The UK Government wants your input on how it should build a digital economy. The consultation period ends on January 19th (see below for details on how to contribute).
CBR asked the tech sector what needs to be done.
Get Smartphone smart
Jacqueline de Rojas, President TechUK, "Smart use of tech has the potential to transform our public services. Consumers increasingly do more online and on the move – if they can bank from their phone, they rightly expect to be able to pay council tax, update their driving licence or apply for a TV licence in the same way. By implementing the right digital technologies, government can achieve the ‘smartphone state’ Minister Hancock [paymaster general and responsible for government digital transformation in Government] is looking to achieve".
Rachel Barton, Managing Director, Accenture Customer Strategy "Digital presents huge opportunities for business and great benefits for customers and citizens as the UK embarks on large scale investment into this new normal of today’s technology. The UK is already seen as a pioneer in digital government and to create a user-centric "smartphone state" the government will wish to understand the role it can play in the wider ecosystem that sits around today’s services and products.
"Creating end to end experiences designed around ease of use will make services accessible and contextualised in everyday activities – it would seem entirely logical to click through and renew a passport after booking a holiday online, to update a tax disc off the back of a car insurance site or to register for council tax or contact the electoral roll whilst providing a new address with a broadband provider. This will require partnerships and a level of digital seamlessness that will drive the "smartphone state" and bring government into the fabric of our lives."
Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com, "The UK Digital Strategy is mostly about exploiting and increasing the return on investment from the superfast coverage via the BDUK projects. The existing contracts are now starting on the roll-out to take the UK to a 95% superfast coverage target so little can change on that strategy, the more open book is over the final 5% but we expect to hear more on this in the Spring.
We hope that the proposed 10 Mbps USO that will have legal backing will be set into stone in 2016 and thus have some idea how it will be delivered. Looking further forward Ministers have already hinted at ultrafast targets (100 Mbps and faster) and with some of the second phase of BDUK projects utilising Fibre to the Home we may be seeing this becoming more of a reality.
One area we would like to see Government address is to guarantee via planning regulations that any new business premises built are ready with superfast broadband from the day the doors open and preferably an ultrafast broadband option. All too often new offices are built with little regard to the broadband infrastructure, more effort seems to go into landscaping the car park."
Neil Fraser – Satellite Lead, ViaSat UK, "Ed Vaizey has reiterated that the Government has pledged superfast broadband coverage for 95 percent of the UK by 2017, but the fact that a high-speed service will be limited to only certain locations, whether the home, office or coffee shop, can be a barrier to users wanting to actually use the service. For instance, a business looking to locate within the UK will most likely make the level of connectivity available a key part of its decision process, meaning areas plagued by poor broadband or mobile coverage will regularly lose out compared to their more connected competition. For a Government that has stated the importance of investment in the regions beyond London, and is pushing the Digital By Default agenda for services to be always-available online, ensuring that these black spots are eliminated makes sound business sense.
Nathalie Künneke-Trenaman, IPv6 Program Manager at the RIPE NCC: "Having a strong IPv6 deployment plan is crucial for the UK to ensure it’s at the cutting edge of the digital landscape. IPv6 is critical for any number of innovations, including the IoT and driverless cars, because IPv4 is running out and technical workarounds are just a temporary fix.
IPv6 uptake is increasing quickly worldwide, currently at around 10%, and it’s incredibly important that the UK isn’t left behind. Without IPv6, Internet-related innovation could be stifled, and the UK could fall behind the rest of the world.
If the UK is to be a true global digital leader, it needs to invest in IPv6 so that it can effortlessly scale networks to support everything from major corporations and eCommerce, through to wearables and next-generation technology."
Investment at SCALE
Lee Wade, CEO of Exponential-e: "Netflix, Uber and Airbnb are just some of the success stories that have emerged and used the cloud to deliver new services to consumers.
"However, if the UK wants to compete at the cutting edge of a digital economy then it’s essential to foster a culture of innovation. With the rapid pace of development in the tech sector, those countries choosing to support agile and opportunistic start-ups and nurture companies as they build on their first successes will lead the way. This means going beyond improving access to SMB funding to provide more support and guidance for start-ups that are pushing boundaries in rapid growth sectors, for example, high-technology."
Rachel Barton, Accenture, "The UK is recognised as a global tech hub but we have not yet created a Google, an Amazon or an Alibaba – a digital start up that can drive tangible economic growth by operating at a global level. The UK needs more "unicorns" (start-ups that generate > $1bn valuation) if we are to fully benefit from a digital economy that we have created.
The UK is undoubtedly recognised as a tech hub and digital disruption – like our own industrial revolution – has the ability to create new social and economic power bases. New economies rise from bold and ambitious investments in digital."
Craig Heath, Principal Consultant – Security, IoTUK: "As a nation we have the academics, industry and consumer demand to make use of IoT a part of our everyday lives in a way that better enables services and improves quality of life, but collaboration between all these parties is essential if we are to ensure this becomes a reality. There exists a broad commitment from leading bodies in the UK to do just that."
Jacqueline de Rojas, "Crucially, tech can help the government offer more for less, vital at a time of ever tightening budgets, and increasing pressures on our public services. To make this a reality, government and the tech industry need to work together to improve the purchasing process and give civil servants the capability and incentives to be more innovative and deliver services that are digital by default."
Gordon Morrison, Director of Government Relations at Intel Security, "While the Digital Strategy is rightly ambitious in positioning the UK as on the forefront of the technology revolution, it is essential that security underpins every new initiative. While the government’s £1.9bn investment in the National Cyber Security Programme demonstrates that they appreciate this serious national threat, it is important that cybersecurity isn’t an afterthought in plans around the Internet of Things, connected cars and smart cities. The government must ensure that all initiatives are secure by design, rather than approached as a bolt on."
Ron Symons, regional director, A10 Networks, "Fortifying defences should be the government’s urgent priority. The threat of a major cyber attack targeting British infrastructure is looming and with GCHQ recently reporting that UK cyber attacks more than doubled in the last year, we must act. Some of the highest profile attacks recently have been distributed denial of service (DDoS)-related. Just look at the recent BBC attack, which is reported to be the largest seen yet.
"Network security professionals need investment from the UK government that enables them to assume an extensible and adaptable position. The key is to be prepared: the question is not if but when an attack will come, and our choice of defensive policy will ensure that we fare best in this heightened age of security threat."
Jack Bedell-Pearce, Managing Director, at 4D: "The need for investment in green technology has garnered major prominence in the past few years as the public slowly begins to understand how much electricity data centres around the world actually use. Capital investment by SMEs in such technology can however be financially challenging, as the return on investment is often greater than 5 years. This gap was filled in 2004, when the government introduced an interest free loan scheme through the Carbon Trust and provided £160m of finance to SMEs in the UK to invest in carbon reducing technologies. It had the win-win effect of reducing power consumption, reducing bills and generating investment in UK companies. But in 2011, the scheme was quietly dropped. If the current day government is serious about boosting investment and pushing forward a green agenda, reintroducing this scheme would be an excellent step in the right direction."
Duncan Gooding, Director of Major Account, TalkTalk Business: By investing in innovation and digital skills alongside a reliable and sustainable UK wide network, businesses and the government alike can ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of digital evolution and foster the innovative, creativity and next generation thinking that the UK prides itself on."
Karl Loudon, Digital Director at mobile consultancy and app developer, Mubaloo: "A broadband connection doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the talent in place. To make the UK synonymous with digital, the government needs to put more focus on training and getting amazing talent into the UK. This means putting a focus on helping ensure that anyone who leaves school has the skills they need to work. This could help a number of young people who may need to leave school at 16 for a number of reasons, to help them have jobs that are more flexible. People and skills are the future of making the UK a tech nation.
Close the Digital Deficit – leave no-one behind
Jacqueline de Rojas, speaking as VP Citrix Northern Europe, "There is no question that technology holds the potential to dramatically change every aspect of our individual lives and society as a whole: whether it’s universities and colleges offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) or creating/adapting jobs that will allow more people to work flexibly. Ultimately, technology’s greatest potential will be in opening up a vast number of opportunities to a far greater number of people, so no one is held back due to living rurally, having young children, or having long-term illnesses that prevent them from returning to the office.
"But to succeed in achieving this potential, we must first ensure that no one is excluded from these opportunities. Go.On UK, a digital skills charity, recently demonstrated the extent of the digital deficit that still exists today across the country with its digital exclusion heat map, which considered a series of variables including infrastructure, access and basic digital skills. Addressing such issues is essential to us truly all transforming lives with technology, and not merely those fortunate enough to have both the infrastructure and knowledge to harness these new opportunities."
Put your ideas to the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport up until the 19th of January 2016 with your ideas about shaping the UK’s digital economy up to 2020 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.