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Ntegra Coffee Club – February 2022

Throughout the year, Ntegra chairs an executive peer group of technology leaders, from a cross-sector of public and private sector organisations. The group meet periodically to discuss prescient technology matters and participate in our events programme, culminating in our annual Silicon Valley research tour.

After a COVID-19 enforced two-year hiatus, Autumn 2021 saw the return of our in-person hosted events, and we are now looking forward to returning to the USA in May 2022.

Our February 'Coffee Club' meeting provided an opportunity to discuss our plans for the year ahead and build a shared view on the priorities and challenges faced by the group. We have distilled this information into a collective brief to drive topical discussion through the year and inform the curation of the May tour agenda.

Some key themes that emerged from the peer discussion included:

· ‘The Great Resignation’ and Digital Skills Gap

· Improving the experience of hybrid working through digital empowerment for   employees

· Legacy systems and migrating to the cloud

 We will expand on these themes later in this article.

For those that are new to the group and our events, we have been hosting a delegation of UK and European based executives and senior leaders on our research tours and technology summits for over 20 years in totality.

The current format continues to evolve, though would be recognisable for the past 7 years as a spring Silicon Valley tour and accompanying autumn European two-day or Israeli four-day event.

Each year, we take a delegation of leaders from mixed organisations on a fully inclusive event with a business programme hosted by tier 1 Venture capital establishments such as Sequoia, a16z and Greylock, plus smaller funds, incubators, accelerators, and corporate venture arms of some of the large technology companies.

Each day, we visit one or two executive briefing centres from these institutions and enjoy hearing and learning from a roster of early to market technology start-ups with innovative and sometimes disruptive propositions and products. Our delegates learn about the latest technology and market developments to prepare their businesses for the future, and in some cases, gain early adopter advantage where a specific proposition resonates.

Managed by Ntegra, the group stay and travel together, and the evening dinners afford us the time to discuss the days learnings as peers and illuminate further insights into our collective businesses and technology strategies.


COLLECTIVE THEMES FOR 2022 FROM THE GROUP


DIGITAL & HYBRID WORKPLACE

Several of our discussion points intersected around the digital and hybrid workplace, recognising the enduring impact of remote working and how technology could mature to improve our (hybrid) ways of working.

The group was interested to understand the direction in which the Microsoft suite was heading, noting perceived enhancements closing many gaps where new players appear on the market. The group directly experienced the use of breakout rooms in our session on Teams, for example, something previously only available on platforms like Zoom. We discussed if functionality akin to Miro would become available in due course. ‘Mmhmm’ was a niche example of the potential for innovation in presentations software, and the group noted Microsoft's recent release of PowerPoint live over Teams and left the group wondering if there were further innovations to come in this space beyond the gimmick.

One further point on the Digital Workplace which resonated across the group related to the use of tools such as PowerApps and PowerBI. Perhaps voicing frustration on the complexity and lack of management functionality or visibility available, contributing to challenges of how to embed and manage these technologies.


BUILT WORKPLACE & VR

Several of the delegates businesses are investigating and investing in the built workplace and how office and meeting spaces need to evolve for the best hybrid experiences. VR use-cases in the office space are tentatively beginning to emerge - aided by the need to onboard new employees and help them feel connected to the office space, but these use-cases remain niche.

PEOPLE & CULTURE

The next prevalent theme to emerge centred on our workforce. Another hot topic across all verticals, with some industries experiencing particularly high employee churn rates.

As one of the first touchpoints within the employee lifespan, onboarding new staff has been significantly altered by covid. While businesses have adjusted, examples were given on varied, poor, or insecure experiences in an important part of the employee experience.

The speed of onboarding external partners and contractors was also discussed, not from an experience perspective, but from time to competency, or productivity. This had resonance in terms of DevOps teams.

Finally, several spin-off topics which relate to retaining and motivating staff were discussed. Some of the delegate’s businesses have already adjusted their annual appraisal cycles into more modern shorter cycles.

CLOUD

While all businesses are embracing Cloud, the business case for legacy transformation remains short of tipping point, and so the group discussed opportunities to stage or progress this journey for legacy systems.  

Spanning database workloads into the cloud for burst performance was given as a specific use-case, as was geographical data access and governance.

CYBERSECURITY

Cybersecurity remains an interest area for delegates, even when they aren’t any CISO’s in the room. Management and control of the proliferation of mobile and personal devices was a concern.

Tooling to support the advance of DevSecOps was discussed, and the ability to audit and continuously monitor.

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

The group were keen to understand perspectives from the ecosystem on emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Web3, the Metaverse and Quantum computing. With some of these being more directly applicable in verticals such as Defence, and Fintech.  The group are keen to hear from the market on any new trends and market traction in these areas.

To find out more on how our programme of events empowers our client’s digital transformation strategy and to join our executive peer group of technology leaders please get in touch here.

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