For anyone that’s dismissed visiting trade shows and exhibitions as a waste of time and money, here’s one that’s slightly different. The Business Show (London Olympia, November 27-28) has something very everyone – especially those in the tech and IT sector.
Unlike many shows, not only is The Business Show free to attend; it’s far more business-focused (with more than 90 speakers filling a packed programme) than you would expect. And, while you can choose to hear everything from how Innocent Drinks dominated the smoothie sector to how to master content marketing there is also much to interest and inform the IT community.
For professionals in this sector, a clear theme that emerges is the dominance of the cloud, with a host of top-notch speakers lending their views on how to manage and stay up to date with this complex area.
“The cloud has a huge role to play in businesses today,” says speaker Alex Chapman, “but there are minefields to negotiate, I’ll be talking about whether it’s actually essential for all tasks,” he says, describing his enigmatically-titled talk – ‘The Cloud: Should you or shouldn’t you?’ (Thursday 27th 4.15pm Hall 9).
He says: “I’ll be telling delegates that they don’t necessarily need to jump straight in, but rather that the decision to go to the cloud should be made on a application-by-application basis. It’s far better to do it this way than just assume the whole of your business’s IT functions need to be migrated.” He adds: “But we’ll also challenge the perception that the cloud is something only larger companies can be able/afford to do. The past few years has seen companies move from private to wider public clouds, and we want to show this is something SMEs can benefit from too.”
Looking at one application in particular, will be not-to-miss speaker Dominic Smith, from Cerillion Technologies, in his talk, ‘What to look out for in a cloud billing solution.’ [Thursday 27th 3.30p, Gall 13). He believes IT professionals need to be up to speed with how the latest technology can contribute to overall business performance, and what their role should be in promoting it.
He says: “It’s simple setting up billing structures for products/services that cost £X a month,” he explains. “But it’s impossible for a company to respond to market changes when they can’t change their back-end pricing systems.” He adds: “As soon as organisations need more of a pay-per-usage model, or a bundling service, then without fast solutions to integrate this into their billing, they won’t be able to come to market fast enough. This is where the IT manager can add real value, by suggesting alternative solutions.”
Both speakers are part of an extensive line-up of experts who are there to guide delegates through numerous issues facing businesses today. The speaker programme is supported by special ‘speed networking’ sessions which allow visitors and other like-minded people or suppliers to link-up for two-minute blast sessions at a time. A separate ‘Tweet Meet’ exists to enable delegates to find their online connections offline – for networking purposes, meetings or other areas of business – while a ‘Business Connections’ wall enables people to distribute notes/business cards the old-fashioned way.
As well as there being plenty of choice of experts to hear from, another key theme of the show is equipping visitors with all the networking, negotiation, and other ‘softer’ skills that everyone in business can benefit from. And those who want to brush up on their overall planning/organisation skills could do worse than heading to see life coach Danielle McDonald, who will be presenting her talk: ‘How to get Clear, Get focused, and Get stuff done’. (Thursday 27th 1.15 Hall 9).
“Most people spend too much time on transactional work, rather than transformational work,” says McDonald. “There is a skill to delegating work, and concentrating on what will have the most impact. Thankfully it’s a skill everyone can learn. I’ll be showing people the quick wins they can take to help them be more productive. It’s not about doing work more quickly, but leveraging your time more effectively.”
According to organisers, it’s the breadth of the event that makes it such a valuable place, because IT professionals are able to mix with, and learn from, a broader range of people from elsewhere in a business. At the same time as being broad, there are a sufficient number of specialist talks, and enough tech-related suppliers, to keep those with more narrow responsibilities interested.
And with 25,000 visiting businesses, 350 exhibitors, 250 free seminars, and dozens of workshops, there’s a whole bunch of reasons why it could be well worth paying a visit to Olympia at the end of this month. Try to find time for it if you can.