Being a software development business in North East England is certainly a roller coaster ride with lots of pros and cons to it: –
On one hand it’s very tough: –
- Our region has had in hard in recent years in terms of employment levels and growth. A lot of our traditional industries such as steel making have essentially been eradicated from the region. This has had a knock-on effect on a lot of businesses not having a lot of spare budget to allocate towards business improvement or change management. Most companies have to push all their resources into simply staying afloat and sticking with the status quo.
- Our region is in a very competitive area for Software development – one of the largest and most successful software companies in the world (Sage) is based less than an hour away from us and thanks to government initiatives and our good educational facilities there are plenty of resources and encouragement to set up and grow in this industry. Whilst this is a positive thing it means that there are more competitors fighting for the same projects and customers you are trying to win. This means you have to fight hard to win projects.
- A lot of organisations have a very traditional view to IT and Software in the North East. A lot of companies sadly see IT and Software as little more than cost centres – something they have to have in order to manage a process within their business; a necessary evil they have to endure. Sadly not many understand the potential that Software can have in a business; it can revolutionise how they operate, how it can act as your USP, how it can save time, money and make life easier. People will readily spend on new IT kit but are reluctant to invest in the infrastructure and backbone of their IT systems which is software. Therefore part of our job is to educate and highlight to businesses in our region how Software can help to transform their business.
On the other hand there is a lot of help at hand: –
- As touched on above we have very good educational establishments on our doorstep, Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and especially Teesside University have excellent schools of computing which produces excellent graduates every year who want to make a difference and add value. It’s great to have such a healthy pool of skilled employees to recruit from.
- The continuing strength and growth of the Digital City/ Boho zone in Middlesbrough. This is an initiative to develop a digital, creative and business hub on Teesside – it is designed to encourage digital business to set up within the zone. This does of course create more competition for us but it also means that Teesside can establish itself as an area synonymous with digital based industries. Teesside is traditionally famous for the quality of its industries like steel making, engineering, manufacturing and its chemical industry, this initiative will enable the digital sector to be added to this list. There are other initiatives similar to this around our region like Sunderland Software City – all of these hubs help promote digital business in our region, improve skills and help raise the fact that Software and digital technologies can have a real and positive impact in business.
- A lot of businesses based in the North East are always looking for “an edge” they understand the importance of having a USP that sets them apart from their competitors. Software is a key way in which businesses can do that which puts us in a great position to be able to meet that requirement.
- People in the North East are notoriously straight with you, this can mean you need to develop a thick skin but it does also mean you know exactly where you are with your clients. They won’t put up a “corporate veil” and use management speak during the lead conversion process. If they are not interested, do not have the money, do not think you can add value etc. they will tell you bluntly. Whilst obviously disappointing, this is great because it means you can simply move onto the next opportunity without having your time wasted and your hopes raised only for them to be dashed.
- There is a surprisingly wide variety of business types, sizes, industries and segments – this means there is a variety of opportunities and we can often learn things in one industry/ segment etc. and then refactor it to apply it in another, in a context that has not been previously thought of before. This allows us to provide innovative, different solutions to our clients.
Overall it’s always interesting working in the software industry in the North East but it’s our home, so we love it and wouldn’t change it for the world!