Saturday 16 November 2019

Tech giant is here to stay but it must keep up with latest computing trends

Adrain Weckler

INTEL'S €3.6bn investment here all but guarantees that the chip giant will stay in Ireland for the foreseeable future. After all, if they were scaling down, why would they bother spending that kind of cash here?

The scale of Intel's presence in Leixlip is genuinely huge. It now has 9,500 people on site.

It is also fundamentally different from many of its digital counterparts here, such as Google and Facebook.

First, it's been here much, much longer: 25 years is several generations in technology terms.

Second, it has much longer planning cycles. When it invests, it does so for cycles of five, six or even 10 years.

This gives it a degree of clout almost unmatched among multinational industrial firms in Ireland.

When there is a risk of an ESB strike, Intel is one of a very small group of companies whose insulation from damage is foremost in government policymakers' minds.

Its wider influence on Ireland's industrial transformation has been understated, too.

Senior IDA chiefs have namechecked the company's presence here as a pivotal sales tool in seeking out tech multinationals over the last 20 years.

Today, Dublin is a top-tier destination for US tech firms, large and small.

Incoming tech bosses I speak to say they have no choice: if they want to hire decent engineers, many of them are now here. Intel is indirectly responsible for some of this ecosystem.

But no matter how fondly the company thinks of Ireland, Intel still has a few fundamental challenges in front of it.

In a world of flagging PC sales, can it keep up with new computing trends? It arguably missed the boat on smartphones and tablets: can it capitalise on new 'wearable' technology trends and the 'Internet of Things' sector where everyday objects are connected to the web?

If not, no amount of investment guarantees future jobs here. But it may not be smart to bet against Intel just now.

Irish Independent

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