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    Talking Points from Kickstart Europe 2024

    It’s been a head-spinning few years for the data centre and digital infrastructure sector.

    As someone who recruits in the data centre space, it’s clear that the sector is undergoing some exciting changes, and the breakneck pace of development isn’t likely to slow down any time soon.

    I attended this year’s Kickstart Europe keen to find out how businesses in the sector have found the last few years and what industry insiders think is on the horizon, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It’s an interesting time for the industry, and everywhere you looked there were some fascinating discussions taking place on a whole range of topics.

    Here are my main takeaways from the conference.


    Data centres are at the heart of everything we do.

    It’s easy to forget just how crucial data centres have become in the modern world, and how foundational they will be in the future. Eye-catching developments such as the astonishing advance of AI have dominated conversations about data and data centres lately, but it’s important to remember that data centres are already involved in almost everything we do.

    From the banking and online transactions that power our economies, through streaming services and social media platforms, to your healthcare and the infrastructure that keeps our cities running smoothy, data centres are everywhere you look. Their role will become even more central in the coming years.

    The world is digitalising at an ever-faster rate, and as more of the global population moves online, demand for the services data centres help to provide is only going to increase. Cloud computing, big data analytics and machine learning are all rapidly becoming standard tools in a variety of settings, and AI has only just begun its journey towards becoming a ubiquitous tool of modern life.

    Without data centres, none of this would be possible, and the sector is likely to spearhead many of the exciting developments we see over the next few decades.


    Power consumption.

    However, there’s no doubt that the rapidly increasing demand for data centres is already putting strain on existing resources and infrastructure.

    By 2030, data centres could account for 30% of all electricity consumption in Ireland, and 15% in Denmark. In the USA, data centre power consumption is expected to reach more than double its 2022 levels in 2030. Existing power grids are already struggling to keep pace with the increase in demand, so substantial investment in expanding existing power distribution infrastructure will be needed.

    This also shows the importance of finding convincing sustainable solutions to power generation. As the fight against climate change reaches a critical stage, legislatures will place more and more pressure on data centre providers to prove their environmental credentials. Legacy data centres, for example, will need to be upgraded, and new data centres will need to find innovative ways to ensure they are sourcing power sustainably, and using that power efficiently.

    A major message from the conference was that while data centre operators have undoubtedly been making great strides when it comes to finding efficient ways to power data centres, their challenge will be to ensure that the progress they have been making keeps pace with demand.


    Data centres have a PR problem.

    Despite these challenges, the sector is finding innovative methods of sourcing power, and is improving its sustainability credentials fast. Unfortunately, an issue that was raised again and again during the conference is that the sector doesn’t always get the credit it deserves for its successes.

    In recent times data centres have been the victim of a wave of bad PR, partly driven by anxieties about climate change and the pandora’s box about to be unleashed by AI. The industry has traditionally preferred to focus on working behind the scenes, while keeping a low profile in any public controversies about their sites. As a result, you’re much more likely to see headlines bemoaning the energy-intensiveness of data centres than their capacity to drive global growth and become crucial contributors to the world’s efforts to reduce carbon consumption.

    But in fact, the sector has plenty to shout about. The importance of data centres over the next few decades means that they are set to have a considerable influence on every aspect of 21st life and make a critical contribution to the world’s attempts to tackle global warming. Rather than being a focus for wider anxieties such as climate change and the influence of AI, the sector should be making sure it takes the credit for the success stories it has made possible.


    Skills for the future.

    One thing is clear: data centres are facing a challenging and exciting future, and securing skilled personnel will be critical to their success. That said, it is my belief that many firms are failing to take full advantage of the talent currently available to them.

    Experts with highly relevant transferable skills in adjacent industries often aren’t given opportunities due to a lack of data centre experience. However, the explosive growth in demand means that firms will now need to pay serious attention to these workers. Those who are best able to find ways to bring them into the fold while keeping standards high will have a critical advantage in the war for talent.

     As a recruiter in the data centre space who also works across the whole spectrum of construction and mission-critical roles, I have been uniquely placed to see how talented workers in adjacent industries can benefit data centre teams. If you’d like to find out more about this, or you’re interested in discussing how I can help you build your next great team, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


    Simon Perdoni.

    simon.perdoni@aylinwhite.com  |  +44 (0) 7921 561 790