Meet Barry Kruger from Progressive Digital. Barry is the mastermind behind the Northamptonshire Digital Enhancement Project workshops, we decided to catch up with him and get his opinion on how the digital era is changing businesses and the benefits of SMEs having access to free advice, training and 1-2-1 support.
Barry started his business Progressive Digital 5 years ago and has worked within the digital industry for 20 years. Barry’s business takes him not just around the U.K. but across the globe to Cairo and Dubai, which fits fits in neatly with his focuses in life.
“I have two pretty major anniversaries this year: my business, Progressive Digital, is 5 years old, and I will be celebrating my 50th birthday in August! The focus of my life, besides the business, is my family and travel. I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel quite frequently for business, and try and take my family away as often as possible.”
Barry started working for the BBC as head of the Multimedia Publishing department, when ‘digital’ was referred to as ‘new media’ and had the challenge of transferring BBC video and audio material (like BBC Shakespeare) to the web, when most people only had 56k dial-up modems. The BBC isn’t the only big organisation Barry has worked for.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a variety of organisations in a whole range of areas, and always had the idea of running my own digital consultancy, but didn’t quite get around to it until 5 years ago. The great thing is, I haven’t looked back since, and have had a really interesting range of clients, from UNICEF and the Church of England to government departments in Egypt and UAE.”
Progressive Digital’s mission is to help businesses grow and develop within the digital world using efficient and effective digital strategies. From marketing campaigns to in-house staff learning systems, Barry’s focus is to make things simple to understand and help business owners to progress both themselves and their business. He took the opportunity to work on the Northamptonshire Digital Enhancement Project (NoDE) as he believes that European funded projects are important to SME growth.
“I think something like NoDE, is a real godsend for local SMEs; where else can you get access to free expertise, support and insight into cutting edge technologies and business-critical topics such as data protection? When I saw the opportunity it seemed like a bit of a ‘no-brainer’ really; being able to use my experience to help others through the challenges of developing a business. The great thing about supporting the Growth Hub and NoDE in particular is that – running a small business myself, I understand the pressures on business owners, and the fact that there is not much time to devote to researching areas such as GDPR, which can be hard to grasp.”
The current digital climate has opened up new opportunities to SMEs that were previously expensive and hard to access. NoDE enables businesses to learn how to ‘reap the benefits’ of the digital area whilst protecting themselves from the new threats that come with it e.g. hacking.
“I think that small businesses have opportunities they have never had before, having access to technologies and platforms that have the potential to reach large volumes of customers almost instantly. That does in itself present a challenge, making market research invaluable.”
Digital technology is an essential part of business growth. Not many businesses realise what comes under the digital umbrella, let alone the importance of staying up to date. A key part of Barry’s role within the NoDE project is to help businesses grow rather than collapse.
“Barely a day goes by without another major retailer going under because they haven’t kept up with industry developments and innovations in digital business. Technology is transforming the way we live and do business in all sorts of ways we might never have guessed; from personal digital assistants, to wearable smart devices supporting fitness and virtual reality applications helping surgeons to conduct precision surgery from remote locations.”
As a business owner himself, Barry believes that you never really stop learning when it comes to business management and progression.
“One of the great things about running the NODE workshops is that it is also a learning experience for me – something like GDPR develops on a daily basis as the elements of the new regulation are interpreted and authorities such as the Information Commissioner develop their advice. Most businesses owners who want to maintain competitive advantage will necessarily need to be aware of firstly, developments within their industry and secondly what their competitors are up to. Continuous learning is important.”
One of the benefits of NoDE is the free workshops. They provide simple, well sourced and unbiased information that can be tailored to your business, alongside 1-2-1 support from our specialist adviser, Pete. Barry has designed the workshops to be both interactive and informative and provides ‘handouts’ so you don’t have to take sheets of notes.
“When push comes to shove, most small business owners don’t have much time to make decisions, they just want to get things done. I like to keep things simple, and try to convey complex topics in a way that people can understand. I try and structure the workshops so that attendees feel they can contribute, discuss, network with others, and solve problems that are relevant to them as businesses. I also include tools, models and real-world case-study and applications, because when it comes down to it, it’s not really what happens on the day, but what the delegates take away from the workshop and put into action that counts.”
The 4 workshops we offer are:
Digital Innovation and Product Design
The Northamptonshire Digital Enhancement project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by Northamptonshire Growth Hub – a partnership between The University of Northampton and Northamptonshire County Council, providing comprehensive and unbiased support for your new or growing business.
To be eligible, you must be:
- A Northamptonshire based company
- A small to medium sized enterprise (employ fewer than 250 people)
- A non-retail business
Anyone wishing to know more can call the Growth Hub on 01604 212696, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on eligibility and how to apply.