Background Image

London Tech Week ‘23: Were the tectonic plates of technology turning?

Hotwire Global

By Jessica Juckes, Ashley Dennee, Georgia Rhodes-Bell, Sophie Fresco, Maria Hergenhan

Last week Hotwire was on the ground at London Tech Week 2023.

We witnessed a packed Queen Elizabeth II Centre with big industry players in attendance – brimming with enthusiasm and ideas around innovation and growth. This industry event was back with a bang, with Rishi Sunak opening Monday’s proceedings with an optimistic tone, talking about the “moment of huge opportunity” that is opening up for London and the UK’s tech scene.

Deepmind’s CEO, Demis Hassabis, Baroness Martha Lane Fox and Kier Starmer are just a few of the names that followed with a succession of inspiring and engaging fire-side sessions and talks.

Amongst this plethora of thought leaders and talent, our team saw five key themes stand out and grab their attention during the three days of idea sharing.

We’ve captured them below for you…

  • AI: Media’s cautionary narrative may not reflect tech industry’s true attitude:
    • It will come as no surprise that AI dominated a lot of the discussion at London Tech Week. AI is in the midst of a media snowstorm, but is the cautionary narrative really reflective of the tech industry’s attitudes as a whole? One speaker asked the room whether or not people felt genuinely concerned about the direction of AI and few raised their hand. Whilst asking a room of tech enthusiasts may be slightly biased, it does show that the concerns around AI may be being exacerbated somewhat by the media. As several pointed out, AI is by no means new; we’re just seeing the interface changing.
    • It was also refreshing to see speakers take a balanced perspective on AI, recognising both the opportunities and risks that businesses need to consider as well as practical ways to address challenges and concerns such as safety, misinformation and job security. It’s clear that industries want to protect the ‘human in the loop’ and see this as a core pillar for ensuring that the potential of AI is maximised.
  • Tech remains a force for good:
    • Concerns around AI did not drive all discussions at London Tech Week! How technology is being used as a force for good was a thread woven throughout the entire event. From biomarkers being used to detect health conditions to innovations helping build a more sustainable transport infrastructure, we’re seeing a monumental shift to ESG-driven tech. What became apparent is that the responsible use of tech is not a conversation reserved just for regulators and policy makers. Businesses should not shy away from this topic; those that show encouragement and actively contribute towards this movement will not only earn the trust of their stakeholders, but will be positioning themselves at the forefront of this new era of technology. 
  • Payments: Data has a role on personalisation and humanisation
    • One key takeaway in the fintech space from this year’s London Tech Week was the role that data has on personalisation and humanisation. In one discussion, Discover’s CIO Amir Arooni referenced the role that data and analytics will play in supporting customers the moment they need it. This “proactively reactive” service is becoming more commonplace as people turn to digital and mobile banking solutions for their everyday financial management.
    • What this means for fintech as a whole is the need to take KYC models to a new levels. It’s not enough to onboard your customers; in today’s world, human-led business is everything. Fintechs need to maintain this mindset throughout the full customer lifecycle to ensure personalised and appropriate products and services.
  • Metaverse / Web3: Gaming is going to eat up everything
    • Another key takeaway was the evolving role and understanding of the Metaverse. A major driver of innovation in the space is the gaming industry. It has been a trendsetter for immersive experiences for years, but gaming mechanics are increasingly used to create better experiences – be it closing rings on the Apple Watch or practicing surgical scenarios in a VR setting. Gamification offers a sense of overcoming obstacles that’s inherently engaging.
    • For businesses, this highlights the need to consider gamification as a way to enhance engagement in non-gaming contexts. Collaborative digital can facilitate better remote collaboration and embracing real-time graphics can bring practical benefits in fields like training. Businesses should also explore opportunities in Web3 and peripheral services that support games to stay relevant in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
  • The UK has a long term vision for innovation & growth:
    • A hot topic at this year’s London Tech Week was innovation and growth. The UK has one of the greatest innovation heritages compared to the rest of the world but London Tech Week highlighted the UK Government’s Innovation Strategy which focuses on a long-term vision and ambition to make the UK a global hub for innovation, all by 2023.
    • Increasing innovation in the UK will lead to growth, but how? By enhancing productivity across the economy, and in turn bringing jobs and growth to businesses across England. Businesses, if they don’t already, will start to see the UK as producing world-leading technologies and a key hub to for headquarters, bringing in more VC’s and companies from different backgrounds.

To condense three days of talks into one cohesive outcome is never an easy feat! But we hope the above shines a light on some of the key takeaways we saw from the ground.

What did you take away from the event? If you agree/disagree with any of the above – reach out. We’d love to have a conversation and hear how trends in the tech space are affecting your business right now. Until then, watch this space for a further deep-dive on some of predictions we have for the future of the UK tech industry, as well as the role AI has to play with economic growth and innovation.