My comments are stimulated by thoughts and ideas derived from attending a conference at the end of 2014, and from reading the publication “ Small Pieces Loosely Joined “, published on 26th January 2015.
The report, written by Eddie Copeland, (@EddieACopeland) Head of Technology Policy Unit, Policy Exchange, an independent Think Tank, sets out recommendations for local government digital development, Eddie also chaired the “Smart Cities” conference. Eddie’s Technology Unit’s remit is to unlock the potential of technology for an innovative digital economy, smarter public sector and stronger society. So thanks to Eddie for providing the on-going continuity, and for his brave digital development work.
One unanswered question from my morning last December listening to the panel of experts in City Hall was, what does the vision for a smart city look like? It was to find out about this that I decided to attend this conference, to assist me in my ongoing understanding of digital development opportunities. Eddie Copeland’s Policy Forum report, which built on the learning from the conference, has tried to start to answer this intriguing question.
The Smart Cities Conference was held in City Hall - an incongruous juxtaposition in itself: a seemingly state-of-the-art building, situated beside the River Thames with wonderful views of old river tugs sailing by, hosting a meeting on digital progression. But, Kit Malthouse, a Deputy Mayor of London, and the final/closing Key Note Speaker and Host of the morning, explained that the building is not as high tech as it looks! Never mind, I loved the location, and I don’t think I have been at a seminar/conference in a location with better views in London.
Public digital development is not my area, as I have only worked with the digital private sector. I was invited to Policy Forum Events last year through my work as a Digital Mentor and interest in the UK tech scene. I was surprised to learn from the Smart cities Conference, how huge the opportunity is for UK public digital development up to 2025, and what an enormous political, cultural, legal and technological change there would have to be to bridge the gap between the over 700 services that local authorities want to continue to offer given the £12.4bn budget shortfall there will be if austerity measures continue to be implemented as planned. Eddie Copeland’s report says, “ Local authorities are going to have to fundamentally re-invent the way that they work”.
Eddie’s brief is tech development but there are other vital, related, interested parties. Including those with employment and privacy concerns. With such huge Local Government cost reductions to meet austerity measures, if these persist, major change is inevitable. There was evidence from speakers at the conference of resistance so far, such as the slow deployment of Local Authority cloud systems. I hope that creative and joined- up responses to this report are under the microscope, to address all the issues, not just technology, as it will affect everyone. But you have to make a start somewhere, and Eddie Copeland’s report has drawn a line in the sand, and is well considered with a digital perspective in mind. This will all take time - is 10 years enough? The Government is recruiting for a Chief Data Officer to spearhead the recommended digital development. This report makes recommendations for the framework of public digital development, leading towards Smart Cities.
The Key Note Speaker at the conference was Mike Flowers, Former Director of Analytics, for ex – (new York) Mayor’s Bloomberg Office of Policy and Strategic Planning. Mike founded the data analytics unit there in 2009, with the goal of improving citizen services, gaining buy-in from New Yorkers for the use of information by giving back improving data across public services. Mike’s philosophy was to “liberate and share” the data. Mike is not a Technologist, but a Lawyer, from a New York family steeped in public service. He provided the leadership, from thorough research, together with, in his words, his “Get Stuff Done” leadership style, banging heads together to gain the support of all stakeholders to enable his team of highly qualified Quantitative Analysts, to source, access, retrieve, analyse, publish and develop the data across a wide range of services and systems. Mike was able to pass on valuable information about his pioneering experience of using data analytics to build out a local government digital management service in New York, and he could no doubt provide wise counsel to the new Chief UK Data Officer, when appointed. As ever, the obvious learning from the conference is the need for good leadership. The 7th recommendation of Eddie Copeland’s report, “Small Pieces Loosely Joined”, is informed by Mike’s experience in New York - “Each of the UK’s cities should establish an Office of Data Analytics (ODA) to emulate the New York City Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics. Each ODA should be tasked with helping increase the efficiency of public sector operations by targeting resources at areas of greatest need, and identifying areas for significant expansion of shared services. The ODA would also release a subset of non-sensitive data on a citywide open data portal, enabling third parties to create apps and products. Once established in cities, the remit of ODAs should be expanded to cover their wider regions, including rural areas”.
Importantly, Mike’s advice was his NYC project was cultural, legal, political and not just technological in scope. When you get down and dirty to the quality of the data captured, and how seriously local government acts to secure it, this is vitally important. My own local council experience in St. Albans, Herts, is that the accessible data on air pollution for my road is patchy as spiders contaminated the tubes the air was collected in! I was pleased that Mike mentioned the great Fire Dept. of New York City in despatches, and I thanked him for this at the end in memory of my late Uncle Jim Brannigan, who was a Chief Fire Officer in NYC, as Mike said, New York Royalty!
What policy challenges will UK cities face in implementing a smart vision? What’s the appropriate role for central and local government? What are the requirements for digital infrastructure? Nicholas James, CEO UK Broadband, Peter Madden, Chief Executive, Future Cities Catapult, Stephen Hilton, Director, Bristol Futures, Léan Doody, Smart Cities Lead Arup
This next section included feedback from this interesting panel of experts. Frustrations were aired about slow speed of adoption of 4G networks by local authorities to enable rapid digital development of local services. Camden Council was cited as an exception, and Stephen Hilton of Bristol Futures was enthusiastic about the “playable City” – engaging people, developing in Bristol to support digital development. Indeed, I was told by one of the Speakers during the coffee break, that driverless cars have been tested there.
Andrew Collinge, Assistant Director, Intelligence and Analysis, GLA
Andrew presented insight into how he is approaching data analytics in London. He mentioned 40k unique visitors monthly, which seems very low to me with my background in commercial media/internet businesses, out of a population of over 8m people in London, especially as he has identified 600 datasets for the GLA. Obviously, it is early days. The GLA has 33 Boroughs, and it could be the ideal case study for the UK, in rolling out the Local Government Digital Marketplace recommended in Eddie Copeland’s report, to provide local innovation and democracy, with perhaps Camden Council leading the way. If they can get 33 London Boroughs to collaborate together, then this will be a great example to the 374 local UK Authorities. But no reason why development cannot be done in towns and smaller cities too so long as they pass the entry criteria of having good broadband. So, the race for innovation begins.
Eddie’s report also outlines the complexities of digitally aligning 374 UK Local Authorities, with 18.5k Local UK Councilor’s, over 700 services across UK local authorities and 1.8m UK local Government employees.
The Future of City Data - Presentation by Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith then conversation on: How can cities use data to improve citizens’ lives, public services and democratic engagement? What are the implications for data privacy and security in era of Internet of Things? Jon Wrennall, Chief Technology Officer, Fujitsu UKI, Andrew Hudson-Smith, Director and Deputy Chair of Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL
Interesting presentation from Dr. Andrew Hudson Smith, from UCL, on joining things up in Cities, understanding urban form and flows, joining feeds and understanding “City Moods” by using twitter geo location now, and thinking about The Internet of Me and Things in the future, amongst a host of other blue sky thinking items.
How will digital disruption and the sharing economy change cities?
What role will new digital businesses and platforms play in the development of smart cities? Can the sharing economy work for the public sector? How do we enable innovative start-ups to deliver smart city solutions? Debbie Wosskow, CEO, Love Home Swap (author of Government’s sharing economy review), Eric Van der Kleij, Head of Level39, Stian Westlake, Executive Director of Policy and Research, Nesta
Discussion about the sharing economy led by Debbie Wosskow of Love Home Swap. Debbie published a report Unlocking the Sharing Economy, Nov 2014, with 30 recommendations on sharing the assets and skills in Cities. As services like Uber.com, Airbnb.com grow further and disrupt established competitors, we will learn very soon if these new services will usurp the incumbents or be subject to greater legislative constraints that impact their traditional competitors, and that might slow them down.
Closing Keynote – Kit Malthouse Deputy Mayor of London for Business & Enterprise - London’s vision for a Smart City
Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor GLA, referred to the sharing economy in his closing address, and asked if the sharing economy is necessarily something that we should charge for? He asked “Didn’t it used to be the case that sharing was a neighbourly act” and he cited his own experience - sharing hedge clippers with his neighbour. He also posed the questions “is our culture becoming more mercantile, where we expect payment for every good deed? Will the sharing economy cause us to review our assumptions of human behaviour”? Kit raises an important point. Trade has always made the world go around, but our social behavior has matured from the days of simple bartering, perhaps sometimes making today’s new tech ideas of sharing socially confusing. I wonder, are we going back to the future with some of our new online platform sharing services? I look forward to reading Debbie Wosskow’s report to think about this further. Kit Malthouse referred to Donald Rumsfeld’s famous expression of dangers, the “unknown unknowns”. Kit worries that “unknown unknowns” for London could emerge, whilst a new 2050 infrastructure plan is currently being drafted with just known considerations. Kit would like “Smart” to mean more than green and transport issues, and is keen for big data to move away from just measuring climate change problems, to agreeing solutions, he likes hydrogen fuel cell technology. Kit also mentioned that a very large percentage of delivery vans on London roads are delivering online orders, and therefore stressed the need for collaboration with e-commerce businesses to reduce congestion and air pollution.
All in all, I enjoyed an informative and educative conference, which has given me a better understanding of what a “Smart-City” is and will be.
I attended the IBM Smart Camp Euro Finals for the best tech Start Ups in 2014 at Level39, Canary Wharf, London, last week. The 2 winners, http://www.kinetise.com, and http://www.wakingapp.com, go through to represent Europe at the world finals in the USA in 2015.
I was at the first IBM Smart Camp in London 5 years ago, in the early stages of my interest in the UK start up scene. I have had my "pause button" pressed in for a little while, so I was curious to see how things had moved on in the interim up to 2014. The first IBM Smart Camp in London was supportive of IBM's "Smarter Planet" business philosophy, and it still is. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarter_Planet) But today the focus appears to be more specifically aligned to their Data/Cloud/Engagement skills, expertise and services, with less top line emphasis on Sustainability, or City Development, than back in 2009. Now, the support is more about rolling up the sleeves to help with Data/Cloud/Engagement issues to validate and refine business propositions to help grease the wheels of these fledgling businesses. Smart Camp, is a great programme for Start Ups, offering terrific global technical support and $120k of free cloud usage, and introductions to their global network of Mentors (called Enterprise Client Connections). The IBM Entrepreneurial Team of Jenny Tydeman, Kevin Farrar, Caroline Taylor, and Angela Bates in the UK, have diligently and successfully developed their Smart Camp programme into a leading position amongst many other Accelerators in London over the past 5 years, together with their USA colleagues like Coleen Hayes, who was over here on the UK/Europe side of the Atlantic last week.
Vicky Brock, Leader of http://www.clearreturns.com, who gave the Key Note Speech last week, is a great example of super B2B success. She holds the title of "Everywoman Tech of The Year", https://www.everywoman.com/, as well as being winner of Tech All Stars Europe, http://www.techallstars.eu/, for her work helping large ecommerce retailers to make firm sales. She set the scene and the pace for Contenders and the audience as well.
The contenders at IBM Smart Camp Euro Finals 2014 were:-
A UK Finalist, Naveed and Samiya Parvez offer a new orthotics service for disabled children, which has reduced the production of orthotics from 28 weeks to 48 hours through the use of 3D printing technology. Although not a winner of this event, they received an "Honourable Mention".
A business founded by Russian, Dmitry Lazarenko, which builds public and private Clouds running on IBM software, and competes with Google and Amazon
A B2C business, presented by 2 Polish Founders, Jakub Kujawski and Piotr Pawlak. A brilliant idea to create a platform, from which anyone can build a mobile app in 2 mins. Actually it took them 4 minutes, but let's not split hairs! Think http://www.wordpress.com for Mobile Apps. A deserved winner. Good luck in the USA in 2015.
A Danish software company that makes cloud based financial trading products. They won the "Peoples Choice Award". Smart Camp was streamed live, so I am assuming that a large part of the audience came from the financial community, and since Financial Traders are Magick's target audience, it's not a surprise that they received the largest public vote.
A Spanish energy efficiency business that helps you to manage your home energy usage, within the "Internet of Things" sector, shared with Nest, https://store.nest.com/uk, owned by Google and Hive, https://www.hivehome.com, owned by British Gas. Momit is Founded by Miguel Sanchez, with Simon Crane assisting with global sales.
Momit is inspired by the fusion of your Mom (Mum/Mama/Mother) and IT, because in Miguel's home, it was his Mom who nagged him about energy use. But at home, it's my Husband who nudges us, so perhaps the title Momit, is a bit of an old stereotype! Anyway, Momit is a service, providing home gadgets that measure all energy use at home, and how you use it, providing usage data to your mobile, via the cloud. A sort of home energy dashboard! I can only imagine the number of rows that this would start, and the thought occurs to me that life is just too short to get this micro at home. Do consumers really want this much detail? Does the value proposition stack up long term? Be careful what you wish for! I think it is a long way down my wish list, but maybe I'll be "eating my hat" in a few years.
Sergio Loureiro, who I think is Portuguese, is CEO of secludit.com, with a fine technology pedigree from Internet security. His business provides elastic security for enterprises in The Cloud. Think of a security solution to all those personal photos held on the cloud. He is already a partner to Amazon, so things are looking good for Sergio.
Founder and CEO Gianluca Treu's business offers value from social media for B2C client companies, with a special emphasis on digital agencies.
In the break, I talked with Gianluca, and told him of other social companies I know, www.Comufy.com. Also, www.buddy.com.
A German business Founded Philipp Walz CEO, and Michael Loehr CTO. Tiramizoo radically simplified and optimised the management of delivery solutions to provide same day delivery to ecommerce retailers in large European metropolitan areas. Great customer service, and perhaps a product differentiator for etailers, whose customers are prepared to pay for it and want this extra service. Uber, Amazon and Ebay (Shuttle, Postmates) are experimenting with these services. Not very sustainable, if the end result is more vans on the roads delivering parcels.
An Israeli business - they are so good at technology. Alon Melchner is President and Founder, and the proud winner of this competition, who together with Kinetise.com goes forward to the USA in 2015. Like Kinetise, Wakingapp offers a platform, but in this case it is an Augmented Reality toolkit and content platform. Alon was originally inspired to design a storybook for his little child using augmented reality, what a lucky baby! Eventually, further down the development loop, he decided not to design bespoke solutions for individual client accounts, but rather offer out his toolkit that allows any technical creative to make use of the wakingapp toolkit, and to develop out a content platform from this. Even I could build interactive dinosaurs into my presentations! Everyone who was at Smart Camp knows what I mean. Good luck to wakingapp.com for the global finals in 2015.
Thanks to everyone at IBM and all the competing companies for a great afternoon. It's so interesting to keep a watching brief on new businesses, and to stay on the bleeding edge of technology developments. I'm off to an event called, "How to build a Smart City" in December, and you never know how the dots are going to be joined together, and where this will lead. It's all quite a long way down the road from my media/Internet career, but one has to keep moving.
I'm intrigued to review how Start Up candidates at all Accelerators across several entrepreneurial platforms in London, have progressed or are progressing since 2009, remembering that, apparently, it takes 7 years, usually, to grow into a "Unicorn" (read my earlier post Searching for Unicorns). But more on this another time.
I met Julia Grinham CEO of www.upperstreet.com, through http://www.astia.org/, a US based community for female entrepreneurs, and I contributed, along with others, in the development of Upper Street.
I was delighted to receive Julia's email today to say that they have secured investment for the next stage of development, and PR in City AM and The Sunday Times.
Good luck to Julia and Upper Street for further success. Maybe you will be a UK Unicorn (see http://www.lucamedia.com/Searching-for-Unicorns)
My Strategy Development 2014-2020
- balancing all customer groups to maintain optimum performance (customers/shareholders/suppliers/employees/partners)
- digital revenue development
- digital M&A
- digital developments in emerging markets
- development for media/content businesses
- digital advice to FTSE 250 companies and other leading global businesses
- ongoing mentoring to selected start ups
A really tragic story today, of the loss of a 14-year-old boy, murdered by an evil person he thought was an "online friend."
I feel so sad for his parents, family and friends. But also for the people who work in social businesses online, who merely provide communication platforms, enjoyed by billions and abused by a minority. Reflecting on this awful story today, two tech stories I read last week have sprung to mind.
The 1st is about Facebook's ability to determine with the magic of big data, how predictive some behaviours are of lasting love or heartbreak city.
The 2nd is one, which reports that Canadian researchers confirm that Internet Trolls are sadists.
Perhaps social businesses could work with these researchers and consider if it is possible to mine their data to provide early warnings of danger.
A real long shot, but worth considering to find ways to protect the vulnerable.
I have invested quite a bit of time advising new digital start ups in London.
Reading this new report from Cowboy Ventures, in California, makes me feel better, as I have not yet found a unicorn from a start up in the past few years (software companies valued at $1B).
But then they take on average 7 years before they reach a "liquidity event". So maybe I just need to be a bit more patient.
The 1st decade of the 21st Century started during the dot.com bubble and only eight years later the financial crash hit us in 2008 with a subsequent global economic crisis. Alongside this, the digital revolution created opportunity and jobs as well as threatening business and employment in others.
In 2013 as we in the UK emerge from recession, with cautious optimism, I am contemplating where the opportunities will be in 2020 and beyond.
Fortuitously, whilst starting to ponder this, the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, Chaired by Pascal Lamy, the former Director-General of the WTO obliged by publishing "Now for The Long Term" a report that identifies global megatrends that have huge implications.
The report is structured in 3 parts with reference to the identified megatrends:
Part A Possible Responses
Part B Responsible Futures
Part C Practical Futures
I found this very useful, as although I am well aware of digital developments, it's good to take a helicopter view of all trends and bookmark business and digital trends against them. One aspect of the report, which interests me, is the need to review "Quarterly earnings targets, “hyper-speed” trading systems, and how impatient stakeholders reinforce short-termism in business". The report says, "There are positive signs. Many companies have embraced corporate social responsibility and other long-term impact targets. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants has noted the “retreat from shareholder value as the dominant business philosophy and increasing interest in alternative corporate models, such as those common in India and China”.
But this leads me on to explore the importance of reporting about and the balance between all customer groups. For example, for businesses, are shareholders more important than customers, suppliers, partners, employees and regulatory bodies? Food for thought for the Oxford Martin Commission perhaps?
I have had an unsatisfactory user experience this week with Marks & Spencer. I thought I would blog about it, as they are a fantastic UK company who have had bad press this week with latest financial results, in the current tough economic environment, with rumours of board room tension, difficult at all times.
Anyway, I offer my advice gratis and openly to Marc Bolland, CEO, as a digital goddess, and a 2nd generation customer. This social revolution is supposed to be personal as well as expert. (As I write my 81 year old Mum will be whizzing her way around M&S London Colney, as she has done every week for 60 odd years. She is also a devoted Manchester United supporter, and was completely delighted to receive an 80th birthday letter from Sir Alex Ferguson, which has pride of place on her kitchen wall). The 3rd generation, my son age 24, and daughter age 18, are not brand loyal to any retailers, but my daughter did bring a selection of M&S tea to her French Host Family this Gap year.
I received an email from M&S advising sale offers, and I clicked through on our iPad and bought a washable suit for my son, (who is fond of parties, and fed up with expensive dry cleaning bills in his first post graduate position). I love the click online and collect service, and I also use this frequently with John Lewis/Waitrose. The online purchasing experience was fine, and I happily clicked back into my email account to discover a 2nd email had arrived from M&S with 5 x loyalty points for this week. I immediately tried to amend my order to add them in, but there was no obvious way that I could do this, so I just sent an email to customer service asking them to add them in for me. I have not heard further, and my fall back position is to ask for a refund and start again when I pick up the items in store tomorrow. Not really a good user/customer experience.
Today I shopped in my local St. Albans store and bought £30.00 worth of items and checked out at the automatic counter (which was difficult as I brought my own bags and everything kept slipping off the small counter). I took out my iPhone to scan in the voucher code for the 3 x loyalty points for food, wine and flowers, only to discover that there was no way of doing this and I had not printed off the vouchers at home. I went to customer services to ask if they could do this for me, but they advised that they could not. I'm fairly sure that when I had a similar experience at Sainsbury's, their customer services desk did add in nectar points after purchases.
So, these are my 2 examples of poor digital/in store syncronisity for customers and users. I considered emailing customer services, but they offered only online or instore query prompts, and my query concerns not one or the other but combined seamless services, and as I have still not heard back from my 1st email, I am a little doubtful of the service quality. I know there will be a series of technical and management issues here, but working these through to provide a seamless good user experience is vital to continue to own customers across all distribution platforms.
Good luck Marc Bolland for your work in 2013, keeping customers loyal to the great British M&S brand across the generations, and with commercial developments, and let me know if you need any help!
I joined Matt O’Neill, President of Ad Monsters and his terrific Team this week, at their conference focused on online operational issues (http://www.admonsters.com)
I have some previous history here, as an early Ad Monster from my time at Ask.com, a few years ago now. But I’ve not been to one of these conferences in a while, but I know it’s a great place to find out what’s going on.
Recently, I’ve been mentoring new Start Ups in different sectors (gamification; social; mobile; e-commerce; email). However, I can also provide consultancy on people, revenue and process issues for digital businesses, and decided to attend OPS with a view to keeping my knowledge updated, particularly for digital publisher clients.
In Peter Slaughter’s session, Operations Director at The FT for 28 years, he said only his knowledge from the last three really counts now. I’m sure that he was vastly underselling himself. But, technology has changed and is rapidly changing his business and his role within it.
So what conclusions did I draw from the day?
Well the online business is even more complex and operationally intensive now, with additional revenue areas like Social, and new formats like Tablets and Smart Phones to take account of.
Rob Beeler, excellent Master of Ceremonies for Ad Monsters commented that managing display online could take between 20-40% of budget overheads, whilst takes TV takes 2%.
There are multiple suppliers to consider in multiple sector areas and additional services like compliance and verification (DoubleVerify).
No one talks about Search; Google handles that all very well on behalf of partners.
Mobile and Video are still nascent, but growing exponentially. Really interesting mobile presentation by Russell Buckley, CMO of Eagle Eye Solutions, and an inspirational Key Note Opening from Jonny Shaw of Naked Play, ripping up the marketing rule book for mobile advertising, everything is about play now. I see a few logistical problems translating this philosophy across multiple platforms.
There is great focus on display advertising, (real time buying or programmatic buying). Yet, outside of Facebook, banner display revenue is flat, and most good video content is sold outside of automated exchanges.
Great to see one example of updated serving systems presented by Ken Parnham MD of OpenX, and also to hear an Agency view from Richard Wheaton MD Neo@Ogilvy on how they manage the difficult process of display for their clients. Quality still counts.
It’s not just about ad inventory, data is valuable too now, but heavy lifting to manage and value this.
I heard about Yieldex, a technology product that improves the accuracy of forecasting and management of direct sales inventory.
Fru Hazlitt of ITV presented the great work they are doing with Apps, 2nd screens and deeper customer partnerships, but this is all at an early stage. No mention of ZeeBox and other apps launched recently, this will take a year or two to feed through, and it will be interesting to find out more about this later on.
I learnt about Facebook’s vast inventory. Their currency is people not impressions, (no pixels to measure this). Their sell through is low, so I bet they are disappointed that General Motors has announced that it is pulling out of Facebook display, the day before their IPO. Facebook sits operationally outside of other display measurements, as do other social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn.
Oh and Twitter Tweets are worthless if not seen within 15 minutes according to Adaptly.com.
Doubleclick, now owned by Google, is still an important player, but I did not get a sense yet of a seamless process solution across different platforms to support their publishers. So, a lot of hard work to hold together the operational cats cradle on an on-going basis.
It’s going to take a major game changer to streamline operational processes across online, perhaps with converging developments in TV/Internet, or something we cannot yet imagine!
There must be opportunity for consultancy in this area, and will think about revisiting this for Q4 kick off.
The "G" word, growth, is on the tip of a lot of tongues at the moment, so I decided to attend a discussion relevant to Digital businesses, held at the new Google Campus.
It was organised by COADEC, who do a great job in organising pertinent digital networking events, and progressing important dialogues on digital development in the UK, and I'm very happy to support them.
Disappointed that Kulveer Ranger Director of Environment and Digital London for the Mayor of London was unable to attend, as I was really looking forward to hearing what he had to say. He must be a really busy person with two very important briefs, Environment and Digital, to cover for London.
However, Andrew Humphries, Tech City Champion at the UKTI, Chris Yiu, Head of Digital Government at Policy Exchange, Greg McCulloch, MC Interxion spoke on the subject with Sara Kelly of Coadec hosting the event.
In my opinion, Digital London, is now very well supported, by Mentors, entrepreneurial platforms, start up accelerators, investors, Government, Universities etc. It was interesting to observe Chris Yiu's considered thoughts on what else could be done to minimise business administration, and to consider different tax routes for start ups. There do not seem to be many stones left unturned by the Government in terms of what help can be offered to assist with the rapid development of the sector. Excluding start ups from Employer National Insurance is a good idea that is supported by many politicians, but this is still on the back burner.
However, with all the help and focus, there are some successes coming through the pipeline. Andrew Humphries mentioned two, who received investment from Californian VC's recently. I have found from my mentoring work, that patience is required, developments take time.
One thought running through my mind from last night, is that we need many more new digital ideas to accelerate growth more rapidly. Ideas not just from the Tech Sector, or from the next generation coming through, but ideas from different groups from anywhere in the world, certainly across the UK. The infrastructure exists in London to support the development of ideas. The idealists might not want to develop the ideas, but others can do this for them. The question I am asking myself is how can these ideas be stimulated, how can they be harvested and prioritised?
People in the UK are really resourceful, and at a time of real need to solve economic problems, we should reach out to them for their great ideas.
There is a great opportunity to engage everyone and provide impetus to support digital growth. It still might take time, but perhaps there will be more successes to celebrate.