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#FutureTechLondon 2018: What We Learned

Events, Technology, Talent Retention...

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Running a successful event is no easy feat. It takes months of planning, countless meetings and tons of research, but it’s all worthwhile when it comes together to deliver a truly inspiring and insightful experience for those attending. And this year’s #FutureTechLondon event definitely lived up to expectations.

Those who joined us at the Mayfair Hotel on the 21st June were blown away by our killer line up of speakers and the wealth of experience and knowledge they shared on growing a successful tech company.

For those who couldn’t make it, this blog provides a snapshot of the evening and the topics discussed.

See what our attendees had to say

1.     We Must Encourage Our Kids to Engage with Tech

Keynote speaker and co-founder of Tech Will Save Us, Bethany Koby commenced her presentation showing slides of kids with their heads stuck in their tablets and smartphones, oblivious to the world around them. It’s an all too familiar image for most parents.

The problem she highlighted is not with technology, but our relationship with it. For most, it’s too passive, revolving around consumption. Her message was clear: As parents, we need to encourage our kids to actively engage with technology if they are to foster a positive relationship with it.

Citing research from Mitchel Resnick and Jean Piaget, Koby explained the developmental stages of children and the importance of making tech a fun learning experience, that nurtures their imagination and inventiveness. From Scratch to Micro:Bit, she revealed a growing market for tech products that empower kids and get them thinking, reminding us at the end that creativity goes hand-in-hand with technology and that we must cultivate an environment that promotes it.

2.     Businesses Must Promote their Purpose

Much of the panel discussion focused on a very real problem for tech employers – attracting and retaining talent. An issue made all the harder for start-ups by large multinationals hiking up the cost of acquisition. Indeed a Mortimer Spinks survey showed salary (60%) was the primary means of attracting and retaining talent among tech companies.

To counter this, Natalie Langley, Fast Growth Tax Leader at Ernst & Young, explains start-ups must become masters at expressing their purpose to draw-in tech professionals who believe in and share the company’s vision. She states, “Recently we have seen a rise in start-ups articulating why they do what they do to attract, engage and retain their workforce.”

Expanding on Langley’s point, Daniel Hulme, CEO of Satalia, recommends business owners emphasise how sexy and interesting their problems are. Technologists like a challenge and to see the impact they make. Entice them with intriguing business conundrums.

3.     Grow at Your Own Pace

Investment has the power to catalyse a company’s growth, but Hulme counsels it should be approached with great caution: “Today, there’s too much pressure on businesses to grow, grow, grow. It’s more important to grow a sustainable business”.

It’s a notion seconded by Harry Davies, Head of Investment at Wayra, suggesting many companies have been killed hunting V.C. investment. He continues to explain that “the best companies out there haven’t been built on V.C., but on great products by amazing people. Being obsessed with customer experience and adding value is fundamental.”

The advice from the panel is that should you choose to go down the investment route, don’t just chase the cash. Find someone who is genuinely invested in your company, who will work with you to achieve its vision.

4.     Connect with Real People

Research conducted by Mortimer Spinks showed that social media (79%) is the most popular channel used by tech companies to communicate with their customers. Langley points out that this generation of consumers has grown up with social media and so expect to use it to engage with brands whenever and wherever they want.

However, despite the many benefits it offers Sophie Krishnan, General Manager, UK Consumer at Trainline, reminds us that there’s nothing quite like face-to-face time with customers.

In an age of Big Data, automation and AI, it’s very easy to lose touch with the human side of customer relations. Meeting and talking with them makes them real for the people working in your company.

Krishnan explains, “At Trainline we regularly bring in panels of customers – actual physical customers – and invite all members of the company to come and ask them questions. It’s not always that you’ll learn something you haven’t already thought. What it does is make things very real, very concrete and very personal for everyone inside the business.”

5.     Age is not a Barrier

If there was an award for Most Inspirational Person of the Night it would go to our guest speaker, 15 year old Kari Lawler. Having completed her GCSEs aged just 13, Kari left school to pursue her passion for AI. She now runs a successful consulting practice, working with industry leaders across cyber security, education, finance, health, media and transport.

As if that wasn’t enough, she is also in the process of setting up an AI Youth Programme, called Youth4AI. Youth4AI’s sole aim is to encourage more 13-25 year olds to explore and understand the world of AI.

We’d like to thank everyone who made it such a fantastic evening. We are passionate about technology and driving conversations that support and empower the tech community.

If you are interested in hearing about future Mortimer Spinks events, or to receive related content please register here. 

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