Microsoft guru gives Blackburn tech talk

Dr James Whittaker, recognised as one of Microsoft's leading tech gurus, gave a talk before an audience of Blackburn businesses - inspiring the town to accelerate its digital know-how.

Dr James Whittaker Hive Blackburn

Dr James, who has also previously worked for Google, spoke at a Hive Ambassadors Network event in Blackburn. He spoke about digital technology and using data to accelerate business growth and boost productivity in the county.

The event, held at The Grand Venue in Blackburn, was also supported by a panellist discussion of leading local business leaders; all sharing their experiences and wisdom on how to shape your own business with the evolution of the digital sector.

During his presentation Dr James said: “It is key for businesses to understand they simply can’t shy away from digital but you actually need to leapfrog technology already out there and not just play catch up if you are to stay ahead. Right now, it is an intelligent opportunity and not just a digital one, but you have to determine your own business’ future.”

When looking at this in more detail and relating this back to businesses in the room, he advised that: “Data is the future. The data is there, in all forms but it is what you do with it that matters. Drill down into your business, your customer journey and find what that data is, where that data is held, how that data is being communicated to you and adapt and invent your future. If you have people that can code, embrace them as they are the inventory and military of your future workforce.”

Data he advised is in all forms, from what the website collects as intelligence to simple data input to much more current forms of data collection with the likes of Conversational User Interface – intelligence collected via a voice assistant that allows you to talk and chatbots that allow you to type.

James was preceded on stage buy a panel of seven local business leaders and Khalid Saifullah of Star Tissue and a Lancashire LEP Board Member advised business owners and influencers to: “Make decisions based on real intelligence as that leads to a better customer experience. To scale up any business you need to harness and embrace data and digital tactics in order to stay one step ahead of the competition and to offer a greater, more seamless customer experience.” The panel also reminded delegates of the support available to Lancashire businesses through the Digital Skills Partnership and the North West pilot scheme currently in place to digitise the manufacturing industry, Made Smarter.