We need to stop talking about Tech

We need to stop talking about tech. This may sound like an unlikely plea from someone who attended one too many webinars at London Tech Week.

But as I bounced from session to session – spanning EdTech, AdTech and PropTech; FinTech, InsureTech and RegTech; and BioTech, CleanTech and GreenTech – it struck me that the ‘Tech’ is almost irrelevant.

It’s about what the tech is being used to actually achieve in each respective industry that’s truly interesting. Technology is just a means to an end.

Technology as a standalone idea is dead. It can’t work in a silo from the sector its being applied to.

There is no longer a distinction between the financial services industry and FinTech, for example. They are one and the same. Every new Fintech entrant is either a competitor or a partner to ‘traditional’ players. And in that sense, the term ‘FinTech’ is meaningless. Tech is just how financial services is and will operate in the future.

Tech is – to varying degrees – the current reality and the future of all industries.

In the same way, we have also moved beyond the ‘is tech good or evil?’ debate. Will technology save us, connect us and create a more equal society? Or are the robots coming, are we being brainwashed, is Alexa listening?

We often talk about technology as if it is some external, godlike force.
But it isn’t.

Tech is – put simply – just a tool. A tool we use to solve problems. And therefore from a positioning and messaging perspective, I would urge any Ed, Ad, Prop, Fin, Insure, Reg, Bio, Clean or Green organisation to put a far greater emphasis on the real world problem it exists to solve, as opposed to the tool (the tech) it is using to solve it.

That is the essence of the theory developed by Simon Sinek, author of the global best-seller: Start With Why. Sinek found that, while competitors with the same reserves have failed, the reason companies like Apple have achieved extraordinary success – hitting a market cap of $2 trillion on 19 August 2020 to become the world’s most valuable company – is because they think, act and communicate with Why. He said:

“A marketing message from Apple, if they were like everyone else, might sound like this: ‘We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. Wanna buy one?’…Let’s look at that Apple example again and rewrite the example in the order Apple actually communicates…’Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. And we happen to make great computers. Wanna buy one?’

 

Your ‘Why’ is your purpose, your belief, the reason you exist as an organisation. Starting with ‘Why’ inspires people to take action. Your ‘How’ and ‘What’ are merely functional – the plans and tactics you will deliver (i.e., the tech).

The hype around sectors such as Fintech, or particular technologies such as blockchain, has been enormous. But ultimately, you’re not going to attract investment, build partnerships and grow a customer base just because you are a ‘Fintech’ or because you’re running on a blockchain protocol.

Being a something Tech just isn’t a differentiator. It’s quite the opposite.
Everyone is doing it.

I can’t get excited about a Fintech because it is a Fintech. I can get excited about a company that’s going to bring communities across the world closer together. Transforming remittance, removing costs and enabling real-time transfers.

I can’t get excited about a blockchain company because it is a blockchain company. But I can get excited about a company that is going to save more lives faster. Revolutionising aid and charitable giving, identifying need and ensuring speed, transparency and accountability like never before.

The fact that these companies could be bucketed as ‘FinTech’ or that they are running on blockchain is by the by.

Tech companies that really get it right, are less concerned with being tech companies, and instead focus on how they are contributing to or changing the world. It is this emphasis of messaging that makes them stand out and get noticed, and means they resonate with audiences, leading to commercial success.

Identify your purpose, live it, and communicate it. And stop talking about the tech powering it.

At Lansons we love working with our tech clients, most recently supporting Tech Nation’s Unlocking Global Tech event and report launch. If you would like to find out how we can help you stand out amongst the “tech noise” then get in touch with Jessica.

Jessica Warner, Board Director at Lansons
JessicaW@lansons.com

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Jessica Warner

Board Director, Lansons