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- Wrap Up
Starting where we left off last week, on Sunday we went to Silicon Milkroundabout on London’s Brick Lane, to meet some of the 1,696 designers and software engineers looking to work at startups like ours. The talent in attendance was impressive and the CVs collected, numerous, so we’re confident we’ll find the quality of new recruits that we require to maintain Ve’s industry leading reputation.
On Monday, in light of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, Ve FC chatted with former Man United midfielder and current club ambassador, Bryan Robson OBE, to discuss his views on technology and entrepreneurialism’s place in the world of football.
On Tuesday night, our client and tailor to the stars, Stephen Williams of Bespoke HQ, unveiled his new Aston Martin fashion collection in a magnificent, star-studded catwalk show at our multichannel retail space, The Clerkenwell Collection. Hear what Stephen and his guests had to say about the event below:
E-Circle’s Connect 2013 conference took place on Tuesday and Wednesday at London’s O2 arena and was a great chance for some experts in the digital marketing industry to impart some of their wisdom and best practices to a captivated audience, including us.
Away from home, our DACH and Nordic teams have been busy travelling all over Germany and Scandinavia, respectively, visiting clients and networks, personally ensuring all parties are up to date with Ve’s latest offerings. DACH’s efforts were mainly concentrated on demonstrating the powerful opportunities of our virtual chat client, VeChat, while the Nordics were preparing for their presentation at the upcoming Nordic eCommerce Summit.
Kathy | May 17, 2013Ve Interactive is the proud digital partner of the omnichannel concept store The Clerkenwell Collection. Opened in March this year, this week saw an exciting event held in its premises, when one of its designer makers, the master tailor Stephen Williams of Bespoke HQ, launched his stunning official Aston Martin collection. (Video here).
It was a glamorous night, with the two floors packed to the brim full of wonderful guests and it was an occasion that garnered the press' interest too, with the paparazzi outside to capture shots. Fine wines and Champagne were kindly supplied by The Perfect Cellar.
It's one of many events being held at the destination store this year and Ve is excited to be a part of the amazing retail venture, as we help integrate its on and offline components.
Here's just a few photos from the night. Enjoy!
This week, The O2 (well, part of it) played host to E-Circle’s Connect 2013 conference on Tuesday and Wednesday.
After the first day of sales presentations, the real content arrived on Wednesday with some extremely interesting talks ranging from the power of harnessing customer data to how to create effective and engaging digital marketing campaigns.
The first of these talks however, had nothing to do with the above, but was widely regarded as the highlight of the day. Lord Sebastian Coe talked of the challenges faced in the run up to winning the Olympic bid and those that followed, to ensure that London 2012 was the success that they’d promised it would be. Clearly a well versed public speaker, Lord Coe’s talk was peppered with plenty of one liners and anecdotes (the story of how a coach trip through central London with Olympic Committee members to prove journey times between venues was viable and how it was made smoother with the help of the London traffic control centre and some clever traffic light management, stood out above the rest) which made for an entertaining opening act and made sure everyone’s attention was at its peak, in readiness for the more content heavy talks that followed.
Bruce Daisely, director of Twitter’s UK operations, was up next with another entertaining performance. Bruce served up five ways that brands can use Twitter to capitalise on the opportunities of now and creatively exploit events, as and when they happen, to engage with an already interested audience. Examples included this brilliant one from Oreo which was tweeted during the blackout at the Super Bowl in February.
As a Londoner who was commuting regularly during the London 2012 games, the best talk, for me, came from Julie Dixon, Head of Marketing and Communications at Transport for London. She explained the lengths that TfL went to to ensure that the London Underground network ran as smoothly as it did under the immense pressure that came with London’s huge influx of visitors. Starting with analysing Oyster usage data to see when and where the most congested stations were and planning accordingly, the ensuing multichannel effort to convince commuters to alter their travel plans proved not only to be immensely successful, but was also hailed as the largest behavioural change campaign undertaken since World War II.
Whilst not as thought provoking as recent similar events, such as last month’s Adobe Summit, Connect was certainly entertaining, and sometimes in marketing that can be just as important.
Jamie | May 13, 2013
After the recent news coming out of Manchester United, the latest instalment in our interview series couldn’t have come at a better time. This week, Ve FC player/manager/captain, Jamie sits down with former England and Manchester United player and current club ambassador, Bryan Robson OBE, to talk about footballers' lives after the beautiful game, how technology has influenced the sport and those within it and what aspects of entrepreneurialism can be found in football.
Was it hard making the shift from a professional footballer to something else?
It wasn’t too bad. Obviously you miss football as that’s what you’re brought up with. You grew up with it. My transition wasn’t too hard as I had the benefit of moving into management fairly soon. Half the time you’re playing, half the time you’re managing. Management and coaching is probably the next best thing compared to playing. However for a lot of players it’s extremely difficult to adapt to life outside of football as it’s a whole lifestyle, you especially miss the camaraderie and banter.
What skills do you think transfer from a player to post-career life?
One of the key skills a top footballer will have to possess is a strong mentality. You have to have an aim in life to what you want to achieve. A lot of these top footballers have a winning mentality and that’s passed on when they move into other areas of life. There are some skills you’ll develop whilst being a player and others you’ll have already.
You can have a successful career outside of football – quite a lot of players have proved that such as Robbie Fowler who went into the property world, Gary Neville also property and punditry. And then you’ve got people like David Beckham who was really shrewd in the way he portrays himself in the public eye; he has this unbelievable image right in the fashion and media world.
You do have a good mix within the game with lads who look after themselves and go on to other careers outside of football.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of football, harnessing more digital technology?
I think in any sort of business you have to move along with technology. Football has to move along with the technology to stay successful. Not just to promote the game, but technology related to player fitness, the medical side of things. Everything does move on with tech and football has to move with the times. At this moment of time, football is successful, especially the Premier League, as people within the game are able to harness that – companies such as Sky TV a catalyst.
Manchester United, a club close to your heart, are one of the pioneers. Is there anything in particular you could share?
I think what Manchester United have done under Sir Alex Ferguson – we went on a pre-season tour to Seattle in 2010. We went to the Seattle Hawks training ground and it was an unbelievable facility, the technology and everything they had within the ground.
It was all taken on board – what was brilliant about their ground and what was more advanced than our own training facilities (Carrington). They quickly drew up plans upon returning and the new facilities have now just launched – such as the new Human Resources centre and the Medical centre.
The manager (Sir Alex Ferguson) always wants his staff to go on courses to improve and so he’s always aware of that and furthermore, he always tries to give his players the best preparation he possibly can.
A lot of people at the top of their sport do go around to other successful sports and try to learn from them. Sports such as cricket, rugby and the American sports.
An entrepreneur is defined as someone who creates and manages a business, taking on financial risk to do so. Would you agree that could be applied to a professional footballer?
If you want to be successful you have to take a few risks. If you sit on the fence and play it safe you could easily make a bit of money but you won’t be in the top bracket.
In your opinion who is the most entrepreneurial character in football?
In my opinion you’ve got to say David Beckham, just in the sense of the fashion and modelling world. Now he’s looking into part ownership of a football club. The people behind him and David himself seem to enjoy these challenges. You’ve got to say that he’s right up there, always willing to take a bit of a risk and always willing to better himself.
In regards to social media and in particular Twitter, what are your thoughts?
I think Social Media has to be there to some degree, to keep people informed of everything going on around their football club and their favourite players. In my opinion, I don’t think players should get involved in Twitter. I think they should leave it to the club Twitter sites and concentrate more on their football. Players have to be very careful about the way they’re going with Twitter.
Have you yourself dabbled in any Tweeting?
No [laughs], I have enough problems with phone calls and emails without dealing with Twitter!
Do you have a business/tech hero?
I really respect Richard Branson, the way he’s built up Virgin. All of the entrepreneurial stuff he does, still getting involved in things like sports. It’s an unbelievable brand that he’s built up.
What’s your favourite thing to do in London?
My favourite thing is probably to go out to a show and get a bite to eat. That would be the best thing apart from when I used to play football down there. It’s all part of relaxing and socialising!
Any tips for VeFC?
Don’t go drinking with Charlie (from Ve Interactive!)
Most of this shortened week has been spent growing our team, especially our international team. Although we have offices in six other countries, we also have international desks here in our London HQ to support our international outposts and cover the additional territories in which we operate. To this end, we have been holding daily regional interview sessions to find the best international digital experts to fuel this global expansion, it’s also been a good opportunity to catch up with the management teams from our European offices who are in town for the occasion. Many of these candidates we met at the Bilingual People recruitment fair a couple of weeks ago and others have come through our online recruitment page.
On the topic of international news, Tuesday was the beginning of the DMX Digital Marketing conference in Austria, attended by our DACH team from Germany. The key finding from this event was that the Austrian e-commerce market seems to be very much intertwined with that of Germany, with few related businesses, affiliate networks for example, launching independent operations in the country, and instead working out of their German offices. This is an approach that we too have adopted when deciding to base our DACH operations in Berlin and Munich back in June 2012.
Tuesday was also the Performance Marketing Awards, and although we didn't enter this year, that didn’t stop us from heading over there on Tuesday night to cheer on our partner networks and agencies. We were cheering especially loudly when we heard our friends’ at 7thingsmedia announced as winner of the Best Agency category; an award we know to be well deserved after working closely with them on many projects.
Hopefully though, come June 27th, we’ll have something more to cheer about after hearing on Thursday that we’ve been nominated in the B2B category for The Digitals. This, of course, comes after our double nomination earlier this year for the BT Retail Week Technology Awards, also in June.
The week is still not over though, as this Sunday we will be continuing our recruitment drive at the Silicon Milkroundabout event in Shoreditch, the heart of TechCity. We will be on the lookout for promising developers keen to work at the cutting edge of B2B technology design who can help take our solutions and clients to the next level of total efficiency.
Silicon Milkroundabout, derived from Silicon Roundabout and the Milkround university recruiting events, has become a regular recruitment fair held in London’s TechCity. It was created by Songkick to help London-based tech start-ups attract talented software developers and computer science graduates to the area. It opens up recruitment opportunities for innovative, entrepreneurial businesses who often struggle to find the right talent due to the digital giants like Google or Microsoft and other jobs in the City.
This is the most recent event in the chain of initiatives to innovate East London, now known as Silicon Roundabout and has been described by Ian Hogarth, CEO and Founder of Songkick, as "Britain getting its entrepreneurial mojo back," to support David Cameron’s pledge to attract more entrepreneurs to Britain.
To support Ve Interactive’s recruitment drive for 90 new members of staff, we have signed up to exhibit this Sunday and are excited to have the opportunity to meet the budding IT stars of the future.
For those of you attending, come and say ‘hi’ to Ben, Alex and Roddy. They will be more than happy to discuss the available job vacancies. Alternatively check out our careers page for more info.
In May 2012, Google announced a new feature to its search product: a knowledge base that would contain verified information that could answer search queries directly. They called it Knowledge Graph.
The logic was sound. When people search for Benedict Cumberbatch, they most likely aren’t looking for a page about the Sherlock Holmes star- they’re just looking for information about him. The movies he’s acted in, that show you saw him in last night and if Alan Rickman really is his dad.
By providing users with that relevant information immediately, Google could tap into the value offered by answer engines of old, like Ask Jeeves, or more pertinently, that friend of yours who always seems to know way too much about celebrities.
But how relevant is the information turning up in Knowledge Graph?
While bigger stars like Cumberbatch have accurate information about them in their knowledge graph entries, some of the comparatively smaller stars who’ve earned knowledge graph entries still have to contend with occasional moments of misinformation.
World renowned drummer Gary Husband for instance, has a vast list of Level 42 songs attributed to him that he wasn’t involved in writing, producing or even performing during his tenure with the band. For an independent and original artist, this is a miscalculation that could impact both him and the very artists who deserve the correct credit in the first place.
He explains: “Google's Knowledge Graph is gravely misrepresenting a large number of artists that I know, myself included, by frequently presenting misinformation as "factual" information (more akin to Wikipedia). Since Google is widely perceived as a trusted source of intelligence, such widespread errors have the potential to be highly damaging to artists' careers and of course wholly misleading to anyone searching for accurate facts - journalists, booking agents, producers, promoters or fans. But for me, the most alarming part of all this is that we seem powerless in our efforts to get Google to rectify the errors. This is totally unacceptable. The lengths I have gone to over the past nine months to set my own 'record' straight with Google have been in vain: it would seem that nobody there is remotely interested.”
So where exactly is Google getting the entry wrong? It would appear they’re misunderstanding some of the information they’re collecting and the quality of relationships between them.
All the data in knowledge graph comes from four sources: Wikipedia, Freebase, The CIA World Factbook and interestingly enough for brands, Google Plus. All 570 million objects, 18 Billion facts and the relationships between all these different entries are based on the information available in these four sources.
The algorithms traversing this massive amount of data appear to occasionally misinterpret the quality of some of this information. In the case of Husband, it might be Wikipedia’s separated section about his relationship with Level 42 being misconstrued for greater involvement.
Where the algorithms are misfiring, is something that will only ever be clear to Google.
What is clear though, is that Google are aware their algorithms aren’t perfect just yet. Hence their repeated removal and re-entry of different Knowledge Graph sections from time to time.
With some interesting competition from Bing’s knowledge base Satori, Google are certainly being kept on their toes when it comes to making sure their knowledge graph entries are always relevant and useful.
More importantly, if Google are to keep up the incredible momentum they’ve worked up in their march towards semantically indexed, socially relevant search results, then they’ll be desperately keen to make sure the entries for Husband are as accurate as the entries for Cumberbatch.
My leap from space back to cyberspace always was going to be a surreal one. However, without being fantastical, DADAISM does exist in the e-commerce and data industries. In several formats:
- DADA is actually the acronym for Data Analysis Decision Action. Something we do every day at Ve.
- Then there’s ‘Dataists,’ modern day seers, who identify facts hidden within noisy observational data.
- And finally there’s Dadaist spin, when facts can get distorted in the digital narrative.
The key is in finding sophisticated data insights and inserting them into a feedback loop, both at client and development level. Another Ve routine. Once data is unpacked, analysed and externalised, not only are we contributing to the infinite stream of the stuff 'out there,’ but more importantly, we can start to really understand the symbiosis and connections between the evolving social, behavioural and technological aspects of our clients’ customers’ lives.
And that’s when the real artists then come in – our solution development team at VeLabs.
Hesham | May 3, 2013Unlike last week, when we were all over the place, attending events and hosting visiting guests, this week’s excursions have been a much more centralised affair in preparation for some new releases coming up in the next few weeks.
Work is well underway in preparation for the release of Bespoke HQ’s Aston Martin collection in our omnichannel retail space, The Clerkenwell Collection. This collaboration between two luxury brands known for their high standards of aesthetic design and quality and attention to detail is highly anticipated by the fashion world, and by Ve.
We are also hard at work putting the finishing touches on some very exciting new products that will expand our range of online services over the course of the next two to three months. Although it’s too soon to speak much more about this, rest assured, the wait will be well worth it once you see the revolutionary new technologies we have lined up.
I attended the Retra conference for electrical retailers and suppliers last week. It was great to catch up with existing clients and also hear predictions for how the sector will develop over the coming year.
I was particularly intrigued by the two following points: First, only 10% of Retra members have a transactional website and second, speakers were advising merchants not to specialise but instead have a broader range of products in order to spread risk.
I was surprised that only 10% of members have a transactional website because it is commonly known that the electronics sector is growing rapidly online; Verdict Retail estimate that 43% of revenue in the sector will be via ecommerce by the end of 2013. It must surely be an absolute necessity to have a multi-channel marketing strategy to maximise revenue and give the consumer a complete experience, but many small merchants appear content to just maintain a bricks and mortar organisation. The advantages of developing an online strategy include extending your reach beyond the local community, engaging with customers via social media channels and blogs, and you can increase the size of your product range without having to store the stock on site.
I find the second point about broadening the range of products interesting because our advice within the digital space is to find your niche and make sure you are the best at it. In order to compete online with the likes of Amazon and Dixons, merchants must have a superior product range. The reason for this is because users search online at each point in the buying cycle. For example, I want to buy a dishwasher. I start by searching ‘dishwasher’ and see what’s out there; I see that a large multi-sale merchant has a good selection, and I like the look of brand X; I then search again but this time for ‘brand X dishwashers’ and see ‘model XYZ’, which is particularly suitable for me; I then make a third search for ‘brand x model XYZ dishwasher’ in order to find the best price. Smaller merchants must ensure that they have the product range to compete in the final stage of the buying cycle.
To summarise, merchants can no longer hide from the digital marketing channel in the hope that they can survive with their high street stores. It is possible to compete with the online giants providing that you adapt your offline business model; it is not as simple as merely mimicking it. Some merchants have a different website name whilst others may focus their online strategies on one particular product range that sells particularly well in their shop. Either way, the internet is unavoidable.
If this blog has inspired you to review your online approach, please feel free to contact one of our online efficiency specialists to see how we can build a strategy which is right for you.