The Phone is Mightier


I suppose this is the perfect setting for this post, a Saturday afternoon in the sun from my mobile with a pint beside me and my 6 week old son strapped to my chest. The way we consume content has evolved so rapidly, why not the way we create it?

The stimulus for this post came from 2 sources this week- one a quote I read saying that money spent on HS2 (for those not in the UK, a high-speed train connecting London to the North of England) would be better served on providing better nationwide high speed internet; and two an image from a presentation I saw at an Innovate UK event at the Williams advanced material conferences centre that showed a horse-drawn fuel truck refilling a Ford Model T.

My point is this. Predicting the future is difficult, but is especially hard when we are doing so under the constraints of what we know and what has worked for us.  Just because there have been tremendous advancements in high speed broadband and fibre optics, doesn’t mean we should be seeing the future driven by this. Innovation means looking outside of what we know to find solutions.

The advancement of mobile tech has dramatically changed the profile of the kit we buy and where we use it. I am as likely work from my car as I am from an office fitted-out with the world’s best network connection. But let’s face it, the UK mobile connection is atrocious compared to other regions. I think I actually get better coverage in the Canadian Rockies than I do on my train through New Malden. Investing in better wireless infrastructure and faster technology looks far more like the future than being locked to my office or commuting on a fast and poorly connected train. And before you argue that these trains are fitted with internet now, try to get online on them and download a file larger than this document.

One positive outcome of our failure to act on the future is that for the 1st time I see the possibility of developing nations that lack expensive wired infrastructure, to surpass the UK and other developed economies. Mobile -led tech from Africa is already starting to challenge some of the traditional tech and business models of the developed world. I think this is bound to continue.

Finally, it is a strong message from the UK government that we need better transport and home connections. If this isn’t making my case, I don’t know what is. Remember the 8 most feared words in the English language are: “I’m from the government, I’m here to help.” We want our government supporting innovation (see Innovate UK) not driving it!

Stephen Mooney is a full time entrepreneur and part-time blogger on topics ranging from challenges facing start-ups, to pop culture to running. He is currently part of the UKTI’s Global Entrepreneur Programme and CEO of Synoptica. Synoptica is a leading SaaS platform that helps organisations to uncover, rank and engage with innovative SME’s.