Lee Surgeoner, Partner with Endeavour Information Solutions shares some concerns for the local ICT industry going forward along with his thoughts on technology development and what businesses of any kind need to focus on in the next 12 months.
We’ll start with a mild tale of caution.
The IT sector within Northern Ireland is fairly unique to say the least. On the one hand we have various companies from the US and further afield running their global IT operations from Northern Ireland and bringing with it much needed investment then on the other side there are a considerable number of local long- established IT companies that in my opinion have over the years really innovated and provided some of the best ICT solutions and services anywhere in Europe (although I might be slightly biased in that view) and these are the companies that I am concerned for and how they will be able to contribute to that same level over the next few years.
Our local universities produce some of the brightest and best students for this sector but I am concerned that we could start to lose that talent to these global giants who tempt them with offers of generous salaries and benefits and as a direct result our local IT companies just won’t be able to meet the expectations of the future IT professional.
I speak with some experience of this over the last year which has meant that we have had to take action. If left unchecked, this situation could get worse over the next few years and impact the ability of local IT companies to deliver such innovation and service in the future.
This needs to be considered today; from personal experience this has meant increasing our staff numbers, providing additional training and professional certification opportunities and offering more than just a job but more an opportunity for personal growth and development to ensure that we keep our brightest and best growing within our business.
So please bear this in mind, because if proposed changes to our corporation tax system do come into play during 2015, it’s fairly safe to say that additional foreign investment will increase, which although will be great news to our economy as a whole, it might come with a sting in the tail for those in the local IT sector who ignore the best asset they have - their people.
On the road to date!
In terms of business for 2014 this has been a surprisingly good year for growth across the UK with higher than expected growth in various sectors such as Professional Services, Manufacturing and Retail, all of which feed into the additional development and sale of IT products and services.
This is something I can confirm as one of those IT providers which has experienced this growth. However, as recent media coverage has shown it is unclear going forward into the New Year what the position will be in the next 12 months with economic experts saying things will continue as they are now while government is saying we need to be prepared for stormy weather ahead.
At the end of the day I am not an expert on the economy; all I can say is that new business has been at a constant level of growth and appears to continue with customers keen to take the complexity out of their IT systems and to take control of their ongoing costs.
And so what’s hot in 2015?
The hottest ticket in town is cloud computing which vendors of such services continue to push the boundaries of what is possible to be delivered as a service. New functionality comes out nearly on a weekly basis at times and certainly keeps IT companies like ourselves that embrace it, far from being bored.
When such solutions were talked about five years ago there was concern from a number of IT companies that it would spell the end of the traditional IT service provider – and in some cases they would be right; the companies that don’t embrace the opportunity and don’t adapt their way of working to meet the new world of cloud-based subscription computing will find themselves losing out to the companies that do.
You will be amazed at what can be achieved under a cost-effective subscription that is secure, dependable and expandable to meet very specific business need and that is a business that will continue to grow over the next 12 months. That is what innovative IT companies are focusing on for their customers and those are the IT suppliers that businesses will want to work with in the future.
If market analysis is to be believed, 2015 is the year where mobile device sales will out- perform traditional PC sales not only in the consumer market but in the business market as well. So if you are an app developer the opportunities in this market should be considerable.
And so what should the new business start-up of 2015 focus on?
Northern Ireland has a wealth of great businesses from all sectors that innovate and export their products and services to all corners of the globe. A big part of that is the individuals driving these businesses forward with new ideas and raw determination, usually combined with the advice and support organisations such as Invest NI provide to help ensure their business ideas succeed.
So what I would recommend to any start-up is to focus on what you do best; that sounds really obvious, but what I mean is don’t let complexity rule your business.
Technology can get complicated so if there is one thing I would advise it would be to get as much of your technology needs from a vendor that provides the service online. That will mean you can control your costs without a high start-up outlay and will be able to work from anywhere, which can be important when you are just starting out trying to grow your business.
For advice on how you can simplify your business IT operations you can contact Lee on 028 9031 1010 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org