Tech’s not just for Christmas

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By Tony Moretta, chief executive of Digital Jersey

THERE’S no doubt that the past two years have seen every area of our lives become more digital and while some of that has been through necessity, I believe 2022 will see the trend continuing at pace as the benefits for all of us and every sector of industry become even clearer.

At Digital Jersey we’re just finalising our business plan for next year, which we’ll be presenting, along with our look back on the past 12 months, during our annual review event – which will hopefully be back on the big screen at Cineworld in February.

The plan is based on the five-year strategy that we launched earlier this year and has 12 focus areas that encompass industry, infrastructure, people, and government.

As I’ve said many times in the past, digital is not just about our tech industry; it’s now a fundamental part of Island life. I can’t go into all the details in this column, but I’d like to share some of what I think next year’s highlights will be for you, your families, and businesses.

Continuing digital transformation

The pandemic continues to motivate companies in all sectors to find digital solutions, and in addition to identifying opportunities for the tech sector and connecting local businesses with international markets, we want to improve Jersey’s productivity and international competitiveness overall by supporting even more non-digital businesses in their efforts to digitally transform.

New opportunities

It is our role to develop a fourth pillar to the economy by growing digital businesses, and that includes ensuring we look for new opportunities which will provide interesting careers and additional tax revenues for the Island. Specifically, we think Jersey has a key opportunity to lead the way in data stewardship. While we will continue to focus on developing Jersey for fintech, data trusts could also utilise the skills and expertise we already have in the Island through our globally recognised finance industry.

The work with fintech will continue to focus on open banking, crypto assets and other initiatives. Elsewhere, we will also carry on our work to help develop our digital twin of Jersey and find solutions for challenges, such as the need for increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability, and traffic management.

Skills and training

To find digital solutions we need digital skills. In 2021 we had great success in creating over 500 places on short courses around tech and we want to replicate that in 2022.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, or what existing qualifications you have; if you want to play a role in working for Jersey’s future while also future-proofing your career, then you’re welcome through our doors.

We also saw the first cohort of the Digital Leadership programme graduate in 2021 with their degree-level qualifications.

Not only will we continue to run this course both full time and part time, but we want to expand it by offering an executive programme aimed at top management and directors of companies.

This will ensure that our business leaders have the knowledge to understand the digital landscape and how it impacts their companies, and can lead their teams with informed decision-making.

We will also continue to attract highly skilled digital freelancers to the Island so that they can support skills development, businesses, and pay their taxes here.

Election year

On 22 June the next general election will take place. We will be publishing a digital manifesto to talk about all the things we think are necessary in the next term of government to not only support the tech community but also the digital transformation of the whole Island.

We also look forward to working with the new government and ensuring digital is well represented in their plans.

Funding our future

The £20 million technology fund, which has been created from the proceeds of JT’s sale of its Internet of Things business, will provide Jersey with the potential to develop more global businesses such as the JT one.

It will be used to solve some of the challenges we have here, whether that’s working towards carbon neutrality, digital skills or transforming our traditional industries, as well as investing in technology which will put our Island on the map and bring home further revenues.

It’s not a fund just for the tech sector, it’s to support the new digital economy for everyone.

Next year will see the return of Tech Week, and of course the Tech Awards, which celebrate digital success across our wider community. I’m very much looking forward to attending these and to putting our business plan into action.

There is much to do, but Jersey has also come a long way digitally in the past few years and is starting to receive the international recognition it is due.

At our Building a Digital Jersey event in October there was unanimous agreement from stakeholders across a broad range of private-sector businesses, as well as public sector, that we need to further prioritise digital. I hope you will join us in 2022 as we continue that journey.

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