Category Archives: Mando Group

BIMA & Microsoft Roadshow Liverpool – Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Working in the IT industry, it is important to keep abreast of the latest developments. For me personally, I like to take an interest in how the changing technology landscape, affects both the economic and social society we live in.

Earlier this month BIMA North West in partnership with Microsoft held an event at Avenue HQ, which looked at the above. I was looking forward to learning more about how Microsoft is developing technological solutions, which will shape the future for businesses and agencies. In addition, I also relished the opportunity to network with other technical professionals and creative minds.bima_microsoft1

The event began with an introduction from Andy Kent of Angel Solutions and Ian Finch of Mando. Both set the tone, by talking about the innovative work of their agencies, and how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and cloud computing are changing how businesses operate.

Andy and Ian were then followed by James Akrigg of Microsoft, who delivered an informative presentation. This looked at using AI to understand and translate languages, as well as Microsoft’s ongoing research to improve its capabilities, including image recognition and cognitive services (vision, language, speech, emotion and audio). All of this sounds like science fiction, but they are becoming more entrenched in reality.

Following this, the event split into separate workshops that were delivered by Microsoft technologists, Philip Harvey and Jodie Rodgers. Each presented various aspects of how technology and data can be used intelligently by businesses. This included looking at good practices of intelligent handling, storing, processing, and cleansing of cloud-based data from its rawest form, to accurately visualise and present it. By using these innovations, this provides businesses with the opportunity to identify areas of improvement, and create further value.

What impressed me about James, Philip and Jodie, is they were knowledgeable, friendly, and able to explain technical content in a simple and understanding tone. Coming from a technical background, I was able to understand the terminology, and it was wonderful to sit and listen to them talk about such exciting technological innovations. Quite simply I shall say, the possibilities to enrich and benefit businesses and society, are endless!

So what did I learn from the event? The answer is that I picked up so much in great detail about Microsoft’s Azure cloud solution and Power BI data analytics tools. There were also reoccurring themes from the event related to data and technology, which I have learned and included below:

  1. Data is the new oil!
  2. It is important to amplify human ingenuity with intelligent technology.
  3. Technologies have to be the right fit for a business.
  4. Ability to process data is a vital skill in the marketplace.
  5. Today’s software is becoming smarter.
  6. Before using data, it is important to sort, cleanse, organise and secure it.
  7. If harnessed intelligently, data can bring value to any business.
  8. Quality of data is important, and security is everyone’s responsibility.
  9. Humans prefer data presented visually.
  10. Data needs to be accurate, cleansed, simplified and presented in real-time.

Following lunch, there was an opportunity to take part in a boot camp. This involved taking a fictional case study and applying the knowledge learned from the workshops to devise a solution. Working as part of a team, I was able to contribute ideas, but also to listen and take in suggestions of fellow team members, before helping to present a solution to other attendees.bima_microsoft3

To conclude, I loved every moment of this event. From the speakers, networking and those incredible Microsoft tools, this has given me an insight into the future. It has also given me fresh impetus to learn and write more about AI, ML and cloud computing, especially Microsoft Azure, which I am looking forward to sharing in the future.

I would like to thank everyone involved with organising a terrific day. This includes Andy, Ian, everyone at BIMA, Angel Solutions, Mando and also to Avenue HQ for their hospitality. My thanks also go to James, Philip, Jodie and everyone at Microsoft for sharing their knowledge, technical expertise, visionary thoughts, and their smiles and humour.

If you would like to find out more, why not click on the link below:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/partner/digitalagency/

Thank you for reading!

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Provoke – An Introduction to Chatbots

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The ever changing world of digital technology brings new possibilities to drive improvements, solve problems and empower customers. An example of this is the growing use of chatbots, to address customer challenges and enhance branding reputations.

Last month, Mando Group in Liverpool hosted one of their Provoke knowledge events, on the subject of chatbots. The purpose of this was to explain about how they can be used by businesses, and of the benefits involved. Working in technology with a deep curiosity to learn how technology trends can be used to help others, I was keen to find more for myself. The event lived up to my expectations, as well as having the opportunity to listen and speak to fellow attendees.

As you begin reading this, I know you are asking yourself the question below:

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a computer program that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to simulate conversation with a person, via auditory or visual medium e.g. the Internet. As I discovered from the event, chatbots are not science-fiction, but a reality, and increasingly becoming commonplace, as part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Examples of chatbots include Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon Alexa. Chatbots are also used by companies such as RBS, CNN, Disney and Domino’s Pizza.

The event consisted of three speakers, who were Jon Seal and Gary Pretty from Mando Group, as well as Alex Fawcett from Sage. Each one gave a brief, but informative insight into how chatbots worked, and how they can be used by businesses. What was pleasing was that Jon, Gary and Alex spoke not only clearly, but demonstrated their technical knowledge concisely in simple terms, with good body language.

I learned plenty of interesting facts from the event. These were related to how chatbots are used, the purpose of them and what needs to be considered when implementing chatbots into a business. As I listened and learned, I could visualise and understand how they can be used, to benefit businesses and organisations.

Some of the facts I learned about chatbots included:

  1. They will be able to serve customers better and simplify communication.
  2. Interaction with a customer is a conversation and not a transaction, meaning they are about emotional and deeper storytelling to engage with customers.
  3. Chatbots are used on multiple-platforms, meaning it is used with social media, devices, apps and other channels.
  4. The purpose of chatbots is to make life easier for people and businesses, by simplifying processes, which helps to drive down operating costs.
  5. Provides 24/7 real-time information to customers, and can also check and retain information learned, though AI.
  6. They do not solve all problems, meaning that a default fall-back position needs to be in place, to allow customers to directly interact with a human advisor.
  7. Employees can use chatbots for better engagement with brands, allowing for improved retention and attraction of talent.

I came away with a clear understanding of what chatbots are, and of the potential they carry. They provide a unique experience in assisting customers with their problems. If they are implemented well, they will be able to successfully interact with customers and employees on a human level, which will positively enhance a brand’s reputation. Implemented poorly, the effect will be the opposite, meaning detailed technical planning, strategy and successful execution is required.

Reflecting on the event, I was taken with the layout of the unique working environment of Mando’s office. I was particularly captivated with The Curious Room, which is a small technology-free room with leather chairs, shelves filled with books and a table with a chessboard, used for brainstorming of ideas. I was even able to sit inside, and I found it to be relaxing, as well as an ideal place to think (just like a conservatory).

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In conclusion, I was deeply interested and impressed by Jon, Gary and Alex’s knowledge. The best compliment I can give, is that I came away educated, having taken a small step into a new and exciting world. Therefore I would like to thank everyone involved.

You can watch the films, and view the slides of the event on Mando’s website.