Biztech Breakfast: ‘Data is worth more than oil’

(L-R) Brown, Houghton, Richley, Lyle

Technology and successful businesses are inseparable, data is worth more than oil, but SMEs are trying to do too much with their social media engagement – they were the takeaway messages from’s recent Business Technology breakfast event.

Johnny Lyle, a social media engagement specialist who has set up a new business called Ukandoo, said: “Small businesses get carried away with their social media. Too many of them are trying to have a go at every single channel – and they’re getting their message wrong.”

Deryck Houghton, partner at Freeths, echoed this. He said: “I see many companies who aren’t at the cutting egde of technology desperately trying to engage with their suppliers without realising they’re going about it in completely the wrong way.”

Andy Richley, marketing manager at Khaos Control bemoaned the lack of fast-growing tech businesses in the East Midlands, but highlighted a more traditional business who had embraced technology.

He said: “Auctioneers John Pye & Sons really set themselves apart a few years ago when they embraced technology and started marketing their lots to thousands of people, instead of a few hundred. Often we see companies who are operating in more traditional sectors are the ones pushing the boundaries.”

Houghton said that one area where business owners are up to speed is in the use of big data. He said: “There is an awareness that data is now an asset, however, UK business owners are still years behind their counterparts in the US.”

Houghton went on to speak about the new GDPR legislation, saying although business owners need to be aware of it, it’s “not the next Millennium Bug”.

Richley’s advice on GDPR is that business owners should “do something quickly” with the data they have. “You’ve got eleven months,” he said, “and nothing had been finalised yet.”

Meanwhile, Tony Brown, chief executive of Cloudworks, thought that “Data is worth more than oil.”

Turning to the future, the four panelists were asked to name the next biggest tech innovations to affect businesses.

Brown said driverless cars could revolutionise the workforce. “Motorway trials have been announced from 2019, and while driverless cars could affect jobs, it will completely change the way most people get to work and when.”

Richely thought the use of collaborative tools such as Slack would become more widespread, while Lyle said that Artificial Intelligence will revolutionise the advertising industry.

Houghton, meanwhile, focused on the legal sector, saying: “I think we’ll see new ways of delivering legal services – indeed, were seeing that now. The importance and lifespan of people like me is going to be of less and less importance. Law firms need to embrace tech as much as any others.”