Beginning in 2014, the International Festival for Business (IFB) is an annual festival set to bring together business people from all sectors and ultimately facilitate trade and investment deals internationally. In 2014 there were almost £280 million worth of business deals made - a clear opportunity for all businesses to get involved.
Delivered by Liverpool Vision and in partnership with the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), the 2016 International Business is the next step for UK businesses looking to grow and trade overseas as well as facilitating international businesses looking to expand into Britain. The 2016 festival is set to be even more successful than the last.
Taking place at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool from the 13th of June until the 1st of July you can register your business here and find out what’s in it for you. By registering for level 2 you can showcase what you do and have the opportunity to be matched with relevant people and arrange face to face meetings at the event itself. With up to £150 towards the cost of flights and accommodation through the Travel to Trade scheme - it’s time to get involved.
After we had been introduced to the IFB we were really excited to organise an event with them. With a number of clients overseas (have we mentioned our first American client :P) as well as UK clients trading overseas, we decided to co-host the event ‘The Web. Your Shop Window to the World’ alongside the IFB’s Partnership Manager, Rob Capleton.
Set up as a panel discussion hosted by our Head of Client Relations and Production, Steve Plummer, our Managing Director, David Johnstone and Oracle Scotland Director, Caroline Stuart sat alongside Rob on the panel to give us a morning of insights from the beautiful citizenM hotel in Glasgow.
Caroline kicked off the morning by stating digital is disrupting the traditional marketplace - a fact we know all too well. Nowadays it is all about data driven decision making and businesses that don’t analyse data and respond to the needs of their customers or don’t transform digitally will ultimately fail. Already, 52% of the Fortune 500 companies in 2010 have been merged or liquidated - a fact that might do you well in a pub quiz or two!
Our MD, David then went on to discuss two of our very successful international clients Scottoiler and Optac - both small, homegrown companies in their own right who have gone on to make the most of data to take their business international. David mentioned with traditional sales it was very difficult to understand what your customers needed and even harder to enter international markets without the knowledge however thanks to the internet, data and social it has become a whole lot easier to reach people. Think about LinkedIn, a few messages back and forward with someone and you can learn enough in an hour or a day which would have previously taken weeks to find out.
A member of Santander's Glasgow team attended the event and told us all about a service they offer - the Santander Trade Portal. If you are looking to enter international markets, Santander can help provide access to the relevant information and also people on the ground in the country you are thinking of entering to give you a helping hand. In 2015, Santander helped more than 5,000 businesses expand overseas and you can find out all you need to know about this here.
Can digital breakdown barriers?
Companies are changing and right now, the cost of entry has never been lower - you can work from anywhere. The panel discussed the power of Google Translate and although this is gradually getting better, it isn’t fool proof and shouldn’t be relied upon when translating your website - a native speaker would be much more effective.
The panel also discussed the importance of adapting the work you do to the culture of the country you are entering and you have to be willing to accept that mostly, you will have to adapt.
Digital Skills Shortage
Caroline finished off the morning’s discussion by talking about the digital skills shortage and by 2020, the UK with be 2.2 million people short for digital jobs. Caroline and Rob both chatted further about young people having to learn digital skills earlier in life and learn skills at school that they can take with them into the world of work. At the moment, businesses as a whole are struggling to fill IT roles and the digital industry should be focused on what Caroline referred to as 'life long learning' which we couldn’t agree with more.
Ultimately, digital can help prove the real value of data and providing you get the balance right between who your target audience are, what you are trying to sell and fully understand the international market you are operating in, taking your business overseas is no where near as difficult as it once was.
It was a pleasure to attend the event and hear from the three speakers and we are delighted to have co-hosted with the IFB. We host monthly, intimate and interactive round-table discussions around topical matters in digital and would love to see you at one of our next events. Keep up to date with these here and on Twitter using the hashtag #DigitalWakeUp