Ireland needs to focus on getting 5G infrastructure in place if it wants to continue to compete with other world markets, tech leaders have warned.
Aongus Hegarty, Dell Technologies' president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa , said this would be "key" to Ireland's future as the next generation of networks was poised to usher in more advanced technologies.
Dell is working with telecoms providers ahead of the full commercial rollout of the new networks, which are expected to support the internet of things and new technologies such as self-driving cars.
5G and the possibilities it may bring for businesses was a key focus of Dell Technologies annual conference in Las Vegas last week.
"I think 5G is critical, It's a key enabler," said Mr Hegarty. "It's a critical building block. I think Ireland historically has been known over many decades for having good telecommunications, and good communications. On the rural side of Ireland, that has been a big challenge."
Dell Technologies currently employs around 6,000 people in Ireland, with sites in Dublin, Limerick and Cork spread over several of its brands, including Dell, VMware, Pivotal and EMC.
Mr Hegarty said its Irish operations formed an important footprint for the company, which was continuing to expand.
Some 600 people were hired last year at the company’s Irish operations, with 120 roles still open.
Around 35 per cent of Dell’s new hires come from universities as new graduates. Dell Technologies has been focusing on its gender diversity, and working on its attractiveness as a workplace, offering more flexible roles for some people.
“We are still very focused around continuous learning and how we upskill,” Mr Hegarty said. “6,000 employees give us a lot of skills and experience. We’re looking at those skills and experience, and saying what are the skills and competencies we need in 18 months’ time, two years, three years.”
A key element is remote working, something that other technology companies have come under fire for in the debate around finding suitable office and living space in the city centre.
“Between 25 and 35 per cent of employees are remotely working. Technology allows that,” Mr Hegarty said. “Too many companies, and I see this in tech companies, have an insistence that employees must come into the office. It’s old world. As a tech company it’s not what the workforce is looking for. They’re not leveraging the technology to the full extent that they could.”