Rogers Talks: 5 questions with Jesse Hirsh

Jesse-Hirsh-HiRes 2To celebrate Small Business month, Rogers is hosting a series of nationwide events featuring experts in social media, marketing and more. Such as Jesse Hirsh,who has a weekly nationally syndicated column on CBC radio explaining and analyzing the latest trends and developments in technology and social media.

The internet strategist, researcher, and broadcaster based in Toronto, Canada, who will be speaking at the Toronto event on November 10, agreed to give RedBoard Biz a sneak peek at some of his top tips for small businesses.

 1. Why do you think small businesses need to have an online presence?

Purchasing decisions increasingly begin with search. When we want to buy something we check the web, whether for prices, reviews, or general information. However it’s not enough for a business to be online. The other dynamic when we search, is that we also intuitively measure trust, and overall reputation, when comparing sources. In fact online presence has a growing impact on who we trust and who we listen to. First impressions rarely happen in person, instead they’re often a result of what people see when they search, and compare results. Even when they do discover you in the flesh, they will still use search as a means of finding what others have said and experienced when doing business with you.

2. What do you think is the biggest challenge right now for small business?

The biggest challenge facing small businesses and any entrepreneur is a scarcity of time, and an ongoing need to further develop and expand their capabilities. Time and it’s sibling attention are the great scarcities of our era. We never feel that we have enough, and the ability to get more is rare and/or expensive. While social media and the web provide all sorts of opportunities to expand and improve your business, it can also take up huge amounts of time, both in terms of maintenance, but also in terms of self-education, i.e. just keeping up with the rapid rate of technological change.

In an era of information overload, time and task management is indispensable. There needs to be a balance between conducting your business, communicating about your business, and investing in the further development of your business. Part of this involves keeping up with changing markets and changing consumer expectations. The easiest way to do that is by collaborating, whether with those inside of your business, or with peers in the marketplace.

3.How do you think consumer expectations have changed as social media has become more mainstream? How must small businesses adapt?

Consumer expectations are increasing with the empowerment that they have experienced using both social media and mobile devices. Whether for purposes of research, or just for complaining, social media allows a consumer to bring an expanded constituency with them while shopping and any experience they have, whether positive or negative, can and will be shared with their expanding audience. The “consumer is always right” has evolved into “the consumer is always powerful” and capable of significantly helping or hurting your reputation.

In response, small businesses need to flexible, but not submissive. Willing to bend to the needs of your consumers, but not to the extent of losing your integrity, respect, and time. Part of the reason consumers are able to complain about a business is because the business is not online or present to respond. Often being online will mitigate or reduce some of the worst complaints, while also making it easier to share and promote the compliments and kudos. Monitoring how people speak and share their experiences about you online will help you develop the capability to deliver customized consumer experiences.

4. How can small businesses use social media to appeal to the different needs of Generation Y customers and Baby Boomers?

The benefit of social media is the ability to first establish weak social ties, but then to translate them into strong social ties. The open nature of social media means that anyone can establish a connection, whether a like, follow, or otherwise. The opportunity once that connection is made is finding further means of engagement that allow you to better know your customers while they have a chance to better get to know you. Thus the real potential is not a generalization based on age, but a customization based on the individual. If in large numbers this can be done via personality profiles and archetypes. However if the capabilities exist, whether via literacy or CRM database, you can customize based on individuals. So that your individual customers really feel a direct connection with you. What unites people of all ages is a desire to feel unique, and special. That is the real potential of social media.

5.  If you were to offer a small business owner just one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?

Focus on the development of your own literacy and the literacy of all the people who work for and with you. Literacy is no longer just about reading and writing, but on a broader level “pattern recognition” and the ability to learn new things in a rapidly changing society. For some this is thought of as digital literacy, others describe it as network literacy, I see it as a direct extension of “reading and writing” only applied in emerging media such as Twitter’s 140 character limit or Facebook’s heavily filtered and algorithmically governed news feed.

The ability to communicate with your customers and the marketplace at large is central to any successful business and the challenge will continue to be how do you keep up, let alone thrive and expand. Literacy describes that ability and the advantages that come from being able to do this better than your competition and peers. As an organization the more individuals who are committed to constantly improving their own literacy, the greater the organization’s ability to adapt and thrive in dynamic environments.

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Reducing telephony costs while increasing conferencing reliability

Minacs croppedMinacs is a business solutions company that partners with global corporations in the manufacturing, retail, telecom, technology, media and entertainment, banking, insurance, healthcare and public sectors. With offices all over the world, Minacs was incurring prohibitively high charges for its frequent use of conference calls through an external provider—some of these bills were running to upwards of $60,000 each month!

Conferencing is vital to their everyday business operations, but Minacs needed to maintain—or better yet, improve upon—their current level of conferencing technology, availability and service. They also needed their core office and IT staff to have constant access to connected technologies, such as conferencing, chat and mobility, to facilitate productivity and collaboration—all without breaking the bank.

Having already invested in Microsoft Lync 2013, Minacs decided to activate its Lync Dial-In conferencing capabilities. But they needed a partner to help them understand the detailed technical requirements and efficiently put all the pieces together, to be up and running by September 2014.

Rogers worked with Minacs to determine a solution that would meet and exceed the company’s requirements. Rogers then helped Minacs put the new platform through extensive testing, ensuring both system integration and site failover were seamless. Once testing was completed, Rogers also helped Minacs train their end user community to use the conferencing solution.

Geoff Whalley, Windows and Unix Enterprise Systems UT Manager at Minacs, sums it up: “We really needed a solution that would save us money, and Rogers helped us find one. But Rogers also went beyond delivering cost efficiencies; their end-to-end support ensured the whole process went smoothly and will remain effective for the long term.”

But these changes weren’t only about saving money; Minacs is also reaping a number of other crucial benefits from partnering with Rogers. The company is enjoying increased conference call reliability as theirdaily business activities are supported by geo-redundant availability and carrier-level failover between their primary and secondary data centres. Conference calls are also more easily and efficiently accessed because as the moderator logs on, all relevant conferencing information automatically becomes available to all participants, no matter where they are and using almost any device or platform.

Check out the case study here.

How does your organization use technology to reduce everyday operating costs?

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Building the foundation for the Internet of Things: Interview with Eric Simmons

Eric Simmons M2M Manager Rogers CommunicationsAn often-acknowledged benefit of the Internet of Things (IoT) is all the data it can provide for businesses. Whether you’re capturing customer data from a connected consumer product or collecting operational data from an automated manufacturing process, you can potentially use the information to find new ways to delight your customers or gain an important competitive advantage.

Harnessing the power of this data is not easy, however; in fact it’s unlikely unless you ensure that you have the right infrastructure in place to properly support your IoT initiative.

We recently interviewed Eric Simmons, Senior Director, Internet of Things for his perspective. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

How is business decision-making being impacted by connected technology?

We’ve really hit an inflection point in history where companies are having a harder time making business decisions than they ever have. Business intelligence has been a core focus of many organizations, and the data has come in from multiple disparate data sources. That data then needed to be aggregated and often manually manipulated in order to see true value for that organization. Today, technology allows the information to be delivered automatically and in real time. It’s both predictive and intelligent….

What’s enabling these changes in business intelligence?

There are really two key things that are enabling this transformation. The first one is the Internet of Things, and the second one is Big Data. The Internet of Things is really the interconnectedness of centres and devices between two different machines, leveraging the wireless network to send information. An example might be a smart vending machine, where there’s a wireless modem and a sensor inside … and it sends an alert when the vending machine is running low on inventory to allow somebody to come and restock that machine.

Tell us more about the role Big Data plays.

Big Data’s all about collecting the information from the various sources that we talked about, pulling it in and aggregating all of that data, and analyzing it in near real time. By doing so you can do things like predictive analytics, you can provide operational efficiencies for organizations. The data can also be used effectively for new customer loyalty programs.

How can businesses realize this potential?

Businesses can really harness the power of Big Data and the Internet of Things by building the right foundation. And there’s really four key things that we’re seeing that enable this….

To learn about the four key requirements for a successful IoT solution, watch the interview with Eric Simmons.

How is the Internet of Things changing decision making in your organization?

 

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Rogers Talks: 5 questions with Peter Van Stolk

Peter-van Stolk-HiRes 1

In honour of small business month, Rogers is hosting  Rogers Talks™, a series of breakfast events across the country with experts in social media, marketing and more. Marketing maverick and Jones Soda founder Peter Van Stolk will take the stage at our Vancouver, B.C., event on October 29.

Can’t make it? Don’t worry! Stolk, whose work has attracted the attention of the New York Times, CNN, People magazine, and Inc. magazine, answered a few questions for RedBoard Biz readers.

1.Why do you think small businesses need to have an online presence?

An online presence in today’s business world is not an option…it’s a reality! It’s a cheap effective way to share your story and values. It’s your business card without the paper.

2. What do you think is the biggest challenge right now for small business?

Creating connections. Small businesses with limited funds need to have passionate advocates telling the company’s story, and creating those relationships in today’s over stimulated environment is difficult and requires discipline, focus and humility (because we all screw up).
We tend to get distracted by shiny marketing opportunities and when you have a small budget those distractions are expensive in time and money.

3. How do you think consumer expectations have changed as social media has become more mainstream? How must small businesses adapt?

Today the expectation is instant access to your business (brand) and also to employees. They want to be a part of and shape their brand experience and the job of the small business is to facilitate this in a manner that is true to the company’s values using the best available social media tool. Creating Community for your consumers is critical. The challenge with modern social media for small businesses is the balance between product offering and lifestyle content. Companies need to sell product as well as being relevant and interesting.

4. How can small businesses use social media to appeal to the different needs of Generation Y customers and Baby Boomers?

First step is understanding your customers and what it is that gets them excited. It’s all about the “why!” Why do they care. The more you know about your customers and why they are even at your site, the more chance you have of appealing to their needs regardless if they are Boomers or Gen Y.

5. If you were to offer a small business owner just one piece of advice, what would it be? Why?

Your core audience appreciates your values so stay true to your values, and follow the Smarties model “eat the red ones first”!

For more information visit, rogers.com/rogerstalks.

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GamePlus: Rogers customers can now call the shots

goaliecam_jpg-300x171The 2014-15 NHL season begins this week and we couldn’t be more excited! As we gear up for go-time, we continue to share news that has hockey fans cheering.

One way we’re bringing fans closer to the game is through Rogers™ NHL GameCentre LIVE™, an online and mobile destination that lets fans stream live NHL games and access behind-the-scenes hockey action from smartphones, tablets and desktops. Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE™ lets fans stream over 1,000 live regular season games, so users and catch the end of the Flyers game from their tablet or a Penguins shootout on their phone.

Today we unveiled GamePlus™, a part of Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE™ that is available exclusively to Rogers customers and lets them control how they watch the game.

With GamePlus you can choose which camera feeds to watch during up to three NHL regular season games each week, and even during the Stanley Cup® Playoffs, the NHL® All Star Game, and the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®.

Depending on the game and arena, fans have access to innovative cameras and angles:

  • Catch the fast-paced action from red line to red line with the Sky Cam that will sit at the 200 level;
  • We’ll have a Ref Cam installed on the referee’s helmet to give you a unique perspective of the game;
  • Watch the hustle from inside the blue lines and for the first time inside the players’ bench with the POV Cam;
  • Follow a single player throughout the game with the Star Cam that spotlights on a key team member
  • And you can experience the offensive action with Goal line Cams that let you watch the game with a top-down view of the ice.

GamePlus will make sure you and your employees never miss a moment of the game; you can review the big plays from a choice of different angles with MyReplay.

In addition, Rogers GamePlus will also bring fans VOD Insider Extras – previews, player and coach interviews, NHL news of the day, analysis and original video-on-demand content, produced throughout the season. Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE™ is available exclusively to Rogers customers. Visit gamecentrelive.rogers.com/gameplus to find out more details on how you and your employees can get in on the action.

If you’re a business customer with an internet or wireless data plan, you get a free subscription to Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE™ until December 31.* We’ll send you a Promo Code that will enable you to activate your subscription.

*Standard data overage/roaming charges, blackouts and other restrictions apply. See rogers.com/NHL for full details.

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Bars & Restaurants are the real winners during the NHL season

gridWhat’s a fun, wholesome way for restaurants to triple their food and beverages sales on a slow weeknight? Think Phil Kessel or Henrik Sedin.

With so much live hockey on TV this season, it is time to turn your bar or restaurant into the ultimate hockey destination. Finding and navigating your bar or restaurant’s sports channels has never been this simple.

With NHL Centre Ice, you’ll be able to show up to 37 regular season, out-of-market NHL games every week in both SD and HD. Bundle your internet, phone and TV, you’ll receive one season of NHL Centre Ice™ for free – that’s more than a $1200.00 value. Whether your customers are looking to follow their favourite team, players, or just a game featuring the league’s best stars, they’ll know your establishment is the best place to do it.

For more information about NHL Centre Ice™ contact your local Small Business Specialist today.

 How do you use television programming to bring in new customers or keep existing ones engaged longer?

 

 

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Transforming business with the Internet of Things: interview with Mansell Nelson

The InMansell Nelsonternet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic these days. It seems everyone is talking about the growing numbers of consumer products and business systems that are being connected wirelessly. The potential business upside is huge; a recent Wall Street Journal article cites an IDC prediction that the value of the global IoT market will hit $7.1 trillion by 2020.

A lot of attention is paid to the end benefits for consumers. Connected home appliances, wearable technologies and even cars have the potential to save time and money, provide valuable information and make people’s lives a lot easier. But there are many important advantages for businesses as well, not the least of which is the vast quantity of data that IoT solutions can provide for business intelligence.

We recently interviewed Mansell Nelson, Senior Vice President, Products and Solutions at Rogers for his perspective on IoT and why it matters for business. Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Why is the Internet of Things an important topic today?

I believe we’re at a transition point in history where the Internet of Things is soon going to connect all machines up to the Internet, and it’s going to fundamentally change the way we work and play.

How will IoT have an impact on businesses in the near future?

Businesses need to start thinking about the Internet of Things. I don’t think any company is immune. If you’re a manufacturer or a service company, it’s going to have a material impact on your company, be it the way you manufacture your goods, you support [them], your front line workers… it’s going to impact all parts of your value chain.

Can you provide examples of how businesses are using IoT today?

A great example of the Internet of Things is on-street parking meters.  Most cities in Canada now have their parking meters connected….  So it takes fewer people to maintain these systems now, and the city actually also makes more revenue by making it convenient for customers.  Many cities are now moving to [allow you] to top up your parking meter with your cell phone, really adding to that convenience for the end user.

Another great example is the logistics industry, where I think there’s a lot of wastage today…. So today we could put a sensor in [a drop box] and fully automate that chain of events and have the closest vehicle go by and pick it up when there’s something in there, enabling the company to be more productive and… make sure that the package arrives on time….

Watch the interview with Mansell Nelson now.

How are you using or planning to use IoT to transform your business?

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Canadian micro-businesses need mobile technology to grow

image sbWhat do a home-based crafter, car mechanic and food truck owner have in common? They represent a thriving economic segment in Canada called the ‘micro-business’ – companies with up to five employees. With fewer resources and little man-power, micro-businesses rely on basic technology, but according to a research report released by Rogers and conducted by Environics, there is a gap between the technology these businesses know will improve their operations, and what they’re actually using today.

“Accessing the right mix of technology can really impact the survival and growth of a small business,” said Tracy Markwood, Vice-President of Enterprise Marketing at Rogers. “New technologies like cloud services, e-commerce sites, mobile apps and mobile payments offer small businesses the opportunity to evolve their business in a way that will help them save money and time.”

According to the report, small businesses understand the benefits of new technologies including cloud solutions like Microsoft Office 365 and e-commerce sites like Shopify. However, approximately the same number of businesses are hesitant to adopt the technologies because they lack expertise on how to use them effectively in their business.

Today, the micro-business sector makes up more than 55 per cent of small businesses in Canada and has grown by 40 per cent in the last decade. The Rogers study revealed that while most of these business owners (82%) use mobile devices and applications to support their operations, very few have embraced cloud-based software (20%), social media (16%) or mobile payments (4%). These newer technologies present businesses with numerous opportunities to improve efficiencies, reach target markets, and successfully grow.

“Technology has been and continues to be central to our success,” says Melissa Richardson, Owner of Totem Bags.ca and micro-business owner. “Whether I’m sending emails to my customers, communicating with the shop, taking orders or taking pictures of our bags to send directly to customers who are deciding on a purchase, I have never had a problem relying on smartphones or the internet to keep my business running.”

October is Small Business Month in Canada; to help businesses gain new insights and actionable tips about how technology can transform their business, Rogers is bringing its annual event series called Rogers Talks to thousands of businesses across Canada. Micro and small businesses will have the opportunity to hear from industry leading experts in social media, marketing and networking about how technology can help to create a competitive advantage in their business. Events will take place in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver from October 29th to November 13th, and each one is open to any small business owner or employee.

To register, visit rogers.com/rogerstalks.

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BlackBerry Passport redefines productivity for mobile professionals

BB PassportAs the mobile workforce trend becomes entrenched in how businesses operate, it is becoming increasingly important for employees to have the right tools to do their jobs at the highest levels of efficiency to remain competitive in today’s fast-moving business world.

Starting next week, Rogers™ will be carrying the new BlackBerry® Passport, a smartphone that complements a busy work schedule and arms mobile professionals with the tools to make them more productive on-the-go. Check out the features below:

  • The 4.5 inch square touch screen is designed for a better web browsing, reading, editing, and maps experience
  • With 30 hours of battery life the BlackBerry Passport can be used from the early hours of the morning to late evening dinners or networking events.

The BlackBerry Passport comes ready with the latest version of BlackBerry 10.3 OS that includes great features:

  • Blackberry® Blend  brings messages and documents from your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer and tablet so you can access work materials from any device. Get instant notifications, read and respond to your work and personal messages, and access your documents, calendar, contacts and media in real time on whatever device you are on, powered by your BlackBerry.
  • BlackBerry Assistant keeps you organized by letting you manage emails, contacts and calendar through simple voice and text commands
  • BlackBerry Passport comes equipped with the company’s unique security and encryption feature for emails and messages.

The Passport is now available with Rogers business reservation system and will be available in retail stores and at Rogers.com starting on Wednesday, October 1.

For more information about this device contact your local Rogers Small Business Specialist.

How do you use your smartphone to keep you connected to your office?

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Mobilizing Customer Engagement

customer engagement post Oct 2014Mobility has profoundly changed our customers’ habits and expectations, and companies are hustling to keep up. In the mobile marketplace, the biggest business challenge isn’t connecting to potential clients—it’s figuring out how to form stronger, more dynamic customer relationships.

And the stakes have never been higher. Today’s omni-channel customers carry their mobile devices everywhere and expect instant access to information, transactions and support. They also have increasingly high expectations that their customer experiences will be consistent across all channels.

To succeed in this environment, businesses need to develop a compelling mobile engagement strategy, one that continuously earns them the privilege of residing in customers’ mobile devices and be carried around in their pockets. Two important components of your mobile engagement strategy could include building metrics around customers’ mobile activities and providing employees with the tools to make the most of the new mobile paradigm.

Use Metrics to Better Understand Your Customers

Using a Wi-Fi network and location sensors can capture valuable metrics that can form the basis of powerful sales campaigns. Customer data typically remain anonymous and are aggregated in reports, and enable marketing and customer experience strategists to:

1. Understand traffic patterns in and near their stores, and plan accordingly

2. Better understand consumer behaviour and the preferences behind it

3. Focus marketing campaigns by location

4. Deliver relevant mobile offers in real time

If a customer agrees to share information (through a loyalty program or other offer, like guest Wi-Fi), metrics can be associated with that individual and used to target them with personalized messaging suited to their tastes.

Equip Employees to Better Serve Customers

Employees can also use mobility’s vast potential for customer engagement to transform the in-store experience. Mobile tools and applications like mobile clienteling can help employees make the right decisions, instantaneously. The benefits of employees having access to real-time information include:

1. More personalized service, which enhances customer satisfaction

2. Significantly improved save-the-sale capabilities

3. Better on-shelf product assortment, which both improves the customer experience and increases sales

4. A more efficient supply chain through more timely inventory counts

Mobile consumers are redefining the customer experience, and businesses can do more than simply respond—they can consciously, strategically and directly engage with mobile consumers and be central to this transformation.

How is your business using mobile and wireless solutions to engage with customers?

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