The week before last week, on Thursday to be precise, lots of people were to be seen wandering around near Westminster Abbey, carrying Be-IT bags, stuffed to the gunwales with Be-IT pens and other branded goodies. While we’re perhaps not up there with Paddy Power when it comes to guerrilla marketing, Gareth, as a proud Irishman, is always prepared to go the extra mile to carry the Be-IT message to less enlightened tribes.
We certainly did go the extra mile: several hundred extra miles in fact. We were exhibiting at Government ICT 2.0, a major conference/exhibition at Queen Elizabeth Hall in Westminster. Over 500 delegates packed the conference rooms – so many that not everyone could get in to hear the speakers and their message had to be relayed via screens.
Be-IT was one of c. 30 exhibitors, but, along with our new friends at Atos (of whom more later), we were somewhat chuffed to have one of the two prime places in the exhibition. Right by the entrance, and right by the place where the food was served. Delegates queued up for their grub and even if they didn’t want to talk to us then they could not miss our (rather impressive) stand, complete with the polar bear (see photos).
There was an impressive list of speakers and attendees, from (very) senior figures at major government departments to lots of NHS and local government officials. The ICT issues are largely the same for them all: the rapidly growing requirement to increase digitalisation across government, and the equally powerful imperative to cut costs. Some public sector IT departments have already seen a 40% reduction in their budgets. This meant that our Transformational Change Services offer, which aims to reduce costs by c. 30%-40%, struck a chord.
The first question from anyone visiting our stand was usually, “who are you?” - Be-IT obviously not being a recognised presence on the streets of London. Our response, after telling them who we are, was then a reciprocal “and who are you?” We then politely explained more about our Programme & Project Management Services, PMO Services and Analysis Services. Some were very, gratifyingly, interested, others, naturally, less so, yet overall we know we’ve made a lot of good contacts and have spread the Be-IT message into a wide range of public sector organisations.
It costs a lot of money to attend these events, so was it worth it?
Gareth and I met a lot of people. There really was a lot of genuine interest and on occasions we were vigorously quizzed about the depth and breadth of our services. When people found out that we are already delivering Change Services to the public sector – and saving the public purse considerable sums – their interest generally grew. We are confident that we’ll have a few new clients in the next few months.
It wasn’t all work though. As I mentioned, the other company with the great position by the door was Atos. Paul McDonald, their Director of Local Public Services, and Gareth got on famously, as we all did. The craic was excellent and helped to fill in the hours when the delegates were off to hear the keynote speakers. It’s as well there wasn’t a bar!
Finally, I know you’re desperate to know what/who was the fashion sensation. Gareth is often described as a closet fashion groupie (or something like that), but even so I was amazed when, at City Airport, we bumped into John Rocha, the Hong Kong born fashion designer, based in Ireland who is famous for his distinctive style. If he’d been carrying a Be-IT bag that would have made our day, but sadly not. Clearly, despite the fashionista hype, not a man of real taste.
Michael Phair, Be-IT