Wake up call for Irish businesses as path to digital maturity stalls


Ireland ranked bottom of the table in international comparison with six other European countries according to BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study

Consumers now expect higher levels of digital maturity from businesses, with significant gaps around e-customer relationship management

Dublin – January 26, 2021 – Management and technology consultancy BearingPoint, has today announced results from its 2021 Digital Leaders in Ireland study. The annual study reveals Ireland is stalling when it comes to progressing on the digital maturity path and is underperforming on this metric when compared across six other European countries  (Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK).  Digital maturity, namely the ability to serve customers through digital channels, has become ever more important due to  the COVID-19 pandemic.  Businesses across Europe have embraced new ways of working as consumer expectations for effective digital delivery have increased.

Results indicate that over the course of the past 12 months, many companies seized opportunities created by digitalization. However, a lot more progress can be made, with significant gaps around e-customer relationship management (E-CRM), as digitalization is set to become a key driver in business recovery and growth over the coming year.  The BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study scores 390 companies (53 Irish and 337 European) representing various industry sectors on a scale ranging from ‘Failed’ (0) to ‘Outstanding’ (5).  Ireland achieved an overall average score of 2.53 for their digital maturity, the lowest among the seven countries, compared to the Netherlands as the leading country, with an average score of 3.00. 

Seven industry sectors in Ireland were assessed covering: Banking, Telco, Insurance, Food retail, Energy, Media and Food products.  The findings from the study in Ireland indicate that the majority of industries saw their scores decline this year, with only Banking achieving a good overall score (3.16) and maintaining its position for the second year in a row as the most digitally mature industry in Ireland.  The Food Produce sector is the least digitally mature of the seven industry sectors, coming in with a scale score of 1.51.  The Food Retail sector bucked the trend enjoying the biggest rise in scores from the previous year, increasing from a score of 2.50 last year to 2.73 this year as demand for online grocery retail during the pandemic led to improvements in online services from the food retail companies.

Bank of Ireland achieved the highest rating as a digital leader in Ireland with an average score of 3.55, demonstrating their continued investment in digital experiences.  They were followed by AIB (3.45) and Tesco (3.44) among the top three companies in the Irish study.  

Each company in the study was measured on 239 objective criteria across four dimensions of digitalization: Digital marketing, Digital product experience, E-commerce and E-CRM.   

Significant improvements can be achieved across all the four dimensions of digitalization, but particularly for E-CRM that saw a score for Ireland of 1.91, a drop of 0.62 on the previous year. This is evidenced by deteriorating levels of customer service that can be attributed to the pandemic effects.  

Commenting on the findings of the 2021 Digital Leaders in Ireland study, Gillian O’Sullivan, Country Leader for BearingPoint in Ireland said: “The BearingPoint 2021 Digital Leaders study provides a valuable snapshot of the level of digital maturity among particular Irish companies and across multiple industry sectors.  The study provides insights on how businesses are tracking on the path to digital transformation, where the gaps and investment opportunities for further progression are and how they benchmark against the leading practices of comparative companies across Europe.

“This year’s findings provide a wake up call for Irish businesses to remind them that they must not become complacent and must continue to progress on the path to digitalization in order to accelerate their recovery and growth, both during and post the pandemic.”   

Performance by Digital Dimension

Digital Marketing

The Digital marketing assessment, which is based on a company’s ability to reach potential customers with the help of display advertising, search engine marketing and use of owned media saw an average score for Ireland of 2.33.  Banking was the most advanced industry sector in Digital marketing, with a score of 3.12, followed by Telco (2.90) and Food Retail (2.86).  Bank of Ireland was the top rated company for Digital marketing maturity at 3.92. 

Within the Digital marketing dimension, 97% of Irish companies evaluated for the study are using social media to some extent or another.  As consumers spend more time on social media channels, the study recommends that companies need to more fully engage in developing and implementing more enhanced Digital marketing strategies.

Digital Product Experience

The Digital product experience assessment, which evaluates companies’ websites’ functionality, design and content, recorded an average overall score for Ireland of 3.26.  After Banking (3.49), the industry sectors of Energy (3.47) and Telco (3.43) were also rated among the top three most advanced sectors for Digital product experience. Tesco was the top-rated company for Digital product experience at 4.34.


The E-commerce assessment, which evaluates a company’s ability to sell via digital channels, recorded an average score for Ireland of 2.09.  Banking was rated as the most advanced industry sector on the E-commerce dimension, with a score of 3.03, followed by Telco (2.72) and Insurance (2.67).  Irish Life was the top-rated company for E-commerce maturity at 3.65. 

With advancements in technology and evolving consumer expectations, the study highlights how significant investments in E-commerce technology are now more necessary than ever for companies to be competitive and generate revenue from this increasingly important channel.


The E-CRM assessment, which evaluates a company’s ability to maintain and deepen its customer relationships in digital channels, including customer service, was the digital dimension with the lowest score for Ireland, coming in at 1.91 and with the biggest room for progress and improvement.  After Banking (2.65), the industry sectors of Insurance (2.51) and Telco (2.34) were among the top three most digitally mature sectors on the E-CRM dimension.  SSE Airtricity was the top-rated company for E-CRM maturity at 3.38.

All industries across the study saw a decline in customer service levels, attributed to pandemic effects.  The study highlights how modern E-CRM technology advancements leveraging customer data, artificial intelligence and automation can deliver superior consumer experiences.  Companies looking to improve customer service capacity and loyalty are encouraged to consider additional investment in this area.

To learn more about who and what the leading Irish companies are doing across the respective digital dimensions, please download the full 2021 Digital Leaders Study at:



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