Mortimer Spinks has 29 years’ experience sourcing tech talent for tech led organisations in the UK. Our role, as recruitment partners, requires us to keep our finger on the pulse of the tech industry at all times. Our success is based on our ability to understand not only the cutting edge technologies our clients are looking to engage but also the people behind the tech — and their aspirations. What differentiates us is our ability to innovate, moving at the same pace of the tech industry while providing real solutions to real challenges for our customers — our Clients and Candidates alike.
Understanding the tech industry requires constant engagement with our networks. We do this by providing practical advice, research, trend analysis and the opportunity to learn and make meaningful connections with like-minded individuals or peers. This year we partnered with ComputerWeekly.com (for the 7th year running) to look at the Future of Technology in London and to understand more about what drivers tech businesses need to focus on to accelerate growth. I have written this review to share the secrets behind how tech businesses are accelerating growth in 2018 and celebrating London as a crucial location and central to supercharging a business.
In 2018’s Spring statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond stated that Britain is “attracting skills and capital from the four corners of the Earth”, going on to explain that tech businesses in the UK are born at the rate of one per hour. Research shows the UK has received twice the amount of new funding in 2017 than we did the year before, an impressive £2.99bn, with London being responsible for the lion’s share, attracting £2.45bn (82% of VC tech funding received across the UK)
London’s tech scene has boomed, despite both the uncertainty of Brexit and the war for talent we continue, as a city, to lead the way in attracting tech investment in Europe. Last year we received nearly 4 times more investment than Germany, and more funding than France, Sweden and Ireland combined. London is also dominating as an entrepreneurs’ haven, having seen an increase of 76% in the birth of tech start-ups born in London in 2017.
London’s booming tech scene provides a huge amount of exciting opportunities. However, with opportunity comes competition and a sense of urgency when it comes to moving, scaling and growing quicker than your competitors. Listed companies that outperform their competitors share a number of similar traits with each other. Within this review we refer to these traits as accelerators for growth.
Accelerator #1 — People & Culture
Your people are your greatest asset
To shape and grow your business, attracting, engaging and retaining talent should be seen as an ever evolving journey and not a one stop destination — there isn’t a quick fix strategy for all. There needs to be a genuine understanding throughout a business that your people are your greatest asset. Paying people and asking them to work hard in order to make someone else money isn’t enough to attract and retain talent and skills. People want to consistently feel valued, want to contribute meaningfully and want to be compensated for their time fairly.
Your people not only contribute to the financial success of your business but they are also the biggest advocates of your brand. Their experiences carry a lot of weight when external talent and customers are forming an impression of who you are and deciding if they want to work for or buy from you.
We live in a world where decisions are made based on research, data and referral. For example, you are more likely to buy a car seat if said car seat had X number of positive reviews from other parents. Likewise, if you look at a person’s decision making process with regards to job searching, one of the steps will very likely be peer to peer review. Your “people” are the best advocates for your brand. It seems logical that a business would invest in their people and culture; to not only attract future talent but to retain the talent, skills and knowledge of those already embedded in the business. Making this investment in your people would naturally lead to securing your spot as a superior brand to your competitors.
Define your culture
Start with your people. It can be argued that we need to consider the people already working within a business, before developing an efficient attraction strategy that works consistently. Great cultures are open, honest and transparent; where people share the same values and are all working towards common goals. Dedicating time and resources to understand why people work for a business, what they love or don’t love, is crucial to improving workplace culture. If your employees don’t like you then why would future employees join you, and more importantly why would anyone stay?
Articulate your purpose & values
This may seem obvious but success can mean different things to different people. People spend more time at work than with their own families. I can say hand on heart I wouldn’t work for Mortimer Spinks if I did not feel like I was adding value or contributing to overall purpose of why the business exists. 7 years’ of research Mortimer Spinks has conducted with Computerweekly.com coupled with my own first-hand experience as a recruiter tells me I am not alone in the need to add value or justify sacrificing my time in order to contribute to a “greater good”.
If you can articulate your purpose clearly while aligning values and expectations as to what success looks like with the people in your business, then in all likelihood your culture will be one that your people will praise.
It’s been said that diversity is like being invited to party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one’s watching. Creating a sense of belonging is critical to retaining your people, their talent and their skills. Research shows a consistently productive working environment is one where people can bring their best true selves to work and feel engaged, therefore operating at their most optimum level. Whilst it’s important for individuals to feel connected to purpose and values, they also need to feel connected to others in their workplace to feel like they truly belong.
In order to create a sense of belonging it is paramount to recognise individual achievements, align company values with personal values, care about employee professional development, give your people opportunities to solve real problems, provide time to innovate, have a meaningful contribution as well as investing in inclusion initiatives.
Once you’ve articulated your purpose, defined your culture and engaged your workforce you then need to consider the journey a new starter has and their experience with you and your people. Research shows that 1 in 3 people consider leaving their new roles in the first 6 months. Employees that are onboarded effectively are productive quicker, feel like they belong quicker, and feed into the overall purpose of the business quicker. This naturally has a positive impact on bottom line results.
You won’t retain everyone — people move on from great jobs and businesses all the time. But how do you say goodbye to them? Your current employees are important to your brand and growth potential, future talent will also be important to accelerating growth but equally important are the people that leave. The hard work of engaging your people and creating an awesome culture will all be wasted if care isn’t taken over their “off-boarding” or exiting process. These ex-employees are part of a virtual group that are essential to employer branding — they are still part of your “family” and effectively form an exclusive “alumni” who will continue to wave your flag long after they leave, if they are disengaged effectively and still have some ties to the business after they have moved on.
Accelerator #2 — Customer
When you look at top performers in the tech industry, it is evident very quickly that those outperforming their competitors are both loved and needed by their customers. Being loved is about how your customers feel when they have experiences with your products, services and people. Being needed is about whether you are genuinely solving a problem for them.
It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain those already engaged with your brand, so it feels like it would make sense to talk to those current customers, the ones already part of your extended family, to understand what it is that makes them want to interact with you. Mapping out your customer’s journey and defining their profiles is key to understanding not only who your customers are and how to sell to them, but, more importantly, what to sell to them.
As with employee engagement, customer engagement is an ever turning wheel that needs a consistent and equal amount of focus throughout a business’ life-cycle. It will always be important to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers feel, need and want. Studies show 9/10 customers will walk away from a brand they’ve been loyal to for a long time, if they get a better experience elsewhere. Research shows that Customers will also pay more for a better experience
Essentially, communicating with your customers and listening to their needs is key to accelerating growth. We live in a fast paced city where our connectivity (both physical and digital) outpaces those in other European cities. We have a competitive edge due to our ability to reach our customers via a multitude of channels at any time. To add to this, in June 2018, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched Smarter London Together, which is his road map to make London the smartest city in the world.
After defining who your customers are, look at how and when they interact with your brand and identify which channels they use. Make sure your accessibility and brand message is consistent across each of those channels. Keep the conversations rolling.
Keeping everyone happy
We are not infallible. It’s impossible to keep everyone happy. When a person pays for a service or product and it does not meet expectations their next step is to go down one of two ways.
ONE — complain directly/indirectly.
For the business — this is an opportunity to identify issues and fix problems, or change your process or product, if you can, to meet or ideally exceed expectations. Feeling “heard” makes customers more loyal in the long run.
TWO — the more damaging path
The customer leaves your brand for a competitor and they don’t tell you. Having a strategy in place that asks all customers how you are doing is important to capture crucial feedback that will improve your product/services, and is also imperative in reducing churn.
Accelerator #3 — Digital, Tech and Analytics
Technology is an enabler. It empowers us to do more, be quicker, reach further and increase efficiency and effectiveness. This applies to us personally but also transcends into our work lives. From our perspective, we champion the use of technologies that could, to others, be seen as a threat. We use these relevant advancements in tech to enhance the service we offer, which in turn benefits our customers from having access to the best RecTech without any of the extra costs.
Whether your business purpose is to provide a product or service, whether you are a B2B, B2C or P2P, your growth strategy should include a focus on incorporating the best technologies and a foundation of strong data analysis capabilities. This will ensure you stay ahead of the competition.
Eat, Sleep, Evaluate, Repeat
We live in an age where, as consumers, we base our “buying decisions” on factual data, minimising the risk of wasting our money and time on a service or product that doesn’t do what we want. Dedicating time and resources to analysing and evaluating performance of your people, products and the effectiveness of every aspect of your business will support you in validating the decisions you make, helping to identify which area to apply focus day to day/ quarter to quarter/ year to year. In addition, gathering, analysing and evaluating your data will support the introduction of AI to make your business more efficient
Accelerator #4 — Emerging Tech
Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain
Two clear winners for CEOs in 2018, when considering emerging technologies to enhance growth are AI and Blockchain.
Without a doubt Artificial Intelligence and machine learning is a key area for investment for business owners in the next five years. Although there is still much debate around what the definition of AI actually is, for now, it is seen as another way to describe automation and Machine learning. There is anticipation that the higher the adoption of AI, the closer we will be to seeing true AI, where machines can think like human beings… if that is in fact possible. Currently, AI is used for automating processes to make them quicker and more efficient, removing numerous steps and human interaction therefore minimising risk. AI start-ups are being snapped up left right and centre by the Tech giants of the world who have joined the race to integrate AI into their products (115 AI start-ups acquired in 2017 alone, with the likes of Google, apple, Facebook, Amazon acquiring more this year)
Blockchain has been tipped to grow annually by 61.5% until 2021, as the need for transparency, simplified processes and efficiency grows, so does the investment in experimenting with blockchain technologies. Whilst many business owners feel like blockchain is a solution to future problems and represents huge opportunity to grow, there is a reluctance to invest heavily without case studies or proof of concepts, to show how it could work or what the potential risk is. Either way the general consensus is that experimentation of blockchain technologies will give you an advantage and put you in same league as other top performers in your industry.
Accelerator #5 — Buy, Partner, Merge
Another key differentiator for market leaders is their alliances and acquisition strategy. Motivations for buying, partnering or merging can include many things. Typically ranging from wanting a global presence, acquiring a business with local market knowledge and an existing customer base, to acquiring businesses with the technology or talent you need to scale. No matter the motivation, what remains clear is incorporating this accelerator into your growth strategy is key to ensure you are leading.
Exponential growth requires a consistent application of focus across many accelerators. Market leaders apply this focus in a fluid manner shifting concentration from one accelerator to the other in response to internal and external factors as needed.
In addition the City of London’s own ambition coupled with the number of tech entrepreueners and fast growing tech businesses demonstrates, without a doubt, that London is not only open for business and thriving but we are leading!
To hear about our events and receive insights/content relating to technology then please email us here.
Mortimer Spinks — Future Tech London Survey, Client Research
Pitchbook database — downloaded 2/1/2018
Companies House data
London Business School (LBS) Professor of Organisational Behaviour Daniel M. Cable
Workplacetrends research on retention globally (2015) / Harvey Nash
PWC 2018 Experience is everything research
CBINSIGHTS — The Race for AI
IDC — Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide
Research and Markets report on AI