My wish for Croydon digital: go far, go together in 2019

Reflections on the power of networking and the importance of this community, from a former Croydon Tech City co-founder.

I firmly believe digital is all about people.  One way or another you have most likely used a digital channel today to help solve a problem – ensuring those gifts arrive on time thanks to Amazon, switching your house lights off through Alexa, transferring money to pay those bills with a couple of taps through an app on your mobile, catching up with that box set you’ve been meaning to watch on iPlayer. Digital is everywhere and it effects our everyday life – it’s an enabler that provides solutions to our most simple and complex everyday issues, locally and globally – and it’s time Croydon paves the way.

In a recent report – Lloyd’s Digital Index 2018 – it was found that nearly a third of UK SME businesses were not yet online and, even more worryingly, of those that are, only 2% actually have insight into who is using their website. This is a major issue if we want our  companies to compete in the global economy. We’re living in a time when digital disruption can change the business landscape virtually overnight, so we must ensure Croydon’s SMEs & corporates can adopt and adapt successfully and secure their place in the global landscape.

As a borough we need to ensure our residents and businesses have access to digital skills, digital talent, learning and support so that we don’t miss out on opportunities for economic growth, ensuring that we can all benefit from digital with inclusivity in mind, whilst also narrowing social gaps. We have an incredible opportunity ahead of us – backed by a thriving community that has already been nominated as the fastest growing tech ecosystem in London.

I’ve witnessed the power of community first hand.

I’ve experienced the wonder of creating something from nothing – through genuine curiosity, perseverance and passion. The incredible impact a kind random offer of help can have; a few encouraging words that land at just the ‘right’ time; an ‘a-ha!’ moment following a chat with peers on key learnings that helps you tweak your business plan or sign up to that education course you had always been meaning to take; the simple joy of #payingitforward and not expecting anything back in return – the value of a trusted network that is on a mission to just make things better.

That is what I see Croydon Digital becoming. I’m thrilled that Neil Williams, Dave Briggs and the Croydon Digital Service team are putting community at the heart of their strategy. My wish for is for it to be a celebration for our voices to be heard – a collective of voices both online and offline – so that together we may truly be able to share information, solve problems for one another, develop new and better ways of doing things & rejoice each significant milestone & achievement, together.

There are already incredible organisations, networks and initiatives in Croydon for you to get involved in from Croydon Chamber of Commerce, Shaking Hands, Croydon Councils Good Employer Network, Sussex Innovations ‘Silicon Valley of the South’ events, TMRW Hubs ‘Ask me anything’ series and events. Join in, collaborate, take action and advocate.

There is an African proverb –

If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, go together

So, which path will you take for 2019?

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