DUBLIN: Ireland’s business owners remain upbeat about their prospects despite Brexit and wider geopolitical uncertainty, according to a new survey from Vodafone. The survey found that 66pc of the 200 firms queried are “positive and confident” about their prospects for the next 12 months, while 61pc believed that the overall health of their industry had improved. It also found that 59pc believe Ireland has improved as a place to do business. But despite the march of online retailing and online services, only 34pc of the firms surveyed have the ability to process orders over the internet. And 67pc said they are concerned that they may miss out on business opportunities due to poor communications infrastructure.
Of the firms surveyed, 29pc said they source revenue from online sales, and of those, 41pc said that online sales revenue had increased over the past two years. But more than half – 53pc – said the percentage of online revenue they generate had remained static in that period. The survey was commissioned by Vodafone to mark the official launch of its ‘One Net Business’ cloud-based unified communications solution.
The survey respondents represented a cross section of sectors, including the professional service, IT services, financial services, retail, construction and building, and the food and drink industry. “The research highlights how important connectivity is to help Irish SMEs reach their full potential, with 94pc of SMEs agreeing that high-speed broadband is critical for running a business,” said Anne Sheehan, enterprise director at Vodafone Ireland. The survey also found that 73pc of SMEs give their staff a “high or moderate” level of flexibility in terms of where they work. A recent survey from business group ISME found that 42pc of Irish SMEs expect to see their turnover decline as a result of Brexit, and 11pc expect it to rise.