Combining AI with human expertise

How UMi’s innovative new approach is strengthening support and opportunities for regional business.

The team at UMi have long-been at the forefront of innovative support for businesses, regionally and nationally. With the pandemic forcing more business support online, UMi has once again innovated to combine learning from the last year with more than a decade of experience to develop a new platform with business support at its core.  

Our Head of Communications & Engagement, Shelley Armstrong speaks to Nicki Clark, Chief Executive of UMi to learn more.

Can you briefly describe UMi’s innovative new platform? What makes it stand out from other business content platforms?

Our enhanced service channel will harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) together with human expertise to take the hard work out of finding the best information, expertise and finance. We’ll be packaging and presenting it proactively for businesses -whether digitally or by speaking to one of our advisers – so that they don’t have to hunt for it, enabling them to make better decisions more quickly.

Does it solve a problem or a challenge for the business community, and if so, how?

We know from our customers that they appreciate that there is a lot of brilliant information and tons of expertise out there, but because of that volume it’s difficult to navigate and know what they need. It’s like a tangled ball of string and you’re trying to find the end. It can be really time-consuming and frustrating.

Our customers see UMi as their trusted extra pair of hands or business partner. The more that a customer can tell us about their business the more helpful we can be and the easier we can make it for them. For example, with our specialist partner Swoop we can analyse a business’s day-to-day transactions and predict they have a cashflow issue coming up in five months’ time. We’ll then go off and find that business a solution, which could be in the form of an invoice discounting offer, short-term loan, grant etc. They may not have had the time to spot that cashflow challenge emerging and it would have taken them many hours and probably days to find potential solutions, but UMi can do that for them.

What was the driver behind taking the UMi platform in this direction?

We have been doing what we do in the ‘real’ or physical world since 2007 and while we have always made good use of technology to increase productivity, resilience and to a certain extent improve front-end services, we realised that we could make it even easier for people in businesses by bringing what we do in the real world and genuinely infusing it with technology so you get the best of both.

With the pandemic, we have recognised the efficiency and ease that technology gives us but also the power of human interaction. So, we’ve done huge amounts of work and invested financial resources in bringing those two environments or service channels to life.

In what way do you think the platform will support regional (North East SMEs) specifically?

While building strong local connections is important for most businesses, it’s also important to not be bound by geography when considering the best advice, connections or sales opportunities. The platform makes it even easier to connect our customers with the very best expertise and opportunities regardless of where they are – something many don’t have the time or capacity to do while also running the business.

How can they maximise the platform for their own business development?

Alongside the wealth of read, watch and listen to content to inform and inspire people on everything from marketing and sales to help businesses get more customers, we provide a range of tools and downloadable resources to help users take the next steps on their business journey. In addition, we’re also offering a variety of events that businesses can attend to enhance their knowledge and build their network. And, of course, users can also speak to an adviser, either via email or on the phone, to get even more personalised advice to further develop their business. Lastly watch this space as we have some new partnerships in development that will enable us to highlight sales  opportunities based on their business characteristics.

Would you like to add anything else?

We’ve recently launched our online platform in Beta mode and it’s currently free to register. For more information visit https://beta.weareumi.co.uk

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