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Every year, CEOs and other company leaders cite increasing revenue or acquiring new clients as their top priority. However, many overlook key changes that they need to focus on first in order for those goals to be viable. To succeed in 2017, the leadership team needs to start caring about these 5 priorities now.

1. Employee Development

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization. They manage the day-to-day processes that keep your company running. However, a recent report from CareerBuilder reveals that over 21 percent of employees may be entertaining new job opportunities this year. That is an increase of 5 percent from last year. In 2017, it is crucial for company leaders to focus more on their employees, specifically on their development programs.
Last year, 41 percent of individuals reported that they wanted to better their career, and it’s doubtful that figure has changed in the last 12 months. It is crucial for companies to offer employees development tools and opportunities and challenge them in a healthy way that promotes their own personal growth and development.

2. Cyber Security

Security is no longer simply a concern for IT departments or third-party providers. Company leaders need to care about data security in 2017. In the past three years, the global cost of data breaches has broken record levels, according to the Ponemon Institute.
Plus, a cyber attack can be nearly impossible for companies to overcome. Organizations need to earn back the trust of employees, customers, clients, and others that may be affected by it, a feat that is impossible for most. Cyber security is a company-wide issue, and the entire executive team needs to be involved in training, planning, and responding to it.

3. Innovation and Transparency

Technology has completely transformed businesses today, and it will continue to change in the coming years. Advanced collaboration tools, social media, and data analytics have opened up more offices to a culture of innovation and transparency.
Employees and customers increasingly value a brand’s trust and honesty. In order to build that trust, companies need to show employees that they value the opinion of their constituents and to provide them with opportunities to share them.

4. Mobile Technology

More businesses are trading in their desktops for laptops and tablets.They are unplugging their meeting room cables and projectors and upgrading to wireless presentation solutions. Embracing mobile solutions in the workplace is one of the most important priorities for company executives this year. Based on a Harris Poll report, over 90 percent of IT leaders say enterprise mobility is a critical function to overall business performance. Both customers and employees want more mobile tools, and executives need to take notice.

5. Customer Experience

This year could be known as the “year of the customer”, according to several reports. A study by Accenture found that improving the customer experience is the top focus and motivator behind digital transformation. In the study, both B2C and B2B organizations named improving the online customer experience as one of their top priorities for the coming year.
Customers want their experience to be integrated seamlessly, whether it is in-person or through digital means. They also want it to be personalized for them. In order to meet new customer expectations, each member of the leadership team needs to get involved.
Ultimately, leadership teams want their businesses and their revenues to grow in 2017. When leaders start caring about things like customer experience and mobile technologies in the workplace, they will be more likely to reach those goals.
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The era of working in an isolated office cubicle all day may soon be over. More and more companies are knocking down their cubicles in favor of open or collaborative working spaces. But where we spend our time in the office isn’t the only thing that is changing either. How we work has transformed substantially in the last decade. Team projects, giving and receiving feedback, peer-editing, and other collaborative trends are becoming the norm for most workplaces. The importance of collaboration tools in the workplace is growing, and in 2017, their implementation will be one of the top priorities for companies. Here’s why:

Work is completed faster

According to the Harvard Business Review, 82% of professionals report that they need to partner with others throughout the day to complete their work. However, finding meeting space or planning in advance is difficult. In a typical workday, over 70 percent report wasting at least 15 minutes searching for space.
Online collaboration tools have helped to solve this problem by making working together on tasks easier than ever before. Individuals don’t need to be in the same room or even in the same country to collaborate on and edit projects. With video conferencing, meeting room software, and wireless presentation systems, team members can create, edit, and lead presentations without needing to meet face-to-face, and collaborate more efficiently during meetings where they do need to meet face to face.

Employees are more engaged and happy

Collaboration helps to foster teamwork and brings employees together, which makes a huge impact on their overall happiness. For many, the time spent in the office exceeds the typical 40 hour work week. It could even exceed the hours outside of the office. With so much time at work, employee satisfaction is crucial.
Several studies have shown that having work friends makes individuals more engaged and happy. One study claims that connecting with colleagues could bring more happiness than earning an extra $100,000 a year. Furthermore, when employees are happy and engaged, they are less likely to leave their current positions and more likely to be high performing, valuable members of your team.

Knowledge sharing creates higher quality end products

Two heads are better than one is more than just a saying. When two or more people work together on a project, they are more likely to reach or surpass their goals. According to ClearCompany, 86 percent of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration as the number one cause of business failures.
On the other hand, when teams collaborate and communicate effectively it can boost morale and motivation, as well as produce higher quality end products. Over 26% of individuals in a global study said that discussing success with co-workers motivates them. Collaborative environments, open meeting room setups, and new conference room technology allow individuals to share knowledge and give feedback in real-time. They can improve upon projects as they work on them, instead of at the end, when it is too late to revise.
It is becoming common for people to share ideas and complete projects and other work-related tasks in teams rather than alone. Those that still isolate themselves in cubicles and private offices are missing out on opportunities to exchange knowledge and expertise with colleagues. Whereas organizations that provide employees with collaboration tools and opportunities are gaining the competitive edge that they need to succeed in the future.

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Within the first few seconds of being introduced to someone new, a person reaches at least 9 conclusions. That means that before you even open your mouth to speak, some audience members may have decided if your presentation was worth listening to or not. With so many judgments being made at the start of any meeting, the pressure to make a good first impression is critical.
For CIOs and other IT leaders, giving presentations can sometimes be one of the hardest parts of the job. However, as the role continues to transform, the need for top-notch presentation skills is becoming more and more important. Below are five ways to make a lasting first impression on your next pitch.

Prepare Beforehand

One of the most basic but influential factors in giving a winning presentation is the part that happens before you enter the room: preparation. Preparing for your presentation ahead of time is especially necessary for those that are uncomfortable with public speaking or when speakers are talking about more complex topics.
If possible, assess the meeting space beforehand. Do a walkthrough of the area and test out the video and other equipment to make sure that it is ready. Problems with technology are one of the major hurdles that speakers often face. One solution to technology set-up time is to use a wireless presentation system that requires no wires or cable installation.

Dress the Part

Dressing appropriately for a presentation may seem like an easy part to remember. However, it is sometimes the most overlooked. In any setting, appearance is a huge factor that influences first impressions.
How you dress depends largely on who you are presenting to. For instance, presenting to board members, new clients, or conference attendees may call for business casual clothing. On the other hand, at some startup tech companies, dress shirts and jeans may be perfectly acceptable. For most cases, however, professional dress is usually the standard attire.

Start With a Bang

In a recent Harris survey, 17 percent of employees said that they would rather watch paint dry than sit in another meeting.
In order to overcome your audience’s anti-meeting bias, you need to make them want to listen. A simple way to get audience members excited is to show that you are excited about presenting by bringing energy and confidence into the meeting. Secondly, grab their attention right from the start. This can be done in a number of ways and doesn’t always require the “bells and whistles” one may think they need to grab attention. Catering the information specifically to them can help.

Organize With Data and Visuals

IT leaders may frequently have to speak on complex topics. When giving a presentation on subjects that require advanced degrees to understand, it is important to pair the data and statistics with easy-to-understand visuals. Starting out with an agenda or outline of the presentation can also give audience members the impression that you are well organized.
However, it is important not to focus solely on data. Data is a necessary component of presentations, but it should be coupled with a compelling story or meaningful insight that promotes action.

Involve Your Audience

Some pitches fail because presenters were speaking at their audience and not with them. The two concepts may sound the same, but they are very different. If you are proposing a new IT solution it is important to first understand what types of problems or goals the company or audience you’re pitching to experiences on a regular basis. Then, you can personalize your pitch examples specifically to them. Using collaboration tools can also make meetings more interactive and gives attendees a method to provide feedback in real-time.
Making a great first impression is tough, especially when the subject of your presentation relates to advanced technology. Speakers need to be conscious of how they start off a pitch, because the first impression can influence the entire presentation.
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Nowhere is technological advancement more evident than in communications. It didn’t take more than a few years for the entire communications arena to change thanks to technological advancements such as mobile technology, Wi-Fi, and the cloud. To stay competitive, businesses need to embrace change and evolve alongside it. Here are the top 10 business communication trends that companies need to keep up with in order to be future-ready.

1. Continued Shift Towards Mobile

Today, most server-based applications are being reconfigured to enable them to run on smartphones and tablets. Smartphones offer benefits such as portability, convenience, and ease of use when incorporated into the business world. Considering the fact that more employees today use tablets compared to PCs or laptops, mobile-based applications are the way to go.

2. Growth of Cloud Communication Services

Cloud technology has enabled businesses to integrate their workforce, compete more effectively, and improve customer satisfaction. Businesses looking for cost-effective solutions are rapidly adopting hosted VoIP.

3. Unified Communications

The integration of real-time and near-real-time communication systems is a trend that can’t be avoided. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) capabilities include video solutions, integrated audio and web conferencing, and telephony and collaboration that is delivered as a part of a business application.

4. Mobile Phones Replacing Office Phones

For many businesses, smartphones have become a good alternative to traditional desk phones. Smartphones offer benefits such as storage capabilities, accessibility of applications, and on-the-go use. The popularity of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy is expected to grow as employees become more mobile and less dependent on desktop devices.

5. Cloud-Based IT Networks

These IT networks allow users to access applications and files from any location or device. They eliminate the need to invest in networking technology and deliver network capability globally via a secure application. This makes it extremely easy for businesses to enable communication between remote locations and facilitates central control of remote networks.

6. Video Conferencing

This technology has been around since the 80s and has traditionally been used in meeting rooms. Today, however, this traditional use case has been replaced with video-enabled tablets or smartphones. Web-based video conferencing makes it easier for virtual teams to connect and collaborate. Additional collaboration capabilities such as text chat, screen sharing, and document sharing makes it more effective.

7. Seamless Technology Integration

Today, the ability to move data and conversations from one platform to another has assumed great importance. This trend is evident in many BYOD initiatives as well in which employers encourage employees to make their personal devices such as laptops and tablets their work and life companions. The idea is to enhance communication.

8. Chat Services

Chat services have been around for a while now, but lately they are getting a revamp, and they now have additional capabilities such as video and even video conferencing. Chat services are now integrated into existing services to enable employees and remote teams to communicate. Many businesses now invest in social intranet software that integrates chat with other business communication tools.

9. WebRTC

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) enables real-time communication between browsers and mobile applications without requiring any plug-ins or apps. IT enables text, audio, video chat, and file sharing.

10. Internet of Things

Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to drive a huge amount of new interconnections between various existing and new solutions and systems. It will include ‘things’ such as health monitors, smart sensors, wearable devices, home automation systems, and many other things.
While trend change over time, but these trends are for the future and here to stay. Businesses should strive to keep up with these trends to achieve better efficiency and success.
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It has been suggested that video (rather a lack of video/television appearance) costed Nixon the election back in 1960. At the time, people didn’t realize or understand the visual impact of the new medium: television. The visuals that video provide help establish a “connection” between between people. And it doesn’t just impact politicians and their campaigns, it also impacts business professionals and productive meetings; especially when it comes to first-time introductions.
Video conferencing is a frequently used tool for making initial introductions between two businesses or two parties that are not in geographical proximity. It “connects” multiple parties from anywhere in the world, allows them to share information and knowledge, and gives them the ability to “meet” regardless of their physical location. But this also means that in many cases, first impressions are developed over video conferencing.
We all know that first impressions matter…this cannot be denied. Therefore, the goal of any business professional is to give a good first impression. When things go wrong with video conferencing (which they frequently do), this negatively impacts first impressions. Distortions and delays that are caused by technology glitches are far too often perceived as flaws in the person, or business, rather than flaws in the technology.
Additionally, these video conferencing glitches can be frustrating for the viewers. One of the most frustrating glitches during video conferencing occurs when the audio does not visually match the speaker’s lips. This is not something that goes unnoticed; it becomes the elephant in the room, and everyone deals with the frustration internally and silently…until it becomes so bad and so frustrating that it can no longer be ignored. At this point, everyone begins to scramble, trying to troubleshoot the dilemma, and not giving their undivided attention to the others on the screen.
At this point, it is both parties of the meeting that are negatively affected by call. Research, presented in The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television and New Media Like Real People and Places, shows that out-of-sync lips makes people come across as being less trustworthy and less believable. Again, this is not an impression one wants to give when conducting business.
If poor impressions aren’t enough as it is, problems with video conferencing can result in delayed meetings and unproductive collaboration. So much time and energy is put towards solving technical problems, that an hour-long meeting turns into 40 minutes.
Despite all of these problems with video conferencing, we cannot simply do away with it. Doing this, would be just like Nixon not making his appearance on TV. Instead, businesses should explore new and more productive alternatives.

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It is estimated that a whopping 11 million official business meetings take place in the United States on a daily basis. That translates to 2.6 billion meetings per year. Therefore it is not surprising that almost all companies – from new fledgling start-ups to gigantic conglomerates – run on meetings. And meetings run on presentations!
Presentations determine the way we work, the way we understand our business, the way we analyze the business, the outcome, the planning, and so much more. Presentations are the centerpiece of meetings. A tedious, uninformative presentation can ruin your day; a great one can make your week. However, statistics also reveal that on average, out of the 62 monthly meetings that are attended by an employee, the employee spends 31 meeting hours unproductively. That means the economy loses $37 billion to unproductive meeting hours.
On average, employees spend 15% of their time attending meetings. For mid-level managers, the figure rises to 35%.
Yet statistics reveal that these meetings are not as efficient as they should be nor are they as productive or cost-efficient. This clearly goes to show that while plenty of meetings are taking place, they are not smart meetings
Here are some of the reasons that make meetings unproductive:
Cables on the Table
Conventional meeting rooms use cables to connect computers, laptops, and other devices for presentations. However, ensuring that all meeting attendees can view the same material becomes increasingly cumbersome, especially, for remote attendees attending meetings from other locations. Finding cables for HDMI / HDMI Mini / USB / Micro outputs, and getting them to work also proves to be a difficult task.
BYOD – Bring your own device
The concept of BYOD was first coined by Intel. With more and more employees getting their own devices, the problem of supporting different systems, different hardware, connectivity ports, etc. emerges. This slows down meetings, makes them ineffective, and pose a threat to the company’s security too.
Inefficient meeting rooms
Conventional meeting rooms make the job of the presenter tough. As it is, not everyone is good at presentations, and then to ensure that the connectivity cables work, connected devices work properly, that every member present can view the material properly, displays are uniform, the software is compatible, etc. prove to be additional hindrances.
Changing conference room technology and cost-effectiveness.
Conventional meeting room systems do not adapt to changing technology, rendering them ineffective and eventually increasing costs to make them adaptable to newer and constantly changing technology.
The antidote for these shortcomings is simple: wireless presentation systems.
Wireless presentation systems enable better meetings. Here’s how:
• Wireless presentation systems and meeting room software enable hassle free connectivity. All devices in the meeting room can connect to the main display, allowing wireless transmission of data, eliminating the need for printing copies, moving laptops and phones around the room so that all attendees can get a look, or send heavy presentation files via e-mail.
• With the advent of smartphones, wireless presentation systems make it easy to use different platforms like Windows, MAC, Android and iOS.
• Anyone can connect to the wireless system from anywhere, making meetings and presentations seamless and multi-user collaborative. Your meetings become more interactive, enabling a seamless presentation, as other participants can simultaneously share and present data from their devices.
• Training becomes easier, more interactive, and covers a wider range as users can log into the system from anywhere.
• Organizations and their meeting rooms are able to keep up with changing technology, as the wireless presentation system can adapt to newer AV technology.
In short, wireless presentation systems are more cost-effective, more productive and efficient. Wireless presentation systems make meeting a success!

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Over the years, advancement in technology has made virtual meetings more engaging and personal than ever before, however, this does not mean we no longer need face-to-face meetings. They are still a key ingredient in establishing relationships and a crucial part of being efficient. Even as workers are becoming more comfortable using video conferencing technology, and businesses and organizations are increasingly recognizing the benefits of online meetings such as efficiency, greater reach, affordability, among others, in-person meetings have their own charm and benefits, and are here to stay.
There is research to prove that in-person meetings still offer great value in this wired world. In 2009, a global survey of 2,211 Harvard Business Review subscribers was conducted by HBR Analytic Services, and it was observed that a whopping 95 percent of respondents considered in-person meetings as a key to success when it comes to building long term relationships. The research showed that in-person meetings were considered most effective for negotiating important contracts, interviewing candidates for key positions, and listening to and understanding important customers.
Also, a new study by Oxford Economics, an international research firm, shows that business travel directly leads to an increase in corporate revenue as well as profits. The study provides evidence that each dollar invested in business travel adds $12.5 in revenues and $3.80 in profits.
There are various reasons why in-person meetings still matter. Here are some of them.
Body language:  In a survey of 760 business executives, Forbes found that 84 percent of the respondents preferred in-person communication. Of these, 85 percent said that it was because in-person communication helped build strong and meaningful relationships. Human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic cues, and only 7 percent consists of words. Your mouth, brows, eyes and other facial features reveal much more than what you say, and there are many more types of body language that you may not be able to notice through a webcam. In case of high stake meetings such as interviews for senior positions or when closing major sales deals, this becomes extremely important. When sitting face to face, you can easily notice where a person places his/her hands, or nervously taps their foot. These clues give you a better control over the meeting, and provides a better understanding of the persons.
Uninterrupted attention: In an online meeting, you are not in the same physical environment as the other person/s, and it is likely that there are certain distractions in the other person’s environment that you cannot see. Technical snags or continuously adjusting audio or video can also divide attention, taking focus off the dialogue. When in a face-to-face meeting, people can completely focus on the task at hand.
Personal touch and trust: The personal small talk and pleasantries that you exchange before and after the meetings, and by travelling to the meeting location, you make investment in the relationship. Face to face meetings offer a rich sensory experience that helps build trust. A firm handshake can go a long way in cultivating trust.
You are off the record: If you want a private meeting with someone, an online meeting might not be a great idea, especially if the other person works in a cube and does not have a private office or meeting room. If you do not want someone to hear the information you share, the best idea is to visit someplace private with the other person and hold the meeting. You can share a lot more in person than you can do in a virtual meeting.
In the nutshell, organizations need to understand the importance of diversity and balance when it comes to meetings. For example, it may be a good idea to hold the first sales meeting in person to establish trust and congeniality, and then move ongoing meetings online. Companies can use online meetings to nurture a large set of leads, and then use in-person meeting when it’s time to close the sale. So, the idea is to use a combination of online and in-person meetings to support long term relationship building and collaboration.
Also, with continuous technological progress, the limitations in virtual meetings will continue to diminish, and eventually online meetings will become as interactive and immersive as in-person meetings. Simply using better meeting equipment can improve the experience substantially. However, in-person meetings have a place of their own and are here to stay.

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Digital signage is much more than just the flashing billboards that light up Times Square. Although Times Square is a prime example of digital signage in action, with success stories from brands like Coca-Cola, Google and Netflix, there are other forms and examples of success.
In fact, digital signage is the second fastest growing medium in the world. According to a recent report from Markets and Markets, it is expected to reach $23.76 billion by 2020, an increase of over 8 percent from 2015. Why are so many businesses and organizations utilizing the medium? There are several reasons, but first, let’s take a look at what it is and how organizations are using it successfully.

What is digital signage?

Many associate digital signage with large advertisements and billboards. But, it can include many different types of media that is projected on LED, LCD and other screens. It can be used with wireless presentation software, cloud tools and many more programs.
Unlike traditional print advertising, digital signage uses technology to allow businesses to easily update information as frequently as they need to with little cost or time. Digital displays allow companies to interact with clients, create interactive media and publish content at the touch of a button. The flexibility and lowering cost to manage the medium have made it easier for even small to mid-sized companies to utilize it in their marketing and business strategies.

How is digital signage used?

Because of its flexibility and ease-of-use, digital signage can be used for a number of purposes. For example, restaurants are increasingly using displays to post menus, promote new dishes and advertise special deals. Retailers are providing customers with in-store product information and personalized shopping experiences.

How can you use it to engage with clients?

Grabbing audience attention is harder than ever with competition from multiple sources of media constantly surrounding individuals. In order to connect with clients, organizations need to use media that grabs the attention of their audiences and keeps it. One-way advertising is more and more unsuccessful for connecting with today’s audiences. Instead, interactive messages that engage audiences are becoming the most effective ways to talk with customers.
Over 63 percent of individuals say that digital signage gets their attention. When used strategically, it is perfect for engaging clients. For instance, companies can promote events and promotions, personalize customer experiences and cut down wait time by using it. They can also incorporate it in the office, with clients and employees. Digital signage can be used in office meeting rooms to interact with clients. With employees, it can help promote teamwork and improve communication when used in conjunction with collaboration tools.
Digital signage is a versatile resource for companies of all sizes. Now that the cost to create and manage digital signage is minimal and the benefits are growing, more organizations are taking advantage of the tool. Companies can attract clients, improve the customer experience, enhance office meetings and much more by using the technology effectively.

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According to a recent study, many companies are losing customers and revenue to their competitors for one major reason━failure to embrace modern IT and digital initiatives. The study conducted by the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network interviewed over 200 IT professionals from around the world. The study found that there is a significant performance gap between organizations that have embraced the digital business age and those that haven’t.
The problem isn’t that companies do not agree that they need technology. In fact, in the study, over 93 percent of respondents said that technology has become more important in the last five years. Another 45 percent admitted that their competitors had more to offer in terms of options, flexibility and accessibility because of their use of digital tech like wireless presentation software, collaboration tools and wearable devices. If organizations know that they are falling behind their competition by failing to modernize their IT, then why haven’t they upgraded yet?
According to an article by CIO.com, one of the major reasons is that organizations realize that they need to upgrade, but they don’t have the foundation to manage it successfully. What else do organizations need to launch successful IT modernization initiatives?
Strong Leadership from CIOs
As the tech leader of organizations, CIOs have the power to influence other executive leaders by helping them realize the advantages that modern IT can bring to each department. CIOs can make recruitment, retention and employee engagement efforts more efficient and effective for HR leaders. They can appeal to CEOs by highlighting how IT can improve overall business performance, competitiveness and generate new revenue streams.
If there isn’t already a strong interest in updating an organization’s tech, CIOs can build interest by stressing the benefits with evidence of the success that other businesses have experienced. However, one C-suite member leading the initiative usually isn’t sufficient to drive it to successful completion.
Support from the C-suite Team
When other executive members are involved in projects, they are more likely to be effective. In addition to the CIO, the CEO and the rest of the C-suite play important roles. According to an IBM study, the majority of CEOs recognize technology as one of the top external influences impacting their organization.
Company leaders like the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Finance Officer (CFO) could greatly benefit by partnering with the IT department and using the latest tech. In order for initiatives to work, however, the silos that once separated departments need to be broken down. Executives need to collaborate and discuss tech projects and planning.
Clear Vision, Goals and Planning
A strong team is crucial to IT success, but ultimately, it needs to be paired with a plan of action. Organizations need to identify their technology needs and opportunities to improve efficiency, employee engagement and other performance factors. Then, they can start building a step-by-step plan that is designed to meet those goals.
Each day that a company puts off upgrading their technology and infrastructure, they are losing revenue and time. On average, it takes one to two years to update IT, so organizations can’t afford to wait. Failure to do so soon could put your business too far behind competitors to catch up.