Conference highlights technology

THE business potential of next generation broadband, new technology and novel applications was highlighted at conference in Suffolk yesterday. The Digital Oppotunities event, held at Trinity Park, Ipswich, was organised as part of their studies by Level 6 Events Management students at University Campus Suffolk.

THE business potential of next generation broadband, new technology and novel applications was highlighted at conference in Suffolk yesterday.

The Digital Oppotunities event, held at Trinity Park, Ipswich, was organised as part of their studies by Level 6 Events Management students at University Campus Suffolk.

Keynote speaker at the event was Phil Dance, managing director at BT's Adastral Park, who underlined the diversity of roles now played by BT.

Besides still being involved in connecting around 90% of all phone calls made in the UK, the group supplies technology to organisations such as the New York Stock Exchange and Marks & Spencer, said Mr Dance.

Three key trends for BT were the roll-out of new generation broadband, making it faster and cheaper, the development of its new “Cloud” technology, offering a new way of accessing computer storage and software applications, and the development of social networking for businesses.

Mr Dance said broadband penetration in the UK was currently the highest among the G8 economies and, while the group acknowledged there were still challenges concerning the speed of service in rural areas, it was working with the East of England Development Agency and Suffolk County Council to lobby for Government support.

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Cloud technology was based on the fact that the utilisation of computer power on a conventional PC was relatively low, explained Mr Dance, and took this capacity to make better use of it outside of the machine in a “cloud”.

Users already ranged from online retailer Amazon to the NHS in the Waveney area which had used the technology to run a message-based reminder system which had cut the number missed appointments by 40%.

BT's Tradespace platform, launched in 2007, was the business equivalent of social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, said Mr Dance. This, together with faster broadband and Cloud technology had enormous potential for businesses of all sizes, he added.

Jan Pinkerton, head of business ICT and intelligence at the East of England Development Agency, explained the support available to small firms through EEDA's takeITon initiative, in which it works closely with Business Link.

Other speakers included Luke Brynley-Jones of social media and marketing consultancy Our Social Times, Tony Addison of Free Rein, Duncan Laud of White Space Design and Fraser Burton of BT Innovate & Design.

The conference was supported by more than a dozen companies and organisations including media company Archant Suffolk, whose titles include the East Anglian Daily Times.

Guests were welcomed by Richard Lister, chief executive at UCS, who praised the work of the students in arranging the conference, and the event was chaired by Kim Brown, managing director of Boleyn Events and chairman of the Ipswich & Suffolk Small Business Association, both of which also supported the event.