The digital economy is expanding rapidly as it generates jobs, creates fresh industries and disrupts old traditions. But it is also bringing new challenges not least in making sure local businesses don’t get left behind.
The digital economy is turning the mainstream economy upside down as it spawns new areas of activity and upends traditional careers and models of working.
The opportunities it provides are extraordinary and so are its trials, as it introduces a tsunami of change in established communities and business sectors.
The rewards it offers are spectacular but it enriches only those with the skills it needs while threatening to impoverish those without the talents it wants.
For those it doesn’t include it can bring isolation and even penury as it moves at a speed that allows little chance of reaction once it enters an area of interest.
The current generation of students already feel its chill winds as it uproots jobs on an industrial scale and alarms and accelerates those looking for work in equal measure.
The next generation will suffer from its damaging reality too, as they find succor only in the possession of skills that align with its agenda of extreme and rapid growth.
Like it or hate it, the digital economy lies at the heart of the mainstream economy and is expanding to a point where it will dominate every segment of the landscape.
The good news is that local businesses can benefit from its opportunities and make sure they aren’t forgotten or left in its wake.
To this end, Digital Omagh supports a network of entrepreneurs and local businesses that connect with each other.
It provides a platform for different people from different sectors and disciplines to come together and share experiences.
It offers support to local companies and entrepreneurs of all ages interested in taking advantage of the possibilities created by the spread of the digital economy into all facets of society.
Digital Omagh organises local meet-ups, networking events, access to finance, links to affordable property, national and international connections, business incubation facilities, access to graduate-level talent and skilled staff.
It also offers access to super-fast broadband, links to colleges and universities, access to research bodies, links to sector clusters, business support programmes, access to a world-class broadband infrastructure and a supportive local business environment.
The digital economy is shaping our collective future and will increase its influence on the mainstream economy until all businesses are digitally driven as a matter of course.
In the future, economies will not be differentiated by being digital or non-digital as the influx of technology will make every business digital at its core.
So, the digital economy has arrived with its creative disruption but local businesses can profit from the creative opportunities it presents.
(By Nick O' Shiel, Chief Executive, Omagh Enterprise Company)