How to build an economy of opportunities

Economy of opportunities is all about how can you bring your insights, talents and experience together in order to solve an issue. Whether that be a industry issue, client issue or internal issue.

Flavilla was joined by James Herbert, Founding Partner of The Panoply, to discuss “How to build an economy of opportunities and create your tech ecosystem”.

Briefly, tell us how your journey took where you are right now

My journey started in the same way that many older entrepreneurs start. I’m not even sure that I am that entrepreneurial. I certainly wasn’t selling food in the playground from age 8 like so many entrepreneurs say they did. Working in an industry – Government – whose use of technology, data and suppliers frustrated and saddened me so much, I wanted to do something about it. I believed that I could bring about more change from the outside than as an employee. It was this need to try and fix an important thing rather than some burning desire to create a business or some fancy exit plan that first pushed me into it.


What has been your biggest lesson learnt from working at The Panoply?

Having sold the business to a listed PLC, I have been on a huge learning curve about listing and what being a public company really means. It does have some challenges but on balance I think I have learnt about the wisdom of the markets. Often, in the short term, the pressure of the markets can feel a bit short term or too intense. But actually, on reflection it leads to you growing up quickly as a business. It forces you to focus and really think about your decisions and investments. I don’t regret doing it and I suspect I will always be a much stronger business person for the experience. economy of opportunities


Tell me about Panoply’s customer acquisition systems? And at which stage of a company’s lifecycle should they approach you?

We support clients in their digital transformation efforts, primarily through building products and services on the cloud and through automation. As a company, we are building up our marketing and content presence. But at this stage, most of our work comes via words of mouth, relationships and government frameworks. Panoply is very good at making sure certain types of organisations always need the thing that we are expert in. Our clients are generally medium to large institutions such as public, private and non profit. They tend to need our help with their digital, technology and data goals.


What do you wish more people knew when it comes to creating a tech ecosystem?

I wish people knew more about the detail of creating double sided platforms rather than just the headlines. What it takes to build such platforms. How do you get supply and demand to interact over the platform? Are you capable of owning such a platform? Do you have the right conditions in place to be successful? What talent do you need to maintain the platform and the business model etc. In terms of our business model, in a way, we are an eco system of experts in some aspect of modern technology rather than the tech ecosystem. I’ll let you know more about that in a few years when I know more myself. 🙂


Thinking about your legacy, how do you want to be remembered?

As someone who was generous in spirit to the people in my life and who was authentic about what I believe to be important in (business) life. As I mentioned in the interview with Flavilla, I would love to bring my knowledge of Government, tech and data to help in the fight against the hideous problem of Lyme Disease, particularly in children. But that might have to be my longer term project. economy of opportunities


About the speaker

Prior to his entrepreneurial career James Herbert was a Civil Servant and Local Government Officer. During that time he co-designed, delivered and led some of the most significant technology and data led transformation programs of the last two decades. 

At the Cabinet Office he worked on the original Government Cloud team as co-author of the G-Cloud Framework and Cloud First Strategy. This work has become the default standard for digital government across the world. In Local Government, as a CIO, he pioneered the adoption of cloud technology, agile methods and open data standards. He was also a member of the team that designed and delivered the world’s first Low Code Council.

Since 2015 James has founded 4 successful technology businesses delivering services across Cloud, software engineering and latterly automation. His current businesses, Not binary and Human+ were acquired by The Panoply Group in 2018 and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

James has personally advised and mentored a variety of organisations on their technology and data strategies including Haymarket Media, Salesforce, CP Plus, Cancer Research UK and Ofcom.

In his spare time, James is responsible for business development and fundraising for Lyme Disease UK.


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