The real digital trends revealed in the 2017 Digital Challenge awards programme.

30 May

Media headlines continually claim great innovative progress – new systems, new Apps and better services.   But, what are the real changes in the UK’s digital landscape?

Hardly a day passes without a flurry of press releases, product announcements, reports and white papers. The spinning rarely ceases even if some digital ideas fly off at a tangent never to return. The realities – the changes that really do impact on the way we work and live – dawn much later.

Long after headline writers have gone hunting elsewhere, some of this stuff is given purpose and made tangible by folks with real challenges to resolve. We all depend on small armies of project teams to work out how to usefully apply new systems and capabilities.  They may not attract headlines but they represent the bedrock of reality. These project teams are true heroes and their work deserves to be honoured.

That is why the annual NextGen Digital Challenge Awards programme is designed to celebrate their digital endeavours. It is also why these awards change shape every year to reflect the real digital trends.  Now in it’s 7th year, the Digital Challenge has once again adapted the awards to reflect the results of this year’s Open Call for nominations.

Seven Key Transformational Trends

These are the seven awards categories selected for the 2017 NextGen Digital Challenge.



Connectivity no longer distance-dependent

Some of our Award Categories have been consistent over many years. Digital connectivity projects are fundamental and the trophy this year will be called the Connected Britain Award.   This year, however, no distinctions need be made between rural and urban connectivity projects.  Older distant-dependent designs are no match for ‘Full Fibre’ and fast wireless technologies – often deployed in combination. Cities that once thought they were in the forefront will now need to catch up.

Digital Skills for everyone

For a few years now we’ve honoured Digital Inclusion projects but that, often-traumatic, struggle to get folk online (classically featured in Mike Leigh’s ‘I Daniel Blake’) is now a subset of a far greater challenge – the need for a much wider range of digital skills education to reach across all age groups and all economic sectors. The 2017 Digital Skills Award will celebrate imaginative projects from across the UK.

Networked Innovations – creativity below the radar

Improving the utility of fixed and mobile access to the Internet are background projects. They not only make services more useful and safe but can also cut the cost of network deployment. The shortlisted finalists for the 2017 Networking Innovations Award will severely challenge our judging panel as they reflect on the challenges and achievements.

Digital Health comes home from hospital

This Award Category first came to prominence last year and the current project nominations are further evidence of massive activity in the health sector – and, this year, not entirely dominated by the NHS. The 2017 Digital Health Award will reflect significant shifts in the way the nation’s health issues are being tackled.

Public Services transformed

In contrast to popular myth (and tabloid headlines) it is in the public sector that great transformational projects are powering progress – not just boosting value for money but enhancing service quality. There can be only one winner of the 2017 Public Service Transformation Award but all of the Finalists’ case studies will be an inspiration to others.

Place-Making with lateral thinking

2017 marks the first appearance of an award that recognises the real benefit of digital investments. When project teams pitch for funding they make judgments about investor attitudes and that can lead to over-emphasis on secondary and tertiary benefits. But no longer. The 2017 Place-Making Award is unashamedly focused on the wellbeing of communities – their economic and social development.

Innovative Applications – whatever next

The imagination of creative digital developers opens up new opportunities and a new wealth of insights into how to put digital expertise to good purpose. The Innovative Projects Award will celebrate those endeavors and honour their achievements.

The Shortlisted Finalists for each of these awards will be announced on June 14th at the Connected Britain conference in London.

Each team will be asked to submit their full project descriptions to an independent judging panel in August.

The NextGen Digital Challenge Awards Dinner and Presentation will be held in October.




3 Responses to “The real digital trends revealed in the 2017 Digital Challenge awards programme.”

  1. Walter G M Willcox May 30, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    These awards do highlight where innovation is active so hopefully the most active will earn their rewards.

    Perhaps due to HMG’s wish to keep their rose-coloured spectacles on we seem to have a combined “Full Fibre” subject title covering vastly different network topologies. On the one hand we observe the Incumbent hell bent upon extending their limited and monopolistic shared asymmetric FTTH set of products and upon the other we see almost all Altnets adopting the far more robust future-proof dual diverse-routed network free of the power-hungry entanglements of the ancient PSTN network. Unsurprisingly the Incumbent seems determined to ignore upload speed figures which merit critical examination by the ASA and possibly Ofcom too.

    A more accurate description of the two topologies seems an urgent necessity to me to avoid costly mistakes continuing and to educate the general public with the significant differences.

    • GroupeIntellex May 31, 2017 at 8:48 am #

      I agree entirely with the need for deeper customer/market education. That is why I urge folk to respond to the current ASA consultation.
      The over-simplistic focus on headline download speeds ignores many other factors that directly impact on the connectivity’s ‘fitness for purpose’.

      Under ‘free market’ competition no-one is prevented from selling rubbish.
      The ASA can rule on the veracity of statements like ‘Up To xxMb/s’ (it could, for example, be assessed at 90% successful delivery rather than 10%) but that still doesn’t get close to issues of buyers being misled by non-disclosure of other factors like upload rates, latency, packet loss and general reliability.

      ‘Which?’ magazine is doing a great job in this arena and the mainstream media is also beginning to take a more-informed view.
      But I’m also of the view that Trading Standards officers should encourage their Local Authorities to get tough with suppliers who mislead local citizens and businesses.

      With central responsibility fragmented (DCLG/DCMS/BEIS/Ofcom) the chances of top-down policy action is limited – so the responses to the ASA consultation will need to be given the widest possible circulation.


  1. Challenges, Solutions, Achievements – and Trophies for projects that must be celebrated | Groupe Intellex - October 15, 2017

    […] For earlier commentary on the 2017 Awards Categories see:…/ […]

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