Lit up by the blue neon lights of a football pitch, Manchester's tech community flocked into the National Football Museum on the 9th December to discuss, debate and learn what this year's Technology Survey had to say.
As I watched the evening unfold, talked to people, listened to the conversations floating around the room, the one thing that really struck me was the excitement. A real palpable excitement for the industries technology was changing and tearing apart. An obvious excitement for the things technology could do. If we are indeed all hackers now, the theme of this years survey, we're hacking apart industries and rejuvenating them with technology.
The panel included:
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- Will Grant, Co-founder, Droplet
- Simon Harrow, CEO, Elevate
- Beth Houghton, investment Director, Palatine Private Equity
- Vince Sparks, IT Director, Stobart Group
Listening to the panel talk, there were three things that really struck a chord with me from the night:
1 - Fail fast and often: Talking about tech start-ups Will Gant affirmed that this was an ideology he lived by and as soon as he said it, it made perfect sense. We're all immersed in the technology world, and that's a world that doesn't have any time or space for slow moving ideas, long processes or drawn-out mistakes. Try everything, and recognise when it doesn't work and move on, fast. The very nature of technology is fast and exciting, we whirl from one new app to the next big thing in a heartbeat. Technology isn't slowing down and it certainly won't slow down long enough to accommodate our mistakes, so recognise it, bin it, and move on.
2 - 'Innovation' is overused and under delivered: The panel, joined by the audience, debated ideas of innovation and which companies are actually using it. Simon Harrow pointed out that actually, not many companies do and this is where they're failing. It goes back to being part of such a fast moving world, we need to innovate or die. Technology isn't waiting around for us, we need to run a race of innovation to keep up with it.
3 - Security and Privacy have one foot in the grave: These two things are always rear their heads when discussions about technology are in flow, yet the response to them is so varied it's almost ludicrous. Beth Houghton made the very good point that those issues are a generation game. While she may always ask about security issues regarding her technology, it's not something a younger generation would even consider. Which begs the question, does anyone care anymore? Are we raising a generation of technologists, that having grown up in an 'always connected' world, just don't entertain ideas of privacy and being secure? It caused quite a debate among the audience as some believed it to be absolutely essential, while others argued that it's no longer top of the agenda. Of course we can't come to a agreement on the matter and only time will crown the winner of that particular debate, but the fact that this is one of the major things we're arguing about, tells me that there is some particularly interesting times ahead for us in this technology vs privacy game.
A huge thank you to everyone who braved the wind and rain to be there and who continue to make Harvey Nash events such a great space for debate, excitement and networking. See you at the next one.
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