Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Technology shaping the national agenda

December 6, 2017

We’ve come a long way in the last 18 months. The announcements of the past few weeks put that in clear view.

When I started as Chief Exec of Cisco in the UK & Ireland in August 2016, technology was on the nation’s agenda, but not yet shaping it. In the months since we have seen a clear focus on the potential for digital technology in the UK and a focus on creating world leading industry and productive and innovative businesses, of all sizes and postcodes.

Earlier this year we saw the publishing of a comprehensive national Digital Strategy. In the past ten days that has been built on with a Budget that is underpinned by technology and an Industrial Strategy which sees digital infrastructure, AI and the data economy as a way of putting the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.

It might seem odd for the leader of a technology business to say, but we need government to support the process of growth and innovation through digitisation to make it a success.

Initiatives like Be the Business, which challenges businesses across the country to raise their game on things like managerial practices, use of technology and skills, are business-led but are only possible if governments champion them too. Raising awareness of these issues is a way we can look to boost business’s productivity in the short-term, something we desperately need to see happening across the UK.

We also need governments to invest in the right R&D, infrastructure and skills programmes that will facilitate this tech-rich, digital economy of the future. Businesses can help here – Cisco recently committed to providing digital training to 250,000 people by 2020 – but government clearly has a huge role to play too. We’re looking forward to seeing what impact initiatives like the Computing for Schools curriculum, the new T-Levels and new apprenticeships will have.

To truly see the UK lead in industry, Government also needs to set the right regulatory framework to allow new technologies to succeed. As the Chancellor himself said in the Budget, any investment in R&D for driverless cars needs to go hand-in-hand with a forward-looking regulatory framework if the UK is to establish itself as a world-leader in this space. The same is true for other emerging areas of technology such as AI.

And we need to work with Government on keeping people safe in this new digital-rich world. I was delighted to attend the Cyber Growth Partnership last week where businesses and Government came together to discuss how to further strengthen the growing UK cyber industry, but also how to ensure industry and government are doing all they can to maximise security through the Internet of Things as we see billions more devices connect to the internet at an accelerating rate.

These are just a few of the ways business needs to work with government to make this digital future a success for the UK. I’m excited to see the recent Industrial Strategy and Budget announcements set out such a strong message on the role technology can play in enabling future economic growth in the UK.

But this is only the beginning. We now need to see government and business working together to deliver with ambition on this agenda both at the national and regional level where this approach can make all the difference.

Leave a comment