Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Why don't firms hang on to their good staff?

Research from the Taleo Corporation, a top flight provider of on-demand talent management solutions, reveals that almost a quarter (22%) of HR decision makers expect to see an increase in voluntary churn in 2011, highlighting this as a major threat to business growth over the next 12 months.

According to Taleo’s Talent Mobility in 2011 research, which surveyed 500 HR decision makers in large UK companies, increased 'churn' was highlighted as a particular issue for business services (32%), public sector (28%) and IT/technology companies (27%).

But while HR decision makers identified this as a concern for 2011, the majority attributed retention problems to external factors, like better salaries (48%) or opportunities (45%) elsewhere, as opposed to internal factors.

“As many organisations plan for growth in 2011, and confidence in the job market returns, employees who may have chosen to sit tight over the last few years are likely to begin exploring new opportunities, seeking new roles and new challenges,” pointed out Alice Snell, Vice President, Research, Taleo.

“But introducing an effective talent mobility strategy, which allows companies to mobilise people internally in response to business needs can not only make great business sense, but can prove an excellent retention tool, offering employees internal opportunities to develop their career with their current employer.”

Overcoming the barriers to talent mobility – why ‘making do’ won’t do

The recent research highlighted talent mobility is increasingly on the HR agenda for 2011, with 71% of respondents agreeing that it is important for companies to be able to proactively and strategically move people from role to role.

However, the extent to which companies are currently moving people within their businesses effectively remains limited, with many citing a number of recurring barriers, which they believe are currently preventing them from achieving a truly mobile workforce.

The top three barriers to talent mobility were identified as:

• Lack of visibility into talent gaps and opportunities
• Lack of systems/technology to support talent mobility initiatives
• Quality and reliability of employee talent data

A low level of sophistication in terms of talent mobility technology emerged as a particular barrier for the majority of organisations, limiting the ability of HR professionals and senior management to identify where the opportunities and gaps within their organisation lie and matching these with existing, internal skill sets.

Overall, only one in ten (10%) of the companies surveyed were using dedicated talent management systems, with the use of dedicated systems proving higher in the construction/manufacturing (14%) and IT/technology (14%) sectors. The majority of companies reported they were still ‘making do’ with company intranets to facilitate internal mobility, and in 30% of cases, companies were still relying solely on email to facilitate internal mobility.

Alice Snell concluded: “The value of a talent mobility strategy is clearly recognised among the HR profession. However, it is currently being thwarted by a number of factors, most notably easily corrected system and data shortcomings. While the use of technology to support mobility is currently limited, evidence suggests that there are notable business benefits associated with a more sophisticated level of technology usage, from boosting the leadership pipeline to being better able to drive change and business growth. The companies that will be best placed to meet future challenges as we return to economic growth will be those that have the processes, systems and culture in place to support a truly holistic approach to talent mobility.”

(EDITOR: Some firms have decided to use “the recession” as an excuse as to why training is not done, why wages have not been increased in four or five years and why posts are not advertised, thus making one member of staff cover three or even more different roles. And I am aware of one company that edged out a worker with exceptional qualifications and skillsets because: “you make the other workers here look bad, by comparison.” And this was in a private company! With attitudes like this, it is no wonder that 'employee churn' is so high...)

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Windmill Leasing launches new car leasing website

Windmill Leasing has launched a new website to promote its position in the UK company car leasing market.

The Bromsgrove-based organisation, which specialises in providing contract hire and fleet management solutions to SMEs and large corporate enterprises across the UK, now has an improved and effective online platform to showcase its selection of competitive car leasing deals and its full range of car leasing services for businesses.

In a triangulated initiative involving the company's online marketing team, a top digital agency, and an external web development team, the website evidences best practices in search engine optimisation, design and usability. It incorporates refreshed branding, a substantial increase in page count, and additional functionality in comparison with the previous website.

In addition to the expected increase in customer enquiries, the website will play a pivotal role in raising the brand awareness of Windmill Leasing as the company bids to establish itself as a leading provider of contract hire and business car leasing solutions.

Features of the new website include a showcasing facility for a range of car leasing deals, a comprehensive car configuration tool, the ability for a customer to determine their contract hire profile and a Quick Quote form for ease of enquiry. There is also a blog, links to Twitter feeds, detailed navigational copy, and extensive content around each of the company's car lease finance options available to businesses.

Jason Marshall, sales executive, Windmill Leasing commented: "We are pleased to announce the launch of the new Windmill Leasing website. Substantial investment both in time and money has gone into the project and we are delighted with the final result.

"The website is fully interactive and gives the user access to a wide range of information and complete control of their car lease. It allows the user to configure the vehicle to meet their specific requirements – including the finance aspect of the lease – and presents a comprehensive list of standard specification and technical data.

"The new website will allow us to drive the business forward substantially in the coming months and, in cohesion with a new agreement with a leading finance company and the impending opening of our new office in the North of England, these are exciting times for Windmill Leasing."

The new website also marks the beginning of a rejuvenated marketing campaign from the automotive company, which will initially embrace the website, social media and e-marketing initiatives over the coming months.

Windmill Leasing is an award-winning provider of car leasing and contract hire services to businesses throughout the UK. Formed in 2004 and based in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, the company employs a range of experts in the car leasing field to offer initial advice and ongoing account management services to its clients. From Audi car leasing to GAP insurance, the company prides itself in its holistic approach to contract hire for businesses.

For details for how Windmill could answer your fleet questions visit www.windmillleasing.com

Pioneering Association Champions Intellectual Property in Business

Top figures from corporates and professional services, including IP services company Coller IP, have come together to form a new association championing intellectual property (IP) from a business perspective.

The International IP Strategists Association (INTIPSA) is a professional association serving the community of intellectual property strategists worldwide. INTIPSA provides a unique forum for chief intellectual property officers (CIPOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), IP consultants, investors and others to develop best practice in IP strategy and management, share their knowledge and experience, and build their careers.

Dr Jackie Maguire, CEO, Coller IP, which offers a full range of specialist IP services, is one of the founder members of INTIPSA, and is the Association’s co-chair. She commented, “INTIPSA has been borne of the desire to raise the profile of IP strategy in business. This is very much an emerging field and we believe there is a real opportunity to build a vibrant international body that provides a voice for those involved in commercial strategies related to IP.”

INTIPSA aims to raise awareness of the value of IP strategy in business; allow professionals to improve their knowledge and skills; and promote excellence and professionalism within the IP strategy community. It will also provide an international marketplace for IP strategy services.

Meeting an Emerging Need
Intellectual assets – which include aspects such as brands and corporate know-how – are something that all businesses should be concerned about, not just technology companies holding patents. With knowledge and information now major drivers of the global economy, more and more companies are coming to recognise the management of IP as a function distinct from day-to-day IP protection.

They also appreciate the strategic role of IP and other intangibles in building and maintaining competitive advantage. From multinationals to start-ups, companies in all countries and sectors are focusing on the role of intellectual property in building business value.

IP strategists are found in a wide variety of roles, like CIPOs, CTOs, and VPs for research in corporates and start-ups, as well as in-house IP counsels. This area is also of interest to professional and advisory services, including strategy consultants, IP attorneys and IP lawyers, specialist brokers & valuers, venture capitalists, and corporate and angel investors.

A One-Stop-Shop?
Membership of INTIPSA means being part of a global network and think-tank for IP strategists, providing an international perspective in a field that transcends national boundaries. CIPOs, entrepreneurs and others will be able to develop new business relationships and partnerships. They will also have access to tools and resources to help them grow their businesses, and case studies and best practice guides on how to achieve IP strategy excellence.

“We see career development as being one of the biggest benefits”, commented Jon Calvert, INTIPSA’s other co-chair. “Our aim is to create an environment where up and coming IP strategists can learn from other professionals and trainers – through both training and mentoring – and progress their careers. INTIPSA will also serve as a specialist marketplace for IP strategy-related jobs and services.”

The Association’s website (www.intipsa.com) offers a one-stop-shop for news and information, and also a window on the IP strategy community. “We’ve thought long and hard about what it means to run a professional association in the age of social media” explained Mike Sharpe, INTIPSA’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). “We want to make the site the hub for the IP strategist community worldwide, showing who’s doing what and showcasing the best around. So, we’ll be giving a high priority to discussions, forums, blogs and other forms of community participation.”

Membership is offered in three categories – Fellow, Member and Associate – depending on professional standing and experience. Student and Corporate packages are also available. Those joining INTIPSA before 30 June 2011 will benefit from preferential initial subscription rates.
Although having its origins in the UK, INTIPSA aims to be fully international and will draw its members from around the world.

Setting the Agenda
While it will be down to the community to set the agenda, two initial priorities have already been identified. “As a relatively new sector, IP strategy is more or less unregulated in terms of professional standards”, explained Maguire. “We believe there is an opportunity to develop a widely-accepted and recognised professional accreditation for IP strategy practitioners and this is something that we will be consulting with members about.”

Related to this is education. “On the whole, business schools pay little attention to these issues at the moment”, said Calvert. “We aim to lead a debate on this so as to raise the profile of IP strategy within management education.”

INTIPSA is already active on the policy front, for instance through its recent submission to the UK’s Hargreaves Review of intellectual property. The Hargreaves report, released earlier this week, highlights the crucial role of IP strategy and commercial advice for businesses, especially SMEs. The Association will also be represented at the IP Business Congress (IPBC) in San Francisco in June, where it has official supporter status.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Colortrac launch new Professional MFP solutions based on the SmartLF wide format scanners

Colortrac, an innovator in the field of large format scanner technology, has launched Four new wide format Professional Multi-function Peripheral (MFP) solutions providing a full and pretty neat range of large format scan, copy, share and print capabilities for users of wide format printers.

Each Colortrac Professional MFP solution has been designed to satisfy the most rigorous of demands in a specific target group of customer applications. Ranging from the affordable ultra-compact and space-saving 24 inch solution for the small office or home office creating CAD based technical drawings, to the full 42 inch version providing high speed volume technical imaging & high fidelity color reproduction for the Bureaux and Repro services professionals. Colortrac have a Professional MFP solution to match your individual needs.

Commenting on the new solutions, Sales and Marketing Director - Peter de Winter Brown said that “Adding a Colortrac Professional MFP solution to their wide format printer, customers are enabling large format scanning, sharing print ready files such as PDF to the “cloud” with a copying capability that increases productivity and provide new applications with further revenue opportunities available to capture.”

Each Professional MFP solution has a built-in competitive advantage based on the Scan-Once workflow technology built into the SmartWorks Pro scanning and copying software, users have instant control over the output quality of their scanned images by selecting any one of the 10 Pre-set filters to control the key quality attributes of the document being scanned, copied or shared through.

By using standard Windows™ printer drivers, any compatible large format printer can provide excellent copy quality and also give you greater control over the output copy size by printing only what you need helping to reduce media wastage.

For demanding originals then the integrated ICC colour management in SmartWorks Pro combined with the Media Profiler facility can help create outputs specifically suited to your chosen media and large format printer. For scanning and printing service providers with large format document requirements, the comprehensive quality controls contained in SmartWorks Pro will give you all the tools you need to provide your customers with premium quality output time after time.

For small to medium sized enterprises such as Architects, Drawing Offices, In-House Repro departments; the robust and simple graphical user interface provides easy access to the important quality, productivity and file sharing facilities you need at the touch of a button.

To find out how the Colortrac Professional MFP solutions can provide you with the improved output quality, then check for further information on the Colortrac website – click here to view the various Professional MFP solutions available now. If you need more information how the MFP solutions are suitable for your enterprise, then why not discover the rationale for MFP in detail by downloading a copy of “The Professional Buyers Guide to large format MFP” now.

To find out how Colortrac can help you and your print needs visit them at www.colortrac.com

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

That's Technology: Symmetry signs up to ‘Cloud Vendor Charter’ as mor...

That's Technology: Symmetry signs up to ‘Cloud Vendor Charter’ as mor...: "Symmetry, a financial management systems provider, has become one of the first suppliers to sign up to BASDA’s (Business Application Softwar..."

“Who moved my talent?” Lumesse offers free copies of a new e-Book by Peter Gold of HireStrategies

“…armed with his new smartphone, an updated LinkedIn profile, a Facebook page and a Twitter account, 46 year old Henry ventured forth into the cloud to find his new social world. He had absolutely no idea where he was going or what he was going to do.”

Lumesse, formerly StepStone Solutions, is making available for a limited period of time a free electronic copy of a short new book by renowned HR guru Peter Gold.

“Who moved my talent?” is a lighthearted but pointed look at the why, what and how of finding, connecting and engaging the people that will transform your business. For a limited time the book is free to download in PDF and e-book formats, in English, French, German and Chinese, to anyone who visits the Lumesse website at the following URL: www.lumesse.com/whomovedmytalent

“For over 20 years I have been in the recruitment and talent management business, so I’ve seen many different ways of companies trying to attract and develop people,” said author Peter Gold.

“As we enter another period of growth, business leaders are evangelising the need for great people to help their businesses grow and prosper. I wrote ‘Who Moved My Talent?’ to remind people they need to continually review and improve how they hire, train and motivate people. If they don’t they might find – just like the famous cheese – that someone has moved their talent when they weren’t looking.”

Lumesse is one of the world’s leading talent acquisition and management companies, helping over 1,700 businesses worldwide find and manage the people they need in a changing world. Lumesse rebranded from its former identity, StepStone Solutions, in early May 2011 following a management buyout of the business in mid 2010.

Matthew Parker, CEO, Lumesse comments: “At Lumesse we’re delighted to sponsor this free download of Who Moved My Talent? Every day we work with ambitious companies that realise that talented people are the core of their success, and the book does a great job of highlighting what can happen, both personally and corporately, when you forget that.”


Peter Gold has successfully helped a number of enlightened organisations use technology to help people perform better and can often be found sharing his latest thoughts at conferences and workshops. His direct and uncompromising approach to technology has led to his established reputation as one of Europe’s leading Talent Technology bloggers:


Lumesse is the only global company making talent management solutions work locally. We help customers around the world to implement successful local talent management initiatives that identify, nurture and develop the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Their multi-cultural background and presence means they understand how to deliver talent solutions that work the way our customers work, as individuals and as teams, because no two people, organisations or cultures are the same. They regard differences as strengths, not as obstacles.

They work with 1,700 customers in over 70 countries because they recognise commitment, innovation and value only come from people. They help customers to unlock and inspire that human potential in their businesses. Their integrated talent management solutions are comprehensive, intuitive, secure and in over 50 languages.


SMEs! Stand Up for your Patent Rights! At last, Intellectual Property Insurance that allows you to fight for your patents in court.

Patenting your ideas is important, vital, even! But it is crucial to protect them with proper insurance, too. La Playa’s Matthew Clark celebrates the arrival of a new insurance product that’s made for SMEs.

Intellectual Property is arguably your most important asset – but could you actually afford to defend a patent? An average patent law suit in the United Kingdom can easily exceed £250,000 (per side).

Much has been written about the importance of patents to support the growth of the knowledge economy. Yet patent owners receive no government or patent office help when faced with having to enforce their patent rights if they are infringed or if their validity or ownership is challenged.

Who could you turn to for help in defending your rights? This is particularly an issue for SMEs, many of whom would be forced to “roll over” rather than pay the legal costs to defend their intellectual property.

You wouldn't hesitate to insure office contents and other assets - so why leave your patents unprotected? Without insurance, the financial burden of a patent infringement case can be tremendous -crippling for start-ups and smaller businesses. But with the right insurance policy in place, you have the financial muscle to defend yourself – and merely having the insurance is itself a powerful deterrent to any potential infringer.

Intellectual Property insurance has long been available to large companies – but at a price; smaller firms have struggled to find affordable cover. Cambridge and London based insurance specialist La Playa has teamed up with leading global IP insurer SAMIAN Underwriting Agency, to provide PatentEnforcerTM - a cost effective insurance solution to protect the fruits of your invention with the financial means to enforce your patent rights.

PatentEnforcerTM is specifically designed for the SME market, with sensible levels of protection at reasonable prices, and the cover allows you to pursue infringers of your intellectual property.

More information and online quotations for Intellectual Property Insurance are available online.

EDITOR: That's Business would like to thank Matthew Clark and La Playa for their help in compiling this article. You can visit La Playa at www.laplaya.co.uk/intellectual-property.htm

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

WeCanDo.Biz Version 2 introduces new sales leads tool for Twitter

WeCanDo.BIZ Limited, the online business network for sales leads and referrals, has released version 2 of its website with a new tool for finding sales leads on Twitter. The new website is at www.wecando.biz.

The Sales Leads tool works by automatically filtering 'Tweets', the posts submitted by Twitter's 175 million users, that contain 'intent' – that is, they describe a need or contain a specific request for a product or service, so identify a potential customer. Examples include "We need a local accountant urgently" to "Who can recommend someone to print up some brochures for us?"

WeCanDo.Biz provides the Sales Leads tool as a leads discovery service for small businesses, presenting all potential leads on a single web page, with location filtering, reply and connect options. All posts on Twitter are searched, regardless of whether users are connected or not.

"Twitter is producing sales leads every day," says Ian Hendry, CEO of WeCanDo.Biz. "The challenge has always been finding them amongst all that noise. Our Sales Leads tool pinpoints the opportunities and presents them all on one page so they can be easily progressed and tracked. It takes small businesses straight to the person who needs what they offer. We expect small companies to use it as an alternative to expensive advertising or cold calling."

Many Twitter users 'crowd-source' for suppliers as an alternative to sifting through thousands of pages of results from Google search or listings in directories. The human, contextual nature of the conversations that come from a 'Tweeted' request on Twitter are considered by many as much a more valuable service than hundreds of pages of automatically generated results or cold, static content.

Ian Hendry adds: "This new service from WeCanDo.Biz helps ensure potential sales leads hidden within the 140 million Tweets a day do not go unanswered and that the opportunities for businesses do not slip away."

In the beta period leading up to the Version 2 launch, the tool has discovered over a quarter of a million sales leads on Twitter for WeCanDo.Biz business users.

Also announced with the launch of the WeCanDo.Biz version 2 website is:

Media rich social profiles which act as a business card on the Social Web for small businesses, helping to win the confidence of new customers;
QR Codes which help in promoting businesses offline;
Location and industry specific online communities to enable easy connection and discussion with other business owners;
Private Networks which assist with online community collaboration between invited contacts;
Additional member benefits of free and discounted banking, insurance and other services essential to starting and operating a small business.

The Sales Leads tool for Twitter is available at www.wecando.biz and is free to use. An enhanced version with more lead discovery options is available to Pro users for £60 + VAT for 12 months access.

Ocean Sky appoints Samantha Clouder to accelerate charter business growth

Rapidly growing private jet company Ocean Sky has appointed Samantha Clouder as its sales and business development director for Ocean Sky Aircraft Charter.

Clouder joins Ocean Sky after nine years with NetJets, where she was vice president of UK Sales. Prior to joining NetJets, Clouder worked in financial public relations as a member of the flotations, mergers and acquisitions team at top City consultancy Citigate Dewe Rogerson.

“Ocean Sky is a fresh and exciting business with the potential to become the coolest air charter brand in Europe,” says Clouder. “My challenge is to intensify the business development process of an already successful operation, fine-tuning our activities and readying ourselves for the coming market upturn.”

“In only a few years of operation, Ocean Sky has earned the respect of customers and competitors, making this a very exciting time to join the business. With the investments Ocean Sky has been making, we have the fundamentals in place to attract many more charter customers and develop lasting relationships with them.”

Ocean Sky’s group chief executive Stephen Grimes points out: “We are delighted to welcome Samantha as head of our charter team. She joins with a superb track record of achieving growth, even in the face of recession, and her leadership will enable us to expand our markets and further strengthen the Ocean Sky brand.

“As a group, Ocean Sky is investing significantly in developing world-class services for every business aviation need. Aircraft charter is a key part of this strategy and, with our growing senior team, we are well-positioned to capitalise on growth opportunities in Europe and beyond.”

Monday, 16 May 2011

Symmetry celebrates rejection of patent that may have cost your business money

Symmetry, a financial management systems provider has welcomed a decision by the European Patent Office to reject a patent proposed by e-invoicing company OB10, that threatened to impose additional licensing charges for the routing of electronic documents. Symmetry joined other members of BASDA (Business Application Software Developers Association) to fight against the introduction of the patent which has now been turned down.

Sales & Operations Director at Symmetry, Julian Sayer commented, “If the patent had been upheld this would have had serious implications for users of electronic based processes like e-invoicing, because of the additional costs incurred.

"As a company that believes strongly in ‘open’ technology and easy access to non-proprietary software applications, we were keen to support BASDA’s challenge to the patent and are delighted with the result. This means organisations can take full advantage of the benefits e-invoicing offers, without being penalised unfairly.”

The BASDA group wasn't alone in objecting to OB10’s ‘Communications Routing Apparatus’ patent; the European Patent Office received 19 notices of opposition in total. Many of these were from large, pan-European companies. If the patent had gone unchallenged, OB10 could have levied licensing charges on, or even stopped, many UK and other companies using similar technologies.

By being willing to pool their experience and knowledge of the UK business software industry prior to 2000, BASDA members were able to make available evidence of systems and methodologies in operation prior to the patent’s claimed 'novel' introduction. BASDA's opposition was filed on the grounds that the ‘invention’ claimed in the patent was neither new nor inventive over what was previously publicly known.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Welsh Startup Company beats recession and Scoops Top National Energy Award

The UK's leading MCS,MCS Accreditation specialists Easy MCS Ltd have been awarded advisory firm of the year at the New Energy Awards 2011. Held at a lavish even at the Natural History museum in London, the New Energy Awards recognise the most remarkable organisations who have excelled in their area of the renewable energy industry.

Easy MCS Ltd were recognised for outstanding achievement in providing MCS,MCS Accreditation, MCS Certification, MCS Training. Easy MCS Ltd are the UK market leader for MCS,MCS Accreditation and are renowned for their high levels of MCS, MCS Support, training and advice in the MCS,MCS Certification and in supporting new installers entering the Renewables industry.

Receiving the Award, Sales Manager for Easy MCS Ltd Thomas Farquhar commented "We are humbled to receive such a prestigious award within our first 12 months of operating, and to be recognised for the work we do each day alongside installers to achieve MCS,MCS Accreditation and enter the Renewables industry. It was a huge surprise just to be shortlisted for the award let alone to win. This award recognises the hard work of the entire Easy MCS team as without them the success Easy MCS Ltd has had would not be possible".

Easy MCS Ltd provides Renewable Services to the UK Renewable Installer market. Easy MCS Ltd specialise in providing MCS,MCS Accreditation for Renewable Installers and manufactuers, Providing MCS,MCS Accreditation ongoing support, MCS,MCS Seminars and providingMCS Installer, MCS Directory listings which allow customers to find their local MCS Installer, MCS Directory with ease.

The Easy MCS Ltd team are all experienced MCS QMS, MCS Quality Management Assessors and MCS Training consultants specialists in providing MCS Certification services and expert advice to Renewable Installers. Covering all MCS Technologies including; Air Source Heat Pumps,Ground Source Heat pumps, Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Wind Turbines, Biomass, Micro CHP, Small scale Hydro.

Easy MCS Ltd started in 2010 and since then it has enjoyed unrivalled success due to the market leading levels of training and support it offers. Easy MCS Ltd has also been short-listed for other industry leading awards including the H & V News Award for Training Initiative of the Year and The National Heat Pump Award for Training Excellence.

Visit www.mcsaccredited.com for details

(EDITOR: Da iawn i Gymru!)

Friday, 13 May 2011

Blogger Buzz: Blogger is back

Blogger Buzz: Blogger is back: "What a frustrating day. We’re very sorry that you’ve been unable to publish to Blogger for the past 20.5 hours. We’re nearly back to normal..."

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Integreon Expands Operations Consulting Services for Law Firms and Corporate Legal Departments

Deeper Investment in Consulting Expertise and New Services Help Clients Successfully Adapt Their Operating Models to Succeed in Today’s Business Environment.

Integreon, a major global provider of integrated legal, research, and business support solutions, today announced expanded consulting services to support law firms and corporate legal departments as they evolve to meet the economic and regulatory challenges facing the legal sector.

“Law firm leaders and GCs are asking us to deliver a broader range of services, have them up and running more quickly than ever before and have them more tightly integrated with their business practices,” said Integreon CEO, Liam Brown.

“Business model and organisational changes like this can have a real impact on our clients’ businesses, but they require thoughtful design, meticulous planning and careful execution to succeed. That’s why we have invested to deepen our consulting capacity, capabilities and expertise in these areas.”

For over 10 years, Integreon has worked with its law firm and corporate clients to improve the productivity and quality of legal, research and business services. Integreon’s expanded consulting offering represents a significant investment in experienced, senior consulting professionals and proven approaches, and ensures the successful implementation of the higher-stakes, more rapid and encompassing changes that these organisations are now undertaking.

As an important part of this initiative, Integreon recently appointed Janet Taylor-Hall and Claire O’Brien to senior leadership roles within the consulting organisation. Taylor-Hall will serve as senior vice president of business transformation consulting and O’Brien will serve as senior vice president of programme management.

Both executives joined Integreon from Clifford Chance, one of the world’s largest law firms, where each played a key role in driving business services and legal process efficiency programs, including the development of one of the first offshore legal and business support operations centres.

Taylor-Hall and O’Brien work closely with Integreon’s team of experienced transformation consultants, which includes former CMS Cameron McKenna COO, Tony Wright, and former law firm CIO and practice support manager, Ron Friedmann. In addition to their backgrounds in the legal sector, all have consulting experience with top-tier international consulting firms.

“The legal landscape is changing, and general counsel and law firms alike must evaluate these changes,” said Cathy Tornbohm, Gartner vice president responsible for business process outsourcing (BPO) research. “It’s increasingly important for organisations to strategically evaluate the business and legal processes that define how attorneys have worked in the past and execute them in new ways.”

Integreon’s expanded consulting services provide corporate legal departments and law firms the support they need to systematically assess current opportunities, define and implement innovative solutions, and successfully transition existing services. As a result, these organisations achieve the quality and productivity improvements needed to succeed in today’s legal environment. The new consulting capabilities help clients to address the following key elements of change:

▪ Develop a business case for change: Integreon’s experts apply proprietary benchmarks and approaches to analyse legal and business processes and identify productivity, quality and client-experience improvement opportunities.

▪ Define service levels, metrics and governance: Integreon helps clients outline service level requirements, establish baseline metrics and develop the governance processes required to ensure uninterrupted, high-quality legal services.

▪ Design and implement new operational models: Integreon designs programmes to drive transformation based on each client’s individual goals and their appetite for change.

▪ Plan and manage the change: Integreon’s consultants work with clients to develop comprehensive transition plans and then provide the support needed to implement them. Key aspects of this support include helping to manage the change process, internal and external communication, and the impact it has on the organisation.

“We understand the conservative nature of legal professionals and the time-honoured processes and procedures that govern the profession make organisational change a particularly challenging issue for our clients,” said Janet Taylor-Hall, Integreon’s senior vice president of business transformation consulting.

“Our team of experienced transformation consultants and legal, research and business services subject matter experts make Integreon the organisation best equipped to advise and support clients through complex change processes. Having experienced it ourselves, we understand the challenges associated with transforming operational models, and our track record as a service provider and partner to many of the world’s largest and most advanced legal organisations speaks for itself.”

For more information visit: www.integreon.com.

New independent research assesses financial trends within UK commercial property sector

Port@l, described as leaders in delivering innovative space and infrastructure solutions, has commissioned an independent white paper to help finance directors understand the current and future financial issues affecting the commercial property sector. Entitled ‘Finance – Property & Corporate Real Estate’, the research covers a range of topics such as investment, funding, valuation and managing debt.

Port@l’s Managing Director John Gotley commented, “The publication of the research comes at a time when the corporate property sector is undergoing considerable change. The last three years have seen a dramatic shift in the way finance professionals view property. Investing in commercial buildings is no longer the safe bet it used to be, values have plummeted by almost 45% since 2007 and changes in Empty Property Tax mean that portfolios containing a number of moth-balled buildings are becoming more visible on corporate balance sheets and P&L forecasts.”

Gotley continues, “To help clarify the situation, we have commissioned this paper to provide an assessment of where finance & corporate real estate sits today and how this may change as the economy slowly returns to growth.”

In particular the paper examines the role of the banks, access to funding, the pressure on European banks, debt within the property sector, the effect of Government spending cuts, The Asset Protection Scheme and also provides a glimpse of what the future holds.

The paper has been written by Helen Hide-Wright, a freelance independent researcher specialising in commercial research, who previously worked at Leeds Metropolitan University where she was involved in researching, writing and producing commercial reports used within the banking sector to influence investment decisions.

To obtain a copy of the guide visit: www.portal-centres.com/whitepapers.html

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Randstad’s UK-wide ‘Shifting Sands’ Seminars focus on Agency Workers Regulations

Randstad’s UK-wide ‘Shifting Sands’ Seminars focus on Agency Workers Regulations

Top employment law experts Randstad is hosting a series of seminars throughout the UK based on the findings of their latest published report ‘Shifting Sands’, which highlights the social, economic and government policy changes affecting the jobs market.

Keynote speakers will provide guidance on how to protect the organisational cost base whilst managing change in the evolving workplace and discussions will be led concerning the impact of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), one of the most complicated legislative workplace changes to hit the UK, coming into force on 1 October 2011.

According to research by Randstad, the world’s second largest recruitment and HR services company, over a third of organisations (37 per cent) surveyed in Randstad’s ‘Shifting Sands’ report, admit that they are not familiar with the Regulations.

The AWR will ensure agency workers receive the right to the same basic working and employment conditions as those in the equivalent permanent job recruited directly by their host organisation. Some rights will apply from day one, such as the same access to facilities and job vacancies. Other rights, such as pay and some benefits, will apply after the agency worker has been in the same job for 12 weeks.

The impact of the AWR will vary across industries, according to their use of temporary workers, with sectors such as construction, education and healthcare likely to face some of the greatest challenges, but as agency workers make up about four per cent of the UK workforce, the highest proportion in Europe, Randstad estimates that at least half of them will be affected by the AWR.

Diane Martyn chief executive officer of Randstad Staffing, UK, says; “The Randstad seminars will take place throughout May, in major cities including Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, London and Bristol. They will provide an invaluable opportunity for organisations to learn how they can effectively maximise the implications and opportunities brought about by the AWR Regulations.”

She continues; “Whilst Randstad recognises the initial challenges that the AWR poses, we support the Regulations in their ambition to professionalise the use of agency workers and, in particular, give greater recognition to those that are paid on an hourly basis and often working unsocial hours, hence our commitment to ensure greater understanding of their implications.”

The Randstad Shifting Sands seminars will also highlight other key challenges on the HR agenda this year, including preparation for automatic enrollment in workplace pensions for all workers, temporary or permanent, in 2012; the transformation of the public sector, as a quarter of the workforce is engaged directly or indirectly in delivering public services; and appropriate recruitment and retention strategies in the light of skills shortages and demographic change.

Shifting Sands features in Randstad’s multi-million integrated national marketing campaign, which includes prime time advertisements on national television, full page colour advertisements in daily newspapers, and online advertisements.

The Shifting Sands Seminars will take place on the following dates at these locations. Booking information and the full Shifting Sands report is available at www.randstad.co.uk

The next available dates are:
Liverpool 10 May
Manchester 11 May
Leeds/Sheffield 12 May
Newcastle 17 May
Bristol 19 May

Road or air parcel couriers. Which is best?

The fluctuating cost of oil is nothing new, but a recent surge in price has caused a knock-on effect which has – so far – been felt most keenly in the aviation industry.

While Shell shareholders celebrated a 41 percent rise in first quarter profits, airlines like Delta and US Continental Holdings responded to the rocketing price of oil by adding $420 of fuel surcharges on flights to and from the U.S and Europe.

Now Troon-based courier service, Parcels Please is urging money-savvy consumers to save by opting for land-based courier companies as opposed to stomaching the added cost of sending parcels by air.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Fuel surcharges have a knock-on impact to the cost of tickets as well as the cost of sending mail and parcels via air.

“Surcharges are at least 50% higher than they were three years ago so we can expect the cost of air-based courier services to rise.

“While some argue fuel surcharges are just another way for airlines to make money, as long as these companies can prove it is a reimbursement of costs, consumers just have to live with these price hikes.”

While the rising cost of crude oil has also seen a hike in the price at the petrol pumps, the jump has certainly not been as severe with the average cost of a litre of fuel rising by between 10 – 20p.

Speaking about the rise in petrol prices a spokesperson for Parcels Please said: “Road-based courier are used to minor fluctuations in prices at the pump so, unlike air couriers, are unlikely to adjust their prices dramatically, if at all.

“On top of this, the 1p per litre cut in fuel duty laid out in 2011's Budget as aimed to help keep businesses on the road.

“This means customers of companies like Parcels Please can still enjoy competitive and cheap parcel delivery to France and other UK and European destinations without having to worry about the soaring cost of oil.”

(EDITOR: Whilst this is of no benefit to people needing to send parcels to worldwide destinations (unless using slower sea freight is not an option)  it would certainly make sense to look at costs comparing air and road freight within Europe.)

Website for employers staffing up around London 2012 Games has launched

Businesses and organisations who are considering taking on extra staff in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games can now have access to a pool of enthusiastic and available talent, who are all looking for roles related to the Games.

Created in response to the overwhelming demand from jobseekers for information about jobs with London 2012 sponsors, contractors and suppliers, Adecco, the official recruitment services provider of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, has launched www.jobsforthegames.co.uk.

Employers can now access a dedicated ‘Recruiter Zone’ of the site, where they can register and begin posting available roles and vacancies and browse through relevant CVs, using a collection of search and matching tools to identify future employees.

Organisations can also take advantage of a range of advertising opportunities, including job and brand advertising on the site.

www.jobsforthegames.co.uk is designed to directly link employers with those searching for work with London 2012 sponsors, contractors and suppliers. Employers who are looking to fill roles related to the Games are urged to sign up now to secure the best possible talent. Job seekers already registered on the site are looking for a wide range of roles, from catering and tourism to security and cleaning work, plus technical and professional roles.

Steve Girdler, Adecco’s Director of London 2012 Partnerships, said, “Employers big and small will be looking take maximum advantage of the business opportunities provided by the London 2012 Games. In order to do so they will need to staff up and inevitably the pool of talented people is finite. The job board provides employers with a captive audience of keen and available jobseekers. In the first week of the website going live for job seekers, over 45,000 people interested in securing a role related to the London 2012 Games registered their interest, uploading their CVs and signing up for email alerts to keep them updated with new, relevant roles as they become available.

“Via www.jobsforthegames.co.uk we can offer employers a dedicated, central source of talent, enabling them to secure new and additional staff via a fast and effective route. With over 45,000 people who are interested in supporting the Games already registered, and that figure is increasing on a daily basis, we expect the site to prove an essential tool for employers and job seekers alike.”

With the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) predicting that tens of thousands of new jobs will be created by London 2012 sponsors, suppliers and other businesses that will be staffing up around the Games, www.jobsforthegames.co.uk is expected to prove a key tool for HR managers, across the UK. Adecco will be highlighting all the fantastic job opportunities created by the London 2012 Games to the East London Host Boroughs, thereby helping to support LOCOG’s local recruitment initiatives in these areas.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Call centres leave customers more contented than web

An analysis by ServiceTick provides new evidence that the personal service from call centres can deliver unanticipated benefits as compared to online customer management.

ServiceTick monitors customer satisfaction and NPS scores for brands using both online and IVR surveys. Analysing data across more than 150,000 surveys the company (www.servicetick.com) has identified that customer satisfaction (CSAT) and NPS scores are consistently higher when asked in an IVR survey generated at the end of conversation with a call agent.

By contrast scores from web-generated surveys produce lower scores. On average CSAT scores were 22 percentage points higher and NPS scores were 69 points higher when generated by IVR surveys.

Thomas Cowper Johnson, former director of brand at Norwich Union and now a director at ServiceTick commented: “We’ve looked at data over a sufficient period of time and a significant number of surveys and the evidence is there. Customers are more satisfied and more likely to recommend a brand when they have had human contact with a call agent.

"We’ve all experienced the frustration of a web process that doesn’t work but with that we have no way of sorting things out. A professional call agent can respond to issues and sort out problems on the spot, leaving the customer happier."

(EDITOR: Just so long as the call centre is locally-based and staffed with well-paid professionals who know their subject well.)

VAT a concern? Not any longer

Top independent VAT and customs duty specialist, The VAT Consultancy, is today launching a new bite-sized programme of specialist webinars. The fast fact sessions will cover a broad range of topics as part of the company’s commitment to providing the latest intelligence in these complex financial arenas.

The webinar program kicked off at 9.30am Thursday 5th May with ‘Managing VAT Cashflows’, a critical topic for businesses of any size and never more important than in the current economic climate. VAT & Customs Director Julie Park will demonstrate how, with good housekeeping in this area, it is possible to add real value to the bottom line.

A second webinar, taking place at 2.00pm on Friday 6th May will look at Managing VAT for Academies, focusing on new rules which were introduced on 1 April 2011. VAT Director and local authority expert, Steve McIntyre will outline the changes, detail what can be claimed, how to do so, and provide tips on how to submit accurate returns.

The VAT Consultancy webinars are free. Register at vat@thevatconsultancy.com

For those unable to attend, a helpline is available via VAT webinar.

When things go wrong, mediation may be the answer

CEDR Solve, Europe’s largest independent mediation service provider, announces it is dropping standard mediation support charges for clients. The saving for clients is possible because CEDR Solve feels there is now a good, broad understanding of the principles of mediation within the legal sector, meaning CEDR Solve’s Dispute Resolution Advisers generally no longer need to spend as much time informing its clients on the benefits of the process.

There will be no drop in the quality of the service that lawyers have come to expect from CEDR Solve, whether they are approaching one of its 40 direct group mediators, asking CEDR Solve to select a mediator for them, or asking for recommendations from the 132-strong CEDR Solve Panel of mediators for clients to choose from.

Gregory Hunt, director of CEDR Solve, said “Mediation has been around for long enough for us to see it incrementally increase in popularity, and we have seen levels of knowledge and skill amongst its users growing too. We are fortunate today that those who appoint mediators now normally have the confidence to do so with less assistance from our expert Dispute Resolution Advisers, and that represents a saving we have been able to pass on to our customers.”

Eileen Carroll, Deputy Chief Executive of CEDR and a senior CEDR Solve Mediator added, "I would like to pay testimony to the CEDR Solve Dispute Resolution Advisers who over the years have helped literally thousands of parties in dispute and their legal teams in the UK, Europe and around the world.”

To find out more visit CEDR’s website – www.cedrsolve.com.

Monday, 2 May 2011

PR agencies that 'don't do digital' will be in trouble, warn experts

Following a recent survey by the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA), which showed that 28% of PR agencies don't have a formal digital strategy in place, Punch Communications, advises these agencies to sort this out, or risk being left behind.

Also, out of the 124 agency managing directors and chief executives that undertook the survey, 6% deemed the question of a digital strategy irrelevant. (EDITOR: Why?) Not only is this a worrying statistic for these public relations companies’ futures, it suggests their clients aren't receiving a service that reflects the changing face of media relations and online communications.

A PR agency that hasn't adopted a digital approach or, perhaps more importantly, isn't offering services associated with the web/Internet to clients, may rapidly find themselves out of touch with growing digital trends and approaches and it would be a big task for such firms to catch up with the times.

An agency that keeps its finger on the pulse has a greater chance of keeping abreast of the constant online transformations within social media, mobile web and search engines. This also means clients of these agencies can enjoy greater consultancy and benefits, resulting in longer lasting working relationships.

Punch Communications has understood the importance of having a digital strategy for many years. It has adapted gradually over time to bring clients a unique and integrated print and digital PR, social media and search engine optimisation offering.

The success of Punch’s three sided service can be observed in the expansion of the Midlands-based company, which has grown three fold during the past two years. This is a clear indication that businesses are searching for a PR agency that fully understands the digital world and how the various channels work together in one strategy.

Keredy Stott, senior account manager with Punch Communications said: “The digital world moves at a rapid pace and is arguably where the future of PR lies. PR companies that do not embrace online communications, whether with bloggers or via social networks, could find themselves lacking clients over the coming years as the industry continues to shift.

“The individuals that work for these PR agencies will also suffer in the long term and may find themselves under trained. The PRCA’s survey found that the average proportion of training budget spent on digital fluency training was just 30 per cent, which does not reflect the true need in the field.”

For more information about Punch Communications and the integrated services it offers, please visit www.punchcomms.com or call 01858 411 600.

(EDITOR: I have worked with Punch over the years with several of their clients for print-based publications and Punch is a key player in digital and non-digital PR.)