Reflections on London Tech Week 2023

29 Jun 2023

London Tech Week has come and gone, and what a whirlwind month of technology events it has been for me! The excitement began on Thursday, 1st June, with a briefing on the refresh of the Police Digital Service (PDS) Strategy. An insightful briefing, I gained a deeper understanding of the National Policing Digital Strategy, the ambitions of PDS and the challenges faced by forces throughout the country.

Image 1Then, on Tuesday, 6th June, the techUK policy leadership conference played host to digital policy leaders at the QEII in Westminster. This event coincided with the launch of techUK's UK tech plan and was awash with discussions on AI. With a troupe of journalist in toe, Microsoft's vice chair and president, Brad Smith, shared his vision on AI regulation. But, the highlight for me was the engaging conversation led by techUK's Neil Ross, exploring the theme of digital regulation in the round, with insights from leaders of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum.

Bright and early on Wednesday morning, the Codurance team gathered at the eXcel centre in the heart of London's Royal Docks. We were excited to greet the tens of thousands of delegates for the festival-style exhibition. I had some fascinating discussions on people's "migration-readiness," and the diverse range of opinions and experiences served as a reminder that we are all on the same journey, just at different stages. The pinnacle of the morning was undoubtedly the enlightening talk by our MD, Sandro Mancuso, on the Continuous Improvement Programme. It was great food for thought on how leaders can modernise technology and shift practices and culture with a state-of-the-art engineering capability in a single programme.Image 3

In the afternoon, I swiftly made my way across the city to join the launch of the Department for Science Innovation and Technology's (DSIT) Portfolio of AI Assurance Techniques. The event featured talks by NVIDIA on Explainable AI (XAI) and Trilateral Research's Sociotech approach to developing AI solutions. Of course, no conversation about AI would be complete without addressing assurance and governance. Representatives from the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI), the Alan Turing Institute, and the OECD provided invaluable insights and shared useful resources on these subjects.

Thursday, the 8th, took us on an exciting journey through the realm of space. The depth of investment and activity in this industry was truly captivating, and it was a pleasure to learn not only about its intricacies but also about the crucial role of modernisation in ensuring the UK's competitiveness. The space race is not solely about competition; it thrives on partnerships, and this became evident through the international voices resonating throughout the show. Additionally, I had the pleasure of meeting some of the boundary-pushing start-ups at the AWS start-up zone, my inner astronaut was thoroughly pleased! 

The subsequent week unfolded with an explosion of events and conversation as London Tech Week proper took centre stage. Amidst the sweltering throng of crowds, I was fortunate enough to attend Keir Starmer's fireside chat on Tuesday 13th, returning to the QEII centre. Engaging in conversations with colleagues from UKRI and techUK, I discovered many reasons to be cheerful about the future of technology investment in the UK. From Westminster to the heart of the City, I joined my colleague Rowan at the eSynergy evening discussion and drinks reception. During the panel, Grant Ongers from OWASP made some compelling arguments on shifting security ‘leftwards’ in product development.

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As Wednesday dawned, the spotlight shifted to Tech Skills, revealing some eye-opening statistics about the digital skills gap. However, amidst the stark reality, I found solace in the abundance of opportunities available for young individuals and those bringing life experience from diverse professions to embark on a rewarding career in technology. The discussions revolved around organizations that strive to provide entry points for aspiring tech enthusiasts, but the question of advancing their progress remained an important consideration. It became evident that organizations require a continuous improvement program to elevate their staff from good to exceptional. This brought to mind Sandro's captivating talk earlier in the week, highlighting the immense value the Continuous Improvement Programme (CIP) can bring to organizations and technical teams across all sectors.

Thursday the 15th marked my final opportunity to immerse myself in the activities of London Tech Week. Curiosity led me to join a system integrator discussion for and by SMEs hosted by Anthony Miller of TechMarketView at techUK's office. Following this, I swiftly pedalled up the road to the Codurance offices for the London Software Craftsmanship Meetup. This month's gathering took the form of a roundtable discussion. It came as no surprise that the captivating topics of AI and ChatGPT emerged as central points of discussion, which we continued to explore at the Slaughtered Lamb for post-meet-up drinks. All in all I think I roundly won at London Tech-Week!

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