“The home of computing in this country is Manchester,” said James Findlay, CIO of High Speed 2 (HS2) at a Horizon CIO roundtable dinner this week.
Findlay is a class act as a CIO and a real statesman who eloquently defines the issues of any debate.
Like Findlay and his peers at the Horizon CIO roundtable, I too have witnessed in recent years the innovation and can do culture of Manchester increasing year-on-year. Therefore it was fitting that one of our first events would be in the city the chancellor dubs “the northern powerhouse”.
“We must take time to spread the opportunity,” Findlay added of the thriving technology scene in the UK and the importance to our national economy that opportunity doesn’t only reside within the polluted confines of the M25 motorway.
The CIO community in Manchester is thriving and benefiting from a wealth of technology talent in the region. That’s not to say the same talent demand issues don’t exist. More than one CIO in the North has described to me retention challenges in the same language as their counterparts in the capital.
Amongst peers last night there were CIOs who have moved IT teams outside of the South east of England to tap into the skills of Manchester. Back in London I know of organisations that are researching IT team relocations outside of the city as the pressure on retention from the banking sector becomes increasingly hard to ward off.
The old adage of “follow the money” has its strengths, but organisations that ignore creativity may find themselves at a loss. Northern powerhouse may be a glib and easy to digest soundbite for politicians, PRs and media outlets, but it doesn’t describe at all the opportunity. The rise of Manchester to recapture its crown as the home of computing in Britain is driven by creativity and a sense of community. I urge the CIO community to join me over the coming months and observe the opportunity.
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