Technology and the British economy
This week saw the IMF upgrade the UK’s economic growth forecast to 3.2%, placing the UK at the top of the class for growth among the world’s developed nations. In general terms, the health of the British economy has now recovered to a position equal to or better than the state it was in 2007 at the onset of the Global Financial Crisis.
While the UK has been clear of the technical definition of an economic recession for a few quarters now, these latest reports hopefully signal a period of coming prosperity, not just economic convalescence.
At long last.
However, what piques my interest is that while the curtain of economic frost shrouded the UK, a wave of broad technological innovation endured and even accelerated, meaning that as the UK’s population of five million businesses steps back into the global economic limelight, it does so with a clutch of quite different technological enablers that weren’t around back in 2007.
I’ve actually seen this movie before.
I began my career in technology in 1989, about a year before the last big economic recession to hit the UK. Back then, the tech landscape was transformed hugely while the UK’s economic vital signs slumped. In 1990 most UK small businesses still had no computing to speak of and if you were fortunate enough to have a PC inside your business then the prevalent operating system was MS-DOS. And even among medium sized businesses the tantalising prospect of the Local Area Network had yet to properly take hold. Even email was spoken of in hushed tones as if it was a kind of myth.
However, as the UK’s recession lifted by the mid-nineties Microsoft’s marvel operating system, Windows 95, was here. Mobile telephony was a thing, low-cost PC networks were booming and the early days of the (World Wide) Web had just begun to explode onto the scene. And what followed over the remainder of that decade was an amazing technological renaissance period where by the end of the 1990s, the business technology landscape was utterly unrecognisable from its prior generation.
So, being part historian and part die-hard technologist, I have something of an educated hunch about the remainder of this decade.
And that hunch is saying “buckle-up”.
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