Generate More Qualified Leads with Online Meetings

Customer connections have a huge impact on any business, but even more so for SMB owners and operators. As in-person meeting obstacles like travel distances and scheduling conflicts loom, many have turned to using online meetings and video conferencing solutions to engage with their customers, explore new business opportunities and generate more qualified leads.

After surveying businesses with 250 employees or less, IDG Research Services that business communicators (marketers, trainers and educators) focus intently on these critical customer connections. They also discovered online meetings and video conferencing systems help simplify communication on complex topics and following-up with customers, contributing to the “human factor” of doing business.

Want more insights? Get more survey results, discover other desired applications of online meetings and video conferences and see how even the best technology depends on the human factor in the latest infographic from IDG Research Services and WebEx.

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Online Meetings Increase Productivity with Less Resources

Online meeting tools have literally changed every aspect of the mobile meeting game. The ability to flexibly connect with teams, partners and clients on almost any device can lead to many business gains, especially when it comes to productivity. And even in the face of challenges like different video conferencing formats and network reliability, SMB owners using paid versions of online meeting tools find these they make easier to overcome these challenges.

In a recent survey, IDG Research Services surveyed businesses using paid versions of online meeting services, like WebEx Premium. And while their findings showed that WebEx Premium services users were more likely to count a dispersed workforce or fewer resources as challenges to in-person meetings, they also found these same users cited productivity as a “top business” and personal benefit of using WebEx Premium.

Increased productivity with fewer resources? Yes, it’s possible and a new infographic from IDG Research Services and WebEx takes a colorful and stat-rich glimpse at how WebEx Premium helps SMB owners do more with less.

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5 hurdles to successful online meetings – and how to overcome them

Think about the best meeting you’ve ever attended. What made it so successful? Odds are, your team collaborated, made decisions and moved a project forward. This kind of progress should be the goal any time a meeting is called.

In reality, challenges often arise that keep your meetings from being productive. And some of these roadblocks can be more difficult than others. When expectations are high, it is important to know how to course-correct so your team can reap the benefits of a successful meeting.

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work life marathon
Work-Life Balance is a Marathon – Not a Sprint

I wake up each morning at 4:30 a.m., often hitting the pavement for a run. It’s early, but these mornings motivate me and are a great time to think. And the other day, I realized that starting my day with a workout is a critical part of achieving the work/life balance that my family and I need.

I also realized this balance is definitely not a sprint, but a daily and personal marathon that takes practice, discipline and thoughtful planning.

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See Cisco Spark Live in Action!

When it’s time to keep your teams on task and working together to achieve better outcomes, what communication tools are you relying on?

If you’re ready to see a secure, customizable ecosystem of communication tools in action, join us for our weekly live “deminar” of Cisco Spark!

During the deminar, you’ll receive an up-close look at Cisco Spark’s essential product building blocks, including unlimited workspaces that enable video calling, screen and file sharing, how to use the Cisco Spark app and more. You’ll also learn how organizations just like yours use Cisco Spark to create secure and unified experiences for individuals and teams.

Registration is open now, so be sure to sign up to join our team every Tuesday at 10 am PST.

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The Rise of Employee Experience

For a long time organizations around the world have been investing in employee engagement. Today this has become the equivalent of short term perks like free food and working from home on Friday’s, basically a Band-Aid solution that manipulates employees into temporary happiness. Unfortunately, this yields little impact for the organizations and has minimal impact on the employees. This is why investment in employee engagement programs is at an all time high why the scores are at an all-time low.

In a recent webinar with WebEx, The Experiential Organization, I talked about trends behind employee experience and how leading organizations are creating new business value by engaging their workforce. If you missed it, watch the replay here to learn what it means for your business.

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Productivity Can Be Simpler Than You Think

“Be more productive.” While this is a simple thing to say, between busy home lives and just the day-to-day office routine of meetings, conference calls and client catch-ups (and some social media scrolling if we’re all honest), maintaining a certain level of productivity can be a challenge.

  • On a daily basis, Care@Work notes the average worker is interrupted every three minutes, taking another 23 minutes to get back on task.
  • Harvard research also shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing.

All of these distractions not only cause employees to be less productive, but also costs companies some pretty big money in lost revenue. In fact, the total soars into the billions when employees aren’t engaged with their jobs, according to a Gallup poll.

Obviously, there are many ways to go down an unproductive path during the workday. But all hope is not lost! More research shows that people who live busy lives tend to do better on tasks of memory and tasks of reasoning.  So it’s good to be busy! The key is learning how to stay busy and engaged, without tipping into the territory of stress.

As a team lead, I’m all for helping others be more productive at work. In that spirit, I’m sharing a few things that have worked for me and that my team members have said work for them.

Clock Work

It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Set your clock 10 minutes ahead of schedule first thing in the morning so you have an extra 10 minute to get organized before you dive into whatever is on your calendar for the day.

Zero Inbox

No, I’m not saying you can just delete everything that arrives in your inbox each day. But, taking immediate action on the emails you receive can save you a lot of time.

When you receive a new email, reply to it, forward it or set a meeting to follow-up on the subject matter. Adding a task to your to-do-list (or best of all deleting it) is ok too.

Check It Off 

Making a list of all of the things you want to accomplish not only helps prioritize your day, but if you’re like me, you’ll find literally checking an item off of a to-do-list extremely satisfying.

When making a list, develop a system that works for you. It could be a color-coded one or maybe using icons helps you better. And if you find the list is getting too long, scale it back to what you can take on for the day.

Find Your Work Happy Place

Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans, believe workers who work remotely are just as productive as those who work in a business office.

Thankfully, technology has made it possible to pretty much take your office on-the-go. Apps and programs like Cisco Spark and Cisco WebEx make it possible to work and meet in real-time, share updates and documents, set up individual meeting rooms and more so everyone can review updates on their own and remain on the same page.

Throw Yourself a Party

Look, everyone deserves to treat themselves a bit when they accomplish their goals and get more done during the day. So celebrate your productivity throughout the day.

For starters, take five minutes to relax after completing a task. Go grab a snack, listen to a few songs, call your mom or best friend for a quick catch-up – whatever helps you recharge and refocus on your next task, do it!

 The great thing is, what helps with stay productive is not set in stone. Discover what works for you and run with it. Do you have any tips and tricks for getting things done? Tells us your favorites in the comments below.

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Caregivers Find Balance Using Technology

Has anyone ever asked you what your typical day looks like? As an art director, I rarely have one. And with the added responsibility of being a working caregiver to an ailing parent, typical doesn’t quite describe any of my days.

My time is typically accounted for during the week. If my life was an accountant’s ledger, then work and caring for my mother are the debits and credits. This is not a complaint; it’s just how the books have been reconciled for me.

Shortly after my father passed away in 2010, my mother and I began to realize how heavily she depended on him. She would get easily confused and often break into her native tongue, French, which pointed to signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. As her dementia increased rapidly my immediate reaction was to grieve. But, I had to quickly gather my feelings and develop a plan to stay engaged professionally while taking on the new role as caregiver of an aging parent.

The truth is, there’s no handbook — this and every situation is unique. But I’ve found a few ways to stay balanced during the process and I hope these simple tips help others on the same journey.

Find Your New Work-Life Balance

For most people, caring for an aging parent means finding more flexibility in your work schedule. For me, having the capability to be mobile and work a non-traditional schedule has been a life-saver.

Luckily, I’m not alone. According to AARP, 61% of caregivers also work. And the 2015 American Time Use Survey showed that the share of workers doing some or all of their work at home grew from 19 percent in 2003 to 24 percent in 2015. Many companies are beginning to catch on and offer more flexible work arrangements for employees caring for aging parents.

Not sure where to start? Talk to your HR department to educate yourself about your company’s policy and learn about the benefits available to you as a caregiver. Reach out to employee support groups if they’re available to you — sometimes, talking to someone who has walked the same road is the best way to find solutions.

Communicate with Your Team

For me, it was critical to be up-front with my colleagues about my new responsibilities. Letting everyone know what I was grappling with was a huge benefit in the long run when it came to accountability and communication.

I’ve worked with my team and manager to make arrangements for working outside normal hours so I can attend doctors’ appointments or make unexpected trips to the hospital. My transparency with my team has made it easier when things pop up unexpectedly. And it’s had another side effect. I have felt a wonderful outpouring of support from my colleagues, and this has lightened my load emotionally.

Make Technology Work for You

The ability to work remotely helps both businesses and employees and there are almost limitless things you can accomplish from afar using technology.

Collaboration technology has been vital in my process of staying connected to work. While I love working on my laptop for design projects, I’ve found that using the Cisco WebEx and Cisco Spark apps on my smartphone or tablet helps me shift seamlessly between “work mode” and “caregiver mode.” For example, when my mom is seeing her doctor, I can hop into a WebEx meeting or check my Cisco Spark conversations for project updates, all on my iPhone from the waiting room. I don’t need to tote around a heavy bag or rely on Wi-Fi.

Being a caregiver is not easy. But, there are ways to cope if you find yourself in a major life transition like mine. Talk with other people who are experiencing the same things. Rely on your supportive network of family and co-workers. And use technology to your advantage to keep your professional and personal houses in order. Being there in person is always better, but in the end, the ability to contribute and work with your team – allows you to “show up” – wherever you may find yourself.

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Our Favorite Moments in 2016

It’s that time of the year, folks! We’re taking a look back at 2016 to reminisce about our favorite WebEx moments on social media, on our blog, and in the news. From big product announcement to pranks on Twitter, these were definitely some moments to remember.

Gartner names Cisco a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing

There’s a reason WebEx is trusted to host 20 million meetings each month!

For the 8th time, Cisco WebEx was recognized by Gartner, the world’s leading IT technology and research and advisory company, as a leader in the Web Conferencing Magic Quadrant. Gartner reports that Leaders in this year’s Magic Quadrant have robust, scalable products with a wide range of features, a large installed base, acceptable financial performance and good distribution.

This is a huge honor and we couldn’t be more proud of our team for making WebEx one of the top tools in the industry. View the full report here.

Experts schooled us on productivity

 This year, we launched a webinar series featuring experts from a range of disciplines. We wanted to bring our followers some valuable lessons on staying productive and make the most of collaboration tools. The results were awesome.

Big thanks to all the presenters who shared their expertise during fun, interactive presentations! If you missed the webinars this year, you can catch up on webinars hub and follow along in 2017.

Cisco Spark kept us talking

We love the collaboration WebEx enables, and Cisco Spark lets you do even more.

As the all-inclusive platform for everything teams need to message, collaborate, meet and call, Cisco Spark “sparked” its own news during the year. Taking center-stage as Cisco’s chat platform, Cisco Spark news at Cisco’s Partner Summit revealed new capabilities that had the industry buzzing in 2017.

Look out for more news in January.

You fell for it on April Fool’s Day

Last but not least, our favorite moment on social media this year had us laughing out loud. On April Fool’s Day, we “launched” WebEx, a phony set of filters to help you “enhance your presence” during a video conference.

All jokes aside, we know our followers are online meeting pros who know how to put their best face forward. We just can’t resist a good prank every now and then.

Here’s to another great year in the books! Look out for more collaboration, innovation and fun in 2017.

 *Gartner, Inc., Magic Quadrant for Web Conferencing, Adam Preset, Mike Fasciani, Whit Andrews, November 10, 2016. This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available from Cisco here

 Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose

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Make your online meetings mobile-friendly

A mobile-friendly business is now the status quo. You’ve likely thought about making your business more accessible to your customers on their smartphones and tablets. But can your team meet and collaborate while they’re on the go?

People spend more time on their mobile devices than ever before and have very specific preferences about their mobile experience. Your online meetings should be compatible with all major devices, provide a simple user experience and keep information secure.

The infographic below looks at key reasons to make your online meetings mobile-friendly, and shows how your business can upgrade its strategy to keep employees connected from anywhere.

Does your team have challenges meeting remotely? Tell us your story in the comments.

mobile-friendly-meetings

 

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5 ways to personalize your video conferencing

Technology is constantly changing way we work and interact. With rising costs for travel and more demands on everyone’s time, the use of collaboration tools has become the status quo for many teams.

The ability to share your screen (and more) makes the online meeting valuable to businesses looking to increase productivity and lower costs. But does meeting from afar mean a loss of human connection?

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How to get more out of online meetings

There is more to holding meetings online than connecting with folks outside of the office. Being able to meet in real time from anywhere can expand your customer base, increase sales with a more personal approach, strengthen client relationships and improve customer service.

Whether you face difficulties in wrangling attendees, coordinating schedules or traveling to meet in-person, virtual meetings alleviate the headache of making meetings happen and also bring big business benefits.

In this infographic, IDG Research Services and Cisco WebEx take a deep dive on the into how online meetings can help businesses grow.

How do you use online meetings? Let us know in the comments.

 

how-to-get-more-out-of-online-meetings

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online meeting survival guide
The online meeting survival guide: 4 troubleshooting tips

It’s important to be prepared for any meeting — and online meetings are no exception. The value of video conferencing and webinars is well established. But online meetings have different things to consider than when meeting in-person.

Users responding to an IDG Research Services survey cited technology challenges, reliability of network connections, and participant engagement as the top obstacles that they face when collaborating online.

This survival guide will help you address issues before they arise to ensure your organization gains the full benefits of online meetings.

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Art of the follow up
The art of the follow-up: 3 ways to engage clients

Every sales professional has experienced the frustration of the follow-up to a meeting — the unanswered voice messages, wasted emails, or the “not interested” replies. Traditional follow-up techniques often fail because they don’t feel personal enough to the customer. Meanwhile, reaching out to prospects in-person isn’t always practical because on-site meeting invites may be costly or inefficient.

In a recent IDG survey, 44% of respondents cited travel delays, costs, or impact to productivity as the top hurdles they encounter when meeting with business colleagues in person.1 So how do you reach your prospects in the most costeffective way? Many companies are turning to online meeting and video conferencing tools to overcome these challenges.

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Don’t make your meeting a snoozer

Are meetings a “soul sucking waste of time,” as a columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian suggests?

They could be if they’re unproductive, boring, too many of them, or all of the above. The solution may lie in technology, if used properly. “Technology is essential to innovating the conference call and boosting staff engagement,” according to a Harvard Business Review column.

Video, for instance, may enhance “connectedness between participants” and help them see reactions to one another’s ideas.3 Specific online or video conferencing features that may improve overall engagement include the ability to view multiple video feeds, screen sharing capabilities, document editing, or whiteboard tools and mobile accessibility.

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