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Through the SkillsHub:MK project a unique programme of digital workshops has been developed following research and direct engagement with local businesses – all of which are available to people from Milton Keynes businesses free of charge.

This blog lists the standout learning needs from businesses that led to the development of each workshop.  It also explains what’s special about each workshop and why you should attend.

Theme:  Getting the best value from digital tools

What businesses said:

Terms such as Digital, Automation, and Cloud are not well understood.  We need to know what they mean, how they relate to our businesses, and what value they bring.  We also know we need to make better use of Excel, but we want to know what it can do, how it works, and what we can use it for.

Workshops:

1.       Introduction to digital technology & automation

This workshop is for anyone who looks around their work environment at the digital tools they work with everyday (e.g. email, Teams, CRM systems) and would like to get them to do more, and have the people using them do less.

Examples include automatic responses to people using emails or the phone, scheduling of tasks to take place at specific times, faster reporting of information, automated document management, speedier communications.

Why attend:  To discover how platforms such as Microsoft 365 lead to savings in time, an increase in the accuracy of information, and a transformation in the quality of communication.  These represent a real money saving, and a big opportunity to divert people to a more rewarding set of tasks.

2.       Making best use of the Cloud

This workshop is for anyone who is wondering what the Cloud is, and what it might mean for their business.

The term the Cloud describes tools and applications that you access through the internet (which means you don’t have the bother and expense of putting them onto computers in your place of work).

There are applications that cover almost all aspects of business operation from Sales and Marketing through to Accounting and Finance.  Because an application can be accessed by everyone at the same time and in the same way people can share what they are doing and collaborate towards an end goal, wherever they are.

Why attend:  To discover how the Cloud delivers savings in time and a lift in quality as people communicate and collaborate on a shared platform, and work from single sources of data.   You will also be better able to navigate the wide array of Cloud applications on offer to identify the choices that will be right for you.

3.       Excel spreadsheets for SMEs

This workshop is for anyone who wants to get the hang of spreadsheets in order to figure out what’s happening in their business – what it costs to do things, where profit is being made, how well things are working, where promising opportunities lie.

Also to create the important information about the business that others will need to see (Accountants, Advisors etc) such as a cashflow forecast, budget, or operational plan.

Why attend:  To get to know spreadsheets, and discover how confidence and familiarity with spreadsheets can transform your understanding about your business, and boost the confidence that others have in the information that you are able to provide about your plans for the future.

4.       Developing a digital strategy in an SME

This workshop is for those wanting to know what digital technology could do for their business, how other businesses use digital technology, decide what would be right for them, and then build a plan to put it to work.

There is a huge amount of digital stuff that could be used by a business, and a great deal of benefit to be gained from using it.  A digital strategy will help you to navigate through the options available and help you to make choices that will be the correct ones for your business.

Why attend:  To discover what’s out there, what others are doing, and how to plan for the introduction of digital technology to deliver the business benefits required with clear sight and control of costs and risk.

Theme:  Putting data to work

What businesses said:

We want to be better at data analytics.  There is a great deal about our customers and operations that data can tell us, however we need to know what it will entail, what the terms mean, how to start, and what benefits we can expect.

Workshops:

5.       Getting started with data

This workshop is for those wanting to make what’s happening more visible, gain greater control, make better use of time, understand what to measure and how – and want to know where and how to make a start.

It involves working with the records captured every day from across the business – e.g. transactions, deliveries, calls, supplies, payments, and using a spreadsheet, arrange them such that they tell you a story about what’s going on and why.

Why attend:  To be able to gather data into a spreadsheet and use it to show you what’s happening across your business.  To also discover how running a business is so much easier if you can use data to help everyone understand what is going on, what could be better, and how to grab every opportunity that comes your way.

6.       Getting smart with data

This workshop is for those who may already be using data to better understand their business, and who now want data to explain the options and choices that lie ahead and to underpin recommendations about what to do next.

This involves knitting data together taken from several places across the business to see how things happening in one part of the business affect what is happening in another.  These relationships are then used to better forecast what’s ahead and to show how resources can be organised for the best possible performance.

Why attend:  To be able to bring multiple sets of records from across the business into one place. To then discover how to use otherwise hidden connections and relationships within the data to create better forecasts and to explain the options and choices that lie ahead.

7.       Getting data to drive strategy in an SME

This workshop is for those who are getting to grips with strategy and want to understand how data can shape strategy, longer term plans, performance measures, budgets and forecasts.

This means using data to reveal and test strategic choices, and to help create performance measures and budgets that will help to drive the business towards its long term goals.

Why attend:  To discover how data can dramatically increase the quality of strategies, budgets and plans, provide the means for measuring progress, and boost confidence in your business.  Also discover how data is being used to shape the purpose and improve the quality of forecasts.

Theme:  Digital marketing

What businesses said:

We want to be better at all aspects of digital marketing, make full use of social media platforms, write great content, produce eye catching videos, get to grips with all aspects of paid advertising through social media, create effective email campaigns.

Workshops:

8.       Introduction to Digital Marketing for SMEs

This workshop is for those who are starting out on the digital marketing journey and who want to know how all the various elements of a digital marketing strategy fit together into a plan.

This means seeing how all the component parts of a digital marketing campaign relate to each other – a deep understanding of the customer, original and eye catching images and content, a high performing website, strong personas on all the relevant social media platforms.

Why attend: To be able to put your own digital marketing plan together that captures how your understanding of your customer translates into a joined up and highly effective campaign that will help to grow your business.

9.       Introduction to e-commerce

This workshop is for those wanting to set up an e-commerce business and who need to know how to get started.

This means identifying the ideal niche within which to operate, and setting up everything needed in terms of the product or service, platform, supply chain, customer service and payment processes, and a stunning and original online shop window.

Why attend:  To be able to identify the niche and ideal customer for a potential e-commerce business, and to create a lead generation and sales strategy that will drive platform choice and shop window setup, and the implementation of all the customer pathways involved.

10.    Creating digital marketing content

This workshop is for those who want to create original and highly effective digital marketing content, that serves specific customer personas and helps to create an influential presence on all the relevant digital marketing platforms.

This means researching the influences, preferences and trends that will resonate with target customers, and creating text, imagery and video content that exactly matches their needs and interests.

Why attend:  To understand how to create customer personas and be able to use digital marketing development tools to create content that will match their needs and interests.

11.    Getting the greatest value from social media

This workshop is for those wanting to know the similarities and differences between the major social media platforms and how to use them for the best overall effect.

This means having a strategy for business development through digital marketing that operates across multiple social media platforms and reflects the role that each needs to play within a sales funnel for your business.

Why attend:  To be able to get the greatest value from the major social media platforms, understand the strategy and tactics for their use, the style and type of content that works best on each, and how to use each within an effective lead and sales funnel.

12.    Websites for digital marketing

This workshop is for those wanting to know how to set up a high performing website for use in a digital marketing campaign.

This means getting to grips with everything that’s necessary for a website to respond at high speed, remain secure, be found and be ranked highly by search engines, and be easily edited and maintained.

Why attend:  To be able to guide a website host with your exact requirements for a digital marketing campaign, and to be ‘hands on’ with your website in terms of performance improvement, content update, search engine compatibility and optimisation, monitoring and metrics.

13.    Using Google to grow your business

This workshop is for those who want to get the greatest value from Google’s digital marketing and advertising services.

This means understanding how all the major tools and services can support a digital marketing campaign – from research into trends, news and events through to e-commerce support and performance monitoring.

Why attend:  To be able to integrate Google’s services into your own digital marketing campaigns and e-commerce services, get the greatest value from Google advertising, and to exploit the unique insights that trends, news and keywords can provide when identifying how to reach target customers and markets.