18 October 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Today Páirc Uí Chaoimh hosted the Staying Ahead Digital Roadshow, the second in a series of events held by Google in partnership with Enterprise Ireland which aims to upskill and educate Irish SMEs in reaching new customers, expanding their businesses, and future-proofing their operations for a digital world.
The Staying Ahead Digital Roadshow includes talks and workshops on the various Google tools that can help Irish SMEs find and understand new clients overseas, followed by one-to-one sessions with key Google executives.
The Cork event brought together almost 300 SMEs from across Munster, which was also attended by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Des Cahill, and representatives from the Cork City Council and Cork Chamber of Commerce.
Fionnuala Meehan, Head of Google Ireland, added: “With only 17% of Irish businesses selling across borders online, we see huge opportunities for Irish SMEs to be innovative in the digital marketplace and to become exporters of goods and services. We know that companies with a strong online presence will grow twice as fast and employ twice as many people as those with a minimal or no web presence, and at a time of uncertainty – now more than ever – we believe it is important that Irish SMEs are supported in getting online to build more successful and sustainable businesses.”
Fionnuala Meehan said that every month innovative businesses from all parts of Ireland visit Dublin to learn from Google experts – so the company decided to bring its knowledge, expertise and tools on a ‘roadshow’ across Ireland in order to help more companies maximise digital and to stay ahead.
“We constantly see small regional businesses that have grown into international exporters after successfully promoting themselves online: for example Morgan O’Driscoll, who now sells art internationally from his office in Skibbereen, or Kate Hyde of Glencove Group, who started in her spare bedroom and now employs 20 people across Ireland and the UK. Stories such as these are inspiring because without the online marketplace they would have been unable to develop and expand from their regional offices to the international successes they are today” she added.
Skibbereen auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll revolutionised not only his own business but the entire Irish art world when he started holding his art auctions online – something unheard of in Ireland at the time – and now today about 35% of his sales are exported abroad; while Glencove Group was established by Cork native Kate Hyde in her Waterford bedroom and has grown from a single online concept to a portfolio of websites that services customers across Europe.
The Staying Ahead Digital Roadshow is part of a dedicated programme which has seen Google provide training in digital skills to over 60,000 businesses and individuals across Ireland. Google is now partnering with Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Offices to bring their Digital Garage to a number of regional locations over the coming months. With over 90% of jobs requiring digital literacy in the near future and small companies growing twice faster when they have a strong web presence, it is crucial that both employers and employees keep up to date with the opportunities presented by online technology.
Jonathan McMillan, Manager of the Enterprise Ireland Brexit Unit, commented, “As uncertainty around outcomes of the Brexit negotiations continues, Enterprise Ireland is focused on supporting companies in taking the necessary steps to reduce risk and ensure they are more innovative and competitive, and to diversify into new markets. Companies with global ambition need to invest in researching international markets. Acquiring valuable intelligence on new customers, channels, competitors, sectors and markets is critical for any company that aims to grow internationally. We are delighted to partner with Google at this event today which is helping Irish SMEs develop the digital skills to more effectively research and target international sales”.
Skibbereen native and Head of Google Marketing Solutions, Marie Davis, introduced attendees to Google’s suite of tools to help their businesses: “The aim of these events is to help SMEs tell their story online in an effective way, to market to new and existing clients, and maintain and grow relationships effectively through digital. At Google we have many different tools and techniques to do this, for example through our recently-launched Market Finder software, which can help any business find out vital information about any market and help them make the best decision about trading with clients in that marketplace. We are eager to meet Irish businesses and SMEs to help make sense of all of the options we can provide and ensure each business gets the most out of what we can offer.”