Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Hays reveals research into why small businesses lose talented employees

Hays, a leading recruitment expert, has announced that, according to its latest survey, small businesses may be losing out on the most talented employees due to concerns among jobseekers around pay and benefits.

The results show that almost half (49 per cent) of those surveyed believe salaries are not as competitive within small companies as they are at larger organisations, and over half (55 per cent) believe smaller businesses are not able to offer as many benefits.

Despite almost three-quarters (74 per cent) of people reporting a positive experience of working in smaller businesses, the survey found that a quarter (25 per cent) would prefer to work for a larger organisation. Over half (52 per cent) expressed concerns about the stability of smaller organisations.

However, respondents felt that job satisfaction and interesting work can be found in any sized organisation. In addition, a number of positive factors about working for smaller businesses were also identified, such as the idea that they offer a more hands-on approach (88 per cent), greater responsibility (83 per cent) and a greater understanding of the business as a whole (83 per cent). The chance to work more closely with senior staff (88 per cent) was also seen as a benefit of small businesses. Respondents also identified recognition from senior managers as another potential draw.

Charles Logan, director at Hays, commented: "In the current turbulent job market it's no surprise that workers are looking for job security. But we also know that career development is very important to most professionals and this plays a key part in their decision to leave an organisation and accept a new role. To attract the skilled and talented individuals that are needed to remain competitive, small businesses need to combat some of the stereotypes and ensure professionals are aware of the advantages they can offer workers looking to move their careers on.

"If they cannot compete with larger salaries or more expensive benefit schemes, they can often provide more interesting and varied work and the chance for people to work with senior people. It is these benefits that they need to sell to professionals."

Logan continued: "Benefits need to be finely tuned to the needs of workers in smaller businesses. To counter worries about stability, smaller employers need to clearly communicate to potential recruits where their business is heading and the opportunities for future growth."


Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

Specialist recruitment covers a wide range of roles including personal assistant jobs, building services jobs and IT jobs, to roles in broader industries including construction, marketing, accountancy and sales.

As at 30 June 2011, the Group employed 7,620 staff operating from 255 offices in 31 countries across 20 specialisms.  http://www.hays.co.uk/

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Monday, 28 November 2011

Northern Rock honoured for its community service

Northern Rock has announced that it was commended in the Mortgage Finance Gazette Awards for its dedication to community service. The honours were given just six months after Northern Rock was heralded among the most responsible businesses in the UK.

After receiving Business in the Community's (BITC) national Big Tick for its work to tackle financial exclusion, the readers of Mortgage Finance Gazette have now commended the bank in its annual awards.

The magazine's readers nominated the lender in recognition of its work in the voluntary sector, and the judges, including journalists from the national press, industry experts, and the editors of 'What Mortgage' and 'Mortgage Finance Gazette,' were particularly impressed by the bank's staff involvement in the community as well as other fundraising and voluntary activities.

Representatives from Northern Rock collected the commendation in the 'Community Services Award' for large lenders at an event in the capital last night. The December edition of Mortgage Finance Gazette, a publication about mortgages and the mortgage industry, features coverage of the event.

Northern Rock's Customer and Commercial Director Andy Tate said: "We are absolutely delighted to receive a further commendation for our work in the community, and it is wonderful that our dedication to embedding this as part of our organisational culture is being recognised.

"Awards like this are further endorsement of the valuable role Northern Rock and its colleagues play in supporting its local communities, particularly those facing financial difficulty."

Judge Joanne Atkin, Editor of Mortgage Finance Gazette said that she and her colleagues had had had a difficult job and that those who had been highly commended were truly deserving. She added: "Community is at the core of Northern Rock's business strategy which is framed and communicated through four Cs - colleague, customer, company and community.

"Community within Northern Rock is about giving of both time and money. The Samaritans is Northern Rock's corporate charity of the year but it also works with a number of good causes: Women's Aid, a fight against domestic violence; The Cyrenians, which operates refuges for the homeless around the UK; Shelter, Crisis, The People's Kitchen and a partnership which enables a small community-based bank to relieve the financial hardship of individuals and families resulting from poor money management, unmanageable levels of high interest debt and no savings."

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SME owners switched on to renewable energy but simply can’t afford it or find it too confusing

Opus Energy
A poll of UK SMEs by business-to-business energy supplier, Opus Energy, points to the sector being switched on to buying energy from renewable sources but put off by cost and perceived complexity.

Nearly three quarters of small businesses that are not currently on a specific renewable energy tariff (72%) said they would consider it in the future, with the rest ruling it out as a result of cost (47%) and complexity (18%). One third (29%) claimed to be not interested.

Charlie Crossley Cooke, Managing Director, Opus Energy, believes the findings provide a useful insight into the real impact of current renewable policy on UK small businesses: "We estimate that around 10% of every customer’s bill is made up of green subsidies and that the proportion of renewable subsidies that all UK businesses pay will rise by around 25% over the next 12 months. SMEs are paying for renewable energy whether it’s clear to them or not.

“There needs to be more transparency for small businesses around the contribution they are already making to renewables – and perhaps then there’ll be greater take up by SMEs.”

Over the last few years Opus Energy, a major supplier of electricity and gas to businesses in the UK, has sourced a large proportion of the energy it supplies to its customers from cleaner, low-carbon sources.


Opus Energy is the UK’s leading business energy supplier. With offices in Northampton and Oxford, Opus Energy employs 360 people.

Opus Energy supplies over 110,000 UK business sites across all sectors. Corporate customers include: Stagecoach, Halfords, Virgin Media and Pizza Hut.

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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Social entrepreneur award for Atul Pathak

Atul Pathak
Atul Pathak, Managing Director of Appt Corporation and franchisee of 20 McDonald’s restaurants, was presented with the prestigious ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ award at the GG2 Leadership Awards, which took place on Wednesday evening in central London.

Launched in 1999, the GG2 Leadership Awards is the biggest celebration of ethnic minority talent in Britain, and also celebrates multiculturalism. The ceremony was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon Nick Clegg MP, who delivered a keynote address on leadership, diversity and the important contribution of ethnic minority groups to British society.

Atul Pathak has built a significant business portfolio since he arrived in the UK from India in 1984. In 2003, Atul became a McDonald’s franchisee and established his first restaurant in Southall. Today, he runs a twenty-strong, and growing, restaurant group across north and north west London and employs over 1,500 people. Atul believes that his staff and customers are the bedrock of his business and this has led him to take a hands on approach when it comes to the training and development of his staff; as well as being a customer facing and community focused business owner, which has earned him respect from police officers, school teachers, charities and community leaders in the areas where his restaurants operate.

Despite tough economic conditions, Atul has been able to continue employing people, boosting his workforce from 1,300 to over 1,500 in the past 12 months. In addition, Atul has recently launched a £300,000 state-of-the-art training facility for his staff which enables them to obtain nationally recognised qualifications including a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Multi-Skilled Hospitality.

The apprenticeship recognises job-specific skills acquired through workplace training, combined with GCSE equivalent Maths and English. The facility is also an accredited examination centre where staff can sit exams on-site in the presence of qualified invigilators. In the past 12 months, over 30 employees have successfully completed an apprenticeship and over 80 have gained GCSE equivalent qualifications.

Atul believes that running a business and being socially responsible are inextricably linked and dedicates a significant amount of his personal time to community and charity groups which support the education and development of young and vulnerable people, foster community cohesion and enhance the local environment.

Speaking about his award, Atul Pathak said: "I am extremely honoured to receive this award, which would not have been possible without my team of 1,500 employees who are ambassadors for my work ethic and values, providing the best level of customer care to the thousands of customers that we serve across my 20 McDonald’s restaurants each day."

He added: "One of most rewarding aspects of being an entrepreneur is that I am able to realise my vision through my business and, importantly, am able to help others achieve their own success by providing a vehicle for their development."

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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Invite To Contact 'What's Good to Do' About Being Part Of Their Membership Card Scheme

Busy mum Debbie Talbot and Business Partner David saw a great opportunity within the marketplace to build a business to include a comprehensive website which is the go-to source for everything fun and entertaining within the UK for all ages.

Whether you want to find something to do at the weekend or something to do with the kids, or even a business meeting place, the 'What's good to do' website was launched just over a month ago to help you find the answers.

Businesses are invited to get in touch about being part of their membership card scheme. The scheme is open to anyone running a venue or an activity in the UK. Providing an offer or discount for the scheme is free of charge and even includes a free listing on their website. Vouchers can be designed free of charge which are to be presented at the venue. Discount or offer providers can stipulate which days, times and even months they want their offer to run and the terms of the discount or offer. Venues can even choose to resell the membership cards.

Promotions in various UK shopping centres and other venues are planned for in the new year which will include various fun activities for people of all ages.

Members are charged a very reasonable £10 a year for their key fob sized card. Current offers and discounts include 2 for 1's at restaurants, 10% off various children's activities and parties, 10% off soft play, 15-20% off some well known attractions and much more. Cards must be presented at the venue or activity location to benefit from the discount or offer. Charities and non profit organisations can make well needed funds by reselling the cards so there is a community aspect to the scheme too.

For further information please contact: Debbie Talbot info@whatsgoodtodo.com or call 01617 878 550

Sunday, 20 November 2011

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Four-Point Plan to help young jobless

Ray Auvray, the head of a top UK provider of employment, education and training services for young people, today urged the government to adopt a four point action plan to tackle record youth unemployment.
Mr Auvray, who is executive chairman of Prospects, said the 1.02 million jobless 16 to 24-year-olds was an “appalling statistic.”

“But more than that, it represents a real tragedy for the young people and their families, who face the depressing prospect of months – and in some cases, years - of fruitless job seeking and frustration. It also represents a real cost to the nation’s economy.”

He urged the Government to adopt a Four-Point Action Plan to reduce the jobless total:

1 A new face-to-face guidance service for all 16-25 year-olds, focusing on work and training

2 Opening up the government’s Work Programme to young people from the age of 16, as soon as they register

3 A youth employment subsidy to encourage small and medium sized employers to take on additional young people

4 A new graduate traineeship programme similar to the National Apprenticeship Scheme.

Mr Auvray said: “The Government must take immediate action to get these young people into work and training. Otherwise we shall have a lost generation outside the labour market, not contributing to their communities or to the country’s economy.”

“Such a programme would reverse the sharp upward trend in NEET (young people not in education, employment or training) numbers and enable a whole generation to make a satisfactory start to their working lives.

“Doing nothing is not an option. The Coalition Government has shown great determination in introducing new initiatives like the Work Programme. We now need a work programme for young people.”

Prospects delivers the Work Programme, the Government’s new initiative to help long term unemployed people back to work, in the South West and East London. Currently, with our help, customers take an average time of 41 days, or just under 6 weeks to find work.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Does YOUR website cost you money?

Ineffective website compliance management puts significant revenue at risk

• Only 13% of large-company website owners confident that sites are error-free
• 87% admit to website errors including inconsistent branding, poor usability and accessibility compliance errors
• £1bn companies putting, on average, £180,000,000 in turnover at risk
• 71% rated their approach to web compliance as unsatisfactory

A survey of large-company website owners, published today by Magus, the world leader in enterprise website governance and compliance solutions, shows that the error rates on corporate websites are shockingly high. The survey also indicates that web editors see a sharp correlation between poor online customer experiences and company income.

The study, which surveyed over 200 UK website owners and senior digital decision makers in global companies in November 2011, highlights that the overwhelming majority of organisations are experiencing one or more of the critical errors outlined in the newly-published Magus ebook: Web quality #FAIL – The seven critical mistakes websites make (www.magus.co.uk/ebook), which explains how to avoid the most commonly-experienced website governance pitfalls.

Only 13% of web owners said they were confident that their websites were error-free. Major issues cited include inconsistent branding (55%), spelling mistakes (46%), poor usability (39%) and accessibility compliance errors (38%). In fact recent research conducted by Magus among large-company web owners revealed that an estimated 18% of their turnover could be at stake over the issue of poor online customer experiences. To put this in context, a company with a £1bn turnover and a 20% profit margin would be risking around £180,000,000 in lost turnover and £36,000,000 in profit. (These findings are corroborated by an earlier Tealeaf survey, conducted in June 2011, which estimated losses to be as high as 24%.)

The research highlighted the lack of effective governance systems and processes as the major factors affecting website performance. 32% said their company lacked a clear governance strategy and a massive 71% of respondents rated their approach to website quality assurance as unsatisfactory.

This overall dissatisfaction is not all that surprising given that almost three quarters of companies had yet to adopt an enterprise-class approach to website quality management. Surprisingly in this digital era, over a fifth of large companies (22%) rely on manual quality assurance processes to validate their web properties, 28.5% on disconnected toolsets (e.g. spellcheckers, link checkers and accessibility checkers), 23% on platform-specific functionality in their Content Management System (CMS), and 5% did not monitor their websites at all.

“The implications of this survey are clear,” commented Simon Lande, CEO at Magus. “Manual quality assurance processes and disconnected toolsets are simply inadequate to the demands of today’s distributed multi-editor environments, and are putting companies’ reputation and revenue at risk. Companies with global web operations need to complement their CMS with a process of enterprise-level quality and compliance monitoring and analysis that will help them get right to the heart of their web operations.

"This research shows that we’ve still got a long way to go before large companies all ‘get’ web compliance monitoring. Until this lesson is learned they will continue to put significant amounts of revenue and profit at risk.”

The Magus ebook can be downloaded here (www.magus.co.uk/ebook). It gives a full overview of the seven critical mistakes websites make, and how to avoid them.

New Look Atom Website and Online Image Library

New Look Atom Website and Image Library
Atom Media and PR – a highly regarded UK advertising and PR agency specialising in representing select clients in the Home Interest and Gardens & Lifestyle sectors proudly announces the recent launch of their new look website.

Visit www.atommpr.com to discover even more great features for busy journalists including enhanced image search and save options, latest news and interactive press section and fully integrated social media.

IMAGE LIBRARY: A new lightbox facility allows you to effectively compile a ‘shopping cart’ of images as you browse through the image library. You can view your selected images at any stage and then decide which ones you wish to remove or download direct to your computer. If you already know the image you are looking for, now you can also simply enter its reference and the new Image Search facility will take you straight to it. As before, you can browse images by client or category, click on thumbnails to see them larger with descriptions or download PDF client contact sheets.

NEWS PAGES: Click on the ‘latest news’ or ‘prev news’ links at the footer of the site’s main pages to go to our new regularly updated news section.

Last but by no means least, the new look site now includes fully integrated Social Meddia and News Feed so you can now follow us by clicking on the relevant icon on our home page or within the site:-

Twitter: Click on the Twitter icon on their home page to find out what’s going on at Atom in real time @Atommpr and see who else is following us.

Blog: The Atom blog at www.atommpr.blogspot.com is updated weekly, so why not catch up over a cup of coffee on Monday mornings?

RSS News Feeds: As well as being alerted about latest news you can also subscribe to individual client feeds to be alerted when new images are added to their contact sheet.

To find out more about Atom, its client portfolio and the Online Image Library visit www.atommpr.com or to register to download high resolution images direct to your computer click HERE

Cascade Group takes a Fresh Start

Cascade Group, the central London print & design house, today announced the acquisition of Fresh Start Marketing Limited, a marketing consultancy which supports ambitious businesses with a full range of marketing services.

Fresh Start Marketing has been working with Cascade Group for the last five years, providing marketing services including web support, direct mail, email marketing and Google Adwords. Fresh Start Marketing has boosted Cascade’s central London printing business despite challenging economic conditions.

“Having had such a successful relationship with Fresh Start Marketing ourselves, a new brand to promote and a growing number of clients demanding print and design solutions that cross the increasingly blurry line between print and web, design and marketing; it made sense bring the Fresh Start Marketing team into Cascade,” commented Richard Adler, Director of Cascade Group. “We are now able to offer more couture project solutions which deliver the business results that our clientele want from their print and design.”

The Fresh Start Marketing team are now based in the Cascade Group Design and Marketing Studio on Cornhill near Bank, with Managing Director Jennifer Potts taking on the role of Marketing Services Director. Being centrally based allows the team to meet and communicate with clients quickly and regularly, improving the speed of turnaround for any project large or small.

In addition to the existing high quality design services, new service offerings from Cascade Group Design and Marketing Studio include:

For more information on Cascade Group’s Marketing Services, please visit: www.cascadelondon.co.uk/marketing.html

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Ve Interactive wins a TechWorld 2011 Business Innovation Award

Ve Interactive logo
Under a week after winning a British Interactive Media Association Award, Ve Interactive is delighted to announce today that it has won a TechWorld 2011 Business Innovation Award.

Now in their fourth year, the awards celebrate the very best of UK innovation in the science and technology industries. The awards spanned three categories: Enabling Creativity, Energy and Environment, and Digital Connected World. The awards presentation followed a keynote address from the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Andrew Levi, Managing Director Business Group, UK Trade and Investment.

Ve Interactive, which operates in the digital marketing and software space, was the winner of the Digital Connected World category, for its shopping cart lead generation and conversion technologies. Nine UK companies in total had been shortlisted across the three categories. The judging panel comprised of expert senior figures in business and innovation, including Head of Government Practice at PA Consultancy, Colm Reilly, who said: “This year’s entries were of particularly high quality, underling the growing strength of these awards.”

Commented David Brown, co-Founder-CEO, Ve Interactive “We are absolutely delighted to be recognised for Business Innovation by TechWorld and UKTI (UK Trade & Investment}. Both are valuable organisations in the promotion and support of British business. To stand on stage and receive an award from the Secretary of State for Business, the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable and in front of a global business audience, was a truly great honour and Ve Interactive was thrilled to be put centre stage at Tech World in this way.

"To also have the chance to say thank you and give an acceptance speech reiterating Ve Interactive's achievements, ambitions and what we would like to see supported as SME policy by the government was incredible. This award is a fantastic validation of the hard work our team has put in to date in building Ve Interactive and of the exciting entrepreneurial culture that we foster here too. We are therefore elated to have been selected as one of Britain's leading innovators in the technology space.“

Call for investors to attend conference

London’s investment community has an opportunity to meet up to 12 pre-screened, high-growth and investment-ready businesses from across the Midlands for free, on November 22nd at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, London, during the Connect Midlands Investment Conference (CMIC) 2011.

CMIC showcases the best “second stage” investment propositions in the Midlands to an audience of investors and professionals, each looking for between £0.5m and £5m via an eight minute pitch. The event runs from 1.45pm until 6pm.

John Griffiths, director of Connect Midlands said: “This is the first time that we have ever brought CMIC down to London and to the heart of the investment community. The companies pitching at CMIC 2011 range from aerospace to pharmaceuticals, to green-tech.

“We are keen to safeguard the identity of the presenting companies in order to give the investors in the room the first opportunity to meet and assess them but an outline of what to expect can be found at http://www.connectmidlands.org/events/showcase-events/connec...

“Whilst the companies vary hugely in terms of their sectors and backgrounds, they do have three key things in common; a strong management team, they are “investment ready” now and of course, they are based here in the Midlands.”

To date, Connect Midlands has helped 300 companies to raise over £200m since 2001. Investors wishing to be attend should contact Paul Jenkinson on 01509 228 706 paul@connectmidlands.org or Richard Comer on 02476 323 309 richard@connectmidlands.org

Public Affairs News Awards 2011 and the winners are announced

The seventh annual Public Affairs News Awards were hosted by ITV Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg.

The awards were presented on 16 November in central London. The winners of the first 14 awards were decided by a 24-strong judging panel.

Consultancy of the Year – Hanover
In-House Team of the Year – The MS Society
Specialist Consultancy of the Year – Cicero Consulting
Outstanding Contribution – Kevin Bell
Consultant of the Year – Kevin Craig, PLMR
Rising Star – Individual (Agency) – Chris Bose, Lansons Communications
Rising Star – Individual (In-House) – Emma Boon, TaxPayers’ Alliance
Freelancer of the Year – Rhoda Macdonald
Best Agency to Work For – Open Road
Trade Body of the Year – EEF, the manufacturers’ association
Innovative Campaign of the Year – RSPCA for the Fairer Fillings campaign
Campaign of the Year – Private Sector – ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’ campaign
Campaign of the Year - Voluntary Sector – Royal British Legion for Write the Principles of the Military Covenant into Law campaign
Campaign of the Year – Devolved Administrations – Placing the Voice of the Child at the Heart of Children’s Hearings campaign

Two further award winners were decided interactively by the audience via personal keypads.

Whizz-Kids received the most votes for the award Party Conference Innovation 2011 and the audience members also opted for John Rentoul as the Political Tweeter of the Year.

PAN publisher, Dods, has embraced moving from the print publication of Who’s Who in Public Affairs to the digital launch of Dods People Public Affairs – the comprehensive online directory which contains more than 3,500 public affairs organisations with contact details. The website is growing in recognition within the sector and more organisations are listing their key contacts’ biographies.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

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Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New appointment at Apptio

Former Senior Vice President of OpTier to Lead European Expansion Efforts for Pioneering Provider of Technology Business Management Solutions

Apptio, the provider of on-demand Technology Business Management (TBM) solutions, today announced its rapidly expanding European operations will be led by Colin Rowland, who joins the company as Vice President, EMEA. In this capacity, Rowland will oversee sales and operations across the region at a time when large enterprise customers across a wide array of industries have implemented Apptio’s Software-as-a-Service platform to make better decisions regarding their IT spend and more effectively ‘run IT like a business’.

Rowland joins Apptio from OpTier, a leader in the Application Performance Management market where he held the position of Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and was responsible for the building and managing the global sales force. Prior to Optier, Rowland held senior executive positions at Opsware, Tideway Systems, and Mercury Interactive, where the sales teams he directed consistently exceeded revenue targets.

“The technology which Apptio brings to the market is unlike anything else available today. In uncertain times, the ability for CIOs to get detailed, accurate and timely information about IT costs, performance and service levels has become mission critical,” said Colin Rowland, Vice President, EMEA. “I have little doubt that CIOs in the European market will be especially receptive to Apptio’s value proposition of helping them calculate their IT costs and become a better partner to the business.”

“In Colin, we have found a seasoned sales executive with the proven ability to build and lead a world-class team and help spread the gospel of Technology Business Management to the European market,” said Sunny Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Apptio. “His appreciation of Apptio’s vision and obvious enthusiasm to bring our innovative technology to CIOs in the EMEA region will undoubtedly help us as we expand our global footprint.”

Apptio is the leading independent provider of on-demand Technology Business Management (TBM) solutions for managing the business of IT. Apptio enables IT leaders to manage the cost, quality and value of IT Services by providing deep visibility into the total cost of IT services, communicating the value of IT to the business through an interactive "Bill of IT," and strategically aligning the planning, budgeting and forecasting processes.

Apptio's TBM solutions play a critical role in helping companies understand and drive chargeback, virtualization, cloud and other key technology initiatives. Global enterprise customers such as Bank of America, Boeing, Cisco, Clorox, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, St. Luke's Health System, and Swiss Re rely on Apptio to manage more than $62 billion in annual IT spending. For more information, visit the Apptio website or the Lean IT blog.

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Vebnet reveals lack of appreciation of the benefits package is a major concern for employers

Vebnet has revealed that for the third year running, over half of HR directors and rewards chiefs (56%) say lack of employee understanding or appreciation of benefits is their number one concern, yet the potential for better communication and greater financial education is still to be exploited by many.

This is one of the main conclusions to be drawn from the Annual HR Reward Survey, conducted in partnership with employee benefits and solutions provider Vebnet and leading long term savings and investment company Standard Life.

Other findings of the annual survey were:
- Less than a third (31%) of employers say they conduct frequent employee research to help them understand their employee's views and concerns around rewards and benefits.
- Just over a third (34%) of employers confirm their reward and benefit communications are personalised for each employee.
- Over half of employers (52%) don't currently offer their employees any financial education and have no plans to do so.

Richard Morgan, director of consultancy at Vebnet, said: "Many people are seeing an erosion of their income in real terms, thanks to pay freezes and inflation. So a drive for greater employee understanding and engagement has never been timelier. Benefits are typically worth 20-25% of salary and demonstrating this is an important message that is likely to be very well received in the current environment. More than ever, employees are likely to want to gain a much better understanding of how to plan for the future and to be extremely receptive to support in this area.

"But it appears that many employers are deferring addressing this issue. Clearly HR directors and benefit chiefs have many things to contend with just now, such as headcount reductions and budgets being squeezed. But they also need to tackle the issue of engagement and understanding head on. I believe the spotlight is about to turn towards engagement and that financial education is set to become as important as "wellbeing" in the workplace.

Ann Flynn, Head of Corporate Marketing at Standard Life added: "There is no doubt that the right communication is vital when it comes to employee engagement and with the introduction of auto-enrolment it can only gain in importance.

"We've already carried out additional research into auto-enrolment, which shows that when people are presented with the right information in the right way, they engage more and are likely to understand the value of their company pension scheme and stay opted in. That's why Standard Life and Vebnet are working closely with employers to ensure the right communications are used to help drive engagement so that employees have a full appreciation of the benefits their employers are providing."

Vebnet Limited is a reward and benefits provider. They work with some of the world's leading employers offering a range of services including reward and benefits strategies, reward and benefits technology, employee communication and administration services, including employee benefits consulting and employee benefits administration. Founded in 2000 and acquired by Standard Life in 2008, Vebnet is one of the largest providers supporting over 200 employers and 470,000 employees.

Monday, 14 November 2011

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Get a Shift on!

A collection of some of the world’s most successful, healthy and wealthy entrepreneurs from across the Globe will arrive in London in just ten days to reveal the secrets to health, wealth and business prosperity and to guide 500 budding entrepreneurs onto a fast track plan for success in 2012.

Co-hosted by UK entrepreneur and successful businessman Mark Nathwani and US-based personal development specialist Will Duquette, The Shift Event (www.theshiftevent.com) is guaranteed to be a life changing weekend which gives a one-time opportunity to gain expert advice from dozens of people who have created millions, often from very humble roots, and now want to show others how to can achieve the same.

From developing new income streams, harnessing the power of social media, generating new business leads, marketing techniques, sales strategies and harnessing the power of persuasion and positivity, more than 20 renowned speakers from the UK and USA will join forces to equip UK entrepreneurs and business owners with the tools they need for success in 2012.

‘The Shift’ takes place on 25-27th November and includes a Keynote speech from UK Entrepreneur Thomas Power, chairman of Ecademy.com. There will be a number of seminars taking place over the course of the weekend including talks on property investment, social media, internet marketing, business start-ups, angel investment and much more!

‘The Shift’ organiser Nathwani, an established expert in the internet marketing sector with a track record in UK junior stock market ofex and property wealth creation, wants to restore the battered UK economy by helping people take advantage of business and wealth opportunities that have never previously been shared in one place.

He says, “This event will be a life-changing weekend for those who attend. Anyone, regardless of their age, income, culture or experience, can get themselves out of a rut with the ideas and strategies that will be demonstrated during the event. I guarantee that delegates will walk away with vast amounts of useful knowledge immediately. Coaching on this scale isn’t usually made available and is the perfect opportunity for people who want to take control of their lives, their businesses and earn money from their own home.”

The Shift Event takes places from 25-27th November 2011 at 1 Kingdom Street, Paddington, London, W2. Event times are 8am registration for 9am start and a 7pm. Lunch and evening entertainment is provided along with opportunities for networking.

For more information please visit www.theshiftevent.com

Sunday, 13 November 2011

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Saxo Bank releases new video commenting on Eurozone crisis

Saxo Bank has released a macro view video featuring Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist, analysing the situation for the Eurozone in light of heads rolling in the hot political seats of troubled nations, namely Greece and Italy. It goes without saying that despite the impending appointment of new heads of state the burdens in these nations are so heavy now that they can hardly be shrugged off.

Clean-up in both countries is a major task. While Greece is in the bailout phase and is undergoing a leadership change, the main focus is on Italy now which still has a chance to save itself. And it must as there is hardly a hand large enough to help the Eurozone's third-largest economy. With the situation worsening by the hour though and the markets having clearly demonstrated a looming doomsday, with perilously high bond yield spreads, prompt action must be taken.

The problem in Italy is one of liquidity not solvency, unlike Greece, though it seems the difference hardly matters now in the eyes of investors. It is interesting to note that it only took Portugal, Greece and Ireland 14 days to ask the International Monetary Fund for help after their 10-year bond yield spread to German bunds passed 6.5 per cent, said Steen. Italy's has been above 7 per cent for a few days now. So the pressure is definitely on Italy's politicians in charge - whoever they might be - to activate reforms, move through austerity and create a credible plan. Until then the EURUSD is expected to remain under considerable pressure.

The full video, as well as other forex videos, can be found at www.video.saxobank.com.

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Windmill Leasing to expand into the light commercial vehicle leasing sector

Windmill Leasing has announced plans to expand into the light commercial vehicle (LCV) leasing sector early next year.

Building on the company's established reputation as a provider of business car leasing, contract hire and fleet management services, Windmill Leasing will be providing LCV leases to businesses across the UK.

The range of LCVs that will be available from Windmill Leasing will include regular vans, Luton vans, tippers and drop sides, mini-buses and adapted vehicles, in addition to 4x4 pick-ups.

Affordable and reliable commercial transport is often seen as essential to the smooth running of a business. Utilising a leasing company to provide and manage maintenance of vehicles offers a viable, cost-effective alternative to purchasing LCVs while also benefiting from the added support services throughout the duration of the leasing agreement.

A new marketing initiative will promote the LCV leasing service, including the launch of dedicated web pages, which will provide a platform to showcase the competitive offers available to businesses seeking reliable light commercial vehicles in the UK. This activity will complement the recently launched business car leasing and contract hire focused website through providing new themes to adequately promote the LCV leasing deals available.

Speaking about the expansion in service, Keith Townsend, Managing Director, Windmill Leasing commented: "Over recent years, with cash flow becoming tighter and tighter, more and more operators of light commercial vehicles are switching from outright or hire purchase to leasing LCVs.

"The benefits of leasing are numerous and the options available from Windmill Leasing really give the customer the ability to choose what they want and what is best for them. This can include reducing outgoings with fixed, low monthly payments as well as removing the operational headache of handling vehicle maintenance issues and over payments – often unnecessarily incurred when non-LCV specialists, such as finance teams, are looking after the process.”

Keith Townsend adds: "Depending on the age of the existing fleet, Windmill Leasing can often provide sale and leaseback opportunities for customers wanting to inject positive cash flow into their businesses."

The forthcoming expansion in service complements the recent marketing and operational initiatives by Windmill Leasing as the company looks to establish itself as a leader in the business car leasing and light commercial vehicle (LCV) leasing market.

Windmill Leasing is an award-winning provider of company car leasing, contract hire, fleet management and, from early 2012, LCV leasing services to businesses throughout the UK. Formed in 2004, the company employs a range of experts able to assist with any customers looking for their next business car lease, located in its Head Office in Bromsgrove and a Sheffield satellite office from which it offers initial advice and on-going account management services to its clients. From van contract hire deals to GAP insurance, the company prides itself on its holistic approach to contract hire for the UK business car leasing market.

New website aims to Eradicate Delivery Costs

A new web site is being launched to encourage more people to shop online by eradicating what, according to the Royal Mail home shopping tracker report, is the number one reason people don’t shop online : the delivery costs.

FreeDeliveryVoucherCodes.co.uk is being launched in time for Christmas, with the aim of helping the nation to shop online without paying any delivery charges.

A Royal Mail home shopping tracker report tell us that the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment is the customer not being happy with the delivery charge.

The Free Delivery Voucher Codes web site lists voucher codes that can be used when shopping online to activate free delivery from some of the largest online retailers in the country, including Boden, Evans Cycles and Prezzybox.

Visitors find the voucher codes on the web site and enter it on the e-commerce site they are buying from to receive free delivery on their order.

The voucher codes are updated daily, and unlike other voucher code web sites, only codes that are valid and that can be used today are listed. Customers shopping online for Christmas and using free delivery voucher codes can save around £5 from each retailer they shop at.

FreeDeliveryVoucherCodes.co.uk has been set up by Edward Robertson Ltd, a web development company based in the North East of England.

Graham Miller, director of Edward Robertson, said: “According to the Office for National Statistics online shopping accounts for 9.6 percent of the total retail spend each month. We want to encourage more people to shop online by removing the number one barrier, the delivery costs.

Edward Robertson has previously launched its online shopping directory www.shopsafe.co.uk, providing customers with a database of over 4,000 retailers and giving consumers peace of mind by only listing sites that are secure.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

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Experian reveals identity and fraud solutions for the insurance sector

Experian has announced its solution to the growing illegal business of insurance fraud, suggesting insurers should use online tools and data analysis technology instead of traditional, error-prone methods.

Fraud in the UK is a growing billion-pound illegal business with fraudsters finding new and inventive ways of targeting weaknesses in data systems. Insurers are far from immune. Indeed, the latest estimate from the Association of British Insurers is that insurance fraud costs £2 billion a year, adding, on average, an extra £44 a year to the insurance bill for every UK policyholder.

Nick Mothershaw, Director of Identity and Fraud at Experian, said: "Over the last five years insurance fraud has risen fast and deceptions become ever more devious. It has never been so important for insurers to have the latest techniques and technologies in their armouries to help protect themselves and their customers."

Online tools enable insurers to investigate individuals under suspicion of fraud in real time, with access to a range of data sources. The most sophisticated tools allow access to a comprehensive range of household, motor and personal injury insurance claims, vehicle information, motor insurance policy details and linked addresses.

At Experian, the data, technology and expertise that is offered has helped many insurers become more sophisticated in how they combat fraud. They increasingly require robust tools to verify the identities of those they are dealing with as well as strong anti-fraud measures at the point of application and claim.

Traditional methods of identity checking can be time-consuming, costly, error prone and an inconvenience to customers, often resulting in a drop-off. Also, the results generated are not standardised, so insurers can't compare like with like and get the complete picture. Thus, this process takes time and leads to inconsistent decisions.

Experian's Identity Solutions for Insurance offers bank account verification in real-time at point of quote, sign-up and claim. The Identity Solutions also allow insurers to pick and choose what elements they want to check, combine the results and see the complete picture of a client's identity.

Investigating customers who represent a potential for fraud is time-consuming and complex. By accurately assessing risk at the earliest opportunity Experian's fraud solutions for Insurance identify fraud at the point of policy. The fraud solutions can also help identify fraud networks within the current customer base, and help identify:

-False Payment Details
-Use of stolen identity to obtain policy
-Use of stolen/forged documents
-Undisclosed Claims/ Convictions/Voidance
-Occupational discrepancy
-Staged Accidents

The fraud prevention solutions support a continuous cycle of fraud prevention, detection, investigation and improvement. An audit log of all significant actions performed by both system and users is kept, making it easier to ensure best practice and reduce any misuse of the system.

Experian's Payment Solutions can also help insurers realise the competitive differential of using Faster Payments for claims payments and can identify if a claimant's bank account genuinely belongs to them and is able to receive a faster payment.

Experian is a leading global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 80 countries. The company helps businesses with credit risk management, fraud prevention, target marketing offers and automate decision making

Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and offers Identity Authenticate to protect against identity theft. Experian plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange (EXPN) and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 index. Total revenue for the year ended 31 March 2011 was US$4.2 billion.


Drive Better Leads and Sales from Online Events with Marketo

Marketo, the fastest-growing provider of Revenue Performance Management (RPM) solutions, today announced it now integrates with Citrix® GoToWebinar®, the leading webinar solution for easy, do-it-yourself, cost-effective webinars for up to 1,000 attendees.

The seamless integration empowers Marketo customers to streamline the entire event lead management process to drive higher attendance, convert more event leads to actual sales and boost the marketing ROI of each event. With today’s integration, managers can spend more time on maximizing return across all of their marketing program investments and driving bottom-line growth.

“Marketo’s deep integration with Citrix’s GoToWebinar showcases our commitment to supporting our customers as they push for the greatest possible efficiency in executing online events, which represent a large portion of marketing spend,” said John Gibbon, vice president of product management at Marketo. “Expanding Marketo’s solution partnerships is a top priority. Whether it’s event management, ERP, CRM or social business technologies, our integration innovations ensure our customers are maximizing marketing’s contribution to the bottom line.”

Marketo’s integration with GoToWebinar lets marketers:
• Attract more attendees to each online event with customized invites and timely reminders;
• Seamlessly register attendees for events, as well as track and report on attendance, and share participant information across both systems; and
• Reuse marketing assets across events and other marketing programs, expanding the scalability of event processes and efficiency of multi-channel workflows.

Using Citrix GoToWebinar, businesses can optimize their webinar programs to generate more qualified sales leads, reduce marketing costs per lead and enhance communications with customers and employees. GoToWebinar offers flat-rate pricing for unlimited webinars of any length for up to 1,000 attendees, plus full-service registration with real-time reports, customized branding, automated email templates, polling and survey capabilities, webinar dashboard to monitor attendance and participation, and easy presenter controls for changing presenters. GoToWebinar also includes unlimited toll, VoIP and integrated toll-free service options, as well as the company’s online meeting service, Citrix GoToMeeting®, free of charge.

“Our users depend on GoToWebinar to seamlessly deliver effective webinars and achieve their marketing and business objectives. With the ability to easily integrate with our webinar solution, we’re providing our partners a seamless way to integrate with their existing business tools and save time and achieve maximum results,” said Cailin Pitcher, GoToWebinar product line director, Online Services Division, Citrix Systems.

Partnering with Citrix
To enable seamless integration with the Citrix GoTo collaborative solutions platform, Marketo leveraged the Citrix GoTo Developer Center, a comprehensive resource for developers and integrators offered by the Online Services Division of Citrix Systems that enables partners, developers and customers to seamlessly integrate their applications or services with Citrix GoToWebinar®, GoToMeeting® and GoToTraining® and to streamline processes, drive business efficiencies, and maximize the value of their technology infrastructure investments.

Revenue Performance Management (RPM) Defined
Revenue Performance Management (RPM) extends beyond traditional marketing automation and lead nurturing technologies to optimize interactions with buyers across the revenue cycle and accelerate predictable revenue growth. It includes the full range of online and offline customer interaction channels, including web, mobile, social and events. Marketo’s vision is to provide the tools, thought leadership, and best practices to change how marketing and sales work — and work together — to help companies of all sizes accelerate predictable revenue growth.

Marketo is the global leader in Revenue Performance Management. Marketo’s powerful yet easy-to-use marketing automation and sales effectiveness solutions transform how marketing and sales teams of all sizes work — and work together — to drive dramatically increased revenue performance and fuel business growth. The company’s proven technology, comprehensive services, and expert guidance are helping corporations around the world to turn marketing from a cost center to a business-building revenue driver.

As of October 2011, over 1,350 enterprise and mid-market clients all over the world have adopted Marketo solutions and in October, Marketo introduced Spark by Marketo™, a new brand of marketing automation tailored specifically for small businesses – the fastest-growing and largest segment of today’s economy.

Marketo was named the fastest-growing private company of 2011 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and has also been recognized by CRM Magazine as the “2011 CRM Market Leaders Awards Winner for Marketing Solutions,” the 2010 CODiE award for “Best Marketing Solution,” the “Best Sales and Marketing 2.0 Solution” from SellingPower and the “Best Marketing Automation Application” by Salesforce customers on the AppExchange. For more information, visit http://www.marketo.com, or subscribe to Marketo’s award-winning blogs at http://blog.marketo.com/.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

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"Businesses are worrying themselves out of a Merry Christmas" warns Upfront Guru!

"We might as well substitute ‘Merry’ for ‘Scary’ this Christmas" says Confidence Coach Matt Davies, reacting to gloomy figures from The British Retail Consortium who’ve said like-for-like UK retail sales in October were 0.6% lower than the same month last year.

BRC Director General Stephen Robertson said: "This is evidence of the basic weakness of consumer confidence and demand and is worrying this close to Christmas."

However Matt Davies says "Be a warrior not a worrier!"

Matt goes on to say “in these difficult times it’s easy to hibernate in a dungeon of doom but where’s our fighting spirit? We need courage right now to build confidence not a powerless shrug to how bad it is.”

Howard Archer, Chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said the weak retail sales data would increase fears that the wider economy was heading back towards recession.

Matt Davies suggests that it’s important to face up to what’s happening and not live under some confidence cloud and agrees with Howard Archer that wallowing in our woes will only increase fear. "Focus on the problem and the problem will get bigger" says Matt "Focus on the solution and the solution gets bigger, it’s not rocket science."

Matt coaches Businesses in confidence for his company Upfront Guru and says that accepting the current climate is crucial to recovery but having the courage to do something about it is just as important. "Listen, economists are not harbingers of doom but need to take some responsibility for the downturn." He finishes by saying “If I were to talk you down all day, how would you feel, better or worse about yourself? Go figure.”


Upfront Guru Limited is privately owned by Matthew Davies and Mark Reed – a company specifically created by presentation and training specialists whose primary mission is to empower others to communicate with confidence. To find out more, visit www.upfrontguru.com .

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Graphics and Print 50/50 Offer in Support Of Children in Need

Graphics and Print, the award-winning, Telford, Shropshire-based print manufacturer, have been providing printing services to businesses since 1980 and their design and print regularly helps customers with community based activities. And with Children in Need just a few weeks away, they have just launched their 50/50 offer.

Managing Director, Martin Kells explains: “Customers ask us all the time if we can support them with charity and community based activities and we are only too pleased to support where we can. We know that every year, thousands of businesses need printing services for things like posters and flyers linked to the great work they do for Children in Need so we thought we would proactively offer our support this year through our 50/50 offer.

"Put simply, this means the first 50 businesses who approach us for help with printing services or creative graphic design for anything to do with the BBCs Children in Need appeal, we will provide up to £50 worth of design or print free of charge. Hopefully this helps businesses to save time designing or printing their own materials locally, enabling them to spend more time on the fund raising side of things.”

The fact that Graphics and Print has a design studio in-house means that their experienced team of designers has direct access to the print finishing team, ensuring that at every step of the print journey, their experts are working together to deliver a quality end product for all of their clients. This is one of the many reasons why Graphics and Print are award-winning commercial printers.

Graphics and Print have successfully traded for over 30 years and boast a loyal customer base that’s grown year on year. From sole traders to multi-national companies, their commercial printing services offer quality, value and flexibility at every stage of the print journey.

For details call 01952 290524 or visit www.graphicsandprint.com

Rocky ride ahead for UK pensions reforms?

Government plans to reform workplace pensions in the UK could be in for a rocky ride, industry experts are warning.

The changes, which will see employees automatically enrolled into pensions schemes, are set to begin in 2012 and will be implemented over a four-year period.

But millions of workers are likely to opt out of auto-enrolment, according to a survey carried out on behalf of the National Association of Pension Funds.

The NAPF is regarded as the leading voice in the UK pensions industry, speaking for some 1,200 pension schemes with a combined membership of around 15 million employees.

Based on survey findings, one in three workers are liable to look elsewhere for pension provision rather than stay in the scheme they'll be automatically enrolled into. That could amount to 3 million workers.

Nearly half of those who indicated they would opt out said the reason for doing so would be the cost of the contributions. Just under a third said they did not trust the government, while slightly over a quarter cited a lack of trust of the pensions industry itself.

Last month, at its annual conference, the NAPF announced it was setting up a summit of consumer groups, industry leaders, employer bodies and employee groups to look at pension fees and charges which it sees as a major obstacle to the success of auto-enrolment.

NAPF chief executive, Joanne Segars, warned people were wary of pensions and that was a big threat to auto-enrolment.

She said, “We’re alarmed that so many say they’ll reject the new deal, and the picture has got worse since the recession. Our society is sleepwalking into a crisis because it isn’t saving enough for its old age, and auto-enrolment is meant to be a big wake-up call.

“But there’s no point in bringing people into a pension if their savings are going to be eaten away by fees and charges which they can’t understand. They’ll simply walk away. The pensions industry has to be much more upfront about what it is doing. People need information about their pension in a form they understand. That means pounds and pence, not basis points and unit prices.

With auto-enrolment just around the corner, the industry needs to do more to help people engage with their pension. The summit will help forge a clear direction on transparency and communication.”

The figures form part of an annual confidence survey undertaken by the NAPF which suggests public confidence in pensions is at an all-time low.

Just under half of those surveyed said that compared to other ways of saving, they were not confident in pensions. By comparison, 42% said they were confident. This meant a pension confidence index of -6%, the first dip into negative confidence in the index’s four-year history. The index stood at +11% in 2009 and at +5% in 2010.

Ms Segars said, “Confidence in pensions has slumped at a time when it needs to be growing. It’s worrying that from next year millions of people will be auto-enrolled into a savings vehicle they have so little faith in. Politicians have to boost confidence in pensions, or people will simply opt out. We need a pension framework that the public can believe in and rely on.”

Monday, 7 November 2011

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FAST Ltd Announces New Training Programme To Help UK Private And Public Sector Organisations

FAST Ltd, an independent authority on Software Asset Management (SAM) and IT Compliance, providing education, consulting and managed services, is pleased to announce that a number of its training courses in Software Asset Management (SAM) and IT compliance are now available to all UK private and public sector companies.

Earlier this year FAST Ltd announced that a several of its training courses in Software Asset Management (SAM) and IT compliance were now CPD (Continuing Professional Development) certified and with immediate effect many of these courses have been opened up for non-customers to attend. CPD enables individuals in the workplace to understand more about the environment in which they work, the job they do and how to do it better, providing employees with the opportunity to create a structured career path and safeguard their professional status. By offering courses that carry CPD accreditation, FAST Ltd is helping individuals to develop their own personal skills and receive the correct industry recognition.

FAST Ltd has a proven track record of helping UK organisations realise the benefits of software compliance and effective Software Asset Management. By offering any UK organisation in the private and public sector the opportunity to develop and extend their skills in SAM, FAST Ltd is helping individuals to optimise their organisation’s software assets, minimise their risk and save costs, thereby helping to increase the uptake of SAM standards and best practice frameworks by the industry as a whole.

In today’s tough economic climate individuals are under increasing pressure to demonstrate their worth and competency to an organisation and having the opportunity to attend some of FAST Ltd’s well sought after courses will help them to prove their knowledge, expertise and value. Gartner research recently released a report advising that, “Software Asset Managers should take time to assess the available standards and frameworks and understand and quantify the potential benefits and barriers to adoption,” which are just some of the lessons that FAST Ltd teaches in its courses.

Director of Operations at FAST Ltd, Paul Clements, explains how much value individuals receive by attending SAM and Compliance training courses and why the company decided to open up certain courses to include non-customers:

“There are numerous benefits to adopting SAM policies and procedures for organisations and in our training courses we see IT professionals appreciate the skills of adopting a planned and structured approach time and time again. Gartner’s research demonstrates how important it is for SAM Managers to understand the value that implementing best practice frameworks offers and our job as an independent authority is to empower the individual and get them on the right track to best practice – whether they are a customer of ours or not. I’m delighted that we are now in a position to help any IT professional to become CPD accredited in certain areas and experts in their field.”

The following SAM and IT Compliance training courses are now widely available:

• Software Asset Management Training Course – a one day training course offering an introduction to Software Asset Management and aimed at anyone who is new to SAM or embarking on a SAM project within their organisation

• Microsoft Licensing Seminar – a one day training course aimed at giving attendees a more thorough understanding of the complexities of Microsoft Licensing

• Data Protection Act Seminar – a half day seminar covering the Data Protection Act (DPA), its objectives, principles, and roles and responsibilities within organisations for DPA compliance

• Virtualisation Seminar – a half day seminar looking at the licensing mysteries surrounding Virtualisation technologies available on both desktop and server environments

The FAST Ltd Customer Conference on 21st November at Twickenham Rugby Stadium is also available for non-customers to attend and learn important lessons about business from the touchline. Contact Karen Smith by emailing Karen.Smith@fast-ltd.co.uk or call +44 (0) 1628 760314 to find out more.

You can also stay up to date with their latest news by following them on Twitter @fastltd

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Top talent is hard to find despite unemployment rises, HR survey reveals

A recent survey of HR Directors and business leaders conducted by HR specialists The Curve Group today revealed that three quarters of companies polled were finding it difficult to recruit top talent, despite the growing unemployment figures. In addition 62% of those surveyed had also seen an increase of absenteeism due to stress over the last two years.

In response to questioning about how best to spend money on engaging with employees, over half of said that their strategy would be to invest in leadership development to create clear direction for their organisations. Surprisingly only in 1 in 10 companies would increase salaries or pay larger bonuses, while just 1 in 20 companies would hire additional personnel to relieve pressure on the workforce.

Perhaps the most interesting result of the survey was the focus on the need to develop organisational leaders in order to have a significant impact on employee engagement. For many organisations this represents a change in priorities. Resources for HR programmes have been squeezed and so finding cost effective options for developing internal leaders to drive employee engagement rather than investing in employee benefits has come to the fore.

Lyndsey Simpson, Co-owner of The Curve Group, said, “These figures indicate some of the challenges facing employers in times of economic uncertainty. Redundancies or headcount freezes put pressure on the remaining workforce, leading to increased levels of stress. At the same time those who have a job often feel they should remain in a ‘safe’ position rather than risk moving, thus reducing the talent pool.”

Simpson comments, “While this shift is understandable in the short term, the danger is in neglecting the needs of the wider workforce – which may contain the stars of tomorrow - and leads to potential disengagement and reduced levels of output.”

The Curve Group was formed in 2003 and leads the way in the field of HR services. The company is split into four main businesses - Curve Search, Curve Recruiting, Curve Outplacement and Curve Outsourcing. The Curve Group works with a broad range of organisations in financial services, consulting, leisure, food and business services and clients include Barclays, Virgin, RBS, Avon, LaSer and Aston Villa FC. The company is proud to have won the Best Employer award at the 2011 Business Awards, and finalists at the following Awards in 2011 - Fast Growth Business, Recruitment Business and Working Mums. For more information visit www.thecurvegroup.co.uk

(EDITOR: High levels of stress, leading to absenteeism? Perhaps you need to look at ways of looking after your loyal staff more and not risk burning them out?) 

Whitbread teams up with the Prince's Trust to combat youth unemployment

Whitbread has joined forces with youth charity, The Prince's Trust, to pilot the 'Get into Hospitality' programme in the West Midlands, which is set to provide local disadvantaged young people the skills and confidence to find a job.

Twelve unemployed young people aged between 16-25 years will be given the opportunity to join a free, two week training programme, to learn all aspects of the hospitality sector.

Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, which includes the UK's biggest budget hotel brand, Premier Inn and pub restaurants Beefeater Grill, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns, will launch the programme on Monday 10th October. More than three in four young people supported by The Prince's Trust move into work, training or education.

The first 'Get into Hospitality' programme will run in Barn and Hockley Heath, and consists of 10 days of support and training at Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants' 'Skills Academy' in areas such as self-confidence and interpersonal skills, as well as site placements which will provide a firsthand experience of the hospitality industry and practice their new found skills.

Individuals will not only gain a qualification in Foundation Food safety, but will also receive six months of mentoring support from The Prince's Trust following the completion of the programme. Whitbread is hoping to be able to offer positions to many of the participants and the successful participants will be given the opportunity to complete a Whitbread apprenticeship, including an NVQ level 2.

Whitbread Hotels and Restaurant spokesman, Malcolm Redmond commented: "It is worrying to hear that around one in five young people in the UK are not in work, education or training, costing the UK economy £155 million a week in Jobseeker's Allowance and lost productivity. We are delighted to be working with The Prince's Trust to provide an opportunity to get these young adults back into the world of work and on their way to building a future within the hospitality sector."

A Prince's Trust spokesperson added: "The Prince's Trust's 'Get into Hospitality' course provides a great opportunity for young people to gain valuable work experience to help them find a job. We are thrilled to be working with Whitbread to ensure that we are doing all we can for disadvantaged young people here in the West Midlands."

Award-winning Premier Inn is the UK’s biggest hotel brand with over 600 budget hotels and more than 46,000 rooms across the UK and Ireland.  Premier Inn bedrooms feature en-suite bathrooms, TV with Freeview, and WiFi internet access. All Premier Inns feature a bar and restaurant; situated inside the hotel or adjacent, offering a wide range of food choices.  

In 2008 Premier Inn launched in Dubai and is now open in Bangalore, India. On a domestic front, Premier Inn aims to be the largest provider of budget hotels in London (within the M25) by 2012.

Premier Inn is currently offering rooms for just £29 (restrictions apply). Visit www.premierinn.com for full terms and conditions.

Premier Inn supports WaterAid, the international charity whose mission is to overcome poverty by enabling the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene education. Premier Inn, as part of Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, hopes to raise £1 million for WaterAid.

Youth charity The Prince's Trust helps change young lives. It gives practical and financial support, developing key workplace skills such as confidence and motivation. It works with 13-to-30-year-olds who have struggled at school, have been in care, are long-term unemployed or have been in trouble with the law. The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped more than 650,000 young people since 1976 and supports 100 more each day.

New Study: Getting what you pay for, free newswires that are worth your time

agency, Vitis PR conducted research
B2B PR agency reveals which free newswires help to raise awareness online – and which ones don’t

Vitis PR, a Birmingham-based UK B2B PR agency, has announced the results of its study into free newswires.

Free newswires across the UK and US are fighting to attract the attention of small businesses and PR agencies that want to save on online news distribution costs. While many have paid for options, the freemium model can introduce a newswire’s services to companies/agencies that want to spread news to journalists, bloggers and online cost effectively.

Vitis PR has researched and trialled 60 free newswires to determine how well the services work and what additional benefits, such as free hyperlinks and distribution to journalists/bloggers.

Vitis PR issued a series of press releases using the sites and evaluated the results in terms of both PR and SEO benefit. The research focused on the following:

1. Do journalists and bloggers actually use the press releases on free sites for news content?

2. Does the release appear on Google News?

3. Does the release appear in a Google web search?

4. How easy to use are free release sites?

5. What help (if any) are free press release sites for link building?

6. Could we use the sites to help 'own' the search results for a targeted phrase?

The results include:

Best free press release site for reaching journalists, bloggers, editors and other influencers

Winner: none!

The same press releases were also sent to journalist contacts and were all picked up, so the quality of the submitted material wasn’t in question. These wires simply don’t get the attention of journalists or bloggers.

Best free press release site for Google News

Winner: Online PR News

Runners up: Open PR, PR Fire

Just a handful of free news distribution sites were actually picked up by Google News, though the majority did offer paid for options which increased chances of appearing.

Best free press release site for appearing in Google web searches

Winner: PR Fire

Runners up: News Wire Today, PR Zoom, Idea Marketers

Appearing in web searches may be valuable as a way of trying to place news in front of people searching for your target phrases - though it is unlikely this will be effective where the target phrases are more than moderately competitive.

Best free press release site for building links

Winners: Idea Marketers, PR Zoom, Business Services UK

Simply posting the release to some of the distribution sites does give some limited SEO benefit because the sites do provide links and a few allow users to tailor the anchor text - most sites however, either didn't give a link or gave a 'nofollow' link. None of the releases were picked up by third-party sites that might be considered to be valuable for link building, so it seems that there is little value in relying on free press release distribution sites for link building.

Jaspal Sahota, Director of Vitis PR commented: “We wouldn’t recommend that a PR agency or company relies on using a free press release distribution service to get news in front of journalists and bloggers. The odds are that it isn't going to work except perhaps in a few special cases. If you really must use a wire service to reach influencers, you'd be better served with a premium service, which sends news out to databases of journalists and bloggers and often syndicates news to other websites. Having said that, one of the best ways to get journalist or bloggers interested in your news is traditional PR media relations - find the right contact, get your story straight and pitch it.

Some of the services offer extra benefits for as little as a dollar so, if you’re investing the time to use a free wire service, it makes sense to spend a few extra dollars (or pounds) to get the best out of it.”

To see the full results of the research, please visit: www.vitispr.com/blog/free-press-release-sites

To find out more about Vitis PR, contact Jaspal Sahota on 0121 242 8048 or via jas@vitispr.com.

(EDITOR: Or use the modestly priced paid for services of www.responsesource.com)

The TCM Group launches the “Clear your desk of conflict before the New Year’’ campaign!

Start the New Year with a clean slate through mediation

• Innovative campaign to help Human Resources managers resolve disputes and grievances
• Twitter & Facebook campaign asks for clients and followers to send a picture of their desk
• Mediation, as the best alternative dispute resolution mechanism, saves organisations’ money & time

The TCM Group is delighted to announce the launch of the ‘Clear Your Desk of Conflict campaign’, for the third year running. Since 2008 the group has saved approximately £600,000 for their clients during quarter three, with a campaign goal to get all of the internal conflicts resolved before the New Year. TCM has worked with an impressive client list over the years including: BT, Lloyds Banking Group, Marks & Spencer, HSBC, Topshop, DWP and The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Statistics reveal that disputes referred to formal litigation can expect a 50% success rate as opposed to an average of 85-90% in mediation where both parties are willing participants. Conflict is natural however there is no doubt that it can have a negative influence on almost every aspect of the modern workplace. The TCM Group has developed high quality, constructive and innovative remedies for disputes and conflicts. These solutions are then delivered by some of the leading dispute resolution professionals in the UK and Europe.

David Liddle, TCM’s Managing Director said: “Conflict can be extremely costly. In our 20 years of experience, we have seen numerous cases where unresolved workplace conflict became divisive and very damaging. “If you want a harmonious workplace environment that can boost your employees’ productivity, then mediation is the right path" for solving those disputes. It’s not science, mediation just works. “

Each year, during this holiday period, Human Resources managers are overwhelmed with the amount of grievances and complaints that pile up on their desk. This campaign’s goal is to get all of their internal conflicts resolved and off their desk before 2012. It is all about ‘starting the new year with a clean slate’. Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner and everyone is getting excited about spending time with their loved ones. Mediation can provide the same environment and feeling in a workplace – peace at work is not a myth, it is something that TCM provides to each of their clients.

Mike Emmott, Adviser, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) pointed out: “The TCM Group has made a significant contribution to furthering the cause of workplace mediation in both public and private sectors. David was ahead of the field in recognising the need for the mediation community to adopt a more professional framework, and doing something about it. His commitment to providing mediation and training in-house mediators is allied with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He is always looking to drive the agenda forward and is an active member of the Civil Mediation Council Workplace Mediation Committee.”

TCM is a leading UK mediation services and training provider, which resolves over 90% of cases and has worked on some of the most challenging workplace disputes imaginable.

Although TCM offers unrivalled services and support, they still keep their fees remarkably low. For less than £1,500 plus vat anyone can gain access to a team of the very best mediation talent anywhere in the UK. The TCM group covers the entire country and achieves a successful outcome in over 90% of cases.
To solve your workplace disputes and clean your desk of conflict please call 0800 294 97 98 or email info@thetcmgroup.com

Friday, 4 November 2011

Do your premises have the Arghhhh factor? Are you chasing your customers away?

Study illustrates the danger of retailers leaving the sound of their brand to chance.

Apparently half of Britain's shoppers have left a store because they were annoyed by the music. This is the result of a study carried out by Immedia Plc, which develops music strategies for retailers.

The findings illustrate the danger High Street brands face by not developing a suitable 'sound' for their brand.

1,000+ shoppers were asked both about their attitude to in-store music, and about how music affects them psychologically and emotionally.

Key results are as follows:

* Three-quarters of shoppers (73%) will notice the music playing in-store

* Out of those that do, 40% will stay longer in a shop if they feel the music is well chosen for the environment. Conversely, 40% will spend less time there if they feel the music isn't suitable

* In fact, 49% of all shoppers said they have stayed longer in shops because they like the music vs 45% that don't

* Excluding don't knows, half of all shoppers say they left a shop because they didn't like what was playing or because it was annoying

* Overall, a quarter of shoppers (23%) say they would be less likely to return to a retailer if they don't like the music it plays

Commenting on the results, Immedia Plc CEO Bruno Brookes said: "Brands currently spend upwards of £25 billion a year on visual point of sale material, that's according to the Institute of Sales Promotion).

"However, while the retail, hospitality and FMCG industries take great care in thinking about what customers see, nowhere near the same investment goes into optimising what they hear.

"In fact, audio is the single most effective way to capture the attention and imagination of people who are on the move inside your shop or restaurant. This is supported by numerous scientific studies that demonstrate how an effective music strategy does everything from improve staff morale to enhance the customer experience, to, crucially, increasing sales.

"Especially given the challenging economic environment, it is important to optimise every element of a customer's sensory experience. As a result, we are working with an increasing number of high street names who want the competitive edge that a well thought out music and sound strategy will give them."

According to Immedia's scientific advisor Dr Vicky Williamson: “Music can profoundly affect our mood, emotions and energy levels. Studies have shown that we naturally exploit these effects everyday by using music to optimise our state of mind.This new survey demonstrates how similarly important ‘background music’ is to our shopping experiences. Music is no less powerful just because it is chosen by someone else.

“In specific terms, in-store music should be chosen with care and attention to the brand or product identity. Studies have shown that a poor degree of fit between brand and music can result in negative customer feedback, lower sales, and fewer customer referrals.

“Capitalising on the general effects of music will only get you so far in boosting a shopping experience. Maximising the positive impact of in-store music requires an understanding of how to match sound and brand.”

To highlight the impact sound has on UK shoppers, Immedia has today launched a new 'Sound of Your Brand' website (www.immediaplc.com).

This includes a blog about retail engagement and music psychology, links to research about music in retail, and a music-themed social area where consumers are invited to engage with Immedia.

(EDITOR: And in my experience as a retail expert (being shopping for more years than I care to remember!) any music that is too loud in a shop is a bad choice.)