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Harvey Nash Technology Survey Birmingham 2016 - Are You Ready?

Bringing together over one hundred IT professionals, Wednesday saw the much anticipated launch of the fourth annual Harvey Nash Technology Survey. Suitably hosted from Birmingham's Thinktank, the evening provided a range of key insights into the innovation, talent and growth experienced within the technology industry throughout 2015.

Collated from the views of nearly 3,000 technologists from across the globe, the #hntechsurvey is now regarded as one of the most comprehensive studies of the global tech community today.

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So what were this year's headlines?
Greater participation from CTOs and Software Developers allowed for a heavily tech-focused collection of results, highlighting the topics that really matter in today's industry. With tech budgets steadily rising, companies are furthering investments in Big Data analytics, subsequently increasing their amount of successfully completed Big Data projects and the demand for relevant skills sets. Predictably, the year's most influential technology company was Google; however a growing amount of disruptive IT companies were thought to have the potential to increase their influence and market share in the next three to five years. Strikingly, a perceived lack of innovation within both the national and global technological vicinity were also predicted.

Arguing against that notion were the evening's speakers: Simon Livings, Dr Nick Hawes and Rick Robinson. As KPMG's director of Data Insight Services, Simon discussed the journey we've come on in BI and Data so far, referencing the different ways in which organisations across differing industries and sectors can utilise Big Data in order to gain a commercial advantage over their competitors.

Injecting humour and an exciting view of the future was Dr Nick Hawes, reader in Autonomous Intelligent Robotics at the University of Birmingham. Drawing parallels between the progressive stages of automation and the progressive nature of the industry, Nick's expertise gave a glimpse of attainable industry goals in a timescale which is ever approaching.

Closing was Rick Robinson, Smart Data and Technology IT Director at Amey, wit his depiction of Smart Cities, combining the sciences of demographics, the environment and technology. From education to sewers, Rick spoke of utilising technology in order to achieve improvements in quality of life and financially beneficial economical, environmental and social advances.

All of the above trends and speeches followed two key themes: change and security. Change is vital to our industry. It is the motivation, process and end result of any initiative we within the technology sector strive for, but does change come at a cost? High profile, David and Goliath-esque hackings have seen a teenage boy dismantle Talk Talk's reputation in a single (albeit figurative) click of a button which begs the question - change is worth risk, so are cyber security threats inevitable? If so, maybe technology business need to start focusing on business ethics, a point raised in the closing Q&A session.

Despite this being the fourth annual tech survey, this happened to be my first. Whilst I'll admit the prospect of being surrounded by technology patrons was daunting, simply talking to people with a passion for their profession which is frankly unrivaled made for an exciting evening of learning - a thought shared by Harvey Nash's Group Marketing Director, Robert Grimsey: "What struck me was just how big some of the problems are that we are looking for technology to solve. I was also comforted by the expert panel that A.I. will not, in fact, be threatening mankind anytime soon!"

Opinions were shared by attendees alike throughout a social media platforms, including:

"It's not just interest in #BigData that's growing it's success (a bit, anyway) #hntechsurvey" @dr_rick

"Will robots reduce humans to 'meatare'? No, but need to be thoughtful and ethical when dealing with technology autonomy. #hntechsurvey" @HannahBtweets

"Welcome comments on importance of business ethics from @dr_rick at #hntechsurvey" @MikeSchorah

"Good to hear @dr_rick talk about the importance of #opensource and #openstandards in #smartcities at #hntechsurvey" @SJMackintosh

"Visualising @foursquare checkins at #hntechsurvey with @dr_rick to understand people movin..." @philoakley

"Looking forward to hearing @hawesie talk about his work on #robotics & #ArtificialIntelligence in the real world #hntechsurvey" @dr_rick

If you would like to join in the conversation, please do so on Twitter #hntechsurvey and request your copy of the 2016 survey today.

Written by
Rebecca Brookson
Consultant, Harvey Nash