Southampton: Solent 250 business leaders discuss digitalisation

A group of 16 local business leaders shared their views on how technology is transforming the way they work at the latest Solent 250 roundtable.

The event at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton, was hosted by The Business Magazine, which compiles the Solent 250 listing of the region’s largest privately-owned companies. It was sponsored by HSBC, advisory and accountancy firm RSM, law firm Irwin Mitchell and specialist recruitment company CMA Recruitment Group.

The topical issue of the challenges digitalisation poses for middle-market businesses generated a lively discussion by the panel.

Co-chairmen Neil Sharples, partner in the technology team at RSM, and Roland Emmans, head of technology at HSBC, covered a lot of ground during the roundtable.

There was a strong consensus that digitalisation, in whatever form it takes, relies on getting three things right.

First, choosing suitable new technology. Second, putting in place business processes that will support your digital transformation before you begin the journey. Third, ensuring your workforce understands and is enthused about the changes that digitalisation will unleash.

Emmans pointed out that research shows 70% of digital transformations undertaken by businesses fail to meet even half of their intended objectives.

“Listening to what’s been said today it’s clear that it is not just about technology but what you do with it and how you take your people with you,” he said.

Sharples added: “We’re fortunate to live in times of massive technological change, especially in terms of computer power and the amount of data we use. This brings opportunities but also threats that businesses need to consider.”

A report on the roundtable will appear in the November/December print issue, and online on this site.