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Additional help with resources for AO1 Level 3 OCR Nationals

Additional help with resources for AO1 Level 3 OCR Nationals

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  • 1. Business use of communication technology CRIBSHEETA survival guide to the updated Model Assignment 2008/9This document covers the additional requirements ONLY of the new Model Assignment – use of Internet and Intranet, tele-conferencing and video-conferencing.sea11/10/2008
    The new task is quite significantly altered from its predecessor – and I think that my irritation is added to by the knowledge that if we make a fuss we’ll be told that the one from which we have worked was a DRAFT and therefore liable to change. The fact that the changes took place way too late for us will just be regarded as our bad luck.
    So
    To achieve PASS level you need to complete parts A and C. To achieve the Higher Levels you also need to complete Parts B and D. To achieve Distinction level you also need to complete part E.
    PART A
    Research three types of business communication system:
    • Email
    • 2. Networks: Internet (including www) and intranets
    • 3. Conferencing: video-, tele-, web-, instant messaging
    (Additional resources provided in this booklet)
    PART B
    Research e-commerce, e business, and e marketing with particular reference to easy in which business communication systems have contributed to their growth
    (This has not changed: no additional resources on this section)
    PART C
    Produce a business report for the client based upon your research. This report should include:
    • A description of the three business communication systems
    • 4. An explanation of the benefits and drawbacks of these systems giving relevant examples.
    • 5. How communication technology has contributed to the growth of ecommerce (higher levels only)
    • 6. How communication technology has contributes to the growth of ebusiness and emarketing (Distinction level only
    This has slightly changed – see Hints and Tips following.
    PART D
    Using the business letter template you created in Task 1, produce a covering letter that can be sent to the client with the completed report.
    (this we already did, so no grief here)
    PART E
    Justify the suitability of your report and letter for their purposes. We’ll do an en masse review, since we’re already through most of the work anyway.
    You should make sure you use software features such as tables, bullets, auto-numbering, columns and text boxes as appropriate. We had begun to consider this last time, so no surprise here
    Thoroughly check your work to eliminate errors and ensure the document is fit for purpose. You were required to do this anyway, so no problem
    The grade you are awarded for Assessment Objective 1 will be largely determined by the quality, level of detail and range of appropriate examples that you include in this report. This is how your work was marked anyway, so no biggie.
    Research three types of business communication system:
    • Email
    • 7. Networks: Internet (including www) and intranets
    • 8. Conferencing: video-, tele-, web-, instant messaging
    Email – well just about everyone DID email, so I’m not going to review that.
    The following are resources to use to complete your section on networks:
    Networks: Internet (including www) and intranets
    Internet
    Summary findings
    Headline figures
    63% of all SMEs have Internet access
    55% SMEs with Internet access use unmetered packages (60% medium and 55% small)
    90% satisfied with overall quality of service
    36% of SMEs with Internet now using ISDN up from 29% in February ’02
    13% of SMEs pay for (at least some) home Internet usage for employees working from home
    12% of SMEs with Internet currently use a broadband connection (DSL/cable modem)
    Internet penetration remains broadly unchanged
    2.1 Just over 6 in 10 (63%) UK SMEs have Internet access, this figure remains broadly similar to recent months. The number of medium sized businesses with Internet access appears to be reaching saturation (95%).
    2.2 Internet penetration increases with business size from 55% in single employee businesses to 96% amongst those with 100-250 employees.
    Continuing drop in usage of PSTN access via ordinary phone line dial up
    2.3 Just over a half (55%) of UK businesses use PSTN/ordinary dial up access for their Internet connection, a drop from 67% last quarter and 76% the quarter before. The fall appears to be mainly driven by small businesses, currently 56% are using this method compared to 69% in February 2002.
    2.4 As a result in the drop in use of ordinary dial up, other methods such as ISDN and broadband access such as DSL/cable modem are increasing. Currently 36% of SMEs have an ISDN connection compared to 29% last quarter and subscriber figures suggest that 12% are currently using a broadband connection.
    2.5 With the rise in SMEs changing to faster connection methods, the proportion of businesses now using unmetered packages has also risen to 55%, from 38% last quarter. Use of unmetered packages does increase with business size, 60% of medium sized businesses currently use this type of package compared to 55% of small businesses connected to the Internet. This gap is however closing.
    Overall satisfaction remains generally high
    2.6 9 in 10 businesses are satisfied with the overall service provided by their ISP. This has remained quite consistent over the last three-quarters. There has been a marked increase in satisfaction with speed of access, from 71% being satisfied with this aspect in February ’02 to 78% in May ’02. This is likely to be the result of businesses migrating from an ordinary dial up connection to ISDN and other faster connection methods. There has however been a significant decrease in the level of satisfaction with subscription charges, from 92% to 83%.
    Cont/...
    Reimbursement of employees working online from home
    2.7 Just over 1 in 10 (13%) SMEs make a contribution to employees who use the Internet when working from home. This rises to nearly 3 in 10 (27%) amongst medium sized businesses.
    FROM: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/oftel/publications/research/2002/q9intb0702.htm
    The benefits
    1.1 Email enables you to send messages to any other user connected to the Internet. Email is essential for almost every business, as your customers will expect to use email to communicate with you. It offers several benefits.
    Sending documents such as letters, spreadsheets and pictures by email is usually fast and straightforward.
    You can send email to multiple recipients.
    Email is less intrusive than the telephone, as the person receiving an email does not have to read the message immediately.
    Email messages can easily be kept for future reference.
    Email is cheap. Your main expense is the cost of connection to the Internet. You will probably have to pay an Internet service provider to provide this connection.
    1.2 You can find useful information on the Internet.
    You can discreetly research your customers and competitors by looking at their websites.
    Many detailed market reports are available online although you may have to pay for these.
    You can find new suppliers and compare them with existing ones by checking their websites.
    Online credit-checking services can provide instant results when assessing credit limits for new customers.
    You can find details of grants and loans.
    You can keep up with the latest developments in your sector through specialist websites and news services.
    1.3 You can improve your internal communication, particularly if you have people working in more than one location.
    Simple issues can be communicated to employees via email or an internal website.
    Employees who work at home or out of the office can access your systems.
    1.4 External communication can be streamlined.
    Carefully consider security if you are going to open up your systems across the Internet.
    You can create and manage a website for your company that can be used as a shop window for your business.
    Marketing by email is fast and inexpensive.
    You can allow customers access to certain areas of your system.
    You can use online banking facilities.
    If your suppliers offer online services, you may find it quicker (and sometimes cheaper) to order through their websites or via email
    FROM: http://www.knowledge.hsbc.co.uk/run/computers+and+it/use+the+internet/going+online
    Secrets of Successful Online Businesses
    brought to you by OverflowCafe.com
    It’s a well-known fact that most businesses fail within their first 10 years of operation. With that in mind, will you be part of the group that succeeds? Having an effective website and well rounded website promotion strategy will take your business to the next level.
    If you’d like to drastically improve your website traffic and sales here are some tips that may turn your small business into a future success story.
    Turn more of your visitors into actual customers:
    1.) The average user spends 10 seconds on a home page, you have that amount of time to gain their attention. Keep this in mind.
    2.) Always show your company name on each page.
    3.) If you have a logo, place it on each page as well. Your logo doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy but it helps build your brand recognition over time.
    4.) Include a tag line on your home page that explicitly summarizes what your company does. Be brief and specific, for example “We write great resumes.” Or “Your personal travel guide for New York City.” Don’t be vague, this is one of the best ways to gain a users attention and they will remember your company down the road if you use an accurate and detailed tag line.
    5.) Always have an easy way to find your ‘About Us’ page. People like to know who they are doing business with and will be more likely to buy from you.
    6.) Always have an easy way to find your ‘Contact Us’ page. If possible include multiple methods of contact such as your address, phone number, fax and email. In the online world these things have become even more important.
    7.) Make your business hours known. It will help your potential client to know when you will get back to their inquiries and they won’t be frustrated when they don’t hear back from you when you are closed or on holiday. Of course, make sure you get back to your clients in a timely manner. If it will take you 3 business days to respond to an email, write that on your website’s contact-us page as well so that your clients know this.
    8.) Keep your website uncluttered. Chances are your visitors are not looking to be entertained, they want the facts about you and your products and services and they usually want it fast. Make them happy and they will buy from you and recommend you to others.
    9.) Ask your visitors to review your website for you. They will tell you what they like and don’t like, and you can improve your website on an ongoing basis. Remember, business is an ongoing process.
    FROM: http://www.businessknowhow.com/internet/overflow.htm
    Intranet
    “What is an intranet?
    In essence, an intranet is a business' own private website. It is a private business network that uses the same underlying structure and network protocols as the Internet and is protected from unauthorised users by a firewall.
    Intranets enhance existing communication between employees, and provide a common knowledge base and storage area for everyone in your business. They also provide users with easy access to company data, systems and email from their desktops.
    Because intranets are secure and easily accessible via the Internet, they enable staff to do work from any location simply by using a web browser. This can help small businesses to be flexible and control office overheads by allowing employees to work
    Cont/...
    from almost any location, including their home and customer sites...
    “Types of content found on intranets:
    Administrative - calendars, emergency procedures, meeting room bookings, procedure manuals and membership of internal committees and groups
    Corporate - business plans, client/customer lists, document templates, branding guidelines, mission statements, press coverage and staff newsletters
    Financial - annual reports and organisational performance
    IT - virus alerts, tips on dealing with problems with hardware, software and networks, policies on corporate use of email and Internet access and a list of online training courses and support
    Marketing - competitive intelligence, with links to competitor websites, corporate brochures, latest marketing initiatives, press releases, presentations
    Human resources - appraisal procedures and schedules, employee policies, expenses forms and annual leave requests, staff discount schemes, new vacancies
    Individual projects - current project details, team contact information, project management information, project documents, time and expense reporting
    External information resources - route planning and mapping sites, industry organisations, research sites and search engines”
    FROM http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/detail?type=RESOURCES&site=131&itemId=1075386399
    “To help you understand the power of this new office technology, here are a few specific examples of how an Intranet can be used in just one business activity—retail clothing sales.
    Imagine you are the worldwide sales manager for a multinational retail clothing business with stores and outlets around the world. Your corporate Intranet allows each of your stores, its sales representatives, store managers, and sales assistants to have up-to-the-second information on any corporate topic related to their jobs. Buyers in New York can check the stock in stores in Los Angeles, Dallas, Detroit, or Toronto. Pricing for an upcoming advertised sales event can be posted just in time to start marking down prices. Employees can see video clips of the upcoming commercials before they hit prime-time TV. Specific product markdowns can be posted instantaneously and simultaneously for every store manager and every sales assistant by name. With the click of a mouse on an Intranet Web page, your entire worldwide sales team can be trained for a new inventory-reporting procedure or be given the specifics concerning an exciting new product acquisition. Sales personnel in any of your retail outlets can have their questions answered about the new acquisition and can even view a pictorial preview of any new products they will soon be selling...
    “Corporations love Intranets because they:
    Are easy and inexpensive to set up.
    Require very little employee training.
    Allow rapid and effective sharing of corporate information.
    The truth is, using a corporate Intranet isn't much different from using the Web and sending email. Because Intranets are for employees only, firewalls are set up to protect corporate information from uninvited guests, like you and me. To prevent unauthorized intrusions, a login name and password is required to enter most corporate Intranets.
    Once employees have logged into the Intranet, most feel instantly at home because " it's just like the Web." After a few minutes, employees are comfortable collaborating, receiving corporate updates, sending email, updating orders or accounts, setting up conference chats or video meetings, or participating in a host of other business activities.
    Cont/...
    Although most Intranet software in use today is freeware, thousands of companies (including software giants like Netscape, Lotus, and Microsoft) are eager to show any corporation how to set up an enterprisewide, secure Intranet. “
    FROM http://www.corpview.com/aboutintranets.html
    Benefits of intranets
    Workforce productivity: Intranets can help users to locate and view information faster and use applications relevant to their roles and responsibilities. With the help of a web browser interface, users can access data held in any database the organization wants to make available, anytime and - subject to security provisions - from anywhere within the company workstations, increasing employees' ability to perform their jobs faster, more accurately, and with confidence that they have the right information. It also helps to improve the services provided to the users.
    Time: With intranets, organizations can make more information available to employees on a " pull" basis (i.e., employees can link to relevant information at a time which suits them) rather than being deluged indiscriminately by emails.
    Communication: Intranets can serve as powerful tools for communication within an organization, vertically and horizontally. From a communications standpoint, intranets are useful to communicate strategic initiatives that have a global reach throughout the organization. The type of information that can easily be conveyed is the purpose of the initiative and what the initiative is aiming to achieve, who is driving the initiative, results achieved to date, and who to speak to for more information. By providing this information on the intranet, staff have the opportunity to keep up-to-date with the strategic focus of the organization.
    Web publishing allows 'cumbersome' corporate knowledge to be maintained and easily accessed throughout the company using hypermedia and Web technologies. Examples include: employee manuals, benefits documents, company policies, business standards, newsfeeds, and even training, can be accessed using common Internet standards (Acrobat files, Flash files, CGI applications). Because each business unit can update the online copy of a document, the most recent version is always available to employees using the intranet.
    Business operations and management: Intranets are also being used as a platform for developing and deploying applications to support business operations and decisions across the internetworked enterprise.
    Cost-effective: Users can view information and data via web-browser rather than maintaining physical documents such as procedure manuals, internal phone list and requisition forms.
    Promote common corporate culture: Every user is viewing the same information within the Intranet.
    Enhance Collaboration: With information easily accessible by all authorised users, teamwork is enabled.
    Cross-platform Capability: Standards-compliant web browsers are available for Windows, Mac, and UNIX.
    FROM http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intranet
    Chapter 31c. Doing Business with Customers Using an Intranet
    Intranets may revolutionize the way that businesses sell goods and services. Using an intranet, a company can inexpensively market its goods and services, take orders for them, and then fulfil the order. This illustration shows how a record company called CyberMusic could do business using an intranet.
    CyberMusic creates a public Web site on a bastion host in the firewall of the intranet that it uses as a way to draw customers. To get people to visit, it features interviews with musicians, music news, concert calendars, music clips, and contests.
    To further draw people to the site, CyberMusic advertises its site on the Internet. When anyone clicks on an ad for CyberMusic, they are immediately sent to the CyberMusic Web site.
    When the person is done browsing, they go to the electronic checkout counter to pay for the items they've selected. The CGI shopping cart program sends a list of the cart's contents to the checkout counter. The buyer fills out a form that includes information such as their name and address and method of payment. This information is encrypted and sent from the Internet to the intranet through the firewall. The transaction is a secure one because it uses the SET protocol. The orderer, merchant, and credit card company then complete the payment following the illustration on the previous page.
    Information about the order is automatically transferred over the intranet to CyberMusic's fulfilment department, which ships out the records ordered.
    The site features an electronic catalogue that promotes the records that CyberMusic sells. The catalogue features music clips so that people can sample records, and has information about the album and its artist. To select an item from the catalogue, someone merely needs to click on a link or a button. When this is done, the item is placed in their electronic shopping cart. As they browse through the catalogue they can place more items in their electronic shopping cart. A CGI program on the CyberMusic Web site keeps track of the contents of each individual's shopping cart.
    Instead of browsing through a catalogue, people can do a focused search on the kind of music they're interested in. They can search by type of music, particular artist, date of release and other terms. The search can be done via a variety of database searching techniques, including CGI scripting and SQL technology, both covered in earlier chapters. When they find the album they want to buy, they need to click on a link or a button to drop the item in their electronic shopping cart.
    FROM: http://doktertomi.com/2008/05/05/chapter-31c-doing-business-with-customers-using-an-intranet/
    Conferencing: video-, tele-, web-, instant messaging
    Video conferencing:
    Impact on business
    Videoconferencing can enable individuals in faraway places to have meetings on short notice. Time and money that used to be spent in traveling can be used to have short meetings. Technology such as VOIP can be used in conjunction with desktop videoconferencing to enable low-cost face-to-face business meetings without leaving the desk, especially for businesses with wide-spread offices. The technology is also used for telecommuting, in which employees work from home.
    Videoconferencing is now being introduced to online networking websites, in order to help businesses form profitable relationships quickly and efficiently without leaving their place of work.
    Although it already has proven its potential value, research HYPERLINK " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videoconferencing" l " cite_note-4" o " " [5] has shown that many employees do not use the videoconference equipment because they are afraid that they will appear to be wasting time or looking for the easiest way if they use videoconferencing to enhance customer and supplier relationships. This anxiety can be avoided if managers use the technology in front of their employees.
    Researchers HYPERLINK " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videoconferencing" l " cite_note-5" o " " [6] find that attendees of business and medical videoconferences must work harder to interpret information delivered during a conference than they would if they attended face-to-face. They recommend that those coordinating videoconferences make adjustments to procedures and equipment.
    FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videoconferencing
    What are the Business and Bottom Line Cash Benefits?
    The benefits to the bottom line are immense. Not only does web and video conferencing allow for better and more interactive communication, it can literally decrease business travel costs by as much as one-half by completely eliminating or reducing the need for lengthy trips that are made for recurring business meetings, sales presentations and training. The integration of audio, or Voice over IP (VoIP) further decreases operational costs by eliminating long distance calling charges for weekly internal meetings. In addition to direct expense reductions such as travel and teleconferencing bills, there are also revenue gains to be had. The application of web and video conferencing in sales allows account executives to meet with more customers, faster, and at less expense. In addition, the increase in reach and frequency may translate to increased reseller sales and markedly improved customer retention. Beyond hard cash benefits, there are soft benefits too. The use of state-of-the-art software can boost employee morale, improve safety where travel requires exposure to risk, bring telecommuters and remote offices closer together, improve business continuity for key staff who can work from home during weather-related office closures, and where available, subsidies for greenhouse gas reductions.
    FROM: http://www.wiredred.com/business-benefits-video-conferencing.html
    What is Video conferencing?
    Meet face to face, wherever you are
    Sometimes nothing can beat meeting someone in person. Today's hectic working schedules often don't allow time to travel to meetings. Add to this the difficulties associated with getting all the right people together in the right place, and the task of arranging a face to face meeting can become near impossible.
    BT Video Conferencing can change the way you conduct business, saving you time and costs associated with travelling.
    Its visual element can transform how you interact with colleagues, customers and suppliers. It enables you to meet face-to-face, however far apart you are physically. And because it adds the power of eye contact and body language to discussion you can develop deeper, trusting working relationships.
    Key features
    Flexible reservation options to book video calls - on-line or phone
    Seamless video call connection between all meeting sites
    Reliability guaranteed - with our certification and monitoring programmes
    Powerful online reporting - in real time
    All Services have both ISDN and IP capability
    Help is available for all our services at all times from our expert conference coordinators, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
    You have the option to add audio participants to your video conference with seamless connection to your BT MeetMe service
    How does it work?
    The BT Video conferencing service enables the chairperson of the meeting to pre-book or self launch a video call on-line or by phone, and invite participants at multiple sites almost anywhere in the world to participate in a single meeting.
    We provide 'multi-point' video conferencing and 'point-to-point' video conferencing over public ISDN and IP networks. Multi-point conferencing is where more several sites, or locations, are linked together. Point-to- point conferencing links just two sites together.
    BT Video conferencing links all the video conferencing sites by receiving and managing video, audio and data signals from the equipment at each location. We mix the audio, select the appropriate video and data sources and transmit the results. We take care of all the technical requirements, so you can see and hear the meeting participants as if you were in the same room.
    Our video conferencing services are reliable and easy to use, leaving you free to concentrate on the business of your meeting.
    FROM: http://www.conferencing.bt.com/product_services/videoservices/whatisvideoconferencing.jsp
    Business travel: The rise of video conferencingDoes better technology mean companies can no longer justify flying across the globe for a meeting? Nick Easen reports
    (16 October 2008)
    'Video killed the passenger numbers’ declared a headline in The Scotsman newspaper recently. It’s enough to send a shudder down the spine of any business travel agent.
    Cont/...
    The check-in queues at Scotland’s three biggest airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – shortened earlier this year as business travellers cut back on flights. And for the first time, technology was cited as one of the reasons for the decline.
    “Airlines have been reducing capacity…and the increasing use of video conferencing technology to replace taking flights to meetings has definitely occurred as a result of the credit crunch,” BAA spokesman Donald Morrison told the newspaper.
    Rising fuel prices, economic pressures, airport delays and green issues are all conspiring against that corporate trip. “UK businesses need to wake up to the fact that unnecessary meetings and business travel reduce employee productivity, increase stress levels and damage the environment,” said Bert van der Zwan, vice-president EMEA for Cisco WebEx, an online web conferencing firm.
    Over the past few years the technology for video and web conferencing has got its act together – no longer does it freeze or crash as soon as you overload the data line, as it did in the early 1990s. Now travel management companies are predicting an increase in its usage over the next two years.
    “I was impressed with the technology. You don’t have to take time out of the office to travel. [It also means] you can have a bigger team present at the meeting,” said James Allen, director of travel at public relations firm McCluskey International. The company recently used video conferencing facilities in London to win a pitch to the Illinois Bureau of Tourism in Chicago. “The key is to use professional facilities. However, it is still expensive to hire the room and equipment,” he said.
    Some companies are already using video conferencing extensively in a bid to cut travel and go green. Vodafone, for instance, has been saving more than 13,500 flights per year since committing to the technology and has reduced carbon emissions by more than 5,000 tonnes annually, according to video conferencing firm Eyenetwork.
    “It really comes down to how much business flying is discretional – how much do we fly because we want to, as opposed to really needing to, in order to get the job done?” said Future Foundation director of research Karen Elton.
    The latest round of innovation comes from Hewlett-Packard, with its Halo product, and Cisco’s telepresence technology. Both innovations enable people around the globe to meet in an environment that looks, sounds and feels as if they’re sitting across the same table.
    Participants see each other as life-sized images projected on to high-definition LCD screens. Their conference table starts where yours finishes. The lighting, sound and camera coverage have been enhanced so you see and hear each other clearly. If you move around, so does your voice – and you can share documents as well as digital presentations.
    The technology has also helped reduce HP’s global travel by 43%. Other customers include AstraZeneca, Toshiba and Novartis. Consultancy Frost and Sullivan says the market for telepresence in Europe alone could reach more than £200 million by 2013. Microsoft is also in on the act with its Roundtable product and then there’s Teliris’s GlobalTable.
    In the travel business the big move has come from Marriott International, which is installing telepresence suites for public use in a number of its hotels across the globe. Collaborative software has also come of age. Many firms with multiple locations and fast connections are collaborating using software such as Cisco WebEx, Microsoft’s NetMeeting or Adobe’s Acrobat Connect. The question is whether the new technology is threatening travel programmes.
    Cont/...
    “Travel management companies are not in competition with virtual meetings. Carlson Wagonlit Travel makes use of a combined programme of travel when it is necessary, and webinars when they provide a logical way of connecting lots of people quickly,” said UK marketing director Helen Cahill.
    Advances in technology are infiltrating other areas of the industry – global distribution systems are also keeping up with the pace of change. They are becoming more efficient and the amount of information available through the GDS is growing, along with faster download speeds. More content is now allowing agents and consultants to receive more travel information through one source and connect to more travel providers.
    As FCm Travel Solutions director of sales David Thomas said: “There is now greater connectivity to the low-cost market, so it is easier to use with more sophisticated approval and reporting platforms.”
    Can video conferencing replace business travel?
    The briefest glance around any airport gives proof enough that business travel is here to stay.
    “The benefits of face-to-face interaction are indispensable. However we are seeing our clients apply a more rigorous approach to travel in general,” said Air France-KLM head of business sales in the UK Tom Reeves.
    Most people in the industry agree that, when it comes to rolling out new deals, nothing can replace old fashioned, face-to-face meetings. It is human instinct to want to shake the hand of someone you are doing business with and look them in the eye.
    “Recent independent research shows travel agents feel strongly that they are in a ‘people business’ and client relationships are very important,” said Amadeus UK director of marketing Elaine Seeto. “The social element is important to success. Remote meetings hinder the opportunities to network.”
    If TMCs want a reason to sell a business trip, they need only mention how important it is to establish a personal rapport, take the client for dinner, enjoy banter and small talk – these things can not be developed through video conferencing or collaborative software.
    “A colleague summed it up perfectly when she said video conferencing is to face-to-face meetings what Facebook friends are to real friends,” explained Business Travel Show event director of David Chapple.
    Nick Easen
    FROM: http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2008/10/16/29148/business-travel-the-rise-of-video-conferencing.html
    Videoconferencing and Business
    This type of communicating allows people to work from their home via satellite, which increases family and/or personal time while reducing time spent commuting. It is estimated that in 1999, between 8 million and 15 million of the 120 million U.S. employees worked at home and communicated with their offices and customers using a computer and telephone lines. The number of telecommuters in America is expected to double by 2005.
    Today's business environment requires most corporate employees to collaborate on a routine basis. Videoconferencing allows for face-to-face planned as well as impromptu meetings of workers who are separated by several thousand miles.
    Sales presentations are an example of a profitable and easily justified business use of video-conferencing. When conducting the sales presentation at the customer's location, a sales representative with videoconferencing equipment on a laptop computer can connect the customer with specialists back at the company's offices to answer specific questions about the product being demonstrated. This allows for greater specialization, with the salesperson focusing on closing the sale and the specialists focusing on the technical aspects of the product. The salesperson is able to view the customer's body language and ask the specialist for clarification on customer objections or questions. The customer feels a sense of security by being able to see the individual instead of merely hearing a voice.
    Another business application of videoconferencing is the ability to train people without actually traveling to another location. Companies can provide more frequent training to their employees in distant locations for less cost.
    The Northrop Grumman Corporation implemented extensive teleconferencing for its 45,000 employees by setting up a hundred Team Communications Centers (TCCs) (teleconferencing rooms) at their offices across the United States. The TCCs are equipped with large digital whiteboards and projector screens. Groups of employees or managers from two or more locations collaborate on, discuss, and edit documents as though they were all in the same room, saving both time and money. The corporation identified airfare savings in 1998 of $150,000. These savings did not include hotels, meals, HYPERLINK " http://www.answers.com/topic/overtime" " _top" overtime, or incidentals.
    FROM: http://www.answers.com/topic/videoconferencing
    Tele-conferencing
    What Is Teleconferencing?
    The earliest form of teleconferencing was the telephone conference call, in which several par ties in various parts of the world could simultaneously hold a conversation. Businesspeople could talk with each other while sending and receiving faxes to provide a hard copy of the information being discussed. Today computer technology allows for synchronous, or simultaneous, sharing of data through four means: voice, video, digital whiteboard, and data files.
    Several parties are able to share not only voice but also a live camera image of themselves while they talk. The size of the image can be shrunk to occupy only a small portion of the computer monitor or large display screen so that a data file can be accessed, displayed, and edited on the monitor at the same time.
    Individuals participating in the conference call have the option of sharing and working with data files from either party's computer. While verbally discussing changes within the document and observing each other's body language, either party can edit the document and give immediate feedback. The digital whiteboard provides an electronic version of the dry erase board mounted on the wall. While viewing each other's actions via the computer monitor, individuals can also write on each other's whiteboard with special markers in the color of their choice. This allows professionals to make decisions and solve problems on the spot.
    FROM: http://www.answers.com/topic/videoconferencing
    Business Teleconferencing - Benefits And Examples
    Business teleconferencing is essential especially with all the demands of local and international business.The best way to make sure everyone within your business is on the same page and knows what to expect is to hold business teleconference calls on a regular basis.Teleconferencing also referred to as conference calling, can be set up within just a few minutes.Typically, if you use a credit card to activate your account you can be using the service almost immediately. Sixty to ninety minutes is the time frame for other situations.Business teleconferencing isn’t just for big business. There are many smaller businesses that use this service for keeping their management well informed.If your business makes use of teleconferencing on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, upper management can make sure that all of their offices or stores know what is going on. No one will be in the dark about new aspects of sales or procedures being changed or added.There are many retail stores that use teleconferencing on a weekly basis to keep their district manager in touch with store managers. This way the district managers can relay to their store managers what is expected of them in the upcoming weeks.The district managers are relaying what has been communicated to them regarding the expectations of the individual stores. More than likely their information came from a teleconferencing call with their bosses.
    Another plus for business conference calls is that everyone can talk and if something is not quite understood the opportunity to clarify the issue and maybe head off a major problem is addressed right then.The ability to share ideas with fellow workers is another benefit.If the old adage ‘two heads are better than one’ is true, then several heads should be even better. The advantages of being able to discuss the week’s sales, price increases, tips for improving productivity or sales are immeasurable.A prime example of business conference calls is for example when the CEO of the company wants to convey his instructions for upcoming events. The CEO would schedule a teleconferencing call with his district managers.This is one way of assuring that everyone is on the same page when it comes to sales, special events, and whether the stores are pulling their own weight.In turn the district manager holds teleconferencing calls with the store managers in their section. During this call they can convey the wants and wishes of the president or vice-president. Whether it be resets and when to expect yours or a special project the company is participating in you can be well informed by having conference calls.
    FROM: http://www.allconferenceservices.com/business-teleconferencing.html
    NHS should use teleconferencing to cut emissions
    More IT recommended in new report
    Written by Andrew Charlesworth
    vnunet.com, 30 May 2008
    The NHS could cut its carbon emissions by greater use of IT, according to a report by the Sustainable Development Commission.
    The report has been given a somewhat ironic twist after yesterday's news that Fujitsu has been fired from the NHS contract to computerise patient records.
    The report analyses the NHS's current emissions total and recommends ways in which emissions could be cut by 60 per cent by 2050.
    One of these is the increased use of teleconferencing to cut emissions caused by patients, visitors and staff travelling, which amount to an estimated 0.93m tonnes of carbon annually, or 18 per cent of total NHS missions.
    To manage travel emissions the report recommends that individual trusts develop travel plans.
    " A well-founded travel plan reduces the carbon footprint, pollution and congestion whilst encouraging active travel and a healthier population," the report said.
    The NHS accounts for 2.7 per cent of total carbon emissions in the UK
    FROM: http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2217918/nhs-should-teleconferencing-cut
    Web conferencing
    Web Conferencing is used to conduct live meetings or presentations over the Internet. The web conference is typically integrated with an audio conference. Each participant sits at their own computer and is connected to other participants via the Internet through an application which a 'host' company, like BroadData, provides and charges for its' use.
    Using web conferencing minimizes communication barriers and enables all meeting participants to jointly view a specific presentation, collaborate on a document or visit a web page together in real time. With the addition of audio conferencing, web conferencing enables co-workers or work groups to sit together as though they were in the same room. Web conferencing minimizes travel, enables joint decision making and information sharing, thus empowering workers to achieve a higher level of productivity.
    Web conferencing has applications for almost any type of enterprise:
     Professional services companies for client meetings, customer briefings, task development, project consultations, and project creation.  Financial corporations for group training, internal meetings, customer briefings, and investment workshops.  Education institutions for distance education, project teams, class content and delivery, and internal meetings.  High technology companies for sales presentations, product demonstrations, customer service, product training, and research and development.  Healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations for sales presentations, research and development, product training, marketing and promotions.
    FROM: http://www.broaddata.com/teleconferencing-services.cfm
    Web conferencing solution introduction
    Imagine being able to hold meetings with people around the world at a moment's notice without having to leave your office. A web conferencing solution provides a central online meeting place for people to get together for meetings regardless of location. With a simple click of the mouse, you can present PowerPoint slides, run a software demonstration, or even hold brainstorming sessions using a whiteboard.
    Businesses can use a web conferencing solution for a variety of purposes:
    Marketing meetings - product announcements, brainstorming sessions
    Sales presentations - demonstrations, new product releases
    Training and human resources - employee orientation, customer training
    Financial and investor relations - shareholder meetings, briefs
    Creative presentations - weddings, fashion shows, live surgery
    Probably the greatest downside to a web conferencing solution is the lack of face-to-face interaction and the relationship building it brings. Collaborative applications like interactive polls and Q&A sessions help bridge the gap, but the fact remains that the interaction is all virtual.
    On the other hand, a web conferencing solution helps slash the hefty travel and time costs associated with face-to-face meetings. Microsoft icon Bill Gates recently remarked that web conferencing stands to save his company over $40 million in travel costs alone in 2005. Although they may not be as large, other budget-conscious companies could certainly cut travel expenses using web conferencing.
    This BuyerZone.com Buyer's Guide will take a look at the functionality of a web conferencing solution, the services provided, costs, and how to purchase and install web conferencing, so you can get your company up and running in a flash.
    Web meetings basics
    To hold web meetings, you need three key items: a computer with an Internet connection, a web conferencing solution, and a phone line to hear the presenter. That's it. While participants of web meetings can get away with a dial-up Internet connection, it's recommended that the presenter have high-speed Internet access like DSL, T1, or cable modem.
    To set up web meetings, you simply use the web conferencing software to reserve a " room" for a specific date and time. The software then lets you send invitations to attendees to join the conference at the appointed hour. Web meetings can range in size from 2 to 500 or more people. Generally, meetings up to 125 people can be scheduled on demand; advance notice is usually required if you want more concurrent seats.
    In the invitation, attendees receive a link to download the requisite software, which takes only a few minutes with a high-speed connection. The invitation also includes a phone number to call into the meeting for the audio portion and a unique conference ID for the attendee claim their " seat" - the access port open for the conference.
    Other types of online web conferencingAs you add more features, online web conferencing morphs into other types of conferencing. Here's a quick rundown of the different flavors available:
    A webinar is just like a web conference except that the audio is streamed over the Internet instead of carried on a separate phone line; it is used for structured events like training sessions. Webcast services include video to allow you to see the speaker, but have with limited interactive options. On the high end, web video conferencing provides television-news like meetings, relying on dedicated high-speed data connections and hardware to support this high-quality interaction.
    Web based conferencing features
    Many web based conferencing solutions are rich in applications that can make your meeting a dynamic, interactive experience. Here is an overview of commonly available features of web based conferencing:
    For the presenter:
    Application sharing - Share any applications you have on your computer desktop directly with your participants. You can pass the controls over to a conference attendee to run a part of the meeting, make changes, and even group edit documents. As the moderator, you can take back the controls from a participant at any time with the click of a button. While application sharing is a powerful feature, you need to be very careful with it, as it gives the person full access to your computer and your company's network, bypassing your company's firewalls, which can put your infrastructure at risk.
    Slide presentations - Upload a PowerPoint presentation and share slides at your pace. This feature guarantees that no participant can skip through the presentation ahead of you.
    White boarding - Draw diagrams and write notes live on screen to support brainstorming sessions.
    Screen sharing - Show anything that appears on your computer desktop such as a single chart or diagram. You can even isolate part of your screen with a cropping tool so that your audience can only view what you want them to see.
    Web touring - Display Web pages as you click your way through them. This can be significantly easier than verbal instructions such as " click on the third link from the top in the left hand side" to guide a person through a site.
    File transfer - Send files to everyone at the conference at one time.
    For the audience:
    Live chat - Attendees talk amongst themselves and with the moderator through live person-to-person chat or group discussion.
    Q&A - Moderator takes questions from attendees throughout broadcast but particularly at the end of the meeting. Presenters have the option to reply solely to the person asking the question or to everyone in attendance. This interactive tool allows participants to play a more integral part in the conference.
    Polling - Moderator gets instant feedback on presentations by providing a set of questions with multiple-choice answers. You can view the results during the meeting and discuss the results, or analyze the data afterwards.
    Help request - Attendees can quietly alert you that they don't understand something or need help with an application without disrupting the flow of your meeting.
    Other web conferencing service features
    There are other administrative, reporting, and infrastructure functions that some web conferencing service providers offer to enhance your meeting:
    Web-based audio - Broadcasts the audio portion of your conference via streaming audio, instead of a separate conference call. This way, participants with a PC sound card and speakers can listen without additional audio conference calling charges. Usually referred to as a webinar.
    Web camera - By adding a webcam at the presenter's location, attendees can see view the presenter during the meeting. This can help them associate a face with the voice guiding them through the web conferencing service. Don't expect too much, though - the video may have a few seconds' delay and won't allow you to show much more than your headshot and the background of your work area. This is sometimes referred to as a webcast.
    Monitoring - Most web conferencing service providers have a participant window for you to view a roster of attendees as well as their web and audio status. You can also monitor who is entering your conference and bounce people you don't want at the meeting - a competitor or someone that didn't pay for access to a fee-based course, for example.
    Backup systems: Redundancy, or " conference continuation" , allows the hosted web conferencing solution to seamlessly move to a second server should the first server fail unexpectedly. If the moderator loses the connection to the conference, the attendees are alerted to stand by while the connection is fixed. All meeting materials are stored so critical data is not lost.
    While this addresses the potential downtime associated with problems with the web conferencing service provider, this does not cover the potential downtime due to computer, network or Internet connectivity problems experienced by the participants. While most providers guarantee nearly 100% uptime for their programs, they have little control over attendees' connections or hardware.
    Security - Almost all web conferencing service solutions include encryption to protect your information. For some, Secure Socket Layers (SSL) - high-level security technology that protects and secures confidential data - is a critical security measure for any web conference. Some companies charge extra for it while others will bundle it as part of a package. For others, security is less critical - there's no need to pay extra to protect public meetings or simple sales calls.
    Recording - Online archiving allows you to replay part or all of the actual meeting. Stored on the meeting host's PC, it gives you a reliable point of reference to consider potential improvements for future conferences. Since it's proprietary information, only the moderator determines who gets access once the conference ends.
    Reporting - Get conference activity such as full text chat transcripts or data from survey and quiz results. You can also find out when participants logged in and out and receive customized reports of how each attendee answered a particular question.
    FROM: http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/r-article-a-40949-m-7-sc-30-web_conferencing_buyers_guide-i
    Instant messaging
    Business application
    Instant messaging has proven to be similar to personal computers, e-mail, and the World Wide Web, in that its adoption for use as a business communications medium was driven primarily by individual employees using consumer software at work, rather than by formal mandate or provisioning by corporate information technology departments. Tens of millions of the consumer IM accounts in use are being used for business purposes by employees of companies and other organizations.
    In response to the demand for business-grade IM and the need to ensure security and legal compliance, a new type of instant messaging, called " Enterprise Instant Messaging" (" EIM" ) was created when Lotus Software launched IBM Lotus Sametime in 1998. Microsoft followed suit shortly thereafter with Microsoft Exchange Instant Messaging, later created a new platform called Microsoft Office Live Communications Server, and released Office Communications Server 2007 in October 2007. Both IBM Lotus and Microsoft have introduced federation between their EIM systems and some of the public IM networks so that employees may use a single interface to both their internal EIM system and their contacts on AOL, MSN, and Yahoo!. Current leading EIM platforms include IBM Lotus Sametime, Microsoft Office Communications Server, and Jabber XCP. In addition, industry-focused EIM platforms as Reuters Messaging and Bloomberg Messaging provide enhanced IM capabilities to financial services companies.
    The adoption of IM across corporate networks outside of the control of IT organizations creates risks and liabilities for companies who do not effectively manage and support IM use. Companies implement specialized IM archiving and security products and services to mitigate these risks and provide safe, secure, productive instant messaging capabilities to their employees.
    FROM: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant_messaging#Business_application
    10 tips for using instant messaging for business
    Microsoft Small Business Center
     Live It  Del.icio.us  Newsvine  Facebook  Digg This  Others
    Monte Enbysk is a lead editor for the Microsoft.com network and writes occasionally about technology for small businesses.
    By Monte Enbysk
    Blame it on instant messaging. Here's the scene: A couple dozen professionals at a New York advertising agency quietly type away at computer screens congregated near each other, in an open room devoid of office walls and tall partitions.
    Quietly is the key word here. An occasional laugh or chuckle punctuates the silence. But no one is talking. Why? They are communicating with one another almost exclusively through instant messaging (IM).
    A technology designed initially for conducting one-on-one personal chats has permeated the workplace. Many business people are choosing text-based IM over phone calls and e-mail — preferring its immediacy and streamlined efficiency in getting real-time information from partners, suppliers and colleagues working remotely.
    Instant messaging is essentially the text version
    of a phone call. At businesses large and small, more and more people are using it as a communications tool. For many, it serves as a backstop for e-mail problems.
    Instant messaging benefits businesses that work in teams or on projects more than it does many retailers, independent professionals and others. Why? Because IM enhances collaboration, but does not lend itself to opening new relationships. However, aside from the opportunities for time and cost savings, there are risks and downsides to its use.
    Whether you're a business owner or an avid IM user, or both, here are 10 instant messaging do's and don'ts.
    1. DO: Adopt a user policy for instant messaging. If you're an owner, your employees need to know whether you view instant messaging as an appropriate vehicle to communicate with, say, customers or business partners. Any
    policy should contain at least general guidelines for its use.
    2. DON'T: Use instant messaging to communicate confidential or sensitive information. If your company is in the business of providing professional advice regarding stocks, finances, medicine or law, chances are it's not smart to do so through instant messaging. IM is better suited to quick information about project status, meeting times, or a person's whereabouts.
    3. DO: Organize your contact lists to separate business contacts from family and friends. Contact lists, also known as " buddy lists," contain your menu of potential recipients for instant messages. Keep your business contacts separate from family and friends. Make sure your employees do the same. Eliminate even the remote possibility that a social contact could be included in a business chat with a partner or customer — or vice versa.
    4. DON'T: Allow excessive personal messaging at work. Yes, you make personal phone calls at work, send personal e-mails, and allow your employees to do the same. But you encourage them to keep it to a minimum and (hopefully) do the same yourself. For instant messaging, go even further. Urge that personal chats be done during breaks or the lunch hour — or that the chats generate new customers or revenue to the business.
    5. DO: Be aware that instant messages can be saved. You may think IM is great because
    you can let your guard down, make bold statements, chastise a boss, employee or co-worker, and have it all wiped away from the record when you are done. What you aren't realizing is that one of the parties to your conversation can copy and paste the entire chat onto a notepad or Word document. Some IM services allow you to archive entire messages. Bottom line: Be careful what you say, just as you would in an e-mail.
    6. DON'T: Compromise your company's liability, or your own reputation. Statements you make in IM about other people, your company or other companies probably aren't going to land you in court. But they could damage your reputation or credibility, or your company's. Again, be careful what you say.
    7. DO: Be aware of virus infections and related security risks. Most IM services allow you to transfer files with your messages. Alexis D. Gutzman, an author and e-business consultant,
    says her research for a book found that IM file attachments carrying viruses penetrate firewalls more easily than e-mail attachments. " Instant messages [carrying viruses] will run and dip into a firewall until they find an opening," she says. If you collaborate on documents for your business, file transfer is important. You'd be wise to learn more about the quality of your own firewall protection, to decide whether or not to restrict transferring files through IM.
    8. DON'T: Share personal data or information through instant messaging. Even if you have the utmost trust in the person or people you are messaging, including personal information such as a password or credit card number, even a phone number you'd rather keep confidential, is not a good idea. That's because the text of your chat is relayed to a Web server en route to your contact. If an IM provider employee or even a hacker is on the connection and can see that traffic, they can see the personal information. A long shot, perhaps. But better to send such info through an encrypted e-mail, or not at all.
    9. DO: Keep your instant messages simple, and to the point, and know when to say goodbye. How you should use instant messaging is hard to stipulate.Some people prefer it simply for seeing if a colleague is at his or her desk, available for an in-person or telephone call. Gutzman, on the other hand, sees IM as a way to do quick research and get fast information from consultants and even lawyers. She recently used IM in researching a book, saving entire messages in her personal archives. Both agree, however, that you must limit your inquiry, get to the point right away, and avoid unnecessary blather. " With instant messaging, you don't need a lot of pleasantries," Gutzman says. " I pretty much can say, 'How's it going?' and then get on with my question."
    10. DON'T: Confuse your contacts with a misleading user name or status. IM user names, like e-mail user names, should be consistent throughout your company. And users should have the courtesy to update their status throughout the day, so contacts know whether they are available for messages or offline.
    FROM: http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/communications/10-tips-for-using-instant-messaging-for-business.aspx#tipsforusinginstantmessagingforbusiness

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