‘It is our job to identify the opportunities for clients and put them right in the centre’
Adrian Allen, managing director of The Tomorrow Lab, discusses the company’s growth plans, how the future is digital, and why people, not technology, are his greatest asset
The brainchild of 36-year old Adrian Allen, innovation-focused company The Tomorrow Lab has a busy schedule in the months ahead as it looks forward to marking its 10th year of success in 2019. Damian Campbell, head of corporate sales at award-winning contract hire and vehicle management firm Fleet Financial, digs into the company’s credentials and finds out what makes him tick.
How did The Tomorrow Lab come about? As an entrepreneur, I’ve a keen eye for opportunities. In 2009, I felt there was a definite, growing need among businesses for clearer strategic advice to assist in developing a greater online presence and to exploit the opportunities in a very fast-moving digital world. I set up The Tomorrow Lab with just a handful of staff and a clear focus on delivering solid digital solutions to help companies begin that digital journey.
Although websites were my mainstay back then, our service offer has grown rapidly to maximise a variety of online engagement methods, from social media, app development and management to SEO, content generation and e-mail promotions.
Tell me about the company now. After a strong period of growth, adding clients and increasing our specialisms with new, experienced staff, we merged with 3Sixty Create in 2016 and we continue to trade under The Tomorrow Lab name. We’ve 18 staff made up of web designers, developers and digital experts. Recognising that integration in digital is vital across all platforms. We are also part of the Pierce Partnership group of companies which means we can directly access brand, design and media expertise. How do you stay ahead in such a fast-moving environment? It may not have been as prevalent when I started up, but today, as the internet continues to be be- come ever more entwined with everything we do, the importance of digital marketing has never been clearer. Most people get most of the information they need on the smartphones or online. They’re on social media, they’re on Whatsapp or on Twitter and Facebook. Adults, and particularly younger people, spend hours online every day — it’s our job to spot the trends, identify the opportunities for our clients and put them right in the centre. At the Tomorrow Lab we don’t just build websites, we design and build digital platforms that solve our clients’ problems.
So how do you prioritise your day? It’s much easier now I’ve a strong team around me. They’re pivotal to our success. However, I’m very responsible, accessible and I encourage them to reach out when they need to.
As such, my job tends to be simple.
A large amount of time is spent developing wider strategies, researching and reading everything.
A key focus is on new business development, and this takes up a significant portion of my time too.
As a Google Partner company, and with a team that has developed world-class expertise working for the likes of Expedia on a global basis, I like to think we’re on the money on the tech front. However, you can’t take your eye off the ball — not for a second.
What’s the best business decision you’ve made? Making the move to merge my company with 3Sixty Create under the Pierce Partnership was definitely the best.
It’s brought us to a new level, quickly, and has opened up new doors and avenues for us in a way that would have been impossible before.
Together, we’re stronger and we’re seeing the benefits of that.
The merger brings together two teams with complementary skills, providing strength in depth and a wider service portfolio.
What do you do in your spare time? My leisure time is as important as work and getting the balance right helps to make everything run smoothly.
I’m a keen runner and try to get out when I can.
Last year, I ran the Belfast City Marathon and was delighted to raise money for the Friends of the Cancer Centre charity at Belfast City Hospital. I’m Chair of the Institute of Directors Young Directors Forum.
It’s a great network of people with a busy calendar of events. That keeps me busy too.
Adrian Allen (left), managing director of The Tomorrow Lab with Damian Campbell, head of corporate sales at Fleet Financial, Northern Ireland’s leader in contract hire and vehicle management