It’s hard to escape the fact that technology and innovation are huge areas of focus in Britain’s current business strategy. From Boris Johnson’s recent launch of London Technology Week, aimed at championing the city’s burgeoning digital district, to the huge plethora of schemes targeted around promoting coding and stimulating investment in tech start-ups, it’s fair to say Britain has caught on to the huge value of its tech community.
Politicians and the public alike have cottoned on to what’s happening in Shoreditch and Silicon Roundabout and inevitably there’s a huge excitement about the enterprises growing there. Potentially revolutionary innovations are flooding into the business community all the time; blink and you could easily miss the birth of the next big sensation to hit the market. This means all eyes are on east London as people wait with bated breath for the next big thing.
However, for those operating outside the tech sector, it can seem a somewhat alien and impenetrable world and, for this reason, it’s tempting to try and play it safe with the innovations you embrace. Many companies are happy to dip a toe into the pool of available enterprise solutions, having a bit of a dabble with the Basecamps and the Dropboxes, whilst thoroughly ignoring everything outside it. But, unfortunately, that’s no longer enough. Upgrading to a more 21st century alternative to Office isn’t, by itself, going to put your business significantly further ahead.
Growing a business has always required an ability to adapt to and capitalise on current trends but this has intensified hugely in recent years. What might have been a safe model yesterday is today’s crumbling market. Build an android app that monetises by harvesting big data and someone brings out a privacy tool that spams out false info. Your publication may have just nailed using social media to source stories but then The Telegraph announces it is committing to using drones. Disruption isn’t the exception anymore: it’s the norm.
But, far from being a threat to your business, the rapid iteration of innovation coming from Britain’s tech space provides huge opportunities. New ways to entirely reframe your service are constantly emerging; even a fairly change-resistant sector such as high street retail can benefit hugely by embracing new developments in areas like augmented reality or near field communication (NFC). Longer term, gadgets like wearables and gesture control devices have the potential to irrevocably change the way we interact with everyday environments; again, this will be something you can guarantee the next generation of innovative businesses will be embracing.
If you’re not necessarily that way inclined, it’s not all that easy to keep your finger on the pulse of the innovative tech market but there are certainly places businesses can turn. Keep an eye on the headlines: publications like Wired and TechCrunch are required reading for any entrepreneur hungry to stay on top of tech trends. Make sure you attend events and talk to fast-growing start-ups and established players – the trends they’re discussing are potential opportunities to turn your sector upside-down. And if you can get out to growth accelerators, co-working spaces and enterprise networking events, so much the better.
However, if you take a few simple steps, the world of tech is very much your oyster.