Everything changes... including Brighton

Max Cooter ponders how Brighton's star is rising as a hub of collaboration and innovation

US corporation Dyn has been based in Brighton for just over a year, having moved down from London. According to Dyn's David Grange, there's a growing number of tech companies looking to move here.

“Brighton used to be about web design companies,” he says, “but there are now real tech companies moving down.” Grange is involved in an initiative to bring together companies, politicians, academics, students and, well, anyone interested to build on this technical base. It’s a grouping that doesn’t have any clear agenda or way forward, just a sense that technology could be used to build a better city.

Why does this matter? One of the more interesting aspects of cloud is the way that it disrupts the normal way of doing business. The traditional nexus of company-competitor-partner-customer was based around some clearly defined roles and that is now being disrupted.

I’m not saying that Brighton is anything special. I’m sure there are similar moves taking place in other cities across the UK (and elsewhere). It’s just that Brighton is what I know: I was born there, grew up there, live there and take a deep and abiding interest in what happens within its borders

The day before I visited the Dyn office and met Grange, I had a conversation with Will Venters, a lecturer from the London School of Economics, and author of a, yet-to-be-published book on cloud 'Moving to the Cloud Corporation, an examination of how cloud will have an impact on our business relationships.'

Venters' thesis is that as the cloud market becomes more mature, the nature of competition changes, cloud leads to greater collaboration and more blurring of lines: between home and work; between competitors; between third parties and so on.  Corporations will have, in Venters’ words, “ill-defined, cloud-like boundaries” leading to a complete change in mindset.

We have only touched on some of these changes. Companies moving to cloud have tended to move workloads from on-premise to cloud – wider changes will come later.

That’s why the initiative from the Brighton companies is interesting. Dyn has joined up with Pure360 as part of the effort to get the collaborative measures going. The group is ill-defined at the moment (that phrase again) but no doubt will take a more cohesive shape in future.

I’m not saying that Brighton is anything special. I’m sure there are similar moves taking place in other cities across the UK (and elsewhere). It’s just that Brighton is what I know: I was born there, grew up there, live there and take a deep and abiding interest in what happens within its borders. 

I do know that moves like the Brighton initiative  - which is so inchoate that it doesn’t yet have a name – will come more to the fore in the future. The modern corporation will find it more difficult to distinguish between customer, partner and competitor as those lines get blurred. The rising cost of transport and the congested roads, something that Brighton is especially conscious of, will result in more companies looking for alternative forms of communication and the need to keep things local.

We write a lot about technological issues but occasionally we need to be reminded that cloud is going to reshape the world in so many ways. And like the Brighton group, we don’t know what they’re going to be … but it will be fun finding out.

Read more about: