by Jacob Heinz, Executive Marketing Director at Verizon Business Markets
Twitter | @jlheinz
Working with people in other offices—whether that’s the other side of the country or the other side of the world—is a reality for most of us now. It might be a distant branch, a home worker, corporate headquarters, or an overseas supplier. The pace of modern business means that we can’t wait to see people face-to-face—that would be massively expensive too—and sometimes email just doesn’t cut it.
94% say video collaboration increases productivity.
But we’ve all suffered bad online meetings, right? People scrabbling around under the table for the right cable, noisy mobile connections, the list goes on and on. Only the other day a friend was telling me how the post-merger integration project she’s been working on has been held up by problems doing something as simple as sharing a large file. She reckoned that close to half of each meeting has been wasted. It’s such a common experience that it’s been parodied many times—like in this great video.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Good technology isn’t a “nice to have”
We all have fantastic communication tools at our fingertips these days. Smartphone messaging and videocalling apps are now incredibly powerful and easy to use. That’s why when we—especially the millennials among us—come across outdated collaboration tools we find it so shocking.
So why are business collaboration tools still such a laughing stock? The answer is that they’re not—at least not all of them. If you’re still suffering from a bad user-experience then it’s time to upgrade. The days of hunting around for dial-in numbers, poor-quality audio or video, and cumbersome reservation systems are gone.
By 2020, the majority of the workforce will be millennials.
It’s not only staff productivity and morale that can be affected by not keeping up. If your technology is out of date then you’re going to struggle to recruit the best new talent. These days candidates aren’t just looking at your latest earnings figures, they want to know about your culture too. And if you haven’t invested in the technology that they expect, then it might be them sending the “thanks, but no thanks” email.
The answer is out there
There’s no need to put up with technology that wastes your time and gets in the way of you achieving great things. There’s no need to leave your desk, the tools available on the desktop are now pretty impressive. And it’s not just the big screen, you can do a lot on your smartphone—including sharing applications.
Services like video conferencing have become much better as connectivity and network management have improved, but some of the biggest improvements have been in the user experience:
- “Call me” services eliminate the need to scrabble around for dial-in numbers.
- Screen sharing and whiteboarding are now easier to setup and more intuitive to use.
- Instant meetings and personal meeting rooms make it a piece of cake to start an impromptu meeting.
- And capabilities are expanding all the time. Products like Microsoft Surface Hub and Google Jamboard mean that conferencing can be almost like being in the room.
So what’s holding you back?
The technology is there, but implementing it well takes skills that many businesses don’t have. And no matter how good the technology, a bad implemention can damage return on investment. That’s where a specialist IT services provider, like a Verizon partner, can add tremendous value. Their experience can help you accelerate deployment, avoid common problems and build better a better user experience.
It’s amazing to think we’re already past the halfway point of 2010. Like many of you, I spent the Fourth of July weekend celebrating our Independence Day with family and friends. As I was out and about then, I couldn’t stop looking at the local gas station, dry cleaners and restaurants and wondering how those owners were doing at the moment. I never stop thinking about small business and how Verizon can help them.
Recently, I read a great line in an article about salesmanship lessons from Donald Trump – “Never do things for your customers and prospects in a small way. Make it big and important or don’t do it at all.”
Whether it’s a good or bad economy, small business owners never stops thinking of how they might approach their operation in a different way – whether that’s leveraging new technology, hiring a new employee, taking a product offering off the shelf, or whatever might be needed – owners are always looking for ways to attract and retain customers. According to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor March 2010 report, approximately 64 percent of the owners surveyed say the recent economic conditions has caused them to make changes in their operations and management practices. That’s a large percentage rethinking their business.
Since it is the mid-year point, I thought now might be as good a time as ever to think about what you are (or are not) getting out of your current business services. Just like your car needs a tune-up every once in a while, it’s also what your business needs. I encourage you to review the services you have with your current provider to determine if you are using the best services to run the business.
Questions to ask yourself…did you hire someone recently? Are you seeing an increase in phone calls? Do you have a toll-free number for out-of-town customers? Do you host your own website? Are you considering expanding into a second office, store or restaurant? Is your credit card connected to a fast Internet connection or still on dial-up? Are your files backed up in a safe place? Do you even have backup storage capabilities?
These are just a few of the questions you should be asking every few months. However, it’s important to remember one vital fact. While small business owners need to be cost-conscious when selecting phone and Internet service, they should not base decisions solely on the cheapest package price. I urge you to research and uncover the right service provider that can offer more value-added services and support than just a low priced package.
Aside from the services aspect, I’d also encourage you to use this time to think about other new ideas to infuse into your small business. We’ve held some fantastic webinars with outside experts catering to new ways small business owners can go about their business plan. Whether it’s how to keep current customers loyal, how to effectively use social media and PR, or how you can secure credit in today’s market, we’ve got you covered!
I’ll share more tips and ideas in the weeks ahead, but I would love to hear your success stories. Share with me your best practices and tips, or tell me what your mid-year business resolutions. I look forward to hearing from you and we’ll keep discussing tips like these in the near future.