Irish businesses need to accelerate their digital plans

BearingPoint study warns consumers now expect higher levels of digital maturity from businesses, with significant gaps around e-customer relationship management.

Ireland ranked bottom of the table in international comparison with six other European countries according to the new BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study.

The annual study reveals Ireland is stalling when it comes to progressing on the digital maturity path and is under-performing on this metric when compared across six other European countries (Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK).

“This year’s findings provide a wake-up call for Irish businesses to remind them that they must not become complacent and must continue to progress on the path to digitalisation in order to accelerate their recovery and growth, both during and post the pandemic”

Digital maturity, namely the ability to serve customers through digital channels, has become ever more important due to  the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Meet consumers’ digital expectations

Dark-haired woman in grey business suit.

Gillian O’Sullivan, country leader for Ireland at BearingPoint

Businesses across Europe have embraced new ways of working as consumer expectations for effective digital delivery have increased.

Results indicate that over the course of the past 12 months, many companies seized opportunities created by digitalisation. However, a lot more progress can be made, with significant gaps around e-customer relationship management (E-CRM), as digitalisation is set to become a key driver in business recovery and growth over the coming year. 

The BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study scores 390 companies (53 Irish and 337 European) representing various industry sectors on a scale ranging from ‘Failed’ (0) to ‘Outstanding’ (5). 

Ireland achieved an overall average score of 2.53 for their digital maturity, the lowest among the seven countries, compared to the Netherlands as the leading country, with an average score of 3.00. 

How sectors are performing

Seven industry sectors in Ireland were assessed covering: banking, telco, insurance, food retail, energy, media and food products. 

“Bank of Ireland achieved the highest rating as a digital leader in Ireland with an average score of 3.55, demonstrating their continued investment in digital experiences”

The findings from the study in Ireland indicate that the majority of industries saw their scores decline this year, with only banking achieving a good overall score (3.16) and maintaining its position for the second year in a row as the most digitally mature industry in Ireland. 

The food produce sector is the least digitally mature of the seven industry sectors, coming in with a scale score of 1.51. 

The food retail sector bucked the trend enjoying the biggest rise in scores from the previous year, increasing from a score of 2.50 last year to 2.73 this year as demand for online grocery retail during the pandemic led to improvements in online services from the food retail companies.

Bank of Ireland achieved the highest rating as a digital leader in Ireland with an average score of 3.55, demonstrating their continued investment in digital experiences. It was followed by AIB (3.45) and Tesco (3.44) among the top three companies in the Irish study.  

Each company in the study was measured on 239 objective criteria across four dimensions of digitalisation: Digital marketing, Digital product experience, E-commerce and E-CRM.   

Significant improvements can be achieved across all the four dimensions of digitalisation, but particularly for E-CRM that saw a score for Ireland of 1.91, a drop of 0.62 on the previous year. This is evidenced by deteriorating levels of customer service that can be attributed to the pandemic effects.  

“The BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study provides a valuable snapshot of the level of digital maturity among particular Irish companies and across multiple industry sectors,” explained Gillian O’Sullivan, country leader for Ireland at BearingPoint.

“The study provides insights on how businesses are tracking on the path to digital transformation, where the gaps and investment opportunities for further progression are and how they benchmark against the leading practices of comparative companies across Europe.

“This year’s findings provide a wake-up call for Irish businesses to remind them that they must not become complacent and must continue to progress on the path to digitalisation in order to accelerate their recovery and growth, both during and post the pandemic.”   

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 26 January 2021