The global data revolution has well and truly arrived. Companies from every sector and geography are actively pursuing – and accelerating – their investments in data-driven strategies. John Magee, Technology Partner at William Fry, talks about what organisations are considering when investing in Big Data opportunities.
All organisations are already technology enabled to exploit Big Data opportunities. Leading international businesses are using smart technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to capture, analyse and use their corporate and customer-related data. Those using sophisticated techniques for analysing available data are better able to understand and respond to their target markets, discover new business models, create improved product offerings and realise key business advantages.
Big Data challenges and opportunities now part of location decisions
While approaches to data analytics differ, the business challenges and the opportunities that Big Data offer are now a key part of decision making across most industries and sectors. This is especially true when considering strategic questions such as deciding where to locate Big Data projects, with directors searching for answers to the following key questions:
• Which jurisdictions have the best combination of key factors, such as ease of doing business or a clear legal and regulatory regime with reliable access to relevant infrastructure and markets?
• Which jurisdictions have the best access to Big Data technologies and tech savvy talent?
• Which provide access to buyers, partners and customers and have tech-focused universities and research organisations?
• Which provide a competitive tax rate for corporates?
A recent report by William Fry in association with Forbes Insights explains why so many leading international organisations have already established their European HQs in Ireland as a decision centre for their EMEA and EU data strategies.
Investments in Big Data on the increase
The report, which analyses the key factors driving Big Data strategies, is based on a survey of 200 C-suite executives in leading companies around the world and highlights that the business challenges and opportunities Big Data offers are now a key part of decision making across most industries and sectors and should no longer be viewed as a technology issue in isolation.
Key figures from the survey indicate that 61% of leading companies around the world plan to increase their Big Data investments substantially over the next 18 months and 96% view Ireland as a favourable investment location.
Big Data – tell us how you really feel
The finding that 75% of survey participants believe physical facilities are the future of data-driven investment in Europe is significant when one considers that 96% view Ireland as a favourable investment location and that 60% of the organisations surveyed have annual sales of between $1bn and $10bn. Taking this together, there is a real opportunity for Ireland to exploit Big Data and position itself as the jurisdiction of choice in Europe.
When choosing a location, the survey found that two of the top five issues for international entities were legal framework (including data related laws) and data-related conditions and regulations. This demonstrates that international organisations are placing much greater focus on being able to rely on clear and harmonised data privacy and data security regulations even if this raises operating costs.
It will come as a surprise to many that despite vastly increased fines and a more onerous compliance regime, 76% of respondents agree that tighter regulatory controls over data are the best way forward and the power of unified communications is critical to business efficiency. Undeniably, regulation of data is becoming a key factor driving where to locate data control hubs within a region.
Ireland – a jurisdiction of choice for data-driven investment
The survey reflects positively on Ireland’s high rating in terms of the merits of its data-related regulatory climate overall and its data-privacy regulatory regime. Specifically, 82% of respondents rate Ireland’s data regulation regime as good or excellent. Given that concern over privacy-related issues is a key driver for international organisations, the reputation of Ireland’s regulatory regime as firm but fair, together with its ranking internationally as good to excellent, sees Ireland well placed as a jurisdiction of choice for the location of data operations for the European region.
Positively, there’s recognition from Germany, renowned for its high standards on privacy matters, where respondents view Ireland as an excellent jurisdiction – giving Ireland an 86% good to excellent rating for its data-related regulated regulatory climate and also its data privacy regulatory regime.
International companies are increasingly deciding to locate their Big Data decision making, operations and strategies for each geographic region in that region. For example, in relation to Europe, the survey shows that 80% of international organisations already have a European business presence. Couple this fact with exponential growth in Big Data operations and it follows that a growing number of companies are or should be looking to open or expand data operations in Europe.
Importantly for Ireland, the most frequent form of data-driven expansion is an investment in facilities (including physical facilities and commercial property), cited by 75% of survey participants. This is followed closely by investment in technology assets (72%), personnel (70%), and finally R&D/intellectual property (43%). This is supported by the location in Ireland of key infrastructure by leading companies such as Microsoft, and is also evident in Dublin’s Silicon Docks where a host of international Big Data organisations are based including Facebook, State Street, Twitter, Google, Airbnb and Citi.
About William Fry
The Technology team at leading Irish law firm William Fry specialises in advising on all aspects of technology matters for suppliers, users and creators. In the increasingly complex world of privacy and information security, John and his team provide pivotal advice to international and domestic businesses on issues such as international data transfers, security breaches, marketing campaigns, privacy impact assessments and audits as well as assisting businesses prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).