Digital Awards 2017 promises to showcase best of technology talent in Hull and East Yorkshire

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 5 Jul 2017

As one of the UK’s fastest growing digital hotspots, Hull and East Yorkshire has lots of fabulous start-up companies making waves in the digital sector. But technology is also being embraced by more ‘traditional’ businesses, as Catherine Lea discovers.

If you were asked to picture a digital company, what would you think of?

A games developer, perhaps, or a web company would no doubt be up there on the list, and rightly so.

But if your vision stopped there you would be missing a trick.

Digital forms a huge part of our everyday lives, from the smartphones we use to update our social media profiles to the technology that enables us to click and collect everything from groceries to designer shoes.

Increasingly, digital is also the platform that is helping what we think of as ‘traditional’ businesses to position themselves for future growth.

Last month, Arco moved its digital team to the @TheDock development in Hull’s Fruit Market as part of the company’s biggest change programme to date.

Arco’s Digital First programme began in January and will run over the next three to five years, with the company investing more than £30m in the transformation.

Richard Martin, Arco’s digital director, said @TheDock’s location opened up opportunities for collaboration and made the business more attractive when competing for tech talent.

He said: “We now want to strengthen our links with the local digital community and tap into specialist skills within C4DI.

“Being based here means we are perfectly placed to do that.

“This is a stimulating and engaging environment that helps people to be creative and that’s a really important part of our transformation.

Chairman of C4DI David Keel talking at Digital Awards 2016

“We need to be creative, agile and more responsive to ever-changing customer needs.”

Family-owned Arco was founded in Hull 133 years ago and is the UK’s leading safety company, employing 1,700 people across the UK, including more than 800 in its home city.

The business offers more than 170,000 personal protection equipment, workwear, safety footwear and workplace safety products.

More than 150 Arco staff are now working on projects as part of the Digital First transformation programme.

Some of the team have transferred to C4DI from Arco’s headquarters in Waverley Street, with others newly hired as part of ongoing recruitment that will add 30 new jobs in digital disciplines such as software development, search engine optimisation, online analytics and systems architecture.

Mr Martin said: “This is where the digital team is based and the home for the whole Digital First programme, but it will also be used by many Arco colleagues. People from across the business will be encouraged to work from here for a half a day or a day at a time, using the meeting spaces and hot-desking facilities.”

Arco’s willingness to not only embrace new technology but also invest in the best talent to ensure it remains ahead of the curve is the kind of approach the Digital Awards 2017 is seeking to celebrate.

Stage@TheDock hosted Digital Awards 2016

Entries for the awards are now open, with 11 categories up for grabs covering everything from best mobile app to best digital marketing communication.

Now in their third year, the awards will take place at the stunning Stage@TheDock on Thursday, September 7.

Hosts KCOM and the Hull Daily Mail are now inviting businesses, organisations and individuals from all sectors to enter, presenting a comprehensive showcase of the innovative spirit and indomitable pride that exist in our region.

One organisation that has seen the benefits the awards can bring to a business is Arc Studios, a software development company based at C4DI.

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The company was formed in 2014 by graduates from the University of Hull, and has since evolved from four students working in a bedroom to a growing company with a national and international client base.

Developing database systems and cutting edge software saw Arc shortlisted in the inaugural Digital Awards, in the Best Digital Start-up category.

Having been narrowly pipped to the post, last year Arc was crowned winner of the award in recognition of its ongoing growth and commitment to nurturing up and coming digital talent.

Aaron Martin, managing director at Arc Studios, said: “We entered the Digital Awards in their first year because we thought it would be a great way of getting our name out there and being recognised, and it was a brilliant event. We already have a great team, but winning the award last year gave us even more of an edge.

“Hull, and C4DI in particular, has been a great place for us to grow as a business. After we graduated, we could have moved away from the city, or ended up working in bars to fund our project, but we were supported to start our business here and have never looked back.

“That is why this year we have chosen to sponsor an award, to give something back.”

Visit thedigitalawards.net for details on how to enter and be part of this year’s awards.



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