Insight Sharing with Social Influencers

Wow what a 24 hours!! Yesterday was the annual Smarter Workforce London event (catch up on tweets searching #SWF2015), and I was lucky to be part of Team Social! I was asked to organise a roundtable with some of the UK’s most social HR influencers, and was SO pleased with the attendees that agreed to come along!

We were lucky to have Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, Meryvn Dinnen, David Green, Andy Spence, Michael Carty, Perry Timms, David D’Souza and last but not least Tony Restell. The roundtable was hosted by IBM’s Jonathan Ferrar and Dyke DeBrie, and Amit Sidhpura from Smarter Workforce Global Social Strategy team was also present.

Jonathan opened by saying we are a social company, we want all IBMers to be socially eminent, and we take social influencers like those in the room as excellent examples of where we need to work towards. We know that they are all people who know the industry, have a fantastic engaged audience following them, and therefore we highly value their feedback on what we do well and what we need to improve.

So Jonathan asked the attendees their general impression of IBM in the HR space. David D’Souza said it’s great that we are trying to create an ecosystem not just a core software/product platform. He continued saying that often small companies get taken over and everyone loses, ability for this not to happen is fundamental. Perry added that he was excited to hear during our keynote that open source HR where we can all collaborate on is in IBM’s plan. Dyke confirmed that IBM’s strategy is to work with both small agile partners and the largest companies in the globe, we look anywhere and everywhere to find right solutions for our customers.

We then moved on to employee experience in the workplace. Mervyn said lines are blurred, as Perry’s recent blog says workplace can be home, and it’s NOT an age thing either, people over forty use workplaces apps and platforms a lot and want the same experience as the younger generation do. Mervyn continued by saying that when we look at workforce analytics, we should use analytics to analyse simple problems as well , not just complex ones, and we should be able to pick and choose the bits you want. Kate said HR analytics has been pretty rudimentary, saying she doesn’t necessarily need to know about enjoyment of courses, she wants to know if they have helped performance, BUT don’t keep to just HR – look at the bigger picture.

We then moved on to talking about training, opportunity for software to change the face of training – make people more analytical says David D’Souza. Amit agreed, saying not only does our technology needs to keep up with the evolution and so do our employees. David D’Souza said we need to manage the journey effectively including thinking about risk and local data rules. David Green said hand holding is needed, so people aren’t fearful of emerging technologies, education is important and showing what it can do. The move to cloud is making HR more accessible, vendors are transforming it Andy added. Kate commented that if it’s going to appeal to HR it needs to be taken in bite sized chunks. In Perry’s opinion vendors need to think about it being part education, part consultancy, part technology. Mervyn said that the training should help people make more effective decisions, in addition, technology at work is ALREADY a differentiator for some prospective employees and this means companies need to keep up!

Mervyn added that everyone talks about “big data”, but big doesn’t need to mean complex, large and unmanageable, just means there’s a lot to consider, he added our social jam was first time a corporate has hosted a social conversation, and he thought the concept was really interesting. It was agreed in general that IBM’s presence on social media is less corporate, it’s not selling, it’s personal – that’s really good. Michael Carty commented that IBM’s Dave Millner is really good at this, David Green agreed saying that he encourages and enables online discussions/debates rather than promoting himself.

Kate said that the best way for IBM to engage with influencers is to provide interesting content that they can talk about. The question was then posed, what is really interesting? Stories was the answer!!!! As well as surprising outcomes, case studies etc.  Andy Spence added that HR need how to guides, just like the first 100 days paper IBM has just published. Mervyn stated that vendors have to demystify, think about the practical ways HR solutions can help people, people need to invest in it rather than just buying it. The final comment came from Perry saying the discerning customer is the one you want to go after, but make sure you HELP them not just sell to them.

Overall a very interesting session for me, it was great to hear from social influencers, and I found it very inspiring (you all know how much I LOVE social media & would love to be considered an influencer in something!!). Thanks to all those that took part!


In Other News

I am off on holiday today! (T minus 1 hour!!), very excited to be getting some sun in Alicante with my sister and good friend Mychelle, as well as plenty of tapas!! We went last year and it was so fun and I know I will come back fully rested for two weeks of Wimbledon project work! Plus it meant I could buy some new shoes ūüôā


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Making time for “Making Time for Social!

On Tuesday I attended another event hosted by the Social Media Leadership Forum – this time a subject very topical for me – “How to Make Time for Social Media”. As you know if you read my blog occasionally, up until April this year, my social media activities were on top of my “day job”. However, from the first April my dreams came true and I was given a European Social Media Strategist role at IBM – meaning for the first time Social WAS my job!! So now, it’s not a case of how I make time for social, but how can I help (and get people to) others make time for social!

Justin Hunt opened the session and posed some thought provoking around each of our social media activity:

  • What have you “given up” now that you were doing 10 years ago that has been replaced by Social?
    For me it would marketing tactics like direct mail, and less email (everyone’s inbox is full enough!) As well as doing less events, people’s time is precious, and if we can provide information they can digest in their own time via digital/social then it’s more helpful for our customers
  • What am I learning?
    I think through social I learn more about our customers – their challenges, motivations and preferences of how, when, what and how often they want to consume content
  • Who am I reaching?
    I think Social has greatly expanded my “reach” – not just into customers I haven’t spoken to both, but also colleagues – in fact I have a colleague called Marc Bulandr, who I first “met” on Twitter, and I can not wait to meet him in the flesh later in June! (you should all follow him, he shares some great stuff!)

Justin also got us thinking about whether as well as making time for social, do we make time to replenish ourselves? He said we are more worried nowadays about recharging our phone batteries than recharging ourselves!

Next up Moyra Scott led a really interesting exercise around looking at where all our information is coming into us from, and where we are sending information Рhere is my chart!


Moyra talked about how sometimes it’s important to step back, if you feel compelled to do something, take a step back and consider if you do really need to do it – do you need to go into the office and immediately switch on your computer? Or could you go and make a coffee and say good morning to people, BEFORE switching on for the day?!

She spoke about how some companies she goes into coach now do an hour of important project work before they look at their email, others reply to all emails after a 24 hour delay so that some of the back and forth between those on CC can die down, others that state on their voicemail to send a text if it’s critical and they don’t answer voicemails, and others that don’t even have voicemail at all!

The one statement from Moyra that really sticks in my head, and I am going to try to remember from now on both in my personal and professional life – “the thing that shouts the loudest, isn’t the most important thing!”.

The session continued with a panel discussion with Justin, Moyra and Paul Levy РPaul has written a book called the Digital Inferno Рwhich sounds fascinating and is going to be my next purchase from Amazon.


Paul said¬†we are communicating more than ever but email has not made us more productive, humans must rise to the challenge of the digital realm! He also mentioned a term I had not heard before “WWILF” – what was I looking for?! ¬†I am definitely guilty of this – going to look up one thing on Twitter, then an hour¬†later not remember what my original search was meant to be!

Paul continued that there are smarter ways of doing digital, it shouldn’t just be because it’s cool or you have to do it for your job (although technically I do have to do it for my job ūüôā ). He spoke about how the “copying in culture” on emails – does not build trust in an organisation, and certainly doesn’t help productivity.

Paul talked about three different placements for digital:

  • Physical placement – where and when
  • Emotional placement – when to engage with different types of content, so you can deal with situations properly
  • Temporal placement – placing social in time that is functional for customers or be benevolent – when is also beneficial for you

Paul closed with something that did really amuse me, and wonder how many of us could say it’s a concern – when “xxxx outweighs¬†physical kisses” that’s when we need to be worried!!

We then did some more group work, discussing various topics around this “digital inferno” – was fascinating to hear others stories and views.

Overall another FANTASTIC session with the SMLF and can’t wait for the next one!!

In Other News

I went to the Surrey Country Show with my friend Mychelle on Sunday, it was brilliant – although I ate far too much cheese!! Luckily resisted the cider, but mainly because I was driving! I did get a knight to lend me this helmet and sword too!



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Smarter Workforce London – still time to register!!

Well the year has flown by, and it’s that time again for the best HR event of the year… the IBM Smarter Workforce Summit in London. This year it’s being held at The Oval on the 18th June – and it’s not too late to register for your place!!

There are some great keynote speakers covering topics, including “social is not just for happy hour anymore” from Katrina Troughton and “Solve the mystery to hiring, growing and retaining talent through science and analytics” from Jonathan Ferrar.

And latest breaking news Professor Brian Cox  will be a keynote speaker too!

The day is then divided into 4 different workstreams, so there really is something for everyone, these sessions include Workforce Analytics, Employee Engagement, Workforce Science and Talent Acquisition.

Check out the full agenda here!

The conference is also supported by three of our top knowledge and media partners – Corporate Research Forum, HR Grapevine and Changeboard.

So why attend? Here are the top three reasons that I can see:

  • Chance to hear best practices & learn from some of the TOP companies across all industries
  • See demos of the latest IBM and Business Partner software solutions¬†over lunch
  • Network with peers & industry experts

It’s going to be fantastic event. Don’t just take my word for it though, here is a video invite from David Kelly, IBM Smarter Workforce European Director.

I will be at the conference too, tweeting from one of the sessions from my own account RSwindell and from IBM Events – I hope to see you all there! Would be great to know if anyone registers after reading my blog, so if you do, please drop me a tweet or DM to let me know!

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Uplifting & Upskilling Unconference

On Friday I attended my first “unconference”, which was hosted by the great team at the Social Media Leadership Forum (@SocialMediaLF). The concept of the “unconference” is pretty simple – no speaking/presentation sessions, participant driven and plenty of open debate. The main topic of the session was around Social Media Risk and Reputation Management.


The session was opened by Justin Hunt (@justinhunt), and he explained to us all the basic concept of an “unconference” as we were all seated in a circle around him.

All the participants were then given free reign to suggest topics for the different streams during the two session slots. Here are some of the ideas that were generated:


The first session I decided to go to was on using social media for customer service, which was led by Justin. We started by discussing how consumers now try to engage with brand social media channels to obtain quick and favorable responses to their questions and complaints.  One member of the group ran a large digital team who were responsible for a well known consumer brand social media customer service channels. He had some great experiences around where his team have helped people, and in doing so had happy customers as well as an improved brand image.

He said for this team the quality of the responses to the comments is more important than how quickly they answer them – although a responses is normally given within about 20 minutes, that’s 365 days a year and 24×7. ¬†I asked if the number of followers a person has was every taken into account, and he confirmed they don’t, as they may have only a small amount of followers, but they could be highly engaged. I agree with this approach, but know that some brands ignore complaints from tweeters that only have a handful of followers. He also mentioned that you can now direct message someone on Twitter without them having to be following, which I think is an interesting step by Twitter to move it more to a customer service tool.

One of the group mentioned how actually he now finds it a “pain in the arse” to have to phone a company to ask a question or make a complaint – it’s so much easier on social media – which I agree with, I hate waiting in line on the phone!! But interested to see what others think, so here’s a quick poll.

We all agreed that whichever channel you choose, it should be a seamless and coherent customer journey.

We then moved on to talking about how brands that seem most successful at social media customer service, are those that are humanising the brand accounts and investing in Twitter personalities – think the fun Sainsbury’s fish puns! Although we all agreed there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. Interesting that one major brand hire comedians to help train the employees who are behind the brand account.

Finally we talked about using a tool like Sysomos (@sysomos) to analyse when you are getting the most engagement for your customers (day of week, time of day etc), and making sure your resourcing strategy fits this. So even if you can’t solve them all, you can at least acknowledge them.

The second session I attended was on the role of leadership in dealing with social media reputation. Andrew Grill (@andrewgrill) from IBM joined this session, and spoke about as part of his role, he works one on one with some of the leadership team to give expert coaching on how to build a good reputation on all social media channels. He talked about many of the people he coaches get more comfortable through the good experiences they have on social.

I spoke about some of the work we do at IBM around Wimbledon – a project that I am again involved in this year. I am a Punnet Pal – and I work with some of our SME’s to help them create and share great content around our Wimbledon story – this year I am working with the Analytics team, which I am very excited about (come back for more blogs on this as we move closer to the championships!).

Andrew made a fantastic points about why it is important to coach your leaders on social. If you move to a country, you have to try to learn the language – in order both to be able to understand but ALSO to be able to be understood! And social should not be any different.

I unfortunately then had to leave the session, but it really was so fun and informative, so really hope to attend another “unconference” soon.

If anyone would like to attend a SMLF member session, please let me know and I can talk to the organisers!

In Other News

I went to a Eurovision party last night – it was great we all dressed up as one country and brought a savory and sweet from the country. I was Italy so reused a Mario costume I had, and added pizza and biscotti to the buffet. Was a brilliant night!

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iMedia Brand Summit Рmy second year 

iMediaUK Brand Summit returned to BAFTA again this year, and I was once again lucky enough to attend. Below our a few highlights from my favourite sessions. Read the tweets from the day using #imediauk.

Paul Frampton, CEO from Havas Group was the day’s chair. The programme was created along the central themes of data and content, with streams named Engage and Touch.
I loved his opening – its like teen sex – everyone’s talking about it, but not many are actually doing it – what was he talking about do you think? It was digital transformation. Paul said 74% of people surveyed would not care of brands disappeared, people are falling out of love with them. He also said data and content intersect – right messaging right place and time and people driven collaboration is how digital transformation will succeed.
David Timm KFC was then interviewed by Debra Ladd BBH on embracing the changing science of brand strategy. KFC videos were then played (which made me want some chicken!). David said bad years in business are actually positive – forces you to reappraise & there is an opportunity to take bigger risks, you can become bolder. He said you need to think about penetration and frequency – don’t just think about your heavy users – this is too narrow, look for truths in the data at a broader level. Heavy users give you the least option to innovate, have a wider lens. He also said you have to look at emotion, what emotion is right for your brand? It’s a new round world, not a flat world.

Next was a panel on “the next big thing, cognition, content and consumer conversations – three things to realise more engaging and effective marketing” – with three startups – Emily Forbes from SeenIt, Heather Andrew from Neuro-Insight, Rowley Bourne from Rezonence and Paul Rowlinson from Mindshare moderated the session. Paul said this is the most exciting time to be in marketing, data and mass personalisation drive this. Emily said they empower their brand advocates to help amplify the brands, they tap into the content their create, bridging the gap between consumers and the brand, ¬†and professionalise their content to act as brand content. Authenticity and personal relevance, means content is kept longer in memory Heather said. Rowley said data capture is fundamental for customer segmentation, for successful advertising that is directly relevant to the content.¬†Emily added user generated video content is now becoming an necessity, rather than just a bit of fun. Rowley added creating great content is hugely important, but make sure it’s seen and heard – like the adage of a tree falls in a forest does anyone actually hear it. Heather added brands have to be brave, and take a risk I order to be successful now.
Unfortunately I had to miss a couple of sessions due to a call for my new role, but then went into a session from Brandwatch on Twitter by Joe Windels. He said people talk about brands on social, more than films or TV. Only 4% of brands respond to complaints within 15 minutes, whilst 36% of consumers expect a response within that time frame, and only 4% of people talking about the brand are following the brand accounts. Again 4% (clearly the magic number) check in on Facebook to official brand places.
After yet another call, I went back into sessions to hear a panel on does anyone care about your content marketing – with Hazel Kay from Selfridges, Giovanni Gribaudo from Iglo Foods, Aditya Mohan from Unilever, Alex Cheeseman from Outbrain & moderated by Paul Frampton from Havas. Hazel says content marketing for them is about using great content to change buyers behaviour. Aditya said it was the tools and ingredients you need in your kitchen. Giovanni said its ultimately about and growth, something their CEO looks at very closely. Alex thinks we are going through an evolution, our metrics are changing – we’ve moved from volume to engagement – most important are the users coming back?
Hazel said they want to be the voice of the content, they need to own it, considering media owners, but ultimately they want people to come to them. She said the challenge is communicating it up, as some levels only understand “reach” – not the other multi factors, it’s education that’s needed. Giovanni said they are hiring so that they get the right team in place to optimise their content creation. Alex said we need a shift in business, you need a whole new score of people talking together for content marketing, not operating in silos. But many brands need to take a step back. Look at the data insights, before they can validate their content creation. Aditya said content marketing isn’t new – think about newspapers – it’s now just a new/different skill.
After lunch there was a session from Dan Michelson from O2, once again chaired by Paul Frampton. Dan started by saying they try to make sure they are not scared of failure, whilst limiting the risk, rather taking it out of the whole process, which allows them to crate some innovative ideas. Data allows 02 to create truly personalised engaging content. They are always looking at platforms to see where “youngsters” are going, they are the hardest to target. It can’t just be social that reacts here and now, it has to be all your comms. He spoke about agency briefs – how can every brief have the same sections in, it should be more dynamic and sophisticated then this, twelve months ago looks very different from now. If the contents really good, you shouldn’t have to pay for it to spread, it should be organic.
The next panel was on connecting the golden triangle of mobile, social and video. There were many great ideas, here are my favourite:
  • If you are going to centralised your video, the story has to be universal
  • You have to watch your own data and challenge your own assumptions
  • Don’t think about separate tools, it should be one user experience,engaging on any different platform
  • There are now tools that can test emotional reaction to videos – which can help you decide which videos to publish based on the emotion your brand wants to convey¬†
  • Fifty percent of YouTube videos have under fifty views – video content has become commoditised though, as you can buy impressions and views, so that people can just took a ¬†box – it’s an onslaught of “shit”
The closing session as AMAZING by David Shing from AOL – I was enthralled within 30 seconds and therefore didn’t write any notes – I didn’t want to miss a thing! But I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter now @shingy. I got to briefly meet him at the end too!
In other news 
My sister and I went to a gym class taster session at our local gym, we did Pump and Body Jam – the latter of which I am going to take up I think. Our fancy dress for the rugby sevens in May was also decided, I’m going as Smurfette!!


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An amazing day in St Albans 

Watch out….pure none work blog coming!

I had the BEST day on Tuesday, thanks to a wonderful friend of mine Mychelle
(yes that is how it’s spelt it’s not a typo) who treated me and two friends to a day with the Saracens rugby club, which she had bid for during a charity

Our main host for the day was Simon, who started the tour by talking about
the season so far for the club and their upcoming games. He explained his
role as team liaison manager, which ranged from helping the new players get established at the club – including helping them with housing and schools for their families, as well as their personal appearances and involvement in charities etc. Simon really showed a love and passion for the club, and a truly authentic care about the players emotional, mental and physical well being. He talked about how many of the players are involved with a charity in South Africa, and some have even been to the shanty towns to help build new homes and schools. This was all an aspect of a professional rugby players life I had never even thought about.

Simon then took us on a tour of the facilities, which included a astro turf
practice area (Saracens are one of the few clubs whose home games are
played on astro) and the gym. The gym had loads of equipment I had not seen
before – including a gravity running machine, a very expensive bit of kit
that helps the players rehabilitate after injury. I loved the banners
around the gym, which really showed the ethos of the club, with words like
humility, honesty, discipline and tribe. The only questionable thing was
the playlist included “no scrubs”.


We then had a meeting with one of the clubs strength and conditioning
coaches, James. It was fascinating to hear the different training steps
they set up for players that are injured, or those that are also England
squad members, so their training is closely monitored and reported back to the England coaches. Each player has their own training programme which can correlate to their position – such as certain players needing strong necks! Each strength and conditioning coach had about six players they look after, and work closely with the clubs nutritional experts to make sure the
training schedule matches their food intake.

We then spoke with Simon about how the energy they used on the pitch during practice and games is monitored via GPS on their backs (at this point I did have to comment a couple of times that I work for IBM and we use predictive analytics with the England rugby team to assess whether players need rest,
predict when they might get injured and of course I mentioned the IBM
TryTracker ūüėČ ). He also spoke about the new monitors some of the players
wear on their heads to monitor the numbers and intensity of knocks their
heads take, so great that the club invest in this type of thing to make
sure their players are safe and remain fit and healthy.

After watching a bit more of their training, we were lucky enough to have lunch with the players (all very healthy of course!). I sat next to Kelly
Brown – who has the most amazing eyebrows! And later we found out an
amazing singing voice too as Simon recommended a quick search on YouTube – I like the Baywatch one best. We spoke about their outlook on the rest of the season as well as what they do in their down time. They were all so polite and interested to know our opinion as well, a real credit to the
club, and I really really think this was all genuine, not just because they
had been told to be nice.

After lunch there was a team meeting – which for obvious reasons we were
not allowed to attend, so we got to spend some time with the club
nutritionist George, which was so interesting. Learning about the different food and supplements the players have, how careful the club are around ingredients to make sure the players shakes etc comply to all the anti drug laws, and how often they have to eat – every three hours!! It was also great to hear that for the younger players the club even put on cookery

Our next stop was with one of the physios – Jonathan – who talked about the various ways of helping players avoid and fix injuries, including using an ice machine, although he did admit a good old fashioned ice pack does the
same job!

The final stop of the day was watching the players in a practice game, when
we were hosted by another of the liaison team, Alex. They first warmed up in groups – forwards, backs and receivers, doing various drills etc,
although one group decided to play football instead!


We watched for an hour or so, then said our goodbyes to Simon. It really
was a fascinating day, everyone we met was so polite and happy to spend
time with us, came away with a really positive view of the club, think it’s only right that I now become a life long fan!!

Thanks to all the Saracens for making it such an amazing and memorable day!


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Deciphering Data Analytics at the Social Media Forum 

Today was my first day back at work after a five day birthday break, and what a great day it was! I attended another Social Media Leadership Forum event, this time on data and analytics, hosted by Thomson Reuters in Canary Wharf.  You can see the Twitter conversation from the event using #SMLFsession. 

Justin Hunt (@justinhunt) opened the session by looking at the latest trends in the world of social. He started by talking about the new¬†memo app, which basically is an anonymous digital forum – across organisation, where employees can give open and honest feedback. You can see more here To be honest I am not sure how productive and beneficial something like this would be, but would love to hear anyone’s stories where it has been implemented effectively…

Justin also mentioned that the have now launched SMLF radio – so I will definitely be tuning into that soon, they also asked for speakers, so hopefully some of you will hear from some IBM experts soon too.

Justin then spoke about the “Masters of Data Collection¬†– Google!”. He said that recently a Google exec said to him from a career¬†progression point of view – data science is where it’s at! Now if only I was good at science :-). Justin also spoke about the¬†Google Loon project – balloons with wifi so more and more people can get online. Check out more at

Justin also spoke about a new concept by Brendan Dawes on data visualisation – called the Happiness Machine, and we watched a brief video. I LOVED the idea – see what you think here
We then got in to the panel, and it was great to see Gareth Mitchell (@garethmj74)¬†from IBM on stage. He spoke about how IBM utilises a tool called¬†SystemU – which analyses an employees social psychology and assesses how to use that to interact most effectively with them, this can ultimately remove barriers to performance and help your employees achieve more. He posed the question is an employees¬†value simply monetary or is it their social network? I would hope it’s starting to be the latter.

Gareth also spoke about matching personalities to sit at the end of the social media services to interact most effectively with people. By talking back to the individual in their natural language organisations can increase engagement and return. Understand customer segments then you can be authentic in way you talk back to them. Gareth spoke about the importance of understanding your objectives before you start on your data journey, and have a programme in place to manage across platforms Рan ecosystem, with one person having an overarching management role.

Tom Ball (@tomball1985) from Immediate Future (@iftweeter) – a fantastic social media agency – was also on the panel. he spoke about how in many organisations he sees the biggest challenge is organising people to manage the data and knowing what to do with it.

We then broke into groups and had a question from each panellist to discuss: is our social a point in time or is there longevity in social strategy, is our social married up to the business objectives and what role does social play in our customer journey. I had a very interesting discussion with one lady from Reuters and another from Pearson.

We then went back to the panel, with several more interesting comments. Gareth spoke about how there needs to be a leader at the top of your organisation, who should give you the space to fail a lot before you can be successful on social. He said that both intuition and data scientists are needed Рsomeone who is creative and thinks about the problem working with the data team Рthis should never be down to one individual but a group collaborating together. Context and experience are replacing traditional marketing, and data in isolation can be dangerous, if it is the only lens used.

Toni Kasparek from Thomson Reuters then joined the panel. She spoke about how social data analysis is no longer just in marketing, it’s going into other areas of the business, looking at patterns of behaviour and integrating with product teams, this drives investment and innovation, and allows the voice of the customer into future content.

Overall a fascinating ever, as usual can’t wait for the next one!!

In other news

This week was my birthday (thanks to all those that remembered and sent me birthday wishes ūüôā ), had a four day celebration including a girls night out, a birthday brunch, a birthday night away with the hubbie in Somerset (including afternoon tea) and a birthday dinner with my family.


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