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Education and Investment will keep the North Digitally Connected

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DIGITAL” (CC BY 2.0) by blackwomenrhetproject

The future of the North’s digital industry came under scrutiny recently following the publication of The Digital Powerhouse Report. Commissioned by Tech North and published by the RSA, the report certainly paints a picture of a region that’s still hive of tech activity.

From Warrington and Leeds to Sheffield and beyond, the North’s tech industry is currently worth £9.9 billion with its productivity accounting for 5.2% of the region’s economic output. Not only that, but the digital industry has grown by 28% in the North over the last five years and by 2020 there’s expected to be 363,000 workers in the sector by 2020.

We Need to Learn from the Report

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Project Report” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Nick Bramhall
According to Sarah Birtles, a marketing manager for a technology company, a report that breaks down the industry and offers ways to improve it is always welcome. However, without acting upon its recommendations, the region could start to fall behind the curve.
One of the main recommendations emerging from the report is the need for more collaboration between tech companies and Tech North in order to kick-start new businesses. Specifically stating that leaders in the industry should “consider identifying corporations that may be interested backing tech start-up accelerators”, the central idea is that for growth to occur more investments need to be made.
Of course, for cities such as Warrington to continue evolving as tech hubs, investment is crucial. However, it’s not just financial investments that are needed. For start-ups to really thrive, industry leaders also need to invest time in educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Indeed, without this, a start-up can easily fall by the wayside in the digital world. As highlighted by Fortune’s Erin Griffith, nine out of ten start-ups fail because they aren’t equipped to deal with the pressures of the modern business world.
Start-ups Will Fail if they Lack Knowledge and Resources

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“failure” (CC BY 2.0) by Ally [Photographer]
Breaking down the top 20 reasons for a start-up’s failure, CB Insights found that 17% fail because they had a poor product. Obviously this can have many connotations, but one of the reasons many digital businesses often have a “poor product” is a lack of security. Recent research by the Office for National Statistics found that there were 2.5 million cyber attacks between 2014 and 2015 and feeling the force of these attacks was the small business sector.
Naturally, without the requisite knowledge, a small business owner may not know how to protect their virtual assets from SQL injections, remote file inclusion attacks etc, which is why education is important. Indeed, as The Digital Powerhouse Report states, companies in the North should consider creating a “what works” review so that entrepreneurs can see what they need to do to achieve success in the industry.
Answering questions such as “what is PCI compliance with regards to digital security” will form an integral part of this knowledge tree. As well as understanding the security guidelines as outlined by the PCI Security Standards Council, small business should also be implementing cost-effective technology such as web application firewalls (WAF).
When used in conjunction with security hardware, a cloud-based WAF provides a vital layer of protection that’s not only affordable, but meets the PCI’s Level 1 security standards. However, without knowing this and learning from those that have done it, most start-ups will fall at the first hurdle.

Knowledge and Funding Will Keep the Lights On

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Knowledge, experience, narrative, collab” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by HowardLake

The outlook for the digital sector in the North is certainly bright, but if it wants to keep its torch burning then it needs to invest in people and knowledge. Companies that have “made it” should be giving something back to the industry whether it’s in the form of money or education.
As we’ve shown, most start-ups will fail simply because their products aren’t equipped to deal with the demands and, moreover, the threats of the market. However, through a process of education and funding, the North should continue to thrive as a digital technology hub will into the next decade.
To read The Digital Powerhouse Report, click here.

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About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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