The Northern Powerhouse has recently made news headlines once again – not because it employs 285,500 people or because it contributes £600m to the region’s economy – but because former chancellor George Osborne announced he’s chairing the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. The partnership is a not-for-profit scheme that will focus on boosting the success of the North, while “being a focus for research, intelligence and co-ordination with important stakeholders”.
In addition, PM Theresa May followed this up with a re-commitment of government to the idea of a Northern Powerhouse and devolving powers away from Westminster. This includes developing other cities in order to balance the economy and forms part of the government’s Digital Economy Bill unveiled in May 2016.
A case in point is the city of Manchester, which is the largest tech cluster outside of London. Or Rotherham, which is the third fastest growing tech hub in the country. Essentially this brings into focus the opportunities for businesses in the digital economy, whether they are delivering technology, infrastructure, hardware, software, networks, data-driven services or ecommerce to the market.
Looking at the bigger picture, beyond employment opportunities and generation of revenue, tech businesses drive innovation, for both the IT sector and the larger economy. So with the backing of government and commitment of businesses in the region to make the Northern Powerhouse work, what else is needed to ensure organisations can benefit from being part of this digital economy?
To answer that question we’d need to talk a bit about the services that the digital economy rests on – cloud, colocation, datacentre services – and the challenges that CIOs are facing in trying to harness the benefits for their organisation, as well as forging forward with digital transformation plans. There are a number of datacentres in the North, offering these services and poised to support the further development of the region. But more than that, it is what cloud and datacentre providers are able to offer both the tech companies in the clusters, as well as other businesses that have emerged in other sectors as a result of this growth.
Hybrid cloud, as an example, is a great enabler of digital transformation. It can also be used to address issues around security, interoperability, managing resources and maximising technology investment.
With the tech sector in the UK growing 32% faster than the rest of the economy and creating more jobs more quickly, organisations need to ensure they’re doing all they can to capitalise on the digital economy and the opportunities it will bring them – whether that is using hybrid cloud, colocation or other cloud services.