You are here

B2B is alive and well according to the CBI

The CBI Annual dinner is a gathering of the great and the good of business.  1200 senior business people in a room with guest speaker Rt Hon William Hague MP, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs.    Our chance to hear about what government is doing for business and experience ‘networking at its best’ (to quote the CBI website).

What was interesting for us B2Bers was the evidence that B2B is at the heart of British Business.  At Omobono we’ve always estimated that over half of the UK economy is driven by companies selling to other companies.   But judging by the people who turned up on Wednesday night, B2B is absolutely core to it; law firms and global consultancy players; energy, construction and infrastructure companies; banks and financial services providers; recruitment and employee benefits consultants. 

Practically the only purely consumer name on the list was PZ Cussons, who seem to do more business outside the UK than in it.  Perhaps they took their famous ‘Bermuda looks nice’ ad for Imperial Leather literally.  

What did we hear from the powers that be?

William Hague was good – he’s a fluent and passionate speaker - although the woman on the chair next to me had his script on her lap and was ticking off the points as he made them, which slightly took the shine off his performance from my perspective.  I somehow wanted it to be from the heart, not from the sheet.   He emphasised how much effort the government was putting into their embassies and consuls overseas with the aim of helping British Business do business overseas.  

CBI D-G John Cridland, who looks like a man who thinks accountancy is too exciting as a career, was actually quite dryly humorous.  Sir Roger Carr (CBI President) gave us his 4 truths of business.   Don’t be complacent (er, not much danger of that in this climate Sir Roger); look for growth internationally (er, Sir Roger, I think we all know that); the educational system is failing businesses so we need to do something about it (ditto) and business is less trusted than ever (ditto and sigh of irritation – shouldn’t the CBI be trying to do something about this?).  

So I tried to do my bit by appealing on Twitter to the media to stop treating us like Velociraptors and appreciate that contained in the Grosvenor House ballroom were 1200 people who actually wanted to create jobs and wellbeing for all (a good day’s pay for a good day’s work being at the heart of most of our ethics).  And help people into work in whatever way we can – we all need good people.

Unfortunately there was no Wi-Fi in the ballroom, so my tweets probably fell on deaf media ears when we finally all left around midnight.