TECHWORK 23: Simon Bowley, 17Capital
Bowley began his career as a support analyst for PE software firm eVenture Systems. During the next 15 years, he managed the support team before moving into business analysis, working with a broad range of VC, PE and banking clients on bespoke development projects. One of his most notable accomplishments during this time was the successful development of eVenture’s web and mobile app solutions prototype.
In 2020, he joined 17Capital as the technology innovation manager to lead its technology programme focused on supporting the company’s rapid growth. Bowley made this move because he recognised the unique position 17Capital finds itself within the industry. “As the NAV financing market has increased nearly ninefold in the past five years, it is constantly streamlining and improving its technological systems to accommodate a larger investor base alongside bespoke investments,” he explains.
Initially, Bowley’s role was to deliver the first phase of a technology roadmap, implementing key technologies including a data warehouse solution, and to consolidate siloed data from across the business. With this in place, moving the business away from reliance on only Excel-based data analysis to using Power BI has been a key achievement. This has provided the business with interactive analytics that support servicing an increasingly sophisticated investor base and managing bespoke investments.
Last year, the partners agreed to Bowley’s new strategy for 17Capital’s technology roadmap that focuses on taking advantage of low-code tools to facilitate change. According to Bowley, the advancements in low code have really moved the needle on the build-versus-buy debate. “Business intelligence, process automation and custom point solutions can be developed, deployed and evolved quickly and easily in-house, enabling a more agile approach to meeting both investor and operational needs. This is important for us as our rapid growth drives an evolving business, for example servicing an increasingly sophisticated investor base and managing more complex investments, and tech innovation must keep pace to ensure the business can scale effectively,” he explains.
One of Bowley’s key aims is to simplify technology and make it as easy as possible for 17Capital’s business users, whom he views as clients of the tech team. “To achieve this goal, I adopt a consumer-focused mindset and ask myself, ‘what makes technology easy to use outside of work?’ and ‘what can we learn from this?’ to then integrate into our business technology strategy.”
For Bowley, it’s vital to remember how people work today, especially in a post-pandemic world where Outlook and Teams have become daily staples. “By integrating business workflows and communication between multiple systems into Teams, we can enable users to work more seamlessly and avoid having to open multiple systems. This, in turn, can improve adoption rates and increase the efficiency of information flow into our systems,” he says.
In addition to simplifying technology, other key areas of focus for Bowley include improving the end-to-end investor experience and implementing even more sophisticated risk management solutions.
“Technology is constantly evolving. Building up a network of tech professionals, such as through attending conferences, is key for attaining a broad view of how businesses are utilising and benefiting from technology,” says Bowley. He also advocates looking across industries beyond PE. “There are many common challenges that we face and some industries are ahead of the curve on using tech to solve them.”