Tech innovations that helped us build back better in 2020 - breakfast panel key takeaways

December 01 2020

 Tech innovations that helped us build back better in 2020

Key takeaways

 This year many of us have had to grapple with change and embrace transformation at record speed. Adopting new and innovative technologies has been at the core of many change initiatives. This month we invited our breakfast panel members to talk about the tools they’ve implemented to survive and thrive in 2020.

 You can listen again to the webinar here:

Listen again to the November breakfast panel


In 2020 we’ve been united around a common purpose. When it comes to the adoption of tech, how do we maintain this without losing the best of what we’ve learned? Here are the key takeaways from our November breakfast panel discussion.

  1. Technology adoption is happening more quickly

Priorities have become clearer and this has meant that decision making can happen more quickly. Before the pandemic a lot of conversations were about incremental success, but this has shifted towards making sure we can deliver now for the organisation and people within it. People’s mindsets have changed when it comes to innovation even within large organisations.

“Because priorities are clearer, decisions can happen more quickly”

Ben Cheston, Managing Director, greyhairworks

According to our polls during the webinar:

  • More than 50% of HR leaders have implemented new tech solutions in response to COVID-19 
  • Tech to improve engagement is the most readily adopted tech solution with 26% implementing it
  • Onboarding (11%) and transformation (11%) are other areas where tech has been readily adopted
  • 42% of HR leaders have driven the early adoption of tech in their industry
  1. Companies that experimented with new digital technologies are twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth

A new report from McKinsey shows that during 2020, companies have adopted customer facing tech 20 to 25 times faster than they would have done pre-pandemic. Even with internal tech, companies have adopted new tools four times faster than they would usually do. Funding for implementing digital innovation has also increased and this is expected to stay for the long term.

Leading companies look at digital and corporate strategies as one and the same thing. Plus, organisations that experimented with new digital technologies during the crisis and invested more in tech, were twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth.

You can read more from McKinsey on this topic by clicking here.

  1. The way that decisions are made has changed

The way in which decisions are being made has changed. Because of the requirement to put in place some solutions quickly, some of the traditional procurement exercises have been accelerated. However, this is not commonplace. Some organisations desperately need a solution and to start using it but still have to go through procurement, resulting in unhelpful delays.

Some observed that the line at which procurement starts has gone up for tech spend. However, to get solutions in place, providers are having to run with part-finalised agreements and start services for clients before contracts are signed. Clients need to use a solution but it’s taking up to 90 days to get sign-off and suppliers are showing flexibility.

“Decisions are being made in a more inclusive way and more appropriate stakeholders are being involved at an earlier stage. This can happen because we’re working in a more distributed way.”

Ben Cheston, Managing Director, greyhairworks

  1. Leadership commitment to vital to the adoption of new tech

Process in a large corporate can mean lots of time and conversations before a purchase is signed off. The fact that decision-making has become more digital has been beneficial for many change and transformation projects. From working on shared documents to chatting on Teams, people as well as technology have changed quickly.

Clarity has improved in organisations and companies have rethought how they filter and share pivotal insights and plans with the right teams at the right time. This attitude need not just be for the immediacy and intensity of COVID but it can helpful to keep reiterating through communications down the track.

“How do we share pivotal insights with the right teams at the right time?”

Bazz Deans, VP UK and Europe at Shootsta

  1. It’s important to create a bridge between strategy and action

“The most important thing is to choose a tool that is simple. It needs to be simple and fun.”

Angela Huser, Digital transformation and change consultant at global corporate

When choosing technology, the product needs to be aligned with your vision and mission. Onboarding is really important too - the first two to three months are critical. Some suppliers have chosen to slow down the onboarding process for clients because they are obsessed with making sure the tool works. Suppliers are open to holding the hand of every single user to make sure they understand how to get results and that they come to them with any problems before they take the training wheels off.

Often people are the blocker to the adoption of tech and McKinsey’s research shows that many executives feel unequipped to making the most of new tech. An option is to lean on the experience of people who have cut their teeth in the industry. Sometimes things get lost in translation between suppliers and executives especially when something is different – which innovation is and if it’s not different enough then it won’t make a difference. An executive doesn’t articulate this in the same way as a tech scale up so there is some translation to be done to make sure all parties get the most out of new tools.


“As a provider, we have a challenge of people asking who else have you done this for in our industry? Because they want to feel safe. Someone has to be first and make the leap of faith. Organisations that have a different attitude to the early adoption of tech have an increase in revenue over a sustained period”

Alison Ettridge, CEO at Talent Intuition