Castle Malwood, Minstead, Hampshire. Thursday 12th July 2018 saw RMS host their 13th Annual User Forum and Awards evening, with guests from retail, hospitality and healthcare, along with the RMS team enjoying a fantastic day of presentations and an evening of fun and entertainment.
As in previous years, the day kicked off with RMS Managing Director, Karen Dyke and Rob Morgan having all those in attendance take the RMS Forum Oath:
I solemnly do swear,
To turn off my phone,
Take part & enjoy,
The Annual Metro User Forum.
I promise to be,
Kind and supportive,
Of guests, speakers and visitors,
To consume without compromise,
Whether in moderation or excess,
I will not pass judgement,
On those who over indulge,
And this I soberly promise.
So, let us join together,
Go forth and Metrofy!
With this declaration complete and following a short review of what happened in 2017, the first of our guest speakers was warmly welcomed to the stage – it was an honour to welcome Luke Adams, Operations Communications and Activity Manager for Greene King, the UK’s leading pub retailer with over 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels, located in towns, villages and city-centre high streets across England, Wales and Scotland.
Luke explained how Greene King are using Metro to engage 44,000 employees in 1 version of the truth across their business. With many different systems, four intranets, zero reporting, and offices full of old documents and check lists, for the employees of all brands, finding the right information was at times like looking for a needle in a haystack. So, when they launched ‘The Vault’ team members welcomed that they had just one place to find everything they need to help run their pub businesses – the result, staff now have more time for their teams and customers. A further welcome addition was the launch of “2-minute Tuesdays” – a weekly video highlighting some of the hot topics and key activities happening across Greene King – a superb presentation to start the day.
Next up was a showdown between two Metro Product Managers – Chris Ferns and Simon Mills each explaining how their products have evolved over the past 12 months and presenting a glimpse into what the future holds for Metro’s Unified Comms, Process, People and Activity Planner lines, including more new modules, functionality and a raft of user interface enhancements. More on that later!
After morning coffee and cakes, we were refreshed and ready for our 2nd guest presenters of the day. A double act in the form of Ross Smart, Retail Operations Communication Manager and Mark Wheeler, Retail Workload Planning Manager at Poundland & Dealz – taking us through how their Metro solution (called Connect) has been refreshed and revamped on the back of feedback from colleagues direct and from their Annual Conference. With the overall objective to simplify and enhance the site, Poundland ran a joint workshop with The Mill Group and RMS where together they developed a new site map combining user feedback to create an engaging site for all their operational needs. The new simple design allows for easier click through, with simplified links, buttons and combined pages for quicker connection to top news, stories and key tasks all being easily identifiable.
Next, it was time for our very own Team Metro to take the stage and talk about getting the most out of Metro and explain the processes they go through to get customers up and running. Each Metro customer is allocated their own Team Metro personnel – real people who genuinely care and are employed to ensure each business gets the best out of their investment. Each Team Metro member has just one mission – To make sure each client is using their software to the fullest benefit of the organisation. A great presentation and superb video showed just how much love and dedication this dynamic team have for their Metro customers.
The last speaker before lunch was Diane Wehrle, Marketing and Insights Director of Springboard explaining what footfall is saying for our high streets and shopping destinations up and down the country. With retail continuing to operate against a backdrop of change and uncertainty, Diane shared with us some unique insights into what this predicts for the future and how new technologies are looking to further improve capture rates (i.e. the proportion of footfall in the street that enters a store) and highlight influencing factors (like size of store, brand strength and competition) so that in turn retailers can understand individual store performance and optimise conversion and capture rates. Ending with an offer that is hard to refuse, Springboard are looking for friendly retailers to test out their new technologies within store FOC!!! Contact Diane for more information via Diane.Wehrle@Spring-board.info
With lunch and networking over, it was back into the main marquee to meet two very special VIP’s making a very special visit to the forum whilst over on other business – Donald J Trump and Kim Jong Un dropped by to give us a few tips on how to avoid fake news and drive compliance – something that RMS can now offer as a complete turnkey solution using their new MetroTabs.
With the POTUS departed for London, and Kim on his way home, our next speaker is one that always plugs people’s Knowledge Gaps as Phillip Adcock, Managing Director of SBXL helped the audience understand more about the brain and talked about priming, anchoring, and cognitive fluency before opening the floor up to questions and sharing his experience across Shopper & Promotional Insights and Cognitive Biases.
With minds blown, it was time for another guest customer presentation. This time we had the pleasure of SuperDry Communications Manager, Fiona Spencer and Content Designer Hannah Cuthbertson on-stage to share with us how to Grow with your brand and the importance of relaunching DRYve (the name given to their instance of Metro). Having redesigned DRYve themselves following the 2017 User Forum to be more engaging and easier to navigate, Fiona and Hannah explained how to strike the right balance between Brand and User Experience, resulting in a full platform re-brand across Desktop, Mobile, Store Tablets and Store Screens. The results have been impressive with a 13% increase in engagement since the re-brand. Feedback has been equally as impressive with stores reporting that the new DRYve is easier to use, quicker to see what is important and easier to navigate.
After more tea, coffee and cake, it was time for Ella Cockerell and David Goon from Microsoft to take the stage and talk about AI & Ethics – For Microsoft, AI isn’t considered just another piece of technology but could be one of the world’s most fundamental pieces of technology the human race has ever created. Microsoft are very focused on using AI to augment the human experience, rather than as a replacement for humans and as such see AI enabling and empowering people to do things that they would otherwise not have been able to – the aim with AI is to fully democratise it and for it not be the preserve of the rich or technical, AI is for everyone because AI can serve everyone. Front of mind for Microsoft is the belief that with great power comes great responsibility. As leading technology providers embrace the need for ethical implementations of AI, what is built today is going to be the foundation of what develops in the future. Microsoft and RMS take on these guiding principles to inform our AI design approach.
Our next speaker was from one of RMS’ founding Metro customers – Steve Shepherd from The Entertainer came to explain what Curated Wholesale is and how it is driving forward the UK’s largest chain of Toy shops, with marked success. Curated Wholesale is the collaboration between two retail businesses to achieve the best results. Utilising skills and knowledge from one, whilst maximising sales from shop floor space and resources in another – striking a careful balance of space management without impacting on existing department sales and improving overall sales per square foot. Following trials in late summer 2017, with space of circa 800 sq ft, The Entertainer tested and tried different products and formats to identify what was right for the target audience. Assessments were made across all areas including how trading on Sunday could impact the businesses own core values. The trial was an overall success and it was an honour to hear how, for the first time in public, the launch of Totally Toys will be with another RMS customer, Matalan, with a further 51 departments to open across the UK over the coming weeks.
The final session of the day involved our Metro Dev Team where members of the team took the audience through some of the latest developments they have been working on, and that will be coming to Metro soon – covering everything from Apps, Notifications, Offline Calendars and Metro Shed, the other hot topics discussed were AI, Machine Learning and BOTS. Announcing the introduction of Risk Assessment, Date Checking and of course MetroPay – our new Payroll module that effectively completes our People toolset and guarantees to be as much as 30% cheaper than any other marketplace provider – What’s not to like!?
Other new features coming online soon include Journal enhancements (importer), User Interface enhancement (including PDF Icons, More Widget options), New Employee Management functions, Content Management Authorities/workflow enhancements, Additional Widget Labels, Print Extensions, PDF output for Incident and Accidents plus many more new modules as they are identified! In closing, the overall messages is that ‘we are as good as you ask us to be’ and we welcome all new ideas and the opportunity to work closer with Metro customers.
With a final thanks to all our guest presenters, a full day of informative and thought provoking presentations came to an end, and an evening of fun and celebrations began. With most people staying, a truly fantastic evening was had with a delicious buffet dinner followed by stand-up comedy and the awards with Ian Moore.
We have had many wonderful comments and messages, both during the forum, and sent through since with the overwhelming message being that this was by far, the best ever forum – what will we do next year to beat it!? The presentations, and their content were spot on and reinforced the overall forum theme of optimising bricks and mortar, engaging with employees, and understanding the impact of appropriate communications, enabling operational efficiencies and opportunities for business collaboration. The bar was raised once again with the Video entries – tear jerking funny and entertaining we look forward to receiving even more entries next year (although I suspect The Entertainer will be wanting to retain their title so clearly, they will be the ones to beat!)