When Birmingham's Smart City initiative was launched three years ago, its aim was develop a new strategy to overcome the myriad challenges facing a city like Birmingham in the 21st century.
From tackling unemployment to increasing social mobility to reducing carbon emissions, the rapidly changing world meant bold new ideas – and front and centre of this new strategy was technology.
It is almost 12 months to the day Birmingham City Council launched its Smart City 'roadmap', outlining the broad principles that would create a better city.
These 39 proposed actions ranged from installing the technology to making Birmingham the best-connected city in the UK through to using IT in a range of initiatives from improving building efficiency to streamlining traffic flows.
One of the key aims of the Smart City agenda was also to work with SMEs – far and away the biggest employer in the greater Birmingham area – and to help and support them embrace the opportunities around technology and data.
Next week Digital Birmingham is hosting its first Greater Birmingham Digital Summit at the ICC which will see the launch of the results of a digital audit of business in Birmingham as well as presentations from speakers from blue-chip companies like Google, Microsoft and LinkedIn talking about how technology is transforming business.
Coun Lisa Trickett, cabinet member for Green Smart and Sustainable City, will also be at the summit to launch the Digital Academy, which will be hosting a series of free workshops throughout the year to help SMEs on their digital journey.
While Rome wasn't built in a day, Coun Trickett believes significant progress has been made towards achieving the goals of Smart City and the summit and Digital Academy are an important milestone in the overall process.
She said: "Businesses tell us that they recognise the importance of embracing digital technologies but yet many do not feel confident in taking the plunge.
"The Digital Academy initiative will help SMEs across Greater Birmingham better understand what improved broadband connectivity and embracing new technologies can do to help them reach their full potential."
The all-day Greater Birmingham Digital Summit takes place at the ICC on Thursday, February 26, and is being organised by Digital Birmingham.
Raj Mack, head of Digital Birmingham, said: "There are 379,000 SMEs across the West Midlands and just a fraction of these companies have fully embraced the opportunities offered by the kind of digital technologies that are increasingly becoming part of our everyday life.
"At the summit, we will be announcing the results of our digital audit but in just a snapshot we found that half of respondents saw turnover increase last year with half of them putting the increase down to the introduction of new technology into their business. On the other side of the coin we found that more than half of businesses have no strategy at all to embrace the opportunities offered by technology.
"Technology is a massive part of commerce and is relevant across all business sectors and can make a real impact whether it is growing sales to improving efficiency or ultimately making a business more profitable.
"We have a fantastic line up of speakers who will be able to offer an insight into the companies leading this revolution."
The conference will start with a presentation on the findings from the Greater Birmingham Digital Audit, followed by Nick Williams, director of consumer digital at Lloyds Banking Group, looking at the digital maturity of the city.
Other speakers will include Chi Onwurah MP – the former head of telecoms technology at Ofcom - taking a parliamentary perspective on the digital economy, Microsoft strategist and architect Ha Cole, looking at the digital tools available to SMEs, Google UK's industry head of retail Pete Danks and Aaron Lennon and Eanna Kenny, from LinkedIn, on using social media for selling and networking.
There will also be a panel discussion hosted by Birmingham Post editor Stacey Barnfield that will include Ms Cole and Ms Onwurah as well as Dr Phillip Extance, from Aston University, and Coun Trickett.