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General Election 2015: 7 tech experts react to Labour’s manifesto

The Labour manifesto was launched on Monday by leader Ed Miliband. With commitments to innovation and building digital skills, the party put technology at the front and centre of its new approach. CBR rounds up views from tech experts on whether the manifesto went far enough.

 

1. techUK

techUK CEO Julian David said, "The world is being transformed by tech and any successful vision of the UK’s future must have the smart use of digital technology at its core.

"We are pleased that the Labour Manifesto recognises the need to build on the UK’s strengths and the sector will welcome the focus on raising productivity, using digital technology to reform public services, continued investment in communications infrastructure, a commitment to long-term science funding, and proper democratic oversight of investigative powers."

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2. ScotlandIS

Polly Purvis, CEO of ScotlandIS, said: "We very much welcome the greater focus on the digital economy. The UK is internationally recognised as a technology powerhouse, and we need to continue to build on that reputation.

"Universal high quality broadband, a digitally skilled workforce and an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship are all essential in realising the potential of digital technologies."

 

3. Bluwan

Shayan Sanyal, CMO, Bluwan, commented: "Bluwan applauds the Labour Party’s initiative to provide high speed broadband to all parts of the country. It is also encouraging to see its pledge to small businesses through a Small Business Administration, which will give them a voice at the heart of government.

"However, Bluwan believes that the two must go hand in hand. In an era when the internet is the lifeblood of many companies, poor connectivity is still severely hampering the growth of small businesses. Today SMBs are treated as the poor cousin by large incumbents when it comes to broadband deployment, as they tend to favour the cash cow of providing high bandwidth services to larger enterprises. As a result, SMBs are suffering in their ability to contribute to the digital economy.

"Whoever comes into power in May must address this issue and ensure that SMB requirements for high bandwidth services are delivered in the most cost effective and timely manner. Fortunately there are a number of business model options available for SMBs, and technology choices available to ISPs to help them get more SMBs online with meaningful broadband services."

 

4. The Comtek Group

Askar Sheibani, CEO of The Comtek Group, commented: "It’s commendable that UK politicians are taking technology seriously in their election manifestos and I urge them to continue to do so, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that not enough has been done by the current Government.

"Labour’s pledge that all parts of the UK will have access to ‘affordable, high speed broadband’ demonstrates what an important issue it is for voters in the UK. A lack of connectivity not only causes social exclusion but it stifles business growth. The fact such a basic service – which pivotal to our economy – is still a debatable issue is simply unacceptable."

 

5. Lifesize

Andy Nolan, VP UK and Northern Ireland at Lifesize, comments:

"Connectivity is critical to any business. Labour’s commitment to that through the proposed levels of affordable, high-speed broadband across the UK is welcome in supporting the needs of businesses who are experiencing a shift in workplace culture and changes in their day to day operations.

"New flexible working initiatives champion the right to work from home and accommodate the increasing need to liberate staff to work anywhere, anytime and from any device but these needs must be addressed through technology as well as cultural changes.

"With increased bandwidth staff will be able to engage with colleagues from outside of the office via communications tools such as video conferencing to maintain that connected experience, as well as the level of performance expected in the traditional workplace."

 

6. PHA Media

Nick Braund, head of the Technology & Innovation department at PHA Media, commented:

"I was very pleased with Labour’s manifesto and their focus on tech as key to the UK’s development and progression as a superpower in terms of innovation and skilling. For too long, our education has not focused enough on these skills that are more important today to future success than many other areas still in the curriculum.

"Throughout every major section of the document, Mr. Miliband includes a reference to the importance of technology in supporting its proposals for the next government which I highly endorse. Labour has rightly seen that robotics, 3D printing and big data are vital to our countries development, nurturing the great strides we have already made in these fields.

"For me, our broadband and internet capabilities are very weak compared to many other less developed nations, which is not acceptable, and Labour’s pledge to ensure that all parts of the countries have access to affordable, high-speed broadband by the end of Parliament is a huge step in the right direction."

 

7. inniAccounts

James Poyser, co-founder of inniAccounts, said:

"We are reading all the manifestos keenly. They not only affect our business, but those of our clients. We see our role will be to help clients navigate the changes and how they will determine company structure, accounting practice and growth – we are already receiving the ‘what if’ questions as the manifesto headlines emerge.

"As an online business, any commitment to a broadband infrastructure is welcome. Being online isn’t a differentiator anymore, it’s an entry criteria and imperative for the knowledge economy.

"We exchange tens of thousands of files with clients, talk to HMRC electronically and we run our hosted PBX phone system over the broadband connection. It’s integral to delivering our service, and ultimately our brand. We see it as a vital part of our growth, our client’s growth and, given the seniority of our clients and the companies they provide consultancy to, Britain’s place in a global economy.
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