DTX + UCX Manchester took place at Manchester Central at the end of May and Business Connect were pleased to be media partners. As well as interest in the many high calibre tech exhibitors, the keynote speeches were keenly attended over the two day event. On Wednesday morning the former Director General of MI5 delivered a warning to a packed audience. “You cannot work in a vacuum,” Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller declared during her keynote speech. “You have got to work with others. Listening to all employees, creating diverse teams and collaborating at scale is critical.”
Baroness Eliza emphasised the need to lead by example to reinforce change – with the ex-MI5 Director General alerting the audience to the risks of ‘uninterested’ leaders. She found during her time as Director General that you’re never lonely as a leader, as long as you don’t put yourself on a pedestal. Through taking the time to get to know all levels of the workforce, she built the camaraderie and spirit needed to carry them through difficult moments.
As businesses look to elevate and optimise digital transformation plans, prioritisation remains a hot topic, with companies keen to know how to stay at the forefront of the latest technology while remaining true to business strategy. Many leaders cautioned against rushing towards a solution, without actually having a true customer problem in mind. This mindset was echoed throughout the show, with Adam Platt, CTO at Sykes Cottages, revealing on a keynote panel that his company had thrived through the employment of a ‘tribe structure’ by dedicating unique resources to specific areas of the business that allowed them to ‘focus and prioritise’ in a more effective way.
Johan Jegarajan, CTO of PwC also emphasised that every part of an organisation must be underpinned by tech today, and that “the discussion is less about how a budget works, and more about the need for a budget to be digitally-led.”
The push to become cost-effective is being seen across many areas of the tech stack. In a panel on cyber security spending, Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA at Exabeam, pointed out that the old attitude towards cybersafety is that “something usually has to go wrong so something can go right” – meaning it takes a breach before any budget can be allocated to security. Now, it feels like that is beginning to change. A huge number of visitors were in attendance to heed the advice – with registrations for DTX + UCX Manchester the highest recorded since 2019.
Day two of the show commenced with World Cup winner Matt Dawson leading the keynote speeches.
Also speaking was Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham who endorsed Manchester’s status as ‘The Digital Capital of the UK’ as delegates analysed team values in transformation, cyber’s central role in scaling, and finding talent in unexpected spaces.
Andy Burnham also revealed a new digital blueprint for the Greater Manchester region, announcing an educational revamp that will make IT and engineering essential components of early learning experiences and create a new system in which local talent can be nurtured and offer more routes for young people into the tech industry.
The Mayor declared the city-region was committed to improving digital literacy – a move that rugby World Cup winner and fellow keynote speaker Matt Dawson recognised.
“The people and the companies in this room are offering the opportunity for the next generation to come through,” he told the audience, reflecting on how companies should continue to utilise smarter ways of working to maximise productivity whilst never being afraid to push the limits and try new things.
“There is a significant shift in how we position the workforce at the moment, whether in sport or work, things are completely different when you look at the needs of staff,” Matt explained. He also added: “The best coach I played under told me it’s ok to make a mistake – just don’t make the same mistake twice,” explaining that working out what your strengths and weaknesses are can take a while but “if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not testing the boundaries.”