Your No-Nonsense Roadmap to Effective Crisis Management

Sooner or later, every company experiences a crisis that threatens its reputation and revenue, which are of course inextricably linked. For the uninitiated, the experience can be truly terrifying.

Crisis management

In crisis management, as in much else, fortune favors the prepared. Before you get in over your head, follow this crisis management roadmap.

Lay the Groundwork with a Transparent Corporate Culture

While your company’s next crisis remains a gleam in fate’s eye, lay the groundwork for your response with a transparent, forthright corporate culture that respects your employees and stakeholders. The more information you share, the better.

“Understanding that employees want to feel they contribute to their company’s success, it is key that employees be exposed to the company’s strategic goals and objectives,” said Lovell Communications president Rosemary Plorin in a recent Inc.



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Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform

Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform in China

Is there a better way to do ecommerce? That’s what investors are asking as they seek out new ventures that could become the next billion-dollar Amazon or Overstock.com.

Many believe that it is too difficult to come up with a brand new ecommerce model. Let’s face it: it seems that all the potential avenues have been exhausted. There’s nothing else. But is that really true? Especially in today’s tech-savvy, highly globalized economy?

Every day, there seems to be a new incarnation of the ecommerce business model. Some platforms will concentrate on Business to Consumer (B2C), while others will hone in on Business to Business (B2B). Startups are looking to add social commerce into their plans as well.

What if you could integrate all of the above? What if you could combine B2B, B2C, and social media?

Such a concept would give merchants, startups, and entrepreneurs, a great opportunity to sell their products to a vast market base both domestically and globally.

Wansecheng: An Innovative Ecommerce Platform in China

The question is: how can such a business model exist and thrive? B2C is constantly evolving and shifting, while B2B is more intricate and multi-layered. Of course, social media is in an entirely different world. When you combine the three for an ecommerce platform, how can it work?

Well, that is what Hangzhou-based company Wansecheng is looking to accomplish. The website has the financial backing of some of the biggest investors in China today.

Wsmall.com, established in 2009, is a website that combines the elements of ecommerce, entrepreneurship, B2B, B2C and social media into one web portal. The ecommerce platform aggregates more than 100,000 small merchants and vendors and provides them with an array of customized services that include branding, digital marketing, and customer service.

There are three primary elements to Wsmall.com:

  • Wansecheng Mall: A global boutique mall for medium- and high-end online clientele.
  • Kale Mao: A membership supermarket with authentic global goods.
  • Wansecheng Business College: An online interactive platform for studying the mix of social activity and entertainment with education for entrepreneurs who are registered members of the Wansecheng Mall.

It’s like one big shopping mall!

The Business Model

Utilizing a B2B2C business model, Wsmall specializes in selling daily consumer goods, foods, baby products, cosmetics and many other items that the consumer is willing to buy online. With the next generation technology in hand, the consumer products meet health and safety standards.

What sets this online venture apart from the rest is the fact that the users retain the rights to their web stores. In other words, they can benefit from maintaining, organizing and designing the digital store as they see fit. They can decide what will give their personal brands a boost.

This aggressive approach to ecommerce is attracting millions of dollars in investments. Wsmall has been raising funds over the last couple of years from some of the biggest investors.

It was reported that global investment giants Warburg Pincus and CICC-Qianhai have invested $100 million into the company. Analysts predict that the company will likely generate even more funds; especially with the company’s vision of the future which is described as “a dream city with the DNA of strong innovation.”

Delivering a speech to a conference on ecommerce, the chairman of the company said, “a wealthy city reshapes the model of B2B2C ecommerce.”

“The core competitiveness of Wansecheng lies in the creation of an online entrepreneurial university town which simplifies the business procedure for average entrepreneurs and enriches their lives, so as to establish an ecommerce platform ecological system that is open, coordinated, sharing, with win-win outcomes, thereby contributing to the mass entrepreneurship, and sustained development of China’s economy and social harmony,”

Pundits like to say that this is Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. With this notion in the forefront of the consumer’s consciousness, it can be pretty daring and even overwhelming to attempt to compete with the online retail juggernaut.

However, if there is one thing that Amazon has taught businesses it’s this: the rules of commerce have been updated to reflect the 21st-century economy. Everything from products, sales channels, distribution centers and marketing are now morphing into something more consumer-friendly than we have ever witnessed.

B2C is a concept that modifies and adapts at a whim to satisfy the consumer. B2B is far more reserved, technical and, as previously mentioned, multi-layered. This is why some may argue that merging the two models is like mixing oil and water: they just don’t go well together.

Wsmall.com is an example of businesses taking an alternative approach. This is having both domestic and foreign investors along with entrepreneurs paying close attention to its development.

Looking Forward …

The latest data suggest that 40 percent of global Internet users have purchased a product online with a desktop or mobile device. This means that there are an estimated one billion online shoppers. It is easy to see that as technology becomes more ubiquitous, the numbers will only grow.

Simply put: it doesn’t matter where you are – South America, Africa or Asia – there will be an ecommerce base, especially with the prevalence of mobile technology. Wsmall has exciting things in store for online consumers in the years to come.

Image: wsmall.com

This article, "Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform

Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform in China

Is there a better way to do ecommerce? That’s what investors are asking as they seek out new ventures that could become the next billion-dollar Amazon or Overstock.com.

Many believe that it is too difficult to come up with a brand new ecommerce model. Let’s face it: it seems that all the potential avenues have been exhausted. There’s nothing else. But is that really true? Especially in today’s tech-savvy, highly globalized economy?

Every day, there seems to be a new incarnation of the ecommerce business model. Some platforms will concentrate on Business to Consumer (B2C), while others will hone in on Business to Business (B2B). Startups are looking to add social commerce into their plans as well.

What if you could integrate all of the above? What if you could combine B2B, B2C, and social media?

Such a concept would give merchants, startups, and entrepreneurs, a great opportunity to sell their products to a vast market base both domestically and globally.

Wansecheng: An Innovative Ecommerce Platform in China

The question is: how can such a business model exist and thrive? B2C is constantly evolving and shifting, while B2B is more intricate and multi-layered. Of course, social media is in an entirely different world. When you combine the three for an ecommerce platform, how can it work?

Well, that is what Hangzhou-based company Wansecheng is looking to accomplish. The website has the financial backing of some of the biggest investors in China today.

Wsmall.com, established in 2009, is a website that combines the elements of ecommerce, entrepreneurship, B2B, B2C and social media into one web portal. The ecommerce platform aggregates more than 100,000 small merchants and vendors and provides them with an array of customized services that include branding, digital marketing, and customer service.

There are three primary elements to Wsmall.com:

  • Wansecheng Mall: A global boutique mall for medium- and high-end online clientele.
  • Kale Mao: A membership supermarket with authentic global goods.
  • Wansecheng Business College: An online interactive platform for studying the mix of social activity and entertainment with education for entrepreneurs who are registered members of the Wansecheng Mall.

It’s like one big shopping mall!

The Business Model

Utilizing a B2B2C business model, Wsmall specializes in selling daily consumer goods, foods, baby products, cosmetics and many other items that the consumer is willing to buy online. With the next generation technology in hand, the consumer products meet health and safety standards.

What sets this online venture apart from the rest is the fact that the users retain the rights to their web stores. In other words, they can benefit from maintaining, organizing and designing the digital store as they see fit. They can decide what will give their personal brands a boost.

This aggressive approach to ecommerce is attracting millions of dollars in investments. Wsmall has been raising funds over the last couple of years from some of the biggest investors.

It was reported that global investment giants Warburg Pincus and CICC-Qianhai have invested $100 million into the company. Analysts predict that the company will likely generate even more funds; especially with the company’s vision of the future which is described as “a dream city with the DNA of strong innovation.”

Delivering a speech to a conference on ecommerce, the chairman of the company said, “a wealthy city reshapes the model of B2B2C ecommerce.”

“The core competitiveness of Wansecheng lies in the creation of an online entrepreneurial university town which simplifies the business procedure for average entrepreneurs and enriches their lives, so as to establish an ecommerce platform ecological system that is open, coordinated, sharing, with win-win outcomes, thereby contributing to the mass entrepreneurship, and sustained development of China’s economy and social harmony,”

Pundits like to say that this is Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it. With this notion in the forefront of the consumer’s consciousness, it can be pretty daring and even overwhelming to attempt to compete with the online retail juggernaut.

However, if there is one thing that Amazon has taught businesses it’s this: the rules of commerce have been updated to reflect the 21st-century economy. Everything from products, sales channels, distribution centers and marketing are now morphing into something more consumer-friendly than we have ever witnessed.

B2C is a concept that modifies and adapts at a whim to satisfy the consumer. B2B is far more reserved, technical and, as previously mentioned, multi-layered. This is why some may argue that merging the two models is like mixing oil and water: they just don’t go well together.

Wsmall.com is an example of businesses taking an alternative approach. This is having both domestic and foreign investors along with entrepreneurs paying close attention to its development.

Looking Forward …

The latest data suggest that 40 percent of global Internet users have purchased a product online with a desktop or mobile device. This means that there are an estimated one billion online shoppers. It is easy to see that as technology becomes more ubiquitous, the numbers will only grow.

Simply put: it doesn’t matter where you are – South America, Africa or Asia – there will be an ecommerce base, especially with the prevalence of mobile technology. Wsmall has exciting things in store for online consumers in the years to come.

Image: wsmall.com

This article, "Hundreds Of Millions Being Invested In Brand New Ecommerce Platform" was first published on Small Business Trends



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A Recognizable Character Could Help Both Universal and Nintendo (Watch)

If you’re heading to any Universal theme parks over the next few years, you might see a familiar face. Mario, the popular plumber from many Nintendo video games, is headed to Universal theme parks in Orlando, Osaka and Los Angeles.

Universal and Nintendo first announced their partnership over a year ago. But the two popular brands just released a teaser outlining plans for the new theme park attractions. Though the tealer didn’t reveal many specifics, it’s a safe bet that Mario will be a major centerpiece of the new park area. He’s a recognizable face that could draw in visitors and get people excited about the new attractions.

However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be other Nintendo characters or themes mixed in. This partnership also creates a unique opportunity for Nintendo to get more attention for some of its lesser known games. So if the two companies can come up with a way to draw people in using recognizable characters and themes, and then introduce exciting new themes as well, this could be a big win for both sides.

Benefits of Leveraging Brand Recognition

And while your small business likely isn’t partnering with any major theme parks in the near future, the same concept can apply. Using the brand recognition already earned by themes or characters can be a major draw for people. And sometimes, they can even help you introduce new items as well.

Salvation Army Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "A Recognizable Character Could Help Both Universal and Nintendo (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

A Recognizable Character Could Help Both Universal and Nintendo (Watch)

If you’re heading to any Universal theme parks over the next few years, you might see a familiar face. Mario, the popular plumber from many Nintendo video games, is headed to Universal theme parks in Orlando, Osaka and Los Angeles.

Universal and Nintendo first announced their partnership over a year ago. But the two popular brands just released a teaser outlining plans for the new theme park attractions. Though the tealer didn’t reveal many specifics, it’s a safe bet that Mario will be a major centerpiece of the new park area. He’s a recognizable face that could draw in visitors and get people excited about the new attractions.

However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be other Nintendo characters or themes mixed in. This partnership also creates a unique opportunity for Nintendo to get more attention for some of its lesser known games. So if the two companies can come up with a way to draw people in using recognizable characters and themes, and then introduce exciting new themes as well, this could be a big win for both sides.

Benefits of Leveraging Brand Recognition

And while your small business likely isn’t partnering with any major theme parks in the near future, the same concept can apply. Using the brand recognition already earned by themes or characters can be a major draw for people. And sometimes, they can even help you introduce new items as well.

Salvation Army Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "A Recognizable Character Could Help Both Universal and Nintendo (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends



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64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Automated Email Weekly, New Report Says

64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Email Automation Weekly, New Report Says

A majority (64 percent) of high-performing marketers send automated emails to their contacts at least once per week. And that’s how they generate the maximum number of leads.

The insight comes from the new 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report.

Conducted by Cint.com, on behalf of San Francisco-based email marketing and marketing automation software company Autopilot, the study has revealed some more interesting insights.

A Look at Where Marketers are Investing In, and Succeeding With, Email Automation

Here’s are some key highlights:

  • Seventy percent of marketers rank social media as their top performing channel outside of email.
  • Eighty-one percent use data to personalize their marketing, and 54 percent say big data lets them deliver a better customer experience.
  • Seventy-one percent of high-performing marketers have mapped their customer’s journey; 88 percent say it’s driving better customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention.

Why Email Automation Makes Sense for Your Business

A growing number of small businesses are using email automation to nurture leads, foster personalized communication and reach more customers.

It’s also worth noting that email marketing has shown a steady 7 percent year-on-year growth, highlighting its relevance for small business owners.

Luckily, there are some nimble email service providers such as Vero and Mailchimp that can give businesses everything they need to automate email marketing.

The 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report was conducted in August 2016. U.S.-based marketing and advertising decision makers aged 25 and over were targeted in multiple industries.

Sixty-one percent of respondents who work in small to mid-sized businesses were interviewed for the study.

Typing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Automated Email Weekly, New Report Says" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Automated Email Weekly, New Report Says

64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Email Automation Weekly, New Report Says

A majority (64 percent) of high-performing marketers send automated emails to their contacts at least once per week. And that’s how they generate the maximum number of leads.

The insight comes from the new 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report.

Conducted by Cint.com, on behalf of San Francisco-based email marketing and marketing automation software company Autopilot, the study has revealed some more interesting insights.

A Look at Where Marketers are Investing In, and Succeeding With, Email Automation

Here’s are some key highlights:

  • Seventy percent of marketers rank social media as their top performing channel outside of email.
  • Eighty-one percent use data to personalize their marketing, and 54 percent say big data lets them deliver a better customer experience.
  • Seventy-one percent of high-performing marketers have mapped their customer’s journey; 88 percent say it’s driving better customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention.

Why Email Automation Makes Sense for Your Business

A growing number of small businesses are using email automation to nurture leads, foster personalized communication and reach more customers.

It’s also worth noting that email marketing has shown a steady 7 percent year-on-year growth, highlighting its relevance for small business owners.

Luckily, there are some nimble email service providers such as Vero and Mailchimp that can give businesses everything they need to automate email marketing.

The 2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing Report was conducted in August 2016. U.S.-based marketing and advertising decision makers aged 25 and over were targeted in multiple industries.

Sixty-one percent of respondents who work in small to mid-sized businesses were interviewed for the study.

Typing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "64 Percent of Top Performing Marketers Use Automated Email Weekly, New Report Says" was first published on Small Business Trends



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IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t

Sponsored Post

Intivix is so serious about the Cloud that they developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to access both cloud and on-premise servers.

Business partners Rob Schenk and Dan Gordon, founders of Intivix, an IT company based in San Francisco, are serious about the Cloud. So serious that not only do they offer many cloud-based services to their clients, but they also have funded and developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to get to their files either from on-premise servers or those hosted in the cloud.

The solution, called MyWorkDrive, was designed with simplicity in mind, born out of clients’ frustrations over problems with accessibility.

“I just want to be able to access my work files reliably without a bunch of hassles,” said Gordon in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends, referring to complaints he had received from clients.

In the past, remote access required the use of complex VPNs and error-prone synching software — a problem Schenk and Gordon determined to resolve. Furthermore, other clients didn’t feel comfortable moving all their files to a cloud-only based service like DropBox.

“Clients wanted the flexibility of gaining access to files from anywhere, just as if they were in their office,” he said. “We tested and reviewed many solutions and ended up not finding anything that was the right fit. Platforms were either very expensive, very cumbersome or challenging to maintain.”

Instead of a third-party platform, Schenk and Gordon built MyWorkDrive, a direct and easy way for customers to get to their files from any location, using both desktop and mobile devices (browser-based or the familiar mapped drive mechanism).

“MyWorkDrive natively integrates with the security and permissions of Active Directory that’s already set up for all our customers, so we didn’t have to reinvent that stuff,” Gordon said. “We wanted something very simple, very targeted and tied right into Microsoft Active Directory. That’s where we’re at today.”

Gordon added that, with marketing efforts now in place, many MSPs are beginning to use the product, in addition to all of Intivix’s clients.

A unique feature only available with MyWorkDrive, according to Gordon, lets users double-click on a document right from the web, edit it directly in Office or in Office 365 and save it back to the local or cloud-based server.

“We can open it in Office 365 and conduct searches on the file server, to give people a full experience without them having to install anything on their computer,” he said. “We have a patented connector that they can enable (with no firewall rules or certificates to deal with), and then their server will be available online once we install the software, which takes about 20 minutes.”

Gordon cited one company that has a large file server consisting of eight terabytes of data as an example of MyWorkDrive’s capabilities.

“The company has a lot of staff who have to go out and take a number of photos in the field,” he said. “Being able to access those [photos] from anywhere, with indexed search, along with the ability to upload massive amounts of files from a service at gigabit speed, makes MyWorkDrive a good option for them.”

Pricing for MyWorkDrive ranges from $49.99 per month for up to 20 users to $1,200 for an enterprise license that supports 500 users. The company makes custom pricing available for corporations with a larger user base. In addition, they are actively collaborating with Managed Service Providers around the world to join their partner channel with compelling partner discount and internal use rights.

While MyWorkDrive takes up much of Schenk’s and Gordon’s time, Intivix does offer other cloud-based services, including hosting through Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as migration to Office 365 and Google for Work.

When asked about the risks and problems associated with transitioning clients to the cloud, Gordon takes a measured tone, saying that people get sold on cloud solutions without thinking through all the ramifications.

“We’ve picked up clients who didn’t do proper requirements gathering before they migrated to a cloud solution and have been unhappy with the results.'” he said. “Ultimately, they end up going through a migration with another provider and realize later that it doesn’t support all their requirements like Office 365 Email does. ‘It doesn’t have the Outlook feature that our users want’ they say, for example. In the end, we have worked with clients where we had to redo the migration away from other cloud solutions.”  

Gordon feels that many times, customers simply give in to the hype surrounding the benefits the cloud is supposed to provide, but that fall short when put into practice.

“They don’t really even know or understand what the word ‘cloud’ means,” he said. “They think, ‘It’s going to save me money. It’s going to make my life easier.’ When that doesn’t happen then they have to deal with the ramifications.”

While Gordon asserts that the cloud isn’t right for everyone, he believes certain applications could be beneficial.

“I would say there are targeted cloud applications that make a huge amount of sense for companies,” he said, “but it’s not for everyone at this point.”

He cited Office 365 as an example.

“I think you’ve seen a lot of people moving to Office 365,” he said. “That’s a very targeted solution that makes a lot of sense, that makes emails what the phone used to be.”

Regarding full implementation, however, Gordon said that as long as security and bandwidth aren’t an issue using cloud-based applications can be a useful strategy but can also be a disaster if not well thought through.

He does agree that in five to ten years, the cloud may be more ubiquitous but at this juncture, there are legacy-type businesses whose workflows, training and knowledge levels have not sufficiently advanced to the point where full adoption makes sense. It’s a pragmatic approach that takes into account where his client companies are regarding readiness.

“Companies are biting off more than they can chew in moving to the cloud when all they’re looking for, in many cases, is akin to what they already have,” he said. “That’s why MyWorkDrive isn’t exclusively cloud-based but also incorporates access to on-premise servers. It’s a solution that can accommodate everyone. It allows companies space to move to the cloud at their own pace.”

MyWorkDrive invites all Managed Services Providers around the globe to explore their solution as a simple pathway to creating additional cloud recurring revenue by participating in their partner channel. Sign up today.

Image: Intivix

This article, "IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Georgia State University tackles malware with Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

Today’s post was written by Ren Flot, chief information security officer and director of cyber security at Georgia State University.

georgia-state-university-tackles-malware-pro-pixAs the chief information security officer at Georgia State University, my job is focused on balancing the needs of an academic community—where faculty and students value broad access and flexibility in online research—with the security requirements of a large enterprise. Advancing both these requirements calls for a proactive approach to combating malware. In a threat landscape that is constantly changing, I look for products that can deliver effective protection, while helping us make efficient use of our cyber security team’s time and resources. To meet these needs, we acquired Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection to increase email security for our more than 55,000 students and more than 6,000 faculty and staff.

The cyber security team at Georgia State University had noticed a steady uptick in malware attacks, particularly phishing, and it felt like we were fighting fires every day. The security of our university community in digital spaces is an important priority, so we aimed to get ahead of the problem. It was clear that an additional layer of security was needed. To address the issue, we selected Advanced Threat Protection, because detection and protection against malware attacks would be handled within a Microsoft cloud environment, freeing up time for us to focus on other security and IT tasks.

After deploying the solution to a pilot group, we saw a significant reduction in the number of malicious emails reaching our users, and by the time we completed our implementation, we had reduced the number of emails that got through with malicious content by more than 2,000 messages over a five-month period. Today, Advanced Threat Protection has become an important part of the toolset that is helping us take a proactive stance against malware. This hosted email filtering solution also interoperates very smoothly with our Office 365 email system, providing a highly secure productivity platform.

And implementation was accomplished quickly and easily, with support from Microsoft FastTrack. Our team has also found the management controls and user-based settings available within the solution to be very configurable, an advantage given the range of user groups—faculty, staff and students—that we have to consider in the higher education environment. The Safe Links feature has been particularly useful in our environment, because students share a lot of links while working on projects, and it has performed well at helping prevent inadvertent access to malware through links and attachments. The solution is seamless from a user experience perspective, and the product is unobtrusive, working efficiently in the background.

Georgia State University’s security profile has been significantly enhanced as it relates to email through use of Advanced Threat Protection. Today, we have a solution that is nearly invisible, while providing staff and students a safer environment in which to work and study.

—Ren Flot

The post Georgia State University tackles malware with
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection
appeared first on Office Blogs.



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IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t

Sponsored Post

Intivix is so serious about the Cloud that they developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to access both cloud and on-premise servers.

Business partners Rob Schenk and Dan Gordon, founders of Intivix, an IT company based in San Francisco, are serious about the Cloud. So serious that not only do they offer many cloud-based services to their clients, but they also have funded and developed a remote access solution that enables businesses to get to their files either from on-premise servers or those hosted in the cloud.

The solution, called MyWorkDrive, was designed with simplicity in mind, born out of clients’ frustrations over problems with accessibility.

“I just want to be able to access my work files reliably without a bunch of hassles,” said Gordon in a telephone interview with Small Business Trends, referring to complaints he had received from clients.

In the past, remote access required the use of complex VPNs and error-prone synching software — a problem Schenk and Gordon determined to resolve. Furthermore, other clients didn’t feel comfortable moving all their files to a cloud-only based service like DropBox.

“Clients wanted the flexibility of gaining access to files from anywhere, just as if they were in their office,” he said. “We tested and reviewed many solutions and ended up not finding anything that was the right fit. Platforms were either very expensive, very cumbersome or challenging to maintain.”

Instead of a third-party platform, Schenk and Gordon built MyWorkDrive, a direct and easy way for customers to get to their files from any location, using both desktop and mobile devices (browser-based or the familiar mapped drive mechanism).

“MyWorkDrive natively integrates with the security and permissions of Active Directory that’s already set up for all our customers, so we didn’t have to reinvent that stuff,” Gordon said. “We wanted something very simple, very targeted and tied right into Microsoft Active Directory. That’s where we’re at today.”

Gordon added that, with marketing efforts now in place, many MSPs are beginning to use the product, in addition to all of Intivix’s clients.

A unique feature only available with MyWorkDrive, according to Gordon, lets users double-click on a document right from the web, edit it directly in Office or in Office 365 and save it back to the local or cloud-based server.

“We can open it in Office 365 and conduct searches on the file server, to give people a full experience without them having to install anything on their computer,” he said. “We have a patented connector that they can enable (with no firewall rules or certificates to deal with), and then their server will be available online once we install the software, which takes about 20 minutes.”

Gordon cited one company that has a large file server consisting of eight terabytes of data as an example of MyWorkDrive’s capabilities.

“The company has a lot of staff who have to go out and take a number of photos in the field,” he said. “Being able to access those [photos] from anywhere, with indexed search, along with the ability to upload massive amounts of files from a service at gigabit speed, makes MyWorkDrive a good option for them.”

Pricing for MyWorkDrive ranges from $49.99 per month for up to 20 users to $1,200 for an enterprise license that supports 500 users. The company makes custom pricing available for corporations with a larger user base. In addition, they are actively collaborating with Managed Service Providers around the world to join their partner channel with compelling partner discount and internal use rights.

While MyWorkDrive takes up much of Schenk’s and Gordon’s time, Intivix does offer other cloud-based services, including hosting through Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, as well as migration to Office 365 and Google for Work.

When asked about the risks and problems associated with transitioning clients to the cloud, Gordon takes a measured tone, saying that people get sold on cloud solutions without thinking through all the ramifications.

“We’ve picked up clients who didn’t do proper requirements gathering before they migrated to a cloud solution and have been unhappy with the results.'” he said. “Ultimately, they end up going through a migration with another provider and realize later that it doesn’t support all their requirements like Office 365 Email does. ‘It doesn’t have the Outlook feature that our users want’ they say, for example. In the end, we have worked with clients where we had to redo the migration away from other cloud solutions.”  

Gordon feels that many times, customers simply give in to the hype surrounding the benefits the cloud is supposed to provide, but that fall short when put into practice.

“They don’t really even know or understand what the word ‘cloud’ means,” he said. “They think, ‘It’s going to save me money. It’s going to make my life easier.’ When that doesn’t happen then they have to deal with the ramifications.”

While Gordon asserts that the cloud isn’t right for everyone, he believes certain applications could be beneficial.

“I would say there are targeted cloud applications that make a huge amount of sense for companies,” he said, “but it’s not for everyone at this point.”

He cited Office 365 as an example.

“I think you’ve seen a lot of people moving to Office 365,” he said. “That’s a very targeted solution that makes a lot of sense, that makes emails what the phone used to be.”

Regarding full implementation, however, Gordon said that as long as security and bandwidth aren’t an issue using cloud-based applications can be a useful strategy but can also be a disaster if not well thought through.

He does agree that in five to ten years, the cloud may be more ubiquitous but at this juncture, there are legacy-type businesses whose workflows, training and knowledge levels have not sufficiently advanced to the point where full adoption makes sense. It’s a pragmatic approach that takes into account where his client companies are regarding readiness.

“Companies are biting off more than they can chew in moving to the cloud when all they’re looking for, in many cases, is akin to what they already have,” he said. “That’s why MyWorkDrive isn’t exclusively cloud-based but also incorporates access to on-premise servers. It’s a solution that can accommodate everyone. It allows companies space to move to the cloud at their own pace.”

MyWorkDrive invites all Managed Services Providers around the globe to explore their solution as a simple pathway to creating additional cloud recurring revenue by participating in their partner channel. Sign up today.

Image: Intivix

This article, "IT Company Builds Software Platform for Cloud-ready Companies and Those That Aren’t" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store

You’ve got an angry—no, downright irate—customer in your store. They’re causing a ruckus and clearly making your other customers uncomfortable. What can you do to keep things from spiraling out of control?

How to Deal With an Angry Customer

Plan Ahead

Before this situation ever happens, plan ahead for how to handle it. If your retail store is in an area with a security presence, such as a shopping center, have the phone number for security at the checkout counter or on speed dial, along with the phone number for local police or sheriff.

Train your salespeople to be observant. By greeting customers as they come into the store and keeping an eye on the entire store, they can often spot someone who’s becoming upset. For example, if a long line is forming at the checkout counter, an angry customer might start off by looking angrily at his watch, then start sighing loudly, then pacing and muttering to himself. Reaching out to him with a proactive, “Thank you for your patience today; I’ll be with you as soon as I can,” can help.

Explain to your salespeople how to handle irate customers using the tips below.

Engage With the Customer

Remain calm. It’s natural to get defensive when someone is angry at us, but calm is your best tool in this situation. Raising your voice, arguing or being sarcastic will just escalate the situation.

Use the customer’s name. Find out the person’s name and use it while talking to them: “Mr. Wilson, can you explain the problem to me so I can help?”

Listen. By the time a customer is exploding with rage, the actual problem that sparked the anger is not the primary issue on their minds. Let the customer explain what they are angry about. Don’t interrupt, no matter how irrelevant it seems. You need to let them get their emotions out before they can be rational.

While you are listening, watch your body language. Look the customer in the eye. Don’t put on a defensive posture, such as crossing your arms. Use an open stance; this shows you’re willing to listen. Don’t fidget, show impatience, roll your eyes, raise your eyebrows or sigh.

Once the customer is finished talking, express understanding, focusing on the feelings first and the actual problem second: “I’m sorry you’re feeling frustrated by X.”

Next, take a “we’re in this together” approach to the actual problem. Enlist the angry customer to work with you to find a solution: “Let’s come up with a solution you’ll be happy with.”

Getting Physical

If you’re worried the customer is going to become physically aggressive or violent:

Never touch an angry customer. You may be tempted to reach out and pat the person on the shoulder or lightly touch his or her arm. That could make them even angrier or put you at risk.

Put something between yourself and the customer, such as the checkout counter or a desk. If you can’t put a physical barrier between the two of you, leave several feet of space. Getting too close to an angry customer can make him or her feel threatened.

Take the angry customer aside. Ask the customer to follow you to another part of the store to discuss the problem. If the customer is someone who thrives on the drama of being the center of attention, getting away from other customers can help deflate them.

Remind the person of the presence of other customers. “Sir, I understand that you’re upset, but you are upsetting my other customers. Can we please discuss this calmly?”

Remain confident and in control. It’s important to put limits on the situation. Remind the customer that you want to help resolve the issue but in order to do that, you need them to calm down.

Get Them Out

If none of the above tactics work, calmly ask the customer to leave. Then move toward the store exit. Chances are, he or she will follow you—if only to continue yelling at you. Keep moving until you get the person outside. Stay outside and wait until he or she is out of view to go back inside.

If the customer refuses to leave, tell them calmly, “Sir, if you won’t leave the store, I’m going to have to call security/the police.” Often, this is enough to snap a person back to reality.

Ounce of Prevention

The best approach to customer rage is to prevent it in the first place. By making sure that your store is adequately staffed; that you and your employees are alert to what’s going on inside the store; and that you always provide friendly, efficient service, you’ll have a safer, more pleasant environment.

How have you dealt with an enraged customer in your store? How did you handle it?

Customer is Angry Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How to Calm an Angry Customer In Your Store" was first published on Small Business Trends



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