As UK plc cautiously recovers from the worst recession in its post-war history, and the public sector braces itself for swingeing spending cuts from the coalition government, the importance of IT to the economy comes under greater focus than ever.
Technology will be the key to making companies more competitive and profitable; to making government more efficient; and to delivering public services more cost-effectively. The UK needs to build an IT-enabled economy, and this week Computer Weekly launches Building the IT Economy - a special programme, in association with IBM, that aims to examine how to make that happen.
At the heart of the campaign is a focus on the people building the IT economy.
Computer Weekly is launching the UKtech50 - the first list of the real movers and shakers in UK IT - the CIOs, industry executives, public servants and business leaders driving the creation of a high-tech economy. We will identify the 50 most influential leaders in UK IT - the people who will be central to building the IT economy.
Most of these lists in the past have looked at the IT sector globally: uniquely, we will concentrate on
UK-based individuals, so you won't see the list dominated by the likes of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
Whoever tops the list will be the person who, in the opinion of our expert judging panel, holds the most influence over the future of the UK technology sector - and hence the future of IT professionals across the country.
Who should be on the list?
Who do you think should be included in the UKtech50? We want to know your suggestions for the most powerful people in UK IT - send us an e-mail with the name of the person you would like to nominate and telling us why you think they should be selected to email@example.com.
Please put "UKtech50" in the subject line of the e-mail. The final decision will be down to our expert judging panel.
Visit www.computerweekly.com/ITeconomy for all the latest on our campaign and to join in the debate on building the IT economy.
How the UKtech50 will be judged
What makes an influential leader in the IT economy? Our judging panel will select the top 50 based on the following criteria:
What authority or ability does the person have - either through their personal position or the role they hold - to personally influence the development of the IT economy, or to influence others in positions of authority?
What has the person achieved in the past 12 months to help the development of the IT economy?
Is the person recognised as a role model for aspiring leaders? How widely are they acknowledged by their peers as an authority and influence in the IT economy?
Does the person demonstrate the skills and experience necessary to be seen as a leader in the IT economy? Do they have a leadership role and does that help them to develop the IT economy?
How likely is it that the person will have a significant impact on the IT economy in the next 12 months? Will their authority and responsibility grow?
John Higgins, director general, Intellect:
"A strong and innovative IT sector in the UK benefits all - you need only to look at how technology innovation is transforming economies around the world. To realise this aim we need a technology infrastructure that supports the exploitation of IT, government policies that encourage investment in IT and an entrepreneurial spirit.
"We need innovative and entrepreneurial role models to play an important part of encouraging the next generation of IT leaders to enter the profession. They must encourage and harness the abilities of others. We need to change attitudes so that it is not only cool to use a smartphone app but it is also cool to write them and make money out of them.
"Charismatic leaders play a huge part in encouraging people to choose IT as a profession and in showcasing the sheer variety of exciting careers available in the industry."
John Harris, vice president - application services, commercial IT at GlaxoSmithKline, and chairman of The Corporate IT Forum:
"The people who are able to identify, adapt to and lead through change will play an influential role in the IT economy.
"The industry is changing significantly around us, we are all agreed on that, but what is much less clear is what the end game looks like for the IT economy and the folks working within it. It is uncertain what the pace of change will be and the expectations of IT will vary markedly from industry to industry.
"The truly influential players won't necessarily be able to read a crystal ball and see the future, but they will be able to articulate a vision of change and prepare those around them to find true business opportunity in among the inevitable chaos as cloud and consumerised IT become more endemic. It is this kind of joined-up thinking across business, government and IT providers that will take the IT economy forward."
Peter Cochrane, futurologist; former BT chief technologist:
"The industrial revolution was about the mass exploitation of people, skills and raw materials that created the current 'food to waste' cycle now impacting our ecology. In the next phase there is a new and fundamental hotspot at the intersection of nano, bio and information technology.
"At the heart of this revolution will be IT and communications powering the modelling, visualisation, instrumentation, control and processing of materials, plus the networking of design capability, and distribution of information and production.
"For all of this to happen a nation will need a substantial network infrastructure way beyond the 2, 8, 50 or 100Mbps offering now advertised. A suitably IT-literate population will also be a prerequisite as will cloud computing and vast number of online services and facilities."
Charles Chang, chairman, BCS Management Forum:
"Today, IT is more accessible than ever and cost-performance seems to follow Moore's Law relentlessly. We are seeing new ways for IT to contribute to the economy - for example, despite initial scepticism, social media technology is beginning to make its presence known in the corporate environment.
"Traditionally, businesses came up with ideas for products and services, and developed them. When problems arose, it turned to employees or suppliers to help fix them. For many companies, that is no longer the case. Today, it is possible to invite your customers to help drive your business by asking them to suggest new products, solve complex problems and devise new marketing campaigns.
"For example, Procter & Gamble uses crowd-sourcing to gain feedback on new products and services, and Lego estimates that more than half of its new products are created partly through crowd-sourcing. This is just one example of how we can help to build an IT economy."
Building the IT Economy programme
In addition to the UKtech50, we will be looking at the other cornerstones of the IT economy - innovation, information and transformation.
In our online special report, you can download exclusive best practice guides on the strategies that can be employed by IT leaders to help their organisation contribute to the IT economy. And readers can share their views on the key issues they face in our online debates.
Visit www.computerweekly.com/ITeconomy for more details.
The innovation building the IT economy
Organisations in the IT economy will be flexible and able to respond quickly to the changing demands of their market. Their technology infrastructure will be optimised to allow new services to be made available to users more efficiently and at low cost. IT will be virtualised and consolidated to reduce complexity and increase energy efficiency. The aim is to deliver IT that supports and enables real innovation.
• Download a best practice guide to the technologies that support innovation in the IT economy.
• Join the debate online: How can IT leaders build a flexible IT infrastructure to support business change?The information building the IT economy
Decision-makers in the IT economy will have real-time access to information that allows them to make the right decision at the right time. But that goal comes in a business environment where data will be ubiquitous and growing exponentially in volume. IT infrastructure will need to support analysis of large quantities of information to employees at every level of the organisation, in a form that allows them to do their job more effectively.
• Download a best practice guide to the technologies that provide information for the IT economy.
• Join the debate online: How can IT leaders provide the right information to support the efficiency of their organisations?The transformation building the IT economy
Leaders in the IT economy will transform their organisations by using IT to manage business processes that enable change, meet customer expectations and adapt to the needs of their markets. The technology that supports the automation of critical processes will be scalable, available and high performance.
• Download a best practice guide to the technologies that help to transform businesses.
• Join the debate online: What role should IT leaders play to transform organisations in the IT economy?