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Manchester Harvey Nash Technology Event 2017- Who, what, where?

It was a stormy evening on Thursday 23rd Feb, with Harvey Nash welcoming an unexpected guest in the form of "Doris" through the doors at Rise (Deansgate) for the annual Harvey Nash Technology event.

Doris did her level best to disrupt the evening, but was unsuccessful in her attempts. As they say "the show must go on", with a bustling room of technology enthusiasts filling the venue and taking their seats.

View the photos of the event here

It was an evening jam packed with content, with 4 amazing technology start-ups from the North kick-starting the evening, each pitching their business to the audience in a 5 minute pitch. Each presenter tasked with digging deep into the idea/business concept, current position and the future aspirations of their respective businesses .Who would win the hearts of the audience? In this instance, the "Dragons Den" section of the evening was aptly named, "Doris's Den".

First up to pitch, was Adam Mitcheson of My2Be, an online portal that helps bring students and professionals together to provide mentors and information to aid the future decisions and choices of students/job seekers (A challenge most have faced).

Next up to present were Peak. Richard Potter unearthed the nature of Peak, a Data Analytics-as-a-Service, fully outsourced, subscription based data analytics service, with complex Data and Machine learning technology at the heart of what they do.

Dave Mckerral, CTO of eVestor, was up next, pitching the soon to go live, online platform that helps individuals take control of their finances. Co founded by Anthony Morrow (Founder of Moneysupermarket.com), their platform allows you to understand where you are spending your cash, helping you to save your hard earned money. Up last and by no means least, was Andrew Cooper of Swapbots, backed by cutting edge augmented reality technology, they bring the toys market to life.

Who would win, YOU decide.........?
The audience then voted on 3 areas.....
1) Who would you invest most money in?....
2) Who were the most innovative?
3) Who would you most like to work for? The votes were counted and verified.....

With the winner being........SWAPBOTS... who captured the imagination of the audience and seemingly brought them back to their childhood days! Peak, were a very close second, just 2% behind Swapbots in the voting, with Peak actually claiming the win for "who would you invest most money in?".

The innovation section of the evening was next. Simon Smith from Studio Liddell, then stepped on to the stage, to delve into the world of VR/AR, immersing the audience in what the future looks like for these technologies. It was a thought provoking presentation, with Simon firstly setting the scene, defining the difference between VR/AR/360 video before sharing his thoughts on how these immersive technologies could soon disrupt and takeover the mobile phone and film markets. Simon then showcased a fantastic project that Studio Liddell have completed, that enables viewers to enter the mind of an individual who suffers from multiple sclerosis.

Next up was Phil Stout, previously Head of Innovation and Technology at Asda, now Director of Lets Innovate. I think it's safe to say, Phil's hologram product made everyone in the audience feel like they were in the set of Star Wars, when Princess Leia was beamed up through the hologram. You can't quite believe it......until you see it in person. Built in a way i can't even begin or try to explain, Phil is focused on changing and innovating the way retails stores and businesses communicate with their customers. This certainly will achieve that, and lure anyone and everyone in! (Photos don't do it justice)

To round off the evening, we were joined by Steve Strickland-Wright (Head of IT - Webuyanycar.com), Robert Snelson (CTO - Travel Counsellors), Nik Southworth (CTO - Beautybay.com) and Naomi Timperley (Co founder - Tech North Advocates), discussing some of the key topics/trends outlined in this years Harvey Nash Technology survey - http://www.harveynash.com/techsurvey/. Hosted by Jonathan Potter (Director - Harvey Nash Manchester), topics included artificial intelligence, innovation, big data and skills shortages....

"A.I- Hype or Reality?" - The tech survey findings show that 89% of people believe A.I will be important to their company in 2022, it's quite clearly an important topic and one that will affect many workers in the IT industry. 45% of people believe that half of tech jobs will be automated in 10 years, with Testing (67%), It operations (63%) and BI / Analytics (53%) being the areas most susceptible. The panel agreed that A.I isn't hype, it is reality, and it will affect some peoples jobs, it's just as important that we adapt and evolve, with Steve highlighting that we would have to focus on developing skills in other areas, to accommodate the birth and continued growth of A.I.

The next topic was "innovation", with Jonathan presenting "how innovative is your organisation?" sparking debate among the panelist, with everyone sharing the sentiment that innovation is pivotal to any organisation, with culture being key in driving innovation. Someone in the crowd mentioned that many organisation hide behind their legacy as an excuse for not innovating. Steve, Nik and Rob all reacted by saying how important it is to ensure the legacy is in as strong a position as possible, to enable the platform to drive innovation.

Robert Snelson, interestingly highlighted that innovation at Travel Counsellors doesn't just come from within the organisation and that working more closely with our customers, can help drive innovation and fresh thoughts. I guess, ultimately, the customers will be brutally honest and tell businesses exactly what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong...

The panel went on to discuss further topics around big data and the skills shortages in IT, discussing ways in which we as technology lovers/enthusiasts can help entice people into the world of technology.

As the debate drew to a close, Jonathan announced the winner of the Dragon's Den section of the evening, as mentioned above, before directing everyone to the bar for some drinks, food and the opportunity to network. It was great to see such a diverse range of attendees from the IT community discussing the evening and what they had learnt, with young developers/testers mingling and sharing stories with seasoned IT leaders. It was great to see.

Thanks to everyone that braved the volatile weather conditions on the evening and a special thanks to everyone that spoke on the evening, at the heart of such a successful event. It was great to hear and see all the inspiring stuff happening in the North and i hope everyone that came enjoyed it as much as i did.

Thank you and see you next year for the 2018 Harvey Nash Technology Event. Stay tuned for further events later on in the year.


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By Alex Castell-Howard
Software Development Consultant
Alex.Castell-Howard@HarveyNash.com