UKtech50: Seeing the signs of optimism for UK IT in 2017

Computer Weekly’s UKtech50 list of the most influential people in UK IT provides a fascinating insight into the big issues affecting the tech community, as we watch how the leaders who make the list change year by year.

Twenty of last year’s top 50 dropped out of the list in 2016 – the fact that 40% of influencers changed in just 12 months reflects the pace of digital transformation, as organisations bring in new IT leaders with fresh ideas, and as startups play a growing role in the UK economy.

Twenty of this year’s top 50 also work in the public sector, where – despite many false starts – momentum around digital transformation is gathering pace and political profile.

And the list features 16 women – approximately a third of the top 50 – the highest representation ever and a very welcome sign that female leaders are breaking the glass ceiling, establishing themselves as role models for what we all must hope will become a new generation of young women entering the IT profession.

These trends offer optimism for the UK tech community in 2017. With all the uncertainty around Brexit, it’s been a tough year for a lot of people in UK IT.

The UK has long been one of the strongest IT markets outside North America – over the past year giants such as Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have all announced significant investments in their UK businesses. This is helping to counter any negativity around Brexit, as tech firms recognise that whatever the UK’s future relationship with the EU, it remains a country where businesses and government bodies invest heavily in IT.

Into 2017 and beyond, we will see a growing shift to the cloud among UK organisations – all the big cloud providers are setting up UK datacentres now to target that demand. The government is starting to put investment and support into rolling out full-fibre broadband which will only stimulate the UK’s digital economy further. Overall, while there remains a lot of economic uncertainty, IT professionals are leading the transformation of their businesses to better cope with the future.

Corporate IT infrastructure will go through a generational shift over the next five to 10 years, and that’s a huge opportunity for IT managers and their technology suppliers. We wish all the very best to the UK’s influential IT leaders – those on the UKtech50 this year, and those who may join it in the future.