Tag Archives: Business

After Hours – Co-op Digital

Working in technology, I enjoy listening to the experiences of other professionals. These occasions allow me to learn from the experiences of others in technology, before applying them to my own work and sharing with others.

Recently I attended the first ever After Hours event at Avenue HQ, which was organised by Oh This Way (OH). This featured Gail Mellows and Matt Tyas of Co-op Digital, who talked about their experiences and how they have used the skills learned on their digital journey, to benefit Co-op Digital and their clients.

Listening to Gail and Matt speak, I picked up on several reoccurring themes. These included collaboration, experimentation, quality of content, and working with other people. These are very important themes required in every single industry, as well as in everyday life.

In addition, there were other useful pieces of advice, that l learned from the event. These correspond to the themes that I have already mentioned, and in the spirit of learning and sharing, I have included some of these below.

  1. Never assume what your customers want.
  2. Experiment with different ways of working.
  3. Use your skills from childhood (e.g. drawing, sketching with colours, or using Lego), to get your ideas across.
  4. Prototyping is the start of collaboration between designers, developers and customers.
  5. Duplication needs to be reduced as it causes inefficiency, is unfair on colleagues, and is ultimately bad for customers.
  6. Important to research thoroughly and involve everyone.
  7. Prototyping allows you to make mistakes safely, quickly and cheaply.
  8. Give teams the right tools to do their job.
  9. Content needs to be designed so that it is legible, readable and accessible to all.
  10. Content and customer needs dictate the design outcome.
  11. Good design should go unnoticed.
  12. Quality of content is perceived by how a customer interacts with it.
  13. What you leave out is as important as what you include.
  14. Use the right words and not more words.
  15. Learn from what succeeded and failed.

To summarise what I have learned, content needs to meet the requirements stated by the customer. This is achieved by using different working methods, techniques and the right tools, to constantly experiment with various scenarios, before creating content that meets the required outcomes. As well as the above, content needs to meet quality standards, be accessible to everyone, is user-friendly, and based on strong foundations of thorough research and robust testing, from all relevant parties.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Robyn Dooley and Victoria Murray of OH for organising the event. My thanks also go to Gail and Matt from Co-op Digital for sharing their experiences, and also to Avenue HQ for hosting the event. This was an interesting and very useful discussion for me, and I am looking forward to the next After Hours event.

You can find out more about Co-op Digital’s work by looking at their blog.

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Weightmans Wednesday – Veeno

In Liverpool, there are so many cafes that serve tea, coffee and snacks. However there is also a cafe called Veeno on Castle Street, which serves Italian wine and spuntini, which means little snacks and appetisers in Italian.

At last week’s event at Weightmans LLP in Liverpool, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation on the background story of Veeno. This was delivered by Nino Caruso, the CEO and co-founder of the business. Nino delivered a delightful presentation on Veeno’s origins from co-founding the company with Andrea Zecchino in 2013.

Listening to Nino’s presentation, I was entranced by his story. Nino talked about his background in wine, forged through four generations of his family’s vineyard in Sicily, providing pure naturally produced Italian wine to over 35 countries, and how Andrea and himself, founded, grew and nurtured the business. In addition, Nino also talked about the future of Veeno, including the challenge of developing a corporate structure that supports the business, whilst retaining its unique identity.

From the event, I learned some interesting facts about Veeno, which I have listed below:

  1. Employs 150 people in the UK.
  2. As well as Liverpool and Manchester, they also have stores across the UK including Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester and Nottingham.
  3. 10 more cafes are due to open in the UK in 2018.
  4. Veeno made £4.3 million in total revenue in 2017.

The facts above show how Veeno has grown as a business. However it is more than just an Italian cafe that serves wines and spuntini. They also host wine tasting sessions for businesses and groups of people. Having attended the occasional past event at Veeno, they are a completely unique experience which I recommend to anyone.

Nino’s presentation was more than just talking about Veeno’s success as a business. It was delivered with a soft and heartfelt tone. As Nino spoke, I picked up on his passion for wine, life and family, encapsulated with a beautiful photo of Nino and his wife, married in his family’s vineyard in gorgeous Sicily sunshine and blue skies. Closing the presentation when talking about his grandfather, I heard Nino’s voice crackling gently with emotion, which I found rather moving. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful event.

I would like to thank Nino for an informative and touching presentation, as well as Ricky Heath and everyone at Veeno. My thanks also go to everyone at Weightmans for organising a lovely evening of networking.

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!

MYP Networking Masterclass with Dougal Paver – Thursday 26th April 2018

When networking, one of the pleasures I get is learning from the experiences and stories of others more experienced than me.

Last month, I attended a networking seminar jointly hosted by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute of Securities & Investments (CISI). Held in the lavish surroundings of Signature Living’s 30 James Street hotel, this was hosted by Dougal Paver of Merrion Strategy, regarded as one of the most networked people in Liverpool. I have heard several great testimonials about Dougal’s networking skills, so I was looking forward to learning from a master.myp_networking_masterclass1

From start to finish, Dougal delivered a first-class tour-de force seminar. Drawing on his vast experience with humour and wisdom, I was taken by the scope and breadth of Dougal’s networking knowledge, especially on the technical aspects, some of which I had never known previously. As a result, I not only found myself listening with great interest, but I also mentally related Dougal’s knowledge and understanding of networking to my own.

Along with consolidating my own knowledge, there were other useful techniques that I learned. Some of these were completely unique to me, as I had never thought about them, when attending past events and seminars.

These techniques included the following bellow:

  1. As the world changes you need to stay relevant, which is where networking helps.
  2. Small talk works as it helps to find common ground.
  3. Pay attention to what’s happening out there.
  4. Read the Economist and subscribe to your client’s trade magazines, and your industry’s newsletters.
  5. Networking won’t always deliver business, as it is about delivering long-term relationships, based on mutual trust and respect.
  6. Never dominate others, so remember to back off!
  7. Keep your social media activity professional.
  8. Plan what you can add to an event.
  9. Ask for the guest list.
  10. Evaluate what you got from an event and plan for the next.
  11. In theory, 150 is the maximum number of people you can maintain a relationship with.
  12. Demonstrate your capability and worth over time.
  13. Be reliable and always remember to follow-up.
  14. Your existing network must be nurtured with care.
  15. Remember to show your gratitude by saying thank you.

Dougal also explained about a key aspect of building and sustaining relationships. These include sending relevant articles, reports, and white papers, along with introducing clients to people who may help them, as well as inviting them to events. Another method to build relationships is to promote the work of your clients, e.g. blogs, articles and their businesses. Whilst I have applied some of the above, I have not always been consistent, meaning this is an area of personal development that I will need to address.myp_networking_masterclass3-crop

Overall I was very impressed with Dougal’s presentation of a true networking masterclass. From sharing his knowledge and experience, I was completely mesmerised by his performance, content delivery, humour and storytelling, which captured my attention throughout. In fact, I was so spellbound that I came out the seminar afterwards, feeling I had learned from a master networker. Such an experience is always a sign of a fine speaker, which is high praise indeed!

I would like to thank Dougal for presenting a magnificent seminar, MYP and CISI for organising a first-class opportunity for myself and everyone, and to the staff of 30 James Street for their hospitality. To conclude, I would like to end on the following point that encapsulates what networking is about.

Networking is what you make of who you know, and what use you let them make of you!

 

Social Media Meetup – Thursday 19th April 2018

Recently I attended Social Media Meetup, which was held at Launch22 in Liverpool. This was organised by Mark Russell of bmicro, and featured knowledgeable speakers in Peter Buglass of Objective Comment Consultancy and Edward Ridding of Umami.

I had never been to this event before, although others in my network had recommended it, through word-of-mouth on LinkedIn. Therefore as a blogger, I decided to attend the event, and see what I could learn. It was certainly worth the investment of my time and energy.

The event featured a brief talk from both Peter and Edward, who shared their professional experiences of using social media, as part of their businesses. Peter and Edward also gave their views on the recent announcement of JD Wetherspoons, closing down their social media accounts, and allowed the audience to contribute to the discussion.

From this, the discussion opened up a wide range of opinions, leading to other relevant issues surrounding social media. These included how organisations collect and use personal data, to provide personalised communications to their customers. A typical example is Amazon using data collected on customers, to send personalised ssm2_290418recommendations, based on browsing and shopping habits.

In addition, the event allowed the audience to ask each other questions, and discuss how to improve their online platforms. This was a good opportunity for me, to tap into the experience of the speakers and audience, who gave me some useful advice and pointers.

There was a real community feel to the event, as the audience was a diverse mix of professionals from different backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, digital marketers and bloggers. The bloggers I met included Jo Fitzimons who not only has a travel blog called Indiana Jo, but also a prosecco themed-blog called Visit Prosecco Italy. Another blogger I also met and was impressed by was Aditi Chawla, of Try New Today. Being surrounded by like-minded people, and a friendly dog called Buttons was very relaxing and pleasant, making this one of the nicest events I have ever attended, and one that I recommend to anyone.

If you have ever been to Launch22’s offices in Liverpool, I guarantee that it offers something completely different (in the words of Monty Python). As a co-working space, Launch22 has a quirkiness andssm1_290418 homely environment allowing for entrepreneurs and creative-minded people to launch their dreams. Such homeliness was evident, when I noticed a huge teddy bear in the office.

To conclude, I would like to personally thank Mark, Peter and Edward, and everyone at Launch22 for putting together an evening, rich in learning, delightful conversation, and for the popcorn.

I shall certainly be looking forward, to attending another event in the near future!

Professional Liverpool – Networking Lunch with Dean Currall

Marketing is crucial for businesses in every industry. From law, digital, construction, technology, manufacturing, finance and others, it is a key role shared by everyone. However one of the common pitfalls encountered are professionals talking about themselves and their businesses first, rather than listening and learning about what potential customers want.

I had the pleasure of recently attending a networking lunch organised by Professional Liverpool, which looked at marketing. The speaker was Dean Currall of Verb Marketing, who gave a presentation about how professional services can utilise marketing techniques, to develop fruitful and productive trust-based relationships.

There was plenty that Dean talked about, that really fascinated me. From the importance of giving solutions to customers, in the form of services and structured content, I found Dean’s presentation to be tangible and relevant for businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals today. In this era of digital technology, companies need to use the capabilities provided to tailor their marketing approach, in order to attract clients and promote their services.

In addition, Dean also provided other useful nuggets of wisdom, which I have listed below.

  1. You need to have a marketing strategy and objectives that are relevant, achievable and measurable.
  2. Create and give free content that resonates with people.
  3. Promote and boost content created and shared by others (e.g. blog posts, published articles and presentations).
  4. To sell content to boost your brand, you need to offer solutions.
  5. Your content needs to include tangible information.
  6. Become a thought leader and develop a relationship of trust.
  7. Do more seminars and blogs!
  8. Sell stories, experiences, solutions and benefits.
  9. Segment your content using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database.

From the points listed above, I was able to relate this to my blogging work, and how I constantly strive to create relevant and useful content, that resonates with people. Listening to Dean speak about structuring content, providing relevant information and how it needs to capture the personal attention of others, was a defining moment for me.

It also made me think back to a past experience, when I wrote and published an article about learning from failure, back in June 2016. When I published and shared the article, I discovered later on to my amazement, that it was viewed 88 times that year, which I was not expecting. Therefore I was taken completely by surprise with how the article struck a chord, and resonated with many people. It still surprises me today!

I was greatly impressed with Dean as a speaker. I not only learned plenty from him, but he presented and delivered his content, with a knowledgeable yet easygoing tone, that I could easily relate to and understand. In addition, I was also impressed with his knowledge of the mechanics involved with successful marketing. This has given me a greater understanding of creating and marketing my blog content.

A delightful bonus of the event was networking with familiar and new faces. These included Paul Trickett of Bathgate Business Finance, Agnes Fitzgerald of Irish Business Enterprise, Elaine Courtney of Courtney Reid, Jon Davies of Jon Davies Accountants and Simon Robb of The Alternative Board, amongst many others. Overall it was a pleasurable event, and I sincerely hope that everyone who attended also enjoyed Dean’s presentation, and found it to be as interesting and useful as I did.

I would like to personally thank Dean for sharing his marketing wisdom, and also to Alex Clark and Emma Rittenberg of Professional Liverpool, for organising a top-notch networking lunch.

GDPR – Are You Ready?

Is your business ready to meet the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) framework?

As GDPR is a legal compliance framework, which will be enforced from Friday 25th May, this brings many important changes related to data protection. These relate to how businesses and public sector organisations in the UK and worldwide, need to ensure they are legally compliant with all requirements. The framework also provides a clear definition of the consequences of falling short of GDPR. You can find more information on GDPR and how it affects your business here.

How can you make your business ready for GDPR?

The starting point is to audit, identify and understand the data you hold, along with how it is used, processed and protected. In order to achieve this, ask yourself the following questions below:

  1. What personally identifiable data is held by your business?
  2. How does your business use the data held?
  3. What policies (legal, technical, procedural) do you have in place to protect data?
  4. Have you identified and assessed the privacy risks posed?
  5. Have you incorporated privacy into your business processes to minimise risks?
  6. What have you done to raise awareness of GDPR amongst your employees and clients?
  7. Have you put into place any accountability and governance measures?
  8. Have you nominated a DPO (Data Protection Officer) to oversee GDPR compliance?

From the questions above, you can start to understand and document how your data is used, stored and protected. This will assist you in developing a tailored approach for your business to meet the requirements of GDPR. In addition, this will also assist in identifying and addressing any potential compliance issues, as well as delivering best practice.

I cannot state how important it is for businesses to ensure they are compliant with the GDPR framework. With cyber and data security under the conscious spotlight today and in the future, data breaches carry significant penalties under GDPR, including up to 4% of a business’s total revenue. For businesses of all sizes, the cost of a data breach under GDPR has the potential to be significantly crippling, both from a financial and branding perspective. Therefore it is vital that your business is GDPR compliance, before it is too late.

There is plenty of information and help available out there, so there are no excuses, to not be ready for GDPR.

Time is running out fast, so be prepared!

More information is available by clicking on the links below:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/data-protection-self-assessment/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr/

https://www.eugdpr.org

https://www.csoonline.com/article/3202771/data-protection/general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr-requirements-deadlines-and-facts.html

http://www.itpro.co.uk/it-legislation/27814/what-is-gdpr-everything-you-need-to-know