Thoughts: Don’t reinvent the wheel when looking for innovation


Businesses must evaluate the technology they already have rather than looking to new ideas to solve a problem in 2015, according to a panel of technology experts.

Gathered at a round table event held by hosting and cloud firm UKFast, industry leaders warned technology businesses to break the innovation habit of wasting time and money by attempting to solve a problem with new technology when it may already exist.

App development firm Apadmi’s Matt Hunt highlighted the problem. He said: ‘We see that people are looking too far ahead into the future to new technology. We’ve been building communication platforms for a hospital based on SMS in private mobile network. This technology has been around for ages, people have questioned it but it solves their particular problem.

‘We need to work out what we’ve already got in the toolbox. It’s the Lego approach; we have this bunch of technology and this problem, how can we take what we’ve got here and reapply it. It’s not just about changing tech, it’s about changing thinking.’

Lawrence Jones MBE, CEO of UKFast agreed, warning of the wasted resource that could be better placed in developing new product lines or solutions to new problems and needs that arise.

Jones said: ‘Don’t be blinded by the prospect of new technology; often you already have the building blocks to solve the solution with what is already available, but we’re all now in the habit of pushing for new, exciting products and solutions.

‘I am passionate about innovation and streamlining businesses, but why reinvent the wheel? If you have the tools and materials to solve a problem, why spend time and money inventing something new that will do the same job?,’ Jones noted.

Moving innovation away from developers and toward marketing was a key theme of the round table discussion. Steve Kuncewicz, head of IP and media at law firm Bermans, suggested that it is not technology itself causing a problem, but instead a barrier of communication surrounding how to best utilise what’s available to businesses and what they themselves offer to others.

He said: ‘This year is about extracting value from what you have got. For example, there’s been data around about how to maximise use of the web for a long time but, actually, presenting it in a way that people can use is a massive step forward and that’s not a tech challenge; it’s a design challenge, it’s a user experience challenge.’

Kuncewicz also argued that the pace and relentless growth of technology is fast approaching saturation point, where consumers will no longer sacrifice their privacy for the new tech to work.

He warned: ‘Just because tech can do something, doesn’t mean that it should? It started with ‘Amazon Recommends’ and Abandoned Basket Marketing; when you are really down the rabbit hole with it, how much are you going to freak people out? We are going to hit the tipping point hard and fast.’

Hosting and co-location firm UKFast holds its round table debates each month at UKFast Campus in Manchester, covering the latest technology trends or challenges facing businesses in the UK.


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