This week seems to be a turning point for many. As the schools return (or get used to having returned in the case of Scotland), it seems some semblance of normality is beginning to return. Recent calls for the nation to ‘get back to work’ have added some interesting emotional context, particularly as some newspaper coverage was greeted with cries from the kitchens, dining room tables and, for the lucky few, home offices across the UK of ‘what exactly do you think I have been doing for the last six months?’

It seems the UK tech sector has chosen (or been lucky enough) to coincide its annual celebration of the UK’s technology industry – London Tech Week – with this inflection point.

Over the last few years we have seen sizeable shocks to our economy, most recently, of course, with the ‘mother of all disruptions’ in the COVID-19 pandemic. One continuous beacon of hope has been the vibrancy, innovation and depth of the UK’s tech sector. It seems now, more than ever, the sector truly has the chance to deliver on its promise. While few have denied the tremendous potential technology has for business and society, actual ambitious adoption and transformation has been less apparent.

Part of this is down to tech consistently being seen as the preserve of the few. Technology was for the technologists and its appearance in the Boardroom was at best something of an intriguing side show and, at worst, a significant cost to the business largely oriented towards keeping existing operational paradigms working smoothly or, more often than not, not breaking. I have long argued that the sooner tech moves into the heart of the business the better. This doesn’t make me an unheralded soothsayer. The proposition is a simple one: a broader understanding of what technology is and what it can do opens up a far broader range of strategic options for a business. This doesn’t just apply to an organisation’s core operations. It’s just as relevant to any aspect of running a modern business (or any other institution).

With so many of use forced into a new working model many organisations have rushed to embrace technology at a scale we’ve not seen before. Chief Executives and Chairman, often lazily regarded as technological dinosaurs, have had to become their own IT departments. This has led to an appreciation for the genuine impact technology can have (and probably accounts for Zoom’s colossal increase in value given its relative accessibility for even the most technology challenged). However, what is increasingly interesting is that the growing understanding of technology is now leading to much more interesting questions: what can this do for our diversity? If we can implement remote working in a fortnight what else can we do in similar timescales? What kind of organisation could we be if we truly embraced technology?

The ‘interesting times’ in the apocryphal Chinese curse have certainly blighted us for much of this year but, driven by technology, are things about to get genuinely interesting?