Since the recession hit the UK, businesses both international and local have been struggling to get back on their feet. Aware of this, the government has been working hard to rectify the situation, mounting a number of tax and funding initiatives designed to boost growth in certain key industries, hoping their recovery will lead to an overall boom in the nation's economy.
In this endeavour technology has been one of the biggest sectors relied on by the government to help support the nation.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude made this clear during the 2013 launch of the UK's Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership when he said that the country's digital economy is worth a staggering £82bn.
With this in mind it's understandable that the government has put so much effort into the creation of technology hubs, like London's Tech City.
However, despite the government's insistence the digital economy is doing well, two serious shadows remain over its long-term future: cyber crime and the skills shortage.
While the Cyber Security Strategy has done some good work educating business about best practice security, cyber crime remains a big problem. This was demonstrated earlier this week when security firm McAfee listed the UK as the fifth biggest victim of cyber crime in the world, estimating that it lost over $11.4bn, or around half a percent of its gross national product, to hackers over the past year.
Even worse, due to the reported cyber skills shortage, which according to last year's estimates has left thousands of Tech City jobs unfilled, this trend is likely to continue and the digital economy will see even further losses. In fact, according to the National Audit Office's latest estimates the skills gap will last a further 20 years costing the UK £27bn per annum.
With all these negatives piling up it's all too easy to feel an overarching sense of gloom, which is why I was happy this week to witness a rare ray of sunshine regarding the UK's digital economy with the launch of the new .uk web suffix.
Launched on Tuesday by web registrar Nominet, the .uk suffix is designed to offer companies a variety of business benefits and help them develop and expand their presence in the UK and international market.
Specifically the .uk suffix is designed to let companies tailor their online offering to UK shoppers. For example letting a company like Groupon create a targeted advertising campaign or set of deals designed to meet UK buyers' specific tastes.
Being honest, despite great work by Nominet marketing the roll out in the lead up to the launch - which saw it plant a 'welcometothe.uk' sign that it claims is the largest in the world near Heathrow airport's main runway - I was doubtful of its chances of early adoption.
However, Nominet confirmed over 50,000 firms had jumped at the chance to use a .uk domain within 24 hours of the launch. While this won't fix any of the problems outlined above, for me it's a serious positive as it shows that businesses are still interested in the UK market and want to expand their presence.
This is especially true when you consider the number of international companies, which include big names like Bentley and Burberry, that have already signed up to the new .uk suffix.
For me these companies' early interest shows there is still a lot of hope for the UK digital economy and that the .uk rollout could prove Nominet right and help facilitate a boom in consumer spending online.
As a result, while I don't think the suffix will solve all the nation's problems, I am hopeful we'll see yet more businesses begin to tailor their UK digital offering using the domain and give the digital economy the adrenaline shot it needs to meet the government's high hopes.
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