Responding to disruption - A time for innovation

Written by: Matt Smith, CEO, SteelEye

Sun rise 2-1

The current lockdown is bringing communities together, giving birth to innovation and forever changing life as we know it.

It is no secret that we are living through a completely unprecedented time. This is certainly the biggest global crisis of my generation. It is personally challenging from a self-isolation perspective, but also extremely emotionally challenging as we worry constantly about the health and wellbeing of friends and family, and the economic impact on societies and businesses across the globe.

No doubt, this moment in time will change life as we know it. But as we progress through this grey and bleak landscape, will there be any kind of light at the end of the tunnel?

I believe this period will give birth to new entrepreneurs and companies. As gaps in our existing technologies, manufacturing processes, supply chains and operations are exposed through social distancing and remote working, we will see new and exciting solutions brought to life.

We have already seen amazing examples of this with companies like appliance manufacturer Dyson and a number of Formula One teams (including McLaren, Haas F1, Mercedes, Red Bull Racing, Racing Point, Renault Sport Racing and Williams) applying their innovation labs and technological capabilities to produce ventilators for hospitals. We have also seen firms like LVMH, Burberry and Barbour using their production lines to produce hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment (PPE) following the global shortage. As firms recognise that their solutions and services can span beyond their intended purpose to fit a specific need in this unusual time, we will see many more examples like this come to fruition.

We will also see attitudes towards cloud and remote working change forever. Those that didn’t buy into the idea of cloud technologies or that work can be carried out effectively away from the office are now being proved wrong as entire workforces come together virtually to ensure business continuity, demonstrating that it can be done. For many firms, their workers are in the cloud whilst their technology remains on premise, which makes little sense. And for firms who had already embraced the cloud, the technological impediments have been significantly reduced.

Of course, there are those industries, such as hospitality, that have been harder hit, where many have had to leverage the government’s furlough scheme. However, even here we have seen great examples of entrepreneurship: restaurateurs across the country have converted their restaurants into delis or online businesses over night, and are realising opportunities such as  'build your own meals' services and direct food and wine sales to support and serve their local communities.

Through this hardship, I am intrigued to see what the world of remote working will look like in a year. At SteelEye, we have now worked from home for five weeks, and in this time we have had avid discussions about technological innovations, including those that we envisage for areas like video conferencing and collaboration. We have tried new technologies for both professional and social purposes, and we have put existing ones to the test.

Like everyone else I am keen to transition through this period quickly and safely, but as we look back in years to come, I hope that this pandemic will be marked as a moment in time where something negative was turned into a breath of change and positive energy. Therefore, if you - as an individual or company - can think of ways that you can help solve a particular problem during this time, I would strongly encourage you to explore this. To all the innovators and entrepreneurs beginning their journey in this precarious time, I wish you confidence, courage and success. I look forward to seeing your achievements.

Matt Smith (circle)

Matt Smith


About Matt Smith:

Matt has over 20 years of technology and management expertise throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Matt has worked at Bloomberg as a senior RegTech product manager helping evolve the product strategies for a range of financial regulation and compliance solutions, trading and analytics platforms. Prior to this, he was the Chief Information Officer at Noble Group, a global commodity trading firm where he oversaw regulatory technology and the deployment of big data, trading and analytics platforms.

Throughout his career Matt has helped teams to implement major development initiatives and IT infrastructures, including derivative and physical trading systems, ERP solutions, risk systems, finance systems and regulatory solutions.


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