How to Enhance Workplace Collaboration

Workplace Collaboration is possible using a few key tips and technologies

Entrepreneurs understand the value of a having a team that is highly collaborative. When starting a new business, every employee has to be on the same page — a task that is increasingly difficult if your team works remotely, as many start-ups do. Without the forced face time that comes with a traditional office, how do entrepreneurs promote collaboration among employees? Luckily, as the number of remote workers has risen, over 80 percent between 2005 and 2012, there has also been an increase in helpful collaboration tools for all kinds of workplaces. For truly effective collaboration, though, you not only need to choose the right tool, but you also need the right equipment and a culture that encourages openness and sharing.

Essential Equipment

Start with the basics — the equipment. Even the most amazing collaborative software will be ineffective if it is not paired with good hardware. For remote employees, a smartphone is the most important tool you can provide. Pair a good smartphone with affordable, unlimited coverage that won’t stretch your budget and will allow your team to use the other collaborative tools you decide to employ with no restrictions. In addition to a smartphone, your team will need heavy-duty laptops with video capability and fast and reliable internet access.

Choose a Collaborative Tool

The right tool for your team will depend on the nature of your business and the size of your team. You want whatever system you choose to be able to function fully as an app on a smartphone or on a laptop or desktop. Here are four of the best workplace collaboration tools.

a) Slack – Slack, and its competitor HipChat, are real-time communication apps. The Slack app allows team members to message each other, screen share and video conference. Slack stores and archives conversations so that they can be retrieved later easily with relevant hashtags. For many businesses, Slack is used in place of email.

b) Dropbox – Dropbox is a filing sharing app that allows team members share and edit files and documents in real time from any device.

c) Asana – For a more robust workflow system, Asana is hard to beat. PCMag gave it their Editors’ Choice award, and use Asana as their internal project management system. Among many other customizable functions, Asana allows users to break projects into tasks, assign tasks to the right team members, monitor progress and communicate at every step. Asana also integrates with other platforms like Slack for communication and Dropbox or Google Drive for file sharing.

d) Igloo Software – For an all-in-one collaboration tool suitable for a smaller business, check out Igloo Software. Igloo is a pre-built intranet system with features including real-time communication, forums to discuss specific projects, task management templates and file sharing. While not as slick as other intranet systems, Igloo is intuitive to use and easy to set up.

Create a Collaborative Culture

The truth is that no collaborative software system is going to be effective if you don’t put in the work to create a culture of collaboration. Effective collaboration happens when teams brainstorm openly and feel comfortable discussing and questioning ideas in a non-judgmental way. For this to happen, you need to actively encourage regular interaction with programs like mentorships, staff retreats and regular meetings to share successes and shortfalls.

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Why the internet has driven retailers online

Wondering Why the internet has driven retailers online?
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If you are thinking about starting a business, you have to consider where and how you’ll showcase your products to customers. A mere 30 years ago, your options were limited. You could have a brick-and-mortar building, or work out of your home, but you had to attract customers to your store. You had a limited region of coverage for sales, at least until your business expanded into other markets. Advertising was very different. The use of mass mail marketing was common, and you had to rely on word of mouth. Billboards and television commercials caught the eyes of your customers.

Fast forward to 2017, and the options for you as a business owner have expanded exponentially. Your customers can be from anywhere on the entire planet, via the internet. You can still send out mailers and advertise on TV, but if you aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to develop your business online, you are missing out on your full business potential. Here’s why the internet has driven retailers online.

Potential for profits

It is expected that online sales via computers and mobile devices will be over $500 billion by 2020 in the US alone. E-commerce is growing at a faster rate than retail, with over 224 million shoppers spending more online every year. The bottom line is that there is money to be earned from online selling. To ignore it is to hobble your own business potential.

Online to enhance a physical site

Even if you aren’t ready or able to launch a website, you can still take advantage of the internet to build customers. If you establish a news feed, you will be reminding subscribers of your company every time that you post a new article. Posts on Facebook and Twitter also get your company name in front of subscribers, whose reposts are an open invitation to new customers. You can use online communications to invite customers to events at your store, publicize sales, and announce new products.

Online combined with a physical site

No matter how successful your brick-and-mortar business is, an online presence can help drive new customers to your door. Imagine that you are an artisan who sells handmade pottery and runs a storefront. Your customers are going to consist of the people living in the city where you sell. They may recommend your pots to friends, and eventually you may see customers from around the region, the country, and even the world. However, these people must call or write to you for your pots. Somehow, you must send them photos of your products for them to decide if they want to buy something.

The time invested alone in making a profit on the pots is staggering. With a small investment in a website, where you can showcase your pots, receive payments, and set up shipping, you will save time in customer contact. You will build your customer list by recommendations and search engine optimization (SEO). By using social media, you can update customers on new products. With a customer reward program, you can get positive reviews and return business. These efforts will all convert into sales with little to no work save the initial set-up.

Online presence only

Many stores operate solely online. Businesses that are only online can take advantage of the same networking and marketing opportunities as the potter, but they don’t have to pay for the cost of a building and all its attendant expenses, including employees and utilities. With your online presence, you can offer detailed information and videos on your company’s products and services. Customers can preview products and compare prices before they buy. One company that has made a success of an online-only presence is As Seen On TV. The company offers a variety of great products for the home, cars, pets, and more. It produces videos to show customers how its products are used, and the videos are just one way that the company drives sales.

Online is the future

The technology explosion is having a major impact on retail sales. Robotics can now put together customer orders. Analytics can tell you how to target certain audiences with specific products. Online payment systems are popping up to keep transactions safe and quick. Quick delivery of online products with drones is just around the corner.

Whether you are dipping your toe in the water, or basing your business solely online, there is an advantage to using the internet. Even a small investment can mean great profits. Start looking into how the internet can improve your business.

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The importance of digital backups in modern business

The importance of digital backups is demonstrated by sudden disasters such as fire
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Big data is the new competitive advantage so it is crucial that you manage your critical assets effectively by archiving and backing up data to the cloud. Data and technology are now woven into every aspect of modern business and the global economy. It enables enterprises to drive value and revenue via analytics and business intelligence and informs key decisions across every industry, day in, day out.

However, as the importance of data to business grows, so does the impact of errors, fires, floods, failures and other disasters that result in data loss. As a result, the importance of digital backups cannot be overstated.

Digital backups

Digital backups are an essential component of any effective IT strategy, especially in today’s data-driven business world. It is vital for business continuity as you will be able to access important files and sensitive information if the original copy is lost. Digital backups are hugely popular with small and medium enterprises and large organisations as they enable CIOs to transfer data in an encrypted format to a data centre.

Simple and intuitive

Digital backups are always fully automated, which means there won’t be any user intervention and you can decide whether to make a full backup or restore single files via a few simple clicks on a connected device such as a desktop computer or mobile. Recent research by McGladrey & Pullen shows that more than half of the enterprises that suffer a major data loss do not recover and have to shut down within two years so it makes sense to prioritise a digital backup plan.

Class-leading tech

Building an onsite data centre and server room will give you full control over your data and provide the best possible security for it. It will also enable the enterprise to leverage data more effectively and support your critical daily IT activities. Other benefits include additional data visibility and accessibility plus reduced latency and failures. A server room fit out could transform your data analytics and digital backup capabilities.

Digital backups benefits

Cost: Digital backups eliminate the need for time-consuming methods such as tape, which are not feasible for the fast-paced digital age.

Compliance: Digital backups can help you to meet increasingly stringent regulatory and compliance regulations related to data.

Mobile: Digital backups can be completed anywhere, at any time at work or on the move.

Protection: Fully encrypted backup, storage and recovery provide the highest levels of protection for data for enterprises.

Recovery: Data can be recovered via any device with an internet connection and you will get access to it immediately, which reduces the impact of downtime.

Scalable: Digital enables you to scale your backup requirements depending on your particular needs and requirements.

Support: Management and monitoring of digital backups can be completed via an intuitive interface in a quick and simple manner.

Data governance

Data governance and digital backups are intertwined as the latter enable enterprises to ensure that their data assets are managed effectively throughout the enterprise. Data governance is essentially a quality control discipline for all the data you have access to and how you manage, monitor, maintain and protect it. Establishing a digital backup strategy is a critical means of supporting these endeavours and ensuring data won’t be lost or stolen.

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Does a Small Business Really Need IT Support?

Does a small business really need IT support? They might.
Photo by CC user Marko Puusaar on Wikimedia Commons

If you are running a small home business, the chances are you still have an accountant. Most new entrepreneurs realise quite quickly that keeping their accounts and filling out there tax return accurately is not as easy as it seems on paper. Many try to manage in the first year, by which point they see the wisdom of hiring a professional to take care of this aspect of their business. Does a small business really need IT support? In many instances, they could badly use the assistance of third-party tech specialists.

IT support firms do offer packages that are suitable for SMEs

Yet when it comes to IT support, most small business owners never give it a second thought. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster to make most of them see things in a different light. Many entrepreneurs struggle on looking after all of their technology themselves.

This is partly because they do not realise that they can actually get help, for a low cost. Many business owners wrongly assume that because they only have a small network that IT support firms will not be interested in supporting them.

In the past, this would have been true. However, these days it is easy for a small business owner to find IT support in Leeds, and other large cities.

The IT support industry woke up many years ago to the fact that by focusing only on big companies they were ignoring a huge potential market. In the UK, a phenomenal 99.3% of private companies are classified as small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs), employing between 1 and 49 people. As a result, a lot of IT support firms now target small businesses, and tailor their service and prices to meet their needs.

Why you need IT support

Letting someone else look after your IT needs brings many benefits to a business. Top of the list is improved security.

By keeping your hardware and software up to date, and following proper protocols you can keep your data and that of your customers safer. A good IT support package will include regular updates, and help with setting up robust and safe protocols for your network and equipment.

There is a tendency for small business owners to believe that a cyber attack could never happen to them. Sadly, these attacks are becoming more common, and shockingly some firms never recover after an attack. There are profitable businesses out there that are folding following data attacks. You can read more about the level of the problem, and the terrible affect being hacked has on a small company on this page.

More time for you to invest in your business

Letting someone else take care of your IT needs can really free up time. There is no longer a need to take the morning out, to set up your new laptop, or update your kit. Someone else can take care of all of that for you, leaving you free to focus on growing your business, and serving your customers.

Help when things go wrong

The other great thing is that you can get expert help when things go wrong. There is no longer any need to spend hours digging around the internet trying to work out what is wrong with your system.

You just have to pick up the phone and talk to an expert who will know immediately what the issue is, and how to fix it first time. This allows you to get back to doing what you need to serve your customers, as soon as possible.

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