During the release of a significant economic report, businesses received information on how they can stay up with Greater Birmingham’s digital revolution.
The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s Quarterly Business Report briefing for Q2 outlined the scope of the shift, along with the opportunities and difficulties it brings.
The briefing was attended by delegates both physically and online via a live video on the Chamber’s LinkedIn channel. It was held at Birmingham City University’s Curzon Building.
The event took place in conjunction with the introduction of the GBCC’s Future in Technology campaign, a programme intended to help businesses take full advantage of opportunities related to technological advancement and easy access to the internet.
The scale of the effort required in future-proofing the region’s digital infrastructure was described by Kasam Hussain, regional partnerships manager at broadband and communications behemoth Openreach.
After HS2, Openreach’s £15 billion UK-wide full fibre broadband construction is the largest infrastructure undertaking.
By the end of 2026, the project aims to provide full fibre broadband to 450,000 Greater Birmingham residences.
The conversion of phone lines from analogue to digital networks is another big project that is now under way.
Mr. Hussain made an appeal to businesses, especially landlords, to contribute to these changes.
“There is a lot of development all around the city, and that will continue,” he remarked, pointing to the skyline.
“It is really, extremely vital that we put the infrastructure in when those buildings do go up, whether they be institutions, residences, or businesses, from the first day that they are in or, in fact, beforehand.
“It is really important that we do it from day one as the last thing we want to do is for new buildings to appear and have to retrospectively upgrade those.”
Mike Osborne, managing director of managed services at Chamber supporter Intercity Technology, brought into emphasise a shift in digital services and applications, some of which were expedited by the epidemic.
The largest issue for many businesses, according to Mr. Osborne, is how to finance their IT infrastructure due to the simultaneous modifications being made to accommodate hybrid working.
This has caused a movement away from employing capital investment on IT infrastructure and toward an “as a service” offering.
He declared: “It’s not how technology is applied; it’s that businesses are turning into tech firms, which is mirrored in how people have developed their financial systems.
“You’ve got to have that balancing act now in terms of delivering that innovation, delivering the services but you’ve also got to save cash.
“From a tech side, you have to make sure it dovetails into strategy moving forward.”
When questioned about rising cyber security risks, Mr. Osborne claimed that hybrid working may have left gaps that needed to be filled.
According to him, many incidents involving our clientele occur because they are utilising a phone or tablet that isn’t secured by their company.
“This move to hybrid where people are at home using broadband of anyone’s type – you’re moving out of your secure office environment using your laptop that is secured by enterprise security and you’re pushing people out to home using a public broadband and their mobile phones.
Henrietta Brealey, CEO of the Chamber, and Jo Birch, head of innovation, enterprise employability, and business engagement at Birmingham City University, greeted attendees to the event.
Raj Kandola, the Chamber’s director of policy and strategic partnerships, also gave a summary of the information from the Q2 Quarterly Business Report.