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Digital Leaders Series 2022: SIRO Chats with Leo Clancy, Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland is the State Agency responsible for supporting exporting Irish-owned companies. We support start-ups from initial ideation stage in many settings, whether entrepreneurship training, third level institutions, start-up hubs or others. We are also an investor in many Irish funds offering seed and venture capital to companies and are a large direct equity investor in our own right.

Our offer for established companies includes direct financial support and advice for expansion, investment, productivity improvement and innovation. We also provide advice and guidance for companies through dedicated Development Advisors on our team. Enterprise Ireland has 40 offices all around the world focused on market access and support for companies to grow and expand internationally

“Connectivity is the glue that binds digital technologies together within companies and with external parties.”

Outline the role digital technologies play in your business and/or the digital service or product you provide?

Digital technologies are vital to our business and have become even more so in the past 2 years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The core function of our agency is that of marketing Ireland and innovative Irish products and services. Digital is key to marketing and engagement with communities of clients and especially potential buyers of Irish products and services.

At a more basic level we are a client-facing organisation and the ability to continue to engage virtually with clients and with overseas partners and buyers vastly improves our efficiency and reach. There is no substitute for face-to-face in my view but being able to have a flexible option to connect digitally can cut months of delay from an engagement.

For ourselves, EI is looking at continually increasing our programme of digitalisation to improve and future-proof our operations and our products.

“To use digital technology successfully, the underlying process you are applying it to must be understood and in control”

What are the key benefits that digital technologies can bring to Irish businesses?

Marketing and Sales is a key area – a small business can make itself look very big in a virtual environment. With high quality CRM and videoconferencing products any company can build a global sales organisation from just one location. If you combine this with language capability a company can conquer the world from any village in Ireland.

Productivity is a great opportunity also – Enterprise Ireland has supported companies with lean programmes and operational excellence for many years – the next frontier of this engagement is digital. I have seen robotics in many client sites, for instance, and the game-changing impact to companies output, quality and cost.

Employee engagement and retention is typically improved by working in a location with a digital mindset – people like when their work adds value and builds their skills.


As connectivity improves across Ireland, what do you see as the big opportunities for Irish businesses from accelerated digital adaptation?

Connectivity is the glue that binds digital technologies together within companies and with external parties. The huge benefit of increasing that connectivity is making those technologies accessible and available to more and more companies. A company that doesn’t have connectivity available is, by definition, falling behind digitally – and with the way the world is going falling behind digitally means falling behind full stop.

For businesses to maximise benefits from digital technologies, what key advice would you give?

My key advice would be to understand what problem you are solving with digital and ensure you know how you will measure the business benefit of solving that problem. To use digital technology successfully, the underlying process you are applying it to must be understood and in control.

And the great thing about digital technologies is that they scale well so you should be able to start small and trial the technology, seeing for yourself the impact and then decide how to develop, pivot or roll out further.

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