London Tech Week 2022 recap: what manufacturers should know

Jul 22, 2022 by Mark Dingley

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Metaverse, AI, blockchain and holograms all featured heavily as influential people and companies came together from around the globe to talk all things tech at London Tech Week 2022.

From founders and the C-suite of global leading tech businesses, to industry thought leaders from space, climate, health and food, to the President of the Ukraine and the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer … the UK’s tech flagship event brought together over 20,000 attendees in June for a week-long festival to discuss the power of technology for societies.

The tech world impacts every industry – everywhere – so what are the key takeaways manufacturers should take note of?

Let’s dive in:

AI is no longer science fiction

AI is on the cusp of becoming mainstream. Along with quantum computing and blockchain, AI is driving a technological revolution that is set to impact almost every industry.

There’s one speech from London Tech Week that explains the power of AI and the importance of the emerging technology for change. It’s the address delivered via hologram by Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, at an event held by Founders Forum.

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That’s right – the President delivered his speech as a hologram.

(It’s a great video to watch all the way through, with fantastic messages, but if you’re short on time and want to quickly see the President, he starts speaking at 5:19.)

In his message, President Zelensky discussed the need for tech in rebuilding his country and making the world a better place. AI is now finding in its place in the world, as the President said, “It is no longer science fiction that artificial intelligence is now as smart as humans.”

Collaboration is the key to new zero

As you’d expect when innovative leaders gather in one place, the topic of sustainability quickly stole into the spotlight.

During London Tech Week’s ClimateTech Summit, the key message was surprisingly not how technology can help address sustainability, rather it was the need for multilateral collaboration across countries, industries, enterprises, systems and individuals to solve climate issues.

As Lubomila Jordanova, co-founder of carbon footprint reporting firm PlanA. Earth, said, “Collaboration is absolutely critical for any success that we can assume to expect on the sustainability topic. One element that is quite unconventional associated to collaboration is this whole concept of collaboration over competition.”

Speakers also debunked the myth that sustainability and business growth are two separate issues – an idea that is valid for businesses in manufacturing as in every industry.

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What is good for the planet is good for business. Research shows how customers are increasingly seeking access to more sustainable offerings and will give their loyalty (and dollars) to those businesses who can prove they are making decisions based on their environmental impact.

But there’s a long way to go – speaking on how organisations can accelerate growth at scale with climate tech, Accenture’s sustainability for growth lead, Dagamara Puddick, said: “Only 50% of CEOs have a clear roadmap to reaching the sustainability pledges they’ve made, and only 5% have made positive progress at all.”

Companies waking up to the metaverse

We can’t talk about London Tech Week without mentioning the metaverse – but there’s still some way to go. Meta’s Nick Clegg noted in May that a fully developed metaverse could take as long as 15 years to complete.

That said, the topic was obviously stirring excitement among entrepreneurs and leaders, who discussed in detail how the metaverse is set to transform today’s disparate collections of websites, apps and internet-enabled services into a series of virtual 3D environments that exist in tandem with the physical world.

The metaverse promises to transform how people interact with each other and with business data – which is why 71% of global executives think the metaverse will have a positive impact on their organisations, according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2022. Figures from GlobalData show that job postings related to the metaverse have nearly quadrupled since January 2021, as companies start building the information highways, data processing and digital rendering that will enable the new digital era.

The ‘Cyber Physical Future Forum’ during London Tech Week considered the metaverse in the context of digital twins and other robotic and autonomous systems.

For manufacturers, digital twins are where the most obvious potential of the metaverse lies. These are real-time digital copies of a real-world product, warehouse or factory floor. For example, BMW used NVIDIA's Omniverse platform to create a digital twin of its factory floor so it could see opportunities to optimise production time and cost. The automaker was able to simulate different scenarios virtually, and identify which paths around the factory are safest for employees to use during a shift.

Win over employees with purpose

With the talent shortage hitting its stride in the UK as it is in Australia, London Tech Week spurred crucial discussions about the future of work and how businesses can attract and keep hold of talent.

The strategies for tech businesses are just as valid for manufacturers (as we discussed in our 2022 predictions), so what were the nuggets of wisdom on surviving the great talent shortage?

Purpose was the word and topic that came up again and again. The message was clear: companies that can offer the feeling of purpose to their people will succeed.

Why? Because people in these companies feel valued, see plenty of growth opportunities, stay motivated and engaged, and don’t feel the need to join the Great Resignation.

But purpose needs to go beyond the fluff.

Hilary Sutcliffe from SocietyInside explained, “When you are devising your purpose-driven metrics and your purpose-driven language, just keep it really, really real somehow, there's so much fluff out there it's giving ‘purpose-driven business’ a bad name.”

Invest in your managers was another key strategy. Understand specifically what skills your managers need.

Gori Yahaya, founder and CEO of UpSkill Digital, a UK-based digital training and transformation consultancy, said, “Invest in your people managers; don't expect just because they’re in a management position to have everything it takes for people to progress in the organisation. Give them the tools, the techniques, the conversational confidence to be able to help everybody in the organisation progress.”

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Final word

If there’s one thing that’s obvious from London Tech Week 2022, it’s that tech is moving faster than any of us can imagine. There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of regulation and security (especially when it comes to AI and the metaverse), but there are endless opportunities for those entrepreneurs and organisations who look to tech to solve the world’s problems.

Our top tip? Get a ticket to London Tech Week 2023.