Intro

Information and communication technology (ICT) has long been at the forefront of technological innovation. The advent of social media and the development of 3G/4G/5G infrastructure are some of the most notable developments over the last decade. The sector is data-dependent and, regardless of the application, the manipulation, storage and security of the inherent data is paramount, not least due to the increasing regulation and public scrutiny of data-retention practices. ICT permeates a number of industries, and the applications can range from social and domestic use to commercial, industrial and even military usage.

Sector trends

The sector is commonly involved in the digitisation and automation of traditionally manual processes.

During the pandemic, we’ve seen a drastic communication change, with even the most traditional of organisations having to adapt to new modes of communication and information sharing. Similar to lateral industries, the ICT sector has experienced disruption in the following areas:

Blockchain
Blockchain – the democratisation and validation of data is one of the numerous applications of blockchain technology, allowing immutable and decentralised control of the data.

Artificial intelligence
The use of machine learning and knowledge reasoning is becoming ever present in technology for applications ranging from social media to gambling.

The internet of things (IOT)
This is perhaps the most pervasive technological advance in the last few years, with the emergence of smart assistants and interconnected domestic devices. There has also been widespread industrial application.

Example of R&D in the information and communication sector

One of our clients provides insight into consumer buying habits to supermarkets and large retail outlets. Conventionally, they have gathered data using surveys, but they sought to adapt the way they collect and use data in order to provide more contemporaneous advice to retail clients, and to ensure that consumer participation is duly rewarded.

Our client has therefore built their own web and mobile app which uses OCR (optical character recognition) technology to enable the user to capture information using the phone’s camera, for example data contained in a supermarket receipt. This will then automate the process of data capture, making the process much less arduous for the consumer and ensuring that the data is collected in a much more cost and time efficient manner.

There were two key parts to this project: firstly building a new integration layer into their existing system to improve functionality and reduce latency, and secondly building new UI and UX design for the app.

The work undertaken to build system capability and appreciably improve functionality and reduce latency would be considered a qualifying R&D activity, if the work undertaken was not straightforward or the knowledge on how to achieve a solution was not readily deducible.

What doesn’t count as R&D

The work undertaken to build UX and UI design would not in itself qualify, as these activities are concerned more with the aesthetic and cosmetic effect of the product.

The sector is data-dependent and, regardless of the application, the manipulation, storage and security of the inherent data is paramount, not least due to the increasing regulation and public scrutiny of data-retention practices.

How can we help?

Ben Conry previously worked for one of the largest financial services consultancies in their TMT (Technology Media & Telecommunications) department. He has experience working with companies of all sizes, and a breadth of experience across a number of industries. Book your free consultation to discover qualifying activities in your business and see how much your claim could be worth.

Ben Conry

R&D Tax Consultant

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