How Amy Schumer and Other Celebs Could Be a Threat to Your Business (Watch)

Don’t Google Amy Schumer. If you do, there’s a good chance you could find a site that would expose your computer to malware.

That’s right, online thieves use popular celebrities like Schumer to target online users and lure them onto malicious websites. Schumer is just one of many celebrities named in a recent report by McAfee whose search results garner a high percentage of malicious websites. Others include Justin Bieber, Will Smith, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and more.

Beware Malicious Websites That Wear Celebrity Masks

And while you might not find yourself doing a lot of research on Amy Schumer or Justin Bieber for business purposes, it’s still important that you understand the threats that are out there targeting businesses and consumers online. Malware and other online threats are everywhere. And sometimes they’re disguised as seemingly normal websites that are just targeted at people’s popular interests.

Cybersecurity is so important for businesses that want to protect important data and documents. So you need to constantly monitor the threats to your business and take measures to protect your company. After all, the last thing you want is to have your system infected with malware because you were looking up Amy Schumer or Justin Bieber on a work computer.

Amy Schumer Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How Amy Schumer and Other Celebs Could Be a Threat to Your Business (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

How Amy Schumer and Other Celebs Could Be a Threat to Your Business (Watch)

Don’t Google Amy Schumer. If you do, there’s a good chance you could find a site that would expose your computer to malware.

That’s right, online thieves use popular celebrities like Schumer to target online users and lure them onto malicious websites. Schumer is just one of many celebrities named in a recent report by McAfee whose search results garner a high percentage of malicious websites. Others include Justin Bieber, Will Smith, Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and more.

Beware Malicious Websites That Wear Celebrity Masks

And while you might not find yourself doing a lot of research on Amy Schumer or Justin Bieber for business purposes, it’s still important that you understand the threats that are out there targeting businesses and consumers online. Malware and other online threats are everywhere. And sometimes they’re disguised as seemingly normal websites that are just targeted at people’s popular interests.

Cybersecurity is so important for businesses that want to protect important data and documents. So you need to constantly monitor the threats to your business and take measures to protect your company. After all, the last thing you want is to have your system infected with malware because you were looking up Amy Schumer or Justin Bieber on a work computer.

Amy Schumer Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How Amy Schumer and Other Celebs Could Be a Threat to Your Business (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Small Business Headlines from Xero, Paypal, Shopify and More

quickbooks-roundup-featured

When it comes to your business’s finances, there are so many different tools for you to consider. So it can be a big help when the tools you already use integrate with one another to make the whole process easier.

Recently, Xero announced improved integration with PayPal. And Shopify also added a partnership that could help merchants with their finances.

In other news, QuickBooks finally allowed its users to create bundled products of items that are often sold together.

Read about these updates and more in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Finance

Xero Announces Improved Integration with PayPal

Xero (NZE:XRO), the cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses, has been on a roll this year having already offered its customers a way to support credit card payments through Stripe and to access a variety of payment options when preparing an invoice.

Shopify  Partners with Export Development Canada to Insure Merchant Cash Advances

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), a cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform, announced September 20 that it has partnered with trade finance and insurance solutions agency Export Development Canada (EDC) to insure the merchant cash advances offered by Shopify Capital.

Avalara Tools Provide Tax Automation and Resources for Small Businesses

Manually managing tax compliance requirements can be extremely difficult and time consuming as well. It can also be costly as your business can face penalties and fines if you get it wrong. This is why it is absolutely critical for you to get yourself an automated system that will help you reduce risks and complexities, allowing you to focus on your primary expertise.

QuickBooks Introduces Bundles Feature for Tracking Groups of Merchandise

The accounting software package QuickBooks from Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) recently released “Bundle,” a feature that lets you track a group of items you are selling on the software. The new bundle feature is one of a number of recent improvements to the QuickBoks platform.

Employment

Mandatory Retirement Savings Program Coming to a State Near You?

Washington state has created a Small Business Retirement Savings Marketplace where small businesses can go to get affordable retirement plans to offer their employees. The marketplace is expected to open in January, ahead of an expected mandate in the state. There are already some states where a mandate is in place, and even some cities are exploring the possibility.

This  Small Business in Canada Has a Very Unique Job Offer and Recruitment Approach

Small business owners are trying just about everything to try to recruit new talent these days from flexible hours to 401 Ks. But what about offering something just a little less conventional.

Marketing Tips

Snapchat Introduces Sunglasses to Record Video in Effort to Differentiate (Watch)

If you’re in the market for a new pair of sunglasses, there’s a new brand to consider. Snapchat — yes, that’s right, Snapchat — just revealed a new product: sunglasses that record video. Like the popular smartphone app, the glasses record video in ten second increments. But since they’re wearable, it gives the user more freedom to record their daily lives. The glasses cost $130.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Pyze Levels the Playing Field for App Publishers

As mobile apps become more and more popular, the resources available to those app publishers also continue to expand. But the tools available to smaller app publishers are much more scarce than those aimed at larger companies and app developers. That’s where Pyze, a mobile app marketing solution provider, comes in.

Small Business Operations

What Can Small Businesses Learn From World’s Largest Beer Merger? (Watch)

Anheuser-Busch is in the midst of the largest beer merger in history. The company has been attempting to take over SABMiller, the maker of Miller Lite, for about a year now. And shareholders finally approved an offer this week. It hasn’t been an easy process, largely due to outside factors. Of course, with a takeover this big there are going to be some anti-trust issues.

One  Quarter of All Small Businesses Have Less Than 2 Weeks of Cash in Reserve

In the last year, small businesses en masse have been pushed to the brink. Natural disasters like the deadly flooding in West Virginia or civil unrest that’s spilled into the streets often force small businesses to close their doors or, at the very least, severely hamper their ability to do business as usual.

What Small Businesses Can Learn From the Plan to Colonize Mars (Watch)

Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. And while that isn’t likely to actually happen for many years, the billionaire CEO is getting closer. This week, Musk tweeted the first photos of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine shooting fire from its jets. The engine, which has been in development for years, reportedly has enough power to make the journey.

FedEx Follows UPS in Announcing Shipping Rate Increases

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), which operates FedEx Express, the popular express delivery and parcel shipping service, announced Monday it will increase shipping rates by an average of 3.9 percent for U.S. domestic, U.S. export and U.S. import deliveries. FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will also increase by an average of 4.9 percent.

UPS Successfully Tests Urgent Commercial Drone Delivery to Remote Locations

Coming shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration introduced its first regulations for commercial drone use, United Parcel Service, Inc., (NYSE:UPS) announced last week it has begun testing an unmanned aerial delivery vehicle built by drone-maker.

Technology Trends

New Google Trips App Could Simplify Travel for Business — and Pleasure

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) recently launched a new smartphone app that can help you plan and organize your trip. The app, better known as Google Trips, automatically pulls details about your trip from your Gmail account and goes ahead to recommend “local gems,” attractions and restaurants based on data collected from other travelers.

Outlook  Getting High Marks for Playing Well With Others, Adds Google Drive, Facebook Integrations

Over the next few weeks, the tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will be adding support for Facebook photos and Google Drive to Outlook.com. These new additional features will also be accompanied by a fresh “attachments view” feature that makes it easier to find those old attachments, the company says.

GoPro  HERO 5 Black and HERO 5 Session Provide Action Video for Outdoor, Other Businesses

The internet, mobile technology, video and social media have merged together to give businesses and consumers a platform to share, connect and market with rich media. What GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) has tried to do with the new HERO 5 Black and HERO 5 Session cameras is simplify the process of capturing, sharing, storing and editing video so much, it becomes effortless.

3D Printer Returns: Will MakerBot’s Replicator+ Suit Small Businesses?

MakerBot started shipping 3D printer kits in 2009, and since then the company has been having its ups and downs as the market continues to define itself. With the DIY market for 3D printing so crowded, MakerBot has decided to change directions by going after the professional and educational segment with the new Replicator+ 3D printers.

Small Business Apple Users, MacOS Sierra Is Here

While Apple might not admit it, the company seems to have a clear preference for iOS, leaving macOS and its users a bit under appreciated. But the company is slowly adding new capabilities to its desktop operating system, making its latest major release, macOS Sierra, the closest it has come so far to an iPhone or iPad.

Microsoft  Doubles Down on Cybersecurity with Improvements to Windows Defender

Microsoft’s Windows Defender is getting a major retooling to improve its ability to combat malware. This week, 23,000 IT professionals are gathered at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta to learn about some of the latest technology advancements in security, intelligence and the cloud.

Microsoft Announces Cloud Partnership With Adobe

At the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Atlanta today, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced a new partnership with Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE). Under the partnership, Microsoft Azure will become the preferred cloud platform for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud. Customers of Adobe will have the benefit of Microsoft’s powerhouse Azure cloud infrastructure behind them.

Image: Intuit

This article, "Small Business Headlines from Xero, Paypal, Shopify and More" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Small Business Headlines from Xero, Paypal, Shopify and More

quickbooks-roundup-featured

When it comes to your business’s finances, there are so many different tools for you to consider. So it can be a big help when the tools you already use integrate with one another to make the whole process easier.

Recently, Xero announced improved integration with PayPal. And Shopify also added a partnership that could help merchants with their finances.

In other news, QuickBooks finally allowed its users to create bundled products of items that are often sold together.

Read about these updates and more in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Finance

Xero Announces Improved Integration with PayPal

Xero (NZE:XRO), the cloud-based accounting software for small and medium-sized businesses, has been on a roll this year having already offered its customers a way to support credit card payments through Stripe and to access a variety of payment options when preparing an invoice.

Shopify  Partners with Export Development Canada to Insure Merchant Cash Advances

Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), a cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform, announced September 20 that it has partnered with trade finance and insurance solutions agency Export Development Canada (EDC) to insure the merchant cash advances offered by Shopify Capital.

Avalara Tools Provide Tax Automation and Resources for Small Businesses

Manually managing tax compliance requirements can be extremely difficult and time consuming as well. It can also be costly as your business can face penalties and fines if you get it wrong. This is why it is absolutely critical for you to get yourself an automated system that will help you reduce risks and complexities, allowing you to focus on your primary expertise.

QuickBooks Introduces Bundles Feature for Tracking Groups of Merchandise

The accounting software package QuickBooks from Intuit (NASDAQ:INTU) recently released “Bundle,” a feature that lets you track a group of items you are selling on the software. The new bundle feature is one of a number of recent improvements to the QuickBoks platform.

Employment

Mandatory Retirement Savings Program Coming to a State Near You?

Washington state has created a Small Business Retirement Savings Marketplace where small businesses can go to get affordable retirement plans to offer their employees. The marketplace is expected to open in January, ahead of an expected mandate in the state. There are already some states where a mandate is in place, and even some cities are exploring the possibility.

This  Small Business in Canada Has a Very Unique Job Offer and Recruitment Approach

Small business owners are trying just about everything to try to recruit new talent these days from flexible hours to 401 Ks. But what about offering something just a little less conventional.

Marketing Tips

Snapchat Introduces Sunglasses to Record Video in Effort to Differentiate (Watch)

If you’re in the market for a new pair of sunglasses, there’s a new brand to consider. Snapchat — yes, that’s right, Snapchat — just revealed a new product: sunglasses that record video. Like the popular smartphone app, the glasses record video in ten second increments. But since they’re wearable, it gives the user more freedom to record their daily lives. The glasses cost $130.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: Pyze Levels the Playing Field for App Publishers

As mobile apps become more and more popular, the resources available to those app publishers also continue to expand. But the tools available to smaller app publishers are much more scarce than those aimed at larger companies and app developers. That’s where Pyze, a mobile app marketing solution provider, comes in.

Small Business Operations

What Can Small Businesses Learn From World’s Largest Beer Merger? (Watch)

Anheuser-Busch is in the midst of the largest beer merger in history. The company has been attempting to take over SABMiller, the maker of Miller Lite, for about a year now. And shareholders finally approved an offer this week. It hasn’t been an easy process, largely due to outside factors. Of course, with a takeover this big there are going to be some anti-trust issues.

One  Quarter of All Small Businesses Have Less Than 2 Weeks of Cash in Reserve

In the last year, small businesses en masse have been pushed to the brink. Natural disasters like the deadly flooding in West Virginia or civil unrest that’s spilled into the streets often force small businesses to close their doors or, at the very least, severely hamper their ability to do business as usual.

What Small Businesses Can Learn From the Plan to Colonize Mars (Watch)

Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. And while that isn’t likely to actually happen for many years, the billionaire CEO is getting closer. This week, Musk tweeted the first photos of the Raptor interplanetary transport engine shooting fire from its jets. The engine, which has been in development for years, reportedly has enough power to make the journey.

FedEx Follows UPS in Announcing Shipping Rate Increases

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX), which operates FedEx Express, the popular express delivery and parcel shipping service, announced Monday it will increase shipping rates by an average of 3.9 percent for U.S. domestic, U.S. export and U.S. import deliveries. FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery will also increase by an average of 4.9 percent.

UPS Successfully Tests Urgent Commercial Drone Delivery to Remote Locations

Coming shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration introduced its first regulations for commercial drone use, United Parcel Service, Inc., (NYSE:UPS) announced last week it has begun testing an unmanned aerial delivery vehicle built by drone-maker.

Technology Trends

New Google Trips App Could Simplify Travel for Business — and Pleasure

Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) recently launched a new smartphone app that can help you plan and organize your trip. The app, better known as Google Trips, automatically pulls details about your trip from your Gmail account and goes ahead to recommend “local gems,” attractions and restaurants based on data collected from other travelers.

Outlook  Getting High Marks for Playing Well With Others, Adds Google Drive, Facebook Integrations

Over the next few weeks, the tech giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will be adding support for Facebook photos and Google Drive to Outlook.com. These new additional features will also be accompanied by a fresh “attachments view” feature that makes it easier to find those old attachments, the company says.

GoPro  HERO 5 Black and HERO 5 Session Provide Action Video for Outdoor, Other Businesses

The internet, mobile technology, video and social media have merged together to give businesses and consumers a platform to share, connect and market with rich media. What GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) has tried to do with the new HERO 5 Black and HERO 5 Session cameras is simplify the process of capturing, sharing, storing and editing video so much, it becomes effortless.

3D Printer Returns: Will MakerBot’s Replicator+ Suit Small Businesses?

MakerBot started shipping 3D printer kits in 2009, and since then the company has been having its ups and downs as the market continues to define itself. With the DIY market for 3D printing so crowded, MakerBot has decided to change directions by going after the professional and educational segment with the new Replicator+ 3D printers.

Small Business Apple Users, MacOS Sierra Is Here

While Apple might not admit it, the company seems to have a clear preference for iOS, leaving macOS and its users a bit under appreciated. But the company is slowly adding new capabilities to its desktop operating system, making its latest major release, macOS Sierra, the closest it has come so far to an iPhone or iPad.

Microsoft  Doubles Down on Cybersecurity with Improvements to Windows Defender

Microsoft’s Windows Defender is getting a major retooling to improve its ability to combat malware. This week, 23,000 IT professionals are gathered at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Atlanta to learn about some of the latest technology advancements in security, intelligence and the cloud.

Microsoft Announces Cloud Partnership With Adobe

At the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Atlanta today, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced a new partnership with Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE). Under the partnership, Microsoft Azure will become the preferred cloud platform for the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Creative Cloud and Document Cloud. Customers of Adobe will have the benefit of Microsoft’s powerhouse Azure cloud infrastructure behind them.

Image: Intuit

This article, "Small Business Headlines from Xero, Paypal, Shopify and More" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Million Dollar Interview with Margie Aliprandi

In this week’s Million Dollar Interview, Eric speaks to powerhouse earner, Margie Aliprandi. Margie has been in the Network Marketing Profession for 28 years and with the same company. Her success in Network Marketing has allowed her to travel all over for business and pleasure. She currently lives in San Diego and does a lot of business travel to Salt Lake City.

Before Network Marketing, Margie was a junior high music teacher and a stay at home mom with three children. When she found herself as a newly single mom of a 5, 4 and 2-year-old, she wasn’t ready to go back to teaching. She found herself consistently unable to pay her house payment and was pushed to settle for random jobs in order to make some type of money for her family. Margie was about to sign a contract for a new teaching job when she found Network Marketing for the first time in 1989.

Margie was driven by inspiration because desperation didn’t motivate her enough to take action. She saw the vision of Network Marketing right away. She fell in love with a product from a simple voicemail that was meant for the man she was dating at the time. The vision of what was possible is what got her to start her own business. In the first 90 days, with three little children, no money, and nothing go for herself, she made the decision to go all out.

She found a product that she could strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere. Eric explains that one amazing thing is many Network Marketing products fit this description. In her first 90 days, she recruited 50 people and went out there to really build her team. She set up meetings, built new relationships and was an entrepreneur machine. Her sense of self-independence was so important to Margie especially being a single mother. She wanted to find her security in herself, not in a man or anything else. She found that independence in building her own business.

In the first year, Margie was making more money in a year than she had ever made in her entire life. She made $187,000 in the first year by making a decision, a non-negotiable decision, a decision to be a professional. Margie expresses that the secret to her success was her emotional resilience. She experienced a lot of pioneering being involved in a new company. Margie whole heartily believed she could give people a new life; she wanted to help her team because she was so passionate about this gift.

Margie gives advice about gaining a thick skin in her business. It’s necessary to be able to decide that it’s okay when people leave and it’s nice to see people who stay for the long term. Sometimes change is heart-breaking, but in those changes there is always winners and losers. She says, “There’s always a gift in the change.” Margie finds a balance and explains how sometimes it’s good to weed out the negative people. This is called real life. In conclusion, Margie found so many gifts within her new career. She remarried and had another child in which she was able to take time off with residual income. Margie never had a month that was below $15,000. She said, “Wow, this passive income really does work.” Now her 4th child works with her in her business—24 years later.

Over the course of her career, Margie has racked in an overwhelming 20 Million Dollars in commissions. Margie is a believer in giving yourself that season of massive action. She contributes her success to that first year in Network Marketing. Her resilience and drive has allowed her to still get paid today for what she did 28 years ago! Through the challenging times, she’s had to start over time and time again, but one of the biggest lessons she’s learned is not letting the feeling of betrayal get her down. Keep going and set that feeling aside. If you put in the action, a lot of great things will happen.

More resources:
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
iTunes free podcast
Network Marketing Pro Newsletter 
Like us on Facebook
Instagram
Connect on LinkedIn
Follow us Twitter
Periscope: Download app and Follow ERIC WORRE

The post Million Dollar Interview with Margie Aliprandi appeared first on Network Marketing Pro.



via Business Feeds

Amy Downs of Lifesize: Subscription Businesses Need Customer Service at its Core to Drive Success

When Lifesize, an HD video collaboration platform, was spun-out from computer peripheral maker Logitech, it had to make a massive shift of its product offering to a subscription-based cloud service.  Which also meant they needed to make a massive shift to becoming a company highly aligned with rapidly changing customer needs and expectations, or else risk losing them almost as fast as they’re able to bring them on.

Amy Downs, Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer Lifesize, shares with us how the key to the company’s transformation to a subscription business model was changing the corporate culture to be customer-first.  And how that change raised their net promoter score (NPS) from negative four to over seventy, increased customer retention rates, and created a customer support team that finally understood their value to the business.

* * * * *

Amy Downs of Lifesize: How Great Customer Service for a Subscription Based Business will Drive SuccessSmall Business Trends: Before we jump in there maybe you can give us a little of your personal background.

Amy Downs: Absolutely. I’ve been in the tech space for many years. I started as a coding software as a software engineer early in my career and realized very quickly that I missed working with people and customers and so over time I’ve just really enjoyed creating experiences and working with them with employees happy employees — happy customers and so on. So really have spent the last few years of my career focused in on both. Both growing startups and also this SAP what we’ve done here at Lifesize which is really a bit of a turnaround. And so — really helping companies to understand the importance that customer obsession has to add to the overall bottom line.

Small Business Trends: So tell us about what you guys do over at Lifesize?

Amy Downs: We were the very first creators of HD video conferencing many moons ago. We started as a hardware company and we were acquired. Craig Malloy’s our CEO and started a company manufacturing amazing video conferencing end points and we were acquired by Logitech in 2009 for about four or five million dollars. Then in 2012 the market really started to shift. The on-premises infrastructure videoconferencing market was really declining and at the same time with consumer apps like Facebook and Skype people started to get used to this concept of talking with each other on video. So we noticed a shift in the market where B2B video conferencing was just taking off like crazy and we had to make a decision. Either we rode that trend line down by staying with our on premises solution or we made the shift and take our on premises solution and put that in the cloud and that’s what we did. So we did a complete overhaul of our product offering to a cloud based service.

We completely changed the entire structure of the organization and we knew as a cloud service provider that it’s so easy for customers in a cloud based world to just switch and Lifesize didn’t have a huge focus on customers.

Small Business Trends: Why did they bring you in as Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer?

Amy Downs: We were a manufacturer of hardware devices in a three tier distribution model so we were very far separated from customers and so we really needed to bring in — what I call slow customer service DNA into the company. And Craig Malloy knew that. So I joined Lifesize back in May of 2014 because like you said there was a little bit of a challenge when it came to customer service.

Small Business Trends: What exactly was the main challenge?

Amy Downs: When we rolled out our on premises infrastructure solution I remember interviewing with Craig and he said we had a few product problems but nothing you can’t solve. And we’re also making this shift to a cloud based solution. And he says we really need a full focus on customer obsession.

I’m a huge believer that customer services does not just sit with customer support. It is a company based initiative. And so — we needed a culture of customer obsession in order to win in this market. And the reason I joined was because he understood the link between a very strong culture and being able to create customers for life.

One of the first things I asked was do we get feedback from our customers, do we have any voice of the customer program here at Lifesize. They said we actually sent out the support surveys. I said what do we do with them, and they were like oh really nothing.

So I remember looking through all the surveys and I was like oh boy. What it really told me was that there were three pillars I think to really fixing any problem you know. It all starts with the people and usually those folks just need to know a direction; what’s important. They need to know how the work they do connects with the customer, and how important that is to our business. And then they really need processes and systems to be successful.

And so really there were just a couple of what I would say simple things that we did. I needed everyone at Lifesize to know that Craig was like behind us right. That this was what we were building and the changing of our culture was a CEO driven initiative. And I had his full sponsorship and so we educated the entire company.

We brought in net promoter and we educated everybody on the importance of our customers. During our first town hall I asked who pays our paychecks. We got all these different answers from our employees, and no one said our customers. And I said no that’s who pays our paychecks that is who is putting food on our table and that’s who allows us to drive you know good cars and have you know have homes in and go do fun things and so you know I said it’s our jobs and our commitment back to that community and back to our customers.

To do the right thing by them and every single person at Lifesize plays a role in that. And so we started to put our net promoter program in place and gather that feedback. One of the challenge areas as I mentioned was our customer support department. So we made some really minor adjustments.

We put a couple of tools in place that helped that team to see when help tickets were coming in and how they were aging. We basically educated them on the philosophy and vision for what we wanted customer obsession to look like and ultimately really just built that team up. I would say they were shoved off in a corner and really very disconnected from the business. So my job was really to help them to understand how important they were and what a critical role they played in the success of our company and give them a couple of tools that they needed to be really successful.

And so we actually were recognized by winning a gold Stevie award for customer service team of the year for making the transformation. When we started as I mentioned our net promoter score was a negative four and today it is over 70.

If you set that vision and give the systems and processes they need to be successful – and just believe in them and let them know that they’re making a difference – that’s all it takes. That’s really it. That was the biggest piece of what we did.

Small Business Trends: What kind of impact has the rise in NPS had on retention rates or even revenue?

Amy Downs: We launched our cloud service as I mentioned really in late May of 2014. We are approaching 4,000 new customers. Our retention rates are fantastic. We actually measure customers on all sorts of factors and industry benchmarks on churn and ultimately what we call net positive ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). And a lot of that again is just changing the culture of our company, not just with the customer support team but with the entire company. And bringing that voice of the customer program so that we continually drive change over time.

That change has helped us with reference customers. We see that 50 percent of the customers we ask to be references on are net promoter surveys say they are absolutely willing to be a reference and do case studies. So lots of lots of advocates and promoters out there and we actually are approaching 350 percent growth in all of our individual registered users making calls on the system, and 204 percent growth in our minutes call volumes year over year.

Small Business Trends: It sounds like as the business model has changed to being a cloud based subscription, the service model has become central to the overall business model.

Amy Downs: It’s such an important point because it is critical that it’s done in advance. I’ve been in this space for almost 10 years now and what I’ve noticed is I don’t think companies realize that until they’re in year two or three and they start to have a churn problem; and they’re like oh my gosh we have to go address the three things to build a great customer service team or we need to add a customer success function and we need to build out the journey.

And so it’s a super point because if you start with the end in mind you have to build a great experience that should be part of the product offering. And I think if companies think that way and really put a focus on how do we deliver great value and great service. And how do we promote that to our customers.

And ultimately from a customer standpoint if they’re making an investment in a product they want to know that not you know not only does that product serve their needs but how are you going to ensure that they are getting the value for the money that they spent and that you’re going to take care of them. And continually are providing information on new updates, new features, new things that we think will help our customers reach the goals they had when they first bought, or may provide them with additional value down the road that they weren’t even thinking of.


This article, "Amy Downs of Lifesize: Subscription Businesses Need Customer Service at its Core to Drive Success" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

U.S. Department of Transportation Considers Expanding Vending Options at Rest Areas

In a potentially critical development for off-highway businesses such as travel plazas and truckstops, the U.S. Department of Transportation is soliciting public input regarding expanding the types of goods and services that may be offered at highway rest areas located on the right-of-way.  The Department is specifically requesting input as to what constitutes a "vending machine," noting that technological advancements in this area have been significant in recent years.
 
This is not a new rule, and is not even a proposed rule.  It is, however, an indication that some state and potentially federal officials are considering an effort to expand the types of services that are permissible at highway rest areas. It represents the opening stage of that effort.
 
NATSO will lead an effort among a variety of stakeholders with investments in off-highway real estate to ensure that any policy proposals account for these off-highway businesses and the various cities and towns that rely on their tax revenue.
 
Under current law, states are prohibited from offering over-the-counter sales of merchandise at rest areas located on the Interstate.  There are some exceptions to this, however.  Specifically, the following types of commercial activity are permissible:
  • Vending machines, the income from which as a general matter must be for the benefit of blind persons;
  • Lottery machines;
  • Distribution of travel-related information, including maps, travel booklets, and hotel coupon booklets;
  • Sales of tickets for events or attractions in the State that are of a historical or tourism-related nature;
  • Sales of items to promote tourism in the State, limited to books, DVDs, and other media;
  • Installation of commercial advertising and media displays, if such advertising and displays are exhibited solely within any facility constructed in the rest area and are not legible from the main traveled way.
Recently, several State departments of transportation have raised questions regarding what constitutes a "vending machine" and consequently what can or should be allowed in Interstate rest areas.  The Department of Transportation has asked for public input regarding "how certain provisions of current law should be interpreted and applied in consideration of advancements in technology...."
 
Beyond vending machines, however, the Department of Transportation is soliciting information on other types of commercial activities that should be permitted at highway rest areas. 
 
It is not surprising that cash-strapped state departments of transportation are exploring all options at their disposal for generating revenue. It underscores the urgency for developing a self-sustaining transportation funding regime at the federal level. One of the benefits of a good funding source is that it prevents governments from exploring bad funding sources, such as commercializing rest areas and tolling. NATSO has helped lead the fight in Washington develop a reasonable, sustainable transportation funding regime.
 
That the Department of Transportation is considering expanding the scope of permissible commercial activities at rest areas could represent  a serious threat to NATSO members, as well as local cities and towns throughout the country.  In the coming weeks, NATSO will be submitting detailed comments to the Department of Transportation outlining the industry's views and concerns.  NATSO will also work with its member-companies to submit individual company comments to the Department of Transportation outlining their concerns as well.
 
If you have any questions or comments, please contact David Fialkov, NATSO's Vice President of Government Affairs and Regulatory Counsel, at dfialkov@natso.com.


via Business Feeds

Amy Downs of Lifesize: Subscription Businesses Need Customer Service at its Core to Drive Success

When Lifesize, an HD video collaboration platform, was spun-out from computer peripheral maker Logitech, it had to make a massive shift of its product offering to a subscription-based cloud service.  Which also meant they needed to make a massive shift to becoming a company highly aligned with rapidly changing customer needs and expectations, or else risk losing them almost as fast as they’re able to bring them on.

Amy Downs, Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer Lifesize, shares with us how the key to the company’s transformation to a subscription business model was changing the corporate culture to be customer-first.  And how that change raised their net promoter score (NPS) from negative four to over seventy, increased customer retention rates, and created a customer support team that finally understood their value to the business.

* * * * *

Amy Downs of Lifesize: How Great Customer Service for a Subscription Based Business will Drive SuccessSmall Business Trends: Before we jump in there maybe you can give us a little of your personal background.

Amy Downs: Absolutely. I’ve been in the tech space for many years. I started as a coding software as a software engineer early in my career and realized very quickly that I missed working with people and customers and so over time I’ve just really enjoyed creating experiences and working with them with employees happy employees — happy customers and so on. So really have spent the last few years of my career focused in on both. Both growing startups and also this SAP what we’ve done here at Lifesize which is really a bit of a turnaround. And so — really helping companies to understand the importance that customer obsession has to add to the overall bottom line.

Small Business Trends: So tell us about what you guys do over at Lifesize?

Amy Downs: We were the very first creators of HD video conferencing many moons ago. We started as a hardware company and we were acquired. Craig Malloy’s our CEO and started a company manufacturing amazing video conferencing end points and we were acquired by Logitech in 2009 for about four or five million dollars. Then in 2012 the market really started to shift. The on-premises infrastructure videoconferencing market was really declining and at the same time with consumer apps like Facebook and Skype people started to get used to this concept of talking with each other on video. So we noticed a shift in the market where B2B video conferencing was just taking off like crazy and we had to make a decision. Either we rode that trend line down by staying with our on premises solution or we made the shift and take our on premises solution and put that in the cloud and that’s what we did. So we did a complete overhaul of our product offering to a cloud based service.

We completely changed the entire structure of the organization and we knew as a cloud service provider that it’s so easy for customers in a cloud based world to just switch and Lifesize didn’t have a huge focus on customers.

Small Business Trends: Why did they bring you in as Chief Customer Success and Happiness Officer?

Amy Downs: We were a manufacturer of hardware devices in a three tier distribution model so we were very far separated from customers and so we really needed to bring in — what I call slow customer service DNA into the company. And Craig Malloy knew that. So I joined Lifesize back in May of 2014 because like you said there was a little bit of a challenge when it came to customer service.

Small Business Trends: What exactly was the main challenge?

Amy Downs: When we rolled out our on premises infrastructure solution I remember interviewing with Craig and he said we had a few product problems but nothing you can’t solve. And we’re also making this shift to a cloud based solution. And he says we really need a full focus on customer obsession.

I’m a huge believer that customer services does not just sit with customer support. It is a company based initiative. And so — we needed a culture of customer obsession in order to win in this market. And the reason I joined was because he understood the link between a very strong culture and being able to create customers for life.

One of the first things I asked was do we get feedback from our customers, do we have any voice of the customer program here at Lifesize. They said we actually sent out the support surveys. I said what do we do with them, and they were like oh really nothing.

So I remember looking through all the surveys and I was like oh boy. What it really told me was that there were three pillars I think to really fixing any problem you know. It all starts with the people and usually those folks just need to know a direction; what’s important. They need to know how the work they do connects with the customer, and how important that is to our business. And then they really need processes and systems to be successful.

And so really there were just a couple of what I would say simple things that we did. I needed everyone at Lifesize to know that Craig was like behind us right. That this was what we were building and the changing of our culture was a CEO driven initiative. And I had his full sponsorship and so we educated the entire company.

We brought in net promoter and we educated everybody on the importance of our customers. During our first town hall I asked who pays our paychecks. We got all these different answers from our employees, and no one said our customers. And I said no that’s who pays our paychecks that is who is putting food on our table and that’s who allows us to drive you know good cars and have you know have homes in and go do fun things and so you know I said it’s our jobs and our commitment back to that community and back to our customers.

To do the right thing by them and every single person at Lifesize plays a role in that. And so we started to put our net promoter program in place and gather that feedback. One of the challenge areas as I mentioned was our customer support department. So we made some really minor adjustments.

We put a couple of tools in place that helped that team to see when help tickets were coming in and how they were aging. We basically educated them on the philosophy and vision for what we wanted customer obsession to look like and ultimately really just built that team up. I would say they were shoved off in a corner and really very disconnected from the business. So my job was really to help them to understand how important they were and what a critical role they played in the success of our company and give them a couple of tools that they needed to be really successful.

And so we actually were recognized by winning a gold Stevie award for customer service team of the year for making the transformation. When we started as I mentioned our net promoter score was a negative four and today it is over 70.

If you set that vision and give the systems and processes they need to be successful – and just believe in them and let them know that they’re making a difference – that’s all it takes. That’s really it. That was the biggest piece of what we did.

Small Business Trends: What kind of impact has the rise in NPS had on retention rates or even revenue?

Amy Downs: We launched our cloud service as I mentioned really in late May of 2014. We are approaching 4,000 new customers. Our retention rates are fantastic. We actually measure customers on all sorts of factors and industry benchmarks on churn and ultimately what we call net positive ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue). And a lot of that again is just changing the culture of our company, not just with the customer support team but with the entire company. And bringing that voice of the customer program so that we continually drive change over time.

That change has helped us with reference customers. We see that 50 percent of the customers we ask to be references on are net promoter surveys say they are absolutely willing to be a reference and do case studies. So lots of lots of advocates and promoters out there and we actually are approaching 350 percent growth in all of our individual registered users making calls on the system, and 204 percent growth in our minutes call volumes year over year.

Small Business Trends: It sounds like as the business model has changed to being a cloud based subscription, the service model has become central to the overall business model.

Amy Downs: It’s such an important point because it is critical that it’s done in advance. I’ve been in this space for almost 10 years now and what I’ve noticed is I don’t think companies realize that until they’re in year two or three and they start to have a churn problem; and they’re like oh my gosh we have to go address the three things to build a great customer service team or we need to add a customer success function and we need to build out the journey.

And so it’s a super point because if you start with the end in mind you have to build a great experience that should be part of the product offering. And I think if companies think that way and really put a focus on how do we deliver great value and great service. And how do we promote that to our customers.

And ultimately from a customer standpoint if they’re making an investment in a product they want to know that not you know not only does that product serve their needs but how are you going to ensure that they are getting the value for the money that they spent and that you’re going to take care of them. And continually are providing information on new updates, new features, new things that we think will help our customers reach the goals they had when they first bought, or may provide them with additional value down the road that they weren’t even thinking of.


This article, "Amy Downs of Lifesize: Subscription Businesses Need Customer Service at its Core to Drive Success" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Office 365 news roundup

At the annual Microsoft Ignite Conference in Atlanta earlier this week, we announced many new updates and improvements to Office 365, designed to help IT professionals drive digital transformation within their organizations, enhance collaboration and increase productivity.

Among the key announcements at Microsoft Ignite was an array of new cloud-powered intelligent capabilities for Office 365. Tap in Word and Outlook uses Microsoft Graph to make it easier for you to move information from one document to another. Quickstarter for PowerPoint and Sway provides curated outlines, text and images as a starting point for building presentations. And Maps, a new type of chart in Excel, powered by Bing Maps, transforms geographic data into high-fidelity visualizations.

Microsoft is also using artificial intelligence to improve security and compliance in Office 365, with new innovations such as Threat Intelligence, which helps organizations proactively uncover and protect against advanced threats by analyzing billions of data signals across Office consumer and commercial services. Threat Intelligence also provides additional services designed to detect and defeat malware and other threats.

We’re also improving the collaboration and productivity capabilities of Office 365 in a number of other ways. For example, by integrating Yammer with Office 365 Groups, we’re combining the power of open collaboration with the productivity tools that millions of people rely on every day. We’re also bringing personal analytics to Office 365 with Microsoft MyAnalytics, formerly known as Delve Analytics, which will allow you to stay up to date with important contacts, share key metrics with colleagues, and help you prioritize the time you spend with different groups. We’re also introducing a set of new people experiences in Office 365, so that no matter what app you’re using you can discover content through people, share expertise more easily and connect with each other from wherever you are working.

Along with making Office 365 more beneficial to more people, we’re also making the apps easier to manage and use. We recently took the new Office 365 admin center out of preview and made it generally available. We also built a dashboard that provides admins with a new level of service health insights that are personalized for their organization. We announced a new version of the Office 365 App Launcher, and we also partnered with LinkedIn Learning to make it even easier for you to get the most out of your favorite Office applications.

Office 365 just keeps getting better. Find out how Office 365 can help you and your organization today.

Below is a roundup of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Microsoft announces a stunning array of Office 365 updates for September—Learn about some of the recent Office 365 updates from Microsoft.

Microsoft Office 365: 3 things you need to know—Find out more about the value of Office 365 and how the service benefits users.

Here’s how Office 365 is about to make your life far easier—Discover how Microsoft is using artificial intelligence to make Office 365 even better for users.

New Windows 10 and Office 365 features for the secure productive enterprise—Learn how enterprises can use Windows 10 and Office 365 to improve both security and productivity.

Exelon selects Customer Lockbox for Office 365 to power up data security and privacy—Find out how Exelon, a leading U.S. energy provider, is using Office 365 to maintain control of its data while providing workers with work-anywhere productivity and collaboration.

Microsoft StaffHub helps companies organise shift and deskless workers in the cloud—Discover how Office 365 can help organizations manage deskless workers more effectively and give workers access to the information they need.

The post Office 365 news roundup appeared first on Office Blogs.



RSS Business Feeds

I’m Ready to Make Cloud Part of My Offerings To Customers, What Do I Do Next?

Sponsored Post

You've designed the business model. You’ve considered the ways in which the cloud can make you money. But is your company cloud ready?

So you’ve decided you’re ready to make the cloud part of your offerings to your customers.

But what’s your next step to make sure you ready for this new phase of your IT business?

Once you’ve come to that all-important decision, it’s time to really do a self-assessment, says Chaitra Vedullapalli, cloud architect and CMO of Meylah.

“I usually tell people, ‘Start with the self-assessment to know where you are to help you decide where you want to be in the cloud business,” says Vedullapalli.  “It’s very important to know where you are in terms of cloud readiness before you decide what needs to be done so you can go out and get the help you need.”  

Among the things you should determine are how you’re going to integrate cloud services into your other offerings? The business model has already been discussed. You’ve already taken into consideration the ways  in which the new business can make you money. Now what are the steps you need to take to offer these services?

Here are some further things to consider:

6 Areas that Distinguish Cloud Readiness

According to Vedullapalli, six distinct areas encompass the various aspects of cloud readiness:

  • Business Model. The cloud-ready business model is the foundation and a vital key to building a cloud practice. Therefore, establishing a clear business direction and strategic game plan is necessary to achieve the revenue growth.
  • Cloud Technology. Choosing a reliable and profitable cloud technology stack will help IT companies successfully transitions customer solutions to the cloud.
  • Talent Readiness. Identifying the right people to lead the cloud transformation initiative is critical. The cloud requires a different skill set than traditional IT, Vedullapalli said.
  • Product Management and Delivery. Cloud solutions call for constant care and feeding. If you are building a cloud product then establishing a cloud product management team and delivery team will ease the transformation. If you are stitching cloud products from multiple vendors to create a solution, then you need to have establish vendor relationships and product competency to support the customer needs on a regular basis.
  • Sales and Marketing. Acquiring customers demands that companies think differently about sales and marketing and focus on marketplaces, partnerships, proof of concept as an irresistible offer and use of digital media campaigns.
  • Customer Support. Cloud solutions require a new way of supporting customers. They focus on onboarding, addressing billing and provisioning questions, and working proactively with the product development team to address the customer challenges.

Differences Between Traditional IT and the Cloud

The shift from traditional, on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based solutions is seismic, bringing dramatic changes that touch each of the core areas mentioned above.

Cloud Ready - Differences Between Traditional IT and the Cloud

For example, licensing is no longer based on annual renewals but on pay-as-you-go subscriptions that provide recurring revenue. Software releases used to only take place bi-annually. Now, they occur quarterly or even monthly. In the old days, the time to adoption could take six months to a year. Now, it requires just hours or even minutes. With all the changes, it’s no wonder that IT providers have difficulty keeping up!

7 Steps to Becoming a Cloud Ready Business

Without a doubt, the invention of the cloud has disrupted the traditional IT business model and practice. And while IT companies know why they need to become cloud ready, what they don’t know is how.

That’s where Vedullapalli’s company, Meylah, can help. Meylah offers providers a 7-step roadmap to becoming a cloud-ready business. Companies that have adopted these steps have seen success in helping existing customers and attracting new ones.

According to Stana Steen, Founder of High Standards, a cloud ready company that has implemented the seven step roadmap “Cloud coaching is just what I needed to push my Microsoft Cloud business forward. I have been selling some Office 365 but the cloud coaching has enabled me to truly define the Microsoft offerings to be able to present them in a way to clients where they are not overwhelmed and they can really see the value in the products. You added accountability, which has forced me to focus on what I needed to do to move forward instead of letting my other responsibility push this planning to the back burner. My clients and future clients will benefit from my coaching as when I am well informed and understand our business model they receive better information, faster adoption, and better service.”

Cloud Ready - 7 Steps to Becoming a Cloud Ready Business

The steps are as follows:

  1. Determine Your Profitability. Conduct profitability planning to identify business models for building or scaling a cloud practice.
  2.  Assess Your Readiness. Next, assess your readiness to understand the areas where you should invest resources and budget. Microsoft and Meylah has partnered to provide a readiness assessment tool, to make the process easier and quicker for IT companies.
  3. Decide on Your Business Model and Strategy. Develop a business strategy and change plan for building or scaling your cloud practice. Vedullapalli recommends that you work with a company who can help you focus on building a cloud business model and identify the first 100 day action plan.
  4. Identify and Select Your Cloud Solutions. Establish product management functions for developing a cloud practice. Vedullapalli recommends that you sell a cloud stack from companies such as Microsoft, Google or VMWare plus a partner solution, which could include migration, business intelligence, ongoing maintenance, integration or customer training and support. “You are selling a comprehensive business solution that stitches a variety of products and services together, not just the cloud stack,” she said. “The more services you offer, the ‘stickier’ you become to your customers. Stitching software is the new game.”
  5. Build Cloud Solution Configurations. Identify, package and build cloud-based product integrations, applications and managed services.
  6. Create a Go to Market Plan. Develop go to market channels for promoting and distributing cloud applications and services. These could include marketplaces and via partners.
  7. Develop a Customer Support Plan. Establish a 24X7/365 customer support function to manage provisioning, billing, invoicing and activations.

“Going through the process of profitability planning, determining your readiness, building a business model, identifying the customer segment you want to reach and the products you will sell, will give you clear picture of how to make yours a cloud-ready business,” Vedullapalli said. “Follow through with building out a go-to-market strategy and customer service plan and your chances of success will improve greatly.”

To learn more about how to becoming a cloud-ready business, take the FREE Microsoft cloud readiness assessment at iamreadycloud. Those who take the assessment will also receive a free report detailing the cloud-ready journey.

Cloud Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "I’m Ready to Make Cloud Part of My Offerings To Customers, What Do I Do Next?" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

I’m Ready to Make Cloud Part of My Offerings To Customers, What Do I Do Next?

Sponsored Post

You've designed the business model. You’ve considered the ways in which the cloud can make you money. But is your company cloud ready?

So you’ve decided you’re ready to make the cloud part of your offerings to your customers.

But what’s your next step to make sure you ready for this new phase of your IT business?

Once you’ve come to that all-important decision, it’s time to really do a self-assessment, says Chaitra Vedullapalli, cloud architect and CMO of Meylah.

“I usually tell people, ‘Start with the self-assessment to know where you are to help you decide where you want to be in the cloud business,” says Vedullapalli.  “It’s very important to know where you are in terms of cloud readiness before you decide what needs to be done so you can go out and get the help you need.”  

Among the things you should determine are how you’re going to integrate cloud services into your other offerings? The business model has already been discussed. You’ve already taken into consideration the ways  in which the new business can make you money. Now what are the steps you need to take to offer these services?

Here are some further things to consider:

6 Areas that Distinguish Cloud Readiness

According to Vedullapalli, six distinct areas encompass the various aspects of cloud readiness:

  • Business Model. The cloud-ready business model is the foundation and a vital key to building a cloud practice. Therefore, establishing a clear business direction and strategic game plan is necessary to achieve the revenue growth.
  • Cloud Technology. Choosing a reliable and profitable cloud technology stack will help IT companies successfully transitions customer solutions to the cloud.
  • Talent Readiness. Identifying the right people to lead the cloud transformation initiative is critical. The cloud requires a different skill set than traditional IT, Vedullapalli said.
  • Product Management and Delivery. Cloud solutions call for constant care and feeding. If you are building a cloud product then establishing a cloud product management team and delivery team will ease the transformation. If you are stitching cloud products from multiple vendors to create a solution, then you need to have establish vendor relationships and product competency to support the customer needs on a regular basis.
  • Sales and Marketing. Acquiring customers demands that companies think differently about sales and marketing and focus on marketplaces, partnerships, proof of concept as an irresistible offer and use of digital media campaigns.
  • Customer Support. Cloud solutions require a new way of supporting customers. They focus on onboarding, addressing billing and provisioning questions, and working proactively with the product development team to address the customer challenges.

Differences Between Traditional IT and the Cloud

The shift from traditional, on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based solutions is seismic, bringing dramatic changes that touch each of the core areas mentioned above.

Cloud Ready - Differences Between Traditional IT and the Cloud

For example, licensing is no longer based on annual renewals but on pay-as-you-go subscriptions that provide recurring revenue. Software releases used to only take place bi-annually. Now, they occur quarterly or even monthly. In the old days, the time to adoption could take six months to a year. Now, it requires just hours or even minutes. With all the changes, it’s no wonder that IT providers have difficulty keeping up!

7 Steps to Becoming a Cloud Ready Business

Without a doubt, the invention of the cloud has disrupted the traditional IT business model and practice. And while IT companies know why they need to become cloud ready, what they don’t know is how.

That’s where Vedullapalli’s company, Meylah, can help. Meylah offers providers a 7-step roadmap to becoming a cloud-ready business. Companies that have adopted these steps have seen success in helping existing customers and attracting new ones.

According to Stana Steen, Founder of High Standards, a cloud ready company that has implemented the seven step roadmap “Cloud coaching is just what I needed to push my Microsoft Cloud business forward. I have been selling some Office 365 but the cloud coaching has enabled me to truly define the Microsoft offerings to be able to present them in a way to clients where they are not overwhelmed and they can really see the value in the products. You added accountability, which has forced me to focus on what I needed to do to move forward instead of letting my other responsibility push this planning to the back burner. My clients and future clients will benefit from my coaching as when I am well informed and understand our business model they receive better information, faster adoption, and better service.”

Cloud Ready - 7 Steps to Becoming a Cloud Ready Business

The steps are as follows:

  1. Determine Your Profitability. Conduct profitability planning to identify business models for building or scaling a cloud practice.
  2.  Assess Your Readiness. Next, assess your readiness to understand the areas where you should invest resources and budget. Microsoft and Meylah has partnered to provide a readiness assessment tool, to make the process easier and quicker for IT companies.
  3. Decide on Your Business Model and Strategy. Develop a business strategy and change plan for building or scaling your cloud practice. Vedullapalli recommends that you work with a company who can help you focus on building a cloud business model and identify the first 100 day action plan.
  4. Identify and Select Your Cloud Solutions. Establish product management functions for developing a cloud practice. Vedullapalli recommends that you sell a cloud stack from companies such as Microsoft, Google or VMWare plus a partner solution, which could include migration, business intelligence, ongoing maintenance, integration or customer training and support. “You are selling a comprehensive business solution that stitches a variety of products and services together, not just the cloud stack,” she said. “The more services you offer, the ‘stickier’ you become to your customers. Stitching software is the new game.”
  5. Build Cloud Solution Configurations. Identify, package and build cloud-based product integrations, applications and managed services.
  6. Create a Go to Market Plan. Develop go to market channels for promoting and distributing cloud applications and services. These could include marketplaces and via partners.
  7. Develop a Customer Support Plan. Establish a 24X7/365 customer support function to manage provisioning, billing, invoicing and activations.

“Going through the process of profitability planning, determining your readiness, building a business model, identifying the customer segment you want to reach and the products you will sell, will give you clear picture of how to make yours a cloud-ready business,” Vedullapalli said. “Follow through with building out a go-to-market strategy and customer service plan and your chances of success will improve greatly.”

To learn more about how to becoming a cloud-ready business, take the FREE Microsoft cloud readiness assessment at iamreadycloud. Those who take the assessment will also receive a free report detailing the cloud-ready journey.

Cloud Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "I’m Ready to Make Cloud Part of My Offerings To Customers, What Do I Do Next?" was first published on Small Business Trends



RSS Business Feeds

Truckstop Travels: Clearwater Petro Speaks to All the Senses

ClearwaterTravelCenter.jpg

Wendy Johnson, vice president of operations for Clearwater Travel Plaza, and her team operate one fantastic travel center!

The independent Petro franchise location, which is located northwest of Minneapolis and is owned by Joel Nelson, is filled with the traditional travel center amenities and products.

Even better, this location also indulges all the senses. Your ears, your eyes and your sense of smell are treated to a smorgasbord of delights. My favorites are the hand-crafted sandwiches, the amazingly tasty homemade breads of many fanciful flavors and the exceptional bakery products.  

IMG_4422.jpg

IMG_4437.jpg

IMG_4427.jpg

IMG_4420.jpg

But it is the way the location embraces the seasons and the local surroundings as part of the marketing strategy that set this location apart from so many other well executed and operated travel centers throughout the USA.

While many locations understand the importance of seasonal marketing and do a rather good job of it, seeing Clearwater in action is special.

IMG_4413.jpg

IMG_4433.jpg

IMG_4435.jpg

IMG_4421.jpg

Fall is a particularly appealing time to visit the location.

From the minute you approach the location, your eyes feast on giant pumpkins placed out in front inviting you inwards. The scenic decor coupled with the smell of fresh pumpkin pastries and the like add to the experience, plus your ears are treated to the sounds of laughter and joy.

All of this together makes for an exceptional visit.

ClearwaterTravelCenterfall.jpg

IMG_4410.jpg  

RequestaVisitBanner.jpg 

/// Read more Truckstop Travels here.  

Photo Credit: Darren Schulte/NATSO



via Business Feeds