Digital Shoreditch, a celebration of the creative, entrepreneurial, and technological talent in East London's Tech City, kicked off at the beginning of the week, and ITProPortal made the short journey across the capital to report on the action.
Highlighting the government’s continued focus on fostering a vibrant digital hub in this corner of the country, Hackney councillor Guy Nicholson headed up proceedings with the opening keynote on day one, and was keen to emphasise the significance and potential of London's growing ‘Silicon Roundabout’.
“We are in the process of seeing a new economy emerge – an economy which, if one really does look quite hard at it, is the economy of tomorrow, as we move out of an industrial era and into a tech era," Nicholson said. "We can create the most extraordinary opportunities...The East End is a place of innovation - it always has been".
But the release of the Tech City Futures report later that day tempered Nicholson’s optimism with some telling facts which must be heeded if London’s tech hub really is to prosper. Among the report’s findings was a perceived talent drought, with 44 per cent of the Tech City business leaders surveyed saying that finding skilled workers like coders and developers was the biggest challenge facing their organisation.
What's more, a whopping 77 per cent of respondents said that this lack of skilled workers was stifling their growth. Talent retention was also a major problem according to the report, with 42 per cent of those questioned saying that they found it difficult to hold on to their best personnel.
The talking points continued to crop up on day two of Digital Shoreditch, when again it was a case of excitement and possibility countered with caution and trepidation. While Kevin Farrar of IBM spoke of the endless possibilities of big data problem solving, Ogilvy’s Matthew Bayfield described how the data surge has given the likes of Google the power to do "unspeakably evil things." Strong words indeed, and well worth a read in full via the link above.
In terms of product launches last week, nothing came close to Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal on Tuesday evening. The updated gaming and entertainment device will debut "later this year," Xbox chief Don Mattrick confirmed during a feverishly-observed event at the firm’s Washington headquarters, and pre-orders have already gone live with retailer Zavvi.
The Xbox One will come with a revamped controller and Kinect sensor, which Microsoft said "is now an essential and integrated part of the platform." Unlike rival Sony and its PS4 launch earlier this year, Microsoft actually showed off the new Xbox One at the event, even if many were left underwhelmed by its rather ungainly, boxy appearance.
But it’s not just the hardware that has divided opinion since Tuesday evening. As Joel Hruska wrote, “Microsoft showed us some nifty capabilities (voice commands, fast task switching), and some tidbits on how the Windows kernel and Xbox operating system have been cross-leveraged to create a different product, [but] what the company utterly failed to demonstrate, however, was any compelling narrative as to why I should want to put one of these systems in my living room next year.”
Follow the link for Hruska’s full analysis of what he felt was a disappointing launch from Microsoft.
We really were covering all corners of the UK last week, as fresh from his exertions at Digital Shoreditch, James Laird was on the train up to Newcastle for the annual innovation conference, Thinking Digital.
First up on the event schedule was the Masterclass series which centred on a startup pitching competition, and James was at the opening session held at the Newcastle University Business School and presided over by ignite100's Paul Smith. The startup showdown featured 10 of the UK's top budding ventures, with the range of ideas on display encompassing everything from mobile phone accessories to data security solutions.
That was just the start of things, however, as James gave us live coverage of all the key announcements and talking points from Newcastle throughout the course of the week - including the winners of that startup battle. Elsewhere, the tech industry was heralded as a "major player in the North East" by Accenture's regional MD, Bob Paton (pictured), and part of the area's "new economy" as it looks to "replace the industries of the past" - echoing the rhetoric of Digital Shoreditch and highlighting that tech innovation is not at all limited to the capital.
The busy week of events is a taste of things to come on ITProPortal, as we prepare to embark on a fresh assault on tech meetings and conferences across the world, bringing you all the latest products, ideas and invention as they emerge, so stay tuned for more on that.