A research technology centre will make Ireland a world leader in analysing online data, it has been claimed.
Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said the country is in prime position to develop so-called big data but would not commit to how much employment the sector may eventually bring.
Data analytics is the storing, analysing and conversion of large amounts of raw information into valuable information for firms through statistical techniques and advanced software.
An everyday example is collecting online information, such as what people search for, buy or "like", and using it for business trends and targeted advertising.
As Mr Bruton announced a one million-euro investment in the centre, he admitted it is "difficult to put a precise number" on how many jobs could be created.
"This is a sector that is transforming business models and is growing at 40% per annum," said Mr Bruton during the launch at eBay in Blanchardstown, Dublin.
"But the important thing from Ireland's point of view is that we need to develop the technologies today that will create the jobs tomorrow. That's what big data is about. It is a really exciting opportunity and Ireland has the competitive advantage.
"We have many of the companies working in this space located in Ireland."
The new Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research (CeADAR) aims to make Ireland a world leader in cost-effectively storing and analysing a high volume and variety of information that will generate business and profit.
The research will be led by University College Dublin (UCD), University College Cork (UCC) and Dublin Institute of Technology, and part-funded by companies. Multinational and Irish ICT companies involved include eBay, Accenture, Dell and HP.