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Securing Ireland’s Digital Leadership


Ireland is recognised as a digital hub in Europe. It is home to one third of Europe’s data, the top five global software companies and a thriving ecosystem. This enviable position is as a result of decades of policy makers and industry leaders working together for the benefit of all.


However, past performance is no guarantee of future success. In these changing times, are we doing enough here in Ireland to ensure we maintain our digital leadership position?


I believe we can do more. We must work together to shape the future of technology and ensure we unlock its benefits to empower everyone.


New technologies are rapidly transforming how we live, work, learn and care for one another, with some technologies raising important ethical issues.


That’s why on Friday Microsoft supported the Government’s Digital Summit with our Corporate Vice-President Ann Johnson showcasing effective responses to AI and our Vice-President for EU Government Affairs John Frank outlining how we can protect privacy in a digital age.


However, for Ireland to become a true digital leader, we must be confident that technology is used as a tool for good. But how can we build trust between our citizens and our rapidly evolving digital world?


As our President Brad Smith highlighted in his new book, Tools and Weapons: The Promise and Peril of the Digital Age, we need to take a thoughtful approach to policy and regulation. Ensuring that technology, and the organisations that develop it, are governed by the rule of law.


That’s why we’ve joined forces with University College Dublin in its development of Ireland’s first digital policy programme. The programme will help our policymakers to keep pace with digital technologies so that our laws are relevant to tomorrow’s challenges.


As I say to all my team members, good leaders must lead by example.


And the regulation of facial recognition technology is one area where I believe Ireland can take an early lead. In being the first in Europe to create new safeguards, our citizens can have more control about what facial recognition technology can do, should do and how it should do it.


With Europe’s digital economy due to be worth €544bn by 2025, the benefits for Ireland as a champion of AI and new technologies are endless.


Microsoft has been committed to Ireland for over 30 years and last week our global leaders visited our campus at One Microsoft Place to see the work we are doing here in Ireland. Their presence highlighted the strategic importance of our 2,100 strong Dublin team and Ireland’s digital leadership position.


I’m confident that by continuing to work together, taking a thoughtful approach to digital policy, and leading by example, the One Microsoft team can help secure Ireland’s position as a digital leader today and into the future.


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