Category Archives: Liverpool LEP

The Edge 2016 – Creative & Digital Exporting

Last week, I attended an Institute of Directors (IoD) event on creative and digital exporting. Held at the offices of MSB Solicitors, as part of The Edge 2016 festival, the event included speakers from some of Liverpool’s successful creative and digital firms.

The speakers included James Sproule from the IoD, Jennifer Hartley from Tech North, Ian Finch from Mando, Owen Cotterill from Mocha, Clemens Wangerin from vTime, Chris Morland from Citrus Suite, and Amanda Follit from Amaze. As always with digital-related talks, I was eagerly anticipating something special, and looking forward to soaking up plenty of digital inspiration. I am delighted to say the end result was precisely that, giving me a boost of excitement for the future.

The event began with an introduction by Kim Thompson from The Prince’s Trust. Kim presented a short video to raise awareness of the Trust’s new Parallel Lives campaign. The video was a powerful and moving experience, which shows how the lives of young people can be different, without the work and support of the Trust. You can view the video here.

Following on from this, James set the tone for the evening’s feel good factor. This was because he spoke with confidence and belief, by explaining how the UK is the most entrepreneurial country in Europe. In addition, I also learned from James, that there is plenty of help and support available for SMEs and entrepreneurs looking to export. As I listened carefully, any feelings of negativity and trepidation were swiftly dispelled, and replaced with positive thoughts.

Listening to the stories of the other speakers was of the same inspirational tone. From hearing Jennifer talk about the work of Tech North, to hearing Amanda talk about the history of Amaze, were amazing stories to listen to. In addition, I was also particularly taken with Clemens talking about the exciting growth of Virtual Reality (VR) technology, and of how it can be used as a sociable network. In truth, I was greatly impressed with all the speakers, and of their stories of success.

As with all these events, there were also other useful points that I learned. Some of the examples I have included below, which apply to both companies and individuals.

These include the following:

  1. Need to continuously learn as an organisation and as individuals.
  2. There are opportunities and processes out there, to help you make the first steps to export.
  3. Important to start at a local level.
  4. A strong identity and purpose will endure.
  5. Methods that work one-way may not work with others.
  6. Need to be visible and have an online presence.
  7. You still need to work with national and existing clients.
  8. Go out there and do it!

I have learnt from the event that certain qualities are required to export globally. This includes courage, as exporting outside of the UK is a major step outside your comfort zone, which can be daunting. A second quality is to be flexible enough to adapt to changes. In addition, you need to be aware of cultural differences, as other countries have different working methods and traditions, different to the UK. Finally your company must be resilient, as there will be times when you will be seriously tested, and face many challenges on your exporting journey.

To conclude, I would like to thank Michelle Helsby from Evolve Consultancy, Pete Radcliffe from the IoD, Liverpool LEP and all of the speakers involved. I found the event not only uplifting, but also thoughtful, intelligent, and a neat insight into our digital future. In addition, I was heartened by the positive vibes, not only from the speakers, but also from an appreciative audience. I felt an atmosphere of not just confidence, but also hope.

Hope and confidence is what we need right now, and in the future.


The Edge 2016 – The Internet of Things

What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The Internet of Things can be described as a network of interlinked objects, allowing for the ability to digitally transfer information between devices and people. This means the IoT has driven changes on an unprecedented scale. From businesses to our personal lives, technology is embedded into every fibre of society, which has changed and transformed established norms, bringing both exciting opportunities and challenges.

Last Tuesday, I attended an event about the IoT, which looked at the opportunities and challenges for businesses and individuals. This event was organised by Grant Thornton and held at their offices in the Royal Liver Building, as part of The Edge 2016 festival.

Chaired by Alex Baleta of Grant Thornton, the event featured three excellent speakers, who contributed an informal and thought provoking discussion, that gave the audience including myself, something to think about. The speakers were Tim Griggs from Arup, Steven Revill from UrbanTide and Dean Ward from Evoke. Working in IT with a passion in using technology to help benefit others, I was very keen to listen and learn, with an open mind.

The discussion covered both sides of the IoT. This was done through a series of questions asked by Alex, followed by individual responses given by each speaker in turn. What was pleasing for me, was that each speaker contributed equally well, and not only demonstrated their knowledge, but their responses were polite, pleasant, succinct and jargon-free. In truth, listening to what Tim, Steven and Dean had to say was nothing but a pleasure.

I learned so much on the opportunities and challenges provided by the IoT. For instance the IoT is at an early stage. As a result there is a massive learning curve involved, with understanding the effects on your business and industry. In addition, one of the challenges is the industrial and technological landscape changes constantly, meaning you will need to future proof your business.

I have included other examples of opportunities and challenges below.

Opportunities include:

  1. Potential to improve people, cities and economic growth.
  2. Connecting and engaging with people who could not be previously reached.
  3. Disruption of business models, which can bring new products and services to customers.
  4. Changing how people access services e.g. self-service facilities.
  5. Reducing of costs and wastage through connectivity, collection and smarter data analysis.
  6. Automation of processes allowing staff to deal directly with customers.
  7. Export of knowledge, skills and capabilities.

Challenges include:

  1. IoT does not replace business strategies or the ability to think.
  2. Need to constantly know customer needs and continually deliver.
  3. All sectors and industries need to learn and understand the IoT is a long-term journey.
  4. Discover and map the capabilities and skill sets you currently have.
  5. Remember to try, but don’t jump too far.
  6. Important to have a reliable infrastructure.
  7. There will also be security, connectivity and performance considerations.

Upon reflection, I came away from the event with a better understanding of the IoT. As technology drives changes, I understand the importance for businesses to embraces the opportunities provided, whilst tackling and overcoming the associated challenges. I also realise that the IoT can generate new ideas, that can deliver value to customers. Finally it is important that businesses embrace the IoT, for the simple reason that failure to embrace change and move forward with the times, will see many fall away by the wayside.

To conclude my thoughts, I really enjoyed the event and would like to thank everyone involved. My thanks include Alex and everyone at Grant Thornton and Liverpool LEP, for putting the event together. In addition, I would also like to thank Tim, Steven and Dean for contributing to an excellent discussion.