Roundtable debate: Digital business

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The digital economy is set to play an increasingly important role in the UK’s economy. But what is it and are Lancashire businesses well placed to benefit? Those were just some of the questions we asked our panel who gathered at Society1 in Preston for a roundtable hosted by Slater + Gordon.

PRESENT: Richard Slater (chair)– Lancashire Business View • Mark Alexander – Slater + Gordon • Steve Kuncewicz – Slater + Gordon • Steve Brennan – Bespoke Digital Agency • Antony Chesworth – EKM Powershop • Jeremy Coates – Magma/Digital Lancashire • Guy Cookson – Hotfoot Design • Liz Hardwick – DigiEnable • Simon Iredale – Motionlab • Tony Melling – MyMarketology • Stewart Townsend – Digital Lancashire

How do we persuade businesses that digital is part of their everyday processes and how do we arm them to make that happen?

ST: By automating day-to-day processes in the background we are allowing people to be more efficient in their jobs. The benefit comes when operational process is streamlined. It is about trying to get businesses to operationalise the backend.

JC: There is a lot of hidden digital and people don’t necessarily label it as such. You can be digital more than you imagined. Most businesses will have used Dropbox or something very similar. Most businesses have some kind of service that they buy but may not have classed as digital.

GC: It’s not a one-time switch either. It’s constantly interrogating your processes and making sure you are using the best tool out there for the job. It’s about highlighting the productivity and efficiency gains, the return on investment. Business owners speak to their peers and come to us and say ‘such and such down the road is using this, what do you think?’ That’s how it spreads and it’s spreading really quickly.

SI: We’re finding clients are more than happy to outsource because change is happening too fast and they are incapable of taking on this technology and analytical processing in-house.

TM: It’s about the pound notes at the end of the day, what they are going to get out of it. Companies need to be educated about embracing digital.

LH: Look at your standard operating procedures and at streamlining processes and look at what’s in the market to help.

MA: The important word is productivity, which is something that is very high on everyone’s agenda at the moment because it’s a national and international issue.

SK: Businesses need to move away from this illusion that digital is a choice because their customers are already there; their stakeholders are already there. If you are not present on these networks you are leaving it up to your competitors to be the voice for your audience and you cannot afford to do that.

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