A look ahead for the Irish tech industry: Keeping pace with AI, Quantum and ESG

Guest post by Séamus Dunne, Managing Director Digital Realty UK and Ireland

Businesses have spent the past few years digitally transforming to show versatility against a backdrop of a global pandemic. Most countries, including Ireland, are now paying the economic price following years of disruption and CIOs and IT teams are focussing on innovation to grow and drive organisations in stagnating economies.

Companies continue to embrace the power of cloud technologies, such as machine learning and AI, and as such, our digital future is becoming more apparent, as environmental, and commercial demands increase.

AI, Quantum and ESG trends to watch

Last year, Ireland saw a year of recovery and rediscovery, but unfortunately the Irish domestic economy remains behind other nations when it comes to digitisation. Technology has always been an enabler of innovation, whether it be retailers moving online to target new consumers or organisations putting digital infrastructure in place to support remote working, innovative economies are always ready to adapt.

Ongoing geopolitical conflicts will add further challenges this year, and while other nations are well positioned to adopt advanced technologies to help overcome these issues, in too many circumstances, Irish tech leaders still see IT as an efficiency cost, rather than a growth driver. In 2024, IT execs need to pivot their thinking in regard to technology as a tool to fuel growth or risk falling even further behind other nations.

As we look ahead to the rest of the year, here are three key themes for the Irish tech industry.

Reshaping our understanding of what is possible with new technologies

We’re set for one of the most innovative periods in our history. 2024 will be the year that new technologies, such as AI, will redefine what is possible within the IT landscape. The organisations that don’t look to adopt these advanced technologies are going to struggle and miss out on exciting new use cases and possibilities.

While Ireland is behind other nations in terms of IT strategy, there are some green shoots of optimism. We’ve noticed a maturity when it comes to hybrid IT deployment decisions in the Irish market and more organisations are confident of where they should and shouldn’t store certain workloads. In previous years there has been less clarity of what their overall IT strategy is, but this is shifting.

It has been in discussion for a few years now but 2024 will see the start of gradual adoption of quantum computing, allowing organisations to accelerate complex calculations, enable faster data analysis and enhance optimisation processes. Companies adopting quantum computing early will gain a competitive edge by staying ahead in technological advancements and attracting top talent. Certain countries, such as the UK and US, are better placed than Ireland currently to adopt these technologies, so Irish tech leaders need to catch-up.

AI developers are racing to snatch up GPUs and high-performance computing (HPC) racks which will make accessing these technologies more competitive. Even if advanced GPUs can be obtained, the right IT infrastructure becomes more important and so demand for data centre capacity colocation services are going to increase. As server densities grow this year, organisations will need to work closely with colocation partners to implement the latest cooling technologies, such as direct liquid cooling, to keep their workloads running efficiently.

ESG changes expected in 2024 and beyond

In June 2023, the EPA released projections outlining that Ireland will achieve a reduction of 29% in Greenhouse Gas emissions by 2030. This is significantly below the 51% target set out in the Climate Act and EU targets set out in the Effort Sharing Regulation. ESG has been a top priority for every CIO for many years, but its importance will reach new heights this year due to new regulatory and reporting requirements being put in place by the European Union.

This year’s regulatory requirements include EU Taxonomy, which is a classification system for environmentally sustainable enterprises and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which strengthens the rules on social and environmental information that enterprises have to report.

In 2024, CIOs and other tech leaders will have an increasingly critical role in sustainability and will be responsible for implementing tools for environmental sustainability measurement and reporting. As well as evaluating the role of emerging technologies in driving business growth, CIOs will need to focus on the adoption of renewables in regard to achieving sustainability goals and find technology partner opportunities that can enhance sustainability.

Ireland at risk of falling further behind

The Irish domestic economy needs to catchup with other nations in terms of digitisation. While the UK’s government is preparing to reboot its economy by heavily investing in its IT infrastructure, encouraging private companies to follow suit and develop and adopt advancing technologies, Ireland is at risk of falling further behind.

The current moratorium enforced by the Commission for Regulatory of Utilities (CRU), makes it difficult for private companies to invest and grow the country’s IT infrastructure. Effectively, the decision made by the CRU in 2022, closing Ireland’s door to business.

Unless a constructive solution is found, those companies looking to truly embrace IT innovations will need to look across the water to the UK or other European cities to provide the infrastructure required to meet their future IT needs.

Séamus Dunne is Managing Director of Digital Realty for the UK & Ireland. Séamus leads a team in providing state of the art, efficient and secure data centre facilities to local and global businesses of all sizes.

Séamus joined the team in 2019 having previously held the role of as VP and General Manager of Global Data Centre Services for HPE in Texas. There, he led the team to redesign HPE’s portfolio to an “as a service” model to match customer’s hybrid and multi-cloud IT strategies. Seamus holds a BSc from Trinity College Dublin.

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