By Marcus Leach
Joanna Shields, the CEO of Tech City, speaking at the Institute of Directors' 2013 Annual Conference, stressed that the velocity of change being brought around in our world by technology is unprecedented, and we should embrace it with open arms.
Shields said that technology is a stand out sector in the UK economy at present and is fuelling a wave of entrepreneurship that will only continue to grow.
There was a time that Silicon Valley was the only place aspiring technology companies wanted to be based. That has all changed with the emergence of Tech City in East London, and now it is recognised the world over as a tech hotbed.
"Tech City is the epicentre of a movement that has swept not just the capital but the whole country," Shields said. "Tech stands out in our economy as a bright spot, and it will fuel a wave of entrepeship over the next five years as the sector grows.
"Technology is transforming business and society in a huge way. We are seeing creative disruption, we are seeing products unlock growth potential, and we are seeing small companies come in and compete with the traditional big firms."
Shields looked at the demise of Kodak as an example of how a small, technology driven company can disrupt the market with huge repercussions. She asked wow could a company such as Kodak fail so spectacularly, especially given they seemed to have total control of the market? But then along came Instagram, founded 18 months before it was sold for a staggering $1 billion, and with just 13 employees, it was moving with the times, unlike Kodak.
"Kodak should have played a prominent role in how this phenomenon [social photo sharing] developed," Shields said. Many institutions are struggling to keep up in the tech world, but the world is changing with a new wave of creative disruption. What got you here to a position as a market leader is not going to be enough to keep you here in the future.
"Whilst information is free and ready available it is what you do with that information and data that counts. It is how this data is used that really matters. This is what leads to new discoveries.
"The lesson here for us all is that to have a cutting edge we need to look at information and data in new ways. There are so many prime examples of how people are already doing this, and their businesses are surging ahead. "
For those companies who are not moving with the times Shields had the following advice.
"Businesses can start by moving away from closed models, promote a model that ensures creativity and collaboration," she said. "Don't be a closed organisation, ideas can come from outside of the company. Become a thought leader in your space, create content that will make others want to listen to you."
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