Use the term ‘industry’ and the tendency amongst us all is to imagine the industrial revolution or to hark about to the days of 1960s when Mini’s were rolling off the production line at the British owned Longbridge Plant in Birmingham. Whilst our engineering firms and production lines remain vital cogs to the national economy and remain attractive for foreign investors, it is essential that we not only build on those but really start to accelerate our service industries which as recently as 2015 accounted for nearly 80% output to the UK economy.
I was encouraged to hear Greg Clark speaking about the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, state “we should be aware of and capitalise on our strengths while constantly seeking new opportunities that, together, will determine how we make our way in the world.”
At the forefront of that vision I would like to see technology industries with business and the public sector working collectively to build on our strengths of today. Whilst it’s right we celebrate the successes of the likes of Brunel or Thomas Telford, now is the time we start celebrating the likes of Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Jonathan Ive in the same breath as we look to build industries which will create new jobs and create greater social mobility like IT can.
Microsoft have an initiative called City Next which covers a number of themes and at the heart of each theme is IT:
· Digital Cities
· Educated Cities
· Healthier Cities
· Safer Cities
· Smaller Cities
· Sustainable Cities
Bringing these themes and IT together, it is Microsoft’s belief that IT and the power of technology is capable of empowering citizens, genuinely lead towards a healthier and enriched society with the skills to undergo digital transformation. At risual, we believe this should not only happen on a city by city basis, we believe digital transformation can happen at a regional level and on a national scale across all parts of society.
At the moment this theory is being delivered in pockets by people like risual who are doing this in places such as the East Midlands where we are working with the City Councils, the emergency services, the education providers. That is why it is exciting for us to be engaging productively with some of the country’s LEPs who are looking to achieve all of the above themes and more.
It is my belief however, in order for us to achieve this transformation quicker, we need the Industrial Strategy in place promptly, we need our leaders to embrace new technologies and we need those in decision making positions with budgetary responsibilities to become embracers of technology. Failure to do so will see CEO’s and the consumers they serve left behind whilst the rest of us forge ahead in the 21st Century global race for greater social mobility and make further progress in the world.
The next few years represent a key point in our history. Moving on from the referendum we must look to build a successful country and capitalise on our modern day inventors in order to trade globally, break new frontiers, innovate and create an improved society both at home and away from these shores with an industrial strategy that has IT at its core.