Digital Transformation or Workplace Modernisation?

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By Jonathan Sharp, Director, Britannic Technologies

What comes first the chicken or the egg? The same question could be asked about digital transformation and workplace modernisation. The term digital transformation has been about for a while with companies racing to implement the latest and greatest digital technology to improve their business. It is a misconception that technology alone will transform your business and deliver on all expectations. After all, it is not the technology that will improve your business, people have to be receptive to new technologies, adaptive to new ways of working and achieving new outcomes as a result.

Workplace modernisation is a business movement that’s about engineering the right culture, business change process and customer experiences that are underpinned; but not made, by technology. It’s against implementing technology for the sake of digital transformation.  Workplace modernisation is the key to implementing new ways of working, recruiting and retaining top talent, and creating a happy, motivated workforce.

Workplace modernisation is the first and most vital stage to consider before digital transformation and needs to be applied throughout your transformation. It constantly evolves and if you don’t have a plan to prepare your workplace – ultimately you won’t be transforming anything!

Leading the Way

Lead the way with workplace modernisation instead of digital transformation so the Board understand the business reasons why they would require the technology to underpin it.

Workplace modernisation ensures that all technology is integrated and blended to work in harmony. This is where you will benefit from the expertise of Solution Providers who will assist you with modernising your workplace, advising and providing you with the technology you require to improve communications and processes.

They will work closely with you to understand your business, what your objectives and strategy are. They will study your existing processes, the technology you use at present, and how it can be improved. Workplace modernisation needs to be addressed before the technology comes in, but it remains a constant consideration throughout transformation projects.  

The next stage is digital transformation and the right partner will conduct discovery workshops, host individual meetings and focus groups with different departments to discover what technology is needed. Ensuring that it is aligned to the business’s objectives, services and operations.

 

A Healthy Core

Without a robust and reliable infrastructure you won’t be able to modernise your workplace and transform your business. Cloud communications solutions are a secure and flexible platform that enable you to offer conferencing and collaboration sessions, so employees can work from any device, over any application, whenever and where ever they are. You can augment existing systems with unified communications, artificial intelligence and automation solutions. For example – using artificial intelligence in the contact centre to take over the mundane tasks from agents and enabling them to focus on more complex and higher value enquiries.

 

Business Process Automation (BPA)

Every business relies upon processes. Automation of individual processes will rapidly start to make a difference to productivity and given that UK productivity has only grown by 2% in the last decade, there’s a long way to go. With BPA applications you can produce ‘micro services’ through open APIs to automate processes, utilising your existing technology and deploying new technology as and when you require.

 

Evolution not Revolution

Investment Protection is always a concern, and it not necessary to rip and replace your existing technology. You can use the technology that you have in place to integrate and work with the new solutions by using solutions with light touch, low code or no code methods, such as Britannic’s b-connected solution.

 

The Workforce of Now and Not Tomorrow

Millennials and Generation Z have started to dominate the workforce bringing new working patterns, values and expectations in using the latest technology to the front.

By 2020 millennials are forecast to make up 35% of the global workforce (Manpower 2017). In the US, Gen Z constitutes more than a quarter of the population and by 2020 will be the most diverse generation in the nation’s history (Bloomberg, 2018).

Workforces are becoming more mobile with these generations expecting to be able to work from home or anywhere as long as they do the work, it shouldn’t matter where they are based. Businesses need to re-shape and modernise their workplaces and be prepared for their requests of flexible and remote working, by providing conferencing and collaboration solutions to enable them to do their jobs more effectively.

Organisations that have previously struggled with staffing can now widen their recruitment pool if they’re prepared to revisit the need for office-based staff. Many contact centre roles for example are now home-based, improving work-life balance, providing flexibility for staff and easing the recruitment burden.

With the digital skills gap increasing companies need to work harder in recruiting talent and even harder to keep them so modernising the workplace to their requirements is essential. There are pluses and minuses to automation. Some jobs will fall under the axe of automation, but positively, jobs will become more interesting as the routine, boring work is fulfilled by robots.

 

Culture – the Heart of the Company

Establishing the right culture is vital to modernise your workplace and be digital transformation ready, without this it is not possible. Setting an open and innovative culture is not daunting, companies need to decide what their mission is, what the values of the company are and communicate it to all staff and carry it through in a daily working environment.

Culture and values are extremely important to the younger generations and if they don’t feel connected to a business then they will look elsewhere. Gallup research found that 60% of Millennials are actively looking for a new job as they didn’t feel connected to the mission or values of a company.

 

Open and Innovative

The younger demographic also want to work for companies that are transparent and adopt an open and honest culture. Therefore it is vital that the workplace should become more transparent, starting with Directors sharing the business plan, strategies and objectives with teams throughout their organisation. This will create an open environment where everyone is involved and working towards the same plan and goals.

Millennials and Gen Z are very dynamic and want to be empowered and given autonomy to work on creative projects and try new things. They want the flexibility to make mistakes without the fear of being pulled up or even losing their jobs.

 

Sharing and Failing

It is important to adopt an open and innovative culture with a ‘growth mindset’ ethos to foster an open and innovative culture. This will encourage open communications and establish a sharing ethos. If employees don’t talk to each other in different departments and share what they are working on, then they can’t work in synergy.

Employees across the generations should be urged to share ideas about the different ways technology can be used, in discovering new ways of working, new products and services. They need to have the courage to speak out and not to be afraid of being told it is a bad idea or it won’t work. Employees need the confidence and autonomy to see if their ideas will succeed or not, and not be diminished if it does fail. As Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm.”

 

It’s all in the Preparation

The digital explosion is set to continue and companies need to accept the paradigm shift that has been created and embrace it, if they don’t then they will be left behind.

Digital transformation is an evolutionary journey and the starting point is to modernise your workplace to ensure it is a success and you reap the benefits. It is all in the preparation, ensuring you have the right infrastructure in place, setting your culture, being ready for the demands of the younger employees, while making sure you carry your existing team with you, and implementing the technology you require. With a modern workplace, you will succeed, improving the customer and employee experience, communications, processes and productivity – you are ready for the future.

A Guide to Financing a Start-Up

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A Guide to Financing a Start-Up

It’s an astonishing fact that in the UK, around 70 new businesses are created every hour of the day.  Sadly, around 60% of them will go under within three years.  Underestimating how long it will take before a new business begins to see a profit is one of the key factors, which results in the collapse of so many new businesses.  Securing a solid financial base for your start-up is essential. Here are some key points for you to consider.

Create a realistic budget

Begin with the sum that you intend to invest in your start-up and work backwards from there.  Identify everything that you think you will need and then identify the essentials.  Estimate how long before you can expect to see a profit. Calculate your monthly running costs. Add 10% to allow for a margin of error and then trim your budget until you have a viable model.

Crowd funding

Global investment through the means of crowd funding is predicted to reach $93 billion by 2025. Crowd funding tends to support mainstream ideas and is not necessarily a good way to raise money for innovative ideas, but it can raise substantial sums in just a few months.

Government grants

There are hundreds of government grants for which you can apply, and which can be used to save money on premises, plant or IT equipment.  Direct grants require you to match government funding whilst equity finance provides up to a 50% reduction in income tax on investments made in a new business.  Soft loans are low interest loans of up to £25,000.  Talk to the grant body first to see if your start-up will be eligible before your start what can be a long and complex application process. Target the grant objectives in your application and demonstrate how this money will help you grow your business and create jobs.

Separate your business money and your personal money

One of the main reasons to separate personal and business finances is to take advantage of tax reductions for business expenses. Credit cards are useful to small business owners because they give access to ready credit for business expenses.  Provided you clear the full balance each month, a credit card provides free additional working capital at no additional interest cost. Compare the credit cards currently available to ensure that you get the one that is most appropriate for your business.

Have a contingency fund

Sinking everything you have into your start-up is romantic entrepreneurism, and in most cases leads to an unhappy ending.  Always expect the unexpected and have a fund ready to deal with those slings and arrows.

Decide if you need investment or a loan

You can of course have both.  Taking out a loan means that you retain complete control of your business and that all profits are yours.  The loan repayments obviously have to be factored into your monthly running costs.  Equity financing means that you don’t owe money but in return you hand over a share of control and a share of the profit.

How to create a content marketing calendar

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How to create a content marketing calendar

It’s easy to find stories about businesses that jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, then jumped straight off. They created a handful of 500-word posts, added them to their blog, promoted them on social, and kept it going for a few months while they waited for the promised inbound queries to arrive.

But nothing happened. 

Why didn’t it work? Lack of focus, lack of topic discipline, lack of targeting, and lack of a plan.

To avoid this trap the marketing director at Datadial, Matthew Sawyer, has mapped out where you should be going and how you can get there using a content marketing calendar.

A content or editorial calendar is an essential piece in the content marketing process. It’s a core management tool to keep execution on track. But it’s also robust enough to provide much needed structure when a full-scale strategy isn’t ready. So, here are six essential steps to creating a content marketing calendar.

Step 1: Ideation 

If you have a well-defined strategy this will be easier as a lot of the information you need will already be defined. If not, there are some key questions to answer about the type of content that fits your brand and target customer.

·         What is your brand’s personality – and is it different online? 

·         How will content reflect that personality – or, will you diverge from it in order to address a specific or sensitive issue?

·         What pain points, questions, or issues are prospective customers looking for help with?

·         Where are the trusted sources of information in your industry, and where can you add value by adding your brand’s voice?

 

Step 2: Create the calendar

A screen full of blank rows and columns can be daunting. Start by populating the calendar with things you know are already agreed, and consider adding industry milestones like trade events, annual studies, key dates or commemorative days that can influence the timing and content of what you create.

That can include webinars, industry events, press releases, big branded content pieces like eBooks or industry reports & conferences you’re already confirmed for.

Here’s a sample of what it might look like:

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Map out 1-3 months if the broader strategy is still being defined. Go for six months/two quarters if you have more activity already in the pipeline.

Step 3: Leave some blank spaces

A content calendar is by definition a proactive tool. So, don’t forget to leave space for the ad hoc or reactive opportunities that relevant news and emerging trends can create. Perhaps it’s a huge merger between competitors, maybe it’s a consumer trend you want to have a point-of-view on. The weekly news cycle can throw up all sorts of opportunities for content around topics that are trending now.

Step 4: Observe and measure

Keep a close eye on content analytics. The calendar will be a living and breathing document, it’s fine to make course corrections. If something isn’t engaging readers, edit it or pull it. If one topic or asset is generating loads of interest, go back to brainstorming and think of new content executions that can maximise that audience. Keep another close eye on the competition. They might be doing something right and there’s no shame in taking inspiration from elsewhere.

Step 5: Finalizing the calendar

Ultimately you want to have a mix of content lengths and formats to accommodate the preferences of different readers. Put the time and effort into at least one well-researched and original long-form blog post. That means one-piece between 1,200 and 2,000 words, alongside 1-2 shorter blog posts as more reactive content. Even though people want shorter pieces they can digest quickly, they’re also willing to stick with a longer article if they find it valuable.

Create monthly visual content too via infographics, statistics or video.  Not only is this format highly share-able on social, in terms of volume they receive more downloads, embeds & engagement overall.

Finally, publish a quarterly whitepaper. Whitepapers and eBooks are a great way to delve even deeper into a subject you’ve covered in one of your long-form blog posts. As they are weighty and in-depth, they make great assets for content upgrades and lead generation campaigns. They also provide a brilliant format for content recycling. If you’ve written 5 or 6 long form blog posts on a similar subject, gather them together as chapters of an eBook, then post it to your website.


Step 6: Don’t just publish, distribute

After each piece of new content goes live, promote it on social media, in your email newsletter, in PPC campaigns, or if the asset is rich enough like an eBook – create a dedicated landing page and use it to gather leads. Plug the ‘break’ dates and distribution channels for each piece of content into the calendar as well, to ensure the promotion piece isn’t missed out.

After that it’s a matter of measuring the effectiveness of each asset you’ve created. The KPIs for should be set according to the stage in the sales cycle the content is meant to influence. That can range from unique user sessions for blog posts meant to fill the top of the funnel, to leads generated, and sales converted.

Revisit the calendar regularly to make sure that everything is on track. A content marketing calendar can be an incredibly useful tool – making your job easier and demonstrating the thought process behind your work. Use it to full advantage.

This piece was brought to you by the experts at https://www.datadial.net

Issue 10 2019

Issue 10 2019

Welcome to the October edition of Corporate Vision magazine, bringing you all of the latest news, features and insightful pieces from across the corporate landscape. Featured within the pages of this packed issue, are interviews with award-winning legal practices all the way through to some of the very best coaching firms and professionals the industry has to offer.


For instance, we discover more about the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC) who offers professional business and team coach training alongside coaching-based services for organisations. Following its twentieth celebrations, we profile the organisation to learn more about the remarkable success the team have had over the years.

Elsewhere in this issue, we take a closer looks at Proficient Business Services, which is an IT solutions provider in The Bahamas providing complete information and communication technology business solutions based on industry best practices. Having recently been named as the region’s best IT managed services provider, we discover how the firm implement and help maintain IT systems across the whole of The Bahamas.

Gracing the cover of this bumper edition is the leading global provider of Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) solutions, Special Learning. Recently, we profiled the firm and spoke with Special Learning’s CEO, Karen Chung who provided us with a detailed insight into the services they deliver to their clients.

The team here at Corporate Vision magazine sincerely hope that you thoroughly enjoy reading this insightful edition, which we have created for you. Lastly,  we always love hearing from our readers and so if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas please do get in touch!

Telematics can help reduce carbon footprints in a bid for improved sustainability

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Climate change is a threat to our planet. As European and UK regulations are reinforced in order to lower carbon emissions, companies also have a key role to play in becoming compliant and addressing this issue.

Through the use of telematics, it has been proven that companies can reduce their carbon footprints, whilst saving millions of pounds. One company which has demonstrated this is Restore Datashred, who by using Masternaut telematics, along with many other companies across the UK , has saved a combined 230,000 tonnes of CO2 each year; equivalent to 87,800,000 litres of fuel and approximately £113,262,000 of savings.

Restore Datashred is one of the UK’s leading confidential shredding businesses, running a fleet of over 300 vans, LGVs and HGVs. With a keen interest in reducing carbon emissions and fuel consumption, road safety, and maintaining customer service excellence, the company realised they faced challenges which included:

– Meeting their own expectations in terms of their responsibilities to customers, neighbours and the environment

– Meeting the requirements of public sector organisations to demonstrate safer, more efficient, more environmentally aware      fleet management

– Being able to reliably and accurately analyse routes and fuel usage

– Driver behaviours, such as harsh braking or accelerating

– Monitoring individual vehicles’ consumption

With these challenges in mind, Restore Datashred partnered up with Masternaut telematics in 2013. Their Fleet CO2 Certification programme, verified by The Energy Saving Trust, rewards efforts to improve environmental performance and reduce businesses’ carbon footprint.

Since 2013, the partnership has shown to have been incredibly beneficial. In 2017, Restore Datashred’s fleet of specialist vehicles travelled a staggering 7,963,000km or 4,950,000 miles a year – following the partnership an 8.9% reduction in fuel consumption per mile was recorded. Over the course of a year, this currently represents 172,000 fewer litres and 452 fewer tonnes of CO2 emissions, saving £177,000 in fuel costs per year.

Restore Datashred’s Head of Fleet, Ian Walsh, says: “We have worked with Masternaut since around 2013, and every vehicle carries their Tachofresh telematics software that gives us clarity and control over driver information and behaviours.

“With these technologies we can constantly train and update our secure collection operatives in the most environmentally friendly ways of driving, such as reducing speed and idling times. When added to our tracking of the freest-flowing and most efficient routes, and analysis of fuel consumption using Tachofresh feedback, telematics offers a powerful tool in our aims of providing customer service excellence and environmental benefits.”

Mike Hemming who heads Masternaut’s catalytix data analytics team says, “We work collaboratively with organisations to give them the capability to manage their data to reduce emissions. It’s important for data to be comprehensive to offer insight but is also delivered in a format to make it actionable.”

Restore Datashred have not only reduced the average age of their fleet vehicles to just four years old, but are changing the make-up of their fleet and collections patterns in response to 12, 24 and 36-month projects that analysed mileage versus capacity. Even though, on paper, their vans returned the best miles per gallon, with careful and smart route and collections planning, the company know that capacity is king. They have started reducing their reliance on vans and have moved towards a 12-tonne chassis.

Ian Walsh says: “We couldn’t have carried out this level of analytical detail without our partnership with Masternaut. The team there listens to, responds and delivers what we need, such as ensuring new vehicles are quickly rolled into our ongoing tracking project so that we can continue to reduce consumption and emissions and increase our drivers’ awareness and abilities.

“Thanks to weekly regular reporting and feedback on all their devices installed with us, and great communications in general, I feel that we are working with the right professionals to help us meet our corporate social responsibilities. In a fast-changing transport and fleet management environment, with new fuels and ways of powering vehicles to be considered, this inspires nothing but confidence.”

Following this stellar performance, Restore Datashred was one of the first recipients of the Masternaut Gold Fleet status award, which has put them in the top 2% of the nation’s fleets for responsible, sustainable management.

Ian Walsh adds: “With our effort and determination, the partnership between Restore Datashred and Masternaut has brought really positive results to the business. Can we meet new, even more stretching targets next time around? We’ll give it our best shot!”

Five ways our brains are changing and how employers can adapt

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By Geoffroy de Lestrange, Associate Director Product Marketing EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

We all know that technology is changing society at a fast pace. Some call it the fourth industrial evolution, for others it’s the information age. Whatever we like to call this moment in time, what’s most interesting is how it has transformed the way we think, learn, work and relax. Technology has no doubt played a major role in the rewiring of our brains.

To put this into perspective, we’re going to explore five brain-changing trends and how employers can adapt learning efforts to reflect them.

We’ve become impatient

Thanks to the internet, we’ve become accustomed to having everything on demand whether that’s the TV shows we watch, the podcasts we listen to or the books we read, and this has created a sense of urgency and impatience. Now, if a video takes more than a few seconds to load, viewers will often click away, leading to an expectation of fast learning. We’re sold the idea that any skills can be acquired without dedicated effort so it’s important to adapt. Having learning tools that are easily accessible and can fit in with employees’ needs and lifestyles such as mobile apps can help satisfy our impatient brains.

Our memory abilities are different

Nowadays, no one needs to memorise things like phone numbers, facts or data because, thanks to smartphones, we have the internet available at the touch of a button. It has become a type of external memory that we use to fetch all kinds of information but that doesn’t mean that we’ve completely lost the ability to remember things altogether. Rather we’re just not using that part of the brain as much. But this means that training that requires the learner to remember large amounts of information may not be as effective as it used to be. Instead, organisations need to be more creative, offering more engaging training techniques. Gamification techniques can be a great way to trigger the memory part of our brain helping us to retain information for longer.

A growing need for emotional intelligence  

If there’s one change that companies and workers fear the most, it’s automation and the fact that one day robots could replace our jobs. But what we need to remember is that, unlike humans, robots do not yet have the emotional intelligence and abilities, and this can be used to our advantage. Learning and developing soft skills and social competences that differentiate us from machines means that we can work in tandem with robots rather than against them. At the same time, businesses need to find the right balance between giving employees control of their learning whilst also retaining their own control over what employees are learning.

 
Be more flexible

Whilst we’re unsure of what skills we need in the future, analysing the business successes of recent years and the jobs it has created can help us see what skills and abilities will be in demand in the future. For example, AI is the core of many business strategies at the moment so we can assume that jobs of the future will be related to AI in some way or another. The secret to preparing for these news jobs is to train to the brain to be flexible, open and agile. This will make it easier to adapt to change and more quickly internalise new disciplines and products that may arise.

Information overload

Digitisation has made it easier for us to access information meaning that we can work from anywhere and on any device. It also means that we can find it difficult to disconnect and the information overload can reduce our ability to concentrate, which can eventually lead to burnout and stress. It’s important to create a company culture that puts employee wellbeing at the front of the mind and offers the support where needed.  

It’s important to maintain a continuous learning process to train our brains into keeping up with the latest trends across the world. Business leaders should promote agile, dynamic and entertaining learning, to awaken the interest of their employees for the training of new skills.


For more information on this study, please visit: https://go.cornerstoneondemand.com/learning-whitepaper-freshthinkingsp-download.html?code=RTGT

Oxford Launches Fourth edition of the Practical English Usage App – a World Bestseller and Vital Reference Tool that Helps Teachers and Higher-level Learners with Common Language Problems in English

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The Fourth edition of Practical English Usage, a world bestseller with sales of over two million, is now available as an app. This vital reference tool helps teachers and higher-level learners with common language problems in English, making it quicker and easier to look up the 600+ entries in Practical English Usage.

Highly-respected and award-winning grammarian Michael Swan wrote Practical English Usage to provide clear answers to questions about the English language which both native and non-native speakers find difficult to explain. For example: When and why do English speakers use ‘the’?  Do I say ‘big’, ‘large’, or ‘great’? How do I read out an email address? The Fourth edition app replaces the Third edition app; it has been completely revised in line with Practical English Usage Fourth edition and updated to reflect changes in language use. The app is even easier to use and has a new layout with two clear and easy ways to find the answers: Index Search and Contents.

Managing Editor for ELT Dictionaries and Reference Grammar at Oxford University Press, Martin Moore, says “Practical English Usage holds a unique place in the hearts of teachers and learners of English. When faced with a tricky question about English grammar or vocabulary, they know that Practical English Usage will not only provide the answer, but will do so with Michael Swan’s characteristic clarity, simplicity and elegance. Thanks to the new app, teachers and learners can now find answers faster than ever and access the full riches of Practical English Usage from their mobile device.”

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The Practical English Usage app deals with spoken and written grammar, vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation, and differences between formal and informal language. It contains over 600 indexed entries covering all the important problems for learners of English. It includes notes on letters and emails, politeness, the meaning of ‘correctness’, differences between spoken and written English, British-American differences, and changes in English. Users can save their favourite entries, and can use the History list to review entries they have looked up.

Grzegorz Spiewak, former lecturer at the English Department of Warsaw University, active teacher trainer, ELT consultant and author, and founder of DOS-ELTea, describes Practical English Usage as “one of the few instant classics in our field, the ultimate reference book for a great many professionals, and an all-time favourite title on their grammar shelf.”[1]

Availability

Practical English Usage is available to download for Android and iOS. The app is now available to download for free with 13 free preview entries, and the full app is available to buy for £29.99 GBP (or $30.99 USD).

 

[1] Grzegorz Spiewak, Practical English Usage, 4th edn, fully revised, ELT Journal, Volume 72, Issue 4, October 2018, Pages 448–451, https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/ccy029

How is a tech accelerator in Worcestershire attracting international business?

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How is a tech accelerator in Worcestershire attracting international business?

Worcestershire in the Midlands is a hotbed for up-and-coming tech innovation. Last year, it was selected by the government to become a 5G testbed, putting the county ahead of the new technologies curve.

Earlier this year, Worcester Bosch became the first-ever British factory to benefit from 5G wireless access, thanks to the trial programme. While, in the meantime, the county was recognised as being one of the UK’s best locations for starting up new businesses. Worcestershire has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, with 7,804 businesses formed last year alone.

Nestled in the heart of Worcestershire is BetaDen, which, in its own words is, ‘Worcestershire’s dynamic launchpad for tech entrepreneurs.’

Ground-breaking project

As the county’s first ever dedicated commercial tech accelerator for entrepreneurs and scaleup businesses, BetaDen’s been breaking new ground from day one.

Its location, at the Malvern Hills Science Park, is particularly ground-breaking too, as it’s positioned within the 5G testbed; putting it at the cutting edge of testing and developing future technologies.

Aimed at providing a revolutionary platform for businesses to develop next-generation technology, such as the internet of things and industry 4.0, the tech accelerator has already made a significant impact on Worcestershire’s thriving technology skyline.

Cohort 1

The first BetaDen cohort, which was launched in October last year, has been successfully delivered with six businesses being given maximum exposure within the rapidly-evolving technology ecosystem, and the insight and tools to carve themselves a new pioneering path within the sector. The first BetaDen trailblazers were Sidaway Technologies, Titania, Worcester Scientific, GBR14, Shedeo and Syndial.

Cohort 2.0

Keen to continue the momentum and build upon the successes of Cohort 1, BetaDen launched Cohort 2.0 last month (September), which is made up of eight exciting new technology businesses – Cydon, DataLegacy, Green Gorilla Apps, Hero Skin, Impact Aerial, Utelize, Voice Biometrics and Wearable Link. (For more details about the current entrepreneurs in residence, visit – https://bit.ly/32m3e5P).

Worcestershire’s worldwide appeal

With each new cohort of up-and-coming tech game-changers, BetaDen’s continuing to put Worcestershire on the global and international map as the epicentre for the future of new technology. And such is its success, that its impact is being felt far and wide among the tech ecosystem, not just in and around Worcestershire, but on an international scale.

From Aspenify Inc to Aspenify UK Ltd

One such company to have felt the county’s industry-leading ‘pull’ is Aspenify, which has developed a new software application that captures knowledge for re-use to support best practice and collaboration.

Run by brothers, Martin and Stephen Hanney, the software company was formed last year where most technology innovators start life, in Silicon Valley, California. Having reviewed the landscape, they were keen to take the next step and open up to the EU, US and Indian markets, and decided the best thing to do would be to expand its business in the UK, with Stephen running the US company and Martin managing the UK operations.

Having grown up in Worcestershire, Martin and Stephen were aware of the county’s, specifically Malvern’s, commercial qualities, which had considerably evolved over the years into the launchpad for new technology businesses, thanks to major developments, including the arrival of BetaDen, 5G testbed status and continued economic growth.

“I knew it was a good location, with a good reputation and being associated with the Malvern name would only be good for our business, as we try to grow our name, in the UK initially, and then beyond into Europe,” explains Martin.

Creating a new subsidiary in the UK, as Aspenify UK Ltd , Martin initially set up the company in London after incorporation. But shortly after visiting the Malvern Hills Science Park, Martin moved the UK registered office to Worcester, to facilitate the use of Malvern as its UK centre of operations.

“We now have that base of operations, a professional environment that provides us with not just a place to work from with resources at hand, but access to a group of people, who are willing to pass on their experience and expertise,” explains Martin.

“The mere fact that I can access rooms and show my customers a professional environment when training or even just having meetings, is invaluable. The Local Enterprise Partnership team’s always willing to help with networking opportunities and I’ve already made useful contacts through events that they’ve organised. A recent visit by the team from Maryland was of particular use, as I was able to make contacts that may be useful for my American colleagues as well.

“We were immediately impressed with what Malvern has to offer and the infrastructure that’s been created around it. When we were given the opportunity to use these facilities for 12 months, we didn’t need to think about it for long.”

If you’re a technology business interested in becoming part of Worcestershire’s thriving technology community, just like Aspenify have done, or for details about how you can apply to join BetaDen’s next Cohort, visit – https://www.beta-den.com/contact/

Corporate mindfulness is nothing more than a ‘quick fix’ for workplace stress

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The use of mindfulness techniques in the corporate world could actually do more harm than good to employees, having little more than a ‘band aid’ or ‘quick fix’ effect, according to new research from Durham University Business School.

Carried out by Mai Chi Vu for her PhD degree, and supervised by Roger Gill, Visiting Professor of Leadership Studies, alongside Professor Geoff Moore from the business school and Professor Chris Cook of the Department of Theology & Religion, this research was inspired by the continuing shift in management theory following the emergence of more complex organisations with more challenging dilemmas requiring or benefiting from modern approaches such as corporate mindfulness.

According to the research, corporate, or organisational, mindfulness – lauded in the media as a company’s ability to become aware of threats and respond accordingly – doesn’t actually help employees resolve issues they may come across at work. They suggest that it is little more than a pressure-releasing technique to deal with stress that was actually caused by the company itself.

Undertaking a study in which they interviewed 24 leading Buddhist executives in Vietnam – a nation that has a long Buddhist history yet still a diverse cultural landscape – from a number of sectors, Dr Vu found that the practice of mindfulness was more effective as a personal exercise in which the Buddhist principles are adhered to – something that corporate mindfulness falls foul of.

In traditional Buddhist teaching, ‘right mindfulness’ is a technique that a person uses individually to accumulate wisdom in order to help problem resolution and enhance personal development. Its generalised use as a means of curing workplace stress is misguided as, according to the researchers, no two people experience stress or suffering in the same way. It found that the standardised corporate application of a personal technique renders corporate mindfulness meaningless and open to exploitation by organisations simply to further their own interests such as enhancing sales, profitability, etc. instead of bettering the wellbeing of their employees.

Professor Roger Gill says:
“Corporate mindfulness has overshadowed the Buddhism-based nature of mindfulness, presenting mindfulness techniques as nothing more than a stress-release practice that is, or can be, easily misused or exploited. Whereas in Buddhist practices mindfulness looks to eliminate suffering caused by greed, hatred and ignorance, corporate mindfulness simply reflects yet more selfishness, greed and inflexibility.”

In order to remedy the issues with corporate mindfulness, the researchers suggest that it should be applied only on a contextual, compassionate and wisdom-focused basis, with employees’ wellbeing in mind. The researchers also suggest that corporate firms should be looking at implementing more appropriate caring techniques to minimise and relieve stress among their employees, instead of manipulating corporate mindfulness for their economic gain.

How Machine Learning Can Make Procurement Decision Making Easier

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By Dave Brittain, Head of Amazon Business UK

“Machine Learning” is a buzz word most business leaders are familiar with. Whether you are running a large or small business you know that MI is something you probably need to be on top of and that, potentially, it could have an impact on efficiencies and your bottom line.

But the truth is when you scratch beneath the surface, many CEOs don’t know how best to take advantage of it on a day to day basis…. particularly when it comes to procurement.

In the past, when it came to evaluating procurement data, companies would need to invest in experts such as business intelligence (BI) engineers, data scientists and IT professionals who would create complex analysis models from the data. Today thanks to MI you don’t need to be an expert to take complex data and build narratives to make informed decisions… it’s much more straightforward and accessible.

Let’s say you wanted to evaluate the order history data of thousands of employees to make purchasing decisions. Using some online purchasing solutions, you can create a simple narrative to give top management a senior level overview – without first having to analyse complex graphics or decipher data tables line by line. You can also drill down to get much more detailed information at a granular level.

Essentially, there are two other ways Amazon Business allows you to break down this data from your order history using the machine learning.

–  Aggregated visualizations offer the possibility to gain deeper insights, as the data can be filtered by unique patterns or specific details.

–  Raw tabular data allow a very detailed analysis of the granular information on which the more general narratives and visualizations are based.

These options are outlined in more detail below:

Aggregated visualizations 

The reason aggregated visualizations are important is that the majority of purchasing managers need more than simple narratives in order to be able to understand the purchasing behaviour of their employees exactly. For this group, a more detailed dashboard with extensive KPIs, diagrams, drilldowns and filter functions is suitable.

For example, if a manager has a Guided Buying policy in place for his company, the dashboard can be used to check whether and to what extent these policies are being adhered to and how they affect the purchasing behaviour of his employees. Expenditures can be broken down by category, preferred and restricted items, users and groups, and viewed at a glance in a bar chart. A purchasing manager can even trace non-compliant purchases back to the responsible employee and thus further optimize his procurement management.

Tabular raw data

While simple narratives and visualizations are usually sufficient, there may be situations where financial or procurement experts need to analyse the data very deeply and in detail in order to get to the bottom of a particular issue. 

For a full investigation, users can get deep into the analysis by first setting relevant filters and then accessing the data in more detail until they finally reach the tabular raw data on which the visualizations and narratives are based, and which are relevant in this context. If you don’t want to take the detour via the filter system but want to analyse a specific graphic in more detail, you can export the raw data directly from it as a CSV file.

Final word on MI

The key thing to remember here is that when it comes to making informed decisions, data can be key. Being able to access that data quickly and efficiently doesn’t mean you have to hire a team of data scientists, there are simple products and solutions on the market designed to make your life easier.

Building Success

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Building Success

Boston Web Group creates brands, builds websites, and executes on powerful SEO campaigns. Following their CEO’s success in CV’s Corporate Excellence Awards 2019, we profile the firm to discover more about the creative solutions and exceptional services the team provides to their clients.

Established in 2009, Boston Web Group consists of a potent blend of creative and technical staff delivering creative designs and solutions, digital strategy, website products, and SEO. Boston Web Group delivers successful SEO campaigns which are driven by comprehensive reporting, analysis, and execution, providing intelligent solutions to complex problems and the fastest vector towards their ROI.

Recognised as pioneers of Boston SEO with proprietary methodology and creative outside-the-box techniques, Boston Web Groups’ Boston Video Production service is one of the ways in which the firm can help their clients pull ahead and separate from their competition with high-quality content.

In addition to this, Boston Web Group is available as a digital support partner, working alongside clients to ensure that their day is made more manageable by providing them with assistance in delegating their digital properties, assets, servers, and day to day operations.

Enabling the firm to deliver these exceptional levels of service, is the talented, hard-working and inventive team which forms the backbone of Boston Web Group. Combining their years of experience and in-depth knowledge of the industry, Boston Web Group’s expert team can provide clients with a continuous amount of support enabling them to become a success within their respected sector.

Looking ahead to what the future holds, the team at Boston Web Group will continue to deliver their innovative services which not only meets the requirements set by their clients, but also surpasses their expectations. Ultimately, the firm hope to build upon the numerous accomplishments they have achieved over the years, which includes their CEO’s most recent success in Corporate Vision’s Corporate Excellence Awards 2019 where they were awarded the accolade Most Influential CEO of the Year 2019 – SEO & Digital Marketing.

Company: Boston Web Group
Web Address: www.bostonwebgroup.com

Company culture ‘most important overall contributor to success’, say businesses

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But most business leaders say they don’t invest enough

Business leaders say that company culture is the single most important factor that contributes to their success—though most say they don’t invest enough in it.

According to the new Juicy Fruit 2 report released by creative management consultancy B&A, 73 percent of senior business leaders agree that culture is central to success when all factors affecting success are taken together.

The report found that culture is valued most of all when businesses are struggling, ahead of client or customer relationships (18 percent), and quality or performance of the product or service (13 percent).

B&A, which advises Google, Nike and Beats by Dre, spoke to 60 senior leaders at for-profit and not-for-profit companies in Europe and North America together employing more than 500,000 people. It found that business leaders think they should do more to improve their culture, citing its impact on staff retention, communication and happiness across the workforce.

Although the vast majority (82 percent) of businesses had invested in culture, 60 percent of them believed they were not investing enough, blaming perceived cost and the time needed to effect change.

Andrew Missingham, co-founder of B&A, said: “Our first 2017 culture report, Juicy Fruit 1, found culture was a top-three business driver. 

“This time we went deeper. In Juicy Fruit 2 not only did we find that, overall, culture is now rated number one by leaders as a contributor to success, but we also have an idea of what business leaders do to develop their cultures.

“What’s clear is there’s still a gap between the importance they put on culture and the level of investment they devote to this business driver.”

Companies in North America appeared to take business culture more seriously than their European counterparts, with 75 percent saying they had a dedicated culture budget. In contrast, just 33 percent of European businesses said the same.

The report also found that, to businesses, poor staff retention was the clearest indication that their culture was under threat. Twenty-four percent of business leaders interviewed said that their main investment in culture was in staff development, followed by better means of communication (18 percent), diversity and inclusion programmes (12 percent) and health and well-being (9 percent).

Olivia Jamison, Organisational Culture Specialist and Former Head of Culture at Barclays and BP, said:

“Ping pong ain’t it. Neither is a free coffee. Leadership is what ultimately drives culture.

“This report demonstrates the importance of leadership in creating culture and the right kind of culture: the kind of culture that matters. Culture impacts society, culture changes lives and impacts the way we interact. It is no small thing.”

Just over half (55 percent) of all respondents had invested in tracking the health of their culture over the past year. The remaining 45 percent either didn’t know or said they did not track their culture.