Software Industry Needs Wake-Up Call; Complacency, Inexperience Just Some of the Problems

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Byline: HELEN McGURK

NORTHERN Ireland's software industry needs to shake off complacency and increase its entrepreneurial activity if it is to compete successfully in the global economy.

That is the hard-hitting message from a Northern Ireland Software Industry Survey published by University of Ulster researchers.

The survey took in 60 per cent of software companies - companies that together employ over 80 per cent of the entire software workforce.

Key findings of the survey include:

n The NI software industry is underdeveloped compared to the software sector in the Republic of Ireland;

n Sector growth is hindered by the limited experience of business founders: over 25 per cent of software companies in NI had been set up by people with less than five years' business experience. This can lead to a lack of international awareness - vital for success in the fast-evolving software industry;

n Training is regarded as a low priority by the sector;

n 71 per cent of NI software companies are homegrown - but they employ only 40 per cent of the sector's staff. Multinationals comprise 12 per cent of the sector, but employ 52 per cent of staff;

n Many home-grown companies are leaving themselves open to any downturn in the world economy by targeting just one sector of industry - 71 per cent of firms surveyed said they only targeted a single industry sector - and 30 per cent of firms surveyed have only one client or contract on their books. …