From a keynote speech by a former MI5 Director-General, to car hacking concerns and a fireside chat about energy efficiency, DTX 2023 promised a lot, and most certainly delivered – and we were there to enjoy it all. 

Held over two days, the UK’s best and brightest technology minds convened at Manchester Central to talk, learn and share all things digital transformation. 

The theme for this year’s packed-out DTX, which formed the anchor point for the wider Manchester Tech Week, was ‘Together We Transform’ – and we certainly came together. More than 5,000 cloud innovators, workplace designers, infrastructure architects, systems strategists, experts and analysts gathered to create a world-class forum for knowledge sharing and collaboration.  

The event kicked off on Wednesday morning with a speech by Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, who, as former Director-General of MI5, holds possibly unrivalled insight into the power of data. Following a lifelong career in the security services, during which she marshalled the response to the 7/7 London bombings and led the country’s counter-terrorism operations, Baroness Manningham-Buller spoke with thoughtful experience about the importance of information and the ongoing need for human input in analysing critical data. She also touched briefly on the idea of workplace diversity in response to a question about how the IT industry could better attract more diverse talent. She said MI5 had done a fantastic job of diversifying its workforce, with more women and people from different backgrounds now working as intelligence officers than ever before. This, she said, was because there had been a concerted effort to diversify. ‘You need to want it, to prioritise it, to seek it and to work for it,’ she said.  

Another highlight from day one of the event was a strategy session run by Andy Davies and Isaac Doel – Product Design Director at MHR International and Data Centre Account Manager at Dell Technologies UK respectively – entitled, Generation Now: How to maximise workplace technology for the next generation.  

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about how organisations can develop and enable the sort of flexible, hybrid environments Gen X workers are looking for. Businesses want to attract the best talent and, as digital natives, Gen Xers have a lot of skills to bring to the table. But, as this discussion highlighted, they also have greater expectations of their employers. They value workplace flexibility and work-life balance, but they also want to feel alignment with company values, especially around things like data security, sustainability, accessibility, ethics and social justice. The upshot is, the talent is definitely out there, and organisations will need to invest in the right tech to attract and support it. 

Another particularly interesting panel discussion looked at the future of AI. Panel members Tom Liptrot (Ortom), Leanne Fitzpatrick (The Financial Times), Andy Griffiths (General Electric) and Robin Lester (Microsoft) spoke positively about the rising democratisation of AI through open-source tools like ChatGPT, and agreed it represented a work efficiency rather than a role-replacement technology. There was thought-provoking discussion around where accountability might lie for AI-produced errors, and what the future might look like in terms of regulation. The consensus seemed to be that regulation would undoubtedly come, but that it would need to be contextualised, and tailored to each industry. 

For M247, DTX 2023 was a great opportunity to talk about our products and services. Our team took over Stand C94 for the duration of the event, showcasing our cloud and disaster recovery solutions, among others, and found real value in looking at these products through the eyes of the businesses they are designed to support.  

Vendors covered the spectrum of tech, from cloud and cyber security to DevOps, UC, infrastructure, analytics and AI. It was an inspiring gathering of industry leaders offering strategic insights, sharing technical expertise and relationship building, and we’re already looking forward to next year. 

We’re going to be sharing more content inspired by the topics covered at the event over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more…

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