U.S. TV network NBC has announced “Super Stream Sunday” — 11 consecutive hours of live content on Super Bowl Sunday, free of charge for consumers. This first-time ever live stream programming will include the game, the halftime show featuring Katy Perry, the pre- and post-game shows, and a debut episode of The Blacklist.
The free streaming will start at noon Eastern Time on February 1, 2015, when fans will be able to access NBC Sports Live Extra app and website on their tablets and desktop computers without having to log-in. According to Senior Vice President and General Manager for digital media at NBC Sports Group, Rick Cordella, the log-in step has been removed to encourage viewers to experience the live streaming option.
It is also a move to raise awareness of NBC’s online viewing platforms among record audiences, and part of promoting its “TV Everywhere” initiative, explained Alison Moore, GM and EVP, TV Everywhere, NBC Universal: “‘Super Stream Sunday’ builds off of NBC Universal’s commitment to create broader TV Everywhere opportunities for our consumers[.] We are leveraging the massive digital reach of the Super Bowl to help raise overall awareness of TV Everywhere by allowing consumers to explore our vast TVE offering with this special one-day-only access.”
Traditionally the biggest telecast of the year, The Super Bowl garnered record viewership of 112.2 million in 2014 on Fox Network, according to Nielsen research. Making such a popular event widely available on internet-connected devices is an effort to gain the support of viewers who are switching from cable TV to online viewing. With the trend of “cord-cutting” becoming popular across the country, consumers are cancelling their cable TV subscriptions and moving to streaming video services. An indication that shows that live streaming may turn out to be the future of video.
Another significant step in the direction of live streaming is Dish’s Sling TV online streaming service set to launch soon. With a base package that starts at $20, Sling TV will give the user access to live feeds from over 10 channels. Users will have the option to pause and rewind shows, and even watch older shows that they might have missed on limited channels. For those customers who have bandwidth concerns, Sling TV CEO Roger Lynch said, “Through settings, we give you tools to limit the bandwidth for your streaming if you’re worried about your data cap.”
Initially, Sling TV will be launched as a single-stream service, but later users will be able to connect as many devices as they want. Sling TV will be available in 720p and 1080p and can be accessed via Android TV, Fire TV, Roku, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and desktops.
Will you be tuning in to the live-streaming event? Will it be enough to pique your interest in “cutting the cord?”
Companies’ focus should rest on customers. We hear time and again how important good customer service is. We build around the idea of customer centricity, in short. The idea has been boosted considerably by the growing number of channels available to reach our customers. But, is our customer centricity just empty talk? Are there actions backing it up? For many businesses, talking the talk is easy, but truly adapting the customer-centric approach in day-to-day operations is much harder. Most companies will tell you that they operate with the customer-first approach, and no one would admit to giving poor customer service. We know the reality is that not everyone is doing it though. When it comes to being customer-centric, companies need to follow the “Show, Don’t Tell” rule.
Roadblocks in the Way of Customer-Centricity
While customer-centricity might sound like a bright idea that companies can implement right away, it isn’t so. In fact, more than a business idea, customer-centricity is a new business culture that companies need to adopt and to adapt to. For those businesses that have been predominantly product-centric, it is a tough pill to swallow. What does it mean to adopt and adapt to a customer-centric approach? Companies need to deliver a seamless and positive customer experience at every touch point in the customer life cycle. It means that we need to be on our toes 24×7: informing, supporting, and dealing with customer needs every single time. It requires companies to reassess their business values, rethink their goals, and reconstruct their business culture. It is a huge undertaking and, evidently, an intimidating one as well. It is these changes that build the premise for a truly customer-centric organization, however.
How Organizations Become Truly Customer-Centric
For an organization to become truly customer-centric, many key aspects about the way that the business runs have to be re-evaluated on multiple levels. Here are three ways in which businesses can make changes within their framework to emerge on the other side as more customer-centric entities.
Tweak those areas of your business process where you can introduce the customer-centric model. Think about the main thread that links all your key business processes. For instance, do you have a “one-size-fits-all” service footprint? If the answer is yes, then perhaps you need to adopt a customer segmentation process. “One-size-fits-all” is a typical product-centric approach. To change it to a customer-centric one, you must develop strategies for identifying the main customer-segments in your market and tailoring your products and services to meet those various customer needs. To create your customer-segments, explore the power of social media to study the behaviors and the buying preferences of your customers. Using social media, you will also have the means to interact directly with customers and hear their positive feedback and their grievances.
Have customer-focused leadership in place. Up to this point, company executives were responsible for making the key business decisions in the areas of operation, regulation, and finance. There was the CEO, the CMO, the CFO, and/or the CIO. But none of those executive deal primarily with the customers. Recently, many new C-Suite roles, like Chief Customer Officer (CCO) and Chief Data Officer (CDO), are emerging with customers as their prime focus. When customer-centricity is applied from top-down, the changes are more integrated throughout the company.
Train employees to treat customers as their number one priority. Everyone likes to be treated well and made to feel special. And, this is exactly the sentiment which forms the basis of a customer-centric approach: making customers feel like they matter the most. Employees should not only be trained to offer excellent customer service, but they should also be provided with the necessary resources to solve customer problems.
Additionally, businesses aiming to become customer-centric in their approach should create a larger scope for employee engagement – a fact proven by the Temkin Group’s Employee Engagement Benchmark Study 2014, which states that “companies that outperform their peers in financial performance and customer experience enjoy a considerably more engaged work force.”
By putting these three focuses into practice, you will be well on your way to customer-centricity, and driving your business to future success.
Are you treating customer centricity as a strategic priority for your business? We’d love to hear about any challenges you face or successes that have encouraged you to continue with your approach.
In modern corporate communication, presentation technology functions as one of the most essential tools for conveying the right message, and addressing the right contexts, at the right time. Because many of us are working and meeting outside of conference rooms, there is an even bigger push to make presentation technology reliable. We have a ways to go when it comes to perfecting the technology, but until we do, there are ways to minimize the negative impact.
Corporate Communication Goes Virtual
As we already mentioned, corporate communications is no longer limited to meeting rooms or any other physical platform where presenters/instructors/teachers meet face-to-face with the audience. Virtual meeting rooms strike at the heart of the traditional conference room experience, while providing communication with a truly mobile spirit. The advent of Cloud technology, fused with smart mobile devices, and the BYOD concept has expanded our capacity to share information, and we are no longer limited to a physical meeting space where people gather to work together.
Flawless Presentation Technology – Not a Reality
The skepticism however remains, because guaranteeing flawless technology performance at the time when it matters the most is not feasible. While facilities and opportunities for virtual meetings are expanding, lack of support from a fully proven infrastructure remains a problem. The inability to determine which technology should be deployed to achieve the best results is also a defining factor in that uncertainty. Many times, despite having the necessary infrastructure and technology ready, presenters fail to generate seamless integration between hardware and software.
Modern presenters have identified four major obstacles when it comes to deploying presentation technology correctly. They are:
Lack of time and resources for implementing the required technology appropriately
Failure to deploy upgraded software to support the technology
Failure to figure out why the software is not working properly
Lack of expertise in establishing a seamless connection with presentation devices
A recent survey done on legal professionals has revealed that in over 29% cases, presenters are challenged by inadequate time and resources that prevent them from putting technology to work adequately. In almost 20% of the cases, presenters have emphasized that the remaining three factors have played prime role in stopping technology from working correctly.
What Happens if Presentation Technology Does Not Work?
The success of meeting in a virtual environment depends upon keeping the audience engaged during your presentation. Failure to make the technology work correctly breaks the continuity of engagement, and the ultimate result is disappointing for both presenter and audience. Furthermore, the purpose of information mobility is defeated. When recipients are given only limited details, or there is a break in continuity, education and transparent understanding is most definitely compromised. Ultimately, it leads to waste in both time and investment for all parties involved, and waste is never a good thing for business.
Resources + Time-centric Model = Success
Being ready with resources is important, but being prepared with resources won’t resolve every issue. Developing a time-centric approach is also important so that presenters enter meetings with confidence, knowing that everything will run smoothly when it matters most. The time-centric approach is also helpful for focusing participants on productivity instead of worrying over whether or not the technology will perform. Combining the right resources with a time-centric approach is a recipe for success.
One without the other isn’t sufficient. Attending to possible complications isn’t enough, unless administrators commit to regularly upgrading the technology and ensuring that the upgrades can be flawlessly integrated with presentation devices. When the process is not seamless, administrators should invest time to figure out why, and take steps to rectify the problem. It’s clear that preparation is key to making sure that presentation technology “just works.”
Two years ago I came across an article published in the Harvard Business Review that discussed how traditional corporate communication should give way to more personal conversations. The article was the fruit of the research done by Harvard faculty member, Boris Groysberg, and communications consultant, Michael Slind, over a period of two years spent observing the communication trends and practices in multiple businesses of all shapes and sizes.
As a believer in the power of communication, I was thrilled to see an opportunity for warm and personal conversations to take the place of the cold and distant code of conduct popularly known as “corporate communications.” Even when I think of communication today, what strikes me the most is that many organizations continue to be crippled by their notion of communication, or lack thereof. The myth that, sadly, still exists in these organizations is that leadership is all about standing above the fray and making decisions for the group. I think this problem exists because most of us don’t fully realize that employees can become a goldmine of trust and advocacy – but only if we let them. Here’s something I always believed: when your employees become your fans, you’re doing something right.
As a member of the integration industry, I have noticed that many companies in the integration space nurture the same flawed notion of leadership. They view leadership as a position, a job title, or a role rather than something that is earned because of your contribution to the organization, and by gaining the trust and respect of your employees and colleagues. The attitude that many “leaders” take is not only ineffective, but downright counterproductive in the long run. Why? Because without conversation, a wide gap develops between the leader and the employees. The gap eventually breeds confusion, mutual distrust, and a lack of transparency – all things that undermine the health of an organization and hinder its progress.
While it’s important for leaders to step down from their corporate pedestals and start conversations with their employees, they should also be open to listening as well. Since listening encourages two-way communication, you will find that there are more opportunities to identify problems, to address them, and finally to resolve such matters before they get out of hand. This is where the dictate-and-demand attitude fails, big time. With the position-oriented approach, you will never seem to move beyond realizing short-term goals, or simply put, you won’t be able to move beyond just getting the work done. By avoiding transparent communication, leaders allow dissatisfaction to brew among employees, which hampers long-term commitment on their part, followed by issues like high attrition, bad working environment, and all those qualities that ring a warning bell for future employees.
On the other hand, true leaders show their employees how to go about doing things, allowing them do their work confidently, and getting out of their way. This method not only encourages employees to develop an ownership mentality, but also turns them into self-motivated individuals at work. Smart leaders lay a foundation for the next line of potential leaders, well in advance. And, a conversational approach gives a push in the right direction.
Without a doubt, as information and knowledge become more accessible, what is going to set one company apart from another will be the way leaders engage and converse, rather than dictate and demand. I, for one, will be happy to be a part of the positive transformation of leadership.
Perhaps one of the toughest decisions a buyer has to make when it comes to purchasing technology, regardless of price, is knowing what will work for them and be the right fit for their company’s needs. The software and cloud industry offers a solution to the problem by allowing users to try software in advance of purchase. The industry gains the users’ support before the sale, and then is poised to retain customers as a result.
Cloud Resellers – Breaking the Barriers
A cloud service reseller works as an intermediary, just like any other reseller. They purchase a cloud computing software from the manufacturer not to use it, but to sell it to their end customers. They play the role of system integrator, allowing potential customers to try and then buy the software after it has been installed and maintained for a set period of time on the customer’s site. The software manufacturer can rest assured knowing that the customer’s issues will be resolved by the resellers, who take on the task of round-the-clock support from pre-migration to post-migration of cloud service distribution.
Price setting, billing and other issues of ownership remain with the manufacturer, but customers benefit from a smooth account management process as a result of the reseller’s web-based responsive control panel. They also get a complete sales support from the reseller, and some even propose these services without any sign-up fees for the minimum services offered.
The Microsoft Cloud Reseller Program has also emerged, developing Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) as a partner program. The Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Office, John Case even wrote in the official blog that the partners in CSP program will be able to take care of customer subscriptions, directly manage subscriptions, and even have ownership in the technical support relationship. Case is hopeful that this cloud reseller program will be beneficial for the organization and its distributors, MSPs, ISVs, and hosting providers. It was recently found that 50% of the Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft’s public cloud today. We are quickly coming to a point when public cloud and online services will dominate the market.
Similar cloud reseller programs have been launched in the web hosting industry, and where services include anything from Shared Hosting, VPS Hosting, Dedicated hosting, and ISP providers, as well as datacenter infrastructure providers. They offer white label cloud hosting solutions for their clients with online marketing solutions and dedicated server solutions as well. The reseller controls the entire function in its admin panel including pricing control, customizations, and user and billing integration.
Hardware Reselling – Starin, a Case in Point
When it comes to hardware reselling, it isn’t as simple. But, Starin is testing the waters by starting to offer some try and buy solutions. The goal is to allow partners to use the tech that they may want to buy, and ideally overcome the integration hurdles, so that they will become believers. We know times have changed. Customers have gone from the former expectation of, “sell it to me and install it for me,” to the new expectation of, “Let me try it, Convince me of the performance and ROI, then Guarantee the successful use.” To help integrators assure new customers the Try it to Like it program helps confirm how Starin’s select featured components will work in the end-user’s interest.
Having developed nationwide coverage in hardware reselling, Starin has been working tirelessly toward the goal of making the business of selling AV, IT, and MI professional easy for clients, and lucrative for both parties. Their try and buy initiative is a positive step in that direction. Although it may not be the perfect solution for every scenario, it is a good way for resellers to earn commitment when they truly believe a product or service is right for a customer.
We would love to hear your thoughts about the try and buy initiative. Do you think it is a solution that your business needs right now?
The Internet is increasing as a viable way to sell products, but one of the biggest challenges for broadcast and AV integrators has been margin integrity. How can integrators make meaningful profits on the services they render, and ideally, on the equipment that they sell as well? Let’s find out how integrators can strike a balance.
Offering Less-Famous Alternatives to Big Brand Equipment
With a growing pool of products and services to offer, integrators are under constant pressure to deliver quality products at reasonable prices. Today’s consumers are an exceedingly well-informed breed, and are fast at educating themselves on the advantages of new technology and the experiences of high-quality audio/video. Customers who initially purchased entry-level equipment are increasingly looking to upgrade their experience, but they are not necessarily ready to pay the high-end prices.
One way to tackle the issue is by taking advantage of private label or OEM manufactured technologies that aren’t as widely known or available, but have the same quality and capabilities as the name brand alternative. While with this option the customer does not have as much flexibility to shop, it puts the power back into the hands of the reseller, who can often sell virtually the same product for less than the name brand competitor while still making a significantly better margin.
Determining the Best Product Makeup
Considering the tough competition, it’s important for system integrators to carefully determine what their product makeup should include. While there are leaders in each category of products that might seem like the most logical choice, before making their purchase, integrators should also consider distribution channels and product availability.
All things considered, still there remains the problem of those integrators who tend to sell themselves short by offering rock bottom prices on products. And since price is a major decision-making factor, integrators who offer the lowest price gain instant appeal from potential clients, but at what cost? There are many instances where the customer who chooses to walk away with the lowest bidder realizes losses in the long run because the product offered does not adequately meet their needs. From this standpoint, OEM manufactured technologies are the most viable options for both customers and integrators.
Creating New Revenue Streams
While it’s true that these new products with lower price points can expand the serviceable market for integrators, there are inherent challenges in dwindling product margins and disappearing revenues that typically arrive with widely accessible consumer electronics. AV integrators will need to create recurring revenue streams through new product offerings that will help them mitigate those challenges. Introducing OEM manufactured technologies to new service areas allows integrators to tap the potential there.
Providing Optimum After-sales Support
We are living in a golden age where having a service-centric approach has its own perks. A service-centric approach is also a customer-oriented one, to a great extent, and customers are the key factor of a company’s success, or lack thereof. The same idea rings true for the AV businesses where many integrators are suffering from low customer retention due to growing competition.
In the integration and equipment business, most companies are faced with a nagging concern: do they have the understanding, the required infrastructure, or resources to provide after-sales services effectively? With many integrators serving customers on a project basis, once an assignment is complete focus often shifts to the next project in the pipeline. Offering OEM manufactured equipment, along with top-level aftermarket support, can prove to be the winning formula for today’s integrators who are increasingly looking to drive profitability while beating the intensifying competition.
Have you had experience with OEM manufactured technologies? Are you finding profitability and customer retention has increased as a result? We would love to hear about your experience.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, customers are always looking for the best options. When it comes to technology hardware and service sales, winning the heart of your customer takes more than simply offering quality products and services. The market is teeming with competitors whose promises are more or less the same as yours. So how do you stand out? Your answer lies in creating a better customer journey.
What is the Customer Journey and Why is it Important?
Think of the customer journey as a roadmap detailing all the touch points of interaction between you and your customer – from how the customer becomes aware of your brand, to their initial interaction, through purchasing, post-purchase support, and onto customer renewals, re-purchases, or upgrades. Simply told, customer journey is the total time that a customer spends with you from start to finish.
The more fulfilling the journey, the greater the chances of a customer coming back to do business with you again, the greater the chances of an awesome referral, as well. Another reason tracking a customer’s journey is important is because, as much as we like to believe that we know our customers, there remains a gap between our perception of their needs and their actual needs. A recent report by DotMailer shows how perception gap undermines customer experience. The only way to close the gap is to attain a better understanding of our customers.
How to Create a Better Customer Journey
Today a customer-centric approach is paramount to making a more fulfilling customer journey. In the AV landscape, where competition is strong, it is all the more important. Challenges of ensuring better project outcomes, meeting deadlines, or reducing overheads often cause friction between the integrator and the customer. Therefore, to make the customer the center point of business, AV integrators need to re-think their key business strategies.
According to E-Consultancy’s Cross Channel Marketing Report 2014, only 2 out of 5 digital marketers had an understanding of customer journeys. If you’re tempted to think these are out-of-industry figures and not relevant enough, it’s important to realize that much of what makes a great customer experience in one industry, or to one customer, is often comparable to another industry, or to another customer.
Many studies regarding customer journey have outlined that organizations that are able to manage the complete experience across all customer touch points reap rewards like enhanced customer satisfaction, reduced churn, increased revenue, and greater employee satisfaction. This holds especially true in businesses where customers typically make multiple purchases from the same source over long periods of time. It demonstrates a long term business partnership and hints at what really sets one company apart from the rest: when a business will go the extra mile for their customer.
How to Run that Extra Mile
Here are three factors that will help you run that extra mile and give your customers better experiences throughout the span of your interaction:
Thoughtful actions. Treating your customers like they matter the most and making them the center of your business process is the right approach towards customer experience. Not just big actions, but even small gestures – such as greeting them with a smile and hearing them out every single time – are important to keep your customers incredibly satisfied and supportive of your business.
Faster response. Nothing conveys the idea that you care about your customers better than quick response time. Being with them throughout their journey, solving their problems, responding to their feedback, and providing them optimum support every time they need it, all along the way, is the best way to adopt a customer-centric approach.
Greater consistency. At the same time, your service quality is as important as the service speed, if not more. Waiting for 15 minutes in paradise is better than 5 minutes in hell, as they say. Maintaining consistency in your products and services goes a long way to convey your honesty and genuine desire to help. Consistency ensures that your customers leave satisfied and come back to do more business with you. It can also create brand advocates out of your customers, who will give your business a boost through positive reviews and referrals.
Transforming customer experiences might be a bold undertaking for any organization, often requiring re-evaluation and de-construction of existing values, attitudes, and approach at many levels within the business. However, the benefits are huge: increased customer loyalty, greater market share, and a better chance against the competition.
How would you rate the customer journey in your own interactions? Do you agree that the customer-centric approach is the best way to achieve a long term business relationship? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Recently an AV industry guru reported and commented on a blog titled “Mersive takes on Barco and Crestron”. The commentary struck me as odd in a couple ways.
One standpoint being “Why would Mersive poke Crestron in the eye?” Now mind you AirMedia may have a shortcoming and is not even Crestron’s own technology. It is a bit bolted on to their framework. But it works and is a valid solution for those who accept it. What is interesting is Mersive’s bold bashing only encountered the guru stating how AV is a hardware driven business and may not be able to handle Mersive’s software delivery method. Boomerang!
My second view is how absurd the coverage of this is to begin with. That anyone with AV industry blinders on, thinks that the competition is what Barco ClickShare or Crestron offers, shows an under estimation of how much collaboration business there is in the world. The competition is not other forms of Collaboration products my friends. The competition is people who do not collaborate! This is like chefs bickering over recipes in the kitchen while the world passes the restaurant door!
Take it from the leader of the team who brought Barco ClickShare into market. Starin was proud to establish the market for Barco, which prior-to had operated in the high-end and needed a market-making channel management company to break it out. It has. It took 6 months to get to critical mass though. And I can share this insight after 14 months. From what we have captured in market share (a good business), it is the tip of the iceberg. And it is up to AV/IT professionals to exploit the potential.
Starin also develops business for WOW Vision, a complementary Collaboration Solution, which expands the features of collaborating beyond screen sharing. How can we offer both you might ask? We do not think of one losing and one winning! We think of shouting to the world that Collaboration Impacts Your Organization!!! And again WOW or Barco competition is not any other wireless offer. It is getting the world to realize that WE ARE NO LONGER IN THE PRESENTATION AGE.
Talking head presenting is giving way to ultimate sharing in any direction from any screen to any screen. The world is moving in the collaboration culture. BYOD is demanding it. Group interaction leads to engagement.
If there is any device Wow or Barco is competing against it is any wired antiquated AV hardware schema. The WOW miniVEOS for instance can replace a Pole Vault system at 2/3rds the price! And IT IS A LEARNING SYSTEM, not a connectivity solution. People do not want to buy AV equipment! They want to have a better means to communicate and today that means Collaborate. Some want the simplicity of an easy button, some want it with their Crestron media, some want it with Lync via WOW or others who jump on the movement.
Yes, We all need to know the various offers out there. But let’s not get AV blinders on – looking in to the industry instead of out toward the world. We are out for more pie, not arguing over some mere slice we imagine. Grow the market. Starin is doing it. Barco is doing it. WOW Vision is doing it. More power to movement. Join us!
Healthy and prosperous organizations thrive on purpose, people and passion. Since I like alliteration, I will add that programs and property quickly follow, to serve the first three life blood attributes. Staying relevant and up-to-date is vital. What served us in a prior era may no longer be the right answers and methods today. Modes of interaction, motivation, creativity and productivity are changing and technology is assisting it, if not driving it. Bring your own device and mobile communications influence behavioral patterns. People are dispersed. People are busy. Many organizations are doing more with less. Workers are extended in their responsibilities. It makes for a challenging and yet exciting time. Creating environments for immediate and immersive technology connections is the mission of any tech communications provider. Perhaps our former design paradigms must be altered. Our industry gets to set the stage for collaboration anytime, anywhere with anyone. Starin is adapting. Your views and participation are welcome.
When I first saw 4K shown on a panel at InfoComm I thought, “ok, I see the pixel density, but who needs yet higher high definition?” I justified that when you get to larger screen sizes, certainly there will be less screen-door effect and a more solid image. So, ok for those applications it might make sense. Still, I wondered beyond the image conscious people of the world, who would want it? Most laptops are putting out 1080.
When I was shown that WOW Vision’s Collab8 collaboration hub has 4K output capability the light went on. 4K is not about Ultra-HD video! It’s about pixel-density needed for effective collaboration. When you have a device like the Collab8 that allows up to 6 devices on the screen at one time, the system does a great job of scaling. Yet, how far can you go dicing up 1920×1080? Soon enough you have something less than VGA per shared participant. 4K is an answer.
For small collaboration stations – points of collaboration presence outside the typical conference room where everyone is in close proximity of a screen – this may or may not be required. It certainly will help the clarity. Yet it is in the new collaboration meeting room itself, where it more resembles a situation room or war room of numerous contributors on a digital canvass, that 4K is justified. And it provides a place for the industry to add value.