on June 23, 2015
Business Communication Is (Still) Broken : Events in Paris and London, June/July 2015
For some 25 years, organisations have used email to communicate. Much communication is simple – let’s have a meeting, someone called you, etc. But much is more complex, involves more than a few people, requires dialogue, and requires sharing content such as a note, document, photo, etc. We usually refer to this as collaboration. As communications networks have extended and improved with wifi and broadband, business people have become more and more dependent on email for such collaborative communications.
With the increased use of mobile devices, the situation has developed even more. We collaborate “anytime, any place” now. Employees increasingly expect to be kept informed of, and respond to, the latest developments on their work activities. Equally customers expect companies to provide easy access to information, and answer questions in an engaging, timely and covenient manner.
Yet still people in business cling to email. We send a spreadsheet to 10 people, and suddenly we have 11 copies. Five update and re-distribute it, and immediately there is confusion. Which is the latest version? Why did the other five not respond? Should they have? Were there others who could have contributed but were not in the email to: list? Was the spreadsheet forward on to others without the knowledge of the author? And so on.
With mobile, people have become used to communicating and sharing information in a variety of consumer apps for chat, social networking and file sharing. But when those apps are used for business, collaboration problems get worse still. Now the communication may be fragmented across several places, and we lose any cohesion in the discussion on a given topic.
In our events in Paris (29th June) and London (1st July), we shall be looking at this issue, and addressing these questions :
- Why is email such a problem for business collaboration?
- Is it right to ban email in the workplace? Or do we try to improve it?
- If Enterprise Social Networks should be the answer, why are there few examples of success?
- How do mobile apps help and hinder?
- What is the connection between good employee collaboration and customer engagement?
- Broadband, Cloud and Mobile have encouraged more frequent and richer communication, yet added new challenges. What are the effects of those challenges?
- What do we need to do to address all these issues, and in particular what can BroadVision offer to help?
Speakers in both Paris and London will include Dr Pehong Chen, Founder and CEO, and Richard Hughes, Director of Social Strategy. In London, the speakers will also include Alan Patrick of Agile Elephant, one of our consultant partners and specialist in the dig ital enterprise. As well as presenting, all of the speakers will join in a question and answer panel session.
We want to provide attendees at these events time to ask questions, and discuss these issues, so spaces are limited. If you are interested in attending, please contact us.
If you’re not able to join us in London or Paris, join us for a webinar on Wednesday 24th June where we’ll be presenting a shorter session on the same topic.
on June 22, 2015
There are companies in which everyone is out for themselves. Achievements are hoarded like the last Moon Pie on planet earth, and workers had rather share their lunches than credit for what they’ve done. Then there are the successful companies. These organizations have learned that no worker is as good as the collaborative powers of their collective teams — and they have mastered the art of developing a workplace conducive to effective and meaningful collaboration. How can you make the transition?
1. Provide an Open, Flexible Workspace
Give your workers room to breathe, move about, and mingle. This naturally stimulates people’s social natures.
Dividing the work areas up into cubicles puts a literal barrier between your employees, effectively stifling their ability to collaborate. Interaction is human nature. We are more “pack animal” than “lone wolf.” Provide an open work environment where workers can see each other and communicate with each other. This naturally promotes working together and teaming up to solve problems and work on issues.
Additionally, offer your workers space outside their own workstations to bond, discuss, and collaborate. Community break rooms stocked with healthy food and beverages isn’t as much an invitation to waste time as it is an opportunity to build trust and strong bonds among workers. Many successful companies (such as Google and Facebook) provide workers with informal communal areas furnished with comfortable seats where they can relax, allow creative juices to flow, and freely collaborate with each other.
2. Empower Workers With Portability
Unchain workers from immobile desktops and empower their collaboration with laptops or other portable devices.
Have you tethered your workers to their desks with antiquated desktop computers? If so, you’ve effectively stunted their ability to move about and work together. Switch to laptops (or, when possible, tablets), and revamp the Wi-Fi to accommodate a mobile workforce. Not only does this enable workers to work together easier, it also saves on power bills, and in many cases, cuts the IT costs for maintaining old, outdated desktop computers.
With portable devices, you also need a portable collaboration and communication platform that will enable easy sharing of information, documents, etc. on whatever devices are in use. Vmoso is capable of delivering a stellar cloud-based collaborative experience for any size organization, no matter what mobile or desktop devices are on the network.
3. Be a Good Example of the Collaborative Process
Do your workers see you collaborating with other executives or managers? Are you seen working together with your subordinates? Adult workers are a lot like kids are, they tend to mimic the behavior they see in those they are supposed to please. Show your workforce how collaboration works by engaging in it yourself. Also prove the benefits by showcasing what your collaborative efforts were able to produce, such as improving your product line or boosting sales.
4. Establish a Shared Sense of Decision-Making and Outcomes
Do your workers feel vested in the decisions and outcomes they make? What do they stand to gain if they make the right decisions and produce great outcomes? What might they lose if the decisions are poor and the outcomes not as expected? Help your workers draw the lines between how good collaboration and outcomes benefit them, not just how it benefits the company as a whole.
Visit BroadVision today to see what Vmoso can do for your workforce’s collaborative efforts.
on June 18, 2015
For a long time, email met the collaboration needs of business better than most any alternative. It helped keep you off the phone, and it allowed you to manage communications when it was most convenient. Best of all, it gave you the ability to attach documents, links and photos that were impossible to share over the phone. But over the years, email became less efficient and more bothersome. It’s not email’s fault, really. Most of the problem comes from using email for purposes it was never intended for, such as business collaboration and seamless integration with your social media channels.
Is there a better alternative? Actually, there are several. Whether you’re trying to collaborate with coworkers on your next project, sync your social media accounts, or track your industry news across the Web, there’s an ideal tool available to do just that.
If you’re trying to keep track of your brand and product mentions across the Web, Mention can be extremely handy.
Mention is an alert and notifications tool that works across the Internet. It monitors your brand name, your products, and even your targeted keywords across the Web and alerts you to any and all mentions. It looks for these mentions virtually everywhere — in blogs, on social networking sites, and even within forum groups. It also gives you the ability to respond to these mentions and to share relevant industry news across platforms.
The right communications tool can make it so much easier to keep projects, marketing campaigns, and everything else on track. Choose a tool that helps you develop good strategies and meet your goals.
For internal and external corporate communications, Vmoso gives you the ability to see all of the relevant communications that are important to your work, while filtering out all of the “noise” like spam, meaningless emails, and irrelevant social media communications. This powerful tool gives teams the control to manage their work communications effectively, including sharing documents, videos, images, voice messages, and much more.
Buffer is a tool for managing your social media publications and analytics all in one. It gives you the power to send updates to all of your social media channels at once with a single action. It posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and even App.net. Additionally, it helps you track analytics from all of these sites to discover why a particular post worked well or didn’t. Buffer also helps you determine the best times to post to all of your social media accounts, depending on the particular audience you’re trying to reach.
If you have to keep track of a number of RSS feeds throughout the day, Feedly is a handy tool to help you do just that. It keeps you abreast of all of the relevant industry blogs and news websites. It’s an excellent tool for discovering new content and information relevant to the topics you most need to stay on top of.
Zapier is an easy way to link all of the social media services that you need to keep track of. It connects to different services and sends you automatic alerts and notifications. Zapier also works with sites like Twitter, MailChimp, RSS, and various other apps and tools.
These communication and collaboration tools will free you from the time-consuming hassle that has come to be associated with modern email. To request a demo of Vmoso, visit the BroadVision website today.
on June 16, 2015
When productivity slumps, the work isn’t the only thing that suffers. Morale also sinks with it. Sometimes the morale issues cause the efficiency decline, sometimes it goes the other way. But if you need to improve your team’s efficiency, there are some tried and proven ways to do it. Be a good leader, and your team’s productivity and intensity will surprise you!
Which workers are responsible for what assignments? Make sure they know what’s expected of them.
Are the roles within your team clearly defined and well understood? If productivity is lacking, it could be a matter of confusion over who needs to take responsibility for what. For example, if no one knows they’re in charge of printing and reviewing report X, it’s unlikely to get done. If Sammy thinks it’s Sally’s job, he won’t want to step on her toes by taking the initiative to do it. Make sure the roles and responsibilities within your team are well defined and clearly assigned.
Set Clearly Communicated Objectives
What goals are your team trying to meet? What’s in it for them if they succeed?
If your workers have no better concept of your objectives than, “We need to do this, and do it as quickly as possible,” they aren’t in a position to help you meet your goals. Set clear objectives, such as improving production by 10 percent by quarter end, or producing X number of widgets per day. Then make sure that they understand what their stake in meeting the goals is: how will they benefit from the company’s improved efficiency? This might be a more stable job situation or a bonus, or even a pizza party, but they need to know what meeting your objectives does for them personally.
Do you delegate simply by handing off the junk you don’t want to do to your team? If so, this is probably demoralizing your workers and driving down their efficiency and productivity. Give your workers authority over an aspect of the work, and assign them responsibility for the outcome. This endows them with ownership, and a sense of ownership always improves productivity.
Provide Better Collaboration Tools
Are workers so inundated with emails, voice mails, and instant messages that they can’t be productive? If so, better collaborative tools can cut down on meaningless correspondence and communications and allow your workers to receive the information they need to do their jobs while eliminating useless distractions. Vmoso is a proven platform for better office communication and collaboration.
Lead by Example
Have you ever visited a restaurant or fast food joint where the manager had their sleeves rolled up, working as hard as the workers? If so, you’ve likely noticed that the workers are also cranking out work as quickly and efficiently as they are capable of. Managers who work hard themselves establish an atmosphere of productivity and rarely have trouble getting their team members on board.
Ax the Busywork
Is your office snowed under with generating meaningless reports, attending useless meetings, or other unnecessary busywork? Streamline processes and eliminate stuff that isn’t essential for efficiency and productivity. This doesn’t just free up more time for workers to produce, it also improves morale so that they have a great attitude about digging in and getting things done.
Vmoso has the unique capability of allowing workers to collaborate and communicate fully, while eliminating communications that aren’t productive or necessary. This platform incorporates all of the best features of email, social media, and instant messaging, while eliminating all of the downsides to these communications tools, such as the dreaded “Reply All” button and never-ending streams of spam. Explore the BroadVision website to learn more about Vmoso and other helpful collaboration tools for the workplace.
on June 12, 2015
The following guest article was written by online marketing expert Zac Johnson, founder of Blogging.org.
One of the biggest distractions and causes of stress throughout the workday is having an inbox that constantly fills up with new emails and tasks you need to address. There is nothing more frustrating than opening your email and seeing a huge number of unread emails just waiting for you.
The following actionable tips will help you clean up your inbox, relieve stress and simply get more done!
Answer Emails Right When You Get Them
Email can be overwhelming, especially if it just keeps coming in! By answering important emails as soon as they arrive in your inbox, you will minimize the number of emails you need to take care of and also eliminate any stress your email causes every time you see it sitting there. Address the important messages to get more work done while reducing your anxiety.
Integrate and Email More People at Once
Eliminate a lot of wasted time and decrease the number of emails in your inbox by setting up email integration, which allows you to connect with various people within the same message. Many people already do this through CC and BCC emails, but this can get messy if you start adding too many recipients.
A better way to connect with a group of individuals while also having more control over the stream of messages going back and forth is through Vmoso’s application software. It’s quite advanced and allows anyone to invite new people into the email conversation, without needing to be a Vmoso user.
Unsubscribe to Unwanted Emails
One of the quickest ways to clean up your inbox is to go through all of your unread email right now and see how many of them you actually want to receive. Instead of just deleting the emails, open them and click the “unsubscribe” button. This is a great way to prevent your inbox from filling up with unwanted mail going forward.
Create a Separate Account for Newsletters
In addition to unsubscribing from emails, it’s a good idea to set up different email accounts based on the type of emails you want to receive. Sure, we all want coupons and special promotions, but we don’t necessarily want them all at the same time or alongside our work email. A great way to take care of this is to create an email account for your personal/work email, then additional accounts for coupons, promotions or newsletters that you might want to check every so often, but not see on a daily basis.
Set Up Email Filters
Email filters can go a long way when trying to clean up your inbox. By setting up filters and sorting incoming mail based on who they come from and their importance, you will be more easily able to access your most important email first, while pushing generic emails down the list. Many email services have their own filters in place to check for spam, but with some simple customization and setting changes, you can really improve the performance and structure of your inbox.
Clean Out Your Inbox Periodically
When your inbox starts to get out of hand with hundreds or even thousands of unread emails, it’s easy to give up. Setting aside some time to clean out and manage your email is a great investment toward lessening the stress and time wasted as a result of your current inbox chaos.
Sort by Folders, Categories and Labels
As email providers continue to become more advanced, so do the methods in which we can sort and categorize email as it comes in. Sorting emails based on their importance, content and the sender is an excellent way to tackle important email immediately, along with quickly being able to find and reference emails received in the past.
Save Time with an Email Signature
Imagine how many emails you send on a daily basis. Now think about how many you send per year! It’s easily in the thousands, and if you have to type your name and contact information in each of those emails, you’re wasting a lot of time. Let’s say you send 10,000 emails every year, and it takes you 10 seconds to type your signature (name, company, etc.). That’s over 27 hours spent typing your signature – an entire DAY spent typing! Implement an email signature in your outgoing emails, and not only will you save time, you’ll also look more professional in the process.
Whether if you are focused on cleaning up your personal or business email, these tips will help you achieve inbox enlightenment. Implement just one of these tips today and you will see a better inbox tomorrow.
on June 09, 2015
The following guest article was written by Susan Payton, president of Egg Marketing & Communications, which specializes in content marketing and social media management.
In this competitive world, less is more. As in, the less time it takes you to do things, the more successful you can be. And while it seems that technology should automatically help us be more efficient, often we’re not using it properly and can’t really be productive.
Getting more done in less time doesn’t require extra arms. Just smarts.
If you need help harnessing technology to work smarter, not harder, start with these strategies:
1. Have Your Tools Play Together Nicely
Just a few years ago, you had separate inbox, project management software, email marketing, and social media applications. You had to log in to each one separately to get anything done. And that ate up a lot of time.
But today’s tools are friends. They integrate with one another (or you can use one tool designed to streamline all these functions) so that you not only save the time it took to log in to each site separately, but you also see how they work together. For example, if you can connect your email and project management activities, you can assign a task based on directions or input a client gave you via email. The email stays attached to the task for reference.
2. Create a Social Media Command Center
While you need to visit the actual sites for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., initially to set up your account, you can actually be more productive not logging in regularly. With the right social media dashboard, you can monitor what’s being said about your brand, connect with those you care most about, and schedule updates ahead of time so you don’t have to write updates throughout the day.
If you have more than one person who works on your social media accounts, you can create teams and tasks so everyone’s tapped into what they need to do.
3. Put it in the Cloud
How much time have you wasted hunting for a file in your inbox, only to find it was sent to you through a different medium? Keeping documents, images, videos, and presentations in one place in the cloud means that you – as well as your team – can access them from anywhere. No more hunting.
4. Plan Your Content Marketing
If blogging is a marketing strategy you use, you might dread writing content every week. Be smart and block off time to write several posts at once. That way, you can schedule your content for several days or weeks, and put your attention toward other tasks while your content goes live and attracts new readers.
5. Manage Your Client Relations
Gone are the days of Access databases cluttered with client information. Today’s customer relationship management software is sophisticated enough to let you not only store important contact details, but also set tasks and milestones and track opportunities. With the right CRM, you don’t miss any potential sales opportunities for your business.
Often, getting more done in less time isn’t about being the smartest person in the room, but rather having the smartest tools and taking the time to learn how to leverage them. The great thing about technology is it’s constantly evolving and developing new ways for us to be more effective in business.
on June 05, 2015
Most executives and managers realize that the organization’s true potential doesn’t just lie in the talents of the highly qualified individuals they hire, but in the potential they hold collectively. It’s like a finely-tuned race car: the speed and agility and power is not just in the engine, but rather when the engine, suspension, steering, braking systems, tires, fuel system, and other components are compatible and working in full concert.
For this reason, managers often assign teams of their best workers to undertake a particularly thorny problem or go after an especially lofty goal. In the end, has the team really collaborated, that is, did they work in concert like the perfectly-tuned race car, or did they merely work independently and bring it together in a form that mimicked collaboration? How can you know when your workers are truly collaborating? Here is the science behind it all.
Confusing Collaboration With Compliance
Has your team actually collaborated, or have they just complied with the mandate handed to them by management?
Compliance happens when all of the workers hear, understand, and accept a challenge, yet they each move and work independently in order to bring about the result. An example of compliance is when the CFO hands down a mandate to cut expenses by 10 percent across the board. What usually happens is that the managers have a discussion, they each agree to cut 10 percent of their expenses, and each manager goes about doing this within their own departments.
In the end, the executive’s mandate is met. Costs are indeed reduced by 10 percent. But was it the most effective way to do it? Perhaps the best solution would have been to cut less critical areas by 20 percent and cut only 5 percent from mission-critical departments like production or R&D. Since no true collaboration was done, the outcome was less effective than it could perhaps have been.
Confusing Collaboration With Cooperation
Cooperation is one more step toward collaboration, but is still not true collaboration. Cooperation is when each worker is working toward the same goal, but is doing so independently. This is usually the case when workers are assigned a project. They typically hold a meeting, decide who is going to be responsible for what, and retreat to their own environment to get their part of the assignment done. As with compliance, the end goals are usually met. But like compliance, the project never sees the potential offered by true collaboration.
What is True Collaboration?
Once you’ve decided to take the difficult road of actual collaboration, make sure your teams have the right tools to get it done.
Most teams think they are collaborating, and rarely consciously reject the idea of collaboration. They just don’t know what it actually looks like, and collaboration is very hard. Our natural instincts is to take a chunk of the work that most suits our specific skill set and let others in the team do the same. We then piecemeal the product together and offer it up as a collaborative effort.
Collaboration actually involves each member working together, sharing assignments, discussing each issue, coming to the best conclusions, and delivering a cohesive product in the end. It’s an emotionally difficult process and is uncomfortable for most people. But as the saying goes, “Two minds are better than one.” If you can learn to master collaboration, every effort your teams undertake will deliver the full potential of your great minds working in concert. This is how races are won.
To get your hands on a tool to promote and foster true collaboration in your organization, visit BroadVision today. You can also see a free demo of the powerful Vmoso product in action.
on June 02, 2015
Productivity is down (or isn’t improving like it needs to), and you’re not sure why. There aren’t an unusual number of absences, and workers are consistently at their desks looking busy. How can you get those productivity levels to where they should be? Sometimes, the answer is in changes to workflow and rules (such as limiting breaks or eliminating meetings). Other times, it takes a more creative approach. Instead of cracking more whips and blocking Facebook, try these innovative (and pleasant) approaches to boosting productivity.
1. Make Your Priorities Clear
Not everything you assign can be “top priority”. You have to make it clear what is urgent, important, and what can wait.
A worker with several ongoing projects can have difficulty assigning a priority to the tasks unless management gives each project a clear priority. Make it clear and well-known which assignments are urgent and important, which are important but not urgent, and which are the lowest priority. Workers can then put their focus on the most pressing matters.
2. Introduce Some Flexibility Into the Workflow
Do your workers have the flexibility to get their assignments done in a timely manner? Some workers are highly productive in the mornings, with a drop-off in energy during the afternoons. Others crank to high gear after lunch and are strongly productive well into the evening. Does your workflow allow for employees to maximize their potential according to how they operate best?
3. Offer Attractive, Entertaining Places to “Get Away” for a Few Moments
What are some of the most successful companies today? You’d likely place Google and Facebook somewhere on that list, along with Twitter and Skype. What do these phenomenally productive business share in common? They all provide workers with lots of comfortable, open space, beautiful things too look at, and pleasurable things to clear their minds (such as video game kiosks or aquariums). Not all businesses have Google or Facebook budgets, but provide what you can to create an enjoyable atmosphere that boosts productivity and creativity.
4. Provide Better Options for Communication and Collaboration
Email, voicemail, instant messaging … these tools combined waste an enormous time each workday, even if it’s all business and not personal (which much of it is). Opt for a more cohesive tool that allows workers easy access to important information, while filtering out the noise that simply saps their working hours. Vmoso is a social collaboration tool ideal for streamlining work communications and allowing for open, easy collaboration both within the office and across branches, clients, and vendors.
5. Rethink the Offerings in Your Break Room and Vending Machines
Aside from boosting productivity, healthy snacks can reduce worker illness and injury rates, lower insurance costs, and even help employees feel and look their best.
Is your staff filling up on stale nachos, greasy potato chips, and soft drinks laden with chemicals, sugar, and caffeine? This is a big reason why productivity lags, especially after breaks. Swap the fatty, sugary, salty, caffeinated offerings and stock up on fruits, nuts, veggies, water, juice, and other healthy alternatives. Not only will workers quit lagging from carb overloads and sugar crashes, you might actually reduce your health insurance costs.
6. Encourage a Sense of Humor Among Managers and Workers
“Wait!” You say. Aren’t a bunch of jokes and cutting up contrary to boosting productivity? Not according to research, it isn’t. A healthy (yet professional) sense of humor fosters camaraderie. Camaraderie, in turn, fosters a sense among employees that they are vested in the company and its success. This vesting, in turn, causes workers to put forth more effort willingly. No more trying to sneak up on them before they slip out to ask for a little extra time or effort. They do it willingly, gladly, and without all the warnings and threats.
To boost your workplace productivity, visit BroadVision today to see a free demonstration of the unique and powerful Vmoso business communications and collaboration tool.
on May 28, 2015
Email is no longer working for business. Email has become a cumbersome time-waster, taking up valuable hours from the work day. Email is one of the primary tools used by hackers to introduce malware into your systems. Additionally, email communications lack accountability–too much information can get lost, misrepresented, or outright corrupted via email.
The obvious solution is online collaboration tools, like enterprise social networking. These tools are fast and easy to use, and work much like the consumer social platforms everyone is already using, but with enterprise-grade security and features. Social networking puts all of the information out for everyone to see, so that communications are open, transparent, and users can be held accountable. With a closed social network, these tools do not allow for malware intrusions like email, but workers can still share a variety of documents, presentations, videos, and other materials that are useful to the organization.
C-level executives often adopt social networking tools but fail to see a return on the investment. Why is that? What can top execs do to foster acceptance and use of these powerful collaboration tools?
1. The “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Approach
If you want workers to embrace the collaboration tool, you have to “Like” it too.
Sometimes executives adopt these tools, demand that everyone else use them, and then go right on using email for their own communications. This sends the wrong messages to the departments. It tells them the executive isn’t really serious, that the tool isn’t really useful, and that they don’t have to go along with it. When executives begin using the collaboration tool, it demonstrates how useful it is and communicates that the top management is serious about change.
2. Failing to Get All Departments on Board
Another problem is that departments begin using the tool to communicate within their own departments, but the tool isn’t leveraged across the organization among different departments. The executive needs to help each department understand how their workflow fits within the organization as a whole. How can the tech department provide great info to the production teams? How can finance benefit from the information coming from the sales team? Prove how the tool is a way to get everyone working together for common goals.
3. Failing to Give Workers the Right Training
Training is essential when adopting any new system or process. Social collaboration tools are no different.
If you bring in a pool and toss everyone in, some of them will sink and drown. Collaboration tools (or any other software package you invest in) have to be taught to the workers in order to be understood, embraced, and utilized. Make sure workers from management on down receive thorough training, including an explanation on why the tool is beneficial, how it works, and what workers stand to gain in terms of easier workloads and better communications.
4. Failing to Give the Tool More Time to Be Accepted
How long did it take your workforce to stop walking to each others’ cubicles and start sending emails? A couple of months? A year? Longer? Moving from the comfortable norm of email onto a collaborative tool like social networking is the same. Don’t give up on it just because workers take some time to adjust and learn the new system. The primary reason why these plans don’t work in some companies is because management gives up on the tool too quickly, not because the tool isn’t valuable and useful. Even if it takes time to embrace the new communications system, workers will eventually adapt and adjust, and the immensely distracting, overwhelming, unsafe days of email will finally be behind you.
For a feature-packed social network-style communications and collaboration tool visit BroadVision. The Vmoso tool is easy to integrate into the corporate environment, and empowers mobile workers as well as those who stay in the office all day. Try Vmoso for free today!
Welcome to Vmoso
on May 26, 2015
Part 5 of our introduction to Vmoso explains the difference between basic and advanced usage modes, and takes a look at Vmoso tasks.