I have been involved in coffee mornings since 2010. There has always been a community of people wanting to meet over a hot drink, whilst not losing too much of their valuable day. In the early days it was the business over breakfast community. These guys were the early birds who met at 07h30, Presented their business ideas exchanged cards and then headed to the office by 09h15. Then came a more relaxed group looking to make new friends and extend their networks in Belgium. These days, our morning communities come from many backgrounds and are looking for a wide variety of things.
There has also been quite a shift on the subject areas that are covered during our meetings. The usual things about what to do in Belgium, how lovely it is to live here, and how to get your business started, have been staple topics. Last year (2018) the subjects changed a little with the introduction of GDPR, the growth in the use of drones, and the rise of robotics software.
GDPR (general data protection regulation) was a big drive from the EU, to protect the identity and data of European Citizens from being overly farmed by organizations. The result is that every time you visit a new website or use an online tool to order something, you are asked to agree to cookies and/or privacy policies. I am not sure that people are any more careful about their personal information or that anyone has the time to read the often long statements that are presented for us to accept. But, it does give the perception that we are in charge and that our information is more secure.
There has also been a rise in Drone usage with many companies looking for ways to offer better services. Delivering shipments to complex places, capturing photographic information from major building sites to allow analysis, spraying crops and even checking the cells of large solar panel implementations, are all uses of this technology.
Next comes the friendly robots. People tend to think about these on production lines in a computer or car assembly line. These days, there are also chat bots dealing with initial conversations on banking websites and answering simple support problems. And a growing area of software robotics are those that deal with mundane and repeatable tasks, such as taking data from spreadsheets and online forms, converting these into registered users by placing the information into an agreed management system, and sending the registered user their login details.
All of these tools are being used by organizations to meet the demand by consumers to have more things, better, faster and cheaper. Human resources are expensive and if companies are to dramatically improve productivity, maintain or improve quality and keep costs in check, some form of automation is inevitable. A perceived down side is that jobs will be lost – this is not always the case. Companies are looking for ways to allow their valuable employees, the space to do more interesting things during their working time so they can focus more energy on serving the customer.
If you want to find out more about life in Belgium or any of the subjects covered in this note, please do join us each Thursday morning or drop me a line.
Better, fast and cheaper seems to be the trend of the current decade. I wonder if we can squeeze some values and morals in there?