Digital transformation is not a destination

18th June 2018

Russell Haworth

The UK’s digital economy is growing 2.6 times faster than the national economy as our country cements its position as a global tech leader. This growth isn’t just London-based either – digital suburbs are emerging, and tech jobs nationwide are on the rise, as are associated salaries.

These are just a few of the positive findings within Tech Nation 2018, but the recent report from DCMS also highlights the areas in need of attention. Diversity remains an issue – only 19% of the digital tech workforce is female – and access to talent and investment continues to challenge tech communities across the country.

Ultimately, the report reminds us that digital transformation is a journey and not a destination. Such progress is impressive, but much remains to be done to ensure no one is left behind in the tech boom. The areas that continue to challenge can be divided into three: connectivity, inclusivity and security. These ‘pillars’ are critical to a society that embraces digital transformation but is not inhibited nor disrupted by it, or left behind.

All that we do at Nominet is with a focus on creating a future that is connected, inclusive and secure – starting with our approach to the core business as the registry service provider for the .UK domain. We have acted as a responsible and trusted registry for a key component of the country’s internet infrastructure for over two decades now, but we aren’t interested in sitting still. Digital advancements have equipped us with more tools to work with and better means of maintaining and securing the registry with our cyber analytics expertise. We are exploring the use of predictive data and machine learning to help defend and grow in an increasingly mature domain market.

These efforts are proving useful beyond Nominet’s systems. The threat intelligence software we develop and use, looking at the DNS for malicious activity such as spam, DDoS, phishing, click fraud or brandjacking, is already being employed by NCSC to protect Government networks, and we expect to see increasing interest from other governments and large corporates to help tackle the rising incidence of cyber security breaches. Cyber warfare rages on and security is becoming a serious priority for all businesses: Government statistics show that 43% of all UK business suffered a breach in the past year. Clever, responsive tools to monitor and mitigate threats are vital as our world transforms.

Inclusivity and connectivity are equally important areas for attention in regards digital transformation, and both inform our focus on providing innovative ways to address the gaps in broadband coverage across the UK. Despite the push towards 5G and the increasing digitalisation of work and life, there remains a ‘final 5%’ in the UK labouring on with low or no broadband connectivity.

The repetition of legacy approaches to spectrum allocation is unlikely to deal with the issue, which is particularly noticeable for rural communities. Nominet continues to focus on helping these underserved communities to get online by using our TV White Space technology, in conjunction with local partners both in the UK and abroad. We are also working with the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance to promote and advocate a more dynamic approach to spectrum sharing to cope in the long-term with an increasing demand for spectrum by digital devices.

Similar societal transformation could be unlocked by autonomous vehicles (AV), provided we have the suitable infrastructure to support their roll out. Nominet’s credentials of provenance, authentication and trust, in addition to the emerging technology expertise we have in-house, allow us to explore infrastructure solutions to help make the AV dream a reality on UK roads.

We’re involved in a project called DRIVEN, the first UK trial of level four autonomous cars that is operating on roads between London to Oxford. Both cities are overwhelmed with congestion and pollution – both are identified by the World Health Organisation as nudging at or in breach of the safe limits set for air toxicity. This serves as a reminder that we are working towards a positive social and environmental impact. It’s invigorating for Nominet to have a part to play in such a worthwhile task.

But we won’t be able to achieve positive change alone. Progress will only be possible with the involvement of other brilliant minds and inspired talent working towards a brighter digital future. An opportunity is provided by Digital Leaders, a global initiative of which Nominet is proud to be a key partner. We are inspired by the commitment to connect digital leaders and the efforts taken to promote discussion and spark innovation.

This week is the third annual Digital Leaders Week, and the buzz-word for all those involved will undoubtedly be transformation – for businesses, citizens and society. We are kicking off the events with a breakfast meeting that will bring together young entrepreneurs operating in the space to share their thoughts and ideas of what a digital future could and should look like. With Government ministerial representation at the event, such invigorating discussions could get the right people thinking in the right way to ensure the result of our digital transformation is positive, and is one that brings everyone along for the ride.

The second Digital Leaders Week runs from 18th June to 22nd June and will feature over 120 events, including three webinars hosted by Nominet.