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Business must focus on customer relationships

Organisations wishing to make “a breakthrough in business” must look outside their current environment, according to leading business thinker and innovator Hamish Taylor.

Speaking at a conference organised jointly by B&ES and the Building Services Engineering Employment Agency Alliance, Taylor told his audience that innovation was “not just about products and services”, but also “about business processes – including customer relationships and communication”.

Mr Taylor – who boasts a track record that has been described by The Times newspaper as “taking some beating” – shared his experiences of product innovation for a range of blue-chip organisations.

Such commissions had included the introduction of flat beds into British Airways planes – achieved by working with a yacht designer rather than an aircraft seat designer – and improvements to airport queuing arrangements, developed in close collaboration with the Disney organisation, for which queue management is a “core skill”.

Staged under the banner, Planning for Uncertainty: the Flexible Workforce, the event provided a valuable opportunity for building engineering services contractors, facilities management service providers and manpower supply businesses to consider new ways of adjusting and fine-tuning their manpower supply and procurement practices to cope with the marketplace uncertainties of the future.

“With demand for the services provided by building engineering services contractors and manpower supply businesses ‘flat-lining’ owing to the economic situation, it is more important than ever that key decision-makers have the chance to engage with fresh. innovative thinking”, said Peter Rimmer, B&ES head of employment affairs.

Hamish Taylor’s keynote address was followed by a presentation from representatives of California-based staffing industry consultancy Staffing Industry Analysts, who spoke about the procurement and management of “contingency” (ie, agency) workers within host organisations – the key message being that “careful structuring” could lead to a significant reduction in risk for the contractor or service provider, as well as to compliance with the “corporate values and legal obligations” of a business.

This message was reinforced by June Cook of global manufacturing client 3M, whose contribution contained practical lessons for the building engineering services sector.

The event was chaired by Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan, independent chairman of the Agency Alliance. “This conference has introduced a great deal of thought-provoking and challenging thinking to the sector,” Lord O’Neill commented.

“Those businesses that out-perform their competitors will be those that have a coherent approach to the management of their people – their most important resource – and are able to adapt to the changing marketplace,” he concluded.

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