Category Archives: innovation

1 Way to Increase Your Share of Social Voice

Increase your share of social voice

Increase your share of social voice

Warren Buffett’s biggest tip when advising businesses towards success is to delight your customers. If you don’t just satisfy your customer but delight them, they will start talking about you.

In essence, this is word of mouth marketing and customers start doing your marketing for you. By getting your customers talking, you are increasing your share of social voice on popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

But what if people used their actual voice, rather than streams of text on the popular timelines of Twitter and Facebook? How much more effective and authentic would this type of word-of-mouth marketing be?

We all crave testimonials and referrals. Many big brands use social media listening to ensure they know what customers are thinking. If it is a serious issue, they can respond to it proactively. In addition, when customers are delighted, they can analyse this and measure it. However, they are not measuring emotion in the real sense of the word.

To get the real sentiment, you need to have the sound waves of the spoken word, rather than the ambiguity of text.

That’s where Sound Branch comes in. Think conversation as a platform but not with robots and artificial intelligence but with real human beings and real voices. Social listening on Facebook and Twitter is one thing but listening to voices online offers so much more.

To take your social media listening and your share of voice to the next level, download the Sound Branch app at Apple’s App Store.

You can also visit the website below:


EdTech Europe 2015 Review, Kings Place, London

EdTech Europe 2015

EdTech Europe 2015

This year’s EdTech Europe was held at King’s Place in London near King’s Cross. The event sees investors, entrepreneurs and companies come together to share stories and to discuss the latest innovations, trends and solutions to the big problems facing EdTech.

IBIS Capital explained that education technology is the reset button for global economies. The jobs of the future need people to work with computers and some jobs are more at risk to the digital revolution than others.

The Head of Google Education, Liz Sprout, focussed her talk on what skills business leaders need in the modern workplace. Google conducted an extensive worldwide survey of business CEOs. Problem solving skills came top closely followed by teamwork, communication skills and critical thinking.

Google expeditions is driven by a new phenomenon called Google Cardboard. In essence Google Cardboard is a headset made out of cardboard and lenses with a smartphone attached to enable virtual reality experiences in the classroom. Kids in classrooms can be taken to places they have never been before. The cheap wearable devices can be purchased cost effectively for whole classrooms and change pupils entire outlook on learning through immersive virtual reality. Kids can go to up to 50 different world locations and teachers and can teach lessons in ways they have never done before.

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Sean Gilligan at EdTech Europe 2015, Kings Place, London

Another talk involved Rob Grimshaw of TES Global, Karine Allouche Salanon CEO of Pearson English Business Solutions and John Martin CEO of Sanoma learning focused on the teacher being at the centre if the education system. According to the panel, it’s the teacher that is the killer app. Finland’s PISA scores are significantly higher than that of the UK and France and thus there living standards and earning potentials are higher. Apparently a 25 points difference in PISA score represents $100,000 of lost earnings over a workers life time.

Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet  Co-Founder  EdTech Europe

Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet
EdTech Europe

2U’s founder Rob Cohen talked about their services to take top universities in the USA online. They explained how student enrolment and attraction tended to have a local bias. Prospective students living further away from a campus were less likely to enrol, even if the course was online. 2U are offering online degrees for universities at the same cost and with same certificate. Whilst the university is in control of enrolment and certification, 2U provides the content, recruitment service and enables the traditional universities journey to widen their reach online.

SOLE Self Organised Learning Environment

SOLE Self Organised Learning Environment

A further panel involved Maurice de Hond, the founder of the Steve Jobs School based in The Netherlands, A French School Lycee International de Londres and Anne Preston, a Researcher from SOLE Central at Newcastle University. Maurice de Hond explained that simply adding new technology to old schools is an expensive exercise. What is actually needed is a new learning experience and classroom environment. Sugata Mitra is resident at Newcastle University and has been spending many years on his School in the Cloud project which is all about SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environments). In SOLEs, the role of the teacher changes from the transmitter of information to more of a coach and a researcher of data analytics. This new model allows for self paced, personalisation of learning and adaptive learning which is tailor made to the needs of the learners. There is no lesson plan and the learning is unstructured i.e. self organised. This way if one pupil is struggling they are given more time to catch up with the rest of the class. This is what some people believe will be the smart classroom of the future.

Solar Powered iPads for Learning

Solar Powered iPads for Learning

OneBillion is a project help provided learning and teaching solution to children in Malawi. In Malawi there are usually 9,000 pupils in a school with classroom sizes of 250 pupils per class. OneBillion use solar powered iPads to increase the learning opportunities for these children, and the curriculum is delivered in the local language. A similar project running in Kenya by Avanti Communications Group beams broadband into schools using satellites. Often the developing world is moving quicker towards a mobile first, cloud first approach to teaching and learning, given the lack of fixed line internet and the availability of 3G and 4G. These stories are touching ways that education technology can make a real impact on the life chances of people in poorer nations. Certainly, the much shorter school days on the African continent can be extended by the use of digital technology. EdTech can be an education leveller, and can reach students less fortunate than ourselves.

Khan Academy Self Paced Learning

Khan Academy Self Paced Learning

Indeed Sal Khan of Kahn Academy was then beamed into the lecture auditorium to talk about his massively successful not-for-profit education platform. Khan Academy first came under the spotlight when Bill Gates mentioned the project in a TED talk a few years back. The platform allows millions of students globally, in different languages, to study self paced Maths, Physics, Biology and Chemistry. The idea started when Sal was teaching his cousins Maths over the internet by posting Maths videos to YouTube. The most touching story was to see a Princeton STEM graduate come top of his class using Khan Academy. The student went on to state that he would not have made it to University if it was not for the Khan Academy and that the platform had changed his life. He had been failing time and time again in the traditional classroom and it was only the introduction of Khan Academy that saved him on his learning journey. Khan Academy is now in the process of broadening its reach, both in terms of subjects and in terms of languages.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity is life long learning; mapping the skills needed for graduates and the workforce at large to learn the skills needed for their ideal job and then to stay in that job. Understanding what the consumer (i.e. the learner) wants and then mapping out a learning path for these individuals would provide the personalisation of learning needed for career success.

Education spending continues to rise without a proportionate improvement in standards and learning outcomes. Education technology has the power to change this as long as the software, content and devices are easy for teachers to use. Shifts are happening in learning. Technology does not equal engagement. Information is all around us, Google can tell you the answer to anything. What is more important is how you understand the information and how you apply it.

Questions are more important than answers. We don’t know what the future will be so how can we teach for this? We know that graduates today will have 27 different jobs in their lifetime. The boundaries between working and learning are merging. Industry aligned curriculum is needed at the pace that the tech industry moves. Everyone is a tech company; Goldman Sachs now has more developers than Facebook. Industries are going digital. This means we can reach more people and we can engage them in different ways. Learning technology has to have great user experience; it must work on mobile phones and fit around people’s lives. Once this happens we will have passionate, excited audiences, who from their personal dashboards and feedback will be able to change the world.

Following EdTech Europe we will be hosting an EdTech Conference in Leeds more details are here:

Blackhawks Chicago Ice Hockey Stanley Cup

Blackhawks Chicago Ice Hockey Stanley Cup

Scaling up in Chicago means finding talent. Our return to Chicago saw us watch the Chicago Blackhawks, and following 60 minutes of play the Hawks and Nashville were even stevens. What should have been a quiet work night out instead saw extended play, and we returned back to the hotel at 1am. Thankfully the Blackhawks had won, and for those of you who have never been to an ice hockey match I would thoroughly recommend watching a Stanley Cup game.

Back in England, Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspurs is an up and coming talent. His namesake Kane of the Blackhawks is one of the stars of the Chicago ice hockey team. So where do you find talent? And specifically where do you find tech talent in Chicago.

Entrepreneurial hub 1871 was opened in the Merchant Mart in the city in 2012. We attended an Innovation event one evening with a panel discussion. The audience included tech entrepreneurs, investors and city heavy weights. Speakers included Chicago Ventures, a professor from The Kellogg School and others. Whilst the discussion was very interesting, one of panel started dishing the British as being risk averse. Upon hearing this my natural reaction was to rebuke this as I said ‘I beg your pardon’. Now this sort of rebuke would have been laughed off in Britain but not in America where they don’t understand irony in the same way we do. Of course the lady in question was right – the Brits are risk averse, as I was the only Brit in a hall of hundreds. I apologised after the panel had finished and explained how on reflection I agreed with her statement.

1871 Innovation Debate

1871 Innovation Debate

Visiting marketing agencies later in the week, I learnt that in the UK you have hit to connect with people’s heads whereas in America it’s through the head.

I guess the Hawks had touched my heart with their comeback victory, and I must now go and buy a Blackhawks shirt. As for finding talent, connecting with 1871 and with the Department of Commerce should help that. We hired two more members of staff so our talent pool is growing across cultures. And we certainly need Americans who understand the local culture to serve local customers. We are after all two countries separated by a common language!