Industry titans discuss the future of the UK Digital Economy in Parliament
Industry leaders road mapped the future of the UK’s digital economy in Parliament last night, discussing the widespread digital skills crisis, diversity in the technology industry and sustainability challenges.
The panel was hosted by Dean Russell MP for Watford and chaired by Steven George-Hilley of Centropy PR, bringing together business chiefs and policymakers to debate the role businesses can play in growing and innovating the UK’s digital sphere.
Among the panellists were Andrew Drylie, Investment Manager at Quadri Ventures; Ben Golub, CEO of Storj and Co-Founder of the Digital Sustainability Alliance; Geoff Garrett, Co-Founder of Henry Dannell; Sid Sarangi, Founder of Retailigence; and Emily Utton, COO for CLOWD9.
Raising the issue of sustainability, Ben Golub CEO of Storj and Co-Founder of the Digital Sustainability Alliance, said: “Digital sustainability is the biggest untold story out there. Politicians and environmental activists often warn of the existential threat of global warming, but few know about and truly understand the extent of the issue that digital sustainability presents and its impact on the Digital Economy. The Digital Sustainability Alliance has been formed to open the eyes of policy makers, big tech companies and industry to the stark reality of the carbon impacts of data consumption and the urgent need for digital sustainability.”
“Storing and computing digital data currently contributes to around 2.7-3.7 per cent of global carbon emissions. But, the world has an insatiable appetite for data. In fact, the amount of data created by the world grows by about 23% per year, and the explosion of video, AI, and remotely generated data is causing this to accelerate.”
Meanwhile Andrew Drylie, Investment Manager at Quadri Ventures urged for support for early stage businesses: “If the UK is going to compete with Silicon Valley, then we need a structured and formulaic approach, ensuring the right skills and infrastructure are in place to allow companies to thrive. Jeremy Hunt’s Mansion House Compact was a tremendous step in the right direction, unlocking previously untouchable capital from pension funds for early stage start-ups.”
“However, capital alone is not enough. There is a real squeeze on talent in early-stage companies, simply there are not enough people with the right skills to support long term growth plans. Investment in the space looks to be going in the right direction, it is time to make sure we invest in the people to truly support innovation.”
Geoff Garrett, Co-Founder of Henry Dannell, commented: “We operate in a relationship driven environment where the client/adviser interaction is paramount to driving successful outcomes. As the regulatory environment has become heightened, the adviser will now spend more time making sure the file illustrates why the advise given is both good advice and suitable for the clients requirements. This will inevitably lead to the clients spending less time with their adviser which is to their detriment. The Henry Dannell team are producing technology-based solutions to enhance the client journey and to allow more opportunity to develop those precious client/adviser relationships”.
Sid Sarangi, Founder of Retailigence added: “The term ‘Digital Economy’ itself seems to suggest that we are somewhat behind the curve. That term should be replaced by ‘Economy’ as we are already in an age where every industry is heading towards (or needs to be heading towards) being digital first. We no longer pay by cash, queue up to deposit cheques or go to our neighbouring travel agents for a trip to the Canary Islands.”
“Unfortunately, the government and UK institutions seem to have their head in the sand. Phone and digital connectivity is very poor for an advanced economy. We do not have large scale public Wi-Fi, our phone lines are terrible with large blackout areas, and we only got access to the internet on the tube in the last 2 years (More than a decade after South Korea for example). When they say ‘It is the economy stupid’, they should really be meaning the digital economy and it should be number 1, by some distance, in government priorities.”
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