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HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING BUSINESS

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HOW TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING BUSINESS

Business is changing.

Forward-thinking companies all over the world are using the latest technology to develop the way they approach everyday problems in innovative ways, from internal communication to customer service strategies, these technological advancements present opportunities to handle even the most mundane tasks faster and more efficiently.

Business Energy comparison specialist Love Energy Savings, spoke to some of the industry’s leading experts to get their thoughts on what’s next for businesses, and how they’ve embraced the tech takeover to change their operations for the better.

How technology is improving team communication

VIA: Remote working

Open communication between team members is generally thought of as the key to efficiency in the workplace. Christopher Fitton is the founder of via.co.uk, a company that has developed a hosted ‘Skype for business’ solution that brings together all platforms (including video calls, emails and instant messages) in one place in an effort to facilitate this sort of open communication especially for progressive teams embracing flexible working:

“Technology of this kind facilitates more flexible working. Employees are free to work remotely thanks to the central comms platform that means you’re no longer stuck looking for someone’s phone number when they’re out of the office – their number goes with them so they can easily be accessed wherever they are. This will only become more important in the future, as more businesses invest in flexibility for their staff.”

Trello: Project management

Project management platforms such as Trello improve office efficiency through communication, giving teams the opportunity to collaborate online seamlessly, setting deadlines for tasks and updating each other on task progress.

Making it easy to see the status of a project at a glance, software like this is quickly becoming an essential communication tool for many modern businesses.

Brightpearl: Inventory management

Using inventory management software is another way to streamline internal processes, allowing businesses to integrate everything into one hub and keep track of sales across various platforms in real time.

Chris Boaz, Head of Marketing at PCA Predict, is a big fan of Brightpearl’s inventory management software, which “consolidates online sales, POS, purchasing, CRM, inventory and financials in a single system combined with automated accounting software to monitor and record purchase orders, profits, revenues and spend”.

How technology is enhancing customer experience

When it comes to delivering excellent customer service, those who embrace the latest technology are the ones leading the way.

Uber: The app that puts you in control

One of the most significant examples from recent times is Uber. By basing their entire business model around a user-friendly mobile app, the company has single-handedly revolutionised the taxi industry. Removing the need to ring a distribution office and giving accurate updates on when a driver is due to arrive means hailing a cab has never been more convenient.

Love Energy Savings: Transparent customer service

The Love Energy Savings ‘Track My Switch’ system does the same for businesses that want to change energy suppliers.

A new energy contract can take up to six months to go live, and such a long time without communication can often leave customers confused and uncertain. In 2016, ‘Track My Switch’ was developed to solve these issues.

Making the transferral process as simple as possible, the technology allows business owners to keep a close eye on the progress of their switch in real time thanks to a personalised microsite. An award-winning tracking tool, Track My Switch is an industry first, updating customers at various key points during the switching phase. For those who require verbal confirmation, each prompt also triggers a call from the Love Energy Savings customer care team.

Charlotte Boss, Head of Marketing at Love Energy Savings said:

“Through monitoring inbound customer contact and analysing the FAQs, we discovered that more updates are required between sale and live. Our tech gurus developed Track My Switch from the ground up with the needs of the customer in mind.

“Clarity and transparency are paramount throughout the customer journey, and technology has helped us take our customer experience to the next level.  Love Energy Savings customers can now see the progress of their energy switch from start to finish, keeping them up to date at all times and giving them complete peace of mind.”

Chargifi: Wireless charging to attract customers to venues

Another company embracing technological advancement is Chargifi, which provides the technology for businesses from cafes to hotels to offer wireless charging. Dan Bladen, CEO of Chargifi, sees a huge potential for businesses to connect with customers via their smartphones:

“Smartphones are intrinsic to our everyday lives, from connecting with family and friends through to booking airline tickets or hotel stays. As such, staying powered up and connected is essential for consumers. For brands, this provides an opportunity to offer a solution in the form of convenient wireless charging. This technology is a new value-added proposition that also provides a seamless experience – with no cables!

“With the next iPhone rumoured to contain wireless charging capabilities, the adoption of this technology will only increase, and brands need to innovate their spaces to unlock the power of this modern-day must-have amenity to improve customer experiences.”

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92% of UK Businesses Will Increase or Maintain Digital Customer Engagement Spend in 2021, Finds Twilio’s State of Customer Engagement Report 

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92% of UK Businesses Will Increase or Maintain Digital Customer Engagement Spend in 2021, Finds Twilio’s State of Customer Engagement Report  1

One third of UK companies (30%) increased spend on digital transformation by 50-99% in 2020 compared with 2019

UK businesses took longer than other countries to accelerate digital transformation, at an average of 43 days behind France (34), Germany (32), Spain (32), the US (32) and Italy (30)

Twilio (NYSE: TWLO), the leading cloud communications platform, today released its second annual State of Customer Engagement Report, which delves into businesses’ spend and behaviour when it comes to digital communications and customer engagement. This report combines insight from the Twilio platform, which powers over 1 trillion human interactions annually, with results of new global research of 2,500 enterprise decision makers, 300 of which were from the UK. The report reveals that digital communications were critical to business survival in 2020, and the solutions built will shape business success in the post-pandemic economy.

“Digital connection was a defining part of every pandemic experience, and it will be the foundation of the next phase of digital transformation,” said Glenn Weinstein, Chief Customer Officer at Twilio. “From the complex logistics of vaccine distribution, to powering the hybrid workforce, digital engagement is already playing a critical role in the process of recovery and rebuilding the world is tackling now.”

“We’ve seen a huge boost to digital transformation in the past year, and that shows no signs of slowing in 2021. Prior to the pandemic, under half of the UK’s customer engagement was digital, but already that percentage has increased to more than 60%. We have no doubt that this will continue to rise, as businesses strive to address the varying expectations of customers through a mix of digital channels,” said David Parry-Jones, Vice President, EMEA at Twilio.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Digital engagement will remain essential to business survival and success. More than eight in ten UK companies (82%) report digital customer engagement will be critically or very important to their success going forward, while 43% suggested that revenue would be lost should their customer engagement not be digitised. Prior to COVID-19, UK respondents said that less than half (48.4%) of their organisation’s customer engagement was digital. Today, that has increased to an average of 61.6%.
  • 2020 catapulted us into a hybrid economy, where nearly every in-person interaction will have a digital element. 89% of UK business leaders report that COVID-19 accelerated their move to the cloud. 93% of business leaders plan to increase or maintain their current communications channel offerings after the pandemic, and expect to add an average of 3.5 new channels in the coming year. Over half (53%) of UK businesses surveyed suggested that their digital interactions with customers increased by more than 50% during COVID-19.
  • 2020 saw an increase in digital interactions that emulate human conversation. Almost two thirds (65%) suggested that video accelerated more than any other, while 36% used video for the first time. In the next twelve months the top channels that UK businesses are looking to implement are live chat (32%), in-app chat (30%) and video (27%). 60% suggested that video communications have helped build stronger relationships with customers.
  • Financial services, retail and technology businesses responded quickest. Almost one in ten financial services companies globally accelerated digital transformation in less than one week, while nearly two fifths (37%) began accelerating within two weeks. On average, retail businesses across the world took 31 days to accelerate digital transformation strategy, closely followed by finance (32), technology (33), manufacturing and automotive (33), healthcare (36), logistics (36) and construction (38). Spend on digital transformation was also up across industries in 2020, with the average increase compared with 2019 at 51.9% in financial services companies, 44.2% in manufacturing and automotive, 43.4% in healthcare, 43.9% in construction, 37.6% in retail and 33.5% in logistics.

Explore the full report here.

Methodology

This report draws insight from Twilio platform data, which reflects digital engagement activity that occurred on Twilio in 2020. Twilio platform data do not represent Twilio’s historical or future financial performance and are presented solely as context for broader market trends. The report also includes original research from a survey of over 2,500 enterprise decision-makers across the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Singapore. The research was fielded by a third party to understand how businesses view the role of digital engagement. Survey respondents are full-time employees of companies with 500 to 25,000+ employees, from the director to executive level.

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Senior leaders call on UK businesses not to fail young people

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Senior leaders call on UK businesses not to fail young people 2

Leaders across major businesses including Barclays, M&S and BAE Systems call for more businesses to join Movement to Work

  • The number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment has dropped to a record low of 3.51m, after a fall of 244,000 in the past 12 months
  • Leaders and decision makers across major businesses including Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Diageo and Tesco call for more businesses to create work experience opportunities for young people, to improve conversion into permanent employment
  • Movement to Work (MtW) CEO warns of missing talent and letting young people down – charity offering business support free-of-charge

Nearly one year on from the first lockdown, and more than one in ten young people have lost their job, with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment falling to a record low of 3.51m. Furthermore, 50% of students have felt their mental health decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. This bleak reality has raised alarm amongst many senior business leaders and decision makers, who fear letting down a generation and wasting unthinkable amounts of talent if we do not do more to help immediately. They are calling on UK businesses to support young people by providing work experience opportunities to break the cycle of “no experience – no job, no job – no experience” that so many are facing. Movement to Work – a not-for-profit youth employment charity – is offering help to any organisation willing to set up such schemes.

During the pandemic, under 25s were more likely than any other age group to be furloughed. The same age group now makes up a third of universal credit claims. Millions of young people are already struggling, and the future looks even more grim, with a think tank predicting that young people are a third less likely to be in employment three years after entering than if the pandemic never happened.[1]

Leaders from major businesses including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, BT, Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Unilever have joined Movement to Work’s network of employers and have collectively delivered over 100,000 work placements for young people to date, with a large number of these resulting in permanent employment. Now , they are urging other UK businesses of all sizes to join the movement to hit 200,000 placements at pace.

Hosting a summit on 24th February, these leaders will join young people to discuss how they can help the next generation into employment. Minister for Employment Mims Davies and Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey is also expected to appear. The annual event, which will be held virtually for the first time this year, is a unique opportunity to talk honestly and boldly about the issues at hand, and what can be done to resolve them.

 Natasha Adams, Chief People Officer, Tesco PLC said: “Tesco has always been a place to get on and we’re proud that so many of our fantastic colleagues started their careers at a young age. Movement to Work works alongside companies to nurture those who might otherwise feel excluded from the workforce. The effects of the pandemic mean it is more important than ever to support our young talent and provide the tools, support and opportunities for them to succeed in their future careers.”

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems, said: “This is a critical time not only for young people, but for UK business as a whole. Those of us who can, must continue to support young people, providing opportunities to develop the skills and confidence they need both for their future success and the country’s economic prosperity.”

Olly Benzecry, Chairman of Accenture (UKI) and Chair of Movement to Work, said: “Young people have been hardest hit as the UK unemployment rate has risen to new heights during the last year. With sectors that many young people traditionally find employment in, such as retail and hospitality, being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the younger generation are missing out on vital experience, learning and stability that will help them fulfil their potential. UK business must play a vital role in safeguarding the workforce of the future, which is why it is our collective responsibility to make a purposeful impact.”

Sam Olsen, CEO Movement to Work said: “The moral case for helping young people right now is really clear, but the business case is stronger with each day – setting up work experience programmes generates a fantastic diverse talent pipeline for an organisation, and there’s lots of government-backed schemes like Kickstart to help make it cost effective. We understand times are tough, so Movement to Work can help you figure out the right fit for your organisation, and have a positive impact in the community as a direct result.”

Key speaker at the summit is MtW Youth Ambassador Sam Meakings, now a Youth Employability Coach at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). After years of struggling to find permanent work, he has been helping young people into jobs throughout the pandemic: “I have come full circle. I have suffered the stress and lack of confidence that comes with a long path to the world of work, but starting with the Movement to Work programme, I have spent the last few years building a career I love. Now I am a Youth Employability Coach. The work is so rewarding, but I know first-hand that our young people need willing employers more than ever.”

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Disney CEO says households without kids have boosted streaming success

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Disney CEO says households without kids have boosted streaming success 3

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Surprisingly strong interest from adults who do not have kids at home has helped increase subscriptions to Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ streaming service beyond initial projections, Chief Executive Bob Chapek said on Monday.

Disney+ debuted in November 2019 and growth has exceeded Wall Street expectations and Disney’s forecast. While Disney is known for family entertainment, Disney+ also features movies and TV shows from Marvel, “Star Wars” studio Lucasfilm and others.

As of Jan. 2, Disney+ had signed up 94.9 million customers worldwide. Half of those live in households without children, Chapek said, a higher proportion than expected.

“What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney+ would have,” Chapek said via online video to the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference.

“In fact, over 50% of our global marketplace don’t have kids,” he added. “When 50% of the people in Disney+ don’t have kids, you really have the opportunity now to think much more broadly about the nature of your content.”

The service has generated buzz for current Marvel show “WandaVision” and “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” featuring the character known as Baby Yoda.

Chapek, who became Disney CEO a year ago, refocused Disney’s media and entertainment businesses to make streaming the priority as customers gravitate to options such as Netflix Inc.

In December, Disney raised initial projections and said it expected to attract as many as 350 million global subscribers across all of its streaming services, which include Hulu and ESPN+, by the end of fiscal 2024.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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