The Early Pioneers: Backing Britain 2020 Reflection

Today marks the end of the industry’s first virtual exhibition, Backing Britain Live 2020 has seen thousands of exhibitors and visitors tune into roundtable discussions, and networking drinks and join competitions to form a networking event like no other.  

Looking back on the past two weeks, TotalControlPro™ would love to share our key highlights from the event and tips on how to make the most of future virtual events like this one  

Backing Britain 2020 has opened up some very interesting conversations with new partners and potential customers across various sectors throughout the UK. Strategic Director, Dolores Sanders shared the event has “helped me get my head above the parapet.” In recent months, it has been necessary to get “heads down and focus on factors immediately in front of us.” The Backing Britain event has allowed the team at TotalControlPro™ to start to look beyond the immediate next few months and reconnect to the future opportunities available in UK Manufacturing.  

Our Chief Operations Operator, Paul Dunham summarised the event with a perfect story. Over twenty years ago, Paul attended an industry summit around the emergence of online shopping. During the seminar, a man stood up and said, “One day soon we will be buying our cars online.” At the time, the room laughed and brushed the comment aside. Today thousands of cars are bought online every day. 

From Paul,  

“This moment was the demonstration of the early pioneers and the moment of thinking ahead into the future. The same can be said about the Backing Britain event. I really believe this type of virtual connection, type of show, really is the pioneering early days of what is going to evolve to be as good as the past shopping experience. 

Therefore, any problems that may have sprung up during virtual events, whether that be bad signal or difficulty making meaningful connections, remember the next one will always be better. This is just the beginning.  

You never know, a few years from now, this process of online webinars and exhibitions will be so slick, we could be viewing even touching new products in 360 degrees, from the comfort of our homes.” 

Dolores completed the round-up expressing, 

“This is an evolution, not a revolution. The early pioneers went looking for gold…and we did find the golden banner last Friday afternoon!” 

Our Business Development Manager, Belinda Walton, has had a very active role in the exhibition, joining many round table discussions as well as networking on the virtual drinks sessions. Belinda added;

“The Supply Chain Management round table was very informative. The conclusion was that the market mentality all the way through the chain, from big corporate buyers right through to consumers needs to shift. Real costs should be the point of comparison from raw materials, to logistics, to stock holding all the costs associated including lead time impacts, stock-outs due to long lead times etc  – the entire end-to-end approach needs adjusting” 

“The Green Manufacturing round table concluded that this is an area we all know needs to be fixed. Those that are setting a blazing path with Smart Factories and digitisation will benefit from the rewards as more and more businesses start to include environmental and sustainable policies into their supply chain qualification process as we head toward the government commitment to net zero by 2050.”

CEO, Dorian Smellie has expressed that he found the virtual drinks networking opportunities provided “a great opportunity to learn from others” particularly with events becoming busier during the second week of the exhibition. Dorian was also a part of the Smart Manufacturing Round Table and he was pleased to see many people participating.

“It brought to light the opportunity to transform the language we use when talking about and engaging people in Smart Factory tech. The technology has fast become accessible, available, and affordable with indisputable ROIs, however mass uptake is still lagging behind our economic counterparts. Is the real challenge therefore our slow ability to let go of ‘out-of-date’ and ‘overly technical’ language? We concluded that what was important was less jargon, fewer smoke screens, more SME testimonials and more collaborative communication of basic change… a great discussion that had us all commit to doing better!

Tips for getting the most from future virtual events- The New 5p’s:

1. Participation- Stay interested and keep connecting  

Keep searching for those leads, take the opportunity to really use the tools provided in a virtual event, and get to know what people do and their business on a deeper level.  

2. Presentation- Be straight to yourself and others with who you are looking to connect with  

Make the most of your virtual tools, add background to your video calls with or without branding, straighten up your posture, and present yourself as if you would in person! CEO, Dorian Smellie recommends during the networking opportunities be honest with the group about the type of people you are hoping to meet during the event. Dorian uses the example, “I am looking for two types of connections, people we can partner with and those in the manufacturing sector in need of our technology. Providing this transparent and open communication structure removes the unnecessary, awkward barriers that can occasionally arise when communicating virtually 

3. Presence – Be interested not just interesting  

In current times, organisations across industries such as Manufacturing must learn to operate and work to assist each other to facilitate growth. Therefore, ask questions. Be interested in what others do and be confident to ask, “How can we help each other?” By engaging with others, and getting to know what they do, they in turn will be more interested in what you do and go on to share that knowledge with others.  

4. Positivity –  This is essential, especially in current times.

Strategic Director Dolores has often said “you get out what you put in” with events like this. The more positivity you can bring, the better the rewards will be. With circumstances as they are, sharing stories of success is the perfect way to keep a networking group feeling positive, yes we know there are challenges at present, but the key is to meet these with a solution-minded outlook, otherwise, your virtual meeting can quickly become a virtual wake!

5. Promote – It’s a big part of why you’re there! 

Learn how to promote, both yourself and other people. One of the best things about networking is building those connections and creating relationships with people and the best way of doing that is through promotion.



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