No Man is an island

I recently heard this read on the radio and in light of the Rugby World cup currently in play and the obvious parallels with team performance  I thought I’d post it here to share for those who may also appreciate its sentiment or  indeed the poem.

No man is an island, 

Entire of itself, 

Every man is a piece of the continent, 

A part of the main. 

If a clod be washed away by the sea, 

Europe is the less. 

As well as if a promontory were. 

As well as if a manor of thy friend’s 

Or of thine own were: 

Any man’s death diminishes me, 

Because I am involved in mankind, 

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 

It tolls for thee.
by John Donne

Know, like and trust

In my experience, in business, people do business with people that they know, like and trust. This is invariably a position that is arrived at because they have met, and invested time together to reach this understanding. Increasingly we rely on our friends and close contacts and connections to advocate us to others, and others to us, in order for dialogue to begin. I really do not believe that traditional “cold calling” works in the way that it used to, and certainly not consistently.

It can work, however and does have its place I believe, but advocacy and social networking are rapidly becoming the new normal as far as door openers to new business opportunities are concerned. IMHO, this is probably a more globally acceptable way to prospect too.

Workspace not Workplace | Workspace updates

Workspace not Workplace | Workspace updates. The whole concept of Work is changing – there are many reasons why this is happening, but changing attitudes to work coupled with agile working policies underpinned by technology innovation are probably a few of the key factors.

How agile is your business?

What factors affect the agility of a business? Is it the simple case that if you are running a small business, then you are agile?
I don’t believe so, as there are other really critical factors that mean that a larger business can also be agile whereas a smaller business can also be slow and unresponsive.

For example, in order to be agile, a business needs to be able to make decisions rapidly and have an environment where staff are empowered. The culture needs to be one that focusses on the customer as their purpose, rather than the customer as an inconvenience and an interruption and a source of frustration. Believe me when I say that I have experienced senior business leaders speaking about their customers in very negative terms, and bemoaning their approach to suppliers.
Ownership of issues is also a factor that is critical in ensuring your business can be agile or not. Large or small, having simple processes that ensure that the business does not simply rely on people passing emails to each other and responding in a timely fashion, is critical. A customer with a requirement is only interested in a partnership with another organisation able to understand them and an ability to execute.
So in summary the following are necessary to enable your business to operate with agility:

> Customer focus
> Empowerment
> Decision making
> Process – simple and effective.
> Ownership

And an agile business, like a successful sports team, needs a high degree of collaboration and teamwork focus.

Is Lync for you do you think?

For those who are already aware of Microsoft Lync, the lure of an elegant UC suite of solutions is very clear. For the uninitiated, there is probably a blur caused by the opinions of others. There are without doubt many decent solutions available to meet the varying customer need for better communications – internally and externally as we all strive to find a better lower cost solution in order to enable us to serve our customers better. I’m certainly converted and firmly in the YES camp for Lync – although I thought I would take some convincing! It wasn’t that difficult as it turns out.

How about you?

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Do you see UC like I see UC?

That’s a hell of a mouthful I hear you scream.

But it does, for me sum up fact that Unified Communications means different things to different people, and more often than not, reflected in what the vendor has in the “bag” to sell you.

I guess I am therefore no different, as I have chosen to partner with Microsoft with their Lync solution – why?

Well it’s a simple as this – It is by far the best USER EXPERIENCE of anything I’ve seen in the market today, and it is actually a UNIFIED COMMUNICATIONS solution. So it brings together all the modalities of mainstream communications today: Instant Messaging – available on pretty much any device anywhere; Email – most of us start our day in OUTLOOK, and Lync embeds here beautifully, so you can simply interact with the sender of an email in any of the available modalities; Conferencing – a simple IM, can move to a “chat by “dragging” other contacts into the chat window, and then a mouse click (or screen press) to escalate to an audio conference, followed by another click/press to add video (with an impressive multi-party gallery view in 2013); PBX replacement – Lync allows you to take your extension anywhere and on any device, so enterprise staff are completely mobile and no desktop audio device beyond the PC/Laptop/tablet/mobile is necessary (save perhaps for a headset). So come snow, rain, hail or train strikes, I can log in and be at work (even if it means walking to the coffee shop first)

But words simply don’t do this solution justice – I suggest you try it for yourself – it is easy enough to do and I’d be happy to show you mine (excuse the innuendo)

Beyond the user experience, there are a many significant reasons why Lync makes sense

But what do I know…..

Is Partner becoming an overused term for suppliers?

I was musing language (as I often do) again today and thinking about the initial engagement in any situation, but probably I was thinking mostly about the very first engagement in a sales situation. This could be a conversation, either by phone or face to face, or more often these days, an email or other form of non-real time communication. Whatever the channel, I was considering the impact of language and in particular the meaning that the recipient makes of the words and structure of those critical first few phrases. I am a firm believer that the conversation needs to be about “the client” and not about me and more importantly what the purpose of the contact is! This thought process led me to consider the positioning of the potential relationship and the consideration from the recipient’s perspective as to whether this was at all important at this early stage, or actually at all.

Inevitably when language becomes mainstream, or commonplace, it loses some of its caché and “advantage” (if it ever had any), and can become almost counter-productive as we see it as “hackneyed” or over-used, and this could be the case if positioning yourself as a partner – rather than just another supplier.

I like to seek out relationships whereby my value can be of real benefit to a client and that is all about “valuing the difference”. In this case the difference is the particular skills and knowledge I have acquired over many years in the telecoms and Unified Communications space, and that which can be of use to the client. I might frame this as me being a “partner” rather than a supplier, i.e. my value is not about a race to provide the lowest cost items, but about taking the stress out of understanding the options and possibilities as well as the unique aims and business values the client holds dear. Marrying these pieces together and considering the real business value of the solutions available merits additional value, which is often unappreciated. My view – for what it’s worth is that if you are investing in a technology that is dynamically changing and evolving, and competitive with multiple strong vendors in the race, then looking way beyond the investment is critical and a trusted advisor relationship is definitely desirable – But what do I know