Role of ICT in Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy of the future

By Matt McCloskey.

Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy is booming. It’s grown by 33% in the past five years and is showing no signs of slowing down. The exchange of, and the ability to capture value from data is changing industries and creating new opportunities.  The future role of information communications technology and the underlying network cannot be underestimated in maintaining and growing this momentum.


According to the 2014 Knowledge Economy Index* commissioned by the Northern Ireland Science Park, 295 knowledge economy start-up businesses were established in Northern Ireland this year alone, and employment in this area grew by 5.5% between 2011 and 2013, an impressive figure in the context of a 0.2% decline in workforce jobs over the same period.

Reliable network critical to knowledge economy growth

The knowledge economy is constantly evolving, with many of its companies focusing on developing new ideas, technologies, processes and products. Technological advances are introducing new ways of working that help these companies communicate more effectively, work more efficiently and be more productive. Vast amounts of data need to be accessed, shared and stored on the network every day. The next-generation IP network is ideally placed to cater to these growing demands. This flexible network handles multiple types of traffic – voice, data and multimedia – and is adaptable to growth in capacity demands and ever-changing requirements as we look to a future where everything and everyone is connected.

Key trends supporting the knowledge economy

As we move towards this more connected world, trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT) will become a reality and yet, will put ever-increasing demands on the network. In 2010 12.5 billion devices were connected to the internet; Cisco predicts this will double to 25 billion by 2015 and double again to 50 billion by 2020.

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is also poised for growth in 2015. SDN is a new way of managing networks that puts the business application at the centre, with the network dynamically managing demand.  SDN provides ways of improving scalability and performance, making the network more adaptable and security more flexible to deal with growing trends like BYOD.

Although more ingrained in the way we work now, technologies such as cloud computing, software as a service (SaaS), and unified communications (UC) are all changing the way companies operate.  Continued advances in 2015 will make these technologies more accessible to smaller businesses and start-ups, without the associated large capital investment.

eir NI at the forefront of advances in IP technology

As a Cisco Gold Partner with a broad team of highly trained engineers, eir NI are helping customers embrace the knowledge economy every day. We believe the network should be an enabler of change. Our technology solutions help our customers focus on improving their businesses while we ensure they have a network platform that allows them to succeed.  Whether it’s helping Chain Reaction Cycles continue their phenomenal growth as the world leading online cycle store by providing them with our next generation managed network services platform, or helping Wrightbus, provider of the London bus, go from strength to strength with a single managed network to their premises in Northern Ireland and abroad, our focus is on freeing our customers from IT concerns so they can focus on growth.

That’s why we are always at the forefront of every new networking technology. From the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi analytics and SDN, eir builds innovative solutions that make sure our customers have the edge.

*Produced by the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy at the University of Ulster and Oxford Economics


Matt McCloskey is Sales Director with eir business solutions Northern Ireland. Contact Matt on