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Please note that I will no longer be posting on this blog. We have moved everything to a self-hosting blog at http://blog.bima.co.uk

Thanks

Direct gov logoI’m probably a little late in writing this post but what the hell, better late than never. I’ve been invited to give a presentation to a room packed with heads of local councils in London. No, I don’t mean heads without bodies.

The subject matter is ‘how to better engage with the public through the Web’.

When delivering a keynote, I tend to focus on no more than 2 messages. Less is more. That is, fewer messages will increase the likelihood of people remembering.

I intend to cover general accessibility, Web accessibility and blogs, but would like to solicit your feedback.

Accessibility

  • Make local council staff more accessible. This can be achieved by putting names and contact details for every service that Councils offer the public.
  • Make it easy for disabled users to access the same information as everyone else. This can be achieved by making sure their Web sites are designed and built with best practice techniques in mind. The W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are the defacto guidelines used to help developers build accessible Web sites.
  • Make their content more discoverable for search engines so when users can find reliable and relevant content when searching for local information. This also covers internal search. This is automatically achieved when Web sites have incorporated Web accessibility best practice.

Blogs

I intend to explain the benefits of blogs. My aim is to demonstrate the importance of being more interactive and engaging with the end user. It’s important for end users feel that Web site owners care about them. So, whilst I don’t think every organisation should necessarily have a blog, I do think it’s important for them to understand the importance of putting the end user first, by constantly improving what and how it delivers products and services based on their feedback.

Having said that, perhaps local councils should have blogs where nominated staff talk about bullying, drugs, pregnancy etc. as well as talk about local initiatives.

What do you think? I do realise it might be too late to get feedback but I’d appreciate last minute comments as I tend to change my presentations on the fly based on listeners responses (or sometimes lack of).

doug richards smilingThere’s a buzz around the European startup community at present. Well, actually, most of it seems to be happening in London, where the passion and enthusiasm is most apparent and collaboration is easier to attain. That’s probably because it’s a big city with lots of people and all speaking the same language with no water separating them. That’s not to say there isn’t the same level of enthusiasm elsewhere which shouldn’t be harnessed and supported.

A much needed ecosystem to enable better collaboration is starting to form in London, with people like Saul Klein kicking off initiatives such as OpenCoffee, Robert Loch and Paul Birch running (compelling) Internet People and informal gatherings for Creative People (supported by me from a BIMA perspective) and Sam Sethi running mashup events. And these are just a few of the networking opportunities that attract an average of 80 likeminded opportunists on a regular basis. Then you have intimate and private breakfast meetings which I’ve attended, along with people such as Paul Birch, Robert Loch, Olly Barrett, Saul Campbell, Judy Gibbons, Judith Clegg, Michael Smith, Saul Campbell, Sam Sethi, Daniel Appelquist and more.

Sam wrote a very interesting post that grabbed the attention of some of the UK’s finest investors recently, most notably Doug Richards, one of the originals from Dragon’s Den. Sam articulated what I’ve been thinking about for a while – about the disconnect between investors, brands that can make a difference such as BT and Microsoft, government initiatives and entrepreneurs.

I was interested in the debate it sparked. Each investor articulated their involvement in various initiatives, all of which were unknown to me personally. That’s not to say they’re not compelling and very worthwhile, but it does highlight the necessity for each community to collaborate and not just each person in each community.

During the exchange of comments on Sam’s post, I raised the question about working with government bodies to seek more support to help build the foundation of such an ecosystem. There were no takers and only Robert suggested something similar.

Whilst Enterprise Ireland does very little, the Irish government has decided to roll out free WiFi access across Dublin city. This is the type of stuff that’s needed, but much more needs to happen if budding entrepreneurs are to, well, blossom. Unlike the dragons, I wouldn’t necessarily expect an inventor to have the business acumen to realise the full potential of their product – you can’t be good at everything.

So, whilst I believe entrepreneurs have the ability to sell, that doesn’t mean they have the time to fill in application forms for innovation type competitions to ensure they end up on the radar of people who count, nor are they likely to have time/money to spend on PR firms to do it for them. Congratulations to Nooked though, they deserved to be on the list! I believe the rest of the value chain should seek and discover such talent and help them realise their full potential. It’s not just about the money; it’s about building an ecosystem where better collaboration can take place.

I work with what I like to call ‘widget companies’ instead of trying to build everything. We now work in an environment where ‘plug ‘n play’ companies work together to deliver compelling products and services that don’t cost an arm and a leg to build.

So, who are the ‘The Digital Pioneers’ and how are they discovered?

So, here’s an example of where a vital stake holder could better engage to make a bigger impact.

British Council logo

I was contacted by the British Council this week and asked if I would consider becoming a mentor to a Hong Kong based mobile games company under a new scheme called the ‘Digital Pioneer Programme’. I have accepted because I think it’s a brilliant initiative.

I will also be talking to them about how to improve the programme itself. I’m impressed by their open-door policy to change where necessary.

The Digital Pioneer programme is a British Council programme for digital pioneers in the UK and Hong Kong. Six people, three from each country, have been selected following a competitive application process to take part in the first Digital Pioneer programme.

The Digital Pioneer programme 2007 is focussing on content development and an integral part of the programme is mentoring. Each digital pioneer has been asked to outline the area that they would like their mentor to be working in and the kind of input they would like from their mentor.

The Digital Pioneers from Hong Kong will have mentors in the UK and the UK pioneers will have mentors in Hong Kong. The initial visits will take place at the end of March with the UK pioneers going out to Hong Kong first and the Hong Kong pioneers returning the following week.

The UK pioneers will be in Hong Kong 17-24 March and we would like them to have the opportunity to meet their mentors during this visit. The Hong Kong pioneers will be in the UK 29 March – 5 April and again we would like the pioneers to have an opportunity to meet with their mentors during this week.

My role as a mentor will be to work with the Digital Pioneer and help them to access the market opportunities they are seeking in either the UK or Hong Kong.

I will

  • put the pioneer in contact with people in industry who might be interest in buying the services/products offered by the pioneer’s business;
  • be able to advise on how to access the market for example who is the best person to contact, what form the contact should take for example email or telephone;
  • comment on the business they are running and offer advice on how to run the business more effectively;
  • be a sounding board for ideas that the pioneer might have in terms of business or market development.

The (lucky) company🙂

The guy from Hong Kong that I’m going to mentor is Wallis Wong.

Walis set up his first start up company in 2004 and has successfully developed and launched more than 20 mobile games and services including two award winning games, 3G Mopas and Hong Kong War. More information can be found at www.3dynamics.com.

So, how do we get all the relevant stake holders to collaborate and discuss how to implement better collaboration? I know this may sound a little silly, but sometimes you need to plan how you’re going to plan.

May I call all of the aforementioned, the DTI, British Council, Business Link and Gordon Browne (and anyone reading this with an interest) to a sit down breakfast? If Gordon is going to pay for it, why don’t we make it the Ivy?🙂

Alastair Duncan from MRM Worldwide has just kindly offered me tickets to the Marketing Society’s 2007 Annual Lecture, given by Andy Duncan, Chief Executive of Channel 4.

The Lecture will take place at BAFTA tonight at 6.30pm, and will be followed by dinner and questions…

Unfortunately I can’t make it due to doing dinner with a friend, so if you’d like to attend please email Alastair directly. The event is sold out and tickets were £240 each.

The ticket(s) (complementary to you) include a glass of bubbly on arrival, and half a bottle of wine with dinner.

Timings 6.30 – 7.00pm Drinks Reception
7.00 – 8.00pm Annual Lecture
8.00 – 11.00pm Dinner including Q & A

Email Alastair now to get your ticket.

This blog is being hosted on WordPress.com until the new BIMA Web site goes live in a few weeks. We’ve just paid for some ‘credits’ which basically allows us to edit the CSS which until now, has been outside of our control. So, please be patient while we continue to improve the look ‘n feel. All suggestions welcome!

Last Thursday night I attended the second NW Startup 2.0 event organised by Manoj Ranaweera. The idea of the event is to bring together likeminded tech entrepreneurs who can share their experiences of the undoubtedly rewarding, yet often lonely task of starting your own business.

Also in attendance were several deal brokers, investors and venture capitalists who have valuable tips (and not to mention, finance!) to share. After some networking over canapes provided by hosts KPMG, we enjoyed speeches from three entrepreneurs who’ve been there and done it: Yuuguu‘s Anish Kapoor, Accountis and Sanoodi‘s Rhys Jones and Wadaro‘s Robert Wakeling. After sharing their wisdom it was also very interesting to hear Ed French of Rising Stars, venture capitalists who invest almost exclusively in tech startups. He provided valuable insight for any budding entrepreneur to bear in mind when seeking investment.

After a Q+A session, more drinks and food provided the ideal opportunity for the entrepreneurs to practice their ‘Dragon’s Den’ pitches to potential investors. Well done Manoj for organising a great event like this in Manchester.

BIMA has been asked to support this event ongoing, so we’ll post detail about future events here. I look forward to the next one.

front cover of digital marketing for dummiesThe Sunday Tribune dedicated a full page to the “Irish who’ve made it into London’s marketing elite”. I was one of 5 people featured alongside Lorraine Twohill, Head of Google EMEA and 3 others.

Last week I learned that Revolution Magazine mentioned me (in August 2006) as one of 4 people to watch in 2007.

The clincher

Last week I received my personal copy of Digital Marketing for DUMMIES from one of its editors, Gregory Brooks. Thanks Gregory, what exactly are you trying to tell me?😉 Should I study more carefully, the section on blogs or just read up more on digital marketing?

So, am I amongst the elite, or am I just a dummy? Ahem, feel free not to comment because I know what most of you will say🙂

Greg, seriously, congratulations on the book and thank you very much for sending me a copy. I’ve been told a number of times by journalists that I should write a book, but I wouldn’t know where to start, wouldn’t have the time and certainly wouldn’t have the skill to write properly. Suggestions welcome!