I’m trying to help grow the IT industry across the North East. This is why I am a member of Dynamo North East, Digital Union and Socitm.
All of these organisations have the same problem – a lack of meaningful data.
I would like to know how many businesses there are in the industry across the region. If we are going to grow, it would help to know where we are now, with some basic information such as approximate turnover, number of employees and location.
You would think this should be simple, perhaps a breakdown of businesses by SIC code from companies house would help yet I am really struggling. All of the groups I am involved in are. Even the local authorities are in the same boat.
Questions such as: which sectors are most important to the region?; have our interventions had any effect?; and how do we compare with other regions across the country? are nigh on impossible to answer.
Yet this information must be available. Companies House publishes the SIC code of all businesses, the local authorities know the location of all physical business buildings through the business rates information and I suspect that HMRC knows the trading address of all of us. This is all pubic information, paid for by public taxation and should be available for general consumption.
I know that some is available on sites such as Data Mill North but this is very limited and anonymised. We need the whole lot in an easy to use format. Surely this is not beyond the wit of central and regional government.
I can hear the cries that people will use this to try and bombard my business with sales calls and marketing material yet GDPR will take care of this through an opt in for research processes only. After all it may help public bodies to focus their business development activities better and it may result in growing more business.
Is there anyone out there who can help me get hold of meaningful business related information?