woman video calling while working on laptop, staying digitally connected 1

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic through a digitally connected workplace

woman video chatting while working on laptop, staying digitally connected

Article provided by Nerys Mutlow, Evangelist, Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow

We’re living through unprecedented times and companies are trying to navigate their way through long periods of uncertainty.

As a result of COVID-19, business continuity is now at the forefront of every company’s agenda. Yet while business leaders cannot manage the pandemic itself, they can determine how their companies adapt to the challenges of the crisis. Given that remote working has become the norm for most, keeping the workplace digitally connected is vital for sustaining productivity and helping organisations minimise the impact of the pandemic.

Delivering a culture of creativity and openness

A strong culture is the lifeblood of an organisation and underpins everything it stands for. Where and how employees work has changed dramatically overnight, but that does not mean businesses should forget about what makes them different from their competitors.

Values act like a north star that keeps everyone going in the same direction. It’s essential to reinforce these to all team members through regular virtual town halls and meetings so that they are front of mind. This will ensure customers get the same service they did before the pandemic. Businesses that continue to deliver excellent support despite all the challenges they have faced will further strengthen their relationships with customers. And this has the added benefit of helping growth in the long-term, leading to more customer retention and making them appeal to potential new customers.

Getting new hires up to speed with company values from the beginning is also essential. Technology can play a role here. Companies like ServiceNow have created mobile apps to help leaders virtually onboard new hires and engage with them before they start so that they are ready to work and understand what is expected of them. This ongoing engagement is also important as it can help new hires settle in, reassuring those that may be anxious about starting a new job during a crisis.

The right culture will give employees a creative, open platform and will encourage innovation and experimentation. It will create a safe workplace environment to allow leaders at every level the chance to make bold decisions without the fear of making mistakes. This has always been important for businesses but has become even more essential during the pandemic.

Time to prioritise physical and mental health

With the world we know changing so dramatically and there being so much negativity every time we look at the news, it’s more important than ever to promote a healthy body and mindset. Leaders have a vital role to play here. They need to be role models, understand their team’s home setup and encourage them to switch off at times, take breaks and be flexible in the way they work. Businesses should focus on outcomes and not on activity; performance and not the number of hours sitting in front of a laptop screen.

Research from the Trade Union Congress found that the average Brit spent 219 hours commuting last year. This shouldn’t now be seen as extra time for work. It should be focused on managing wellbeing and mental health: more time to read, train for a 10k race or walk around the local park. This will help people clear their minds, step away from their laptops and increase focus when they are working.

Digitise the workplace to stay connected

Organisations always prepare for crises. Time is spent investing in drills around data centres and cyber breaches. But less time is spent testing the workforce and workplace for remote working at the scale we’re currently seeing.

Before this pandemic, many organisations did not have working from home policies and had to put these together quickly. Some invested in the right tools, training and policies during ‘business as usual times and tested these as part of business continuity plans. This gave them confidence that they could operate when people needed to work remotely, and also helped build working from home into their culture. It had the added benefit of highlighting what gaps needed to be fixed and optimised.

Now that this way of working has been forced on so many businesses, communication about what is working and what is not, is key. Leaders need to constantly communicate with employees and workers need to make sure they are speaking to each other. Creating a unified, consumer-style employee service experience across all departments will make this so much easier for workers.

People may no longer be in the physical office but with collaboration tools, virtual meeting rooms and virtual coffee breaks, employees can create a digital version of it. Workers should be encouraged to set and communicate expectations around their working day and when they will be available.

Creating a digital twin for a workplace will ease a lot of the issues that can be caused by not being in an office. If colleagues are used to seeing each other in real life, encourage the use of technology to maintain that same level communication. If workshops need to be run, video conferencing tools should be used. When there is a need to collaborate, virtual whiteboards, mind mapping tools and visual task boards can help. If customer briefings or events need to be delivered, then encourage interaction through the use of polls, voting and Q&A sessions.

Those companies that had previously embraced cloud-based tools have found the pivot to remote working a lot more straightforward. Cloud has proved its value during this crisis and the digital native companies have barely been disrupted. For businesses that are implanting these tools for the first time now, getting employees trained up so that they can use them to be productive and collaborate with colleagues in the right way, is critical.

This global pandemic has also demonstrated to businesses that they need to focus on continuity planning. There will be new challenges that arise when some employees go back to the office while others work from home. Now is the time to start planning for this to maintain a company’s values as well as employee productivity.

About the author

Nerys MutlowNerys Mutlow works in the Chief Innovation Office at ServiceNow and covers the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. She has a breadth of technical, business and leadership experience gained over a 20 year+ career with variety of companies including Xerox, Thales and Fujitsu. She has held senior EMEA business, consulting and technical roles and is consistently recognised for her technical aptitude, business understanding and focus on driving value and innovation for her customers. Nerys also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Systems Management. She is a recognised thought leader and has published and contributed to a number of digital publications and blogs. Supporting women into technology is particularly important to Nerys and she actively supports many STEM initiatives.


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.


working from home setup with computer and desk, productivity, working from home

World Productivity Day: overcoming challenges to productivity levels in the ‘new normal’

working from home setup with computer and desk, productivity, working from home

As we slowly begin to see the other side of COVID-19, many businesses will be considering making the move back to the office.

Clearly this has a whole host of implications – from maintaining social distancing measures to adjusting to the return to coworking – but what will this migration mean specifically to employee productivity?

WeAreTechWomen spoke to five technology experts to get their opinions on what issues they predict arising in the future ‘new normal’, and what solutions businesses might consider putting in place in order to combat them.

A new definition of ‘productivity’

Agata NowakowskaAgata Nowakowska, Area Vice President at Skillsoft, explains how World Productivity Day has taken on a new significance, as many of us are working out how we maintain productivity and manage our time effectively while managing the many challenges of working remotely:

“The key to time management as a remote worker is balancing the hours you are working with ‘no work’ hours. Without a physical office location or the mental separation of the commute, the boundaries can quickly blur. It can be easy to let work intrude on sleep, relaxation and family time. Of course, deadlines must be met – but so too must personal needs and obligations.

“You need to work with your team to set priorities and expectations and tools to help you structure your working day. This includes:

  • Establishing your own peak performance times – most people have periods of high and low activity during the day, which depend on things like personal energy levels and family commitments

  • Scheduling breaks – studies suggest breaks help regulate the levels of dopamine, which plays a role in energy and motivation

  • Ensuring your schedule is adaptable – flexibility is key to working remotely. There will always be unexpected events, deadlines and changing priorities

“Remote working can be challenging – taking the time to review best practice and learn new ways of working effectively will pay dividends in terms of performance, productivity and your own mental health.”

Getting ‘re-accustomed’ to the ‘new normal’

Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & I at Ergotron, predicts that it may be more difficult than we think to get re-accustomed to the office environment:

“What it means to work productively has changed significantly in recent months. The forced en-masse shift to homeworking has affected organisations and their employees enormously. For many, growing accustomed to this ‘new normal’ has required a lengthy ‘breaking-in’ process – indeed, some workers may still not feel acclimatised. The uprooting from one working environment to another will undoubtedly have inflicted some kind of effect on productivity levels – with distractions varying from children to homeschool to laundry to tackle.

“But as the workforce begins to migrate back to traditional workspaces, there will be a whole host of other distractions. For people who have become used to working in their own space, perhaps in silence, returning to a busy office environment will surely be quite a shock to the system. It will be more important than ever, therefore, for facilities managers to channel their focus into utilising the space and equipment in the office to create a resimercial workplace. Ergonomic furniture, such as sit-stand desks that provide the flexibility of changing positions throughout the day, allow employees to maintain movement whilst working, giving the body and mind a form of active recovery. Working as comfortably as possible, even while tackling the added challenge of returning to the workplace of old, is the first, clearest step to reboosting productivity levels among employees and organisations as a whole.”

Using the right tech

Tom CottonTom Cotton, Agile Workspace Technical Director at Six Degrees, looks into how investing in unified communications technology can help bring teams together even while working apart:

“The move to a new hybrid working model that combines remote and office-based working will be driven by a number of factors, not least people becoming accustomed to the lack of commuting and seeing more of their family. Many will not want to transition back to their old ways of working any time soon.

“Microsoft Teams usage has increased massively over the past few months. However, although Microsoft Teams has all the communication and collaboration functionality an organisation could ever want, it’s not enough for IT teams to simply deploy the software and leave their people to it.

“In order to maximise your Teams investment and ensure optimal productivity throughout your organisation, you should work to embed the software as part of your working culture. A carefully planned integration and ongoing user training for your Teams deployment are essential to successfully embedding the software as a key pillar of your new hybrid working model.”

The evolution of the contact centre

Martin TaylorThere has always been a strong focus on employee productivity in the contact centre industry, which employs more than four per cent of the UK working population. Martin Taylor, Deputy CEO at Content Guru explains:

“Traditional contact centres, with their surveillance-like atmospheres and restrictive breaks, could be described as the ‘mills of the modern age’. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has changed the industry significantly. The necessity for strict social distancing measures and fewer people in the same space makes the traditional contact centre a risky place to be and it is unlikely the ‘sheds’ of old will see widespread use ever again.

“In the contact centre industry, we won’t see a return to the ‘new normal’ – instead, the industry as a whole will evolve. We are already seeing the vast majority of contact centres going through this right now, by implementing remote working frameworks. How this has affected the productivity levels of employees will, of course, vary from individual to individual and contact centre operators need to be mindful of how their agents are managing this transition. Many employees may be worried about trying to work hours when they need to be keeping an eye on children, others may be concerned about receiving the same level of support at home as they would in the office.

“Investing in a cloud-based Contact Centre as a Service (CCaaS) solution would provide continuous communication and monitoring between call agent and supervisor. Screen recording, for example, enables both supervisors to keep an eye on their agents in real-time, and agents to feel supported in their work. This kills two birds with one stone, as supervisors can be safe in the knowledge the same excellent standards of customer experience are being delivered, and call agents can be freed from any concerns that they don’t have the proper support to work as effectively at home as they would do in a contact centre environment. Ultimately, for an industry typically averse to change, it has never been clearer that increased employee productivity starts with effective communication.”

Focus on results over time

Brooke CandeloreSometimes it is more worthwhile to think about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) over how much time has been spent on a task, as Brooke Candelore, Product Manager at BrightGauge Software, a ConnectWise solution, questions:

“How many of us start our working day with a clear list of tasks that need to get done, only to find ourselves getting bogged down in a fire fight before we’ve had our first cup of coffee? And who wouldn’t say ‘yes please’ to significant periods of time to do Deep Work, and really focus on a demanding task without the constant pinging of messages? I think we’d all answer yes to both of those questions.

“This is where KPIs and metrics come into their own. It’s proven that whatever you track will improve. Improvement will come because KPIs drive action and provide clarity. A common question I’m asked is, ‘What metrics should I be tracking on a regular basis?’ There is no simple answer as it depends on a number of factors including what is most important to your bottom line, and what type of data is going to move the needle for your business.

"Events like World Productivity Day serve as a good reminder of the value of KPIs and underline that everyone within an organisation should have a number that they are responsible for. An accountable metric drives action. It should also be regularly measured and if it’s possible to do that in the broader context of the business’ KPIs as a whole, all the better. Data dashboards are a great way to do this. Not only will this show improvement, it will also deliver the clarity that helps business owners sleep better at night. And who wouldn’t say yes to a good night’s sleep?”


If you are a job seeker or someone looking to boost their career, then WeAreTechWomen has thousands of free career-related articles. From interview tips, CV advice to training and working from home, you can find all our career advice articles here.

 

 

 


Tech Nation growth programmes featured

Applications are now open for Tech Nation's three leading growth programmes

Tech Nation growth programmes

Applications are now open for Tech Nation’s three flagship growth programmes.

Catering for venture-backed and bootstrapped scaling startups and scaleups at Seed, Series A and Series B+ stages or equivalent, Rising Stars, Upscale and Future Fifty are each designed to provide tailored support key stage-specific growth challenges, as well as invaluable opportunities to network and consult with experts and peers.

Whether you’ve just raised Seed funding or are preparing for IPO, we have a growth programme for you.

Rising Stars is an exciting pitch competition for early-stage companies, designed to raise the profile of innovative tech companies across the UK. Entrants are supported throughout the application stage, finalists are chosen from each region of the UK and invited to pitch to a high profile panel of judges, in front of an audience of industry peers, investors and press.

Now entering its 5th year, our mid-stage programme Upscale helps the UK’s most promising tech companies accelerate their growth and unlock key scaling challenges. With an impressive list of scale coaches and experts, this established, curated programme is designed to reflect companies’ scaling journey.

Exploring fundamental growth challenges, Upscale includes sessions delivered by expert scale coaches who have been through it all, invaluable opportunities to network with peers and the prestige of becoming part of the Tech Nation Alumni. Previous Upscale cohorts have included Monzo and Bloom & Wild.

Now in its 8th year, our late-stage programme, Future Fifty, brings together the country’s most successful tech companies to build a powerful network and problem-solve with peers.

Future Fifty supports companies in achieving their global ambitions, creating jobs and opportunities across the UK, and inspiring the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, founders and businesses.

The Future Fifty alumni includes some of the most recognised tech companies, from Skyscanner and Farfetch, to Deliveroo and Funding Circle. Applications close on 5 November.

Speaking about the programmes, Mike Jackson, Entrepreneur Success Director said, "Tech Nation's 2019 annual report revealed that scaleup investment in the UK has hit a record high, increasing by an astonishing 61 per cent year-on-year."

"Nevertheless, challenges remain."

"For the UK to maintain its position as a scaleup nation and continue its global growth, we need to do more to curate learning opportunities and create fertile ground for even greater success in the future."

"These three growth programmes offer the support the tech companies of the future need, so UK tech can continue to compete on the global stage."

Find out more about the three programmes and apply here.


women-being-mentored-by-tech-role-model-featured

Effective approaches to mentoring women in tech

 

women being mentored by tech role model featured

Advice by BrightHR Head of Digital Experience, Anneka Burrett

An issue facing women in the tech industry today is the lack of good mentorship programmes.

This can be seen as a hindrance to their career growth. Although workplace conditions for women have come a long way, there’s still much progress to be made.

A women’s mentorship programme within a company can give all female employees the opportunity to offer or accept mentorship. This allows mentors to pass down the knowledge they’ve acquired over the years. It also allows mentees to learn new skills from women in leadership positions.

Issues facing women in tech

Women are still facing numerous problems in the workplace and most of all in the tech industry. Some of the issues women are currently facing include;

  • Wage and gender inequality – The gender pay gap has always been a topic of interest and attempts are being made to close the gap. Tech is another male dominated sector and women working in IT positions report gender inequality at a higher rate. 43% of women working in the industry report that their male counterparts are paid more without reason.
  • Work-life balance – Working mothers still go through the process of juggling their work and children because of a lack of flexible working options. 14 per cent of women working in tech report that there is a lack of a work and life balance.
  • Gender bias – According to a 2017 survey, 90 per cent of women working in tech say that they have experienced gender bias at some point in their career. Some employers are guilty of judging their employees on the gender rather than their professional qualifications. Women often report of employees doubting their abilities to address and resolve technical issues. Some women are being asked about their marital or parental status at job interviews.
  • Exclusion – Women are a big minority group in the tech industry. A survey by a charter dedicated to improving diversity in the tech industry found that only 17 per cent of tech workers in the UK are female.

Benefits of mentoring

There are countless advantages of mentoring, for the mentor, the mentee and for their employers.

  • Benefits to Mentors - Mentoring gives you the opportunity to give back, share your experiences and skills. It can also help to energise your career if you’re feeling stuck or in a rut. Passing on your knowledge to someone at a lower level can help you to realise why you initially wanted to work in that role.
  • Benefit to mentees - Mentoring increases self-confidence and personal satisfaction which can do wonders for your motivation and productivity. It also educates you on how to accept feedback. Receiving feedback on your communications, technical abilities or management skill can be hard should be taken on board.
  • Benefits to businesses - Businesses that encourage mentoring shows other employees within the company that they are willing to invest in their staff. While it shows company value, it also promotes loyalty as employees feel more valued which in turn contributes to reducing retention. It also promotes cooperation between employees across all levels.

Approaches to mentoring

  • Don’t be shy: In order to be noticed by potential mentors, you need to do something noteworthy. We should be confident enough in our abilities to speak up when we have something valuable to say. Or to ask to be on the best projects or the ones with growth opportunities.
  • Constructive criticism: No one appreciates criticism, but if it can help you improve or learn new skills then it’s worth it. In order to make the most of mentoring, you should admit that there are things that you don’t know but wish to. Asking questions like ‘what can I improve on?’ show your eagerness for feedback improves your skills.

Mentor

Positive female role-models in the data industry

Mentor

By Sarah Robertson, Experian

I remember as a child how much I enjoyed maths. 

I was lucky enough to go to a primary school that positively encouraged me to progress in a subject that has traditionally led to male-dominated job roles. That early support, along with strong female role models in my family, helped me grow in a subject I love and shaped my career in data.

However, many statistics are telling us that there are thousands of skilled, innovative and talented women out there who aren’t even considering a career in STEM, let alone data.  It’s clear to me that more support is needed to empower and encourage a new generation into the data science industry.  I’m a firm believer that we need to start working with girls at an early age to help breakdown the stereotypes and obsolete views that certain professions are gender-specific.

Take my son’s infant school, for example.  When he left in July, the school played a video showing what each child wanted to be when they were older.  Each answer lived up to a gender stereotype. It made me question how and why this happens, even in the most progressive households.  As a collective group, we need to broaden our children’s minds on the possible.  STEM careers of the future will only be more exciting, more varied, more significant to our digital, technological and data-driven society.

It is also important that we start encouraging girls to take risks, the same way we do with boys.  Girls should be brave, not perfect.  STEM subjects tend to have a right or wrong answer in early education, and if girls are not brave enough to be wrong, then they won’t challenge themselves with STEM subjects.  We must teach our daughters that it is OK to take risks.  It is OK to be wrong.  It is OK to learn something new.

Part of encouraging the next generation also means recognising and celebrating the achievements of the female role models working in data today.  Role models like Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who can inspire others and show them that a career in STEM is possible.  Having the chance to hear from these inspirational figures, what they love about their jobs, how they got there, and what they’ve overcome to achieve success is crucial.  Their stories can inspire the women of tomorrow to follow in their footsteps and to blaze their own trails.

However, we can’t rely solely on these well-known role models to single-handedly change an entire generation’s thinking.  We all have a responsibility to be role models in what we do.  More and more businesses are creating closer links with schools, colleges and universities giving the perfect opportunity to support younger people considering certain careers.  This is hugely important for girls wanting to get into STEM.

We’re in a stronger position than we’ve ever been before in the data industry, supported by some fantastic initiatives – like M&S, who recently announced their intention to turn more than 1000 of their staff into data scientists.  This is a huge step in the right direction, potentially opening doors for more women to find their passion in data science.

Despite still having a long way to go, we have made significant progress redressing gender imbalance in STEM, supported by a strong and passionate community.  I’m excited to continue doing my bit to encourage a new generation of girls to become part of the data revolution.

Sarah Robertson featuredAbout the author

In the early stages of Sarah’s career there was a clear lack of female role models working in the data industry, so she made it her mission to support the women that worked in her teams, as well as her peers and friends within the industry.

After Sarah graduated, she was unsure of what career to pursue but felt at the time IT was her preferred choice. This led to a temporary contract with IBM working in IT, but she quickly learnt that it wasn’t for her and started exploring jobs in statistics. She landed a role with a marketing agency in their analytics division and absolutely loved it! It was then that analysing data to understand consumer behaviour became a passion of hers. That was over 20 years ago and she’s never looked back.

Sarah is keen to address the imbalance of men and women across our industry, she is heavily involved in the event Women in Data UK and contributing to her current business on recruiting more females into data roles.


Women in STEM

How to succeed in your technology career

Emma Maslen, UK MD at SAP Concur

It’s no surprise that 95 per cent of recruiters viewed a competitive personal brand as a key differentiator for attracting the best applicants in today’s workplace.

Personal branding is hugely beneficial on many levels: it makes you look connected, authoritative on a particular area and can help you build a strong network of like-minded contacts.

So not making the most of this opportunity and using it to your advantage to further your career would be a mistake. Especially in the fast-moving and competitive world of technology where the importance for you to be distinctive is even more critical.

Unfortunately, doing a good job and getting the recognition you deserve isn’t always the case in businesses. But, one way of helping you progress in your career and to stand out is by developing a personal brand.

For me personally, working in the technology sector for many years, building a personal brand has been an essential approach that really helped me to drive my career in the direction I wanted.

The good news is, it’s not rocket science and anyone can do it. Below are my four tips for getting started on nailing your personal brand.

Step one: Get your thinking hat on

Do you know where you want to be in one, two and five years’ time? It might sound far ahead but having some long-term goals set can keep you focused.

Working in the technology sector, it’s easy to think in the moment and not give too much thought to life later down the line. But without planning where you want to be in the future, how can you expect to ever get there?

No one is going to invest in your future but you. So, it’s time to take control of your future by giving it some serious thought. No one else will do it for you.

Step two: What do you want to be known for?

Once you’ve got your goals in place, select three words you want to become known for. A good place to start is thinking about what differentiates you from everyone else; don’t just opt for words that you think sound good. Most importantly, they need to be authentic.

For instance, if you want to be known as a ‘doer’, or a ‘closer’, don’t just start declaring yourself as that. Actions speak louder than words. You need to show people you are and prove it to them. One simple way of doing this is aiming to go to every meeting and show what you bring to the project at hand. This means no more shrinking in them – you won’t get that recognition as someone who has their act together otherwise.

One example of a techie who has built a sterling personal brand for herself is the computer scientist and academic, Dr Sue Black. She campaigned to save Bletchley Park – home of the World War Two codebreaker and now The National College of Cybersecurity – building a following of supporters and making a real change. She was genuinely passionate about it and people bought into that.

Step three: Start engaging

Once you’ve pinned down what you want to be known for, it’s time to start working towards building that perception.

Whether you like it or not, everyone has a digital footprint. Whether its photos on Facebook with your friends, you ranting on Twitter about public transport or sharing what Spanish tapas meal you had last week on Instagram. And this probably isn’t the sort of content you’d want potential employers, prospects or indeed your network to see.

So this next step is all about starting to create, share and engage with content which ties into the personal brand you’re looking to build for yourself – LinkedIn Pulse blogs and Medium are fantastic places to voice opinions. Or if you’re not a strong writer, there will plenty of communities whether that’s on LinkedIn or face-to-face networking meetups you can become part of.

Step four: Be patient

Whatever it is you want to be perceived as, make sure the tone of voice you select also suits your overall personal brand, whether that’s authoritative, engaging or concise. But the real secret in building a successful personal brand that sticks is all in consistency.

It takes a long time to build a personal brand – in fact, studies reckon it takes people five to seven times to remember a brand – and it requires real tenacity, but the benefits you’ll get as a result are certainly worth the initial effort.

The advantages of an individual investing in their personal brand and how they are perceived are obvious. But, why should companies be incentivised to encourage their employees to establish personal brands? It might, after all, lead to a head-hunter spotting and poaching your top talent.

With levels of trust towards businesses at an all time low, and statistics showing 92 per cent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over companies. The benefits for employees being active on social media and crafting a credible personal brand for themselves are clear. In addition, 77 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. This makes it a clear win-win for individuals and companies alike.


Online-Brand-Reputation

Starting an e-commerce business today: Here are six important things to consider

 

Online Personal Brand Reputation
Everyone wants to own an e-commerce business but not everyone puts in the effort to understand what exactly it is they are getting into.

Starting an e-commerce business for all the wrong reasons is the perfect recipe for failure. Same way not everyone is cut out to be a doctor is exactly how not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

If you want to start a business successfully and keep it successful, you need to do research to understand your strengths and weaknesses, identify what consumer needs you’ll be satisfying, the means through which you’ll satisfy said needs, and much more. Failing to take all these into consideration is why 50% of most businesses fail within five years of taking off.

If your goal is a successful ecommerce business you can be proud of, then you need to start by first considering these 6 important things.

Your team

Do you intend on going into the business solo or do you plan on working with a team? Each option comes with unique benefits and you should go for the one that will help you accomplish your long term goals faster. Going with a team can be advantageous if you pull together the right group of people with the right skills. But the wrong team can be expensive as well as ineffective.

Finances

Ecommerce businesses tend to cost less to start than a typical business. This is because the cost of certain overheads are unnecessary in an ecommerce venture. But even though it costs less, you still need to figure out an effective way to finance the start-up of your ecommerce enterprise and how you’ll get the money to keep it running.

Do you need a website?

In this present age and time, every business be it ecommerce or otherwise needs a website. As an aspiring e-commerce business owner, what you need to figure out is what sort of hosting service will best suit your business and what website design will serve you best. A mobile-friendly website is essential.

Target market

To craft your business for success, you need to identify the consumers who your services are aimed at. With this information, you can effectively tailor your ecommerce business to be more attractive to the customer base you have in mind.

Product

It’s smarter to identify what people want/need so as to offer them a product or service that satisfies their need. The alternative is to offer a product that nobody wants and then try to convince them that they need it. The former approach has a higher chance of success than the latter.

Competition

By identifying your competition, you will have a better understanding of your chances of success and can craft a business strategy to help you craft a niche for your business. Ignoring the competition can lead to your business being overshadowed and crushed by bigger brands before any notable success.

By taking all six of the above into consideration, your ecommerce business has not only a better chance of starting well but also a fighting chance of staying viable for a long time to come.


How the academia is reshaping the engineering scene

female engineer in ship yard, engineering
Image provided by Shutterstock
The engineering sector looks to the academic sector as the answer for a workforce that meets the demand of tomorrow, but the challenge to produce graduates that are automatically suited for the job is too large for one institution or industry alone to solve, which is why an academia, industry sector partnership is a formidable deal.

Academia and Industry based collaboration

The world's top engineering companies are being drawn to the educational sector as they seek to form a partnership that will provide for better approach to learning and influence better industry relevant skills. It is important to point out that a university education degree has to be fit for the future.

The engineering industry has been showing involvement in the academic sector by providing visiting teaching fellowships, performance based learning opportunities and access to research grants. This collaboration has resulted in a win-win situation for both the industries and the institutions as students get the opportunity to gain experience with globally recognised industrial brands.

With this system, industries gain access to research result and the knowledge of how to gain optimum productivity with innovative new methodologies, while students and faculty get insight into business and real life engineering challenges.

The number of research partnerships between engineering industries and academic institutions has increased drastically over the years. This is driven in part by companies need to maintain competitive edge by accelerating their innovative process, they do this by sponsoring specific research projects in universities.

This will make industries gain the much needed knowledge and expertise while the academic institutions will get the much needed funding, financial benefits and recognition.

Advantages of these Collaborative Relationships

There are numerous benefits that derive from Academia and Industry based collaboration, including benefits to the society, benefits to the universities, and benefits to the industries.

  • Society benefits: Society benefits from Academia and Industry based collaboration through innovative products and technologies. The result of Industry-sponsored university research is often developed into practical products and applications that benefit the society.
  • University benefits: Some universities seek industrial sponsorships because of the potential financial rewards gotten from patents and licenses that come from the commercialization of the results of academic research. This provides a means by which universities can decrease their reliance on governmental funding. Also, faculty members benefit through access to cutting-edge equipment not available in university.
  • Company benefits: Academia and Industry based collaboration can help stimulate companies' internal research programs. Academic researches help industries identify current research trends that might be useful for the design and development of innovative products and applications. This collaboration also helps to enhance a company's reputation. Sometimes, university and industry researchers will contribute to author articles and publications that describe research results. This can also serve as a PR tool by companies to add to their reputation in the society.

The engineering sector and the academic world are mutually interdependent on each other for new innovations and discoveries to meet the demand and resolve everyday problems in the society.

This collaboration has resulted into more and more students enrolling for engineering related courses in academic institutions and faculty members being better equipped to meet the demands of the job.