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Interesting that 2016 marks the arrival of EU Digital Single Market, yet aside from a feature in today’s Irish Examiner that Irish firms may miss €415bn EU Digital Single Market there has been little news on this apparently incredible business opportunity.

Also seeing as it’s an European Commission initiative there has been little or no mobilisation on the part of our elected officials.

Silicon Republic wrote a piece back in July to explain exactly what the Digital Single Market is but at 76 shares, even Silicon Republic would admit, by their standards, this was not a big news item.

What’s even more interesting is that in the Ricoh Ireland study reported in the Irish Examiner, over 50% of those businesses surveyed had never heard of the Digital Single Market initiative.

What gives? How could an opportunity seemingly worth €415bn not be of interest?

The key driver behind the Digital Single Market initiative is to facilitate favourable conditions for economic growth which in turn will create employment across the EU. The European Commission has calculated that the Digital Single Market could could contribute €415bn per year to the European economy and potentially create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

Presented as a Commission priority, the Digital Single Market tagline pretty much captures the essence of the initiative, ‘Bringing down barriers to unlock online opportunities.’  This digital initiative strategy is made up of three policy areas or ‘pillars’

1. Better online access to digital goods and services

Helping to make the EU’s digital world a seamless and level marketplace to buy and sell.

2. An environment where digital networks and services can prosper

Designing rules which match the pace of technology and support infrastructure development.

3. Digital as a driver for growth

Ensuring that Europe’s economy, industry and employment take full advantage of what digitalisation offers.

Perhaps most illuminating of all is a fact sheet produced by the European Commission on the Digital Single Market. Titled ‘Why we need a Digital Single Market,’ it presents interesting stats on the number of Europeans accessing the Internet every day, which is 315 million by the way, to statistics that back up the approach to the three key pillars outlined above.

There is one tiny but crucially important piece of data at the very end of the fact sheet that states that ‘almost half the EU population (47%) is not properly digitally skilled, yet in the near future, 90% of jobs will require some level of digital skills.’ Even if the €415bn rings true and hundreds of thousands of jobs are created, that wealth and new jobs will skip those that are not properly trained.

Here’s the thing – getting yourself to a level of digital skills required to participate is not that difficult.

We took our first steps back in October with our first online eLearning course and we did what we know best – the basics of bookkeeping and accounting. It’s called Account-Ability. Check it out, it’s free, it’s easy to follow and it’s packed full of great tips.

Watch this space as we will follow up with some more eLearning initiatives to help small business owners get to grips with the basics of digital skills.

We’ve been told that this new business opportunity is coming. Let’s be prepared to play our part.




Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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