CommsCo Tech Chat with Adam Hale

We were recently joined by Adam Hale on the launch episode of the CommsCo Tech Chat podcast. In the podcast, we sit down with business leaders in the tech sector to discuss current trends and the future of the industry.  As a lead figure in multiple tech startups and scaleups, Adam is in a great position to provide insight into how the events of the last two years have impacted the tech industry, and what’s in store for UK tech in 2023. “Now is the time that organisations can become market leaders”  Earlier this week, the US confirmed that the country is in a recession after two successive quarters of negative growth. Unfortunately, it looks like the UK could be going in the same direction, with increased energy prices and a soaring cost of living crisis. However, Adam was optimistic about the opportunities for businesses in a recession: “Now is the time that organisations can become market leaders.” But he was also cautious, warning that it’s imperative that businesses change how they operate to demonstrate their importance to the economy.     Our recent survey showed that, despite a tricky economic climate, half of UK tech leaders are planning to expand in the next year. Adam suggested that to do this, businesses “must think carefully about how they can deliver value in a recession environment… you can’t just continue doing what you’re doing”.   A difficult economic climate can also mean that it’s more difficult for startups and scaleups to secure funding. Adam explains that’s why he invests in people, and that "great companies are made up of great people". His five point framework of ‘purpose, focus, customer success, innovation and team’ are the key signifiers of a successful business. Demonstrating success in those areas is a great way of getting investors onside.  Digital skills in the UK workforce  Following the Great Resignation, the UK is suffering from a digital skills shortage. Passionate about STEM education, Adam discussed how that can be solved in the UK.  The key is education in digital skills at school. Adam raised the example of Uruguay, who in 2008 gave every 12-13 year old a laptop and a digital education. They’re now reaping the benefits, with multiple tech unicorns coming from the small South American nation. In comparison, computing is only the 24th most popular GCSE subject for girls in the UK. Implementing computing and other digital skills as a compulsory school subject can ensure the future UK workforce has the necessary skills for the future.  While long-term goals will be the key to building a stronger UK workforce in the long term, the UK tech sector also needs short-term solutions to ensure that the UK doesn’t fall behind global competitors. One method is hiring for potential instead of focusing on past experience. By utilising existing technology like Arctic Shores’ behaviour-based assessment, businesses are able to identify people by their potential and then invest and upskill them through internal training. This can help to unlock areas of the workforce that were previously blocked due to their lack of experience in the sector. Employee wellbeing in the UK tech sector Despite a shift in attitudes around working from home for some businesses, Adam is optimistic about the future of hybrid work. From enabling people to stay productive in the summer heat, to boosting employee wellbeing, the benefits of remote working are clear. However, the real challenge is “making hybrid work”. Too often when some employees are working remotely and others are in the office, those working remotely feel excluded from the rest of the company. This is a key opportunity for technology businesses to innovate new products that make hybrid work seamlessly, as well leading the way in changing work culture to be more output based.  “If a company doesn’t have a digital future, then it doesn’t have a future” For Adam, there has been a marked change in the UK tech sector since the pandemic. Technology has become such a critical part of every organisation. Adam says “if a company doesn’t have a digital future, then it doesn’t have a future”. This means that tech is higher on boardroom agendas across the country. However, the UK still doesn’t have a vibrant public market for the tech market. The valuation of tech companies in the US has increased significantly over the last 20 years, while the UK has stagnated in comparison. Adam says that to combat this we need “more tech bankers, more tech analysts, and more tech fund managers” so technology can become a fundamental part of our market. Our chat with Adam showed us that, although we may be heading into a difficult economic period, there are plenty of reasons to be positive about the future of the UK tech sector. You can listen to the full podcast episode on Spotify and Want to know Adam’s recommended read? It’s 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins