Technology is meant to increase income or lower costs for businesses because of the efficiencies it allegedly brings. But often the so-called benefits are not realised and business people find themselves held hostage to the whims of IT. How often does this happen? And, more importantly, who is going to stop it? Birmingham start-up Synapse is creating a counter revolution. Brian Donnelly, founding CEO of Synapse has come back from an eight-year stint in Silicon Valley to do something about the problem.

From its HQ at the Innovation Birmingham campus, Synapse has created unique technology that puts the business firmly back in control of the processes they want to manage more efficiently. Brian says: “I have lost track of the number of meetings I attended where the business users recount the same story.

Management tell the business to buy some expensive inflexible software. “After a while, the users revolt and go back to using the spreadsheets they were comfortable with in the first place. Huge amounts of time, money and patience wasted.” There are endless examples of companies held hostage to their IT systems.

In December 2014, the collapse of courier firm Citylink was examined by the administrator Ernst & Young. Their report described how inappropriate IT systems contributed to the courier firm’s downfall. In many companies the IT department needs to be reined in – going back to basics and rebuilding systems around the way people work, instead of the opposite, is the logical way to do this. Today’s commercial off-the-shelf software (coTS) over-complicates matters for the business – too much information and too many options are available for people to work efficiently.

Even Brian owned up to this sin: “When we grew our first major start-up in Silicon Valley it was based on selling coTS worldwide. Our business model meant that we created a one-size-fits-all software package for everyone to use. But we saw this problem repeated all over the world. “Customers, fed up with inflexible software solutions, built their own spreadsheet workarounds. “There were drawbacks but the only thing on offer from IT was to buy more inflexible software solutions.”

Synapse technology connects every business users’ desktop spreadsheet to their secure cloud server – as each person types in new data, it appears, in a controlled fashion, on everyone else’s desktop spreadsheet. Getting back to basics is a liberating feeling for many companies, Alphafish – a PaaS and Professional Services Provider to the public sector – is among them. Managing director Neil Streets said: “It’s wonderful to be able to introduce Synapse to our clients. Not only is their business information consolidated, but the burden and unnecessary hassle of training is eliminated.”