Anyone who doubts the impact which digital technology is having on our lives, and on the UK as a whole need only read a recent article on City A.M.  by Matthew Hancock, the Minister of State for digital. Commenting that the UK has become the undisputed European hub for digital technology, Matthew Hancock revealed that London alone received £5.6 billion in tech investment in the last six months.
Perhaps that’s not so surprising given that London has more people working fintech than in any other city. What is noteworthy is that the benefits from this have spread across the entire country with more than two thirds of UK tech investment taking place outside London. And with increasing investment in technology comes the need for working in ancillary fields, hence the statistic that the UK’s cyber security workforce has increased by 160% since 2011.
But tech for tech’s sake is of little use unless digital developments are targeted at delivering real solutions. Matthew Hancock makes this point in the opening paragraphs of his article when he comments that:
“In every era, when a big new technology is invented we are challenged to think fresh about how to make it work for us, in a way that improves the quality of people’s lives.”
It’s a warning not only to those who are immediately involved in developing digital technology, but also to the leadership of organisations across the board. Using technology to deliver some brightly coloured screen or fantastic back-office system may sound great but is it really going to make a positive difference to those who have to work with it on a daily basis.
In our time as consultants we have seen all too often the perils which can befall organisations which put technology ahead of people. For example, the back-office software which will save HR x hours per month is of little use if it requires every individual within the organisation to spend time they haven’t got in filing personal data in a complex and convoluted system.
That’s why in our book Building a Culture of Innovation we take care to stress the difference between invention and innovation with invention introducing something new or different; whilst innovation looks to do so in order to solve a genuine problem, add real value to the customer and drive growth for the creator.
The UK is leading the way in digital technology but that’s not enough unless we put the people factor at the heart of every process and every development. Customers, investors, employees and those in the wider infrastructure deserve to have technology at their fingertips which makes a real and positive difference to them. Creating a strong organisational culture which puts people first in the technology decision process may require a different approach but it is one which will pay dividends in the long term.