The UK is at a tipping point in terms of productivity – or the relative absence of it. That’s the view of one of The Base tenants, which has decided to collaborate with another to help SMEs play their part in boosting UK Plc.
“We’ve reached full employment, so our SMEs have to find ways to produce more from what they already have, otherwise they’ll stop growing. The good news is, it’s actually quite easy,” says Chris Kennedy of Cube 32 Studios.
And, he says, his collaboration with fellow tenant at The Base, Swan Solutions, holds the answer to ‘easy wins’ for companies of all sizes – freeing up people and other resources for more productive activities.
“Lots of companies buy ‘out of the box’ software that helps them run their companies. But its functionality only goes so far. We can open the bonnet of things like Microsoft 365 and add bespoke code that speeds up or even automates tasks. It doesn’t cost much and the payback is pretty quick,” says Chris.
He has partnered with Swan Solutions on numerous projects for its clients, a process that began after a chance encounter at one of the regular The Base Business events hosted in the Dallam Lane technology hub. Andy Horrocks of Swan Solutions picks up the story.
“The seminars and events at The Base are excellent. I don’t think I’ve missed a single one,” he says. “I bumped into Chris at one of them and in conversation we realised that we perhaps held the key to how SMEs can earn real productivity gains from what are fairly modest investments.
“Our collaboration is helping us signpost clients to major gains in performance. The approach is simple: we listen to their issues and explore with them what they need in terms of business improvement. Out of that conversation usually comes an opportunity to work together to develop a bespoke addition to their key software platforms that solves a problem or just helps them be more productive.”
Much of their work can seem quite prosaic, says Chris, but the gains can be substantial. “This isn’t on the glamour register like artificial intelligence but its impact on the bottom line can be just as dramatic. It might be something as straightforward as pulling data together from different sources to produce better management information for a dashboard. Doing the task manually would be very time-consuming but we can automate that to allow valuable staff resource to do something else.”
This summer Swan Solutions will be launching a new monthly event called ‘Technology In Business’. These free sessions will be held in an event space at The Base with the aim of providing business leaders with a relaxed forum for learning about all aspects of modern tech which can help them operate smarter and increase profitability.
Andy believes there is a demand for this unique non-technical consultative approach. “Business leaders don’t care about technical detail, they just need to know what’s available, why it has relevance to them and the positive impacts on their business. Anyone attending our sessions should leave inspired to take action armed with enough information to make informed strategic decisions. That’s the aim of these monthly events”.
Each session will have a specific focus with guest presenters residing at The Base and beyond.
“Cube 32 have jumped at the chance to present, focusing on ways that organisations can leverage software they probably already use to provide increased productivity with rapid ROI. Other tenants at The Base, IXIS and Pixeltree Media have also expressed an interest.
“We’ll be providing a forum for directors’ questions and answers and using the wisdom and experience of those in the room to signpost people to what could be the right solution for them.
The first events will focus on cyber security, disaster recovery and a definitive guide to ‘the cloud’, all presented without jargon. More subjects will be included based upon feedback from the attendees.
Chris Kennedy believes that de-mystifying things is key to getting business owners to explore where they can make improvements.
“A lot of people fear change. In a business context they see it as disruptive and expensive, but I would argue that competitor improvement is the most dangerous disruption there is. We aim to show people that change can be easy and integrated seamlessly into day-to-day activities.”
The two collaborators agree that being in The Base has been key to their success. They meet in the collaboration space on the ground floor to plot their next moves and to work on client projects together. “I don’t think I’ve even been into Chris’s office yet,” jokes Andy.
The last word goes to Chris, who believes that the whole country could deliver a ‘big boost’ to productivity if bosses just focused on the sorts of easy wins Cube 32 Studios and Swan Solutions deliver.
“It’s low hanging fruit for the whole of UK plc and would solve a big chunk of our productivity conundrum in one stroke. I’m on a mission,” he says, smiling, and yet you know immediately that he’s deadly serious.