Trailblazing Tech ’24: MagnifyB

Wednesday, 26th June 2024

MagnifyB was a proud sponsor of pro-manchester’s “Trailblazing Tech Conference” which was held on the 21st June 2024 where our CEO, Simon Groom, was on the “Disruptors of the Future” panel, hosted by John Toon of Beever and Struthers.

When asked what disruption means, Simon explained:

“People think the word disruption means turning something on its head entirely and it’s not; it’s about making headway into some of the challenges and problems and finding great solutions. So what we’ve done at MagnifyB is think back on our careers over the last 25-30 years and said OK, these things need to exist still, but actually there’s something missing at the beginning. Rather than delving straight into having expensive support, which a lot of SMEs can’t afford (we’ve done the research!), it’s about thinking differently and saying ‘Let’s get that first bit underway to raise people’s games so that they can use what’s out there’. From our perspective, disruption means taking something that exists and may be in use already, and using it more effectively, rather than saying we have a great new way of doing things that make everything and everyone else redundant.”

The panel discussed how innovation can be seen as a mindset – we should all be encouraging customers to be more innovative, and it is something that can be learned as part of the culture of an organisation. Bringing an entrepreneurial thought process into disruption and innovation will challenge problems and create solutions. Simon went on to share some of his past consultancy wisdom:

“What the client wants isn’t always what they need. The reality is that they need to understand their processes and know what NEEDS to be changed so they can be helped to embrace that change. If that doesn’t happen then they get what they want, but they don’t get what they need and all that does is waste their money. Identifying, brainstorming and fixing one problem at a time is the easiest way to make genuine progress and understand your business better”.

The discussion then turned to “The Admin Burden” where they wondered whether we are all getting too bogged down in admin to do our jobs. Are we admin blind and are we becoming more inwards focused to the point where we forget about the outcomes for our clients? We input notes, records and logs but how long is that taking? Is it a symptom of not trusting people to do their jobs or is it a people vs tech argument?

Simon pointed out that “there is so much information out there that when people look for it, they will find multiple ways of doing the same thing, often all valid, but not all relevant. Encouraging people to focus on their outputs rather than focus on the issues will help them narrow down a realistic and achievable journey, but actually we don’t do it naturally, we love the freedom of choice. Someone said to me recently that when they go shopping, there’s too much choice these days. We’ve all experienced that, especially shops that sell multiple, seemingly random things, so you can fill up with fuel and buy a chainsaw which is great, but how often do you walk around realising you don’t really know what you wanted any more? It’s the same thing with information, there’s so much out there so you need someone to bring it back together and say what you need is this; have someone help you to get to the point knowing of what it looks like, and it’s then a need not a want. “

AI is a topic that was brought up a lot on the day as the next greatest thing to improve efficiency. The overwhelming message of the whole day was that AI should be used to enhance and support your most valuable resource, your people. MagnifyB utilises AI to ensure the information you’re presented with is relevant to you and your sector and, of course, helps businesses grow and support the hire of new staff.

Simon agreed that one of the biggest things MagnifyB is trying to change in the small business world is exactly that. “It’s to say you’ve got things you’re comfortable with, but there is a better way. Pull it together, have a seamless integration with your finance data, your management information, your business intelligence, have it in one place, start the process and work with it. You can move away from business critical spreadsheets with multiple authors, and endless conversations with your accountant and other professionals to the point where you understand it all, and can have better conversations with them. That’s what we’ve tried to create, because that’s the disrupting bit to which we’re trying to make a difference. Move away from your comfort zone, but don’t think this is rocket science, this is something that says “here’s your information, look at it, use it, utilise it”.”

The idea of bringing people on the journey is also an important one. Quite often clients have the tools to do what they want but they aren’t using enough of it; there’s no training or the person who dealt with it has left. There are big systems out there, of which people are using a tiny portion but paying for it all. It’s often a people problem, not a technology problem. Simon explained that “change in big organisations is very different to small organisations. The change processes in the larger organisations were huge, cumbersome and often too slow. When you work with small businesses, it’s a completely different environment. The agility and ability to change is fantastic and should be exploited as much as possible. Some people, I admit, will never change and the accountants we’ve spoken to agree that there will always be a portion of their clients who do not change, but there are a lot out there who are willing to embrace new technology and we need to look out for those. The big organisational shifts that people hold up as examples of how to effect organisational change just aren’t where we are any more. It’s all about agility.”

The question of what happens if leaders aren’t willing to embrace that change was then posed. How do we make that happen, and what do we do if they won’t? Simon went on to say “the big thing for

me is that there are good examples of where big organisations have listened to smaller ones and changed their processes. There’s a major financial systems provider that actually really does engage at the lower levels, to the point where they invited me to their round table with the House of Lords committee for AI and communications, to represent small business and demonstrate what good digital apps look like, what they again call disruptors in the industry. Now that is tremendous and a sign of things to come. Other organisations have done the same and they are good at it. We have examples of how that works, so if we can make that reality, and big organisations have proved we can do this, then others can make major changes in an agile way.”

The financial provider in question was Intuit and it was encouraging to see the committee members listening to suggestions about how they might make positive changes for small businesses in particular. Intuit’s Director of Strategic Affairs, Rob Burlison, stated that “Better education on what’s available and clarity on who’s accountable if things go wrong is needed.” Following this successful event, Simon has also been invited to play a part in a think tank on “National Thought-Leadership” covering three areas of support for SMEs which will be included in a government white paper with our views on how MagnifyB can help SMEs and the UK economy going forwards.

Our final thought from Simon is “Don’t be afraid – A lot of people say they’re in their comfort zone and can’t move out of that and that’s just one of those things you have to get over, but just use the market that’s there. Disrupt by all means, find something new, but use the current market, work with them and get to the point where everybody wins. That’s what we’ve been trying to do and I’ve seen it work lots of times in the past.” For more information about MagnifyB, please e-mail us on [email protected] or watch our short explainer video and our Early Adopter Offer