Tag Archives: Business

IX Liverpool – Who Are They?

Who are IX Liverpool and what do they do?

IX Liverpool (Liverpool Internet Exchange) is a collaborative and co-operative non-profit organisation, that provides a network for members to connect and share their Internet connections for the benefit of Liverpool businesses and organisations.

These members of IX Liverpool include Baltic Broadband, MICT Ltd, National Telecoms UK and Internet of Things Ltd. Each member provides essential services vital to IX Liverpool and local businesses from broadband, telephony, IT support, cloud, security, storage and other services. In addition, all members bring experience, knowledge, flexibility and reliability to the city.

For businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors, high speed Internet connections are required to connect with customers, partners and suppliers. As the business community of the Liverpool City Region (LCR) develops and interconnects with the UK economy and beyond, the demand placed on the city’s local Internet infrastructure increases.

Based in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle, IX Liverpool helps to facilitate fast, reliable and open Internet connections to small business startups and larger organisations in the city region. This helps not only to support the local economy, but also provides a connectivity infrastructure supporting the city region by adding resilience, which reduces Liverpool’s dependency on other UK cities for sufficient Internet bandwidth.

As well as providing local Internet connections, there are other benefits that IX Liverpool brings to the city region.

These include the following below:

  1. Roll-out of free Wi-Fi connections across the streets of Liverpool, allowing local businesses to connect with visitors and residents.
  2. By attracting and connecting digital businesses, this helps to create highly-skilled jobs locally.
  3. As a non-profit organisation, IX Liverpool has an open joining policy. This means anyone can become a member of IX Liverpool in return for a yearly fee of £120, which funds the organisation to enable it to serve the city region.
  4. Faster and better connectivity will also enable better innovation in Liverpool’s renowned medical science and research facilities.
  5. Improved connections will also benefit Liverpool’s schools, colleges and universities.
  6. By providing a strong local Internet community, IX Liverpool helps to manage traffic locally, providing faster speeds, better reliability and is ultimately more cost effective.

IX Liverpool is growing beyond to serve the wider city region. Last December, it was announced that IX Liverpool and Baltic Broadband were working together to install a connection of 10Gbps to the North Liverpool areas of Everton and Vauxhall. This will benefit the regeneration of the city by providing quality Internet connectivity to the Ten Streets Project, supporting future businesses as well as local residents.

In summary, IX Liverpool plays an important and under appreciated role in supporting the regeneration of Liverpool and the surrounding region. As the local economic landscape changes, the importance of providing high-quality Internet connections cannot be underestimated, as fast speeds are paramount in supporting local businesses and residents. This is why IX Liverpool is crucial in helping the city in joining others such as London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Dublin, Prague and Warsaw in building a powerful local Internet community.

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BIMA & The Joy of Work with Bruce Daisley – A Review

In every organisation, the workplace culture has a considerable effect on the productivity of employees. This is because if a working environment makes them feel good and positive about what they do, they will be more productive. However, if the environment is infected with negativity, this has the opposite effect on employees feeling disillusioned and stressed, sometimes to the detriment of their health.

I recently attended an event organised by BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) at The Plaza in Liverpool. Presented by Bruce Daisley who is the European VP of Twitter, the purpose of this event was to look at how workplace culture affects an employee’s productivity. The event began with a delicious lunch, followed by Bruce’s talk, a Q&A session, before finishing with an opportunity to have a free copy of Bruce’s new book The Joy of Work, signed by the man himself.

Following the lunch, Bruce introduced the talk by starting with his background. This was before speaking in detail about how the modern workplace environment is becoming increasingly permeated with stress, affecting not only the physical and mental wellbeing of employees, but also the creativity and productivity of organisations. Reasons include the changing digitalisation of the business world, the feeling of being overworked or underutilised, and the constant daily overload of information. In simple terms, as the modern workplace has changed, the levels of stress has soared through the roof.

I was impressed with how Bruce talked about how stress and negativity in the workplace affects creativity. This is because when under pressure (e.g. sitting at your desk waiting for ideas), the thinking of fresh ideas when under the microscope destroys an individual’s creative capacity. I have always believed that good ideas only come to you when you are relaxed, and this certainly reaffirmed this for me.

Bruce also made other interesting points related to stress, and the negative effects on creativity. These gave me plenty to consider about what the workplace environments of the future need for employees to feel positive, and for creativity to thrive.

These points include the following:

  1. Modern working systems thrive on overwork.
  2. Physical productivity goes down when we are overworked.
  3. We are very close to a burnout generation.
  4. Creativity gets killed when put under the gun.
  5. The human brain is configured to make a certain number of decisions per day.
  6. Mental fatigue is when the quality of decisions made drops.
  7. In order to be productive, it is vitally important to recover well.
  8. Weekend e-mails are a fast way to workplace burnout.
  9. Sleep is a real performance-enhancing activity.
  10. Creative offices have more face-to-face conversation between people.
  11. Time when travelling is creative.
  12. Stress lingers in the mind like a hangover.
  13. Creativity is the last competitive advantage.

To promote a working culture that embraces creativity and encourages new ideas, there is plenty for organisations and individuals to consider. These include providing a workplace environment that supports employees by managing stress, promoting wellbeing and preventing overworking to maintain productivity and quality of decision making. Communication barriers must be removed to prevent individuals, teams, departments and groups from working within silos, by encouraging face-to-face communication between all parties.

On reflection, there were several takeaways that I learned. The first and most important was that stress kills creativity. The second is that being relaxed and loose in thought is when creativity happens. A third takeaway is that creative magic happens when humans work together. My final takeaway is the importance of mental recovery and replenish through sleep, relaxation and even mindfulness. What I have learned from all this and more, has given me a better understanding of what is required to be creative.

I loved every minute of the event. From the talk given by Bruce, to the intelligent and insightful questions asked by the audience, it was an experience that I gleamed so much learning from, of which I am truly grateful.

The event also allowed me the opportunity to network, mingle and share notes, experiences and compare understandings, with many familiar faces. These included Andy Kent from Angel Solutions, Ian Finch from Mando Agency, Gavin Sherratt of Mashbo, Phil Adams from Langtons, Alex Clark from Professional Liverpool, Leon McCowan from Your Business Mobiles, Nicola Forshaw from Mindfit and Sarah Lowe from Bruntwood. An added bonus was that I got a taste of using AR (Augmented Reality) technology provided by Holdens Agency, which involved viewing the venue surroundings in real-time over a superimposed image, which was an amazing experience.

My thanks go to Bruce for a thought-provoking talk, and for signing my copy of his book, which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Bruntwood, BIMA and LCR Activate for organising a terrific event.

Weightmans Wednesday – Professional Liverpool

I have mentioned plenty about Professional Liverpool, and of the events I have attended previously. Therefore it was a real pleasure to attend this month’s Weightmans Wednesday in Liverpool, where I was able to listen and learn about the work that Professional Liverpool does in promoting the business community in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

The speaker for the event was John Hall who is the former Managing Partner of Bermans Solicitors, and since 2011 has been Chief Executive of Professional Liverpool. During that time, Professional Liverpool has grown successfully as a crucial voice in Liverpool’s business scene, which meant I was really looking forward to learning more about the organisation. This is because whilst I already knew that Professional Liverpool provides excellent networking opportunities for businesses, I knew little about the great work they do in providing a voice for businesses in Liverpool.

John talked eloquently about how the organisation’s membership base has significantly grown since 2011. In addition, John talked about how the organisation provides a voice to the professional business community in Liverpool, and how the events hosted provide a valuable and educational insight into how businesses and the economic landscape is constantly changing. As I listened, I came to understand that Professional Liverpool is more than just about networking and promoting the LCR, as it is also about educating, developing and supporting the business community.

I also learned some interesting facts about Professional Liverpool, which I have listed below:

  1. Professional Liverpool has over 500 members.
  2. Members are from many industry sectors including law, finance, marketing, digital and more.
  3. They hold up to 100 events a year from networking lunches, training seminars to the flagship Cannes Do event, which this year raised £13,874 for charity.
  4. By supporting and representing the professional business sector within the LCR, Professional Liverpool has supported an estimated 107,000 jobs in 12,000 companies.
  5. The above helps in generating more than £8billion per annum in gross value added (GVA).
  6. A new Creative, Digital and Technology specialist group to support Liverpool’s creative, digital and tech community is being launched.
  7. Professional Liverpool also has other specialist groups including Development & Regeneration, Healthcare, Private Client, Property, Marketing & Communications and Corporate Finance.

What I have learned is that Professional Liverpool plays a massive role in supporting businesses, and working with public and private sector partners for the benefit of the city. It is through continual collaboration and the willingness of everyone to raise Liverpool’s profile and brand, that will be a decisive factor in the future. This is why the organisation is a tremendous asset to the LCR, and also why John and everyone involved in the organisation, from the board, the membership, and those who work behind the scenes at Professional Liverpool, deserve the respect and appreciation of the entire professional business sector in the LCR.

My thanks goes to everyone at Weightmans for organising the event. I would also like to personally thank John for sharing the story of Professional Liverpool, which was delivered with heartfelt passion, experience and also humour. It was such an uplifting talk that reminded me of how proud I am to work in our wonderful city, and I shall continue to support John and Professional Liverpool in representing local businesses, and to promote the city of Liverpool.

Thanks for reading!

Future Boss Club – Who Are They?

Who are the Future Boss Club and what do they do?

For female professionals and entrepreneurs who work in Merseyside and browse their LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, the name may ring a few bells. This is because Future Boss Club is a networking group for females aged 18-35, which aims to boost and empower the next generation of women in business from all over the North West.

Since being formed in September 2016, Future Boss Club has grown considerably, with a diverse group of talented women representing several businesses. By focusing strongly on business-related issues from a female perspective, from networking and other events related to business, Future Boss Club is an interesting concept that aspires to help and support women in becoming the best they can be in business.

Future Boss Club is more than just about networking. It is also a support network and hub for women from various backgrounds including graduates, professionals and entrepreneurs, to support, help and learn from each other. In simple terms, they are a community of enthusiastic and positive like-minded individuals, with a shared passion for business.

Having read and learned about Future Boss Club, I cannot help but admire their work and ambition. Certainly with talk about gender pay gaps and other inequality issues in business and industry today, I consider the work of Future Boss Club to be very important in supporting and championing women to become future leaders in their chosen industries, from technology, manufacturing, engineering, science, marketing, finance, law and many more. Therefore I believe that Future Boss Club are an important part of the business community in Merseyside, and I certainly hope they continue their fine work and grow further.

To everyone at Future Boss Club, I shall finish with these words.

Keep smashing those barriers!

Weightmans Wednesday – ABS Solutions

Health and fitness is important to everyone. There are so many gyms and other fitness establishments that offer services to customers looking to exercise for various reasons, which is why the fitness industry is currently booming. Like any other business however, fitness establishments need to have their individual style or brand to attract customers.

At last month’s Weightmans Wednesday bi-monthly event, I was delighted to listen to Connor O’Brien the founder of Absolute Body Solutions (ABS), talk about the story of his business. It was a very good story too, from opening the first gym in Speke, to the latest gyms in Liverpool City Centre, and also recently in Manchester. In addition, Connor also talked about the rigorous attention to detail involved with ensuring the business performs and delivers the highest quality personal fitness training to customers. Listening to Connor speak, I recognised the crucial qualities of relentless hard-work, a strong emphasis of quality and consistency of performance when delivering services to customers, as well as Connor’s own passion for fitness.

For myself, I had a particular interest in this event, and of what I could learn from it. The result from listening to Connor’s story, was that I learned of the difficulties of being a good personal trainer and business person, because there are so many responsibilities involved with running both the front and back-end functions of the business. From the personal training of clients, to looking after the finance, marketing, as well monitoring the performance and continual development of the 19 personal trainers employed by ABS, I can only imagine and admire the tremendous work and dedication of everyone involved, that goes into making the business successful. This is why a key takeaway for any business owner is to surround themselves with the right people.

Connor also talked about how the fitness industry is changing. This involved the growth of online platforms such as YouTube to deliver personal training online to a wider audience. In the long term, I believe it will be interesting to see how gyms and personal trainers make use of online platforms. However technology will need to be tailored to suit the needs of gyms, personal trainers and their clients.

Overall it was a very good event, with plenty for me to take away and ponder for myself. This is because I came away thinking about my own self-improvement in my work and personal life, learning new methods and consistently applying them to develop as a person and as a professional.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Connor for sharing his story, and also to everyone at Weightmans for coming together, to organise and deliver an interesting evening.

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.

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.