Most Irish businesses have about two years to transform their operations or risk losing out due to digital disruption according to Microsoft. Advances in cloud computing, data analytics and information gathering through internet-enabled devices all offer huge opportunities to companies but many lack a plan to take advantage of these trends, according to new research undertaken by Microsoft.

Aisling Curtis, a director with Microsoft Ireland, said there is a lot of confusion surrounding digital disruption, including what it actually is. Ms Curtis describes digital disruption as the next business evolution, which will use technology to transform business models to gain competitive advantages. The World Economic Forum has estimated that the digital economy will be worth over $100 trillion by 2025.

Ms Curtis said that Microsoft's research, in conjunction with the Harvard Business Review, revealed that the digital disruption milestone will be in 2020. 80% of the world's business leaders believe their industry will be transformed but less than half of businesses have a plan. Ms Curtis said the world is starting to see that digital disruption now, with the likes of Airbnb, Deliveroo and Hailo securing up to 80% of their market share in less than two years - even in the Irish market. 

Other findings from the research shows that it takes two years to digitally transform. Ms Curtis said that what is needed is chief executives leading the digital transformation, she said a multi-layer approach must be taken across customers, employees, operations and products. She said it is not just a technological change, but a cultural change and so it needs to be led by CEOs.

Ms Curtis also says the transformation move will provide great opportunities for digital savvy employees to have greater influence in a company. She said that what is most important, however, is that a company's digital transformation strategy goes across all employees and that CEOs are designing an all inclusive approach which is multi-layered across customers, employees, operations and products.

***
MORNING BRIEFS - Cost inflation led to a slight dip in earnings over the first quarter for packaging company Smurfit Kappa. It reported a 6% rise in revenue during the period to €2.1 billion but earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were down 1% and pre-tax profit fell 15% to €109m. Chief executive Tony Smurfit said the results were positive, against the backdrop of a €30m increase in the cost of recovering fibre to make its products. He said margins would improve as paper price increases translate into higher prices later this year.

*** Revenue has taken in €13.6m since October in previously undeclared taxes on income generated by Irish citizens with offshore assets. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Michael Noonan had announced a window during which taxpayers could make voluntary disclosures before the end of April. Those who came forward would avail of reduced interest penalties. The deadline was extended due to the volume of late inquiries but closed yesterday evening

*** Brent crude oil for July delivery, the international benchmark oil contract and the one which most directly influences fuel prices outside the US, is down over 9% on the week to $46.64 a barrel. Price slumps both for Brent and the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate, which is currently below $44 a barrel, mean oil prices are more than 50% below where they were at the peak in 2014. In January the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries reached agreement with a number of non-members of the cartel including Russia to curb production. That briefly supported higher prices. But that spurred on producers in the US where oil output has surged over the last three months. Oil prices are now back to where they were in November before OPEC made its first move to agree production limits.