How Business and Enterprise North East plans to share information

by Justin Souter on December 15, 2008

images I recently attended a Bridge Club event, where Caroline Theobald had one of her ‘conversations’ with Alastair MacColl, boss of Business & Enterprise North East Ltd (I’m going to foreshorten them to BE-NE here).

BE-NE are best known for running Business Link in the North East of England, but have other strings to their corporate bow.

Being on a business development tip that night, afterwards I introduced myself to Alastair, tried out my elevator pitch to him and gave him my card.

As a result, Alastair’s PA, the fantastic Julia, helpfully organised a meeting with Gary Slater, Head of Business Systems.*

Meeting with Gary was (from a business development perspective) rather disappointing, as BE-NE seem already to doing everything I had come to talk with them about. :-(

However, always on the look-out for the next blog post, I fixed on their business / technology journey as a cracking case study in the making [although Oracle have already got there and there].

Gary and I discussed what BE-NE is doing with information, and the technology infrastructure to manage it. From my notes:

  • Their first phase was get the foundation in:
    • E-mail, website, intranet
    • Customer Relationship Management – described by Gary on YouTube
    • Other business systems – I’m guessing Financials, HR etc.
  • The next phase (already under way) is:
    • To roll-out a SharePoint-based intranet
    • Documents are held in file store – on standard directory structure for each project
    • At the same time, address the people change side of things. Gary was thrilled to relate that a result of a recent survey showed a large majority of BE-NE people want to manage their own documents
    • Gary and his team are also investigating how to use Web 2.0 / Social media
      • Gary prefers the term “Serving the 21st Century customer", as he [probably rightly] feels that the terms Web 2.0 and Social media have negative connotations
      • Gary feels that his terminology better matches what is going on, and I guess is down to wanting to be customer-driven
      • Gary is commissioning research to find out what BE-NE stakeholders want from a revitalised web presence.
  • Phase 3 is to explore using an Enterprise Service Bus to tie everything together and make things easier to manage and help information to flow round the organisation more readily.

Gary told me that he had made a presentation to the BE-NE board, and had won them over about how "ST2CC" could rev up BE-NE’s web presence – presently this.

Other thoughts

  • Interestingly, when I bumped into Andrew Robson last week at The Pud, he said his company, Perfect Image, is BE-NE’s outsourcing partner.
  • Gary is reading Groundswell, playbook for introducing social media into your organisation
  • Coming from a background in collaboration and document management, I’m wondering whether SharePoint is going to be used for EDRM – as it appears to be the only missing strand of a pretty complete overall picture.

*Julia also got out the metaphorical ping-pong bats and helpfully guided me to their office when I got lost in the car :$

[DISCLOSURE: I have had this text checked by Gary. I’m not trying to be obsequious – more that I’ve been burnt in the past when I don’t keep folk informed…]

Technorati Tags: ,,,,management of change,,serving the 21st century customer,,,,business link north east

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