Marcus Hadfield, Chief Strategy Officer for Apadmi, chats about Manchester's digital ecosystem, and how businesses can address today’s critical skills gap.
There’s a huge technology storm swirling. And this should be great news for Manchester.
Mega-businesses like Amazon, Uber, Facebook and Tinder have raised customer expectations far more quickly than most businesses can keep up with. According to a recent Deloitte study, only 16% of executives believe that their team can deliver their digital strategy.
The ‘new technologies’ are now mass market. We all experience AI and automation on a daily basis, yet this is still just the start. 82% of organisations plan to invest more in this area by 2020. That’s less than 15 months away.
And there’s an international skills shortage.
Addressing the tech skills gap
We have an amazing opportunity to attract and create talent to Manchester, but we all have to work together.
We’ve got the employers. Last year, half of the enquiries for new office space in the city were for tech businesses – a mixture of local start-ups and scale-ups, as well as huge organisations moving to the region for the first time.
We’ve got the education. Our universities are internationally recognised. Our businesses go into schools. Innovative organisations including Sharp Futures and Juice Academy have been created to help nurture great potential.
Most importantly, we’ve got the spirit. I’m still relatively new to the Manchester tech world and I’m continually surprised by the shared ambition and generosity of the people and businesses in it. Time, skills, offices and ideas are shared. There are more events, groups, mentors and networks than any sector I’ve experienced.
It’s the responsibility of all of us to embrace this idea of generosity. If we continue to give our time and work together, Manchester really can be a global city for technology and deliver huge growth to the region.
“Recruit and retain”
Apadmi is no different to any other digital business. Our core focus is mobile technology but right now this encompasses everything from voice to AR, data encryption to AI. As we continue to grow, we’re facing the same people challenges as everybody else – recruit and retain.
Recruitment is hard and ever since we launched in 2009, we’ve recognised the need to ‘grow our own’, so we formed strong relationships with schools and universities to excite, inform and ultimately attract great talent.
Our developers are frequently invited to speak to students and we’ve been taking apprentices, placements and new graduates for the last eight years. Just last month, Apadmi founder Howard Simms was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Technology by MMU for his work in this area.
But this isn’t enough. We need to play our role in attracting, developing and keeping talent in the city, and making Manchester the number one choice for tech. We accept that great people move companies (or start their own) so it’s much better that we create a community that embraces that, and where we every person and business in the city can grow.
To that end, we’re active wherever we can be.
Investing in Manchester
Alongside the work we do in education, we recently launched Apadmi Ventures to invest in the exciting start-ups in the region – we now have nine partnerships, including Bidooh, JigTalk and Beatstream, all headquartered in the city itself.
We’re also actively involved with growth organisations including the Greater Manchester Steering group, The Growth Company, Pro-Manchester, Degree Apprenticeship Board, Manchester Tech Trust and the Scale Up Forum.
Lastly, we believe that it’s important for us all to share what we know (and who we know) as widely as we can. We’ve been working with Amazon to bring Alexa Skills to the city – free workshops for developers with Amazon and bigger, broader events aimed at the whole business community. Lots of other companies are doing similar things – and that’s brilliant.
It’s massively exciting to think how much influence Manchester can have on the global tech scene, and to be a part of it. We’ve got the universities, the employers, the start-ups and the spirit. We’ve got the ambition. We all need to work together and attract the very best talent to deliver it.
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