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Digital Implosion for Irish Firms

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DateTuesday, January 26, 2021

Digital Implosion for Irish Firms

BearingPoint Report is a Wake-up Call for Irish Businesses Ranked Bottom of the Table as Path to Digital Maturity Stalls

Ireland Stalling in BearingPoint's Digital Leaders Study

Due, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing behaviours, consumers are now expecting higher levels of digital maturity from businesses offering online services. However, Irish businesses seem to be stalling when it comes to serving customers through digital channels. That's according to BearingPoint's 2021 Digital Leaders in Ireland study.


BearingPoint say that as consumer expectations for effective digital delivery have increased, digital maturity has become ever more important. But as businesses across the world embrace new ways of working, BearingPoint's annual study, which scored 390 companies (53 Irish and 337 European) has revealed Irish businesses are ranked bottom of the table in an international comparison with six other European countries, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK.


Industry sectors covering Banking, Telco, Insurance, Food retail, Energy, Media and Food products were assessed in Ireland, and the findings indicate that the majority of those industries saw their scores 'decline', 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.


Unsurpringly, the Food Retail sector bucked the trend, 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. However, the Food Produce sector is the least digitally mature of the seven industry sectors, coming in with a scale score of just 1.51 out of 5.0. 


Whilst results indicate that over the course of the past 12 months, many companies seized opportunities created by digitalization, the report suggests a lot more progress can be made, with significant gaps around e-customer relationship management (E-CRM), as digitalization is set to become a key driver in business recovery and growth over the coming year. The study highlights how modern E-CRM technology advancements leveraging customer data, artificial intelligence and automation can deliver superior consumer experiences.  Companies looking to improve customer service capacity and loyalty are encouraged to consider additional investment in this area.   


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.  They were followed by AIB (3.45), Tesco (3.44), Dunnes Stores (3.32), KBC (3.30), SuperValu (3.28), Aviva (3.28), Permanent TSB (3.23), and Ulster Bank and Laya Healthcare (3.18) rounding out the top ten companies in the Irish study.  


Overall, Ireland achieved an average score of 2.53 out of 5.0 for their digital maturity, the lowest among the seven countries mentioned, compared to the Netherlands as the leading country, with an average score of 3.00. All industries across the study saw a decline in customer service levels, attributed to pandemic effects. 


Commenting on the findings of the 2021 Digital Leaders in Ireland study, Gillian O’Sullivan, Country Leader for BearingPoint in Ireland says the study is a wake-up call for Irish businesses; “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.  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."

She added; “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 digitalization in order to accelerate their recovery and growth, both during and post the pandemic.”   

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Performance by Digital Dimension

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

The report showed that significant improvements can be achieved across all four dimensions 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.


Digital Marketing

The Digital marketing assessment, which is based on a company’s ability to reach potential customers with the help of display advertising, search engine marketing and use of owned media saw an average score for Ireland of 2.33.  Banking was the most advanced industry sector in Digital marketing, with a score of 3.12, followed by Telco (2.90) and Food Retail (2.86).  Bank of Ireland was the top rated company for Digital marketing maturity at 3.92. 


Within the Digital marketing dimension, 97% of Irish companies evaluated for the study are using social media to some extent or another.  As consumers spend more time on social media channels, the study recommends that companies need to more fully engage in developing and implementing more enhanced Digital marketing strategies.


Digital Product Experience

The Digital product experience assessment, which evaluates companies’ websites’ functionality, design and content, recorded an average overall score for Ireland of 3.26.  After Banking (3.49), the industry sectors of Energy (3.47) and Telco (3.43) were also rated among the top three most advanced sectors for Digital product experience. Tesco was the top-rated company for Digital product experience at 4.34.



The E-commerce assessment, which evaluates a company’s ability to sell via digital channels, recorded an average score for Ireland of 2.09.  Banking was rated as the most advanced industry sector on the E-commerce dimension, with a score of 3.03, followed by Telco (2.72) and Insurance (2.67). Irish Life was the top-rated company for E-commerce maturity at 3.65. 


With advancements in technology and evolving consumer expectations, the study highlights how significant investments in E-commerce technology are now more necessary than ever for companies to be competitive and generate revenue from this increasingly important channel.



The E-CRM assessment, which evaluates a company’s ability to maintain and deepen its customer relationships in digital channels, including customer service, was the digital dimension with the lowest score for Ireland, coming in at 1.91 and with the biggest room for progress and improvement.  After Banking (2.65), the industry sectors of Insurance (2.51) and Telco (2.34) were among the top three most digitally mature sectors on the E-CRM dimension.  SSE Airtricity was the top-rated company for E-CRM maturity at 3.38.


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Corporate Information

The BearingPoint Digital Leaders Study 2021 includes 390 companies across seven different industries. Companies’ maturity was assessed in their digital customer interaction based on 239 criteria in four digital dimensions: digital marketing, digital product experience, e-commerce and e-CRM. The company selection was based on turnover and decision-making in the local countries. The research was conducted from August to October 2020. Points are based on a grading scale from 0 to 5 where 0=failed, 1=poor, 2=sufficient, 3=good, 4=very good, and 5=excellent.

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