contributed approximately £500 million to the economy in 2008, making it the third largest sector after Advanced Manufacturing and Sustainable Production and Consumption.
There are approximately 750 companies in the ICT sector in Northern Ireland, employing 11,200 IT-specific employees. These 750 companies represent a blend of inward investment and indigenous companies. Over 100 foreign ICT companies have now invested in operations in Northern Ireland. The remaining 600 companies are indigenous companies in the sector including world-class technology companies like Kainos, Meridio, Aepona, First Derivatives, Singularity, Asidua, Latens and Lagan Technology.
These companies are particularly active in technology areas including wireless/internet software, financial services software, CRM software, and information management software.
This MATRIX foresight panel reviewed current research in the ICT sector at a local, national and international level. Based on current trends, three areas where Northern Ireland has the potential to make significant advances, achieve global leadership and establish new platforms of growth that would have high commercial impact were identified.
The aim of the foresight panel was not simply to augment mainstream ICT themes in northern Ireland but also to achieve a step change in thinking, with the potential to offer significantly more to the economy in terms of global leadership position and economic growth.
The changing global ICT market
The ICT sector is a globalised sector that is constantly changing based on customer and market demands. These changes tend to be brought about by two drivers – firstly, the technology itself makes radical evolutions, and secondly, the market dynamics change in all sectors. Irrespective of this, the following are global characteristics of this sector;
The focus areas for Northern Ireland ICT
This foresight work identified that Northern Ireland needs to transform the existing sector into a centre of higher value-added activities with three specific focus areas that will support the achievement of global recognition. Achieving global recognition in these focus areas requires extensive collaboration at a local and international level and between industry, academia and government. The three focus areas are:
Creating leadership positions for Northern Ireland
Given the changes in the global ICT environment and the developments in the Northern Ireland ICT sector in the past 10 years, the potential for exploiting the collaboration between industry, academia and government is great and with this comes a significant opportunity for economic impact in the next decade. This report concludes that:
The ICT sector is important to Northern Ireland and the areas of focus are well within the capability of the sector. The recommendations in this report seek to create an ‘eco-system’ for the ICT sector whereby Northern Ireland can look to collaborate, both nationally and internationally, in the focus areas to create an evolving knowledge-based specialist sector
which can become a reference point for the global sector.
environment and it will be essential to create networks of commercial intelligence on what is
happening within the specific focus areas. This commercial intelligence needs to be organised around the development of specific ‘roadmaps’ for the sector in Northern Ireland that complies with the global roadmaps. These would need to be developed with the relevant stakeholders within Northern Ireland and identified international partners.
and re-organised within the context of the creation of an ICT cluster to address the key
framework conditions identified. The overall promotion of ICT as a rewarding and interesting career for employees in this sector and other industries, will be important.