Archive | February 21, 2014

Stick to what you know or Change is good ?

As we move through life, many of us will pick up sayings that we have heard along the way, whether from our parents, friends or otherwise. Sometimes though these sayings conflict with one another and have the potential to leave you in a quandary.

For instance, let us take the following two examples: “Stick to what you know” and “Change is good

On the surface of it you have two sayings that could be used to influence your business strategy. At a second glance, it also seems that the two are in conflict with each other. But lets briefly examine the two sayings in context and walk through the thought process of each and see what we can learn from this, and indeed whether the two statements are actually contradictory.

Stick to what you know!

Many people I have spoken to when asked about a strategy to help the business develop and keep pace with the modern world in which we live, simply continue to do things the way they have always done because traditionally it has worked. Nothing wrong with that on the surface of things, why change a tried and tested method. The issue comes about when the market dynamic (both employee and customer) starts to change and puts the business in danger of appealing to a ever decreasing audience. Where in the past business was done face-to-face (as in actually being there), the market has now shifted away from this with people looking at and ordering products online rather than venturing out of the door. Depending on your business, this also means you might not need a physical space that has to be manned, so again providing tools to enable staff to work effectively from wherever makes good business sense; why rent a plush office if staff can work from home or another location.

Obviously this will not work for all companies, however those who not only survived the challenging market conditions but flourished, have actually applied both sayings in their business; stick to what you know and change is good.

Change is Good!

Certain elements of business need not change, if you provide good customer service, at a great price with a quality product and that works for you, why would you change it? The change comes in how you enable your business to provide the things that you are good at and known for, to the widest audience whilst reducing costs. Sounds like a pipe dream? Unified communications and collaboration technology enable businesses to do just that, leveraging the strengths of a business but enabling technology to drive business outcomes and ultimately increase revenue. As an example, look at businesses such as Amazon and eBay, primarily product sales to a large userbase using unified communications and collaboration technology.

An eBay user can use a number of devices to upload and make available content such as words and pictures in order to achieve sales, add into the fact that you can also transact payments from these devices really highlights the any device, any where, any time world that we have all come to live in. Using these technologies as well as others such as voice and video over the internet to drive that return to face-to-face communication and great customer service helps to drive customer retention and increased sales.

So in effect, stick to what you know – do the things that you have always done well, but do them better; but change is good – you might just need assistance in using some of the newer tools available to build and accelerate your company growth and performance and reach a wider audience and empower employees. Thats where we come in; looking at your business goals and aims, speaking with different part of the business to understand the pain points you experience right now, coupled with understanding where you are going allows us to provide a Unified Communications and Collaboration assessment service to you, a customised roadmap service helping you to get where you want to be.

Do social networking platforms drive “true” unified communications?

When Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone made that first call in 1876 and uttered the words “Watson, come here I want to see you” !!!!!, the “like” button did not exist. As communications evolved and Motorola amongst others took us on a handheld mobile phone journey in the early 80s there was no “friends” list. As we fast forward to the present day with Facebook (with 1.2Bn users) aiming to acquire Whatsapp for a jawdropping monetary sum, it paints the picture of just how electronic communication has changed over time.

We had no idea back in those early days that voice only communications with no additional channel for engagement just wasn’t rich enough to emulate the warmth and reality of a true human face to face communication (we were just happy phones existed at all). Whilst electronic (now digital) voice communication remains an essential and fundamental communications mode, it must be stated that the spoken word is only a percentage (under 20% with body language and visual cues much higher) of how we absorb and digest a message thus inferring a supplementary mode is always beneficial.

Unified Communications and more recently social network influenced unified communications may be more of a silver bullet to the future of human communications that we actually realise. The potential to start in one communications mode (voice), add video (or not), annotate on screen (analogous to letter writing), share content, use a multitude of devices (and even switch them mid call) and finally save the whole exchange for history delivers an almost perfect vehicle for “dialogue”.

As we evolve and position Unified Communications as the new normal, it is fundamental that it is presented without an emphasis on the technology platform and process used to deliver it (assume they are in place) and instead real focus is applied to the communications elements desired by the user to realise as “close to face to face” human interaction.

It is that desire to feel as close to being “there” with someone even if we are “here” and ideally with the emotional / social bond that has propelled the social networking platforms to the front of our conscious mind. When we use these new communications devices and software tools or better still immerse ourselves in them on an application rich smart phone / mobile tablet, we have the tools and potential to communicate our way to someone else, their way with seamless simplicity.

Maybe $19Bn doesn’t seem so expensive after all (ps, it still does !!).

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter @colinwccuk