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Barnsley conference focuses on the digital revolution for business

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Barnsley businesses have been inspired to explore the internet as an engine for growth at a high-profile digital event.

More than 140 delegates attended the Connected Business conference, designed to help businesses take advantage of online tools and resources to reach new markets; develop ways working; improve customer services and increase sales.

The event, part of Barnsley Council’s Enterprising Barnsley business support programme, was open to companies in all sectors and attracted speakers from across the UK to share their experience and insights into doing business digitally.

Conference host Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“The digital revolution is transforming the way we do business and the creative and digital sector makes an outstanding contribution to the UK economy.

“It is important that events like this give businesses in all sectors access to the digital knowledge and expertise they need to consider what they can do to transform their business and grow their bottom line.”

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Nick Robertson, CEO of ASOS

Headline speaker at the event was Nick Robertson OBE, co-founder and chief executive of ASOS, Britain’s pioneering online fashion retailer – which has its global distribution centre based in Barnsley.

Nick said:

“ASOS is an entirely online retailer – the business was born in the digital age and continues to grow online and internationally.

“Over 50,000 orders a day come in via our website and all of these sales are handled by our Barnsley distribution centre.

“We ship from Barnsley to over 290 countries worldwide.”

Nick told ASOS’ inspiring story from the company’s set-up in 2000 to its status today as the world’s most visited fashion website, worth £4 billion.

Barnsley-based business owner John Sanderson also talked about developing his company, Pitstop Productions, into an international enterprise which supplies sound, music and animation products from a network of studios around Europe and the USA. Its clients include Sony, Rockstar and Sega.

The internet has made it much easier to operate as a global business, whatever your physical location.

Welcome to Yorkshire’s commercial director Peter Dodd talked about how his organisation used an energetic social media campaign to engage with people across Europe and gain vital support to secure the ‘Grand Depart’ of Le Tour de France for the county in 2014.

The international sporting event is expected to bring £100 million worth of investment to the Yorkshire economy.

Digital technology writer and associate editor of Wired.co.uk Olivia Solon highlighted some of the emerging trends in online technology which have implications for business.

She raised issues around privacy and how far business can go with personalisation and automation capabilities at the customer interface.

And finally, digital entrepreneur and broadcaster Tom Scott gave an insight into the power of the web and social media – its positive potential and some of the perils to avoid.

Conference organiser Tracey Johnson of Barnsley Council said:

“The digital revolution is the new industrial revolution and it is important that businesses understand how to make the most of the internet’s positive aspects as well as understand and avoid its potential pitfalls.

“Businesses need to look at what is going to work for them and help them to develop new ways of working and reaching new markets.

“We’ve been delighted to have speakers of such high calibre sharing their stories, experiences and advice at Barnsley’s second Connected Business event.”

The half-day event also featured an expo where delegates could meet businesses providing creative, digital and ICT services in Barnsley.

Event attendees were also busy on Twitter as #connectedbiz generated over 600 tweets reaching over 130,000 accounts.

The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Council and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre.

It is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

John Sanderson speaking at the Connected Business event 2013
John Sanderson speaking at the Connected Business event 2013

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