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  • Lawrence Bailey

The future is going to get more connected



As I’ve mentioned before, I’m one of those throwbacks who was video-conferencing long before lockdown made it required practice.

I don’t like doing it now any more than I did then, which is probably why I can’t get enthusiastic about the host of webinars and whatnot offering me various kinds of inspirational insights.

I don’t want to come over as an old cynic (too late there I guess) but while we remain stuck in mid-pandemic, all the flag-waving feels like those evocative wartime propaganda clips where some hardy soul places a “business as usual” sign amidst the debris of a bombed-out shopfront.

That said, I’m delighted to read how Swansea is finally seeing signs of recovery. A recent study reports a marked increase in customer footfall in the last three months.

And while much of the activity is driven by incentives like half-price dining, it nonetheless shows that it’s having an impact in these tough times.

What made me smile though was how the writer intimated that’s its some big deal to have a footfall tracker that uses anonymised mobile phone data.

As we regulars at the SA1 Waterfront Business Club will tell you – or rather the expert speakers we invite – better connectivity has been a steadily increasing factor behind growth as data-hungry markets set the pace of technological advancement.

As well as boosting activities like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which is basically about systems that keep your customers close and your business closer, there are some amazing possibilities emerging as we get more globally engaged.

For example, look out for a surge in the availability of ‘haptic’ suits where zillions of linked sensors allow you to physically send hugs halfway across the planet. Just the thing in these socially-isolated times.

High-definition holographic imagery is also becoming a reality as streaming capabilities continue to improve and mobile technology keeps getting smarter.

As it happens, building up digital infrastructure is one of the projects in the Swansea Bay City Deal. This work is going to be vital in ensuring that the region is online where and when it matters.

In the meantime, if you’re in business then it might be a good idea to check out the innovations currently out there and which could provide a competitive edge.

I’d suggest Superfast Business Wales. Besides offering a number of useful tips (such as claiming your free Google business page) they can also point you in the direction of bespoke packages and where training is available.

Find out more on https://businesswales.gov.wales/superfastbusinesswales/. There’s never been a more critical time to get connected.

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Lib Dems and the battle for relevance

Sometime today sees the announcement of the new Lib Dem leader.

I’ve no preference for either candidate. Indeed, anyone who watched the pair ‘debate’ for 30 minutes on a Monday morning news slot will likely share my ambivalence.

The patent media disinterest is a massive comedown for a party once widely regarded as a viable third force in UK politics.

One critic described recent Lib Dem history as strewn with really good ideas and seriously bad decisions. Another wrote that it’s a party that tried so hard to be all things to all people that it eventually cancelled itself out.

Both are probably over-simplifications but that hardly matters.

It’s always tough for a new leader. What will be even tougher is re-establishing the party as relevant at a time when politics is so polarised and where politicians register lower than estate agents on the public trust scale.

I wish them luck.

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