Influence no longer confined to newsrooms as business leaders top list of UK tech’s key opinion formers

According to the 2018 Tyto Tech 500 Power List, business leaders wield more influence than journalists in the UK technology sector. So much so that the second edition of the proprietary data-driven ranking sees the media knocked off the podium (within the general tech category) as the driving force behind the conversation in UK tech.

The list, which is compiled on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of social, online and offline influence across a range of metrics, features generalist business leaders more prominently (13%) than generalist journalists (10%). The shift represents a one-eighty when compared with last year’s rankings, in which generalist journalists were the largest sub-group, followed by fintech business leaders.

Interestingly, looking specifically at news outlets, apart from the BBC, no other single publication was able to make a significant impact on the list, or, for that matter, manage to exercise what could be defined as a heavy influence. There are 11 BBC journalists listed versus four from The Guardian and three each from TechCrunch, FT, and The Telegraph.

Thinking pragmatically, however, is this really all that surprising given the current political climate? In the last twelve months, the media has been under near constant attack from all sides. What’s more, today, just about anyone with an internet connection and a social media account has the capacity to publish and broadcast their views and news around the world.

Though primarily focused on, but not exclusive to, the media across the pond, journalists’ judgement, credibility and accuracy in reporting stories have not only been intensely scrutinised but repeatedly brought into question internationally.

The fact that fake news, defined as false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting, was recognised as Collins’ Word of the Year in 2017, due to the overwhelming increase in its usage and prominence, is an indication of the levels of global discontent with contemporary journalism.

Business leaders have, therefore, been able to steal a march on a denigrated media. With entire content machines at their disposal now the norm rather than the exception, combined with the creation and promotion of content through paid means having become a frequently adopted approach for audience targeting, it has never been cheaper and more time efficient to publish, advertise, and establish oneself online.

Though this shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, on the basis of this ranking, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to class the influence and authority of ‘traditional’ journalism as being in decline. In any case, evidently, business leaders have been able to capitalise. Read more on how SMEs, in particular, are making the most of the opportunity, in Brendon’s blog here.

Download the Tyto Tech 500 Power List to read the full report.

Size Doesn’t Matter. It’s How You Use It.

The influence ranking for the Tyto Tech 500 Power List is determined based upon a combined score of an individual’s influence across social media, events, traditional media and their blog. Having the resources to get involved in these different areas are the table stakes required to be considered as part of our ranking. Therefore, it would be silly to say that access to resources doesn’t matter. You need a minimum level of resources to get involved. However, what is clear from our report is that access to resources alone is not a guaranteed path to influence. If you have the resources to get involved and you use them well, individuals can significantly outperform peers in the technology industry with the right approach.

Consider the fact that Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google have only three people represented in the Tech 500. One of these is occupied by Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn and is in the top 100. Google holds the remaining two, both sitting outside of the top 100. That means that Apple, Amazon and Netflix have no UK representatives in Tyto’s Tech 500 Power List. No one would argue that they don’t have access to the necessary resources to support members of their team to be individually influential.

When we look at the Tech 100, 20% of the list are employed and backed by either a large corporate employer, a major media brand (e.g. the BBC) or are in some way employed by Government or Parliament. On the other hand, 80% of our Tech 100 do not have a substantial backer.

Digging deeper we found that there are only 13 members of the FTSE 100 with representatives in the Tech 500. These are Barclays, BT, Diageo, HSBC, Just Eat, Lloyds Bank, Morrisons, Ocado, Prudential, Sage (with two representatives including the former CEO Stephen Kelly), Rightmove, Sainsburys and Unilever.  Excluding the former Sage CEO, there isn’t one FTSE 100 representative in the Tech 100. Read Zoe’s blog to see how the FinTech sector is seeing more influencer from challenger banks, such as Starling, than industry stalwarts.

What does this all tell us?

It tells us that the size of your marketing and public relations budget does not hold the most significant sway on whether you can build a prominent position of influence. Quite the contrary it highlights that individuals that are committed, purposeful and have interesting things to say, can build positions of influence that are disproportionate to their resources to further their personal and professional agendas. Intellectual resources, ideas, and passion seem to be far more critical factors. In reverse, this analysis tells us is that there are lots of companies with considerable resources that appear to struggle with helping their representatives develop individual positions of influence.

When evaluating what it takes to get placed in the Tech 500, it should be noted that the bar is rising. Even if individuals manage to achieve the same level of influence over the next 12 months as this year’s Tech 500 there’s no guarantee they will place the same way. The reason for this is that the bar is rising. Now in its second year, the Tech 500 in 2018 collectively had an average influence score which was 45% higher than 2017’s Tech 500. This was less pronounced in the Tech 10 (average influence score up 4%), the Tech 50 (average influence score up 11%) and the Tech 100 (average influence score up 15%). This suggests that those at the top are operating at the upper limits of what is possible, while across the broader group there is a lot of room for improvement and individuals are working very hard to improve their influence.

In conclusion, what this year’s report shows is that as long as you have enough resources to enter the game, the size of the resources you can draw upon is not the primary determinant of success and your ranking. Instead, the game of influence is about how you best use the resources you have. Those already savvy enough to work on their influence are putting serious energy into raising their influence game making it considerably tougher for new entrants to break into the Tyto Tech 500 Power List should they sustain their performance.

Download the Tyto Tech 500 Power List to read the full report.

Women in tech are gaining influence, but it’s still not enough

2018 is being called by some commentators the ‘year of the woman’. While this personally grates on me (we only get one year?), there’s no doubt that 2018 has seen some of the most visible challenges to the male-dominated status quo across a number of different areas. From the worldwide ripple effect of the #metoo movement, the Google walkout, and more women than ever being elected to public office, 2018 has seen some encouraging signs of inching towards equality. We’re happy to say that the Tyto Tech 500 Power List is also showing signs of progress.

The analysis of the UK tech sector’s most influential figures, based on an objective analysis of audience reach and impact through media, social media and events, the Tyto Tech 500 Power List has revealed an upswing in the number of influential women in the UK tech sector from 24% to 31% since the same time last year.

The increased influence of women is present in shorter lists as well. The Tech 50 includes 34% women and things are similar for the Tech 25 (36%), and three women made it into the top ten – Emma Jones founder of Enterprise Nation, Anne Boden founder and Chief Executive at Starling Bank and Reshma Sohoni Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Seedcamp.

However, it’s not all good news as more than two-thirds of the list is still male. Influencers in the general tech category are most likely to be women, with 49% of those in this section female. Women are also highly visible within CleanTech (43%) and AgriTech (44%), a stark contrast to the InsurTech and TravelTech categories which are exclusively male.

While a seemingly increased appetite to hear from and listen to women leaders may represent an encouraging sign, women still make up just 12.6% of board members across the top tech firms in the UK, and almost two thirds of boards in the top tech firms had no female members, according to a report by Inclusive Boards, published in November.

This suggests that while people are increasingly willing to listen to and follow successful women in the tech sector, day to day business decisions that define board make-up, recruitment strategies and project teams are lagging behind the intent. Read more about big businesses’ lack of foresight in Brendon’s blog here.

Tyto applauds the women who made it onto the list not only for their incredible achievements in technology but also their tenacity in making their voices heard. We hope this trend continues and that 2018 is indeed not a peak for women, but just a sign of things to come.

Download the Tyto Tech 500 Power List to read the full report.

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

Rank

Fintech influencer

Role

Organisation

1 Anne Boden CEO Starling Bank
2 Goncalo de Vasconcelos CEO SyndicateRoom
3 Imran Gulamhuseinwala Global Head of FinTech EY
4 Eileen Burbidge Partner Passion Capital
5 Andrew Darley Blockchain Leader IBM
6 Taavet Hinrikus CEO Transferwise
7 Gemma Godfrey  CEO Moola
8 Samir Desai CEO Funding Circle
9 Simon Taylor Blockchain Practice Lead 11FS
10 Jeff Lynn Executive Chairman Seedrs

 

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.

business influencer

The rise of the individual business influencer

When we created Tyto we realised that while there were eternal truths for what makes great public relations, we were launching Tyto at a very different time to the last agency I helped create 18 years ago.

It used to be that if you wanted to know who you needed to influence in order to address your end audience, you knew your journalist network like the back of your hand. If you didn’t, you could use one of the many media databases available (admittedly of variable quality) to assist you.

Over the next 18 years, although knowing your media would remain a core skillset, we would see the rise of the social media influencer. We’d see the rise of specialist social media agencies to address this audience and we’d see the rise of tools to help people to map the social media landscape.

Fast forward to 2017 and I admit to being puzzled.  How do I answer the question put to me by a client, “who are the most influential people in our sector?”. On the one hand, we have established professional reporters, commentators and analysts. These people are paid to report on and comment on trends. It’s their job. On the other hand, we have opinion leaders that have built up large followings on social media platforms through respect and love of their viewpoints. In both cases, individuals in these groups often have an influence that extends beyond their publication, blog or social media feed, into public events and conferences.

Navigating this landscape is difficult. There didn’t appear to be a robust way of categorising and measuring influence across these combined factors of media, social media, conferences and people’s owned platforms (i.e. their website, or blog).  We decided we needed to address this problem and set about a process of creating a proprietary database that cast a wide open net to find the most influential influencers in technology across the on- and off-line world.

It hasn’t been easy. The project has taken six months to pull together. It is also a work in progress, and no doubt we will find even better ways to hone and improve our data. But what we have achieved with the Tyto Tech 500 Power List today is the UK’s first objective study into influence in the UK technology sector. It is the first of its kind to combine social, online and offline influence to build a robust data-driven ranking that isn’t reliant on single metrics or subjective opinion. The study analyses influence across 20 tech sub-sectors and nine influencer groups.

The individuals who’ve made this year’s Tyto Tech 500 Power List combine passion, purpose, and career position, into far-reaching public personas that are truly shaping the technology agenda. The Tyto Tech 500 Power List Top Ten are:

  1. Stephen Kelly, CEO – Sage Group
  2. Mike Butcher, Editor-at-large – TechCrunch
  3. Steven Bartlett, CEO – Social Chain
  4. Jeremy Waite, Global Leader CMO – IBM
  5. Russ Shaw, Founder – The London Advocates
  6. Anne Boden, CEO – Starling Bank
  7. Dr Sue Black OBE, Founder – #techmums
  8. Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor of London for Business
  9. Alex Hudson, Deputy Editor – Metro
  10. Goncalo de Vasconcelos, Co-Founder and CEO – Syndicate Room

The study revealed that our world of influencers has a significant gender inequality that needs tackling, with only a quarter of the top 500 influencers being female. It revealed that the majority of our most prominent technology influencers are either focused on general tech issues or they are clustered around a few super prominent sectors like FinTech, MadTech, AI and CleanTech. Unfortunately, many sub-sectors of technology are starved of the prominent influencers they need to help them grow.

One of the more interesting findings for me was that 60% of the top 500 are business leaders. This means that these individuals have built positions of influence for themselves that objectively make them part of the most influential group of tech influencers in the UK. This is the business influencer.

This is interesting for two reasons. Firstly, it highlights the importance of looking across the entire influencer landscape when considering who you need to influence in order to address your target audience. It also requires a very sophisticated approach to engage with these influencers – it’s not like you can just send a business influencer your press release.

Secondly, I believe it highlights the rise of the individual business influencer, and it raises the question of how much emphasis you should put behind individuals rather than the corporate brand when promoting your organisation. There are clear risks and rewards with a strategy that focuses more on individuals, and smaller companies are probably better positioned to take those risks.

The individual business influencer thrives because of the ease at which they can get their message across to a disparate audience through the media, social channels and conferences. They thrive because they can grow a personal network that can be easily nurtured and managed through social media. Finally, they thrive because audiences are interested in opinion and individuals are much better at opinion that brands. You only need to look at your LinkedIn feed to see this. Get it right and the influence of these individuals starts to grow and build with a self-perpetuating momentum.

I’ve just scratched the surface on our findings and what I think it means for public relations, but if you’d like to learn more and see who each business influencer is, you can download the top 100 of the Tyto Tech 500 Power List here.