To launch Computing’s new campaign, ‘UK technology in the year of the Olympics’, in association with Cisco, Stuart Sumner highlights some of the opportunities and challenges facing IT leaders in 2012
This week sees the start of Computing’s new campaign, “UK IT in the year of the Olympics”. The campaign, which will run throughout the year, will examine the state of our domestic IT industry at a time when the country will be at the centre of global attention.
There is huge opportunity this year for UK businesses of all sizes. Millions of people are set to flood into the country for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and Paralympics.
They will need hotels, transport, food, entertainment and access to communications, and not just in London. There are 34 competition venues around the country, including Cardiff, Manchester, Glasgow and Weymouth.
Back in London, however, the Olympic Stadium is a stone’s throw from one of the most exciting places in the world to be an IT innovator at the moment - the affectionately named Silicon Roundabout, otherwise known as the East London Tech Hub. This area, which has been championed by the Prime Minister, has seen major investment in the past year, with improved infrastructure, and advice available from government specialists through UK Trade and Investment. We will be covering the biggest technology stories both from the Games and the Tech Hub, explaining their impact on the UK IT industry as a whole.
Threat, or opportunity?
But physical proximity to Olympic venues is not something welcomed by all. Many businesses are set to experience disruption this summer as millions of additional bodies attempt to crowd onto our already creaking transport systems, and the problem extends beyond London into the regional venues.
Technology is at work here too. Steve Townsend, CIO at Transport for London (TfL), recently told Computing that Wi-Fi is being provided on the Underground principally to enable TfL staff to be in contact with their control centres, gathering data on passenger flow and helping to ensure that traffic moves as smoothly as possible throughout the transport network.
But nevertheless, many businesses are expecting employees to struggle to get into the office in July and August. This is an opportunity for the IT department to prove its worth by providing a resilient, fast and secure method of remote network access.
Many larger businesses feel that they already have this in place, but the service will be tested to its limits this summer as greater numbers of employees will be forced to use it by default.
While it is true that most enterprises enable remote access, very few offer the full panoply of their services in this way. Remote email is often a given, but what about remote access to the firm’s business intelligence suite, or ERP tools? CIOs who consider and solve these problems now will find themselves in a far more comfortable position this summer than those who put it off.
A lasting legacy
Once this year is over, we are set to be left with a lasting legacy of improved IT services in the UK. Broadband speeds and breadth of coverage are both continuing to improve. We will have Wi-Fi access on the Underground. And Cisco is helping to turn the Olympic Park into a permanent centre for technical excellence and development, where technology will be used to help local businesses and communities.
We’re excited about the year ahead, and this campaign, and want our readers to be part of it. You can contact us via Twitter (@StuartSumner or @SoorajShah). We want to hear your views. Are you excited by the opportunities, concerned by the threats, or both?