Whether it's finance, healthcare, manufacturing, logistics or consumer, technological innovations are constantly delivering new possibilities.
And new technology businesses are continuing to emerge onto the scene in droves and contribute massively to global economies. According to research from Tech City UK, the British digital industry was valued at a staggering £170 billion in 2015, representing a growth rate of 22% over a five-year period. Over the last few years, the amount of tech firms operating in the UK has grown by 28%.
But while growth statistics are a great measure of how the technology industry is rapidly advancing, such success wouldn't be possible without the human talent working at these companies. Here we take a look at the key innovators in tech, shaping our society right now.
Jacob de Geer, CEO of iZettle
Establishing a retail business for the first time is no mean feat. Since 2011, entrepreneur Jacob de Geer has been trying to make setting up new ventures that much easier with his company, iZettle. Based in Stockholm, it's a financial technology company that developed the world's first mini chip card reader and software for mobile devices. Using this technology, companies can quickly take payments, register and track sales, and find funding.
Named as one of Europe's most innovative and fastest-growing companies by The Financial Times, iZettle is currently operating in 12 markets across Europe and Latin America. Under his leadership, an estimated 1,000 small businesses have been signing up to use iZettle’s financial and commercial software daily. He has a background in marketing, having worked at TradeDoubler in the past.
"I founded iZettle to help small businesses succeed in a world of giants. Today, iZettle empowers small businesses in 12 markets across Europe and Latin America with tools to take payments, register and track sales and to get funding," he tells us.
"We know big things start small. A thousand new small businesses sign up to use our services each day and our data shows on average businesses who use iZettle grow by 15% per annum, three times faster than the EU average."
Peter Day, director of engineering at Quantcast
Peter Day, director of engineering at Quantcast, is changing AI insight as we know it. His company is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform the online advertising industry. Operating from an office in London, he manages a team of data scientists and machine learning experts.
He was inspired by his grandmother, a Bletchley Park coder, to immerse himself in the ever-changing world of technology. Day gained a PhD from the University of Liverpool focusing on machine learning, and started his career as an academic. Wanting a more active role in this area, he went on to work in the lucrative financial and advertising industries before settling down at Quantcast. He's supported the likes of Buzzfeed, Nationwide and Microsoft.
Day believes that AI will touch all sectors in the coming years. "Artificial intelligence is set to transform every company, every industry, and every customer interaction. This includes more and more brands using AI to power their digital advertising campaigns, assessing and acting on the billions of data points created by our online behavior that reveal previously hidden clues into our preferences and intent," he says.
“With access to new insights into real-time audience behavior, brands can improve campaigns performance through better targeting and measurement. AI can be deployed to do the heavy lifting and monotonous tasks of campaign targeting that are currently done by people. This will release human brain power to focus on the creative tasks that are beyond machines, driving innovation and growth in the industry."
Kirsty Williams, co-founder of DashHound
Based in Wales, Kirsty Williams is another passionate entrepreneur looking to change the face of technology. She's the co-founder of a startup called DashHound, a social commerce platform powered by machine learning techniques. The service provides beauty enthusiasts with the ability to make efficient purchase decisions. Kirsty knew she wanted to become a technologist when her dad brought home an Internet-connected IBM computer in 1992. She went on to study computer science at university, after leaving an architecture course.
"In 1992 my father brought home our first Internet-connected IBM computer. From that day on, I was hooked. From arts to sciences, technology constituted a realm of possibilities. At just four years old I was exploring the boundaries of the machine. I would even go on to teach my teachers how to use computers," she says.
“Nevertheless, I went on to study architecture at university. There were absolutely no female tech role models that I could look up to and think -- that could be me one day. That was, until the economy collapsed in 08/09 and the construction industry took a massive hit. Wiser and more experienced, I decided to follow my passion. I dropped out of my architecture degree and went on to study computer science.
Williams explains that she's struggled to fit into a male-dominated industry, but through DashHound, she wants to help close the gender gap. “The figures speak for themselves, just 15% of the people working in STEM roles across the UK are female -- and only 5% of leadership positions in the tech industry are held by women. I am determined to do my part to change this. DashHound, an app for beauty enthusiasts, provides me with the perfect platform to get in front of young girls and show them that they too can have a successful career in tech," she explains.
Elizabeth Clark, CEO of DreamAgility
Elizabeth Clark, CEO of adtech company DreamAgility, is also a technology pioneer. Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, her platform sits between a retailer and the search engine. It optimizes data on the fly before pushing it into Google, Facebook and Bing. "This results in greater uplift for the client, and requires no changes to their site.
"In a short space of time we have become profitable, multi-award winning and serve clients in 20 countries from five bases. This year we are looking to scale sales harder and raise £10 million," she tells us.
Mahmuda Khatun, Instant eCare
Operating from Cardiff, Mahmuda Khatun is looking to make waves in the world of medicine. She's the co-founder and director of Instant eCare, an online pharmacy launched in 2014. "My background lies in science, more specifically pharmacy. However, innovation in technology has always been what has driven my business forward," she says.
"From the very basic functions from an operational point to management, visions for the future of my company relies on technology. No one leaves their home without their mobile phones anymore, it has become as essential to our lives as the keys to our homes. It is undeniable that technology is changing the way the world works."
Steve Parker, CEO of Creavo Medical Technologies
Creavo Medical Technologies is one of Britain's up and coming medical device companies, and its CEO Steve Parker is constantly trying to innovate in this tough market. The firm has just developed a new cardiac detection device, which could transform accident and emergency services while saving the NHS up to £200 million a year.
"The key for any tech business is to first identify a real need in their target market. In our case, we identified a significant need for quick and easily obtainable diagnostic to support emergency department physicians in determining the cause of chest pain in presenting patients," he says.
"Our device performs a three- to five-minute non-invasive scan at the patient's bedside to help doctors actively rule out certain cardiac conditions, rather than working through a process of elimination, that can help direct patients down the most appropriate care pathway, avoiding the lengthy cardiac triage process."
Challenge the expected and change the future of tech and its impact on lives and businesses at TechXLR8 (June 12-14, 2018, ExCeL London). TechXLR8 is Europe's largest technology expo, bringing together cutting-edge ideas and technologies from AR and VR to IoT, Cloud and Blockchain, via 5G and Digital CX. Find out more about the TechXLR8 agenda here and register your interest here.
— Nicholas Fearn, technology journalist