What is Agile Work?

For many years that term “flexible work” has been synonymous with the idea of telecommuting or remote work. With the proliferation of cloud-based technology the idea of flexible work has become more widely accepted by modern workplaces.

But a newer term, agile work, is a concept that has been overpowering the idea of flex work recently. While the terms seem interchangeable there is a difference.

Agile work is a way of working in which an organization empowers its people to work from wherever they would like and however they would like by limiting constraints and maximizing flexibility in order to truly optimize productivity. According to FM World, agile work is a new paradigm,“a transitional tool”, that is the cornerstone of an organization’s strategy providing benefits on cost, productivity and sustainability. Benefits, it argues, that are for not only for the organization, but the employee and customer as well.

But, isn’t that the same as flex work? Well, the terms are very similar, but there is a difference. According to The Agile Organization, flexible working falls under the idea that an employee can work anytime and anywhere, a two dimensional concept. Agile work is more multidimensional—not just limited to doing the same work in the same way at a difference time and place. Instead of focusing on when and where people work, agile work focuses on the efficiency of the work.

Agile work is based on the idea that work is an activity we do rather than a place we go. And with new tools supported by ever-improving cloud technology, workers can truly eliminate the concept of the work has been done traditionally in order to work efficiently to meet customers’ needs, reduce costs and overheads, all while improving sustainability.

Though this new concept aims at the benefit of the organization, many barriers remain for some companies in the adoption process of this idea. Agile work truly revolves around culture and mindset, and simply buying the latest technology and investing in new workspaces is not enough to make agile work a success.

This change will involve organizational culture and individual mindset shifts to embrace the idea that work is not a place, it is an activity. Pace, unpredictability and scale are the biggest challenges for organizations today. Companies must truly become agile in order to make this concept a success.

What is Social Selling?

Social selling is more than just a buzzword – it’s a part of the new era of sales. Simply put, social selling is leveraging social media platforms and your professional brand to engage and build relationships with the right prospects.

So how can you or your team make sure they’re properly representing themselves on social media?  Here’s how to build a social selling strategy that will establish a social savvy sales team:

Create a professional brand
Eighty-one percent of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand according to Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey. Your company may already have a recognizable and professional brand, but what about your individual sales reps?

Building a strong, professional brand online strengthens credibility and can often shape a prospective buyer’s first impression of your company. Through platforms like LinkedIn, ensure your team is presenting the right image with complete profiles and compelling, customer-centric messaging. Once these essentials are complete, your team can focus on utilizing the benefits of social media to generate results.

Find the right people
A great advantage of social selling is that it takes away the guesswork and time required to find the right prospect. Sales reps can now utilize social media platforms to filter prospect searches using various parameters such as title, role and industry to find the right decision makers and influential leaders in their own networks or in their extended networks.

Using tools like LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, the search for qualified potential prospects and connections becomes much easier. Examining a prospect’s profile can show mutual connections and commonalities that the sales rep and the buyer share. All of this information can help a rep qualify a potential connection as a prospect or as someone who can connect them with the right buyer.

Engage with insights
Establishing relevance and delivering value has become the core of sales. Reaching out to the right people at the right time with valuable insight and relevant content can open up various communication channels for sales reps.

By following a prospect through their posts, statuses, shares and news updates, a sales rep can gain insight on where they are in the business cycle. Through this information you and your team can use personalized messaging tools to connect in a timely, relevant and useful manner.

Build strong relationships
Social selling makes it easier for reps to provide ongoing value that builds better relationships. With the wealth of real-time information that social media networks provide, sales professionals have the opportunity to build credibility by providing valuable insight before, during and after the decision making process.

By using a prospect’s profile as a resource, reps can share their perspectives and views on relevant information, including common pain points in the industry. Sparking a genuine conversation before concentrating on the sales process can further the strength and value of relationship with the prospect.

Due to the competitive nature of sales, your sales professionals will always be on the hunt for new practices to help them gain an edge over the competition. In today’s business climate, that means relying on new technology and strategies to become more effective in bringing in new business.

Now you have an understanding of the importance of social selling and technology in today’s sales process, stay ahead of the curve and learn more about the ever-evolving sales process by downloading PGi’s free eBook, Join the Social Sales Revolution: Your Guide to The New Way to Sell.

What is Unified Communications and Collaboration?

Unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) is a combination of enterprise communication tools assembled into a single interface and integrated into a single management system. UC&C helps enterprises to overcome the inefficiencies and challenges that were previously siloed and fragmented—focusing on making your company more connected, efficient and productive.

A set of UC&C products includes a variety of communications and collaboration tools including:

  • Email and voicemail
  • Calendars and scheduling
  • Voice and telephony
  • Real-time communications
  • Web, audio and video conferencing
  • Instant messaging

UC&C offers any organization an array of benefits, providing employees with a consistent experience and interface across all devices, enhancing their ability to telecommute or work remotely. Other ways your company can benefit include:

  • Integrated experience: UC&C provides a single, cohesive and consistent experience by combining email, mobile, voice, web conferencing and real time communications.
  • Increased enterprise productivity and collaboration: Conventional communications tend to be bulky and inconsistent, leaving your employees spending more time on learning different tools, and less time getting work done. With UC&C tools your teams will be able to work together more efficiently and productively through a variety of channels.
  • Improved user experience: By reducing the need for separate training, user names and passwords, your employees will find UC&C tools easier to access and use.
  • Reduced IT and telephony costs: With all communications integrated into a single platform, you’ll have less potential failure points and risks of error, reducing the need for constant help from IT.

UC&C simply revolutionizes business communications by offering an all-encompassing, flexible suite of tools to make your business run more smoothly. Take the next steps in learning more about adopting UC&C in your company:

  1. Download PGi’s free whitepaper, Powering Collaboration in the Unified Communications Era, and learn more about how to make UC&C a success in your business.
  2. Learn more about PGI’s industry-leading audio with the leading UC&C platform by checking out GlobalMeet® Audio for Lync®.
  3. After you’ve learned more about GlobalMeet Audio for Lync, request a free trial to join Microsoft® Lync meetings by phone.

What Are Video Managed Services?

Are you aware you can completely outsource your video conferencing management? Video managed services provide your company with a team of video experts that handle your entire video conferencing environment.

The success of video events hinges on the execution of each part of the complex video conferencing process. Leveraging video managed services, you better ensure that nothing goes wrong, and you get the most value out of your video conferencing solutions.

Providers’ portfolios of video services range from routine maintenance and support to white-glove service and customized solutions. Depending on the provider, deployment, management and support, services may include:

  • Professional consulting services, such as system recommendations, operations planning and user training.
  • Concierge services that add professionalism to events and pre-testing to resolve issues before your call launches.
  • An expert help desk that offers technical video management, remote solution monitoring to catch costly errors before they happen, and end-to-end ticket resolution.
  • Customized video managed solutions like easy UC integration or even on-site staffing to support your company’s unique infrastructure and goals.

Emerging Challenges in Video Management

User-friendly, intuitive video conferencing options are available, but if your company or IT team identifies with the following scenarios, you many need to consider using video managed services:

  • Are your IT resources strained? Managing and resolving video conferencing issues may consume a large percentage of your IT team’s limited time and resources, especially if your company engages in large-scale or high-volume video events. Instead, you could refocus your IT resources by leveraging external video managed services.
  • Does your company have considerable mobile users? Incorporating mobility into your video conferencing strategy requires additional considerations. How will you optimize the mobile experience? How will you support remote users and boost adoption? How will you add security (especially if you support BYOD)? Even if you’re only in the beginning phases of allowing telecommuting or BYOD, you may still need a video services provider to help you embed flexibility in your strategy and future-proof your video solutions.
  • Do you manage multiple video solutions? Global companies with multiple video collaboration solutions encounter problems with standardization. Video managed services experts help you consolidate solutions with a single vendor so you can enjoy cost savings and a single point of contact, without interrupting business operations.
  • Do you need to bridge video solutions? Your company may need to incorporate web or mobile participants into video rooms, as well as customers and partners. Video managed services experts help you make the process seamless and simple and also offer access to the latest video technology to avoid additional investments.

PGi offers more in-depth video managed services, flexibility and expertise to serve your needs, and because PGi video professionals focus more on the end user, you can expect a superior user experience.

Contact a video managed services expert at PGi today to learn more about how video managed services will help you make video a critical communications tool to improve productivity, make faster decisions and grow your business.

What are APIs? (Application programming interface)

If you regularly use web or mobile apps, you may have encountered the acronym “API.” So what exactly is an API?

API stands for “application programming interface,” and is a set of tools and protocols for building software applications. While some companies restrict their APIs to a limited set of developers in order to protect intellectual property or tightly control who can develop for a specific platform, APIs can also be freely published, allowing anyone to make use of them to build an application or integration.

One of the most commonly encountered uses for APIs today is that they allow your apps and services to communicate with one another. For example, have you ever shared a photo from within one social media app to another? That was done through the use of an API which allowed the two services to communicate. Have you ever pulled a document from a file sharing service into another program? Again, an API made this possible.

Applications in Collaboration

Similar to the above examples, APIs power integrations for collaboration software, allowing you to access information from or send information to your other apps and services without having to navigate to them directly.

For example, within iMeet, you can directly access a meeting guest’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr by simply clicking on their cube. This information populates directly within the iMeet interface, as opposed to forcing you to open a new tab and navigate to each social media site individually, all things to each services’ open APIs.

Another example, also from iMeet, allows meeting guests to send any notes taken during the meeting directly to Evernote. It also gives you direct access to your notes in Evernote from the iMeet interface, including the ability to share them with the meeting room.

Finally, smart calendar apps like Agenday make heavy use of APIs. They collect and aggregate information from your various calendars (including Google Calendar and Outlook) and provide valuable, contextually relevant information about your day such as current weather conditions and social media profiles of upcoming meeting guests. For sales, Agenday also offers direct connections to Salesforce for logging calls and adding contacts. However, arguably the most important usage of APIs in your smart calendar is connecting you directly into your web conferencing application of choice; a single tap on your meeting notification will launch you into your favorite web conferencing app.

APIs, particularly open APIs, continue to power the interconnected nature of today’s digital existence. For collaboration, they provide mission-critical integrations that streamline your workday and empower productivity.

Learn More

  • Explore the social media and Evernote integrations in iMeet with a free trial.
  • Download Agenday for free today and use its built-in integrations to launch your web and audio meetings.

What is a Smart Calendar App?

In order to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile workforce, mobile applications designed to empower productivity are among the most popular on any mobile app store. In recent years, smart calendar apps such as PGi’s  Agenday® have become a popular way to help more intelligently juggle busy schedules, bridging personal and professional gaps by combining all of your calendars and events into a single interface.

But exactly what is a smart calendar app?

While they come in a variety of sizes and feature sets, the basics of a smart calendar app is that of a calendar aggregator; in other words, it can combine multiple existing calendars seamlessly into a single interface without any additional work required on the user’s part. This is typically done by utilizing the calendars already on your tablet and smartphone and pulling the event data together.

Common Smart Calendar Features

In addition to typical calendar features such as scheduling, event editing and reminder notifications, smart calendar apps take your calendar a step further with contextually intelligent, innovative features to make it easier to manage your day.

Smart calendar app features can include:

  • Aggregation of multiple calendars into a single interface, e.g. displaying events from both your work and personal calendars together;
  • Providing actionable information on calendar events, such as links to a maps application from an event address or one-tap dial-in to a conference call;
  • Information about other guests on your events, including contact info, social media profiles and notes;
  • Actionable event notifications that let you dial out to a conference call or launch an online meeting app directly from the meeting reminder notification; and
  • Displaying relevant information based on the location and time-of-day of your events, such as weather conditions, traffic and drive times.

These are just a sample of the unique features offered by many smart calendar apps, and new functionality is constantly being added to these mobile apps as mobile device hardware and software develops and evolves.

Learn More

* Learn how to integrate a smart calendar into your online meetings, including connecting your calendar to your Salesforce account.

* Visit www.agenday.com to learn more about integrating a smart calendar app into your workday.

* Download Agenday today for iPhone, Android or Amazon Fire Phone.

What is Big Data?

There are three defining qualities of Big Data, according to IT research and advisory company Gartner: Big Data is “high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety.”

It’s one of the biggest technology trends that impacts every business because, as echoed throughout headlines, every business is now digital. And it has a direct effect on the future of business collaboration.

Why Big Data’s Exploding
Big Data isn’t completely brand new. We’ve always transmitted and analyzed large amounts of data from customer surveys, social media pages, online shopping behaviors and more.

However, now we’re capturing data at a faster rate. The IoT sparked a surge in connectivity, and that variety of connected points — wearables, cars, apps, sensors — reveal more about human behaviors than ever.

The other defining difference is a large amount of today’s data is raw and unstructured, which means to gain anything from it we need to assign it meaning. The technology to not only produce and collect data but also manage and analyze it (like the scalability and security of the cloud) is widespread and continuing to get easier to use.

Big Data’s Business Value
By moving from harvesting to dissecting Big Data, now businesses can gain real value. Data mining (identifying trends and patterns) yields insights into a business’s pain points that may have never been exposed before.

Analyzing worker behaviors, output and operations, businesses make better decisions to improve productivity and efficiency. Business intelligence from Big Data even helps propel companies toward innovation and helps predict consumer behaviors and industry trends.

Whoever mines the most value from Big Data will have the biggest competitive edge, but the challenge of turning data into knowledge requires a complete culture change.

A Collaborative Culture Shift
Everyone in the business is realizing the value of Big Data for customer insights and demonstrating their ROI. The accessibility of self-service data mining and the customer-centric transformation of all roles within a company is giving rise to data-driven organizations.

In order for a business to be successful with data, however, a collaborative culture change is required.

Managing Big Data can overwhelm a single department, which is why data mining requires greater teamwork and sharing. Plus, cross-functional collaboration better bridges gaps in information and helps everyone construct more meaningful connections out of data.

This culture shift depends upon the creation of new workflows and tools that expand across departments, closer collaboration with leadership and company-wide alignment on goals and priorities. No single line of business can fully extract the value of Big Data alone, and not a single company can afford to ignore these technology trends and changes as businesses soon compete with information.

Learn More
Big Data is complex and still evolving in terms of strategies and applications. Learn more about this topic with the following resources:

  1. Learn what the biggest barriers are to unlocking value from Big Data in PGi’s free eBook. Download “The Future of Business Collaboration 2015 Edition” now for Big Data commentary from Edelman’s Global Managing Director of Strategic Growth.
  2. See how PGi’s leading collaboration solutions help build collaborative cultures for data-driven organizations.
  3. Not all collaboration is productive. Read this blog post from PGi Founder Boland Jones on the difference between constant connectivity and productive collaboration.

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What is BYOD? (Bring Your Own Device)

BYOD is an acronym that stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” and represents an increasingly popular policy of allowing workers to bring their own technology and mobile devices into the workplace and use them to access company information. As devices like smartphones and tablets have become more prevalent and consumers have become more tech savvy, workers are beginning to expect the same kinds of user experiences and intuitive interfaces from their work technology that consumer devices offer.

The increasing prevalence of BYOD environments represents a shift in IT policy; rather than dictating specifically what can and cannot be used at work, IT departments are allowing workers the freedom and choice of utilizing their own technology.

Pros of BYOD
There are several benefits of enabling BYOD within an organization. For starters, it makes for a happier workforce and is often viewed as an organizational perk. It can lower support burdens placed on IT because workers are already familiar with the technology. BYOD also instantly creates a mobile-enabled workforce, giving your organization the freedom to work in the office or on-the-go, keeping pace with the lightning-fast speed of modern business and adapting to workforce shifts towards remote work, flex work and telecommuting.

And of course, while there may be increased security concerns, organizations can save considerable technology expenses by not having to purchase new devices for every single employee.

Cons of BYOD
The primary argument against BYOD is one of security. With so many devices and types of devices moving in and out of an organization, how does IT maintain compliance, ensure data security and safeguard against breaches?

In the face of these questions, additional security layers and platforms have been developed. For example, Mobile Device Management, or MDM, is an additional layer of software that IT departments can deploy to their organization that can centralize the management and control of worker-owned technology. With an MDM service installed, IT can partition devices with separate “work” and “personal” information, and locate, remotely lockdown or even wipe the company’s information from the device while leaving the employee’s personal data intact.

Some OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are also tackling the problems of BYOD on the hardware front,  creating devices with these secured workspaces already built in, allowing IT to manage them without the additional MDM software.

Regardless of the methodology, managing these devices is and will remain a priority for IT departments in an increasingly connected workplace.

Benefits for Collaboration
Collaboration solutions like web and audio conferencing increasingly offer mobile connection options, making BYOD a boon for collaboratively enabled enterprises. Knowing that every employee has a smartphone and that they’re already comfortable installing and using apps on the device means that there’s little to no training required to get mobile collaboration up and running.

Learn More

What is SaaS? (Software as a Service)

SaaS (pronounced “sass”) stands for Software as a Service. SaaS is an increasingly popular licensing and delivery model for business and consumer applications. Sometimes called “on-demand software,” the basic idea behind SaaS applications is that instead of installing or hosting software locally, vendors host and maintain the servers running the application which is then accessed simply through a web browser.

SaaS applications are generally priced with a subscription model, either a monthly or annual fee, as opposed to a larger, up-front cost with ongoing support payments. Businesses can pay for the number of licenses they need with the flexibility to add users as their needs change.

SaaS is an important part of cloud computing; when vendors refer to their solution being “in the cloud,” they’re typically referring to the Software as a Service model. Examples of common SaaS business applications include email, customer relationship management, accounting, social business solutions and collaboration.

Benefits of SaaS

Software as a Service solutions cause considerably less support burdens on IT by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance to the SaaS provider. It’s also easier and quicker to deploy SaaS solutions to an organization, since often it’s simply a matter of provisioning accounts rather than purchasing and installing hardware.

Other SaaS benefits include:

* Centralized administration
* Global accessibility
* Mobile accessibility
* Automatic updates
* No compatibility or versioning issues
* End user customization and configuration options

Learn More

* Dispel some common myths about cloud computing and SaaS in our free cloud eBook.
Contact a PGi expert today to learn more about PGi’s SaaS collaboration tools, including iMeet, iMeetLive and GlobalMeet.

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What is Telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a work option where knowledge workers perform their job outside of a traditional office space.

It’s also known as telework, remote work, mobile work and work from home, but telecommuting isn’t limited to working at home. Telecommuters also work while traveling, at coffee shops, rental office spaces and other company-approved places of their choice.

In fact, the definition of telecommuting is a somewhat undefined but evolving concept as more workers employ this work method full-time, part-time or on entirely virtual teams. It is part of the broader category of flex work—flexible work options that give employees control over their schedule.

Telecommuting cannot happen without the right technology, and advancements in the virtual work environment have supported the rise and acceptance of telecommuting.

Telecommuters have to use a variety of communication and collaboration tools to complete their work and stay connected to supervisors and teammates, including:

  • An Internet connection, typically Wi-Fi;
  • Email;
  • Audio, typically VoIP or cell phone;
  • Instant messaging;
  • Social business tools such as intranets or social media;
  • Online forums and communities;
  • Video and web conferencing;
  • Online meetings; and
  • Online team workspaces.

The Benefits and Challenges of Telecommuting

For workers, the benefits of telecommuting include:

• Work-life balance (or integration): The flexibility to work from home aids in better health and less absenteeism. Employees can focus on wellness while still working and avoid the stresses of commuting and in-office politics.

• Enhanced productivity: Employees are empowered to employ their own workstyle while telecommuting, collaborating only at their most opportune times and avoiding office distractions.

• Less travel: The ability to skip the commute helps employees not only go green but also save on the time and monetary costs of travel.

Companies also reap the benefits of:

• Increased productivity: Since employees have the flexibility to choose where, when and how they want to work, they have more potential to reach their highest levels of productivity, increasing output.

• Cost savings: Telecommuting also saves companies money on business travel and large office costs, and telecommuting aids in globalization as companies expand their reach.

• Employee retention: As an employee perk, telecommuting helps companies better compete for (and retain) talent among a wider pool of candidates, as well as retain the talent of happier workers.

• Availability: During severe weather, telecommuting allows companies to continue work when travel is too dangerous. Additionally, telecommuters typically use fewer sick days.

Despite the numerous benefits, telecommuting is not without challenges for both employees and companies.

Telecommuters must learn how to better establish working relationships, maintain transparency and make ongoing communication a top priority. They also face misconceptions that telecommuters are unproductive, sometimes penalized in terms of promotions.

Meanwhile, companies must learn new management styles for telecommuters, find out how to cultivate company culture and innovation within a telecommuting workforce and identify the most efficient means of tracking accountability.

Learn More

To learn more about telecommuting and its impact on workers and businesses, check out these additional resources:

  1. Learn more about the pros and cons of telecommuting in PGi’s free eBook, “The Yin + Yang of Telecommuting.”
  2. Discover the best productivity tips for your telecommuting personality type in PGi’s free eBook, “Which Type of Teleworker Are You?
  3. Keep up with PGi’s latest telecommuting blog posts at The Future of Business Collaboration.

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What Is Unified Communications?

Unified communications (UC) facilitates the interactive use of multiple enterprise communications methods, according to the Gartner IT Glossary.

A UC suite integrates assorted applications and technologies into one platform, addressing multiple communication needs in one place.

Through a single access point, users seamlessly toggle between different communication mediums and manage all messages and communication.

What You’ll Find in UC

A UC set of products merges real-time and near real-time communication tools, typically including:

*messaging like voicemail and email;
*IM and presence;
*web, video and audio conferencing;
*telephony; and
*multimedia and data.

On-premise, cloud and hybrid services accommodate a range of business needs, and UC’s availability on multiple devices meets the rising need for mobility.

UC typically affords businesses interoperability with existing partners and complementary vendors. Although many UC suites offer a complete set of functions, integration with other platforms allows businesses to retrofit existing or legacy platforms with newer communication solutions.

Additionally, integration with applications like audio enables better mobility over VoIP-only UC suites. This option better suits larger meetings, meetings with external users like clients or other needs for high-quality audio.

How You’ll Benefit from UC

As an all-encompassing, flexible suite of tools, UC revolutionizes business communications, with benefits like:

*Accelerated productivity and collaboration. A single access point enables fast sharing, swift decision-making, constant updates and speedy data discovery.
*Operational efficiency. Administration is centralized, and billing is streamlined. You save time and resources on implementation and training. You also no longer have to worry about maintaining and supporting multiple licenses, services and vendor relationships, which frees up personnel for staff optimization.
*Enhanced user experience. When you decrease training guides, passwords and user names, employees will find tools easier to use and more accessible, enabling better adoption. This also adds value and functionality to your integrated, existing communications investments. With less integration points and risks of error, UC also offers a more consistent user experience.
*True enterprise collaboration. UC offers broad applications for all departments within an enterprise, eliminating silos. Everyone—business travelers, field reps, virtual teams, those beyond company boundaries—can benefit from the anywhere-anytime-anyone mobility of UC. The scalability of UC also supports company and customer growth.

What Are Team Workspaces?

Also known as online collaboration tools or shared work spaces, team workspaces are a centralized content location, a secure platform where you can share files, a network of defined work areas for project management.

It’s not just about file sharing, nor is it a social network. With so many features, functions and benefits, team workspaces offer versatility to accommodate a variety of applications and team processes.

Team workspaces typically offer:

  • Sharing. Team workspaces facilitate this function both internally (employee-to-employee) and externally (with vendors, partners and clients).
  • Collaboration. Communicate with near real-time social capabilities like comments and discussions.
  • Syncing. Everything syncs on multiple devices and beyond the firewall.
  • Project management. Users can set up multiple spaces for projects and teams.
  • Workflow oversight. Always keep projects moving forward by checking statuses, monitoring timelines, prioritizing tasks, pulling reports and sharing calendars.
  • Security. You decide who accesses projects, shared files and sensitive information with access controls and permissions for privacy.
  • Customization. Mold each space to your own work preferences in terms of layout, navigation and more.
  • Archiving. Your workspace is a searchable library and database for creative assets, data and even records of project activities.
  • Benefits of Team Workspaces

Here’s why companies and teams convert to team workspaces:

  • Productivity. Streamline project processes with efficient, central locations for collaboration. Lacking inefficient message chains and communication errors, team workspaces help you accelerate production and innovation.
  • Mobility. Accessible from anywhere, these tools help teams embrace mobility, further improving productivity. After all, if you’re out of the 9-to-5 or the cubicle, why shouldn’t your work follow, too?
  • Cost-efficiency. Team workspaces can be a cost-effective alternative to other platforms. Many are cloud-based, not only decreasing costs but also freeing up IT from complex implementation.
  • Security. Team workspaces secure information better than emails, and they also offer a secure alternative to employees’ DIY solutions. When companies don’t offer appropriate collaboration tools, employees seek out solutions that may not meet IT’s security requirements.

Broad Applications for Team Workspaces

Team workspaces benefit any team looking for a better way to connect and a user-friendly tool that offers more than the bare minimum.

These adaptable, secure tools support both in-office and out-of-office teamwork, as well as different types of collaboration. This makes them extremely valuable for cross-organizational, large-scale, global and enterprise collaboration.

Mergers, acquisitions and other sensitive transactions are contained in a secure, central location. Virtual teams and telecommuters seamlessly manage projects together in a shared space. Creative collaboration that requires large file sharing and workflow management makes team workspaces ideal for marketers and agencies.

Learn More

Want more information on team workspaces? Take these next steps:

  1. Check out leading team workspace platform Central Desktop, a PGi company.
  2. Sign up for a demo to test-drive team workspaces.
  3. Learn why teamwork-heavy projects thrive better outside of email.

What Is a Webinar?

You’ve heard about them, your competition uses them and you probably even have an invitation to one in your inbox. They flood the internet every day, but what is a webinar?

It’s simply a web-based seminar. Essentially, a webinar is any type of live, online presentation from experts on a particular subject matter, using a webcam and web conferencing software.

What a Webinar Is Not

It’s common to hear webinar and webcast used in similar contexts, but these two terms differ. A webcast only features one-way communication (for example, a prerecorded web event). In contrast, a webinar is interactive, so participants have the ability to give feedback, ask questions and make comments.

A webinar also differs from a podcast, which is a downloadable audio or video file, not a live or streaming web event.

Components of a Webinar

A webinar is comprised of both video and audio, broadcast with a webinar service provider either online or through a phone line. The shared visual may consist of a slide show, streaming video or screen-shared web page with live audio, or the visual may include interactive, live video with audio.

Typically, a webinar is a piece of gated content for attendees, which means that the audience must exchange their personal contact information for a link, password and/or call-in number in order to attend. Premium webinars may also be offered for a fee, or you may even encounter webinars offered through a free invitation (for example, to internal employees).

Interactive features like polls and real-time chat and audio communication allow for audience engagement, which is especially helpful for the common question-and-answer session at the end. Webinar platforms also typically offer a recording feature so they can be reused for other applications.

The Benefits of Webinars

Webinars can be used in a variety of ways for different purposes, including:

  • Lead generation
  • Content marketing
  • Collaborative conferences
  • Research and crowdsourcing
  • Education, information and training
  • Influence and persuasion to a targeted audience

For all of these purposes, webinars generally offer the benefits of convenience, cost-efficiency, better engagement and higher visibility as opposed to other marketing and communication mediums. In addition, webinars can save time and resources on getting to live events.

When Not to Use Webinars

With all of the options for broadcasting information and reaching your audience online, how do you choose when to use webinars as your medium?

  • In order to preserve the two-way communication, you’ll want your webinar to be live, which means it may not be your best option if you want a perfectly-packaged, prerecorded event.
  • Because of the planning and setup required, webinars typically aren’t ideal for short content and announcements. Instead, utilize webinars for longer, more complex information and original data and analysis.
  • However, if you’re flooding your audience with very complex, high-volume information, this may inhibit interactions, so a webinar may not fit your needs.

Before you enter the webinar wars, you’ll need the right strategy to reach your target audience and get the most out of your online event. Contact a web event specialist at PGi today for more information on adopting webinars for your company’s needs.

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Presentation Tool Highlight: Prezi

In our never-ending quest for cooler, more effective and more engaging presentation ideas, we here at PGi love trying out new and innovative presentation tools. Today’s tool is Prezi, one of a number of tools out there today that seek to reinvent the presentation as we know it, leaving boring PowerPoint presentations and mind-numbing slides in the dust.

typography prezi

The Power of Zoom

The first thing you’ll notice when you view your first Prezi is that instead of being slide-based, Prezis are more like interactive visual maps; instead of flipping from one rectangle of information to the next, Prezis dynamically zoom and pan around the map to highlight new information.

The effect of the zoom is to create a much more visually engaging and dynamic presentation, as your ideas literally fly in and out of view. You can also embed images and videos directly into your Prezi to add more visual panache.

Create Visual Metaphors

Another benefit of Prezis creative layouts is that you can demonstrate in a more natural way how ideas relate to one another. Ideas are rarely linear. They branch, ebb and flow from one another, and Prezi lets you visually show those relationships (occasionally with literal branches).

Prezi frees you from linearity and allows your ideas to grow and develop organically, exactly how they work in your head.

Collaborate, Share and Sync

Prezi doesn’t force you to work alone. You can invite collaborators to view and edit your Prezi with you in real-time, and all of your Prezis are synced to the cloud across all of your devices, meaning you and your team can work together on a Prezi whether you’re across the hall or across the country.

Prezi also features a thriving community of presentations and presenters in their website’s “Explore” section. While you’re free to use Prezi for private presentations for your company, you can also share your creativity with the Prezi community, or simply browse the Explore section for presentation ideas or reusable templates.

Presentation Tool Highlight: Haiku Deck

In our never-ending quest for cooler, more effective and more engaging presentations, we here at PGi love trying out new and innovative presentation tools. Today’s tool is called Haiku Deck, a free presentation creator for the iPad® and iPad Mini. Haiku Deck’s intuitive, beautiful mobile interface allows even presentation novices to quickly and easily create impactful presentations – and share them with the world.

Simple and Beautiful

Haiku Deck’s mobile interface is incredibly easy to use. You can easily add slides, text and imagery and even generate charts with just a few taps.

Stop Hunting for Images

If you make a lot of presentations, you know the pain of hunting for the perfect background image to engage your audience. Haiku Deck takes all of the guesswork out of this process by automatically providing you with high-quality Creative Commons imagery for your slides based on keyword searches. Giving a presentation about meetings? Haiku Deck will provide you with “meetings” imagery and even provide the proper attribution.

Share and Track Your Presentation

Once you’ve created a killer Haiku Deck preso, you can publish it to their web gallery under a variety of privacy settings. From there, you can track views, download a PDF handout, export to PowerPoint® or Keynote® and easily share to your social networks.

Get Inspired

The simple, straightforward elegance of Haiku Deck presentations are on display in their Gallery, a collection of the best and brightest Haiku Deck creators. Viewable on their website or from within the iPad app, the Gallery is the perfect place to get a little inspiration for your next presentation idea or just learn something new.

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Presentation Trend Highlight: PechaKucha

In our never-ending quest for cooler, more effective and more engaging presentations, we here at PGi love keeping our finger on the pulse of the latest and most exciting presentation trends. One of the most popular new presentation ideas is called PechaKucha™, and it’s a fast, engaging and effective way to deliver succinct and impactful information.

20 Images, 20 Seconds

The basis of PechaKucha is presenting 20 images, each for 20 seconds a piece. The kicker is that the slides advance automatically to discourage rambling and to keep the presenter on track.

If you consider some of the downsides of traditional presentations and how easy it is to lose the audience’s interest, the benefits of PechaKucha are immediately apparent. For presenters, the format is predetermined so a lot of the guess work is taken out of building a talk. For the audience, every 20 seconds the slides, and therefore the ideas, advance, meaning it’s easier to stay engaged and attentive.

PechaKucha Nights

Originally started in Tokyo, PechaKucha has spread through the idea of the PechaKucha Night™, which is a gathering where people come together and share talks on any topic in the PechaKucha 20×20 format. These informal get-togethers have reached nearly 700 cities in the world and give anyone a platform to share their work, ideas or whatever they’re passionate about.

Bringing PechaKucha to Work

The 20×20 format brings plenty of opportunity to shake up your business presentations. Project reviews, new idea pitches and more can all benefit from the fast-paced, engaging PechaKucha format.

If you’re looking for ways to energize your presentations or if you struggle with creating slide decks of your own, consider pursuing this new trend in your next business presentation.

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The Future of Work: It’s a Cloud, Cloud, Cloud Computing World

You might remember the 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World, starring Spencer Tracey. The film was absolutely nuts, absurd, funny, crazy, fast-paced and entertaining. Some might describe the current trend of business software and services toward cloud computing with some of those same adjectives. It’s a Cloud, Cloud, Cloud, Cloud World, and smart businesses are driving like mad to get their enterprises and employees into the cloud environment, much like the characters in the movie are chasing a big pot of money.

The future of work is definitely in the cloud. In fact, Smart and Cloud computing demands lead growth in the software market (see the Forrester Forrsight figure below).

Cloud-Smart-Computing-Vendors

Businesses are very interested in identifying ways to improve productivity, mobility, speed-to-market and reduce costs. Cloud computing enables business improvements for companies of any size or complexity — from global Fortune™ 100 companies to the two-person small business. The workforce is only becoming more diverse and spread out.

What types of employees use the cloud?Cloud-Mobility-SMBs

  • Teleworkers
  • Flexible workers
  • Office employees
  • Home-based employees
  • Geographically dispersed virtual and in-office teams (global workers)

Companies have to contend with employees on the move, those that work at home and in multiple countries around the globe. Most of these employees and companies already embrace the cloud computing environment, without realizing they’re even accessing cloud applications. What mainstream software services does your company already access in the cloud?

Here are few popular cloud business technologies:

  • Virtual meetings technology
  • Web conferencing
  • Video conferencing
  • Email
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Finance/Payroll
  • Human Resources Management tools

No matter where they sleep or work, centralized cloud software systems make it easy to keep business processes and workflows moving. It is already happening.

In three years, who knows? A cloud, cloud world may not even be the future of work, because so much is happening in the cloud now — you’re accessing the cloud right now, here on the Learning Space!

Do you agree with Forrester’s insights on the future of cloud popularity? Or do you think it’s just a trend to be bumped by the next big thing?

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