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Presenting ‘Without Borders’ – a new podcast from the Tyto team

It should be no secret that here at Tyto we’re passionate about the power of brilliant content and believe strongly in the medium of podcasts as a way to engage audiences and deliver strong stories, inspiring information and create emotional connections.

Which is why I’m proud to present a new podcast, Without Borders, produced and created by the Tyto team. Without Borders is a dose of fortnightly inspiration for passionate communicators, courageous creatives and entrepreneurial business brains. Expect candid chats with the wisest old hands, bleeding edge innovators and left field thinkers and doers.

As an agency we’re custom built around our PR Without Borders philosophy, from our location agnostic structure to the way we approach creativity and innovation, both internally and as a perfect partner for our clients. We’re inspired and empowered by people and brands who aren’t afraid to make left-field thinking the norm, especially when it comes to innovating and reinventing modern communications. We’ve created the podcast to encapsulate this philosophy, but far beyond PR.

As we begin to release our first series (you’ll find the first episode here), we hope listeners will note the unexpected mix of guests, from age and experience to discipline, viewpoints and backgrounds. We’ve spoken to everyone from agency trail-blazers and award-winning journalists to brand storytelling visionaries and even the director and cast members of a sell-out Edinburgh Fringe improv show.

My co-host, Zoe Clark (Partner and Head of Tyto’s Fintech practice), and I are excited to present you with an ongoing selection of brilliant and interesting people. The kind of guests who can and will change the way listeners think about communicating ideas, building purposeful and successful businesses, creativity, innovation, and overcoming obstacles to success.

Tyto isn’t inhibited by rules, or how things have always been done: from the very ground-up, through each strand of DNA, we’re about tearing up the rule book; doing things differently, learning and improving. Therefore, it’s been enormously exciting to me to have the privilege to sit down and talk about these ideas with likeminded individuals on Without Borders. I hope you enjoy the episodes as much as we did in creating them.

Golin u-turn

Golin’s PR U-turn hopefully won’t be the last, but why has it taken so long?

Ever since I started my career in public relations, the debate surrounding its relevance has been omnipresent. In the last five years however, it’s intensified.

Last week, Golin, one of the agency big beasts, came out as being “proudly a PR shop”. The fact that a top 20 global agency can generate a headline merely by repositioning itself in this way is an indication of just how far the PR moniker has fallen out of favour.

Ironically, it was Golin who led the retreat from its PR offering by dispensing with the term completely when it announced its rebrand in 2014 and didn’t’ mention PR once. Since then, the likes of Hotwire, Lewis, Talk and a host of other agencies have followed in its footsteps by lowering the PR flag altogether.

Make no mistake, this latest one-eighty isn’t an opportunistic marketing ploy. Instead, it represents what I expect to be a gradual unravelling of the shift away from PR as agencies seek to reclaim the badge they’ve been so careless to give away. As Golin co-CEO Neal notes, “The mistake was to become something else and abandon what made us unique and valued”.

So, why have we had to wait so long for a top agency to make such a play? And why did so many agencies endeavour to distance themselves from PR in the first place?

First, the reign of digital and social media communications brought industry angst to the fore

Despite its far-reaching brief, “public” relations came to mean “media” relations in many people’s eyes. Management teams in big agencies would recoil from media relations claiming it was a commoditised service and park it with the most junior employees. How ironic that Golin (one of this very crop of agencies), should now talk of the need to double down on its competencies in this area.

Second, societal trends have seen a denigration of the traditional expert’s authority

Though this has permeated through all aspects of public life, the media has perhaps suffered the most. With PR agencies’ main conduit to the public experiencing a challenging time, agencies felt the need to distance themselves from this core part of their business. Instead as the content marketing movement got going agencies needed to be seen differently if they were to cash in on this alternative growth opportunity.

Third, the Cannes Lions effect

Despite 99.9% of our work being more akin to delicate surgery than the jazz hands of adland, since the birth of the PR Cannes Lions in 2009, we’ve been encouraged to think of ourselves as occupying the same world. We don’t. What we do is more often than not subtle reputation management; megaphone tactics are not par for the course in PR.

I’m not saying that PR didn’t need to modernise. Social media has irreversibly changed the media landscape, journalists are no longer the only individuals to wield real influence and the lines between PR and marketing have blurred substantially. Agencies now need to ensure their creativity has the greatest business impact possible, which demands a much broader skillset and the versatility to work across multiple media channels.

But, regardless of these changes, the world has never needed public relations more than it does now. Clients need PR agencies.

Organisations, individuals and causes are crying out for PR experts to help navigate this new and unpredictable terrain, meaningfully connecting with the right stakeholders, journalists and key opinion formers in the process. They need an awareness and understanding of how to contribute thoughtfully and not pollute the world with unfiltered content lacking in quality control.

I want to make it clear then that I’m not criticising the decision Golin made – far from it. Any big agency that realises the error of its ways in turning its back on PR should be welcomed back with open arms. We need the great and the good of our industry to set aside their angst, step up to the challenge and reassert the core purpose of public relations.

After all, if we can’t imbue true meaning into our own industry, why would anyone trust us to do it for them?

Tyto, one year on

One year on at Tyto

I did a lot of open water sea swimming over summer. The primary challenge is quite simply getting from A to B in the most efficient way. It’s very easy to zig and zag with currents and waves to knock you off course. My strategy is to focus on a point on the horizon and keep looking up to ensure you stay on track.

Changing tack slightly, this week marked Tyto’s first year anniversary. Just like open water swimming, it’s very easy to get knocked off course when you are developing a new business.  The financial risks you take mean there’s always a temptation to gravitate towards any positive response your business gets. If you’re repeatedly drawn to these positive responses at the expense of a clear direction, you can end up zig-zagging all over the place.

Whereas with open water swimming we look up regularly for our bearings, for Tyto we got our bearings from a clear sense of what our purpose was. At its core with Tyto, we wanted to build a business that delivered perfect partnership for all our stakeholders. Clients, employees, journalists, influencers and suppliers. This was our moral compass. A perfect partner always does the right thing by its partners even when that isn’t the path of least resistance.

Next, we wanted to break down the silos between communicators from different countries and different communications disciplines. To do this, we developed a new operating model called PR Without Borders™. At Tyto, we felt that international PR was inefficient and the approach stale; our response was to build an international team that worked as one across borders with no silos. We also believed the line between PR and marketing was blurred and felt it was important to be able to operate across those blurry lines, and so we created a multi-disciplinary team.

Finally, to deliver upon Tyto’s PR Without Borders model, we knew we needed to have the best people and to truly be able to have the best people we needed to remove the geographical barriers for people to work with us. This led us to set up around a location agnostic model where employees could work from wherever they wanted. This opened up a world of talent to us. We were also committed to making all employees partners in our project, so we committed to giving everyone share options and an innovative quarterly bonus scheme.

We had a clear moral compass to deliver perfect partnership. We had a vision of a different PR operating model, PR Without Borders. And we also had a blueprint that would allow us to attract the best people to our project.

12-months on at Tyto, this is what I have learned:

  • The location agnostic model works and allows you to attract the highest calibre of employee. My most significant insight having operated this way for a year is that when everyone is remote, no one feels remote.
  • Aligning financial success for client success with employee incentives on a quarterly versus annual cycle keeps everyone motivated and aligned to your purpose.
  • Breaking down geographical boundaries and bringing together the perspectives of people from different backgrounds allows you to be much more creative. Seven different views from people who come from different ‘places’ lead to more innovative thinking.
  • Not everyone is right for you and you are not right for everyone. This rule applies to both clients and employees. I estimate that only 1/10 of the prospective employees and clients that cross our path are right for us and us right for them. But the 1/10 which are right are so right, and together you forge the most incredible partnerships. Learning to say no to those not right is possibly the hardest and most difficult lesson to learn in year one.
  • Our integrated approach to PR and marketing is valued by clients and leads to better and higher impact work. It also leads to client engagements that are typically twice as broad as a traditional PR agency engagement.

So, where has this all netted out 12-months on?

We’ve developed client relationships that are even stronger and deeper than I could have imagined. We have assembled pound for pound the most talented team of communicators I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. And we’ve hit or exceeded all our financial goals.

Having a clear sense of our purpose gave us the bearings we needed to achieve our goals and allowed us to stay true to our vision. Here’s to the next 12-months of success and momentum.

csuite podcast

Listen to the experts discuss IoT on the csuite podcast

Produced in partnership with Tyto and the csuite podcast, we discuss our first in a series of The Hype Reports on the Internet of Things (IoT), hearing from a number of experts who contributed to it.

Our co-founder and Managing Partner, Brendon Craigie chats with Russell Goldsmith to explain why we put this report together. Russell also speaks to Practical Futurist, Andrew Grill and Abraham Joseph, Founder of IoT insights, plus Stephanie Atkinson, CEO of Compass Intelligence joins the discussion in the studio via Skype from her offices in San Antonio in Texas.

We also hear from two more IoT experts from the US, Dan Yarmoluk, Director of Business Development for IoT and Data Science at ATEK Access Technologies and Rich Rogers, Senior Vice President for IoT Product & Engineering at Hitachi Vantara.

Listen to the csuite podcast

View the full report here


IoT: Cutting through the hype with 50 of the world’s leading experts

Welcome to The Hype Reports, a new series of Tyto reports where we examine the most hotly anticipated trends emerging from the collision of technology, science and innovation. In this first edition, in partnership with the csuite podcast, we’re taking a closer look at the Internet of Things (IoT) as it crests the summit of Gartner’s hype cycle.

For two decades, the IoT’s promise has been the subject of countless headlines, deafening discussion and endless excitement—all of which makes it hard to see where the hype ends and the reality begins. We’re told the coming years will unleash 200 billion connected things, a trillion sensors in everyday objects and a market opportunity worth up to $11.1 trillion.

There’s certainly good reason to think smart objects will have a huge impact. Ubiquitous connectivity and machine intelligence have the potential to turn vast and complex data about our environment into actionable insights, revolutionising daily life and day-to-day business. Technology giants around the world are now fully committed to this vision of the future—and they’re investing heavily to bring it about.

From smart appliances to the zettabytes of data they’ll create, the whole lexicon of the IoT’s potential has been relentlessly discussed over the past twenty years—not least by the businesses marketing IoT platforms, services and devices.

This trend shows little sign of abating. From 2015-17, Twitter mentions of the IoT skyrocketed 135% to reach almost 17m annually. There’s a similar frenzy amongst the online media, with a recent 96% upsurge in IoT references to more than 225,000 per year. Yet too much anticipation can breed apathy, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the IoT is now poised over Gartner’s ‘trough of disillusionment’.

Will the next decade really spell disenchantment with the IoT? Alternatively, will we see its impact exceed even the most positive predictions? We wanted to find out.

To understand the reality of the IoT today, its fortes and its flaws, we asked more than 50 of the world’s leading IoT influencers for their opinions. From encouraging stories about the IoT in action, to concerns over security and other challenges, the business leaders we spoke to had a lot to say about the most important and discussion-worthy areas surrounding this exciting topic.

So, it is time for me to stop writing and time for you to read the candid thoughts of more than 50 of the world’s leading IoT experts. We hope you find them as fascinating as we did.

6 takeaways from The Do Lectures 2018

Once a year in Wales, a wife and husband assemble a motley crew of inspiring people – new additions and returning members of a self-dubbed ‘Encouragement Network’. Those that ‘do’. Hence the name: The Do Lectures. A rustic barn hosts just 100 people, the lectern an old tree stump; it’s charming and now it’s live streamed.

I tuned in to The Do Lectures to remotely eavesdrop on intimate talks and one-on-one interviews conducted in a rusting old Land Rover Defender.

I’m a great believer that inspiration and creative energy come from a diverse range of sources, experiences and stories. If you’re working in marketing or PR and are only going to listen to other marketers and PRs speak – you’re missing out. From CEOs and adventurers, to architects, artists and 15-year-old Bitcoin prodigies, if you’re looking for variety, look no further than Do Lectures.

In the spirit of passing on inspiration, I’ve assembled a (by no means exhaustive) selection of takeaways and highlights from my stand-out talks. Perhaps these will spark an idea or rearrange a mindset and lead you to who knows where. Somewhere unexpected hopefully.

The live stream’s ones and zeroes may have now dissipated, but I’ll try and do the essence of ‘Do’ justice:

1. If your work, your career, or your company even, is part of a chain, a cosmic relay-race of sorts, how would you do things differently?

Alan Maskin, the architect tasked with modernizing the iconic Seattle Space Needle believes he is climbing on the shoulders of poets, thinkers, architects. In his Do Lectures talk, he said: “The idea that the work goes on after me – it gives me comfort – that one-day people can use my work to be lifted higher.”

My takeaway: If you viewed the work you do as a connecting layer between what’s gone before and what can be built upon by others, how would that change your approach or your output? There is something inherently satisfying about this idea. There is a relieving of pressure to “complete” or achieve perfection, yet conversely a burning motivation to build and pass on something exciting, inspiring and useful. There are immeasurable types of work and output, but this can apply to them all.

Oh, and if the idea of focussing on strong foundations grabs you, definitely bookmark my colleague David’s blog on the link between morality and business longevity. The perfect partner for your next coffee break.

2. There is magic in the mundane when the mundane has meaning

“As humans we’re activated to imagine ourselves experiencing the same things,” says Bobette Buster, a professor of digital storytelling. It’s the relatable, tangible details of a story or experience, those seemingly mundane elements that end up being the most evocative.

My takeaway: In accepting and celebrating this, we can slot this in like a filter on the lens we view the world through. I for one will be constantly asking the question: How can I better evoke sense memories in the audiences (aka people) that I’m trying to reach, to help them on the journey to understanding.

3. Living adventurously

Nowadays Alastair Humphries is all about the micro-adventure. The grand trips are no more – he’s cycled around the world. It took 4 years. He’s also rowed the Atlantic, that was somewhat faster. It turns out that living adventurously is a mindset, not a polar expedition and even the smallest act of adventure can be deeply satisfying.

To paraphrase Mr. Humphries; living adventurously is like going skinny-dipping in the river. You’re nervous, the first step is cold and horrid, but then you’re swimming, adapting, exhilarated, and suddenly you’ve become the expert. Now you’re the one encouraging nervous people on the bank to join you.

My takeaway: When it comes to comfort zones, the important thing is to keep getting out of them, even by a degree or two; rather than how far you plunge headlong into the tundra.

Could this thinking be applied to creative campaigns? Absolutely. In fact, in many ways they’re a lot like skinny-dipping: They’re scary, exhilarating and there’re always more people on the bank than in the water. That’s an advantage worth the plunge, and something tells me this attitude is infectious, so don’t you’ll be applying adventurous mental sorties for all of your thinking, regardless of the budget or campaign size.

4. When presenting ideas, identify and bridge gaps in understanding

When negotiating the plans for the Space Needle re-work project with its custodians, Alan Maskin identified the discomforting gap in understanding and included people who could bridge it: architecture historians.

My takeaway: These individuals added meaning and context, but most importantly, they demonstrated gravitas and helped Alan to underline the bold design changes with a bedrock of respect and historical understanding. This built comfort and answered unspoken concerns before they had a chance to flourish.

Make presentations about the audience. Identify the gaps, then assemble the ingredients to build understanding. Try this next time you’re presenting a bold or challenging vision, I know I will be.

5. When you choose a creative, remember why you chose them

In Canadian illustrator, Geoff McFetridge’s Do Lectures talk, he advised, “you don’t want a creative to follow the brief so closely that anyone could have done it.”

My takeaway: If you’ve chosen your creative team or supplier correctly, then you want their vision, their essence – the heart they’ve forged through their personal and professional work. If you aren’t making space for this in the brief and the feedback, then you’re doing yourself and the creative a disservice. That’s a ticket to unremarkable work. Which doesn’t chime well with take-away number one.

6. When it comes to goal-setting, find your personal ‘bag of rice’

Alastair set a challenge of busking around Spain. He had a violin, 5% ability to play it and no money. Getting some was a priority. The problem was that getting enough of it felt insurmountable. Alastair knew he could get a bag of rice for a euro and from experience, that little bag would feed him for a week. That seemingly tiny gain would buy him seven more days to grow his busking enterprise.

My takeaway: It always goes back to the value of time, doesn’t it? Time, hope and momentum – the equation for the fuel that drives progress.

“Sometimes all you can do is focus on that first euro, and the bag of rice. A small achievable goal and the hope and progress it’ll afford you,” he says.

This lesson stood out as universally valuable. It’s about giving yourself the bandwidth to progress without being crushed under the weight of some unapproachable goal that forces you into inaction. It’s the antidote to the paralysis of the “doorstep mile” – that first leg of any great journey. It’s about the build, not the finish line. Basecamp, not the mountain summit.

Whatever you’re building/creating/striving towards, this idea felt powerful.

If you’re looking for some daily nuggets of inspiration, why not follow us on Instagram, where we curate brilliant words from thinkers and doers across topics as diverse as vision, creativity, leadership and purpose.

Photo credit: Do Lectures 2018

Fintech Power 10

Tyto Fintech Power 10

Fintech is the largest, most influential sub-sector of technology in the UK. This is according to our Tyto Tech 500 Power List that we launched late last year.

This is perhaps no surprise given the UK’s rich heritage in the worlds of banking and finance, but its dominance shows when compared to the other sectors on our list.

Of the top 500 influencers, 74 are in Fintech. The next largest category is Madtech (marketing and advertising technology) with 42 influencers, followed by AI with 32.

So what characteristics did those influencers share?

The Tyto Tech 500 Power List was created using a proprietary methodology that combined influencers’ media activity, social media reach, conference participation and owned platforms to create a ranking. Influence is more than just LinkedIn followers, and we were genuinely curious to learn who had the most impact both online and off. What the Fintech influencers share, then, is influence in the roundest sense of the word.

Also striking in the list is the low amount of women. Only three of the Fintech top ten are women, and there are only 15 in the top 50. This presents an opportunity, as there are many, many women out there doing great things in Fintech (such as Anne Boden of Starling Bank, the first woman in the Tyto Fintech Power 10). The next step is for more women to start championing the work they do.

Something else that struck us was the lack of journalists on the list. We categorised the entrants as either business leaders, journalists, VCs or members of trade associations. From 74 Fintech influencers, only two were journalists. Given the rapid growth of this sector, it’s not surprising the vast majority of the sector’s most influential people are business leaders, but it certainly raises some interesting questions about what that means for Fintech PR and media relations.

That’s something I’ll be looking into in more detail shortly, but for now – and drum roll please – let us reveal who are the top ten most influential people in Fintech today or, as we’re calling them, the Tyto Fintech Power 10.

Tyto Fintech Power 10


Fintech influencer



1Anne BodenCEOStarling Bank
2Goncalo de VasconcelosCEOSyndicateRoom
3Imran GulamhuseinwalaGlobal Head of FinTechEY
4Eileen BurbidgePartnerPassion Capital
5Andrew DarleyBlockchain LeaderIBM
6Taavet HinrikusCEOTransferwise
7Gemma Godfrey CEOMoola
8Samir DesaiCEOFunding Circle
9Simon TaylorBlockchain Practice Lead11FS
10Jeff LynnExecutive ChairmanSeedrs


Tyto’s financial services and fintech practice offers breadth and depth of sector expertise. The team has worked with small start-ups, industry stalwarts and everything in between. Find out more.

A Fintech case study

Launching bitFlyer in Europe

When Japanese virtual currency exchange bitFlyer approached Tyto, they’d been working for two years to gain regulatory approval to operate in Europe. They were almost ready commercially and were looking for a European PR team that could successfully plan and deliver all communications aspects of their launch in this market, from messaging development and media training to event delivery and media activation. With business targets driving the desired launch date of just four weeks after our first meeting, we knew we had to work fast to deliver results.

What’s more, by this time the surge in price that bitcoin had experienced in late 2017 had well and truly subsided. The tables had turned; the price was plummeting, and scepticism was growing.

The target audience for the launch was sophisticated, and high-volume traders and the European team had challenging targets to meet on the number of signs ups expected in the first week. They tasked us to match or better the exposure bitFlyer had achieved in the US when they launched there the previous quarter.

We developed a campaign called Trading Up, which was about elevating bitFlyer from a company operating in two geographies to a recognised global leader. The concept of Trading Up also strongly reflected the emphasis bitFlyer places on regulation and gaining regulatory status, in an industry which is becoming littered with companies who choose to operate without a license.

Going from zero to hero

We decided to use London Blockchain Week as the hook for bitFlyer’s launch. We secured a keynote speaker slot and arranged an evening celebration at the event on launch day, but bitFlyer were clear that their key target for us was on media coverage.

Working from scratch, the Tyto team quickly drew out the key storylines and messages that would make this launch a success.

Through our research, it became clear that in gaining a license to operate in Europe, bitFlyer had become the only exchange licensed across Japan, the US and Europe – an excellent supplementary message to support their launch news. As well as working with bitFlyer’s team, we also worked closely with the regulatory bodies who’d given bitFlyer their license, agreeing on wording and media plans.

We knew bitFlyer’s announcement was going to attract a lot of attention. Not only would journalists have all sorts of questions, but bitFlyer would have the opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions with the world. You only get to launch once, and we wanted to ensure that bitFlyer were clear on what they wanted to say, were aware of any pitfalls created by the industry climate, and to find a spokesperson who could successfully carry off being the face of the European launch.

Thankfully bitFlyer’s European COO, Andy Bryant, was up for the challenge, supported by bitFlyer’s CEO who arrived from Japan on the morning of launch day. We put Andy through his paces in a full day of messaging and point of view development; media and presentation training; and interview rehearsal.

Working together, we established the areas on which bitFlyer would like to be vocal, the areas they were happy to talk on if asked and how to steer away from the areas they did not want to be drawn into. We supplemented all of this with a couple of hours spent with our Tyto photographer. In the space of eight hours, the transformation was complete.

Working hard to make the media stars align

We knew we had a strong story; that wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was maximising results and ensuring that although bitFlyer had chosen London Blockchain Week as their launch platform, that the launch was seen as European and not UK-only.

On social media, we set up European channels, drafted content, engaged with influencers and worked with partners to help share our message. Without any paid advertising, the top tweet that day gained 455,850 impressions. The news went viral in Japan.

For the media sell-in, we drew on media relations skills across the Tyto team and used the contacts we have across broadcast, national, international and trade media to gain maximum results for coverage and meetings between journalists and bitFlyer’s spokespeople.

On launch day, we gained 65 pieces of unique coverage (without syndications) across 12 countries, in publications ranging from the FT and Bloomberg to Bitcoin News and Tech Crunch. Over the following week, the number increased to over 290 pieces of coverage, thanks to working closely with the journalists we met on launch day.

The ultimate aim of the media and social profile for bitFlyer was not only to raise awareness but to drive new sign-ups to their platform. And bitFlyer has since informed us they over-achieved on the target they had set in Europe and saw a knock-on benefit in the US, too, as a result of what effectively became a global media campaign.

Tyto’s financial services and fintech practice offers breadth and depth of sector expertise. The team has worked with small start-ups, industry stalwarts and everything in between. Find out more.

Fintech PR

What does the lack of media in the Tyto Fintech Power 10 mean for Fintech PR?

In looking at the fintech subset of our Tyto Tech 500 Power List, what struck me was the number of business leaders who made the fintech list and the relative lack of journalists. Such a deficiency, in fact, that not one journalist made it into the top 50 fintech influencers.

What does the lack of journalists in our list of the most influential people in fintech mean for fintech PR?

It doesn’t mean that journalists in this sector aren’t important

Sector-specific media are, as their title suggests, focused on one specific industry. That means their audience, whether via an online platform, print magazine or its social channels, is very specific. Hit the right title, and you know you’ll be reaching the right audience.

Trade media provide a brilliant platform for organisations with a niche technology and a strong opinion on a specific issue to get their voice heard. Given the specific nature of the subjects they cover, it is often through these publications and online platforms that trends emerge and where companies start making a name for themselves versus their competition.

The trick is knowing which ones are most relevant and influential than others, as new ones often spring up.

It does mean that the world of fintech PR is getting harder to navigate

No longer is it clear-cut and obvious which people you as a client should be speaking to. Your targets might be journalists; they might be business leaders; they might be members of trade associations.

In that sense, fintech PR is going back to its roots. Not in a ‘dark art’ kind of way, but in the sense that you need to know the people who have the power to persuade your audience, and those people can no longer be put into clear-cut buckets of ‘journalists’, ‘social influencers’ etc.

They are all just ‘people’, and you need to know the right ones.

Given the above, specificity and relevance are paramount

If you’re in fintech, being known by those who are considered to be the most influential in that sector is essential, but it’s not the only thing that’s important. It doesn’t remove the need to be laser-focused on who the most relevant people are specifically within your niche sub-sector.

In other words, it’s all very well knowing who is ‘the most influential’ but what’s more important is to know who are the most influential to you.

If you operate in the field of cryptocurrencies, for example, it might be useful for you to know who the top ten fintech influencers are overall.  But just as important (and possibly more so) is having a bespoke list created only for you, based on your specific niche sector, your business goals, and the audience you are trying to reach.

Ignoring this aspect in favour of chasing ‘the top ten’ is something you do at your peril.

Tyto’s financial services and fintech practice offers breadth and depth of sector expertise. The team has worked with small start-ups, industry stalwarts and everything in between. Find out more.

Health Tech

Healthcare: what’s tech got to do with it? (and what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge shows us)

Over the past decade, technology has become increasingly important in the management of our health. For everything from fitness to diabetes to mental health to cancer – there’s an app for that.

But it’s not just apps and wearables. Investment in health tech is at an all-time high, and the yields make it increasingly difficult to distinguish between science fiction and reality. For example, sensors can now be incorporated into oral antipsychotic medication so that carers and healthcare professionals can track that it has been taken by the patient; amputees can play the piano with prosthetic hands; an AI-based algorithm can use activity tracked by your smartphone and smartwatch to predict your lifespan.

Where’s the real value?

No doubt, tech has been the driving force behind some of the most impressive leaps forward in the healthcare space over the past decade – but when it comes to it, will health tech ever be as valuable in this landscape as medical research and development?

A simple answer would be ‘no’. When it comes to battling diseases that kill us, traditional medical research and development yielding life-saving treatments are irreplaceable. But the answer is not so simple, and in fact, forces more questions.

How do we ensure the efficient diagnosis of disease at a stage where an illness is treatable? How can we ensure patients are compliant with their prescribed treatments? How do we raise the money to fund medical research and development in the first place? In 2018, the answer to all of these questions is ‘health tech’.

ALS: Disease management powered by health tech?

Also known as motor neurone disease, ALS has been on a journey over the past few years which simply would not have been possible without tech. Until the summer of 2014, the disease was underfunded, practically unheard of, and most importantly without a treatment breakthrough for nearly two decades.

Enter technology. It’s impossible to forget the Ice Bucket Challenge that dominated our social media feeds throughout the summer of 2014. Fun, shareable, easy and endorsed by celebrities, it was one of the first social media-focused fundraising activities of its kind – and it worked. Not only did average daily visits to the ALS website increase from an average of 17,500 per day to 4.5 million at peak, but the ALS Association received $98.2 million in donations between 29 July to 28 August 2014. That is compared with $2.7 million donated in the same period in 2013.

Whilst perhaps obvious, it is important to note that such a campaign would not have been possible without technology. Its success relied on our obsession with smartphone videos and our penchant for sharing our lives on social media channels. In the same breath, it has to be pointed out that the money raised through this campaign directly funded the largest ever study of inherited ALS. Fast forward to May 2017 and we see the FDA approve Radicava, the first new drug for ALS treatment in 22 years. Would all this have been possible without the technology-powered Ice Bucket Campaign? Certainly not.

The ALS tech story doesn’t end there. Radicava, whilst not a cure, can slow the progression of some of the debilitating symptoms of the disease – but the treatment regimen would be complex for people at the peak of health, let along for those who are battling their own bodies. The treatment starts with a daily one-hour infusion, followed by on and off schedules that vary from ten days to one month, and is only given in infusion centres, which requires transportation and coordination with care partners.

The answer? Mitsubishi Tanabe’s SearchlightSupport app designed to increase patient compliance. The app is designed to help patients at three specific stages of the treatment journey:

  • Pre-infusion: education, treatment planning, reminders
  • During infusion: mediation, mini-games
  • Post-infusion: positive reinforcement, social caring

Whilst medical research and development is undoubtedly at the centre of the advances in ALS treatments, it is the partnership with tech that makes the treatment the most accessible it can be to those that need it.

So can tech do it alone when it comes to disease management? Of course not. Medical research and development will always sit at the heart of healthcare. But as the late, great ALS sufferer Stephen Hawking once said: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.” Both medical and technological innovation has a part to play in healthcare – and by working in collaboration with each other, we truly see the greatest value of each in action.