All of us need to play our part to influence the role of technology in the UK economy

Influence is a wonderfully subjective measure by which to gauge successful people in the UK technology scene.

Influence can be negative as well as positive. You might be influenced by a particular IT leader, while others may see the same person as thoroughly lacking the quality.

But there is little doubt that influence is key to growing the UK’s digital economy – influence over politicians, over boardrooms, business strategies, regulators, investment decisions, skills and recruitment; all of these are needed for technology to expand its own influence on UK growth and public service delivery.

Not everyone agrees with the choice of Computer Weekly’s readers and our expert panel of independent judges that BT CEO Gavin Patterson is the most influential person in UK IT over the next 12 months – and in these days of social media, they’re happy to tell us so. But plenty of people agree completely, too.

BT has often been a source of controversy and generates strong opinions, but as the UK’s biggest indigenous technology company you can’t deny its influence. We think that the Ofcom review of the UK communications market and its potential effect on BT will be one of the most significant events of 2016, critical to the future of the digital economy and our mobile and broadband ecosystem. Others feel differently – and that’s great.

Every year we hope to stimulate debate with the latest UKtech50 list of the most influential people in UK IT, because this is a debate that affects us all. While the influence of technology in the UK economy has grown inexorably and inevitably, there is still much more to do.

We need to be talking about how to influence public policy and corporate strategy to take advantage of the digital revolution. We need to discuss how technology is changing society for good and for ill; about how our personal data should be used and protected; about the boundaries between privacy and security. And we need role models to lead the way and to encourage more people to join the profession to make sure we have the skills needed to make the UK a world leader.

We’re proud to laud Gavin Patterson as the most influential person in UK IT, but the other 49 people on the list are just as important, as are thousands of others making decisions every day on the future of technology. Between us, let’s make the tech community the most influential voice it can be.

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