Global Entrepreneurship Week at Staffordshire Business School #GEW2020

Hazel Squire, Head of Department Staffordshire Business School


#GEW2019

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a collection of tens of thousands of activities, competitions and events aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start up and scale a company.

This November 16 – 22, as part of GEW 2020 Staffordshire Business School together with Staffordshire University Innovation Enterprise Zone will be hosting a range of activities aimed at both local businesses and students.

As a nation, the impact of COVID-19 means we are all seeking and finding new ways of doing things. In an effort, to build resilience and come together in leveraging the power of new ideas and innovation we will be launching our Innovation Enterprise Zone https://www.staffs.ac.uk/business-services that will give businesses access to:

  • Skills development and support
  • Researchers, student talent and experts
  • Grants and business support programmes
  • Innovation infrastructure and incubation facilitates

Announced last year, Staffordshire University was one of 20 University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), launched with a £20 million investment by Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation. 

Furthermore, be inspired offers a full year of start-up support including: information, advice and guidance from an experienced team of business advisers, regular meetings with industry mentors of your choice, full business processes induction, industry-led specialist workshop sessions, networking opportunities, access to personal growth software, access to personalised legal documentation, a £3000 tax free grant and, as your idea grows, access to investment opportunities. Information detailing how to access all this help will be provided at the be inspired session on Friday 20th November.

Finally, Enterprise Education has never been more important, as it allows us to equip future generations with the skills and mindsets, they need to navigate a world of work that may not even exist yet. Through entrepreneurship activities, learners can gain key entrepreneurial skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, risk-taking and teamwork. Entrepreneurship can offer alternative pathways for young people, improving their skills, employability and life chances, while supporting wider economic and social development.

Thus, Enterprise Education is embedded in to all our courses and as part of GEW Staffordshire Business School will be providing a week of challenging enterprise activities working with guest speakers and the be inspired Graduate Start up Programme.

Here is a list of all our free and exciting activities – to book your place use the links provided in the table below:

MONDAY 16TH NOVEMBER

10-11am Being an ethical business: “Street Kids”
Presented by Dr Andrew Taylor
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)
11-11.45am         Official Launch of the Innovation Enterprise Zone
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11-12pm Improving the Customer Experience
Presented by Professor David Collins
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)  
2-3pm Why SMART goals do NOT work! –
Goal setting to achieve more in challenging times
Presented by David Hyner
(Session open to all) 

*Our Innovation Enterprise Zone is one of the only 20 awards around the UK and is embedded at the heart of our campus, IEZ offers unprecedented access to specialist advanced materials, manufacturing and digital facilities, research, student talent and funding to support and accelerate innovation-led growth.

TUESDAY 17TH NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Advanced Materials Incubator & Accelerator Centre  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
1-5pm Staffs Got Talent! – Innovation challenge  

*Introduction to our new Incubator and Accelerator facility, what it is and how it supports start-ups and SME’s. Delivered by Kelly Bradley. Programme Manager

WEDNESDAY 18TH NOVEMBER

10-11am The Pitch Competition – virtual workshop
Presented by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean
(Session for Staffordshire Business School students in Level 5 & 6)  
11-11.45am          Advanced Manufacturing Prototyping & Innovation Demonstrator
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
11.30-12pm Digital Entrepreneurship Research and Practice
Fang Zhao, Associate Dean
(Session open to all Staffordshire University students)

*Whether you are looking for research and development advanced manufacturing techniques or process improvement – hear how we can help you succeed! Delivered by Rachel Wood. Programme Manager

THURSDAY 19TH NOVEMBER

*An outline of the programme, benefits of knowledge exchange and how to get involved. Delivered by Marc Wootton. Programme Manager

11-11.45amDigital Innovation Partnerships         
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-3pm Meet the Entrepreneurs: Panel with Q&A
Jane Pallister, Jonathan Westlake, Emily Whitehead
(Session open to all) 

FRIDAY 20th NOVEMBER

11-11.45am Intelligent Mobility Innovation Accelerator  
See details below*
(Session open to all) 
2-2.45pm The Small Business Leadership Programme: Meet the team & overview
Professor Jon Fairburn
(Session open to all)   

*This webinar is an introduction into our dedicated project SCIMIA and other wide support for businesses, Delivered by: Marek Hornak – Head of Employer Partnerships and Enterprise

#GEW2020      #ProudToBeStaffs     #StaffsGotTalent       #staffsinnovation

Preparing for the New Normal – How accommodation providers in France are rethinking and adapting their services and what can we learn from this?

Paul Dobson, Senior LEcturer,Staffordshire Business School


It’s been a challenging, confusing and worrying time for most industries during this current Coronavirus Crisis. But the hospitality sector in particular stands to be one of the hardest hit as it struggles to contemplate how it can continue to trade successfully keeping social distancing in mind, coupled with a rapidly shrinking economy.  As part of Staffordshire Business School’s support to organisations I’ve been supporting the local and international hospitality sector and as the French businesses are ahead of us in coming out of lockdown I’ve noted some points to help prepare UK organisations.

After 2 months enduring some of the strictest lockdown controls in Europe, France is slowly opening up its economy and society. And the vast, hugely varied accommodation sector, which historically welcomes visitors across the world, is undergoing a rapid and radical revolution to ensure it can continue to attract customers in these unprecedented times.

The newly forced need to keep distance and natural sense of personal safety has fallen well into the hands of some of the self-catering sector. Private homes and villas, especially those that can offer generous outside space as well as little or no contact with others, have seen a huge demand since the 11th of May when the French Prime Minister officially declared that travel up to 100km was now permitted. The public, who have been largely “imprisoned” with massively limited scope to be outside their own homes since the middle of March inevitably have an overwhelming desire for a change of scenery. However, this is not a universal permission and policy, and restricted zones still exist across France, and indeed many local governments, even in the less-infected “green regions” are enforcing the continuation of heavy trading restrictions and forced closures of accommodation providers. But where these rules do not apply, the flood gates have opened and demand, all from customers within the 100km radius, has been significant. Also worthy of note is that the average length of stay has seen a dramatic increase for this time of year.

That’s not to say that this is return to normal times for these accommodation owners. French hospitality organisations have had a massive increase in questions about sanitation, personal responsibility and uniform industry standards on cleanliness and contact that the UK accommodation businesses will need to be prepared for when lockdown restrictions are relaxed. As of today, these restrictions haven’t been totally clarified in France, and only “best practice” guides from local tourism authorities exist online. Some of the leading booking platforms and websites for this sub sector are advising “safety gaps” between customers of, for example, 24 hours to allow any surfaces to become less likely to cross contaminate in the future. What is apparent from discussions with French hospitality businesses is that there is an increased desire for customers to have  “direct online contact” with the service rather than through  online booking platforms.  This could be a welcome shift in attitude as this not only allows peace of mind for the customer, but also less commissions for the business owner to pay to the booking platforms which have come under much public criticism and scrutiny of late because of their high charges. One of the French businesses I’ve talked to has had an 800% increase in Facebook messages, their analytics has shown an increase in both mobile and desktop visitors to their website and the number of emails has increased by over 200% compared to last year.

The B&B (Chambres d’hote) and Hotel sector have reported an uphill challenge. With a mix of different guests under their roofs, all with potentially varying attitudes to respecting the new government guidelines, this poses a significant threat to their short- and medium-term existence. However, those that can offer genuine space, especially outside, have a clear advantage over those that cannot. Going from one restrictive box to another isn’t likely to be a great draw for the new discerning needs of the Covid-19 era traveller.  Forced confinement has brought about a new desire to be out and about in nature, and burn off all those excessive calories consumed since March.

But with the high season fast approaching during which these businesses would traditionally run at maximum occupancy, the reality is that these organisations will be forced to not only give “buffers” in between guests checking out and the next ones checking in, but also run at a lower occupancy to ensure that interaction between different customers is minimized. Therefore “Making Hay whilst the sun shines” will this year inevitably bring about a lower yield, and reduce the vital cashflow which sustains many of these businesses during the quieter months. 

An example of changes implemented is the hotelier Tim Bell and Ingrid Boyer in the Auvergne region of Central France. Tim has developed their website to include a link to their Covid-19 guidance on their home page (see https://chabanettes.com/). This is updated on a regular basis and outlines their commitment to client’s safety.  He implements rapid alterations to its usual offerings and has created the foundations for business continuity and customer confidence.  He has also set up a Facebook forum for like minded accommodation owners in Europe seeking support and advice. Tim collates industry data, statistics and best practice ideas from all over the accommodation sector and share his opinions and advice with the group.

The sector in which he operates is having to rethink more radically about its traditional services to ensure competitivity and customer confidence. This ranges from the provision of catering which is leaning initially more towards a “Room Service” culture to a complete overhaul of the check-in/check-out customer touch points, looking to technology and globally recognised physical safety barriers to reduce risk of viral spread. For an industry which relies heavily on close, personal contact for their reputation and overall experience, keeping a balance between customer satisfaction and safety is proving challenging, but not impossible. Clients now expect a more sterile and distanced world, with supermarkets leading the way in some innovation and rethinking of the customer journey that the hotels are learning from, such as one-way corridors.

Until the world is safely vaccinated against the virus, the accommodation industry will have to adapt quickly and radically to guidelines, legislation and customer fears. History has told us that businesses that do this will have the best chance of survival, and those that don’t not only fear a downturn in business, but also a very visible online reputation for ignoring what is now the number one priority for the 2020 traveller – Safety.

Recent changes in the Google’s algorithm can affect your page ranking and sales

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


According to a number of reports Google has implemented a substantial search engine algorithm update in January, plus a number of smaller ones in February 2020 … But what does this mean for businesses?

The Google search engine uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking signals to deliver webpages ranked by relevance on its search engine results pages (SERPs) and we’ve seen these changes have a direct impact on the Google Analytics results and effectiveness of the customer journey to gain sales for businesses. An example of this, is the page ranking has changed to be more themed based.  However, there are ways for businesses to enable their website to be high up in the SERP. These include :-

1.  Snippets Dominate More Search Clicks

Google has changed over recent years with the aim to deliver better search results for the reader, examples include providing the answers through featured Snippets which appear above the organic results. For example, I’ve search “how to walk in snow”

For your website to take advantage of this, you need to provide clear answers to commonly asked questions in your website area of interest. These featured Snippets are evaluated and boosted to the top depending on their quality, with the results that 54.68% of clicks from Google come from featured Snippets. There are various ways to create featured snippet at the top of the page but the key ways include :-

  • Create something better than the current Answer Card / Provide updated information, and Google will prioritise this ‘Freshness’
  • Take the most frequent People Also Asked questions, listed in the Google search, and create content to match*
  • Focus on the most frequently asked types of questions: “How”, “Is” and “Why”

2. Keywords no longer work

Trying to pack key words into landing pages is no longer effective.  Google is using more natural language and wants to independently rank websites and use them as quality data sources.  Your website needs to be written as a natural language rather than trying to pack key words at the top, and consider the long key words that readers may use to find your website.  In addition, you need to consider your website as an overall themed area rather than a mixture of items or topics, for example if you’re selling car parts do not include information blogs on other areas such as toys, or if you do include other areas setup robot.txt and sitemap.xml so that Google does not to index them and get confused. 

3. Mobile User Experience (UX) affects your ranking and Sales.

On some of the websites that we use for student demonstrations of Customer Experience, (CX) User Experience (UX) and Google Analytics (for example https://aubergedechabanettes.com/ ) we can see up to 80% of the hits to the websites are from smart-mobiles in some weeks. A website that is not mobile compatible will lose customers especially as mobile access is a growing trend. How people find information using their mobile devices is also getting more advanced, so your website must be easy to read, grab people’s attention and then can answer their questions or keep them entertained.   If you own a business based at a property such as a Hotel, Restaurant, Bar and Beauty Salon, local SEO is vitally important. Studies show that 4 in 5 consumers conduct local searches on search engines using their mobile devices. Google now allows customers, at a click of a button, to navigate to you, call you or even book directly. 

4. Websites Optimize for Voice Search such and Alexa and OK Google

With the growing use of mobile devices and home devices, voice searches are becoming an increasing trend. These searches are not only done on phones, but they can also be performed on home voice assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Samsung Smart TV, Voice Pod, etc.

Questions asked via voice instead of entering search queries are going to make short choppy keywords less relevant and therefore search terms have become more conversational and targeted. This increasing use of voice searches has already had an impact of Google’s algorithms and Artificial Intelligence systems since the search engine needs to do more work to get the relevant information that the user is looking for.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the way forward.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important technology behind Google to deliver better search results to its users to create personalized experiences for consumers.  The AI has been learning the characteristics of what makes websites of high quality or not, then classifies these web pages and determines their rankings.  Therefore, high-quality content is essential for effective SEO strategies. Users want content that is relevant, helpful, and timely, so Google tends to place websites with consistently themed high-quality content with higher search engine rankings.

If you’d like to know more about becoming an expert in using data driven strategies to lead businesses to success including how to use data to analyse, design and test elaborate customer experience systems in the customer journey to optimise growth, plus learning to work in development environments for Fitbit, Alexa and Google home and mobile devices/smartwatches/ smart home devices as well developing using cloud computing, have a look at our MSc in Customer and Data Analytics.


Author :-

Paul Dobson is a Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School in Digital and Strategic Marketing. He is actively involved in supporting local and EU charities and businesses especially hospitality businesses such as hotels and restaurants. Further details can be seen at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/

What makes an entrepreneur?

June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School


We’ve been celebrating Global Enterprise Week at Staffordshire Business School this week and have welcomed some fantastic guest speakers.  What’s been very evident is that there is no one reason or way to start your own business – each guest speaker has had a uniquely individual journey and experience. In some instances, they have fallen into self-employment, in others, it was a well thought through and planned decision to do so.

So what makes a successful entrepreneur?

There are so many lists out there that can offer you the top 3 or 7 or 20 traits you must have to be a successful entrepreneur.  This is my list based on what our guest speakers shared this week!

Passion & determination – if you are to succeed, you need to be passionate about your business proposition.  What’s the point of setting up a business in something you don’t like or believe in?  However, passion alone will not be enough.  It really does help if you love what you do, but you need to be prepared for setbacks.  I can promise you that things won’t go as smoothly as you hoped. There will be times when you question whether you did the right thing.  That’s when you need to be resilient and, as they say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Strong work ethic & self starter – when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to have a lie-in when you don’t feel like working without realising that time is your most precious commodity.  Even when you don’t feel it, you have to push yourself to make that phonecall, finish the report or knock on the door.  You need to be disciplined.  One friend, when he didn’t have any work, used to go to the cinema or meet friends for a coffee.  Another friend would purposely post leaflets around the neighbourhood to promote his business.  Can you guess which one was most successful?

…but also a good finisher – basically, you won’t get paid until you finish the job.  And, you need to finish the job in good time.  So don’t procrastinate.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is better than not getting the job done in time. You won’t get repeat business if you don’t deliver on time.


Creativity – you don’t necessarily have to have a new-to-the-world invention or be able to design amazing advertising campaigns, but you do need to be a good problem solver and find ways around problems that come your way.  That’s being creative! 


Keep an eye out for opportunities – Be a purposeful networker.  You don’t have to be an extravert to develop a supportive network and you never know what’s around the corner!  Nearly every contract I received resulted in further business, either from the same organisation or as a result of them passing my details on to a third party.  For example, as a result of writing Mintel reports, I was contacted by the chief executive at the time asking if I could act as an expert witness in a court case.  The timing wasn’t great and I had to juggle domestic commitments and workload but saying yes to this one phone call provided me with the opportunity to be one of a handful of special marketing experts – and it paid well!

Know your worth – friends may ask for freebies or big discounts sometimes with the promise that you’ll get lots of publicity.  If they value you, they will pay for your services or goods.  Occasionally, they may be able to offer you something in kind, such as your first review or office space.  I got a free hair cut from my hairdresser when we spent the time it took to cut my hair discussing how he could improve his pricing policy.  It was win-win and neither of us took the other person’s services for granted. As an expert witness, I realised no one queried how much I was charging, so I increased my fees by £50-£75/day for each new quote.  I never got turned down….

And finally,

Be prepared to learn – constantly!   If you weren’t successful in getting a contract – find out why.  If you made a mistake, learn from it.  Get feedback whenever you can and look at ways to develop new skills.

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Re-using heritage buildings for creative, cultural and innovative businesses

Introduction

Prof. Jon Fairburn, Prof. Carola Boehm and Prof. Jess Power work togther on interdisciplinary issues including creative cultures, innovation and new business models. If you are interested in these issues the three professors are running an ERASMUS Staff international week 20-24th January 2020 to discuss linking creative cultures to business. Details on the link

They have recently submitted a large (several million euros) bid to examine the re-use of heritage buildings by creative and innovative industries in four second order cities across Europe.

Jess Power has a particular interest in the new materials and techniques that are being used in the textiles industry. Here she provides a report in what she found in one of our partner cities on the bid.

Prof Jess Power

Re-purposing space is something that Municipio de Guimaraes (District Council of Guimaraes, Portugal) does with sensitivity and grace. Guimaraes, the 13th largest city in Portugal, is a story of success – it has transformed into a modern contemporary city whilst retaining its cultural heritage and identity.

The area in the Northern region of Portugal remained largely untouched with only natural evolution occurring within the city’s architecture until the 1970s. This is clearly evident in the adaption and modification of buildings throughout the ages. This rich tapestry of period evolution is demonstrated beautifully in the building of Largo de Sao Francisco (once a convert/monastery) now used as a hospital. Some parts of this building date back to 1255 (Figure 1)

Figure 1 - Guimaraes
Figure 1 – Guimaraes

Historically Portugal had one of the strongest textile industries in Europe. The Guimaraes region was known specifically for its high-quality produce and craftmanship within Textiles and Leather.  Whilst the leather trade has diminished in this region, the textile industry continues to be significant to Portuguese economy. It boasts to be the largest non-food manufacturing area in terms of export, accounting for about 9% of the country’s output.  

The textile cluster (CITEVE) of the northern region of Guimaraes is known as the “cradle of the nation” providing a rich cultural heritage particularly in the trade of leather. Whilst the region moved on from leather production with the advent of industrialization, evidence of the importance of this trade and the value to its identity and “place” is evident throughout the city. Historic water baths (Figure 2) are woven into the landscape of the area and wooden tanning drums (originally used in leather processing) provide historical features and a sense of identity within modern repurposed spaces.

Figure 2 Water baths
Figure 2 Water baths

Guimaraes, like many other industrialised European regions, has witnessed a steady decline in manufacturing, primarily due to cheaper imports from elsewhere. Like other locations around the globe, this decline has resulted in the abandonment of buildings rich in cultural heritage. Often these sites historically provided a sense of place and culture and the loss has impacted on the region’s identity.   These abandoned buildings, if left for significant periods, fall into disrepair and in the worst cases local councils have no alternative but to demolish them to enable new regeneration to occur, resulting in buildings of historical relevance being lost and the region losing strong threads of its cultural identity.  Guimaraes has been ahead of the game in-terms-of capturing the cultural wealth of its textile heritage, to bring a new lease of life to the area.  During the 1970s the district council began projects, which sensitively brought to life abandoned buildings and unused space around the city.

The repurposing began at the heart of the city with the re-design of the main square (Praca de Sao Tiago). Nowadays, specific areas are clearly defined for transport, domestic living and enterprises and community gatherings. This has brought a new lease of life to the heart of the city, with a vibrant café culture housing a strong sense of belonging to locals and visitors alike. Domestic accommodation is scattered around the square, fenced between small enterprises. 

Figure 3 - Praca de Sao Tiago Main Square
Figure 3 – Praca de Sao Tiago Main Square

A key focus of the re-generation was to encapsulate local culture without stifling innovation. One incentive employed was to offer the domestic properties free cable connection to eliminate unsightly TV aerials and satellite dishes enabling the square to retain the historical features. Guimaraes was one of the first European cities to offer free Wi-Fi in a large central outdoor space. This resulted in the medieval square retaining its authentic identity, even today homes have laundry flapping on balconies.

Further to this the district council in partnership with the local community developed walkways which followed the natural flow of water throughout the city. Slabs of granite and stone cover the waterways making paths which flow into the river “Ave” which splits the area right in two.  

Figure 4 - Beneath water flows to the Ave
Figure 4 – Beneath water flows to the Ave

Many of the repurposed sites are unused tanneries (linked to the historical leather trade), the features of each site have been lovingly restored to their original state. Below (Figure 5) is the local Science Innovation Building where young people can engage with the latest technology including: artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing. Inside innovation is brimming, the exterior in contrast, would not misplaced in a period Western movie.

Figure 5 Science centre
Figure 5 Science centre

The University has re-purposed other decarded buildings, the Design Innovation Centre takes the heritage of the building and transforms them into modern learning spaces.

Figure 6  - Innovation centre
Figure 6 – Innovation centre

This is what makes Guimaraes attractive to young and old alike and earned it the title of European City of Culture in 2012, following on from its earlier listing (2001) as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It is no wonder that the area remains so attractive to young people (who form over 30% of the local population). Many of these attend the University of Minho and our partners on the bid include several academics working at the Centre for Textile Science and Technology who early this year were involved with the 2nd International textile Design Conference “Textiles, Identity and Innovation”.

The youth hostel (Figure 7) provides an authentic example of re-purposing at its best and is a model that can and should be used across other towns and cities throughout Europe.

Figure 7 - Youth Hostel
Figure 7 – Youth Hostel

Working with international partners we aim to change historic sites of mass employment and mass production into new sites of co-created, co-managed production and consumption, it is the intension that the consortium will be leading on embedding new types of co-ownership, co-implementation and co-production via new technologies and business models and applying these to deep historic heritage-rich creative clusters and networks in order to innovate and increase productivity of specifically SMEs, bringing new economic activities to these historic areas and create economic resilience.  

Figure 8 - Prof Jess Power (4th from left) with local partners in Guimaraes
Figure 8 – Prof Jess Power (4th from left) with local partners in Guimaraes

If you are interested in these issues the three professors are running an ERASMUS Staff international week 20-24th January 2020 to discuss linking creative cultures to business. Details on the link

Jess can be emailed at eliza.power@staffs.ac.uk , she tweets @Jess_Power_

The Future of Facebook Marketing

Ben Hocking, MSc digital marketing management student


Facebook is going to be one of the main places to focus your social media marketing for the foreseeable future. But will you be marketing in the right place? For a while now, the news feed has been the place to be to engage with consumers, using display ads and chatbots. However, these methods had varying success due to them being easily overlooked and being a nuisance  when posted too frequently. In response to this, 2018 saw an update to Facebook’s algorithm in order to reduce the amount of fake news and improve the reputation of the platform. As always, with the changing of Facebook algorithms comes a change in marketing culture within the platform. In an environment that has ever increasing scrutiny on user content by employers and relationships, users are experiencing a shift from news feed-based engagement to an increasing popularity of private messaging and stories.

With Facebook messenger becoming increasingly popular with 1.3 billion users a month, a huge new market is presenting itself. Thanks to copying of the original innovation by Snapchat and the subsequent success of stories on Instagram, stories (short videos and images that appear temporarily on a user’s social media) are becoming the next big thing in social media, with users clearly finding more comfort in the creating limited time content that can be forgotten about much easier than a public post on social media. Social media platforms are predominantly buying in to having stories on their platform, even with private messaging groups such as WhatsApp making the transition. Always attempting to be remain the leader of social media platforms, Facebook have clearly thrown their metaphorical hat into the ring and transitioning Facebook into a more story-oriented experience, and in typical Facebook fashion, making it bigger and better. These improvements are much needed for Facebook, as when it comes down to private messaging, it still lags behind WhatsApp by hundreds of millions of users.

One of the main changes to Stories is how the platform now uses the story cards (a collection of images taken from the stories of other users that provide a link to their complete story). Bigger cards, easier access and constant reminders: Facebook is clearly showing its cards on how it wants users to engage, and we can understand why. By using stories to market to users, pages can post as often as they like without filling up the news feed of their followers and risking being branded a as “nuisance” content. From a marketing perspective, this allows advertisers to place ads in the middle of a stream of content more seamlessly than before interruptive. Even if you scroll past the initial set of stories, there is no escaping them. After every few posts on the news feed there is another opportunity to engage with stories, this time Facebook even doubles down with the amount you can choose from on your screen.

Interestingly, Facebook is clearly playing the media platform game and winning. On mobile, stories are king, but switch to desktop like over 30% of users, and we are greeted with the same old Facebook we know and love. Other than stories being available along the right-hand side when you first open your news feed, their presence is very limited, showing that the ease of image-based content curation that mobile provides has been accounted for when transitioning, as well as accommodating desktop users in the changes. (Need to find data for older audience not engaging in stories).

So, you’re probably asking yourself why the predominance of stories is so important in shaping the future of marketing. Well, by using stories you can combine all your posts into one convenient little package to, believe it or not, tell a story about your product. Stories let your content be consistently viewed in the order you decide you want it to, allowing you to engage your audience with the correct posts without the risk of them missing the good bits. They also allow you to get the users invested in your content before presenting them with your long-form marketing through the stories themselves and the ability to swipe and tap to take them from Facebook to your website effortlessly, and the best bit- they already know they want to go there, reducing bounce rates and encouraging good quality engagement with your content. Another amazing feature of Facebook stories is the integration between the Facebook platform and the messenger app, with stories appearing seamlessly between the two platforms as is typical for Facebook messenger. This will allow advertisers to target any users from either platform with meaningful content.

The final trick up the marketer’s sleeve with Facebook stories is the ability to embed polls and links within the story itself. Want feedback on a new service? Add an emoji slider and let them show you how happy they are, the possibilities are endless. And this is only the beginning, with the increase of popularity for Facebook stores expected to overtake news feeds as the primary way to share on social media in 2019. With more than double the users of Instagram, Facebook may have been late to the party, but they are soon going to be the life of it.

Free MOOC on Purchasing and Supply Management (PSM) Fundamentals

  • Self-study course
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  • Material available

What is this course about?

More than half of the total turnover of a modern industrial firm in Europe is directly transferred to suppliers and the bulk of supplies is no longer of domestic origin but European and international. Network economies with a low depth of production and high reliance on international suppliers let firms struggle to cope with the complexity and the new responsibilities. There is no harmonised skill profile and competence set for Purchasing & Supply Management (PSM).

This course arises from the Erasmus+ project “Purchasing Education and Research for European Competence Transfer“ (PERFECT) (www.project-perfect.eu) which develops a harmonised curriculum in PSM and aims at an increase in the number of highly qualified students who are suitable for entering the workplace in PSM related jobs in any size of organization and industrial setting.

For Sttafordshire Business School Dr Steve Kelly (now at Edge Hill) and Marzena Reska were the staff involved in the project.

What do you learn in this course?

  • Identify the basic role, benefits, processes and aspects of a PSM department and a variety of specific job roles.
  • Apply a range of purchasing techniques and tools to purchasing activities.
  • Describe cross-functional connections between purchasing and other departments, and departments’ connections to external stakeholders.
  • Identify opportunities and challenges when acting as the interface between internal customer requirements and external supply networks.
  • Understand the impact of supplier relationship management on PSM performance and apply collaboration tools.
  • Evaluate trends and developments in PSM and interpret their consequences.

How is the course structured?

Over the course, you have the chance to participate in the following sequences on Purchasing & Supply Management (PSM) basics.

  • Introduction to project PERFECT
  • Definition and Meaning of PSM
  • PSM Organisation and Roles
  • PSM Processes
  • Strategic Procurement
  • Offers, negotiations, contracts
  • Supplier Relationship Management
  • Procurement Technology & Digitalisation
  • PSM Controlling
  • Risk Management in PSM

Enrol free now: www.oncampus.de/weiterbildung/mooc/perfect?lang=en

Funded by the ERASMUS + PROGRAMME

 

 

 

Disclaimer
The creation of these resources has been (partially) funded by the ERASMUS+ grant program of the European Union
under grant no. 2015-1-DE01-KA203-002174.
Neither the European Commission nor the project‘s national funding agency DAAD are responsible for the content or liable for any losses or damage resulting of the use of these resources.

What is a university for?

Professor Jess Power, Associate Dean – Students


There are several possible interpretations of the fundamental role of a university, however the one that holds close to my values and beliefs is “the university” as an institution for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, creating graduates who have a genuine commitment to making the world a better place and of being significant players in civil society. The western university model has been a remarkable success and is one in which we should have immense pride. Operational freedom within an interactive setting which enables excellence across teaching, research, learning and enterprise opening unlimited opportunities for many. However, in an increasingly complex and uncertain world the role of the university is constantly being questioned. In particular there has been a recent drive for developing “value”, in the form of employable work ready graduates. This may be interpreted as a set of desirable skills and attributes to be embedded within the curriculum or perhaps and more importantly the development of an entrepreneurial mind-set. The ability to think outside the box, to adapt and respond to change in a fast paced environment and more importantly the ability to be able to communicate within and beyond their academic discipline is perceived key to graduates contributing to societal challenges.

In today’s global economy and in society as a whole we are faced with many complex challenges (clean water, ageing population, disaster management, global-warming, sustainable food production, transitioning populations), which require new ways of working. It is widely accepted that innovative and sustainable solutions for many complex global social issues reach far beyond the boundaries of a single academic discipline or methodological approach and as such the practical argument for embedding interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities into the learning experience within universities is strong. Interdisciplinary working is widely accepted to be the new mode of knowledge production, it focuses on building intellectual capacity and is supported by government policy makers and research funding agencies. Many of the most exciting developments cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and therefore have great potential to break through complex societal problems and foster innovation.

The concept of interdisciplinarity within Higher Education is not new: Thompson and Fogel (1921), acknowledged in their publication ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ that all social problems require interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. They expanded on this by stating: “if graduates … are to be societies’ leaders …they need a broad social and historical perspective that is difficult to achieve in one discipline”. Thompson and Forgel’s (1921) paper highlighted specifically the need for Higher Educational institutions to promote interdisciplinarity as a means of developing the essential skills of leadership required to impact on civil society.

So, what is a university for? It is to change mind-set, opening up opportunities to bring together individuals to generate knowledge to solve societal problems for the good of mankind. Thus, the connections we make, the disciplines we cross and the knowledge we form are only part of the picture, it is the transformative impact on people’s life’s that we make that hold the true meaning of the value of a university, which instil the leadership qualities desired to make the world a better place.

 

Thompson, K.W. & Fogel, B.R. (1921). Higher Education and Social Change: Promising Experiments in Developing Countries. Vol 1 Reports. US: Praeger.

www.staffs.ac.uk 

Introducing Dr Alyson Nicholds, our new Associate Professor

 

Dr Alyson Nicholds, Associate Professor (Business Management), Staffordshire Business School

I am delighted to be joining Staffordshire Business School as Associate Professor (Business Management).  This is my 5th University, having previously worked at Leeds Beckett, Birmingham, Middlesex and Coventry in various teaching/ research roles.

Dr Alyson Nicholds

Dr Alyson Nicholds

I’m probably best described as an ‘interdisciplinary’ academic of all things Public Policy. What this means, is that I bring to bear all my past professional experience (as Nurse, Health Promoter and Development Officer) to analyse, empirically, ‘what works’ in health, social care, urban, science and technology policy.

I do this by exploring ‘why policy fails’, but this is not by evaluating the impact of policy is (i.e. rationally), but by analysing ‘why practitioners do what they do’ (i.e. the accounts that professionals provide of their practice). We call this more novel type of research ‘discourse analysis’ and it works by paying close attention to the language embedded in what practitioners say and do i.e.:-

  • How professionals ‘describe’ how they do what they do (‘functionalist discourse’);
  • How professionals ‘interpret/ frame’ why they do what they do (‘constructivist discourse’);
  • How the context ‘shapes/ constrains’ what professionals say and do (‘dialogic discourse’);
  • How society ‘influences’ what it’s possible to say and do (‘critical discourse’)

Discourse analysis is therefore important because it addresses some of the limitations of more rational/ scientific approaches to traditional policy analysis which typically ignores the human voice. Hence, much of my early work has involved applying the second type of discourse (constructivist discourse) to real-life cases, as with my PhD, which revealed regeneration professionals’ shared experiences of the barriers to effective regeneration in the East and West Midlands[1] [1a].  Indeed, this was so compelling, that I’m now reanalysing this data using the third type of discourse (i.e. dialogic discourse) to understand ‘why actors don’t do what they say’!

Other work, using this more ‘constructivist discourse’ approach, involved a large scale NHS funded study (Post Doc) to ascertain the value of different joint commissioning arrangements in health and social care (i.e. in 6 NHS Trusts in England)[2]; and scientists’ preferences for sharing knowledge in a global network (i.e. the large-scale physics experiment known as the hadron collider at the CERN facility in Switzerland) [3].

More recently I’ve been working with colleagues from Birmingham and Middlesex to analyse how formal and informal leaders prefer to lead in sub-national urban development places (i.e. the Smart Cities policy initiative)[4]. My latest work explores the practical applications of all of this type of discourse work in transforming the social outcomes of public policy through greater reflexivity in management learning. In future blogs, I’ll be writing about this and the different ways we might better research these complex types of policy problems, to address widening social and economic inequality.

[1] http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/3495/1/Nicholds12PhD.pdf

[1a] Alyson Nicholds (2011) Making sense of urban policy failure in complex times, Regional Insights, 2:2, 18-20, DOI: 10.1080/20429843.2011.9727924

[2] Helen Dickinson, Stephen Jeffares, Alyson Nicholds & Jon Glasby (2014) Beyond the Berlin Wall?: Investigating joint commissioning and its various meanings using a Q methodology approach, Public Management Review, 16:6, 830-851, DOI: 10.1080/14719037.2012.757353

[3] Mabey, C. & Nicholds, A. (2015) Discourses of knowledge across global networks: What can be learnt about knowledge leadership from the ATLAS collaboration? International Business Review, Volume 24, Issue 1, February 2015, Pages 43–54. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969593114000754

[4Alyson Nicholds, John Gibney, Chris Mabey & Dan Hart (2017) Making sense of variety in place leadership: the case of England’s smart cities, Regional Studies, 51:2, 249-259, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2016.1232482