With Work Wise Week aiming to show businesses that there are smarter ways of working, Work Wise UK has teamed up with Powwownow to offer 100 lucky people the chance to sample our collaboration product Powwownow Engage.
The first 100 people to email: firstname.lastname@example.org and enquire about Powwownow Engage during Work Wise Week (12th – 18th May 2013) will be given a free three month trial for their company*.
Successful individuals will be notified by 31st May 2013 by Powwownow.*Licences limited to 50 people per company for the trial period.
How Smarter Tools and Better Teamwork will Power Successful SME’s in 2013
With business leaders increasingly under pressure to be both more productive and more innovative – the ability to connect people together and getting them to work in a fast and flexible way is more valuable than ever.
In this paper, the Insight Team from Powwownow share their latest research into the importance of effective collaboration and team work, explore how our offices are changing shape – and show how small businesses and medium sized enterprises can benefit the most from the powerful new workplace communication tools now available.
Click below to view our whitepaper.
With the first quarter of the year firmly under our belts, we are strongly on track to meet our ambitious targets for 2013. This follows on from a momentous 2012 for Powwownow, with not one but seven ‘Million Minute Days’ being achieved. This meant that on those days, Powwownow users spent over a million minutes using the conference calling service.
To achieve such a traffic rate in normal economic times would have been an achievement. To do so during today’s recession is something worth shouting about.
First it is important to note the key reasons why people choose to use conference calling: to save time and money. Simply put, conference calling cuts out the hassle and expense of travelling to meetings and using a video call even adds that personal touch.
Motivations for using a conference call service covered; why choose Powwownow as the provider?
There is obviously a range of factors considered by businesses when making this choice but primarily this again comes down to time and money: Powwownow is simple and affordable to use. With a clear one step sign-up for making a conference call it is easy to use and also explain to other potential call participants. The affordability comes from customers only paying the cost of their own phone call, without any additional contracts or bills.
It becomes even more prevalent to save these resources during an economic downturn, such as now. Since 2008 when the recession first hit, many companies have had to introduce stringent cutbacks. Affordable tools and services that enable businesses to save money and potentially avoid unpleasant cutbacks have therefore become even more appealing.
Similarly, with many companies unwilling to offer the salary increases that would usually be expected, it has become increasingly popular to offer non-monetary incentives, such as remote working. This is made significantly more effective through the use of reliable and affordable conference calling, video and web calls.
Powwownow’s products have been able to help companies facilitate this increased demand for money-saving tools and effective remote working. The product range has also been expanded through the development of new collaboration tool, Powwownow Engage. This has a range of functionality such as screen sharing, instant messaging and HD video calling, which makes engaging, communicating and working together easy.
As a result of this increase in service demand, Powwownow has actually bucked the economic trend, growing in size from being only a handful of people in 2004 to having more than 60 members of staff in 2013. In 2012 alone the company saw 30% growth, with Powwownow achieving an impressive annual turnover of 10.2 million per annum.
When asked about how Powwownow has succeeded and grown as a small business through the recession, CEO Simon Curry commented: “The achievement of our first ‘million minute day’ at the end of 2012 was a massive milestone for us. Testament to all of the hard work and man hours that our team has put in to growing and developing the company, especially through these economically gloomy years, this really is something that we are hugely proud of. Never satisfied to sit back and take our industry leading position for granted, we are always striving to better ourselves and are now looking for the next challenge. We believe that conference calling shouldn’t be seen as an expensive luxury but as an essential, practical and reliable money-saving tool.”
There has previously been a clear distinction between enterprise vendors, and enterprise communication providers (meaning telephony and networking vendors). However, this distinction is becoming increasingly more blurred as unified collaboration tools that combine both communication and collaboration technologies become more common.
It may be hard to remember a time before emails, but the development of this instant written communication tool was possibly the most important enterprise product ever invented for business. Not only allowing people to instantly send messages, for the first time it also allowed electronic documents to easily be worked on from multiple locations and by different users. For many people, this is still the default form of collaboration. However, this does not make it the most effective.
Using email to send different document versions back and forth can quickly get confusing. It is also the most common reason for email systems to become overloaded, as vast quantities of data is repeatedly saved to the system.
This is where using a unified collaboration tool such as Powwownow’s Engage, means that people are able to work together to edit and discuss documents from different locations at the same time. There is no need to save separate versions as people are able to see and work on the same one, whilst also discussing in real time via HD video calling what changes should be made.
Using the same system to screen share, work on documents, chat and exchange written messages means that it is easy to switch between these different methods of communication. For example, if it turns out that a quick question sent on IM actually requires a full conversation, using a unified collaboration tool makes that conversation only one click away. It is also possible to then easily include other call participants if needed – real time presence makes it easy to identify if they are available.
Video conference calling is far more than your average conference call. Allowing users to see other call participants, as well as enabling screens and documents to be shared in real time, it can be almost as if you are in the same room working together.
Cost savings – money, time and space
The same as with traditional conference calling, video conferencing removes the cost and hassle of having to travel to meetings. Cutting company fuel bills and allowing increased productivity from the time saved, video conferencing gives a tangible return on investment. Participants can be based anywhere in the world and, time differences permitting, meetings can be arranged simply and easily at the drop of a hat, with no need for large meeting room facilities. The reduction in travel is also an environmental win.
Whilst there has historically been a divide in strategy and tactics of B2C and B2B marketing, modern technology is starting to blur the lines. Increasingly, the smartest B2B marketers realise that buyers expect the same levels of service – whether in their business or personal lives.
The rise of eCommerce solutions, the proliferation of useful advice online and the use of social media platforms are all examples of how consumer marketing experience is affecting the expectation of SME decision makers. The level and openness of information has changed. Dan Pink points out that in many cases, a well-connected savvy buyer, thorough the use of forums and social media sites can now have more product and review information than the salesman. This is something that has completely changed the traditional buyer-seller dynamic.
Email is the most dominant form of business communication with employees often spending hours every day using it. It’s therefore important that you are making the right impression to gain attention and captivate customers. Making your message stand out for the right reasons is essential.
First, a quick recap over the top ten email basics – these should provide a strong foundation for any email that you send, whether it is a regular contact message or part of a larger mail out.
© Netris | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
- Be professional and understandable – politeness is a given but also make sure not to use unnecessary abbreviations.
- Introduce yourself usefully – you wouldn’t talk to somebody new without first saying hi but bear in mind what is relevant to the topic at hand.
- Use obvious subject headings to indicate content and purpose – for frequently used topics perhaps agree on abbreviation headings, such as ‘AR’ for “Action Required”.
- Send on a need to know basis – use ‘cc’ and ‘bcc’ appropriately and don’t ‘reply all’ unless everyone really needs to know.
- Emails aren’t private – refrain from discussing confidential or potentially embarrassing information: never put in an email something that you wouldn’t put on a postcard.
- Use friendly formatting – don’t SHOUT or get too excited with exclamation marks! Always spellcheck and use a standard font face.
- Don’t overdo emoticons – in fact there’s a good argument for avoiding them all together: if you feel the need to better express yourself, you probably need to take another look at your words.
- Be contactable – have an up to date and useful signature.
- Beware of sending large attachments – if this is absolutely necessary first check that the recipient has room in their inbox and also the best time of day to send it.
- Don’t hide behind an email – remember, your tone can’t be heard in an email and likewise neither can theirs; try to keep phrasing neutral and give the benefit of the doubt.
Presentations and hand-outs are commonly used in meetings to help explain a topic or to prompt discussion. After all, a picture paints a thousand words and it is often easier to illustrate a point using a picture or graph.
It is therefore a shame that the cost of saving time and money by using a conference call facility should be that the effective use of a presentation is lost. Although supporting documents can be circulated ahead of a call, there is no way to guarantee that everyone will be looking at the same part, or that relevant facts will be highlighted appropriately.
Using a web conferencing facility overcomes this problem. By using this to integrate screen sharing into a conference call, whatever the host displays on their own screen is also viewable by call participants. This could be anything from a presentation document to a website, a spread sheet to an annotated article.
Earlier this month I spent a few days in the US attending Telespan in Las Vegas and SXSW the tech, film and music mash-up in Austin, Texas. Both were inspirational and provided food for thought for my return to Powwownow.
Some of the presentations were around some of the technological and societal advances that are happening now, some presenters stretched the thinking a little further; things that would break industry norms and others just seemed to paint on a bigger intellectual canvas; taking on some of the planet’s biggest problems.
Something that was of great interest to me personally and from a business perspective was that of big video.
Billed as the “budget for people aspiring to work hard and get on”, these were the immortal words uttered by George Osborne during his delivery of today’s budget.
Inspired and full of hope, we were encouraged to hear of The Chancellor’s plans to help small businesses and innovation. A five fold increase in the value of government procurement budgets spent through the Small Business Research Initiative should prove to be a significant boost for small companies seeking to engage with the public sector.
Also, good news for start-ups looking to grow: from April 2014, a new £2,000 a year employment allowance will be introduced for National Insurance contributions from businesses and charities. This will make hiring that new member of staff more affordable and so company growth that little bit more achievable.
Lastly, the reduction in corporation tax to 20% (a worldwide low!) should bring a much needed boost to many companies. However, realistically this will be of no help to the smallest companies with profits less than £300,000, where perhaps this saving would actually be most beneficial.