The way society lives tomorrow is changing today, as companies find new and exciting ways to apply technology to the world’s problems.
Consumers can now check their bank account, book a holiday, and buy new furniture using their smartphone during the morning commute.
With voice-powered assistants at home, and AI-powered, data-driven tools at work, the way we live is becoming more connected and efficient.
Innovation is happening all the time in practically every sector of the economy, but these three companies are making huge strides in how consumers manage their finances, look after their relatives, and control their sensitive personal data.
Billmonitor – Transforming your finances
With so much of our personal and working lives spent accessing the internet on our phones, the cost of data is a critical issue. Billmonitor claims mobile phone networks overcharged UK businesses and consumers £7.6bn last year.
By analysing a consumer’s phone usage and using technology to search through the internet, Billmonitor can help consumers find a tariff that suits them and saves them money.
Founded in 2009, Billmonitor seeks to keep the networks honest and help consumers make smart decisions, all while standing by its principles of transparency impartiality.
Dr Stelios Koundouros, founder and product director of the company, says Billmonitor is committed to helping its users save money by providing them with insight and analysis into their bills.
“Hundreds of thousands of people in the UK have saved 40 per cent on average using bill analysis and we are working hard to reach millions more that can benefit. We recently had opportunity to raise our concerns with the Competition and Markets Authority and with Citizens Advice regarding why we believe the incumbent price comparison services fail to meet people's needs, since their services are not based on analysis of actual usage patterns and moreover many services unfortunately promote deals that take into account commission paid to them - hardly impartial.
“We were encouraged to see the CMA reflect some of our concerns in their recent report, and also by CitAd which is researching how to help next generation services like Billmonitor reach more consumers. After years of campaigning, we are also excited to see Ofcom's new ‘text to switch’ regulations which come into force next year and enable our users to readily act on Billmonitor’s advice and realise the savings that our analysis identifies for them.”
Cera – Revolutionising elderly care
As demographics change and the population gets older, how society cares for the elderly and vulnerable is becoming a key issue.
London-based startup Cera is helping to make homecare more affordable, with 24-hour, on-demand access to high quality carers, helping families feel more in control.
Cera is also developing an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot called Martha, with the aim that it will give recommendations to human carers, and even prevent medical emergencies by spotting patterns and making pre-emptive alerts.
Dr Ben Maruthappu, co-founder and CEO of Cera, says 2018 has been an exciting year for the company so far.
“We’ve just announced $17m in Series A funding, which will allow us to transform the accessibility and affordability of homecare for thousands of vulnerable people like never before, all at the touch of a smartphone.
“The funding will also support our continued investment in AI, following the launch last year of our AI assistant, Martha, which is now in prototype phase. We’ve also grown our team significantly, making a number of key hires including Sir Nick Clegg who joins as Chairman of our Advisory Board.
“And later this year, we’ll be embarking on our first international expansion to Germany; the German care market is even more fragmented than in the UK, and the population is older, so we see this as a really exciting challenge.”
Digi.me – Take control of your personal data
Personal data is big business in the digital economy. As the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal highlights, many of the social media websites and apps we use day-to-day are collecting data on users to potentially sell to marketers. Meanwhile, companies are re-evaluating their data policies as the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation comes into force.
As a result, consumers are becoming more concerned about their digital footprint – who has access to their personal data and where does it appear on the world wide web?
But companies such as digi.me are here to help, allowing consumers to take back control of their personal data. Digi.me provides users with tools to collect, search and secure their data in one encrypted source, as well as giving them the option to decide whether or not to share their private data with other apps.
Julian Ranger, founder and executive chairman of digi.me, says public awareness over who has control over their personal data has never been higher.
“More people asking questions and wanting to get control back over their digital footprint is a good thing, because businesses and organisations will feel accountable and compelled to do better to earn and keep trust. This, in turn, will benefit every section of society, from governments down to every single one of us.
“By working with individuals and embracing GDPR, businesses will get access to MORE data, not less. More data to work with, innovate on and greater opportunities to offer their customers truly personalised services, which there is clear evidence they want.
“A revolution is sweeping the personal data landscape, where there is clear value in doing the right thing. Businesses can do that today with digi.me.”
These companies are all taking part in the final of Bird & Bird and City A.M.'s Digital Innovators 2018, which highlights the freshest and most inspiring digital companies impacting the market. The two winners will be announced on 11 May. To find out more, go to the City A.M. Digital Innovators hub.