Absence of physical meetings leads to digital innovation

The Big Picture People work with large organisations to help them communicate complicated messages to their employees in innovative ways. It helps senior professionals in some of the world’s most respected organisation create, curate, design, refine and share their big pictures with their people.

The Big Picture People create toolkits that visualise a company’s strategy and a suite of materials that help bring it to life. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, all of its work was delivered in person.

The coronavirus pandemic brought the company’s usual face-to-face interventions to a halt, and as a result, demand for its services slowed, with the roll-out of some in-progress projects being delayed.

The Big Picture People had to get creative and work out how they could continue to deliver their services at a time when people couldn’t come together in person.

A key requirement when considering alternative approaches was to make sure the company could continue its conversational, social, and facilitated approach – but in an online environment.

The Big Picture People looked at how they could emulate a social experience using platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. This led them to approach NBSL to secure funding to develop prototypes / proof of concept etc.

The Big Picture People applied for support from the North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism), which is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and supported by the Northern Powerhouse. It was awarded a grant of £3,000.

Using the funding from the North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism), The Big Picture People were able to develop a new browser-based, interactive online environment where clients and their employees could use interactive exercises such as discussion cards, quizzes and competitions to engage with their employees, helping them understand the ‘big picture’ narrative of the organisation. The platform also utilises an “App” that allows delegates to interact with the facilitator and each other during the session to enhance interaction and engagement.

The new interactive online platform was much more versatile, more organic and allowed for more natural conversations than a conventional slide presentation which many online communications have resorted to. It was also a big improvement on The Big Picture People’s temporary “workaround” method of using a webcam with physical materials to run online sessions at the beginning of lockdown.

Craig Smith, Company Director of The Big Picture People, said: “The funding we received from NBSL gave us the ability to be adventurous at a time when we were, understandably, being risk averse.

“It’s given us another positive string to our bow and we are genuinely very grateful for the support. The online service we’ve developed isn’t just a substitute for the absence of physical gatherings; it’s another long-term offer we can provide to clients.

“We now have the opportunity to refine it and create a new revenue stream, giving us a new innovative way of delivering our business.”

The North East Business Support Fund (Restart & Recovery/Kick-starting Tourism) is administered by North East Enterprise Agency NBSL.

NBSL is approved by BEIS and has achieved the Customer First accreditation. NBSL has a team of experienced business funding advisers who work with people and businesses across the North East to identify solutions that aid development and growth.

NBSL relaunched The North East Business Support Fund (NEBSF) in 2018. The inaugural round of funding was launched in 2012, since then NBSL has provided funding and support to businesses from an array of sectors spanning all corners of the region with a recent impact report finding that the fund has yielded an impressive £4.40 economic boost for every £1 invested.