The necessity of adapting to one’s surroundings in order to survive is one of the fundamental laws of evolution and has become part of the increasingly agitated language used to discuss climate change. Crucially here, “adapt or die” has also become a mantra for the business community.
Three days into my first week at Redleaf Communications I attended Redleaf’s Technology Sector Day, hosted in the Atals Building in East London’s Silicon Roundabout. The speaker list was as diverse as the companies that call the Old Street roundabout home, ranging from YouGov’s Peter Kellner to Seraphim Space’s Mark Boggett.
But despite the variety of speaker and industry specialities, many of the speakers agreed that businesses across all sectors must adapt rapidly to the ever-changing face of technology, or they will not survive long-term.
Business is booming in Silicon Roundabout
The very existence of hubs such as Silicon Roundabout - and its thriving American predecessor, Silicon Valley - impresses upon us the sway held by the technology industry and the necessity of embracing it.
Silicon Roundabout is now the third largest technology start-up cluster after those in New York and San Francisco. Both Google and Amazon have development operations there and many other major companies are moving in to capitalise on its concentration of talent and creativity.
Businesses adapting to embrace technology
The rapidly advancing technology sector is having a pronounced impact on companies’ business models. This shift was explained in detail by Bill Kassul at Ranger Direct Lending Fund. He spoke of how the Direct Lending marketplace is now supplementing the traditional bank-driven model and firms like Ranger are allowing investors to capture a larger share of yield while simultaneously allowing borrowers easier access to credit at a lower cost.
Two speakers from two very different sectors spoke of how technology was helping their businesses add value and how they were making the most of opportunities brought about as a result of digital innovation.
The first, Peter Kellner, explained how YouGov are using technology to give people the ability to participate in the decisions made by the institutions that serve them. And Market Tech’s Charles Butler explained how digital innovation was helping his company enhance the performance of estate assets and drive incremental income.
Seraphim Space’s Mark Boggett pointed out that we interact with outer space on a daily basis, relying as we do on space-enabled services such as TV broadcasting, internet and sat-nav. With the decreasing cost of personal computing devices and cloud computing platforms, combined with rapidly falling launch costs, the space sector is ripe for disruption and the once distinct sectors of space and technology are on the verge of a natural collaboration.
Patrick Yau from Entertainment One explained how tech is impacting the way we watch and consume film and television around the world. eOne now broadcasts from digital platforms in line with the changing consumption patterns of viewers. Furthermore, the internet has allowed the Group to leverage its reach, building brand awareness in countries they don’t even cover yet.
Adapt or die
The businesses represented at Redleaf’s Sector Day demonstrated that there is truly no limit to how we can use technology to build, improve and grow businesses. But businesses must not delay doing so. The rate of change will not wait for us to catch up and demands that we be ahead of the curve.
IMImobile’s Matt Hooper and Hargreaves’ Guy Feld gave emphasis to this fact in their talks. Both agreed that those companies that don’t adapt to embrace digital innovation will be gone in as little as five years. And as Guy commented, “the rate of change has never been this fast... The very least you have to do is adapt and survive.”