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Northern Powerhouse: Digital connectivity & managing expectations key to growth 09 March 2017

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Managing business expectations goes a long way to ensuring success is not taken for granted, and that attainable, realistic goals can pave the way for success.

Over the last few years, the Northern Powerhouse has been on an undeniable upwards curve. With the move of businesses to the north, a swell of skilled graduates coming out of universities on a consistent basis and improvements in commercial building and infrastructure, Manchester, Leeds and a host of other cities in the Powerhouse have gone from strength to strength.

However, while it's encouraging that such moves forward have been made, and important that positivity remains a cornerstone of the region's growth, at the recent Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester, the importance of managing expectations was also stressed.

Ben Page of polling firm Ipsos Mori said that although there have been undeniable leaps forward for the north, it's vital that the limitations that held it back in the past are respected, and that expectations are tempered as a result. After all, attainable goals and sensible timeframes in which to achieve them are more important than shooting for the stars and coming up short.

Managing expectations can be used not only by the Northern Powerhouse as a whole, but also in individual businesses, which can take a leaf out of the region's book. Managing expectations, particularly for newer startup firms, can lead to far better growth than unattainable goals and targets, which can see companies pushing too hard and failing in the long run.

Digital connectivity

Realising how to steadily improve the region was something also highlighted by Mark Collins, director of strategy at CityFibre, who brought up the notion of identifying shortfalls and targeting the rectification of these as a real cornerstone of future growth. It's this ability to look at problems and potential barriers to growth that will allow expectations to be managed, and goals to be set for overcoming these hurdles.

Mr Collins said that the only way the Northern Powerhouse will be able to compete with other regions on an international stage is if it spends the time and money needed to make digital connectivity a priority.

"Improving connectivity in the north is not just about transport; digital infrastructure links everything. Improved digital connectivity will allow businesses in the Northern Powerhouse to innovate and become competitive on a global stage," he said.

At the moment, the UK falls far behind other countries across the world when it comes to investment in digital connectivity. According to Mobile Today, the UK spends just two per cent of GDP on digital connectivity, compared to an average of six to eight per cent in other nations.
Mr Collins also highlighted the fact that Spain has as many as 83 per cent of all its properties connected by end-to-end pure fibre-optic connectivity, which makes it "future proof", compared to the UK, which has only around three per cent of properties connected in this way.

Identifying gaps like this need not be negative either, and for economic areas such as the Northern Powerhouse, they can actually be seen as opportunities, giving a clear indicator of how the region can move forward for years to come.

Mr Collins concluded at the conference: "The government committed £1.5bn of funding in the Autumn Statement to encourage private sector investment in the area and there is a real opportunity for Northern Powerhouse to consider how they might take advantage of that funding and encourage a greater degree of investment from the private sector."

To find out more about commercial office space in the ever improving Northern Powerhouse, take a look at our properties.

Centurion House Manchester
Centurion House Manchester