In London virtually every traditional industry is being affected by the digital revolution. This year we are seeing tech startups and scaleups moving closer towards the sectors London has traditionally been famous for – such as finance, fashion, retail and advertising – and driving radical change through innovation and disruption. In this way, technology is truly becoming mainstream.
Last night, serial investor Sherry Coutu held a conversation with legendary American entrepreneur Reid Hoffman. Having the co-founder of LinkedIn and one of the most recognisable faces from Silicon Valley in the UK for London Technology Week was testament to the growing reputation of both the week itself and London as a global digital destination.
What was interesting about the discussion was the focus on the disruptive impact of technology on established industries. LinkedIn began as a networking tool for professionals, but has quickly become one of the world’s most popular and lucrative marketing channels. It is a perfect example of a single digital idea transforming an entire industry.
One of the objectives of London Technology Week is to celebrate the emerging ‘verticals’ or ‘clusters’ within the technology sector in London. The diversity of the capital’s digital community shines through the week’s schedule, with events encompassing cyber security, education, ecommerce and manufacturing. Right before the week kicked off, I chaired a FashionTech panel at the Ethical Fashion Forum.
The reason for this breadth is largely down to the capital’s growing talent and diverse population. London has become a city primed and ready for the next big thing in digital. The numbers speak for themselves: for example, 87 % of teens say their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night2. It is predicted that digital media consumption on mobile devices will rise by 30% this year.
Tech London Advocates is showcasing this ‘breadth in tech’ through the launch of four new TLA working groups during London Technology Week: RetailTech, TLA Cyber, Games and CreativeTech. Discussions are underway with Advocates to launch a ‘GreenTech’/’CleanTech’ group.
Creativity underlines many of the fundamental business functions – whether its branding, advertising, product development or design.
There are countless examples of where creativity has been amplified and enabled by tech. For example the ‘mad tech’ (marketing & advertising) sector continues to grow at an exponential rate, with companies like Unruly, powered by its proprietary programmatic ad technology and unique social data set, leading the way…and generating excellent revenue growth, too!
Unruly now works with 84% of Ad Age 100 brands to predict video shareability and to distribute video content to 1.27 billion users across the globe. It also provides social ROI, a cloud-based dashboard providing real-time competitive benchmarks and driving new standards within the industry.
The TLA CreativeTech working group, led by Kay Hutchison from Creative Skillset and Belle Media, has attracted great interest from the traditional advertising and marketing industries, being launched alongside the Institute for Practitioners for Advertising (IPA) at The Trampery on Monday. This represents another shift I have witnessed at events throughout London Technology Week: a marked change and openness in the attitude of legacy business sectors towards technology.
No longer are digital entrepreneurs perceived as a threat, but as the energising force for improvement, efficiency and, of course, innovation. One measure of this is to look at the sponsors and hosts of the various London Technology Week events: many are major, established businesses looking to engage with the digital sector and benefit from its vast potential.