Accelerating Growth Part 1: Digital business in today’s technological, economic and legislative climate

| 24 Jun, 2015

Last week, in association with the Institute of Directors (IoD) and Avondale, we held the second in the series of 'Accelerating Growth in the Digital Age'; a one day thought leadership conference for senior markers and business directors at the IoD in London.

The day provided ample food for thought for the UK’s digital businesses. In particular, the UK’s appetite for entrepreneurialism and the economical and legislative developments that could affect your digital businesses growth.

How can your business keep up with the current pace of change?

Simon Walker, the IoD Director General opened by illustrating the pace of digital growth by stating that ten years ago Microsoft and Google did not even exist. 

He referenced the Edelman Trustometer Survey findings that 51% of people surveyed think that innovation is going too fast.

Kevin Uphill the Chairman of Avondale, the commercial businesses sales and acquisitions specialists, shared the survey’s sentiment as ‘people now think things are moving too fast to strategise’.

To illustrate the way the internet is transforming commerce Simon Walker also shared the Boston Consulting Group’s findings that next year 1 out of every 8 pounds will be spent online; whereas currently only 1 in every 5 sales is made online. 

Winning operations that breed productivity

Kevin Uphill the Chairman of Avondale followed up by saying the pace of change acting a barrier to strategy needn’t be the case, it should be embedded culturally throughout companies operations.

Kevin said that we are in an era where people are ripping up the employee rulebook. He cited Google as an example, who operate on a model where they encourage of:

10% play, 20% learn, 70% day job

Cultivating a trust culture

Martin Thomas, Seasoned Marketing Consultant and IoD Course Leader shared his training course attendees’ views on operational challenges:

"Digital communications is a destabilising force in a bureaucratic environment. And I am sitting right in the middle of a bureaucratic environment."

Source - Senior corporate communications director

Martin expressed how to overcome these challenges using Nordstrom’s approach to the ‘employee handbook’:

Nordstorms only rule is – use good judgement in all situations.

The point being, culturally people should operate on an understanding of trust with their employees and therefore be effectively reactive and competitive.

The economy and entrepreneurship

James Sproule, the Chief Economist and Director of Policy at the IoD gave three current economic facts in terms of technology and entrepreneurship:

  • There is a premium on agility
  • Businesses will lead politics
  • Technology needs fertile ground to flourish

In comparison to the rest of the world how do we fare on ‘entrepreneurialism’ according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor?

Okay, in comparison to our European counterparts:

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

Hiscox’s survey ‘Does the UK Encourage Entrepreneurs?’ (that surveyed 3,000 owners or partners in businesses with fewer than 50 employees, 500 each in the UK, US, Netherlands (NL), Germany (DE), France (FR), Spain (ES)) found the biggest challenge for the UK was average time spent each week dealing with government regulation.

As the below image depicts, it did however find another challenge, the mismatch between entrepreneurial aspiration and ability within the UK:

Hiscox’s survey ‘Does the UK Encourage Entrepreneurs?’

James poignantly concluded that the impact of technology is overestimated in the short term and underestimated in the long term.

Because change lingers long after the first tech impact and what is currently unsustainable will not be sustained.

James said Europe has tremendous advantages – but questioned whether the UK will choose to use them. Finishing on one of the points he started with – James reiterated, agility is key.

The Digital Single Market strategy – top 3 considerations

Allie Renison, the head of European & trade policy from the IoD shared her main considerations around the European Digital Single Market strategy.

The Digital Single Market strategy is built around three pillars and TechCity have an informative blog on each of these three pillars:

  • Ecommerce: Improving access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe  
  • Infrastructure: Creating the right conditions and a level playing field for digital networks and innovative services  
  • Digital economy growth: Maximising the potential of technological innovation

Allie’s top 3 things to stay up to date on:

  • Geo-blocking and price discrimination– which led to Spotify leaving Europe
  • VAT in the EU is currently taken at the place of supply, i.e. the country the customer is in, and rates vary
  • Online platforms are to be monitored by a central EU-wide body looking at “use of data and to resolve disputes between the operators and the businesses they serve”

Click below to watch a video introducing you to the Digital Single Market for Europe Commission: 16 initiatives to make it happen:


Digital Single Market for Europe Commission: 16 initiatives to make it happen

Or access the full communication from the commission to the European Parliament.

The other initiative of interest is the EU cloud initiative – the EU are trying to rival the US to enable the free flow of data transatlantically.

Allie concluded her legislative run down with:

“What people use to support the tech they use will fuel the economy.”

In part 2 we will put the spotlight on gaining competitive advantage and driving growth using digital marketing.

For the speaker presentations please click here.


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