Microsoft pledges ‘cloud computing for public good’

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Cloud Solutions for Business, Cloud Solutions for NonProfit, Office365 | 0 comments

 

Computing giant Microsoft has pledged to provide $1bn-worth (£700m) of cloud computing resources to organisations it deems to be working for the “public good”.

The resources will be shared out over the next three years to about 70,000 non-profits and 900 university research projects.

In simplest terms, cloud computing is the term given to storing data on the internet, rather than on a local computer.

As well as making data more easily accessible, the added promise for non-profits is that the resources will provide vast amounts of computing power that would ordinarily be out of reach for all but the biggest businesses.

In a blog post explaining the initiative, Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote: “Cloud services can unlock the secrets held by data in ways that create new insights and lead to breakthroughs, not just for science and technology, but for addressing the full range of economic and social challenges and the delivery of better human services.”

The crunching of so-called “big data” is seen as a major opportunity for non-profits dealing in social issues that pose a cumbersome problem without the kind of processing power cloud computing can provide.

In that respect, Microsoft’s pledge isn’t for a tangible product, or cash, but instead access to servers and services that normal businesses would need to pay considerable fees for.

The money will also be spent on improving “last mile” internet connectivity – the hope is countries that are under connected will begin to enjoy some of the luxuries more developed internet nations have – such as broadband at home.

Tough crowd

Other companies, particularly Facebook, have pursued similar goals.

Facebook’s Internet.org project is investing in connectivity technologies – such as drones – to fill that last mile, helping what founder Mark Zuckerberg refers to as the “next billion” people to access the web.

However, initiatives such as this aren’t always so well received. Facebook’s Free Basics scheme, in which certain mobile sites were accessible for free, has caused uproar in India, where local businesses say Facebook is giving itself an unfair advantage over local competitors.

Microsoft will invariably be hit with the same accusation – that a donation over three years will be made in the hope that organisations will become ingrained in the Microsoft cloud ecosystem for many more years to come.

That said, Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has gained considerable applause for his continually expressed desire to use Microsoft’s immense size and wealth in developing countries, including his native India.

As well as being a guest of Michelle Obama at the recent State of the Union address, the 48-year-old is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, seeking to stress Microsoft’s potential to provide computing power for initiatives beyond big business.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, he wrote: “If cloud computing is one of the most important transformations of our time, how do we ensure that its benefits are universally accessible?

“What if only wealthy societies have access to the data, intelligence, analytics and insights that come from the power of mobile and cloud computing?”

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What’s New and Improved in Office 2016

Posted by on Oct 8, 2015 in Office365 | 0 comments

What’s New and Improved in Office 2016

It’s here! If you’re currently running Office 2013 and have an Office 365 subscription, you can update to the latest version now.

Need to install Office 2016? If you’re an Office 365 Home, Personal, or University subscriber, learn more about how to upgrade to Office 2016. If you’re an Office 365 for Business subscriber, learn more about how to get the new apps.

If you want to learn more about what’s new in a particular app, click its icon below.

 
Co-Authoring

In Word and PowerPoint

Work with others simultaneously on a document regardless of the device you're using.

Learn more about co-authoring in Word and PowerPoint
Simplified Sharing

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

Just click the Share button in the Ribbon for easy sharing right from your Office documents. See who has access to a given document and who is currently working in the document, and change individual authoring permissions for any document you own.

Learn more about sharing in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
Shared Notebooks

In OneNote

Collect any and all relevant information (e.g., photos, videos, clippings, drawings,...) in one central location, work with others, and watch the app sync changes within seconds.

Learn more about sharing a OneNote notebook with other people
Real-Time Typing

In Word

As you collaborate with others in a document, see where others are working and view their edits as they happen.
Modern Attachments

In Outlook

Attach a document from your recent items and share them from OneDrive or SharePoint with email recipients. Also configure sharing permissions so that all the recipients have access to the attached file without having to leave the app.

Learn more about attaching a file to an email
Mail Triage

In Outlook

The Clutter feature learns how you prioritize your mail and then helps you by putting low priority messages in a separate folder (while still giving you a daily summary so you don't miss anything). When on the go, you can also take advantage of this capability by using the Focused Inbox.

Learn more about using Clutter to sort low priority messages
Improved Version History

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

Refer back to previous snapshots and earlier drafts of documents during the editing process as you collaborate with others.

Learn more about viewing historical versions of Office files
One-Click Forecasting

In Excel

With one simple click, create forecast charts based on historical data and predict future trends. This new capability uses the industry standard Exponential Smoothing (ETS) algorithm to give you reliable forecasting data.

Learn more about creating a forecast
New Chart Types

In Word, PowerPoint, and Excel

Visualize financial or hierarchical data, and highlight statistical properties of your data with new chart types: Treemap, Waterfall, Pareto, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Sunburst.
Export Data Source Information to Excel

In Access

Get a list of all the linked data sources from your Access database application into Excel for reference.

Learn more about exporting linked data source information to Excel
More Flexible Timelines

In Project

Not only leverage multiple timelines to illustrate different phases or categories of work, but also set the start and end dates for each timeline separately, to paint a clearer overall picture of the work involved.

Learn more about creating multiple timelines.
Better Control over Resource Scheduling

In Project

Negotiate an agreement, called a resource engagement, to make sure that resources with limited availability are being used appropriately and effectively throughout your organization.

Learn more about resource engagements.
Improved Data Connectivity

In Visio Professional

Connecting your diagram to Excel data is now just one step away. Make sure there is a one-to-one match between values in an Excel column and the text for each shape on the diagram, and simply click Quick Import on the Data tab.
Modern Shapes

In Visio

Take advantage of the many redesigned shapes that are now available. In Visio Professional, the Basic Electrical template now has shapes that are compliant with the IEEE standard. In Visio Standard, the Office Layout shapes have been updated. Also check out the Starter diagrams to quickly get going.
Better Together with Windows 10

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Mail, Calendar, and OneNote

Take the Office mobile apps for a spin and find out why they are the perfect option for on-the-go productivity. They help you do great work anywhere, anytime, with documents in full fidelity across all your Windows 10 devices.
Office Themes

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Project, Visio, and Publisher

Pick the Office theme that's right for you. The Dark Gray theme provides a high contrast look and feel that is easy on the eyes. The Colorful theme offers a modern and fresh look. The White theme provides a traditional Office look.

Learn more about changing the Office theme
Tell Me

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, Project, Visio, and Access

Simply type what you want to do in the app using your own words, and then Tell Me will guide through the process as well as offer additional resources.

Learn more about doing things quickly with Tell Me
Smart Lookup

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook

Fact-check or explore terms in your documents with Bing-powered Smart Lookup. Simply highlight terms in your document and use this feature to bring in search results from the web right into your reading or authoring environment.

Learn more about getting insights into what you're working on
OneDrive Integration

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook

Access your Office documents from anywhere and any device by saving them to OneDrive, pick up anywhere you left off, and co-author with others from the comfort of your office or home, or even on the go.

Learn more about saving documents online.
Skype Integration

Use Skype to check in and collaborate with someone using Instant Messaging (IM), voice, video, or screen sharing. Also join online meetings while on the go using the Skype for Business mobile app. See who is online, IM meeting participants, and follow along when a presenter shares his screen - all from your tablet or phone.
Cross-Platform, Cross-Device

In Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook

Easily switch from one device to the next without missing a beat. View and edit your Office documents across Windows, Android, and Apple devices. Review, edit, analyze, and present with a consistent look and familiar user experience across your devices.

Applies To: Project Professional 2016, Publisher 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Visio Standard 2016, Outlook 2016, Visio Professional 2016, Office 2016, Access 2016, OneNote 2016, Project Standard 2016, Excel 2016, Word 2016

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Sales skills you need to master

Posted by on Oct 5, 2015 in Behind The Scenes, Cloud Solutions for Business, Cloud Tutorials, Dynamics CRM Online | 0 comments

Springboard your sales metrics

Worried about sales? Not confident in getting your product or service out there? Our Account Manager, Lucy Bourne explores the range of sales skills you need to master to start reaching your target.

So sit back, grab a coffee and learn how to start boosting your monthly figures.

At Cloud2020, we’re always looking at ways that technology can boost the productivity of sales people: whether it be by something as simple as reminding them to call that hot lead or providing them with rich and valuable information on how their prospects have interacted with the business. The technology is all very well, but what about the actual skills that every sales person needs?

We look to the experts to arm us with this knowledge: Todd Cohen has coached and led sales teams to deliver over 500 million USDs worth ofrevenue for leading companies such as: Xerox, Gartner, Thomson–Reuters and Pensare. Cohen identifies the sales skills can be split into four different areas:

  • personal
  • relational
  • professional
  • return on investment

In this post, we’ll take a look at all o these areas:

PERSONAL SKILLS

Innate desire to sell

This one’s an easy one: it’s just like looking in the mirror. The attitude you give out to a customer reflects what you’ll get back: If you love to sell your customers will love you back. They’ll be far more less likely to buy from you if they can see you don’t like what you do. Positive attitudes are easily reflected in the sales scores.

Passion

Even if you’re already lucky enough to have the inbuilt desire to sell, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re passionate about it. Passion is tangible and your customers and your colleagues will be able to feel it when they’re around you. It also demonstrates that you’re engaged and interested, which shows you can bring value to your customers.

Energy

Having high energy levels won’t guarantee you reach your target, but it’s proven low energy won’t help you. Emotions are contagious and bringing the right energy to work affects your team’s morale. So, bring it!

Self – motivation

Just like you need a daily dose of coffee to start off your day, you need a daily dose of motivation to keep you going in the long term. Successful salespeople are able to overcome obstacles that happen when trying to close deals. If you want to do the same – it’s simple, just work out what drives you to sell, and visualise it. Why are you in this business?

Integrity

It takes years to build trust and only seconds to break it. Credibility is the basis of doing business. The best salespeople are honest. They build trust, and do their best not to breach it. It also includes acknowledging mistakes and not blaming others.

RELATIONAL SKILLS

Humility

Genuine humility is a strength that leads to success. People are more likely to buy from real, modest people who put a heart into their job. Arrogance doesn’t sell, confidence does.

Confidence

Confident salespeople possess a natural comfort in dealing with others. Customers like to work with confident people, because they place a higher level of trust in them. The key to boosting your confidence level is to be comfortable with yourself, be engaged in the company you work for and believe in the product you sell.

Control your ego!

An oversized ego alienates you from your customers and colleagues, making it hard to create a collaborative environment. So don’t be too impressed with your own results and never let your ego be bigger than your skill set.

Build relationships

It’s much easier to buy from people we trust. To build trust, a salesperson needs to invest time in building a relationship with a customer. Closing a sale based on trust and a good relationship opens new opportunities and successful future sales.

Selling is becoming more and more about the relationships and trust that have been established than about products and solutions. You must create success through solid relationships and trust. These elements become your support system for tomorrow’s sales.

Collaborative

Building great relationships allows you to communicate easily with other teams in your company in order to close the deal. Once your product becomes more complex you may want to use their expertise.

Listening

Many of us love to hear ourselves talk. Other people? Not so much. If you’re willing to achieve success, don’t be a salesperson who talks without a break. You’re only repeating what you already know. When you listen, you can learn more about customers, their problems and their pain points that need to be solved.

Remember:  It’s easier to listen if you have planned a list of questions to ask before you go to the meeting or into the sales call. This way you can concentrate on listening to the customer, rather than thinking about the next question to ask.

Patience

Sometimes deals take time. And patience is not about just waiting, it’s about being able to keep a good attitude while waiting. One push too much and a customer can resign. With too much pressure, you’re not only killing your deal but your relationship as well. So don’t rush it. Let your deal develop, mature and only then close it.

Take responsibility

Personal responsibility is a component of all the skills we’ve talked about so far. You are the only person responsible for your success: not your boss, not your other half, just you. Your image, power, energy, the desire to sell and listening bring you closer to success.

PROFESSIONAL SELLING SKILLS

Business acumen

When you lose your cool and emotions take over, sometime you can’t see the situation clearly. It’s never bee more important to maintain a professional demeanor and have the ability to assess a situation from all angles: is it a valuable deal for you? Is the prospect’s company in a good shape?

Work on your state of mind in order to keep your cool. A clear view allows you to asses the sales opportunity objectively.

Build your business plan and map exactly what you need to do

Whatever goals you have, you need to put a plan in place to achieve them. Successful salespeople know that even the best persuasion techniques work better with some planning behind them.

Your plan should include calls, emails, demos – whatever is needed to get the job done? How many of them do you need? When exactly in the sales cycle should they happen? Put a lot of effort on preparing that – consider using sales productivity tools like Springboard to automate this process to prevent making errors – we’re all human.

Hone your competitive streak

Competitive sales people know exactly their industry, the competition and exactly what they offer. What’s more, they are aware of customers specific needs (both visible and underlying) and use this knowledge to know which products and/or services are the best choice for the customer.

Ask for the order

You’ve worked hard to get the customer to the point where a buying decision can be made, but you haven’t closed the deal. Review each step you took:  does the customer know your product enough? If so, have you asked for the order?

Asking for the order is a natural part of the sales conversation. It’s all to easy to avoid asking the question due to fear of a refusal. Customer refusal can actually lead you to a better understanding of their needs. Follow Todd Cohen’s advice and ask yourself a question: “What is motivating your customer to back away from a commitment? Can you address those needs?”

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Intelligence

Intelligence is a vital combination of common sense with a healthy quantity of knowledge that leads to make solid business decisions.

Intelligent salespeople understand the components of a sales cycle and are able to read all the signs during a sales process. They also understand the competition, industry and economy.

Ability to see the bigger picture

If you focus on making a sale you will make a sale and then you’ll be done. But if you focus on the customer and their pain points and needs, chances are you’ll keep them for life. Make sure you keep the bigger picture in mind and look beyond one deal into the years after.

Become a thought leader

Lack of knowledge is your weak point, while in fact it should be your power, be sure to have information on your customer’s industry at your fingertips to ensure that you become the “go-to” contact for advice. Be hungry for sector-specific information and ensure that you’re up-to-date and familiar with key trends. This way you’ll become the person that others come to for advice. According to Cohen:

You must sell with a perspective of your industry. Be able to talk intelligently about where your customer’s industry is going, about internet developments and chances that are likely to occur.

Desire to educate your customers

Compared to you, your customers probably know very little about your product – they usually don’t know even  half of the features that are available. As a result, you may find you need to explain everything to them like they were 12. And sometimes like they were 6 – which is totally fine and what’s better way to do it if not through a compelling story?

Commitment to career learning

It’s pretty easy to feel you’re the best at what you do when you have no understanding  of the mistakes you might be making.  The more we learn, the more we understand how much more is left to learn. We never know everything – the key is to appreciate we need to constantly learn new things and develop new skills. Learning is the key to growth in the IT industry.

Practice your craft until you master it

It’s not enough to simply just know these sales skills – we need to constantly consider them. Successful salespeople have practiced for years to  get to where they are, and the best bit? Many now use these skills without even thinking about it. You can get to this point too.

Practice your craft until you master it. Just like they did.

Need a tool to help you master these skills? Consider Springboard, a CRM solution for SMEs that encourages best practice, and drives sales. Chat on our site to find out how Springboard could work for your business.

Lucy @ Cloud2020

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