Innovation and collaboration strong in the tech sector
Successful innovation and collaboration is at the heart of the technology sector as customers increasingly search for “personalisation” in products, according to a group of senior leaders from a variety of growing tech firms in the city.
Speaking at TheBusinessDesk.com’s technology roundtable sponsored by Garbutt + Elliott and Progeny Law, the leaders discussed innovation at length; all agreeing that it is propelling the Leeds technology scene in a range of ways.
Charlotte Bailey, operations director at Panintelligence, suggested the innovation focus should be on the customer. “I think the customer experience is changing. People used to want it to be quite prescriptive and transactional in nature, where now we are moving to a self-service model where expectations are higher,” she said.
“Customisation and personalisation, even in the apps industry, has become so imperative when there is talk about customer interaction. If you have a diverse customer base then what is right for one is probably not right for another. Personalisation cannot be lost. Customers want to feel valued.”
Sarah Tulip, director of operations at Software Cloud, noted one development that was helping to shape Leeds tech in a new way and would ensure that surrounding firms would have to always be ahead of the
market in terms of innovation. Tulip said: “Channel 4 coming into Leeds has changed the profile of the place. People are starting to look at Leeds slightly differently from what they did a few years ago. It is being taken more seriously on a wider platform.”
Tulip added that regional technology expertise was now all pervading. “There aren’t any sectors that are not involved with digital technology. Whatever sector you are in, someone is innovating at the moment. If it is not your firm – you are falling behind.”
David Brennan, CEO at Nexus Vehicle Rental, highlighted how innovation in technology had made his company a success. “We have to keep looking at the technology and keep upgrading as fast as we can. The algorithm we use is how we make our money and how we stay ahead – and nobody has that algorithm,” he explained.
Brennan added that the firm had a clear strategy to focus on the technology it had developed, rather than searching out brand new technology. He said it was about ensuring that what they offer is always relevant and a market leading product in a space which the firm retains customers by having this approach.
Putting the sector and the region on the global map
James Gupta, founder and CEO of Synap, said the region needed to look outwards to remain innovative. “We need to get Leeds on the map. Looking at big markets – America and China is one part of it. The other is finding key areas to build a competitive advantage in Leeds. You have the numerous NHS operations here, so healthcare is one such area.”
Charlotte Bailey’s company, Panintelligence, has gone some way into making the global outlook reality with the group becoming incorporated into Boston in the US; and that is a market the firm has firm plans on growing further within. Therefore, allowing innovation from Leeds to be exported.
Paul Hallett, co-founder of Vet-AI, added that he felt there was a threat from London. He said: “More companies need to stay and grow [in Leeds]
“But if you are getting all the investment in from London, a lot of caveats with these investors is
‘you need to come to London’.’”
But Rob Shaw, CEO of Jaywing, said: “People are migrating back. We make a big thing of it as an employer. We are
pulling talent back out of London. There can be a better work-life balance here. And we need to trumpet that more – because geographically, it
does become one of the points of differentiation.
“We are passionate about being Yorkshire people. That is something that transcends the city. We just need to do a better job about telling people.”
Simon Palmer, a partner at Garbutt + Elliott, said it was important to focus on the exporting and importing opportunities for the technology sector; enabling further grow the sector in the city and beyond.
He said: “We talk about exporting our tech out. But we should be importing as well. We should be looking out more, abroad and in London. We are going out to Estonia to try and bring some more Estonian businesses into Leeds. They see Leeds as a fantastic place to operate from as a start-up.”