Press release

18 Jun 2021 Dublin, IE

EY CEO Survey: Irish CEOs are investing significantly in data and technology, cybersecurity remains a key issue

DUBLIN, 18 JUNE 2021: 84 per cent of Irish CEOs intend to make a major investment in data and technology over the next 12 months compared to 68 per cent globally, according to the latest EY CEO Imperative Study 2021.

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Carol Murphy

EY Ireland Consulting Partner and Head of Technology Risk

IT strategy and transformation adviser. Effective programme and project management skills.

  • 84% of Irish CEOs intend to make a major investment in data and technology over the next 12 months
  • 69% of Irish CEOs believe cybersecurity requires new or increased C-level attention to ensure future growth

Dublin, 18 June 2021: 84 per cent of Irish CEOs intend to make a major investment in data and technology over the next 12 months compared to 68 per cent globally, according to the latest EY CEO Imperative Study 2021.

The survey of 305 CEOs from the world’s largest companies (Forbes Global 2,000 Companies), also found that half of Irish CEOs (50%) believe the most significant impact on their business will be delivered through accelerating technology and digital innovation.

When it comes to the key competencies CEOs feel require new or increased attention at C-Level to ensure growth over the next five years, Irish respondents overwhelmingly ranked cyber security in number one position, with 69 per cent of CEOs in agreement compared to a global average of just 37 per cent. This ranked ahead of competencies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science, disruptive innovation, climate risk and geopolitical risk.

Carol Murphy, EY Ireland Consulting Partner and Head of Technology Risk, commented:

“There is no doubt COVID has accelerated widescale technology adoption among Irish businesses over the past 12 months and cybersecurity has risen to become one of the top risks discussed at Board and Audit Committee meetings. In the past however, security and privacy considerations were often addressed as an afterthought, exposing organisations to potential financial and reputation risk. As clearly outlined in our findings, this mindset is no longer an option, particularly as Irish companies look to keep pace with their global peers when it comes to technology adoption and investment. As we see more Irish companies embrace digitisation at a rapid speed, cybersecurity will need to stay top of mind for the entire C-suite as a significant organisational risk and business imperative.”

“If the last few weeks have taught Irish business leaders anything it’s that cyber threats are real and growing and it’s imperative that we all take them seriously. Globally we are seeing an explosion of cyber security threats across all sectors from sophisticated and targeted ransomware attacks to cloud jacking, phishing and more. The harm caused can be devastating. Organisations must do everything they can to build their cyber resilience so they can mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks and protect their critical assets.”   

The changing role of data

While the survey indicated that Irish CEOs consider data to be critical to future growth and business success, the results around this topic did throw up some interesting disparities.

Unsurprisingly, given the strong focus on data and technology among Irish CEOs, 63 per cent believe their organisations deliver timely data-driven insights enabling better internal and customer outcomes.

That said, only 38 per cent of Irish CEOs believe they have seamless access to data across the enterprise, which means while real progress is being made, further investment may be required to improve access to business-critical data in real-time.

Carol Murphy concluded: “There is no doubt our findings demonstrate strong progress when it comes to Irish organisations investing adequately in data and technology. There is still a long road ahead and the question facing organisations is how best they can leverage the technology they have to drive business transformation through data insights, while at the same time, mitigating risk. There is clear evidence that Irish CEOs understand the need to do just that, with 88% saying the use of data science to anticipate and fulfil individual customer needs will be a key differentiator in the future. Building and maintaining trust will be central to any company’s ability to really capitalise on this.”

“We are seeing a trend in companies that embed ‘security and trust by design’ as a mindset across the organisation. For those organisations willing to embrace this type of thinking - so they can demonstrate trust and assurance to key stakeholders when it comes to processes, systems and data - the impact and competitive advantage this can afford businesses has the potential to be truly transformational.”


Notes to Editors

About the survey

The global EY CEO Imperative Study 2021 was designed and developed by EYQ, an EY global think tank. EYQ generates new insights by bringing together business, the public sector and academia to challenge entrenched thinking, shift perceptions and help catalyse change.

The study findings are based on survey interviews with 305 global CEOs among the Forbes Global 2000, including 32 Ireland-based respondents. Forbes Insight conducted the fieldwork between October and December 2020.

This publication is part of the EY CEO Imperative Series, which provides critical answers and actions to help CEOs to reframe their organization’s future. For more insights in this series, visit

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