21st May 2015

#IPEXPO enabling the UK to become Europe’s leading digital innovation hub

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What do you get when you combine Manchester City Council leader, Sir Richard Leese, TV presenter, Tim Lovejoy, TalkTalk Head of Group Innovation, Neil McArthur, and 100 of Europe’s leading IT infrastructure and cloud providers…hope you guessed it, #IPEXPO.

This year, the event organisers have brought #IPEXPO to Manchester to capture the #northernpowerhouse spirit and showcase the vast, growing connectivity landscape that is taking hold of the UK.

Opened by Sir Richard Leese, arguably the hand behind Manchester’s combined authority status, the 2015 #IPEXPO is celebrating all things that are futureproofing business and driving growth across the globe. Even on the first morning, the address and seminars focused on one core theme of “enablement” – helping organisations find smart solutions to grow, drive their sector to expand and contribute to the overall wealth of the nation.

Helena blog 2

The main issue discussed among panellists and attendees alike seemed to be the success of the UK as a leading player in the global race for true digital domination.  Given the nation’s poor broadband speed, currently only just reaching 4G in some cities, never mind elsewhere, that success is debatable. According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average broadband speed across Britain stands at 23Mbps, so we have some way to go to truly operate at the same levels as some of our counterparts, which is a real issue for business enablement.

The exciting news is that the talent is here, which means we can smash the glass ceiling on achieving true innovation through technology and development. There are pockets of success across the country: London has its accelerator area Tech City, Manchester’s home to more than 45,000 workers in the digital sector with the promise of 11,000 more opportunities by 2020, and there’s a new cluster of tech innovation hubs now being created in Cambridge. So should, #IPEXPO be there as a forum to discuss setting the backbone infrastructure to enable the potential ahead in the UK?

One presenter talked through the oft-cited Gartner hype circle methodology, which provides a visual representation of the maturity, adoption and business application of specific technologies. While it’s clear to see the sector has come a long way, it’s also valuable to see there is quite a way to go to address the maturity assessment the Gartner model has thrown up. Globalisation, outsourced IT, organisational agility, security – don’t mention Snowden – mobility, big data the list goes on….but the exciting point to make is that it’s all addressable for businesses of all shapes and sizes, when you look to the cloud.

I once heard IT described as ‘just a commodity’ and I would agree. It’s a marketable product, designed to provide a solution to any given challenge, but the thrilling part of it is that IT is the vehicle that can deliver solutions and innovations to expand the breadth of business outside of the realms of what any boardroom would imagine possible. The challenge remains for CIOs and IT leaders to champion their expertise, and skills, within their own organisations to showcase this ability to enable while keeping the commoditised area of their role (the day-to-day) going.

By Helena Reid, B2B Associate Director