After months of campaigning, Labour’s Sadiq Khan has recently been elected as the Mayor of London. Much like the general public, businesses have been anxious to see what Sadiq Khan has in store as the new Mayor.
Digital transformation has been high on the agenda for many SMEs who want improve employee engagement, enhance the customer experience and boost income. During the build up to the election, Sadiq Khan advocated the need for a new Chief Digital Officer and to upskill London’s workforce to help with digital transformation within the city. He even promised to establish a technology talent pipeline, through the Skills for Londoners Task force, following the model developed in New York.
We’ve spoken with a few thought leaders to find out whether Sadiq Khan can drive digital transformation not only for small to medium sized businesses but also to improve the quality of life in London.
Andy Pearce CEO & co-founder of www.thortful.com feels Sadiq Khan is the right man for the job not only to push digital transformation but also improve the connectivity around London. He states, “Having read Khan’s manifesto I am greatly encouraged that he will begin to lead the digital transformation that SMEs in London desperately need. The appointment of a Chief Digital Officer is a great start, I really do want to see a proper expert in that role though, with real industry experience.
“This appointment needs to increase digital inclusion and lead the battle against cyber-crime. The open data strategy is a good idea, a central London data office at the heart of government pulling London’s boroughs and public agencies together. This could be a huge cost saving which could impact on all of us living and working in the capital, and would enable quicker decision making, better services, more efficient government, and greater transparency, which in turn would improve infrastructure making trading easier for SMBs.
“Khan has pledged to improve our connectivity ‘making it a priority to tackle London’s notspots’. In my mind this is the SINGLE most important thing he can do for SMBs and start-ups in London. If he does indeed as he states: ‘treat digital infrastructure with the same status as other key public utilities’, then I can see increased prosperity for all businesses & SMBs throughout London.”
While Jim Bowes, CEO and co-founder of Manifesto, argues that London is already a hub for technology focused SMEs and should focus on keeping it that way. He expressed, “London has become a global hotspot for technology-driven, innovative SMEs and start-ups, but the new Mayor of London will need to take action if this is to continue to be the case. Firstly, the relationship between the Capital’s housing market and the city’s ability to attract the best business talent needs to be addressed. London will soon begin struggling to attract young professionals if the next Mayor does not improve the availability of affordable housing and the way in which the private rental market operates.
“Secondly, there needs to be increased support for businesses that want to take risks with research, create new products and develop new services. London’s new Mayor could address this through the implementation of future partnership programmes, providing coaching for new entrepreneurs, or offering more tangible financial support. This should also include advice on taking advantage of existing national schemes – for example, many companies are unaware they are eligible for the Government’s research and development tax credit scheme.”
Small businesses are not the only ones with digital transformation on their agenda, with O2’s business director Ben Dowd invested in enhancing digital to improve the economy. He states, “Maintaining London’s status as a world-leading digital hub should be high on the Mayor’s agenda, if the Capital’s businesses and economy are to thrive. There are two clear barriers to growth that need to be addressed if we are to achieve sustainable growth: plugging our digital skills gap and improving our digital infrastructure. We welcome Sadiq’s commitment to prioritising digital infrastructure to improve connectivity in the city as well as the appointment of a Chief Digital Officer to oversee growth. London and the South East needs 2.3 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to meet the demands of the digital economy. We need to harness digital to grow businesses, create jobs for young people and improve efficiencies in the public sector. That means investing in nurturing the skills of the Capital’s young people and upskilling its small businesses. At the same time, we want to see changes made to enable mobile operators to make the overdue investment into digital infrastructure, to improve both the local and national digital economy.”
What do you think Sadiq Khan needs to prioritise? If you have a strong opinion, email us at editorialSAP@weareoctopusgroup.net