We’re delighted to announce that Plusnet is the latest business to join Sheffield Digital as a company member. We spoke to Digital Transformation Consultant Liam Dyson to find out more about Plusnet’s Sheffield operation and their plans for the future.
Set up nearly 20 years ago, Plusnet’s Sheffield office now has more than 1,200 people, including a substantial digital operation. “We have a complete, end-to-end digital business here,” says Liam. “Everything from traditional ecommerce and digital marketing, through to digital services, channel and product management, analytics, architecture and networks. That means that we have opportunities in any area people might be interested in.”
Liam heads-up the business’ digital transformation team, creating new services for customer experience. “Our role is to make sure we stay on top of developments. For example, we’re taking our first steps into automation, using bots and machine learning. We’re also focusing more on user testing, using customer research to define requirements and reviewing use cases. One of the ideas we’re investigating at the moment is mobile apps – is there a real use case for Plusnet and is the customer desire there?”
One of the reasons Plusnet has joined Sheffield Digital is to raise its profile as a leading digital player in the city and create stronger links with the local community. “I want to expand our capacity by creating a blended model that includes local partners as well as an internal team,” Liam says. “I want to tap into the talent and innovation here – I’d like local companies to get in touch and say ‘this is what we do, let’s have a chat’. Getting more involved with Sheffield Digital gives us a direct route to build those relationships.”
Liam is bullish about Sheffield’s tech scene. “Plusnet is proud to be in Sheffield and we see it as a growth city. We’ve invested heavily – everyone knows someone who works here. Now other companies are recognising the skills that the city’s got, but we need to do more to show that we can compete with the likes of Manchester and Leeds. We should make more of the fact that we’ve got the skills, infrastructure and opportunities to compete with them rather than be slow followers. It needs the likes of the Council to drive the agenda but it’s up to us as a community to drive it forward. It won’t just be given to us.
“That’s why Sheffield Digital is important – it’s the glue that brings like minded people together. I see it as a way for everyone to grow, by opening doors, allowing a small business to raise its profile with larger businesses, helping the people who have got the ideas.”
Like every growing business in the city, Plusnet is facing a challenge in recruiting experienced people. Liam explains, “I want people to understand that we offer a broad scope of work; we’re not looking for single skill people, we need people who are able to juggle. I’ve never worked anywhere that allows you to get involved in such a broad range of activities and that really helps people to grow. We put a lot of effort into recruitment and we find the more we put in the more we get out. For example, our careers team has been searching out people with Sheffield roots to let them know about the thriving tech scene here and encourage them to move back.”
Plusnet is also increasing its links with education – attending careers fairs at the Universities and encouraging employees to go into schools. Liam adds, “I think a digital jobs fair is really important. The one in Leeds is developing well – I saw a real difference in candidates at the second one, with a much broader range of people. These things take time to build up, but I believe they are worth investing in.”
As Sheffield Digital approaches its second anniversary, it’s a real vote of confidence for us to have Plusnet on board as a member. If you’d like to have a conversation with Liam get in touch at email@example.com or @liamdyson88 on Twitter.