Posted on Thursday 9 June 2016 by Ulster Business

Digital takes centre stage for ni companies

Northern Ireland’s businesses are placing digital at the centre of their future plans, according to a new research carried out by Millward Brown.

Around 80% of the 100 companies it surveyed on behalf of digital marketing agency ICAN said they believe digital is important to the future of their business while 60% plan to invest more in digital in the next 18 months.

The majority of respondents said digital is making their business more competitive and is key to growth.

Compared to the last time the ICAN Digital Barometer was carried out, 12% more firms are using social channels to promote their business while there has been a 115% increase in the adoption of search engine optimisation.

Paid searches are also becoming more popular with a 100% uplift on 18 months ago, while there has also been a 175% increase of the use of display campaigns and a 32% increase in the use of video on demand.

Siobhan Lavery, who heads up ICAN’s office in Belfast, said the report shows digital needs to be a central concern of all businesses.

“This research was very telling,” she said. “Companies in Northern Ireland are investing more in ‘doing digital’ but the value of digital only rings true when the digital strategy is right.

“Digital can no longer be viewed as a bolt-on  but rather needs to be at the heart of  the strategic planning process.” 

ICAN works with companies such as Tesco NI, Linwoods and Dillon Bass.

The research comes in the week when Digitial DNA took place in Belfast’s St George’s Market.

In partnership with Deloitte Digital, it brought inspirational speakers and delegates from around the world to Belfast to help businesses grow through a series of talks, workshops and demonstrations. The event was attended by some of the world’s top digital strategists and business leaders from organisations including Uber, PayPal, Atlas, Manchester City, Intel, Seedrs and Google.

“The event has been a huge success not only for the businesses who’ve attended but for the city of Belfast, with record numbers of business people coming here from around the world to see just how great our city is,” Digital DNA CEO Gareth Quinn said. “Northern Ireland’s marketplace is booming and it’s great to play a role in helping showcase our business credentials to the world.”

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