Cloud computing is affecting the way that many industries function. With businesses operating in varied sectors benefitting from easy and affordable access to professional software and expert help.
One industry that has possibly been affected more than others is the IT industry. Internal IT support is a long-established part of most companies; many offices would simply grind to a halt without a reliable and knowledgeable IT team.
But with cloud computing fast becoming the norm, how has it affected this essential workhorse of offices around the world?
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the practice of using remote servers to host, manage and process data rather than using local servers to do the job.
As many large internet-based companies only use a small percentage of their server capacity, only retaining the surplus to allow for occasional spike, they can effectively rent out the remainder of their storage space to other companies.
This space is used by other companies for the everyday management of their businesses, that otherwise would need huge servers to operate.
One of the main ways that cloud computing is changing IT support is in its ability to enable collaboration.
The non-geographic nature of the cloud means that many more IT experts can help to solve a given problem.
You no longer have to be sitting in the same office or even the same country to swap ideas and hypothesis on the latest computer glitch.
A company’s in house IT team can quickly and easily collaborate with the IT team of the host provider to identify issues, helping both companies to refine and improve their practices.
This worldwide collaboration also encourages, and gives a platform to, IT innovation. Ideas that are exchanged between continents will help to further develop IT solutions, making the cloud better for everyone.
Cloud computing can also free up time that previously was given over to problem solving. Having a remote team that is dedicated to problem solving, means that an in house team can concentrate on innovating and improving techniques and procedures.
The idea of a standard 9-5 day has long been seen as old fashioned as markets and industries spread around the world, and international business is conducted almost 24-hours a day. However solving problems within the restrictions of a normal working day can still be an issue.
Cloud computing means that technical issues can be addressed and rectified 24-hours a day, seven days a week, whether the office is open or not.
This can help to streamline companies, and make them more competitive on the global field.
The capacity of cloud computing is such that some companies can do away with physical premises altogether.
Businesses that use the internet for the bulk of their activities, can have employees working anywhere in the world that WiFi is available, with remote IT support available to sort out any issues that may arise.
For companies working in IT support, cloud computing can lower their costs substantially. With a reduced need for premises, overheads can be reduced, and by only paying for the server space you require, you’re not spending unnecessarily.
With technology at the heart of daily life, IT support will always be in demand. The advent of cloud computing has, and will, change the nature of the work that IT support will undertake and how they will undertake it.
Gone are the days of the lonely office expert desperately trying to keep up with demand, now IT support can be available wherever and whenever it’s required.
If you are looking for a new IT support partner contact Cheeky Munkey for a quotation.
Many start-up companies and small businesses find it beneficial to outsource work to virtual assistants. It prevents them from having to take on the cost and responsibility of hiring in-house staff, whilst still benefitting from having someone to support them in the day to day running of their business. If you are thinking of outsourcing work to an outside contractor then read on to find out our top tips on how to choose the best virtual assistant.
Fit for purpose
Before you even begin your search for a virtual assistant, you need to have a clear idea of the tasks you expect them to manage. Many small business owners will simply require their virtual assistant to carry out basic tasks such as answering telephone calls, mail forwarding, invoicing and other admin tasks. However others may require their virtual assistant to take on larger projects such as social media management, digital strategizing or project management. Having a good idea of the tasks you expect your virtual assistant to carry out will determine what skills they need to possess. This will make it much easier to narrow down your choice.
Research and references
Whilst the testimonials on a virtual assistants’ website are a great place to start your research into their credentials, it is unlikely that they are going to publish negative comments about their business! If you are looking for an honest review of a virtual assistant, then why not ask them for their references or email a few of the companies that have worked with them. This will give you a better idea of the virtual assistant’s performance and reliability, helping you to decide whether they are right for your business.
Your virtual assistant will be the middle person between your clients and business so it is essential that they can represent your company in a way that you are happy with. A virtual assistant should possess excellent customer service skills and be capable of turning around tasks in a timely manner. Check their qualifications and experience for a better idea of their ability to represent your company.
The idea of having a virtual assistant is to help you manage your work load so that you have more time to spend on other important tasks. Therefore it is important that your assistant is there whenever you need them to be. Find out what hours they are available to work for you and whether they offer extended hours of service, such as evenings and weekends. If you are looking to increase the time that your phone lines are open for customers to call in, then you will need a virtual assistant that is able to commit to those hours.
If you are looking a virtual assistant that can also provide a virtual office address, then you will need to find out where they are located. If you are looking to target a certain geographical area, then you will want to find a virtual assistant that is based in that area. Alternatively you may be looking to enhance the size of your business, through using a prestigious address. To do this you will need to choose a virtual assistant that operates in a major city like London.
With so many people offering their services as virtual assistants, it can be hard to know who to choose. Whilst the cost of their services will play a part in your decision, it is more important to find a virtual assistant that can meet the needs and requirements of your business. By conducting thorough research and checking references you will find it easy to narrow your choice down to a virtual assistant that can provide the support you need.
By Megan Hunt
Today many people run their own businesses from home as it saves on the costs associated with leasing an office or other business premises. Although there is nothing wrong with working from home, to some clients it screams unprofessionalism. In this article we will explain how you can alter people’s perception of your small business by using a mail forwarding service.
What is mail forwarding?
A company offering a mail forwarding service will act as an intermediary platform between a business and its clients. They will give home-businesses a physical corporate address which they can use on their business cards and stationary. Clients will then send their mail to the business address, where the mail forwarding company will sort the letters and packages before posting them to the business owner’s home address.
In the business world it is all about creating a good impression, with location playing a huge part in this. If you are based at home it can often give clients the impression that you are new and perhaps are not able to offer them the same standard of service as a larger business. By using a mail forwarding service you can have a prestigious business address in a large city like London or Manchester. This will give clients the impression that your business operates from that address, and will have no reason to think you run your business from home.
Using a mail forwarding service will also mean that you do not have to give out your home address to clients. Your home is a place of privacy so it is understandable that you do not want your clients to know where you live. The mail forwarding company will be able to sort out your mail for you so you do not receive junk mail through your door every day.
How to choose a mail forwarding company
If you have decided that using a mail forwarding company would be beneficial to your small business, then it is important to spend time finding a company that can meet your needs and requirements. Make sure you find out where they are located, as their address will be the business address that you give out to your clients. If you want your customers to think your business is located in London, then you will need to choose a mail forwarding company that is located in that area. You will also need to find out the turnaround times of the mail forwarding services, to ensure you will always receive your letters and packages in a timely manner.
Some mail forwarding companies look like they offer cheap rates on the face of it but can ask for six months or even one year up front to achieve these rates. As a small business you will not want to be tying up your valuable cash by paying up front and will want flexibility to leave the service if your business changes direction.
Sometimes small business owners can feel like they are at a disadvantage working from home, rather than at a prestigious business premises. Mail forwarding services are the solution to this common issue, as they provide home-run businesses with a prestigious business address that looks professional and impressive to customers.
Many small businesses often do not have the in-house resources available to take high volumes of calls. Unfortunately this can lead to dissatisfied customers, loss of business and a rather stressful work-life. If you have found yourself in this situation, then why not consider outsourcing your administrative workload to a virtual receptionist? In this article we will explain five of the ways a virtual receptionist will benefit your small business.
1. Increased efficiency
As a small business owner you will know just how time consuming mundane paperwork tasks and other admin activities can be. Outsourcing these tasks to a virtual receptionist will enable you to focus on more important elements of your business, such as sales, admin or how to improve efficiency. You will have more time to focus on what you to best, whilst your virtual receptionist answers emails, handles your invoices and schedules your meetings. Whilst benefiting from better time management, you will also have the peace of mind knowing your virtual receptionist will never miss an important call.
2. Quality customer service
The virtual receptionist you work with will have been trained in customer service and have the necessary skills and experience to ensure they can fulfil the role to a high standard. Each phone call they take for your business will be handled in a professional manner, ensuring your customers are always completely satisfied with the service they are receiving. Whilst providing exceptional customer service for your business, a virtual receptionist will also be able to take calls beyond regular office hours.
Although running your own business is extremely satisfying, at times it can also be very stressful. A virtual receptionist will provide support that you can rely on. They will ensure that your business is organised at all times, by keeping paperwork up to date and passing on phone and email messages as they receive them. The thought of not having to manage everything on your own can be quite comforting!
4. Cost effective
Outsourcing your admin tasks to a virtual receptionist will eliminate the expense of employing a full time worker. For small business owners in particular, this can work out extremely cost effective as they will usually pay a set fee for the virtual receptionist package, rather than an hourly rate. Outsourcing your workload will also prevent you from needing to pay holiday or sick pay, like you would if you hired a full time employee. There is also no need to worry about office space or purchasing equipment, as the virtual receptionist will work from a separate location, using their own equipment.
5. Increased professionalism
If you work from home, you may find that it is hard to separate your work life from your personal life. By hiring a virtual receptionist to take your calls you will no longer have to worry about being disturbed by clients after hours or at the weekend when you need some personal time. Not only that but it will also make your business look better established and more professional. This is very beneficial for businesses that have recently launched and are looking to make their mark on the industry.
Whether you have recently set up your small business and want to make it appear more reputable, or are simply struggling to handle high volumes of calls by yourself, outsourcing your work to a virtual receptionist is the solution you have been looking for. Not only will hiring a virtual receptionist improve your customer service, but it will also increase your business’s efficiency. You will be able to put your skills to better use, swapping boring paper work tasks for planning and developing new business strategies.
By Megan Hunt
As an organisation with a product to sell, getting people to know your brand and pick it above that of your competitors is a key objective to any marketing campaign. There are all kinds of marketing tools and techniques that can help you get better brand recognition and put your product at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
This is all very well, but unless you understand the benefits of putting your marketing money into brand recognition it’s unlikely to figure amongst your priorities. Take a look at our key benefits below and find out what you could be missing by not paying close enough attention to brand awareness.
Getting a foothold in the market
When you’re just starting out with a new product, making sure people recognise it is an important first step to gaining market share. Once people start to identify your brand and what it stands for, they are much more likely to try it than they would be if they were unaware of the brand and its benefits.
Once you have that foothold, you’ll be more likely to gain ground. As people try the product and word spreads, customers will identify your brand and seek it out for purchase.
Identification and loyalty
People tend to be more loyal to things that are known to them. If given the choice of choosing a new product over one with which they’re familiar – even if they aren’t entirely satisfied with that product and what it offers them – and a new product, most customers will go with what they know.
As faithful and loyal as man’s best friend
Getting people to recognise and identify with your brand is helpful in establishing that degree of familiarity with the product and the company. Once you have that, your competitors will have to compete with you on the back foot and try to get a start in less fertile territory.
While your product may be one of dozens or even hundreds like it in the marketplace, it’s important to find the thing that makes it unique. Often it’s the brand and what it stands for rather than the product itself that has the edge in this area of marketing, making people identify with a broader set of principles and ideals related to the brand rather than just seeing the product in a particular colour of packaging.
Your brand identity says as much about your customer as it does about your company. Deciding how you want your customer to think, feel or react to your product will go a long way towards deciding what you want to get out of brand marketing. Choosing your branding carefully allows you to have an impact on the emotional state of your customer and in so doing create the kind of loyalty and added value that companies crave from marketing.
There’s no company in the world that would pass up the opportunity for a better outcome for less money. Making your marketing budget stretch further will make a difference to your bottom line and will make your accountant and your chief executive equally happy.
Keep control of the purse strings
Improved brand recognition gives you the chance to do this. With a strong brand identity, people tend to have a clear association with what they believe about the brand, products and benefits of buying what you have to sell. With this in mind, there’s less need to spend on costly promotion as with a strong customer understanding of what your brand is all about will do some of the hard work for you.
Improving the awareness of your brand identity amongst your customer base has a whole host of benefits. Improving sales, customer loyalty and making the most your marketing budget means it makes sense to boost your brand awareness.
An article by Zoe who recommends http://www.2europe.co.uk/ for brand awareness tracking and health checks.