What Marketing Leaders Are Saying about Virtual Events
December 20, 2011 @ 11:51 AM | By Eric Vidal

InterCall_Virtual_Event_Infograph_revA

2011 survey by InterCall with a representative sample of 550 senior marketers in the U.S. and their thoughts on virtual events.

The Rise of the Millennial Workforce
December 15, 2011 @ 02:35 PM | By Charlie Connor

The time of the Millennial generation is upon us! Today, the Millennial generation makes up 33% of the workforce. This is not just a trend in North America, but one all three major regions of the world—the Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and Asia Pacific—are seeing.

Who is the Millennial generation? It depends on who you ask, but generally the Millenial generation includes those born between 1977 and 1998. What is so special and unique about this generation? While becoming the dominate generation of the workforce, they are also changing the way things have been done or thought needed to be done.

What is so unique about the Millennials?

Millennials are more technologically advanced because they are “digital natives.” Translation: They ate MP3 players for breakfast. They aren’t about to switch to a box of Wheaties and the morning newspaper.

Millennials grew up on teams. The soccer team, the family team and the team in the classroom. Their desks are arranged in pods to increase cooperation, not rows to promote efficiency. Because of this, Millennials value equality in the workplace and in life. Millennials will resist going it alone and need more interaction to complete tasks. They look for instant collaboration and communication on everything they do.

Millennials grew up with their own stuff. Personal devices are just that. And, most didn’t share bedrooms, computers or even TVs with their siblings. But, they did tolerate intrusions such as security cameras, metal detectors and Internet spam. Millennials value their privacy but, paradoxically, engage liberally in social media free space and blogging. Give them the single room and read their blogs.

Millennials from a very early age were programmed, scheduled and committed. Not just committed to the technology, committed to the cause. If you are expecting 70’s style “free-spirits,” they are not that. Millennials grew up following rigid schedules, going from music lessons to soccer practice to tutoring. They’ve had little in the way of down time and have mastered multitasking. Millennials aren’t dreamers, they are planners.

Millennials have been measured from the start. Not just measured, assessed, benchmarked and evaluated beginning with their APGAR score and ending with the SAT. No generation has been more measured than the Millennials. They not only accept measurement, they’ve become shrewd users of metrics, benchmarks and universal standards. They brag to their friends about their ‘gamer tags’ and post their Farmville accomplishments on Facebook.

Millennials are privileged, but they don’t see themselves that way. What is still a minor miracle to a Baby Boomer or even Generation X-ers is the norm for the Millennial. They grew up with their own computers, cell phones and devices. These products have become basic necessities, not luxuries. Also, they grew up expecting to replace these items every couple of years.

Millennials believe they can change the world. That’s what we’ve taught them. And this generation believes they really can. Again, not in the way we thought we could in “The Sixties” but in a more self-less, team-oriented, community-first kind of way. Not the me generation, the planet generation. Millennials are not rebels; they are collaborators and they are wired, or wireless with the technology to make it happen. This attitude and the emerging technology is the basis for the social media revolution.

I know what you are thinking…that is a lot of information. What does that all mean? The business world is changing more than it ever has before. Have you seen what Atos Origin is doing? They are looking to use tools like blogs, instant messaging and message boards. Sound at all like the descriptions above? This is a real example of the Millennials directly impacting how companies are doing business.

There has never been a more critical time for the solutions InterCall has to offer. When you look at the tenants of our strategy, you see how we are embracing the future and changing with the evolving workforce.

  • Decreasing the cost of ownership of our service
  • Increasing the usability and accessibility of our products
  • Addressing business challenges through new solutions
  • Eliminating the cost of failure by exceptional quality

Everything InterCall—and even our parent company, West Corporation—has been developing over the past few years is now more important than ever. InterCall customers will continue to find applications and platforms that work with multiple devices and tools (Skype, tablets, soft phones, Microsoft® Lync™ Online, Cisco WebEx Connect, Cisco Jabber), are simple and easy to join (shortened call flow, Global Network Access, mobile number recognition, customer call flow) and ensure you have the people in your meeting when they should be (hosted scheduling, improved dial-me function on all products, SMS and push notification reminders).

Make sure to check out this blog throughout 2012 for articles about specific product launches and how InterCall is helping the workforce of today and tomorrow ‘change the world’.

Sources:
Millennials: What Makes Them Different, May 2010 and Marketing to Millennials, September 2009 by Brand Amplitude/Millennial Marketing
Generational Insights: Practical Solutions for Understanding and Engaging a Generationally Disconnected Workforce, October 2010 by Cam Marston

Cynthia Welch imageAs director of InterCall’s core services, Charlie is responsible for the product management of InterCall’s proprietary day-to-day collaboration services. Charlie joined InterCall after completing his business degree from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University. Originally starting in sales, Charlie worked in InterCall’s business development team to help drive and support InterCall’s global sales efforts. In 2007, Charlie had the opportunity to spend a year in Singapore where he supported the restructuring of the office there and improving localization. Now back in Chicago, Charlie plays a key role in developing and improving InterCall’s core products. When not saving the world through collaboration services, Charlie enjoys spending time with his wife, Katie, and daughter, Annie.

2011 Social Round Up
December 14, 2011 @ 02:00 AM | By Ashley Davies

So another year has come to an end. We’ve seen democracies fall, celebrities mourned, tsunamis tracked, terrorists killed, volcanos erupt, the end of the NASA space program, terrorist attacks in Norway, floods in Thailand and earthquakes in Turkey. A quiet year, I think you’ll agree…

What’s been interesting to note is how this news has been delivered to us. We no longer rely on the 6:00 news to deliver us day- or hours-old content; the news is happening right now, and we, the people, are the content providers. So, let me take you on a tour of the top tools of 2011 that are helping news to spread faster and quicker than ever before.

TwitterButton FacebookButton BlogButton

I’m going to start with a fairly unknown, but hugely useful service by the team at the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling & Infocommunications (RSOE) who operate the Emergency & Disaster Information Service (EDIS). Wow; that’s quite a name. We can call it RSOE-EDIS for short!

This map (http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php) allows you to see a real-time overview of every disaster that is occurring right now at a global level. If a terrorist attack, earthquake, volcano or public uprising were to occur, this tool will let you know as soon as it happens. You can be the source of breaking news by using this map to learn about a disaster and tweeting it before the mainstream news agencies even have the chance to publish it!

What’s a real-world example of sharing breaking news through Twitter? Let’s look at the hashtag #Jan25. When the people of Egypt started the movement to overthrow their government, the news agencies shut down, but Twitter remained active (against the best attempts of the Egyptian government). The hashtag #Jan25 became the source for breaking news related to the uprising and ultimately assisted in overthrowing the government because it acted as a source to arrange protests and crowd-source data into an easy-to-follow interface.

BlackBerry (RIM) saw its tools used in a similar fashion during the London riots last August. Rioters flew under the radar of public IM by using BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) to arrange riot locations and spread updates. The police were slow to respond as they were tracking the mainstream social networks for information (Facebook and Twitter) instead of investigating how the rioters interacted (data which was readily available before the riots).

Twitter serving as a breaking news source can sometimes happen unexpectedly. Sohaib Athar became an overnight sensation thanks to his tweeted observation: ‘Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1am (is a rare event)’. Little did he know that he was uncovering the first stage of the top-secret mission to kill Osama Bin Laden. Once news broke about the death of Bin Laden, Sohaib tweeted, ‘Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it’.

This is one of the fantastic features of social networking. What would have previously been obscure observations are suddenly catapulted into the spotlight. After exposing the Bin Laden mission, Sohaib’s Twitter following increased from 1471 followers to an amazing 89,099! Sohaib’s closing comments? ‘Bin Laden is dead. I didn’t kill him. Please let me sleep now’.

One Twitter hashtag that I followed very closely occurred on 4 March 2011. A powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan, generating a huge tsunami, up to 10 metres high in places. Pretty quickly Japan’s phone system was knocked out, and Twitter became the go-to service for pushing information about the earthquake and tsunami. Within one hour of the earthquake, tweets from Tokyo were topping 1200 per minute.

American tweeters on the west coast began predicting an ETA for the tsuanmi on U.S. shores, way before the U.S. government put out an official statement. On the Hawaiian Islands, the tweeters were posting updates about the status of their islands since they would be the first to be hit. One user I followed tweeted, ‘Just watched the ocean completely suck out and disappear and then come roaring back in. Makes me feel as [weak] as a sweet little baby...Minutes away from the first wave to hit Oahu. No reports from Kauai yet. Hotels halls packed with people....30 minutes between waves. 200-300 feet of reef exposed & then the waves come ripping back higher each time....’ Thankfully Hawaii didn’t get hit hard by the after-effects of the Tsunami, but again, the power of Twitter still amazes me!

Being in the conferencing and communication business, I’m always interested to watch the trends in how people share news and information. Holding a conference call is one way to talk to people, but as we’ve seen, Facebook and Twitter take it to a whole new level. That’s why you’ll see these types of social media tools integrated with our services, like we’re already doing with InterCall Streaming Services and InterCall Virtual Environments.

What do you expect to see happen with social media in 2012? Have any predictions about hot topics in the coming months?

Ashley DaviesAshley Davies is the small and medium sized business (SMB) manager in InterCall’s UK and European (EMEA) division and is responsible for managing the suite of services InterCall offers that are specifically designed for SMB customers. Before joining InterCall, Ashley worked as the sales manager for a free publication and studied for a degree in entrepreneurship and small business. In his spare time, Ashley likes to surf and work on his house.

Take Care of Your Ears
December 12, 2011 @ 10:00 AM | By Anusha Karnad

With all the people in this world, it’s not uncommon to find many wearing earphones or headphones to listen to their iPods or talk on their cell phones. They’ll also do it to block out ambient noise on buses, trains or just the street. And all of it can contribute to hearing loss.

Frequent use of headphones/earphones can be harmful to our ears, yet we still use them, or need them, for work or to be in compliance with hands-free laws.

Headset

If you are on audio conference calls all day, a headset is the only thing that can save your neck (holding the handset between your ear and your shoulder while you type on your keyboard for an hour could send you to the chiropractor). Even if you are answering the phone or, like my agents, listening to and editing recorded conference calls all day, a headset is a requirement. Still, you can’t ignore the toll this can eventually take on your ears.

Here are some tips which will help you to take care of your ears and your earphones/headsets:

  • Place your headset/earphones in a hygienic place.
  • Use good quality headsets/earphones.
  • Never keep your headset volume set at a high level.
  • Turn the volume down on your phone or MP3 player.
  • See your doctor if you have an earache. Ear infections can damage the ear drum or the bones of the middle ear, eventually causing hearing loss.
  • Stop smoking. Smokers are more likely to lose their hearing than non-smokers.
  • Keep your ears clean (it may be gross, but it’s the truth).

Anasha KarnadAnusha Karnad is a post call services lead at InterCall in Bangalore. She’s been with InterCall since 2009, working in customer service, training for new hires and account management where she helped customers with billing and service related questions. Anasha's background is in training voice, accent and soft skills for customer service agents.

Mastering the Complex Sale
December 8, 2011 @ 09:44 AM | By Tonya Hottmann

The more complex customers’ situations and your solutions become, the more uncertain and resistant to change customers will be. This uncertainty manifests itself in decision paralysis, long sales cycles, unpredictable outcomes and the relentless pressure to cut price.

In our free webinar, Mastering the Complex Sale, scheduled for Wednesday, December 14 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Jeff Thull, CEO and president of Prime Resource Group, will discuss the problems sales organizations face in this complex and challenging market. Join the thousands of people who are gaining a competitive edge and finding answers to today’s tough market challenges.

During this hour, you’ll get clear and specific answers to these problems:

  • Pricing pressures commoditize complex and valuable solutions
  • Misdirected questioning strategy and “leading the witness”
  • Inability to diagnose for accurate and quality information
  • Presenting early - undermining the customer’s decision to buy
  • Getting caught selling Era 2 style in an Era 3 market

Register now>>

About Our Speaker
Jeff Thull is a leading-edge strategist, author and valued advisor for executive teams of major companies and organizations worldwide. As president and CEO of Prime Resource Group, he has designed and implemented business transformation and professional development programs for companies such as Shell, 3M, Microsoft, Siemens, Boston Scientific, IBM, Boeing, HP, Compuware and Georgia-Pacific, as well as many fast track, start-up companies. He has gained the reputation for being a thought leader in the arena of sales and marketing strategies and relationship management for companies involved in complex sales.

Tonya Hottmann imageTonya Hottmann is the director of marketing at InterCall, responsible for direct response marketing programs. Before joining InterCall, Tonya ran a boutique marketing consulting firm for 10 years. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and spending summer days at the beach.

Time to Cut the Cord?
December 7, 2011 @ 07:27 AM | By Jill Huselton

You have to be living in a cave if you aren’t aware of the growing prevalence of smartphones and mobile applications. It seems like every day there’s some new, cool device or solution that makes your life just that much easier. It is one big cycle; the more we consume these ‘conveniences’, the more they are developed, each one better than the last.

My co-worker talked about how consumer trends eventually make their way into the business world, and you can see how our dependence on mobile solutions is transferring to how we work. We’ve become so dependent on being able to communicate with our friends and family through cell phones, texting and social media that we now expect the same thing from our colleagues.

Cut-phone-cord

That’s why the results of a recent survey shouldn’t be that surprising. They asked 200 companies in the U.S. and 200 in the UK (IT decision-makers including CXOs, VPs and directors at enterprises of all sizes) about their plans to move to mobile-only communications and their adoption of unified communication services. Their findings showed that companies are making the move faster than expected.

  • "25% of enterprise IT decision makers believe desk phones will be replaced by mobile phones within two years, and 82% of enterprises have employees currently using mobile applications for communications and collaboration,
  • 44% of enterprises surveyed have at least one-quarter of their workforce operating solely using a mobile phone, and 82% of enterprises have employees using mobile apps for communications and collaboration and
  • 30% of enterprises support tablets; 51% support BlackBerry devices, 40% support iPhones and 31% support Android phones."

They also found that "62% are expanding their enterprise's UC capabilities, with instant messaging, web collaboration and videoconferencing identified as the top UC services they seek to support on mobile devices over the next three years." When it comes to video conferencing, the survey showed that more U.S. companies plan to roll out video conferencing in the next year compared to UK companies (72% compared to 56%).

Are you already experiencing these trends in your business? We are finding this among our customers, not just the need to support an on-the-go workforce through mobile conferencing solutions, but also a growing demand for unified communications services. Will your company be next to cut the cord on your landline and put solutions in your hands to make you and your colleagues more accessible?

Jill HuseltonJill Huselton is a senior marketing manager at InterCall. She's been in the conferencing industry for nearly 15 years, working in operations, account management and marketing, mainly based in Colorado. Before leaving the Mile-High City, she hiked a 14er, one of her top accomplishments. Now she's traded the mountains for the beach and works from a home office in North Carolina.

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