Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, on the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest benefitting both the bank and its customers

This month’s cover story reveals how innovation is at the core of change for payments processes at NatWest.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Charles Darwin famously said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” Technology is helping us to evolve. And that evolution is being driven by innovation.

Read the latest issue here!

Payments transformation at NatWest

“It may be a cliché, but a transformation journey really has no end… If you fixate on a constant end state without ‘checking in’ you can, and likely will, fail in your objectives.” A wise outlook from a CIO with three decades of change management experience across banking’s payments panorama.

Ian Povey, CIO – Head of Payments Services & Technology, discusses the strategic transformation taking place at NatWest and how that journey of change and innovation is benefitting both the bank and its customers as it evolves to become a relationship bank for a digital world. “Our environment is always changing – we must be on the back of the ‘Change Dragon’ and steering/influencing as a leader and always learning from our teams for new ideas.”

Customer-Centric transformation at FedEx

We also check in with logistics leader FedEx… Custom Critical CIO Cheryl Bevelle-Orange reveals a “technology-forward yet flexible company” embracing innovation and “paving the way for customers to get more relevant information faster about their packages while delivering with excellence”.

Continuous Improvement in IT at Mazars

Mazars CIO David Marcelino explains his approach to innovation and leading on a successful IT transformation program at one of the world’s largest audit and advisory firms aiming to improve the digital experience for all its stakeholders. “Change Management, adoption, training and awareness are at the core of every single business technology project we deliver.”

Tech innovation at speed with the US Air Force

We also caught up with George Forbes, Director of Digital Operations Directorate at the United States Air Force, who outlines the importance of innovation within the federal government.

Digital Transformation in healthcare at Avellino

Nancy Selph, Global Head of IT at Avellino Lab, discusses how technology is creating new opportunities to improve health outcomes and the importance of leadership in the industry.

Also in this issue, we round up the key tech events and conferences across the globe; we learn how Minted are making it easy for everyone to invest in gold; and we feature the latest on cloud digitalisation from IFS.

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

…but just 15% think the Government encourages innovation, research from GovGrant reveals

Just 15% of UK SMEs think the Government is creating an economic environment in which they are encouraged to innovate, according to new research by GovGrant, the R&D and IP specialists. This is despite the fact that over three quarters of these businesses consider innovation to be important for recovery from Covid-19, reaffirming the disconnect between businesses and the Government support schemes available. 

The survey collected the views of over 500 SME decision-makers across seven different sectors. The findings show that whilst 85% of respondents acknowledged the importance of innovation, just 26% felt their current activity was highly innovative. 

Luke Hamm, CEO, GovGrant, comments:

“Despite the Government’s R&D Roadmap outlining its commitment to R&D and innovation, our research shows the need for further support when it comes to recognising innovative activity. SMEs urgently need clarity and a common definition of innovation that transcends sectors, geography and generations if we’re going to plug the gap between the support that’s available and how SMEs make use of it. This is particularly true when it comes to IP.”

This might be the result of confusion around the definition of innovation, with respondents split across three different definitions – 42% of respondents said they viewed innovation as tiny and continual changes that happen daily, with the rest saying that it either happened rarely (but made a considerable impact) or occurred sporadically. This disconnect may well be the reason that many SMEs are failing to claim valuable tax credits for their R&D, with nearly a quarter stating they had never done so. 

GovGrant’s research also revealed that 43% of UK SMEs do not have anyone in charge of the commercialisation of intellectual property and innovation at Board level. As a result, only a quarter of respondents (24%) thought the main purpose of a patent was to add commercial value, and one fifth said they had no strategy in place to track their IP.  

Luke Hamm concludes:

Innovation has never been more important for creating a resilient and productive economy post Covid-19, especially with Brexit and the end of the transition period also fast approaching. We need to be taking intellectual property much more seriously. The Government must do more to improve awareness and accessibility of its support schemes, including the Patent Box, if SMEs are going to invest in their R&D and thrive. We urgently need to review the patent process and make it attractive on the global stage.”

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, today reveals the 30 companies joining its prestigious Upscale programme for…

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs, today reveals the 30 companies joining its prestigious Upscale programme for the UK’s most exciting and fastest growing scaleup tech companies. 

Now in its fifth year, the Upscale 5.0 cohort reflects the maturity of the tech landscape in the UK with considerable growth in key company statistics. Most of the companies on the programme have already raised a Series A round, and the average raise has increased from £4.2m in 2017, to £7.2m in 2020. Average revenues have also increased by 64% from £1.1m to £1.8m over three years, while the average number of employees when joining the cohort has grown by 48% from 31 to 46. 

Some of the biggest success stories of UK tech, such as Monzo, Bulb, Improbable and Bloom & Wild, have been through the programme, and the 30 new companies represent the next generation of digital household names. 

This cohort reflects just a small part of the UK tech scaleup ecosystem – in total, there are almost 5,000 UK tech scaleups which add £17.2bn to the UK economy and employs almost 200,000 people. UK scaleups outperformed their peers in 2019, with companies raising £10.1bn, more than France (£3.8bn) and Germany (£5.4bn) combined, and are spread right across the UK.  

The Upscale programme is designed to support the UK’s leading scaleups by tackling the leadership challenge in UK tech. A recent report by Zenger/Folkman found that management and leadership skills are lacking in just over half of all leadership teams, and organisations that invest in developing leaders are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets and almost double their profits. 

Upscale sessions include addressing how to scale yourself as a leader, and how to scale internationally. The programme aims to create a peer-to-peer network of companies on their scaleup journey, and includes sessions led by tech entrepreneurs from some of the UK’s most successful companies, including Nilan Peiris, the VP of Growth at Transferwise and Will McInnes the CMO at Brandwatch. Companies are selected through a judging process of tech entrepreneurs and established VCs, including Anthony Fletcher, CEO of Graze and Cherry Freeman, CEO, Lovecrafts as well as entrepreneurs who have gone through the programme themselves, such as Aron Gelbard, CEO of London-based Bloom & Wild. 

30% of companies joining the programme are from outside of London, and are based in: Manchester, Cardiff, Cambridge, Leeds, Brighton, Belfast and Newcastle. Companies hail from all different tech sub-sectors – showing the depth and breadth of technology in the UK today. 17% of companies on the programme this year are in the healthtech sector, 17% are in SaaS and 17% are in E-commerce. Cloud computing, fintech, legaltech, AI, edtech, proptech, tech for good and adtech are also represented on the programme. While E-commerce and SaaS are evidently still pivotal to UK tech, the makeup of the programme also represents the rise of companies applying technology to societal issues, including healthtech, which has seen an increase in scaling companies of over 473% over the last decade in the UK.