I don’t think anyone could have predicted that Napoleon’s failed invasions, kayaking, Harry Potter and the election of Pope Francis would all feature in the platform sessions at this year’s Capita One National User Group. The event was certainly a National User Group with a difference!
Offering a warm welcome as the conference hosts, Nadine Dereza and customer champion Mark Godwin kept us all entertained and informed throughout the two days as Mark took on the mantle of the ‘voice of the customer’ to find out, and feed back, delegates’ views on the topics discussed.
Managing Director of Capita One, Mark Raeburn, was our first platform speaker, sharing his vision for One and his passions, both professional and personal. He emphasised his commitment to listening to all One customers, and how important it was that this continues to underpins the culture of One. (Tip: if you’re ever stuck for a conversation topic, stick to talking about his children and kayaking across the world rather than his passion for Newcastle United…).
David Spezia of world-leading business intelligence software company Tableau then shared a historical view of analytics and intelligence, applying education data techniques to give fascinating insights into areas as diverse as the failure of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the characteristics of the members of the various houses in Harry Potter. In case you’re wondering, I’d like to think I have the noble characteristics needed to be selected for Gryffindor... David also showed how Florence Nightingale was an early advocate of analytics in her investigation into why Londoners were falling ill.
I thought the level of delegate collaboration was fantastic and in the electives I noticed a huge amount of engagement and discussion, both between delegates, as well as between local authority colleagues and the One team. This was also particularly evident in the Discovery Hub where delegates stayed to chat until just before the evening drinks. I know I speak for all the One team when I say how delighted we were that you spent your downtime with us!
The evening entertainment - Abandoman - had us in stitches of laughter with their irreverent improvisation following the evening meal. Many of us also then had a go on the Formula One simulator and the scalextric track - my success as a Formula One driver was relatively modest and there are no imminent plans to give up the day job….
The second day of the conference featured a platform session from technology expert Simon Moores on technology trends. One image that will stick in my mind for a long time is Simon showing us the contrast between the photos taken at Pope Benedict XVI ‘s election in 2005 compared to that of Pope Francis in 2013 – in the first photo you see the backs of the heads of the crowd watching the ceremony as the new pope is elected. In the latter photo, taken 8 years later at the same point in proceedings, there is just a sea of brightly lit smartphones taking pictures. Smartphones have become an absolutely integral part of almost every facet of our lives. Simon also looked at robots or ‘bots’ being designed to make our lives easier, including bots which respond to emails on your behalf. We live in extraordinarily exciting times.
I’d also like to give a mention to the ideas ‘lightbulb’ and the ‘tree of success’ where customers were encouraged to share best practice and their views on the development of One - it was reassuring to see that your thoughts for the future are along the same lines as our internal discussions.
Finally, I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s National User Group – from our hosts, Mark and Nadine, to our platform speakers David and Simon, to the customers who so generously gave of their time to present in the elective sessions.
And, of course, I’d like to thank all our customers who took the time out of the office to join us – we had the highest turnout we’ve ever had – an incredible 126 delegates from local authorities – and I hope you found the two days as rewarding and enjoyable as I did.