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Why the UK's Industrial Strategy needs the channel

Ben Boswell, VP Europe for World Wide Technology, discusses the role of channel players in boosting innovation in the UK, particularly post-Brexit.

Posted by MicroScope on January 15, 2018:

Ben Boswell, VP Europe for World Wide Technology, discusses the role of channel players in boosting innovation in the UK, particularly post-Brexit

The UK government’s new, eagerly awaited, industrial strategy was released hot on the heels of big promises in the Chancellor’s budget, which detailed a £75m investment into AI, and £76m into digital and construction skills. These plans are to raise UK spending on research and development from 1.7 % to 2.4% of national income by 2027. The government thinks extra spending on R&D could mean about £80bn of additional investment in advanced technology in the next decade, as they aim to foster new ideas and turn them into commercial products.

The intention to invest is there in the private sector as well. A recent report from Deloitte suggested that 85 percent of businesses have plans to invest in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT). However, the report also revealed that only 22 percent of businesses have invested in these areas so far and only one in ten business leaders currently see the UK as a leader in digital.

The level of intended investment is tremendously encouraging. But the risk of investments being made without real impact arguably gets bigger the grander the ambition. Alongside the strategic thrust of the Industrial Strategy, and the investment intentions of the UK’s businesses, the private and public sector alike needs a set of active channel players who play a role defining and integrating technology innovations that create real value.

One good area example of the role that the Channel has to play in securing the UK’s competitiveness is in the area of supply chain, a particularly important focus given the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

As part of the focus on encouraging the growth of UK industry and business, the government’s Industrial Strategy report includes a plan to “launch a new Supply Chain Competitiveness programme”. It is intended to target areas where key businesses need to improve to match the best in Europe and beyond, supporting training and enhanced business processes.