Another Tech World

Some time ago I wrote a blog which analysed the top 100 in a ‘Wired’ Technology list, and concluded with surprise at how little the World’s of Corporate IT and Tech Innovation overlapped.

I have just spent an evening in the company of a group of start up entrepreneurs and investors discussing key trends in technology and retail. The subjects we discussed I cannot talk about under Chatham House rules, but I was again struck by how little hitherto the World’s of Corporate IT and Start Ups normally intersect.

This is of course why we started JLAB in John Lewis, when we asked whet would our Founder Spedan Lewis do. The answer we came up with is that he would open himself and his company up to the stimulation of new ideas from outside, and by running our own Tech Incubator this Summer JLAB, which is exactly what we tried to do in a structured way.

We learned a lot and I hope the 5 start-ups we worked with in JLAB similarly learned how to work with a large company. It struck me forcibly that we are lucky enough to live in London in one of the key hubs for tech start ups, and therefore learning how to work with innovators is an important skill for larger corporates. Maybe there should be more scope for interchange so these two “villages” can get to know each other better?

About paulcoby
I am CIO at the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. I was Chair of SITA - the airline solutions company owned by the Air Transport Community - for 11 years. I am also on the Boards of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and Pets at Home. Previously I was Head of BA Services and for 10 years CIO at British Airways. I am interested in Roman and Military History. The views expressed are entirely my own not my employers.

One Response to Another Tech World

  1. Hi Paul,

    There should definitely be more interchange and forums created to do so, though not solely directed at the hubs. The larger businesses (like John Lewis) are certainly difficult to get in front of.

    I pitched at Canary Wharf. It was great to get the opportunity, however a 5 minute presentation with no Q&A was insufficient engagement. You should tinker with the format if you do again.

    I have since made more progress speaking with your competitors and branded concessions. I had hoped entering JLAB and getting to pitch stage would have facilitated a face to face meeting with John Lewis. Yet it has not.

    Which goes back to my original point. Large businesses are difficult to get in front of.

    Thanks for blogging. I completely support your sentiment.

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