On Wednesday 11th October we held the second of our Not-for-Profit Technology Forums, this time at the historic Grand Opera House in Belfast. Our three speakers included experts from Xperience talking about Mastering Data with Microsoft, Cyber Trends in 2023 and a Keynote from founder of Brewgooder, Alan Mahon.
Delivered by our CAO, Gemma McAnally
Gemma McAnally, CAO at Xperience, began the day talking about how Microsoft’s toolkit can revolutionise how organisations use their data. She explained how technology is changing quickly and using it well can help our businesses grow. Gemma specifically highlighted the evolving landscape of AI and how to effectively leverage AI. To do this, businesses need to ensure easy access to accurate and relevant data.
Gemma went on to say how many organisations struggle with managing data spread across multiple databases and systems, costing businesses time, money, accuracy, and efficiency. However, integrating your systems can make this much easier. Using Power BI allows you to gather information from everywhere into one system producing accurate reports and analysis.
The integration capabilities within Microsoft’s ecosystem, especially within Microsoft Teams, were also discussed. This integration can provide employees with easily accessible information within a unified platform. Gemma also informed us how Microsoft’s tools, like Viva Insights, can significantly enhance the employee experience by providing meaningful insights that, in turn, boost productivity and ensure a more engaging work experience.
A pivotal aspect of Gemma’s talk was Dynamics 365 Funding and Engagement. This is specialised module designed for Not for Profit’s to help managing relationships with donors and streamlining the end-to-end fundraising process efficiently
In summary, Gemma’s talk emphasised key steps towards improving organisational efficiency. These steps include focusing on smart reporting tools, minimising data duplication, and leveraging internal data for gaining insights into employee interactions. The most important step was centralising your data in one ecosystem.
Delivered by our Cyber Director, David Buist
David Buist is our Cyber Security Director, and unsurprisingly given the topic, there was great interest and engagement with David’s talk. Cyber is something always in the zeitgeist, and as David said, should be a rising concern for any businesses these days. David began his talk by discussing common misconceptions surrounding cyber security. He emphasised that being a charity doesn’t mean you won’t get hacked and that assuming no one in the organisation would fall for a phishing email is naïve. He also pointed out that small businesses, including charities, are often used as testing grounds for potential larger cyber-attacks. Following on from Gemma’s talk, David pointed out that using multiple tools, not only makes it more difficult to manage data, but also means there are multiple doors for a hacker to enter.
David then discussed Cyber Risk Management and the gap between IT professionals and the management of a company. Many in management don’t understand the risks involved in not having the right cyber tools to protect your company. There can be huge reputational damage and loss of income if a cyber-attack shuts down your operations. David described Cyber as the perimeter fence around your system. To maintain that fence there are some actions management can take:
At the end of his talk, David discussed a recent case study in which a facilities management company had been breached which in turn allowed entry into the system of one of their clients resulting in a seven figure ransom, a large fine from the ICO and a shutdown of operations for three weeks. He pointed out that having the right cyber security tools in place could have helped to prevent this from happening.
Our keynote speaker was Alan Mahon, a Belfast native and entrepreneur, co-founder of Brewgooder, a beer brewing company with a philanthropic mission based in Glasgow. Through the Brewgooder Foundation, they fund projects dedicated to creating a fairer world. Their initiatives include providing clean water, sanitation, working towards zero hunger, and engaging in climate action.
During his presentation, Alan shared insights into his background and the inception of Brewgooder. His motivation stemmed from studying Politics in Glasgow, fuelling his desire to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Early experiences volunteering for various organisations, including a stint abroad where an encounter with tainted water resulted in a parasite, drove him to start Brewgooder. Witnessing a life essential being the cause of potential death was a turning point. Brewgooder has since provided over 200 million litres of clean water, partnered with Twisted to combat food poverty in the UK, and emerged as a major importer of fonio, a sustainable grain benefiting smallholder farmers in African countries.
Alan delved into the challenges Brewgooder faces, notably the cost-of-living crisis and the pandemic. He highlighted the significance of leadership in navigating these challenges and highlighted the importance of sharing a company’s vision with its employees. According to Alan, effective leadership should be underpinned by values and purpose, and a company’s people are crucial in driving its success. He emphasised remaining open to opportunities for the business to have a vision that inspires others.
It was a great day full of insights and key takeaways for out Not for Profit guests and now we’re looking forward to our inaugural Digital Solutions Summit next week in Newmarket.