The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of London Tech Week

The Good and the Great

This week was London Tech Week, a series of independent events themed to demonstrate the technological advancements from the UK and around the world.

One of the largest events was TechXLR8, a 3-day expo/conference at the London Excel. A very well executed and informative event that also achieved some newspaper coverage thanks to UK rocket man Richard Browning demonstrating his working iron man suit outside the centre. If you have a spare £400,000 then he will build one for you too!

I will start by saying that the good news, based on the simple requirement of demonstrating what technology can do, it was a huge success. The quality of presentation and content prepared was excellent and every meeting or presentation was certainly informative.

And yet, I left the show yesterday with a feeling of emptiness, the reality had not quite matched the expectations, and it was hard at first to exactly explain why...

The Bad News

On reflection. the overall experience of London Tech Week highlighted two worrying problems: first the attendance was rather low, and second - and most importantly - there wasn't anything particularly groundbreaking or innovative.

Stretching TechXLR8 itself across 3 days was perhaps part of the reason for the first problem, a shorter duration would concentrate the attendance. The timing of seminars tended to take people away from the expo all at the same time, simply staggering the timings a little would have kept more buzz on the expo floor, which felt quite flat. If you were window shopping the stands during the seminars you were almost guaranteed to get the attention of everyone manning the booths.

In scale, the expo wasn't quite as big as you might have anticipated either. You certainly didn't need more than a couple of hours to work yourself around the main areas, while your time could still be filled by a comprehensive and varied agenda of speakers, it nonetheless convinced many attendees to leave early as numbers declined throughout each day.

All of this is ignoring the most significant gap: the lack of anything particularly innovative! Many technologies are clearly continuing to evolve, particularly in the VR, IOT, AI and Cloud space, but there wasn't anything really new, the next-big-thing was conspicuous by its absence.

The Ugly Truth

TechXLR8 provided opportunity for companies who were speculating with a startup idea or making an attempt to break into the UK from counties all around the world. While I wish them all the very best of luck, I equally anticipate never seeing or hearing from most of them again; the quality of their propositions was generally poorly thought through, attempting to provide solutions into a market where they couldn't articulate the problem they were solving. The market is gaining an ever increasing number of startups selling clones of solutions that are already gained traction.

The presence of an incubator and many of their incubatee's provided further demonstration of solutions looking for a problem; I'm really not sure that another alarm clock app or another messaging app is really going to have much opportunity to penetrate a market saturated with free options already. Even incubators themselves must be feeling some of the pressure to perform better and select truly innovative ideas, rather that just attempting to fast follow on well received ideas.

A Parting Shot (cue the music)

I'm pleased that we got involved with London Tech Week and attended TechXLR8, I just feel disappointed by the overall experience, it was good to hear new information and be educated. It just wasn't very innovative this year I'm afraid.

Wzard Innovation can help organisations who are looking to drive digital transformation and cultural change. If you attended TechXLR8 and wondering where to possibly begin implementing some of the concepts on show, then get in touch, that's where we can help.