Posted on October 23, 2018 by staff

‘Digitally immature’ companies can learn from Everton FC


A former video game designer turned technology entrepreneur warns that “digitally immature” companies who fail to embrace smart tech are in danger of being left behind.

Chris Grannell is the founder and managing director of Warrington-based creative technologies company Urban Zoo, which has long-term contracts with high-profile clients in the sports industry including Everton FC and Stoke City FC.

The entrepreneur uses his 15-year experience at Sony to help businesses, sports clubs and football teams with interactive technologies ranging from apps and gamification to chatbots and conversational search applications.

Grannell describes both Everton and Stoke City as “forward-thinking” clubs when it comes to investing in new technologies and digital functionality to improve fan engagement and suggests that other sports clubs and corporate clients could stand to learn from them.

→ Chris Grannell will be speaking at Grow your business through smart tech, which is being run in association with Huawei and Utopia Technology, on 13th November 2018. Book now

“It’s really good that we’ve got free reign with Everton and Stoke to work on some cutting-edge ideas but there are other clubs and organisations that are in the early stages of their digital journeys,” Grannell told BusinessCloud.

“There are still a lot of people that aren’t sure of the difference between a website, mobile site and an app and we’re trying to get across to them what that initial investment would bring in return.”

Urban Zoo is currently working on a number of products which it hopes to complete in the next 12 to 18 months, including a fan engagement platform for sports teams.

The company is also developing a secure messaging tool designed for corporate clients in the banking, legal and professional services sector.

Grannell, who will be sharing his expertise at our ‘Grow your business through smart tech’ event next month, warns that companies who ignore smart technologies are in serious danger of being overtaken by competitors.

“Foolish might be a strong word but discounting smart technologies creates the possibility of an organisation being left behind – and that window is shrinking every day,” he said.

“As we move forward there’s going to be a greater emphasis on smart tech and I think they should all be looked at or explored.

“People shouldn’t just jump on big data for the sake of it but they should make sure that their customer interactions include as much technology as possible.”

Earlier this year, Urban Zoo celebrated its fifth anniversary and announced that it had secured a six-figure investment to fuel its growth.

The company currently employs a team of 10 and has plans to grow to 15 over the next six to 12 months.

“We’ve never thought of ourselves as an agency and we never wanted to overinflate,” he said.

“Our team is essentially made up of technologies and developers – we don’t really have account managers and other ancillary positions so we are a pure tech company in that regard.”

Grannell will be speaking at the event on Tuesday 13th November alongside Utopia Technology’s Chris Sulej; Chris Hill, director of sales, Enterprise Business Group UK, Huawei; and Landways CEO Chris Smedley.

If you would like to be considered as a speaker for this event, please email [email protected].