There’s something different about the time between Christmas and the return to work in early January.

The office environment is a little quieter, the pace is slower and people are more communicative. Inboxes are dealt with, junk mail deleted, desks tidied, to-do lists revised, outstanding tasks achieved.

Organisation brings calm. Calm brings clarity. Clarity brings vision. Visions are for sharing. That sharing brings collaboration. Collaboration brings effectiveness. Effectiveness brings productivity. It’s a virtuous wheel that often gets punctured because we are being busy fools, working at a frenetic pace to just get things done as quickly as possible. We miss opportunities for smarter thinking.

In a bid to keep the spirit of ‘tween days, you need to address the basics.

Here are our simple, often forgotten, business leader productivity tips that will bring calm and effectiveness into your day and organisation.

 

  1. Control Your Email

Do you control your email or does it control you? Here’s something worth thinking about. Email represents us. People do judge us based on our email habits. You need to be organised and responsive.  However, the trick is doing that without letting it disrupt your day.

  • Decide when to tackle your emails – twice to three times a day should do it. Once a week, try to clear your inbox, filing what’s important, deleting what is not. It’ll stop the email becoming white noise.
  • Be succinct in your emails, keep to one main point and you’ll get a quicker answer.
  • Confirmation or conversation? If your email will most likely result in a ping pong of emails or if you don’t want something in writing, use the phone instead.
  • Remember that emails are easily misconstrued. Avoid group emails unless it’s simply to distribute information. A group of people will always have differing interpretations and you can quickly lose the point.

 

  1. Control Your Diary

If you’re anything like our MD, Billy Lyle, you’ll be in demand. Everyone wants a slice of your time but you still have your own tasks to complete and clients to look after.  There are so many tools and apps to help you manage your diary better but ultimately, it comes down to this:

  • You only need one calendar.
  • Use one digital task manager and get rid of all the post-its.
  • Theme your week if you can – client meetings, research, prep, people.

 

  1. Control Your Knowledge

What information do you need each week to manage the business? When was the last time you felt able to study your area? Just for fifteen minutes? How much time do you spend finding out answers when they’re suddenly urgent? How many times have you felt poorly informed in a client situation? By being on top of your knowledge sources, you’ll identify the ones worth having and the ones to lose.

  • Set proper time aside for your management reports.
  • Build a reading list and habit, whether it’s daily, weekly or fortnightly where you commit time to get on top.
  • Schedule thinking time and objectivity will become a habit making for better decision-making and productivity.

 

  1. Control Your Meetings

Meetings need to happen; information, status, brainstorm, one-to-one, strategy, board, committee. It’s the most productive way to discuss and collaborate, to make things happen but employees dread time away from their desks.  They often come to the meeting distracted and poorly prepared.  Here’s how to make it more productive for everyone:

  • Have a clear purpose
  • Have an agenda (circulate it in advance!)
  • Have an agreed end time
  • Have a good moderator
  • Have agreed actions

It’s remiss of us not to point out the huge benefits of Microsoft Dynamics 365 in addressing so many of these points (and hundreds more) to improve productivity and profit throughout all sizes of business. But we’ll get back onto that in January!

For now, the team here at Redspire would like to wish you all a productive and prosperous 2017.

Regardless of which way you voted in the EU Referendum, the consequence of the planning process and the eventual exit will impact upon all businesses at one level or another.

Right now, we’re finding that more businesses are looking to protect their position with CRM providing a productivity and customer closeness advantage. Will that continue as Brexit progresses? We hope so. It’s easy to want to batten down the hatches in economically turbulent times but this is no ordinary time. Technology will continue to gather pace and change the way businesses work. Microsoft has provided us with the product, our job is to continue to make the cost benefit ratio stack up for our customers.

In the meantime, we have a lot of existing customers asking about the security of their cloud data. Here are the facts.

Digital borders are inevitable.

The United States and the European Union are still working on a new data privacy agreement, governing the flow data between the two. The  ‘adequacy’ decision is not yet defined which means it’s already tricky.  The UK will need to go through the same process with both the EU and the US as part of the Brexit preparation. Our privacy laws in the UK must meet new EU rules for businesses to be able to have cross-border data flows.

What can your business do?

You need to have flexibility in cloud options and be able to adapt to suit customer needs and comply with data sovereignty laws.

The effect is two fold.

  1. Businesses in the UK may need to look at where and how their data is being stored and shared globally. They will need to meet UK data legislation and still need to follow the EU General Data Protection Regulation (which become enforceable in 2018).
  2. Businesses based in Europe will need to look carefully at the data legislation that the UK brings in and make sure that it meets European requirements.

 

Dynamics CRM customers will be better off than most with the size of Microsoft’s cloud network and with more than 100 data centres worldwide the flexibility is there to adapt where required. Your business’ data can reside wherever legal requirements necessitate. However, don’t forget it’s who the data is about, not just where the data lives.

So, what do you need to do right now?  If you think your business will need to look at data centre locality, talk to your Microsoft Partner. Get an idea of what’s involved, who you need to involve at your end and create a plan for what needs to happen when so that you don’t get caught out with a too short timescale and fines that could be as much as 4% of your global turnover. Otherwise, trade with Europe could be off the table.

Any questions? Feel free to get in touch.

UK Data Centres


 

It’s official.

In keeping with Microsoft’s leading push for data privacy in the technology sector, it has just become the first global provider to deliver complete cloud from UK data centres. The UK is already full of businesses and organisations seeing exponential growth and efficiency through their use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Azure and Office 365, all backed up across over 100 global data centers.

Great Britain is Microsoft’s second biggest market for cloud-based software after the United States with thousands of customers of all sizes already using the Microsoft cloud. We truly are a digitally engaged nation.

So how is this a game changer, and how will it affect existing users?

What’s the issue?

For many organisations, the reluctance to fully exploit the opportunities associated with Cloud based software such as Dynamics CRM or Office 365 is largely down to data security. With Brexit in discussion, and the many discussions about data security in general, it has become even more of a pre requisite for sectors such as legal, banking, public and utility.

Local storage of data means that there is no grey area over regulatory and legal compliance, and ensures that organisations using it, are handling all data as sensitively and as securely as possible.

It means that organisations can replicate data within the UK for backup and recovery, reduced network distance and lower latency.

Who will benefit?

Every commercial Microsoft customer in the UK will benefit. If you are already a Dynamics CRM, Azure or Office 365 customer, and you would like to discuss where the data is hosted, you should contact your programme manager.

If you are just starting the conversation around any of the platforms, we can take it into account from the beginning.

The UK based cloud is available now for Office 365 suite of Cloud applications and Azure, the cloud based software infrastructure platform. Microsoft Dynamics CRM will join them in the early part of 2017.

The UK Ministry of Defence, Aston Martin, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust will be some of Microsoft’s first customers for the UK data centres, citing cost savings and data security.

Should every organisation be using Cloud based software?

Cloud-based software facilitates sharpen working practices and productivity across all departments of an organization. Comparing it to On-Premise the big wins are mobile accessibility, no servers to maintain and lower running costs. The introduction of Microsoft’s new UK data centres removes the data security barrier that held back many on-premise organisations. For some, cloud is now a no brainer.

It’s worth knowing how cloud-based technology could take your communications, relationships, processes and profit up a gear.

Start the conversation today. We’re here to help.

Read more on this topic HERE on the Microsoft News website.

It’s starting with Azure and 365 with Dynamics following shortly in early 2017.

Redspire Limited is pleased to announce it has been confirmed as an approved supplier for the Government’s G-Cloud 8 Digital Marketplace.

Public sector organisations will now have unlimited access to Redspire’s delivery of digital transformation solutions, customer relationship management (CRM) software, consulting services and expertise as a leading Microsoft Gold Competency Partner for Cloud CRM.

G-Cloud 8 is the latest iteration of the Crown Commercial Service’s purchasing framework that enables UK Public Sector organisations to select, and purchase, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Specialist Cloud services, from approved supplier, Redspire Limited.

The G-Cloud framework, is a pre-approved list of suppliers that offer cloud services via an online Digital Marketplace portal reinforcing the government’s commitment to making it easier for suppliers to sell their services whilst enabling a faster and simpler process of cloud based IT procurement. Central government, local government, health and education administration, defence services, housing associations and emergency services can take advantage of faster, easier access to innovative IT solutions and products straight from their suppliers.

“We are delighted to become a G Cloud supplier for the UK Government’s Digital Marketplace. It offers Redspire an excellent opportunity to offer extensive citizen service delivery, digital transformation services, dedicated SaaS services and specialist cloud services. Redspire can also offer full-lifecycle application support and maintenance services.” says Billy Lyle, Managing Director, Redspire Limited.

For more information about Redspire, its services and its presence on G-Cloud 8, Click Here to get in touch with us, or visit the Digital Marketplace service listings:

Software as a Service:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Education Licenses

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Government Licenses

Redspire CRM Support Pack – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Support Service

Redspire Digital Transformation – Channel Shift Delivery and Citizen Service Management

Redspire Digital Transformation – Citizen Service Management through self-service Portals

Redspire Education – Student, Staff, Faculty and Stakeholder Management through self-service Portals

Redspire Limited: CRM for Education – Academia

Redspire Limited: Upgrade and Cloud Migration for Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online

Redspire’s CRM Plus service, agile CRM implementation at a fixed monthly cost.

Specialist Cloud Services:
Redspire CRM Service Pack – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Services

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Businesses have been urged to take a fresh look at how they engage with consumers.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, brands need to look beyond marketing as a means of engaging with their target audience.

Instead, he told Travolution that firms need to make sure they are communicating in "new and different ways".

Mr Turner said technology can be particularly advantageous in this regard, as it can ensure all consumer interactions across various channels and touch points are tracked and integrated.

"They can help with identifying failure points and guiding real-time, targeted responses," he commented.

"For example, you will see a number of businesses contacting you if you dropped out of their site whilst making a purchase."

Mr Turner also insisted that firms must make sure employees at every level are aware of the "role they play in serving consumers".

This, he said, can empower them to make correct decisions on how best to deal with anyone who is unhappy.

Businesses were then advised to be mindful of the reputational damage that can ensue if their social media channels are not properly managed.

Mr Turner suggested that firms set up social command centres so they can find out what people are saying about them on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

He said this approach would also enable brands to share positive stories beyond their existing customer base and reach "those who are just about to start their search for a product or brand".

Mr Turner added that if a company is looking to launch a content marketing strategy, it should make sure any material inspires and informs customers rather than presents a sales pitch.

Firms were told that equipping people with the right information enables them to "move independently through the shopping journey". 

Mr Turner said this could in turn bolster trust and brand loyalty, but stressed that this is a "sequential process that can't be short-circuited".

Customer engagement white paper

Retailers have been encouraged to make sure their approach to marketing evolves over time.

According to entrepreneur and web developer Dario Zadro, many aspects of engaging with consumers are consistent and timeless.

However, he told Business 2 Community that the actual operating environment for retailers changes on a regular basis.

Therefore, Mr Zadro believes companies in the sector must alter accordingly in order to stay ahead of factors such as demographic shifts and wider retail trends.

"Retailers must consistently fine-tune their marketing approaches by understanding demographics and the variables that influence consumer decision-making," he commented.

Mr Zadro noted that consumer markets have evolved a great deal in the last five years, partly because new technological innovations have established themselves in the mainstream.

As a result, he believes retailers might benefit from comparing and contrasting today's operating environment with conditions in the recent past.

He stated that this would make recent developments and how the marketplace has altered far more apparent.

Retailers would therefore be able to alter their customer engagement strategies in line with these changes.

Businesses could support these efforts by using customer relationship management software to extract meaningful insights from the data they possess, such as information on their core demographics and people's various tastes, habits and preferred means of communicating with a company.

Mr Zadro added that today's communications environment has led to consumers being bombarded with lots of messages from organisations every single day.

This, he stated, means that messages regarding individual products can easily get drowned out. As a result, he has suggested companies focus on branding, as this can have more of a long-term impact on customers and help them convey their core values and principles.

For instance, Mr Zadro suggested that establishing a brand as a "trusted resource" could create relationships with people that encourage them to transact with that firm on multiple occasions.

"To be most effective reaching modern consumers, each aspect of an organisation’s branding strategy must link to the next, creating continuity and trust among consumers," he advised.

Customer engagement white paper

In order to ensure that your company is effectively engaging with its customers digitally it is important to remove as many obstacles to this relationship as possible.

Problems can include a shortage of digital talent, which executives perceive as the greatest hurdle to effective engagement, particularly those at smaller organisations.

Customer relationship management (CRM) software offers an ideal way to remove barriers to digital engagement, including talent shortages, by providing a system for interactions with new and existing clients.

Warc, a specialist in advertising best practice, recently cited a study of 850 executives carried out by McKinsey as demonstrating how skills shortages, internal structures and a lack of understanding may hamper digital engagement efforts.

Digital engagement with consumers is becoming more important and CRM is a means for companies of all sizes to access effective methods in a flexible, cost-effective and scalable way.

While the McKinsey poll discovered bosses are aware of the importance of digital customer engagement and perceive it as a strategic priority, ranking as the leading digital trend among respondents, a series of hurdles prevent firms from achieving their goals in this area.

Employing CRM can provide a roadmap for success for companies keen to enhance digital customer engagement, simplifying processes, improving planning and increasing the accuracy of forecasting.

Investing in CRM could significantly improve a business's bottom line, as the McKinsey research discovered more than one in three respondents predicted digital would fuel at least 15 per cent of their organisation's growth during the coming three years.

In addition to highlighting problems attracting digital talent, many of those questioned also stated they do not feel enough investment is being made by their firm in big data and analytics in order to meet targets – an area where CRM systems can really give companies a competitive edge.

Another problematic area was internal structures, in particular within larger organisations, where a lack of flexibility prevented new digital opportunities from being fully exploited.

By investing in a CRM solution, these obstacles can be overcome, with flexible systems able to respond to changing market conditions and systems tracking and measuring the success of campaigns so they can be adapted and improved.

Customer engagement white paper

Insurers need to improve their customer relationships in the UK market in a range of ways, a new report has indicated.

A study by KPMG has found that the general experience of British consumers is better than it was, but leaves much room for further enhancement – something online retailing may help achieve.

Its Customer Experience Barometer found only 16 percent of UK general insurance policyholders thought firms had improved in this area since last year, a figure that drops to 13 percent for life insurance. KPMG noted that most other countries have seen much more progress, with 39 percent of Chinese consumers happier with their service than 12 months ago.

The same pattern was apparent when it came to the overall level of experience, with only 34 percent of UK general insurance customers and 30 percent of life insurance policyholders rating this highly, again less than other countries.

KPMG said one way British insurers can improve is by increasing their focus on better personal interaction with customers, the use of digital channels and the adoption of a “retailing mentality”. It noted that those who retail online do best in the survey, with a 53 percent approval rating.

Global head of insurance at KPMG Gary Reader remarked: “The greatest opportunity for sustainable revenue growth does not come from new products or geographical expansion, but rather from their ability to deliver a high quality and differentiating customer experience.

“Those that get it right will not only capture a greater share of new customers, they will also be better placed to keep their customers and extend their existing relationships.”

CRM technology may help with this as it means companies can keep closer tabs on their customers and use the data available to offer better services more geared up to their needs.

The importance of providing a good customer experience was highlighted in the EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2012 report, titled Voice Of The Consumer.

It noted that insurance companies need to improve their quality of service, communicate better, be more transparent with their products and reward loyalty.