From Meeting Madness to Meeting Effectiveness

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Dear fellow meeting hater,

Let’s be honest. Is there anyone here who doesn’t hate meetings? At least to some extent? Don’t worry, we’re not judgmental. Personally, I am a meetings-hater. Yes, I hate meetings.  There. I said it. And as it turns out, I find that it’s quite trendy to be a meetings-hater nowadays. But at the same time, having way too many meetings is still considered a sign of being important, in a very weird way.I hate meetings

Here’s a familiar scenario for all of us:  You receive an email with the invitation to a meeting. No subject, no description. You don’t know why you are invited to participate, what is the meeting agenda or the goal of the meeting. But the funny thing is that, eventually, you always accept. It is kind of automatic action – “accept”. And then you look at your calendar and, magically, you have three or four meetings that same day. And then you look at the other days of the week. Same story. And then you look at your to-do list, at your personal planning, and then you wonder when you will have time to go on with your own work, besides all those meetings.

That is why I hate meetings.

After reflecting on this personal experience (that I am pretty sure could be considered a universal experience), I decided that this madness needed to stop. I am fed up, overwhelmed. I have to do something. And just by reading some research (which I really like to do), I found that according to many studies, meetings occupy 15% or even 37% of professionals’ time at work. Moreover, CEOs spend 85% of their time meeting or working with others. That’s crazy! Now, I am not a CEO myself, but I can imagine that if I – in my humble position – am already overwhelmed, a CEO must definitely be on the verge of going crazy.

So, this personal introduction is aimed to make you feel comfortable with saying “stop, time-out”. You deserve it.

Meetings are fundamental for the life of an organization, we all know that. You have meetings to collaborate, take decisions, brainstorming, prototype, problem-solving, discuss progress and so on. But we cannot allow meetings to run our working day and professional lives. We are so used to be meetings-dependent that we could not even imagine our day without meetings. Unfortunately, I don’t have the magic power to free you from meetings. But, what we all could do is learning how to have smarter (and fewer) meetings. I wrote down a couple of guidelines and steps for you to start your path towards salvation.salvation

Step 1: Decide if this meeting is necessary

Try to identify and distinguish the different types of meetings that take place in your organization. Your objective is to specifically detect those meetings that are a waste of time (for you and your organization). These typically are:

  • Poorly designed: no description, no agenda, no goals.
  • Poorly facilitated: no pre-meeting preparation.
  • Poorly attended: right people are not in the meeting, or those that are attending aren’t paying sufficient attention;
  • Poorly concluded: the goals of the meetings were not reached; the session has not been recorded; no notes taken or shared; there is no follow-up.

Step 2: Make meetings more effective

After having recognised the unnecessary meetings (and have deleted them from your agenda), you should better focus on improving the effectiveness of the meetings you really need to attend. Six ingredients are necessary – at least:

  • A clear and actionable agenda;
  • Investment in pre-meeting preparation;
  • The right people attending and participating;
  • A good meeting process (including facilitation);
  • Capturing of accurate meeting notes or task assignments;
  • Timely post-meeting follow-up.

Step 3: Use technology that actually helps

To make your meetings more effective, you can apply the rules stated above. But if you want to do it even smarter, then technology is here to help. Office 365 offers Microsoft Teams for this purpose, for example. This tool allows you to improve the quality of your meetings in many ways;

  • Reduce the number of face to face meetings. If your team members are dislocated, no need to make them travel miles to meet up altogether. Online (remote) meetings are perfectly fine! The audio and video quality are very good and you can invite as many participants as you want (inside and outside your organization).
  • You can set a meeting agenda. This will appear on the event when your participants will receive the invitation and will be always visible on their calendar.
  • You can easily record the meeting you are having with your team and include meeting notes in OneNote or other meeting material in the same place. This means no need to send out every time hundreds of emails with the PowerPoint you used or the notes/feedback you took. Everything will stay in the same team or channel on Microsoft Teams. If somebody needs that material, they can just look it up themselves in the files of the team.
  • Join your meetings everywhere, with every device. Normally you join a meeting in person. But with no need to travel, you could also join remotely with your laptop and Microsoft Teams. But what if you are stuck in the train with no wi-fi? No problem! With the Microsoft Teams mobile app, you could also join the meeting with your phone while commuting (with the same functionalities of your laptop).

This is just a short list of the multiple things you could do with Microsoft Teams to make your meetings more effective. For a real-life example about how you could apply Microsoft Teams in your organizational meetings, read the blog Sales meetings with Microsoft Teams and OneNote.

Step 4: If you’re a manager, improve your meeting skills

Managers should improve their skills in scheduling, chairing and performing meetings. The basics are: knowing when to call meetings, how to prepare an agenda, how to encourage participation and how to manage cultural differences and resolve the conflict. Apart from the basics, there are other main rules:

  1. Plan the meeting in advance. Plan the meeting and create an agenda with the topics to address, the documents and files necessary to be attached to the agenda, plan the time you need to extensively discuss a topic, without exceeding the maximum time for tolerance.
  2. Establish ground rules. Define rules and roles in your organization’s meetings. Everyone has to know how to behave and what to expect from a meeting.
  3. Ask for feedback.at the end of every session, it is good to spare some time for feedback on the efficiency of the meeting, in the participant’s perception. To increase the effectiveness of a meeting, attendees should periodically critique it for what can be improved.
  4. Change your meeting culture step by step. Major improvements do not occur overnight but gradually — one meeting at a time. Start by improving just one meeting per week. This can to significant benefits for the organization while also contributing to the motivation of employees with the aim to make every meeting productive in the future.

That sounds like things we could start doing, right? It’s all about taking small steps. Sure, technology can help to improve the quality (and quantity) of your meetings, but you need to learn the basic rules of having smarter meetings first. It takes time, dedication and way more than what’s listed above, but you’ll have to start somewhere. Why not start with things we can control?

By having more productive meetings, you will certainly reduce the number of unnecessary sessions on your agenda, reach better your goals and…maybe you could even learn to love your meetings!

Stay tuned for more content on how to transform your Meeting Madness into Meeting Effectiveness.

Enabling Firstline Workers to Learn and Succeed

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At what used to be called Mobile World Congress – now just MWC – which started in Barcelona this past weekend, Microsoft released the new version of its mixed reality headset: HoloLens 2. There’s enough coverage out there on how HoloLens 2 advances the craft compared to the first generation, so rather than focusing here on the greater field of view, improved comfort and better wearability of HoloLens 2, I want to talk briefly about one of the very cool applications of the technology for first-line workers.

With the release of HoloLens 2, Microsoft has pushed very hard not just to have great tech available, but also to demonstrate where HoloLens 2 can make a practical difference for people in business contexts. Microsoft talks about this as increasing the time-to-value of using HoloLens, so that customers don’t have to buy the headsets and then build the applications that deliver value using them. As always, it’s the effective use of the tool that delivers return-on-investment, not merely having it available.

One of the new time-to-value applications released by Microsoft is called Dynamics 365 Guides. This new application – in the Dynamics 365 stack rather than the Office 365 one – enables the creation of mixed reality training materials for people working on physical objects, with machinery, or on a production line. The intent is to increase the ability of an employee to learn the process steps in carrying out a sequential job on a factory floor, such as installing the sleeping compartment in a long-haul truck (as one early adopter of HoloLens and Dynamics 365 Guides is doing). Instead of separating the learning from the doing – by putting new workers through classroom training that is removed from the factory floor and tries to teach a process that involves real objects with only paper workbooks or PowerPoint slides – the training is designed to work directly on the factory floor. Turn up, don a HoloLens, and get the job done while being given step-by-step visual instructions that are superimposed on whatever object you are working with. And in a cool link with Office 365, employee performance can be analysed using Power BI for identifying where new or better instruction is needed, or where the process could be improved through better design.

I like what I see here: not just an emphasis on delivering new technology, but showing possibilities for how work could be improved, and providing the capabilities to bring those new possibilities to life.

Effective Use of Microsoft Teams

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I talked the other day about the need for something more than active use when assessing how a product in Office 365 is actually being used and advanced the idea of “effective use” as a better measure of the quality of adoption. I offered an example from the world of PowerPoint for the quality of usage, and while acknowledging the scale was coarse and unrefined, suggested three buckets: low effectiveness, medium effectiveness, and high effectiveness.

Interestingly, on the same day, Tony Redmond posted on Petri on The Joys of Managing Large Microsoft Teams. As I had just written my own blog post on effective use, I read Tony’s blog post with interest through that lens. In the table below, I have taken Tony’s ideas for managing large teams and grouped them into low, medium and high effectiveness.

 

 

Low Effectiveness Medium Effectiveness High Effectiveness
 Adding Team Members Add team members manually one at a time. Import a distribution list or use PowerShell to extract membership information from another source. [Option 1] Use a joining code for the team, enabling self-joining. [Option 2] Use dynamic teams in Azure AD, which uses a query against Azure AD to manage team membership based on particular criteria (e.g., department name).
Reviewing Team Membership Use the Teams client (desktop or browser), which lacks sortable columns and search facets. Reviewing team membership in the Teams Admin Center (rights permitting), because columns are sortable.
General Channel Open access for starting conversations, by any team member. Preference to use another channel for conversations, but use the General channel if you don’t know where to start. Restrict the use of the General channel for managing the team and announcing information that's of relevance to everyone in the team.
Channel Design Make no attempt to develop the right channels before releasing a new team. Develop some channels, but don’t keep channels in line with the work of the team. Guide conversations to the right channels, by pre-designing the conversation space.
Etiquette Make no attempt to define etiquette or discuss and explore the collaboration practices that make Microsoft Teams flourish. Define etiquette but do nothing to model or practice it. Have a one-time conversation with no follow-through. Describe, model and practice team etiquette, such as starting new topics with a title, and replying to existing topics rather than spawning anarchy in the conversation space.
Tool Selection Use Microsoft Teams for all teams and discussions, because this is what “the cool kids” across the world are doing. Evaluate using Yammer instead of Teams for very large teams and company-wide discussions, because this is what Yammer is supposedly best at in Office 365.

On reviewing the above table, it’s not hard to imagine that:

  • Microsoft has some holes to fill. For example, Microsoft Teams should offer much better tools to team owners for reviewing current team members.
  • The organisational team responsible for the successful adoption of Microsoft Teams in your organisation needs to set the context for successful adoption, through guidance on team etiquette, conversation space design, and tool selection.
  • New team owners could be taken through a training course to explore and explain how to use Microsoft Teams in a way that pushes on the ideas in the high effectiveness column.
  • A qualitative assessment tool could be developed for team owners to regularly review the use of Microsoft Teams, highlighting areas of improvement.
  • A quantitative assessment tool could be developed to look at events such as general channel misuse, number of topics without titles, and replies that spawn new topics rather than appending to existing topics.

The above table could be complemented with a whole range of additional ideas and signals; this is merely a starting place.

Download our Adoption Plan for Microsoft Teams!

Driving Change into Daily Life

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One of the principles of achieving effective change is to embed it into the habits and practices of everyday life.

  •  If you want to lose weight (e.g., change your weight)—then watch everything that goes into your mouth. Every spoonful counts. Every day.
  •  If you want to get fitter (e.g., change your fitness level)—then put your exercise avenue of choice on your calendar every day, whether that’s a swim, a bike ride through the mountains, a spin class, a long run, a weights session at the gym, or a walk with a friend (dogs count too).
  • If you want to achieve a long-range goal that can’t be done in a single day, then do something every day that moves you closer to the realisation of that goal. If it’s writing a book, write a page a day. If it’s becoming a blogger, write a post a day. If it’s saving money, transfer something every day into your savings account. If it’s reading a book a week, read 1-2 chapters every day.

As consultants and advisors on a particular type of change—working with people and organisations on adopting new technology that helps them get better—we really love the principle of every day. New ways of working, new ways of collaborating, better ways of interacting and driving forward the pursuit of the organisation, has to be an everyday event (or it’s just words on the wall). In some cases, “every day” doesn’t work because that’s not the cadence, and so “every time” is the perfectly acceptable alternative.

Here are some examples of where every day / every time can be used:

  • You are calling a meeting. Every time you do, prepare an agenda—because an agenda is one of the most important keys to more effective meetings. Every time.
  • You are the leader of a group, and you are championing a change in toolset to achieve a better result set. Every time you meeting with your group, talk about the change, find out how things are progressing, identify any roadblocks, and mitigate where possible. Every time.
  • Your organisation is introducing Microsoft Teams, and you see the power of Teams to drive greater transparency in communication, greater consistency in coordination, and greater options for seamless collaboration. Open Teams every day, see what is happening, respond and comment, and do your own work for the team inside Teams. Every day.

Tiny Habits, one of the adoption strategies we introduce to our clients, is all about changing behaviour by changing what you do when triggered. A trigger such as “I need to check my email” leads to the behaviour of checking your email, but if you change your response to that trigger—”I need to check in with my team in Microsoft Teams”—then initial behaviour starts to shift and change long-term outcomes. Tiny Habits is every time, which probably happens multiple times every day.

Every day. Every time. Welcome to the new.

Something More Than Active Use

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Microsoft measures whether someone is using Office 365 based on what they call “active use,” which is measured as at least a single interaction with a given workload in Office 365 during a month. So if you read or send a single email in Exchange Online, you’re an “active user” of Exchange Online. If you create a single file in OneDrive for Business, you are an “active user” of OneDrive for Business. If you like a single message on Yammer and do nothing else during the rest of the month, you are still counted as an “active user” of Yammer. It’s a binary option – you either are or aren’t an active user – and the bar is one single event.

From a product usage perspective by the vendor … whatever. As long as the purpose is only to assess who is and isn’t doing something with a given tool, it’s fine. But as a measure of what they’re doing with the workload – how well or effectively they are using it – active use as reported by Microsoft is completely useless. 

Let’s take an example from the world of PowerPoint. You have undoubtedly heard of “death by PowerPoint.” This is when a presenter uses PowerPoint to create and deliver such a boring presentation that his or her listeners come to prefer death over sitting through the remainder of the deck. Sometimes the presenter has no passion for his or her topic and delivers the session in a monotone. Other times he or she just reads the words – every single one of them – from each and every slide, and since the audience can read faster than the presenter can talk, the whole thing drags on until the presenter finally sits down. Or the way the deck is structured is confusing, and it doesn’t convey the message at all.

In the world of higher education, PowerPoint has been found to be toxic for three reasons: slides discourage complex thinking and deep analysis, students see the course as merely a set of slides, and slides discourage reasonable expectations of the learning journey.

From the perspective of active use, however – and Microsoft doesn’t actually measure this for PowerPoint – any use of PowerPoint would classify the presenter as an “active user.” Herein lies the problem. If the user doesn’t use PowerPoint in an effective way – so that he or she gets across the core message that needs to be conveyed – then being an active user is worth nothing.

That means something more than “active use” is required when looking at how tools in Office 365 are put to use, and as a very coarse and unrefined graduated scale, we could say that a user (the person making use of the product offering) can fit into one of three buckets of effectiveness:

  • Low Effectiveness. In PowerPoint terms, creates and delivers slide decks that lead to “death by PowerPoint.”
  • Medium Effectiveness. In PowerPoint terms, the slides complement the spoken words, support the speaker, and get some parts of the message across.
  • High Effectiveness. In PowerPoint terms, slide decks are designed and used to capture attention, get the message across, and move people to action.

Every person using PowerPoint needs to know how to use the tools in PowerPoint (e.g., slides, sections, backgrounds, slide layouts, animation, etc.). But the ones who move out of the low effectiveness bucket have learned to use PowerPoint to advance a goal beyond just using PowerPoint.

Counting active users is simple (and completely useless as a practical measure of adoption). Pursuing effective use is not simple (but extremely important). 

Sleepless in Seattle, Sydney and Stockholm

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If you can’t travel to a conference this year and sleeping isn’t your thing, on February 26-27 the Digital Workplace Group have a 24 hour long extravaganza of digital workplace goodness ready for you. Hosts and guests from around the world will present a continuous broadcast for a full day of the digital workplaces from leading organizations, plus guest interviews and thought leadership spotlights. While you don’t have to pay for travel and accommodation for this conference, there is still a cost associated with attending, and you have the option of also getting the recordings to watch / listen to / learn from after the event has finished.

Case Studies and Thought Leaders

Here’s a couple of things to note:

1. The case studies are intended to include core principles of approach and success, plus a live demo of the digital workplace at the organisation in question. Attending gives an opportunity for you to see something that’s very hard to see under normal conditions. Seeing what others are doing offers a great opportunity to learn and be inspired about what you could do at your organisation. What you do is likely to be different – in line with the needs, culture and work situations at your firm – but the process of turning imagination into a reality benefits from seeing what’s possible and what’s been done elsewhere. Case study presentations are on offer from Volvo, Philips, Finnair, the University of Leicester, and more.

2. The studio guests not from case study organisations will be talking about themes and recurrent patterns of approach and success. As above, it can be hard to line up an insight session with futurists, analysts and thought leaders from around the world, and this 24 hour extravaganza brings many into a single event stream. Studio guests offering insights and expertise include George Muir, Dion Hinchcliffe, Stan Garfield and James Dellow, among others.

DW24 – Coming Soon

The Digital Workplace Group have been running these events for several years. The 2019 edition starts 10am London time on February 26, and ends 24 hours later.

And if sleep is your thing, then tune in and tune out on demand. Or watch the recordings at your leisure.

For more details, please check out the DW24 event page.

How to get the most out of your Microsoft Office 365 investment?

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Your IT manager suggested migrating to Microsoft Office 365, as it has been addressed as the best option now for your company. You trust him, you trust the IT team. So you did the migration, bought the licenses and now all employees are in. The investment was huge, and it’s time to get the most out of it. But how do you know whether and how your employees are going to use and exploit the possibilities that Office 365 can offer them in terms of productivity, collaboration and smart working?
By helping your end-users understand how those capabilities can improve their team collaboration and simplify their day-to-day tasks, you can make some positive changes for your company, starting to act for your return on investment.

 

Return on investment

 

 

1. Use Targeted Communications

To change the behavior of your end-user community and make them adopt the new technology, a communication strategy is essential. First of all, you have to create awareness and information about what is going on and what this changes will mean for end users.
You need to customize the message to their job role and specify how the new features can help them to be more productive, meaning do more in less time. So, focus on your audience and their needs. The critical question is “What’s in it for me? “ In other words, highlight the benefits for them.

2. Media mix

To implement your communication strategy, you can use several channels.
Printed material such as posters, flyers, brochures, and reference cards. They can be put up in common areas such as break rooms, printer bays, and bathrooms. Communicate your message and boost discussions, questions, dialogues.
Live events such as webinars, workshops, lunch and training. These are a great way for IT to engage with end users, learn about how the tool works, and discover many opportunities to solve real business problems with Office 365.
Audiovisual material. Videos broadcasted in your collaboration platform, internal organizational channels, WhatsApp groups, social media, intranet, corporate emails and newsletter.

media mix

3. Word of mouth

The good old way of communicating always works. People like to talk with people about what is happening in the organization. Everyone is involved in the word of mouth process to communicate the changes and marketing the new technology. Executives and managers are not excluded. They also have to tell their direct reports to peers telling peers. You can harness the power of peers telling peers by creating a champions program.

4. Champions program

Identify people in your company who see the value of Office 365 through personal experience and are willing to mentor their peers. They will be your ambassadors, promoting the use of the tools to their colleagues and inspiring them to follow their example.

5. Technical support for new users

The IT Helpdesk staff should be trained in what Office 365 can do, as well as how to support users facing problems and difficulties. Moreover, the IT help desk can identify a business productivity problem that Office 365 can solve in ways the end user is not aware, or discover common issues experienced by users that need more training.

6. Learning opportunities

Whether it is e-learning sessions, workshops, live or virtual training, the most important thing is to help users familiarize and experiment with Office 365. Learning how it works, the concrete possibilities and actions they can do in the daily work explained by experts is fundamental to avoid the barriers that can stop new users to adapt to the new tools.

 

conference call Skype

 

7. Keep track and monitor the progress

To do so, Microsoft provides many tools, such as Microsoft 365 usage analytics within Power BI. Thanks to this tool, you can gain insights on how your organization is adopting the various services within Office 365 to communicate and collaborate. You can visualize and analyze Office 365 usage data, create custom reports and share the insights within your organization and gain insights into how specific regions or departments are utilizing Office 365.

 

These seven points represent some tips and general ideas on how to proceed when a new technology, like Office 365, is being introduced in your company. However, to ensure a positive rate of user adoption and a successful change management strategy that will pay back your investment, a more structured user adoption strategy and change management methodology are needed.

Pace methodology SilversideSilverside PACE methodology is made of four phases: Prepare, Activate, Capitalise, Enhance. Managing the organizational changes in the method of working and in technologies is just easier for managers, consultants and end users. Firstly, be aware of the organizational culture of your company and plan a complete and predictive change management strategy in all the aspects. Secondly, acquire the new collaborative business vision and the technologies necessary to implement the strategy. A user adoption strategy is fundamental at this stage to instill change at every level in the organization. Lastly, optimize the value gained by adjusting the strategy, address key challenges and align with the required business outcomes.

Download the PACE whitepaper! 

Top 9 tech trends you don't want to miss in 2019

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A new year has just started. It’s that time of the year in which you need novelties. We all feel more innovative and with good prompts. Especially if you are a digital savvy or technology lover, I am sure you already made some researches to find out what you can expect from 2019 regarding innovations and technology. I wrote this blog to put things together and to make your search easier.  After some accurate research, these 9 points summarize the best (and newest) technology trends for this year. 

1. More Chatbots and Automation

Chat-botAlmost every brand website now has chatbots that can answer to simple questions. All rigorously automated, with no human intervention needed; it’s not a person you’re talking to, it’s a chatbot. The consumer-facing benefits are numerous. But there are also plenty for businesses who choose to use this technology to help employees with meeting scheduling, research, note-taking, reminders. If in 2018 you probably have had some frustrating experiences with chatbots, this won’t certainly happen in 2019. Huge steps have been made in the way of natural language processing and sentiment analytics.  Some 40% of large businesses have or will adopt chatbots by the end of 2019—which makes it one of our top 2019 digital transformation trends. 

2. API Use and Seamless Integration

In a digital-first workplace, it really is irrelevant where you are physical. You should be able to do your job regardless of your location: at home, in the car, in a cafe on the other side of the world. Remote work it’s just normal nowadays. That’s why seamless integration of digital technology is a must. When some workplace applications are cloud-based and others are on-site, it can be a nightmare for remote employees to work properly.  This is where the API comes in. Employees can find the documents they need easily, share them with colleagues, and seamlessly track progress. APIs are the future of remote working.

3. Focus on User Experience

user experience If your company is undergoing a digital transformation, then this means that core business systems like HR, finance, sales, marketing and management are becoming highly digitalized. Despite the high costs in time and money for the investment, the benefits will be huge in terms of productivity (if you handle the process with care and success). However, if employees do not adopt the new technologies, everything is vain. Instead of benefits, you will just get a big waste of resources. Employees are lost and overwhelmed not only because they do not know how the technology work (and how to use it to make their work done), but also due to the number of regular updates and changes. The solution? Provide a great digital employee experience. Deliver a smooth experience when using the new tool and implement the right user adoption strategy. And remember that a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to 200%. A better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400% and productivity will rocket. 

4. Training and User Adoption Analytics

Big Data keeps on getting better and better. The fields in which Big Data can be used are limitless and It has found its way into the realm of training and digital adoption. How? By providing analytics and insights to help you understand who needs to do what and by when. There are also tools designed specifically to improve the adoption of new digital systems. This data enables to get a deeper understanding of how people are using these new tools. You can learn what adoption issues they’re encountering and deliver the right solutions. Besides quantitative data, it is always important to track and monitor your training and user adoption programs with qualitative data (through interviews, questionnaires, focus groups). In this way, you can combine “numbers” with the real feedback from your employees.

5. Technology will adapt to Users’ Needs

Technology will adapt to users’ needs. Not the other way around. Users don’t need to learn the software anymore. When it comes to eLearning, analytics has the potential to learn more about our specific roles, behaviours, and actions to personalize how we use business software. And again, Artificial Intelligence comes into play. So yes, AI will be a hot topic also in 2019. Specifically, AI can be used combined with analytics to proactively identify who is likely to stop engaging with software, and even provide a notification in the app to prevent any obstacles to engagement and adoption. 

6. Digital-first Approach

The biggest trend of the moment across all industries regards the digital-first approach. With this term, we define a shift in organisational culture away from favouring traditional channels to prioritising digital ones. This approach is the direct consequence of the process of digital transformation that organizations all over the world are embracing. And as we move closer to the third decade of this millennium, organizations that don’t follow this trend are going to get left behind. 

7. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality will be gain the protagonist in gaming and other highly specialized applications. However, virtual reality appears to be not so feasible to be applied in other fields of the marketplace. Instead, augmented reality continues to be at the centre of digital transformation trends for 2019. Augmented reality has found many use cases in enterprise workforce training, only to cite one (useful) example.

8. Connected Clouds

connected cloudThe cloud revolution has been one of the biggest changes for companies in the last few years. Companies are progressively abandoning local storages, replacing them with the cloud. This makes it easier for them to share files and documents, but also collaborate with each other. The cloud revolution has a great impact not only in the way the IT department is changing its role but also in the way employees work and collaborate. In 2019 we can say that moving to the cloud is not a novelty anymore since it’s becoming the norm. Basically, what’s happening is that companies are realizing that going all public cloud, private cloud, or data centre isn’t the best option. Sometimes, they need a mix of all. Thus, connected clouds are continuing to develop to meet companies’ changing needs.

9. CEOs guiding the digital transformation 

Many studies have shown a big desire from employees to see digital transformation start at the very top of the company. Despite this, the evidence says that the task of guiding the digital revolution in companies is being too often delegated to IT, Marketing or HR departments. So even though we’ve seen a range of C-suite leaders charged with taking the reins of digital transformation, I believe that the CEO will and must finally step up in 2019, realizing digital transformation isn’t going anywhere without their commitment and involvement. 

The pace of change regarding technologies will always be very high. But the pace at which these new technologies are changing the way of working and doing business is even higher. 2019 will be a great and exciting year if you are a digital savvy craving for innovations and new developments. But remember that it’s not only about technology. It’s about the intersection of technology, people and business. 

Download our ebook Resistance to Change to get an inspiring view on how to overcome the resistance of employees towards changes in technology and the way of working. 

Sales is the blood circulation of a company

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How important are sales and marketing for your company? The answer may seem obvious. But actually, for many companies, especially in some sectors like IT or logistics, is not.

Harry Clarijs is a trainer and coach at Value Add, a commercial marketing and business coaching and training company in the Netherlands. value addDuring an interview with us, Harry explained how in many cases companies are too focused on technical things and on the quality of their technology products and lose the focus on sales and marketing, losing also many business opportunities. We talked about many things: how during his training he manages to change the behaviour of his customers towards marketing and sales, the barriers to change and he tries to overcome those.

 

Q: Can you tell me something about yourself and your career?

A: I have an IT background. But since the beginning of my career, I was interested in technology and in people. I then shifted to the sales part of IT, becoming a sales manager and then sales director. Then in 2010, I decided that I wanted to go further for myself and so I started my own company, Value Add. I chose to follow my passion for sales and in helping other people to become more successful in sales, a very important area of the business. The main reason is that in IT most people are technical, and do not really care or are not interested in sales and marketing for the products. They are only worried that the products and software are working, and the processes are followed. But sales are fundamental for a business. So, knowing how things work in It, I decided to especially focus on helping IT customers to reach more success in sales and marketing for their companies. A very small example: customers of an IT company, they don’t buy SharePoint, the technical solution itself. Instead, they buy collaboration and what collaboration means to them, also using SharePoint as their means and tool to be collaborative in the digital workplace of today. So, if you focus on collaboration, you can sell more than focusing only on the technical aspects of SharePoint!

Q: And what do you specifically do to spread this message around IT companies? A: Well, first, I organize these power sessions that are a sort of short workshop in which I motivate the customers and make them understand why it is important to focus on sales and marketing for their business. During these sessions, I address common topics like “how to get more customers and how to grow existing customers”. Besides that, I also do coaching, like 1:1 session with the customers. Then I do also training and business cases.

Q: And how does it feel to be a trainer nowadays with an IT background? A: It’s s a very nice feeling! I shifted from a desk job to an office job and now I am always surrounded by people and giving workshops and training. I like to be open and help people with the right training they need, inspire them to achieve more. I enjoy it very much when people are growing also thanks to me and my work. This gives me energy!

Q: What is the main challenge of being a trainer in this field? A: I would say the main challenge is to deal with an audience that is always very different and with different requests, needs and goals. It is important to adjust to them but sometimes it is also hard to speak their own language and to meet their expectations. Also, sometimes it is difficult to make people understand some concepts and above all make them actually implement into their business what I taught to them. Many times, they are very enthusiastic during the sessions, but then they do not act concretely.

Q: So, part of your job is also to make people change their behaviour and ways of working? A: Oh yes, definitely! That is one of the most important parts because if you are not acting, everything you learned remains useless for your business. Q: Yes indeed… A: And you know, change is always difficult. But change is vital for your business. You have to push people to change, otherwise, it’s a waste of time, money and above all opportunities for you and your business. You need to have the right attitude to change.

Q: What is your strategy to make people change? A: Reluctance is something concrete. Many people are reluctant, they are not convinced that the right thing is to change their behaviour and ways of working. But you know, with these people, it doesn’t work to convince them. That is the wrong strategy. Instead, you have to let them practice, see the benefits and the concrete outcomes. Only in that way you are going to succeed with them.

Q: I think that experience is really the best strategy. A: Yes, and it is fundamental to also count the different communication styles of your audience or your customers and use the most appropriate for them.

Q: And in your daily practice, which kind of barriers do you experience the mist in your audience towards change? A: Well some people say that they can do it themselves and they have no need of help from external people since they consider themselves very experiences and thus they think they can do it. But eventually they don’t do it, they don’t even try, and they go on postponing. Some other people do not accept the fact that someone else knows more than they know, and that person can teach them a better way of doing things. But then when they are experiencing the difficulties, then they ask for help and then I help them. So, these are the most frequent obstacles.

Q: And how do you overcome these obstacles? A: What I do is to be patient, helpful and work on making them experience the difficulties and how they can solve them in an easy way. And focus on the results, because everybody, in the end, wants to see the results.

Changing the ways of working of people is always challenging. This is a universally valid concept, applicable to every sector and to every change, learn how to use new technology, a new way of working or a new marketing and sales strategy. However, as Harry tells us, with the right attitude and the appropriate strategy, nothing is impossible. Learn more on our PACE change management strategy and download our PACE whitepaper.

Social media trends 2019

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In the social media world, the pace of change has always been very high. Among the social media apps, new functionalities are constantly released, providing to users an always new and engaging experience. But sometimes, these changes regards also more serious matters than new filters for your Instagram or new emoji for your messages.

social media Regarding this point, 2018 has been a very important year. Indeed, GDPR, the scandal of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, fake news and political events, privacy issues and stealing of data, fish cats, hacks and age restrictions (like in the case of WhatsApp). All this had an impact on how users behave and what they demand from social media. They indeed demand more valuable content for the time spent on social networks, they want also to share more content and communicate with the world while being protected and treated like humans and not like demographics. There is a clear need for truthfulness, humanity and authenticity.

But what about brands and companies that use social media to reach their customers, prospects, employees, partners, and other audiences? How are they reacting to these big changes in the industry? Certainly, it’s not easy to keep on creating valuable and authentic content while dealing with budget constraints and market dynamics.

So, which will be the social media trends for 2019?

Hootsuite, one of the most used and successful social media management solutions, produced a report based on an annual survey of 3,255 Hootsuite business customers, interviews with industry analysts, and exhaustive research. The result? They identified 5 key social media trends for 2019.

Rebuilding trust

trust in teamsWith the recent happenings around fake accounts, stolen data, fake news and Cambridge Analytica, users and consumers are questioning the privacy, accuracy, and ethics of almost every social network. According to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Report, this results in the fact that 60 per cent of people no longer trust social media companies. As a consequence, users are returning to traditional and trusted journalism and local news resources with 71 per cent of people agreeing that social media should do more to support high-quality journalism.

trust

To keep pace with these changes, brands are focusing more on generating transparent, quality engagement. The old-fashioned one-size-fits-all approach to social media is being replaced by personalized, context- and audience-specific messaging. Moreover, to boost trust, companies are leveraging their own internal experts and employee advocates, rather than rely on celebrity influencers.

Storifying Social

instagram stories Storytelling and curiosity are the basis of social media. However, the phenomenon of Stories on social media is only recent. Nowadays it is normal to have the possibility in almost every social media (consider Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram) to have the Stories, namely pictures or short videos with text and emoji that last only 24 hours and that tell what people are doing in real-time. What was born as a sort of “plug-in” for many social media, is now becoming the new favourite format for sharing. Because they’re ephemeral, they are funnier, perceived as real, immediate and extremely personal. Social media is going from text-based platforms originally designed for desktop use to mobile-only networks that enable users to capture in-the-moment experiences. And this is the main trend companies and brand should focus on for 2019, combining high production posts with other styles, like stories.

Closing the ads gap

Pay media and social media advertising are used by almost every company in the world. Marketers in 2018 have even increased their budgets for social media advertisement. But with the popularity of social ads have come new challenges: Prices are increasing and it’s becoming harder to get noticed. Rising costs and fleeting attention have combined to limit ROI for advertisers and reduce overall margins. The solution? Invest in time, creativity, personalization, entertainment and quality of organic content and boost it with a paid advertisement. In three words: High-quality-content.

Improved Social Shopping Technologies

e-commerceDespite the great efforts and expenditure of money in online and social advertisement, numbers clearly state that shopping through social media is not rocketing. The cause most of the times is a lack of the right technology that bridges from social media to commerce. An example that shows that something is moving, is Instagram. Indeed, Instagram’s shoppable posts now allow users to go directly from discovery to checkout without ever leaving the app. Moreover, video, in particular, is proving a critical bridge

for social commerce.

2019 is the year for retailers to experiment with social shopping technologies!

Messaging, namely 1:1 social experiences

messaging

Top messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Skype, now collectively count nearly five billion monthly active users. What’s more, users are spending more time on messaging and less time sharing news on social. This unexpected trend from public to private has also consequences on consumer expectations. Indeed, nine out of ten consumers would like to use messaging to communicate with businesses. Given the level of consumer interest, it’s little surprise that brands are already developing strategies to do messaging right in terms of content marketing, sales, customer support, and more.chatbot

In this scenario, chatbots seem to be THE answer.

Read more about chatbots on our blog Artificial Intelligence? No, Chatbots are dumber than you think.

The impact of Trust in Teamwork

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In November, Silverside participated as a sponsor at the European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference 2018 in Copenhagen. We already wrote about how great this experience was in the blog More User Adoption, Less Technology.

During the event we had the occasion to meet fantastic people, share and confront our ideas with them, getting to know new perspectives, novelties and new ways of working. We also had the chance to interview some new friends, who were willing to share with us their perspectives, opinions and knowledge.

One of these is the company Solu Digital from Finland. Solu Digital is a Microsoft gold partner that provides knowledge management and analysis models for today’s complex business world. At the ESPC conference, they had the booth number 69. After attending a session about the inner and outer loops of Office 365, we were walking through the different booths and we got engaged with this company, attracted by a big word on their wall panel “TRUST”. Why during a technology conference focused on Office 365 these people are showing and promoting the word “TRUST”?

So, curious about the answer, we started talking with Henry Scheinin, CEO and partner, and his colleague Hanna-Mari Ilola. They explained that they produced a whitepaper on trust. Henry uses these words to describe their work:

“We conducted a research to formulate of a whitepaper, on virtual teams and their success factors. We found out that trust is one of the key success factors of virtual teams. We want to facilitate the creation of a swift trust by bringing more transparency and quality of governance to the creation and management of Teams and Groups in Office 365. This way, we are facilitating better collaboration. Our whitepaper was created together with a Finnish academic consulting company called “Deduktia”. The paper was written in three steps. The first step was to do an interview with our customers to formulate the correct research problems. Next, Deduktia’s researcher, Dr Emma Norbäck did a meta-analysis on what scientific literature and discussion have to tell about these specific problems. The third step was to create a whitepaper on the key findings in the study and to translate our research into actionable points for organizations.”

The main result of their research is that trust is a key factor among teams, especially if we are considering international remote teams that have to work together in the modern digital environment. The work of Solu Digital confirms what Silverside believes in and what we explained in our blog: Trust in teams is the core ingredient of collaboration! Silverside had the pleasure to interview Henry and Hanna-Mari and they shared not only information about the whitepaper but also about their main takeaways from the European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference. Here below, we present you a short extract from the interview with them.

 

 

Celebrate the Release of Domino V 10.0.1!

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Just in time for Christmas, IBM/HCL has a nice present for the Notes/Domino community.

new release domino

With the release of Notes/Domino version 10.0.1, “the hot off the press” Notes/Domino version 10 gets over 200 fixes that were identified in the primary v10 release. The new minor-release also contains some nice new features and additions. To me, this is another indication that IBM/HCL is serious with its renewed commitment to invest in the Notes/Domino product line.

Some highlights of the new version are listed below:

• The inclusion of MarvelClient Essentials; a client-endpoint-management-tool to analyse and visualize your Notes endpoints (i.e. PC/Laptops). With this, you can view installation details; local notes.ini; available disc space and RAM; deploy files such as your Notes upgrade package; run programs and manage the Windows Registry. Cool!

• The release of AppDev Pack 1 which Enables full-stack web developing using JavaScript, Node.js and Domino on Linux.

• Verse on Premises 1.0.6: This version includes a GUI-language preference, iCAL import capability and several improvements on the new (preview) calendar form.

• Notes 10.0.1 client for Apple MacOS (incl. IBM’s own embedded JVM)

This is again a welcome signal to the market. Even more after the announcement from HCL a week ago. On 7th December 2018, HCL declared the intention to buy the Lotus stack from IBM. My colleagues and I chewed on this news for a while and we think this is actually a positive development. To be honest we will miss the brand-name of IBM, which actually in recent years seemed to have lost the glimmery power of the past. We do need to get to know HCL because in the private realm they still need to earn our trust. At Silverside we did some research on HCL and we saw that they earned the respect of the Dutch financial sector, working with companies like ING, Rabo and Aegon. In conclusion, HCL has concretely proved to be capable of energizing the Lotus products. This certainly made my enthusiasm grow over the last year, but I’m looking forward to all the things HCL will bring to us in 2019.

Read more about IBM, HCL and Domino 10 on the blog IBM brings native Notes/Domino apps to iPad and more in Domino 10.