Saturday, 17 November 2012

Businesses as well as domestic clients should shop around for energy

SHOPPING around for the best energy deal is vital for business electricity users as supplier profits continue to rise, so says the Energy Advice Line. It's important for domestic and business energy users to get the best deal they can.

Comparing the market and switching to the best available deal is the quickest and cheapest way for firms to take control in a volatile and challenging energy market, the UK’s leading energy switching and advice service for business said.

Big Six energy supplier Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) has just announced a 38% leap in half-yearly earnings, a month after increasing energy tariffs for householders by 9%.

Centrica, parent company of British Gas, announced it was set to make profits of £1.4 billion this year on the same day the utility giant hit customers with a 6% rise in their energy bills.

Suppliers have also come under fire following allegations that they have been involved in price rigging of the wholesale gas market.

“Customers might be fed up with the energy market right now, as suppliers hit the headlines yet again with rising profits and questionable practices,” EAL spokesman Mr Morgan said

“But it’s vital for firms to remember there is no benefit in being loyal to a utility company. In this environment they need to take control of their energy supply and energy costs by comparing the market to get the best deals.

“It’s really the quickest and cheapest way to find the lowest business energy prices and to play energy suppliers at their own game.”

Mr Morgan said that many firms underestimated the amount of money they could save by switching suppliers as soon as their fixed-price energy contracts ended.

The Energy Advice Line had helped thousands of firms substantially reduce their business electricity spend.

“Depending on the amount of business electricity a firm uses, we can slash hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds off its annual energy spend by finding a better deal than the tariff offered by their existing supplier.

“Energy suppliers don’t want businesses to shop around because that’s partly how they make such big profits – from firms who stay with them year on year.

“We’ve helped thousands of customers to move to cheaper rates through simple non-pressure and impartial advice about the energy market and the suppliers that operate in the market.”

The Energy Advice Line is the UK’s leading business electricity price comparison site and switching services for business, and enables firms to compare the market for the best possible business energy deals at the touch of a button.

The service has a team of business experts who can give advice about business energy contracts and how to avoid expensive contract rollovers. It also offers a free contract management service to help firms throughout the duration of their energy contracts.

For further information visit

Sunday, 28 October 2012

New fix for Corporate Compliance

Compliance challenges for organisations are now one giant step closer to being greatly reduced, due to the latest version of an enterprise wide solution that’s ticking all the boxes for organisations of all types and all sizes.

RuleSafe® v4.0 uses a potent combination of personalised and targeted communication, special benchmarked measuring and enforcement to maximise awareness of and conformance with company policies among all employees.

Companies using this latest version of the RuleSafe® policy management and awareness solution can expect to make great strides in the management and improvement of critical GRC hotspots such as protecting data assets, corporate governance, health and safety, risk management, incident management, quality management and document management.

The RuleSafe® v4.0 framework uses up to the minute technological features and management thinking that are designed to genuinely improve real understanding and awareness of all of the main GRC matters all employees.

Each individual user has a personalised dashboard which shows their performance and what needs to be done to improve that performance in areas like acceptance of applicable policies, passing company GRC quizzes and knowledge tests and keeping in touch with new developments. Employees are also measured on how often they pick up and keep up to date on messages sent to their dashboard and keep up to date on required tasks.

Secoda Risk Management’s Charlie Fairbairn says “I believe this to be the most powerful policy management and awareness solution in its class. The benchmarking aspect of it is a very powerful motivator. For example managers can view the performance of managers and units below them, managers of business units or divisions can see the compliance status and progress of all their direct reports, and all employees can measure their own performance ratings against the averaged ratings of peers, or across the organisation as a whole”.

“Real up to date learning and understanding can take place with RuleSafe® and this system even features quiz editors and libraries to enable fast creation of fixed or randomised knowledge tests. These are a great way to verify employee understanding of your requirements. Companies tell me that they also really appreciate the flexibility, agility and configurability of this system” says Charlie.

The RuleSafe® Governance Risk & Compliance solution has of course proven to be a very good investment for organisations operating in challenging and heavily regulated industries such as banking and finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, utilities and energy, transportation and the public sector.

Secoda develops, sells and maintains the RuleSafe® suite of GRC software applications, and provides support and consulting services on which many thousands of corporate users depend for their employee GRC programmes.

For more information call 08456 4 27001 or visit

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Win for Vin

Vin Murria, the CEO of AIM-listed Advanced Computer Software Group plc (Advanced), has been named Entrepreneur of the Year at the AIM Awards 2012. Vin was presented with the award at the AIM Awards dinner on 11 October 2012 at Old Billingsgate, London.

Sponsored by PwC, the AIM Awards identify and reward the quoted companies and entrepreneurs who have harnessed AIM - the London Stock Exchange’s international market for smaller growing companies - to help them fulfil their ambition and growth potential over the last twelve months.

Vin was named Entrepreneur of the Year by a distinguished judging panel from the UK financial investment community. To win the accolade, Vin had to demonstrate that her vision, flair, drive and business acumen is driving AIM-quoted Advanced Computer Software Group forward at a pace impossible without access to AIM’s investor funding base. The award also acknowledged the supportive management team behind Vin’s success.

Vin Murria, CEO of Advanced Computer Software Group, says, “It is an honour to be named AIM’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Advanced has grown from zero to close to £110 million revenue in just a few years with a market cap of £230 million. None of this would have been possible without the dedication and drive of the Advanced team.”

David Snell PwC’s head of AIM and chair of the voting panel says, “This was a particularly fiercely fought award and the competition was extremely high. Vin was a very worthy winner having shown the entrepreneurial spirit that encapsulates what AIM is about.”

Advanced Computer Software Group plc is a supplier of software and IT services to both public and private sectors, which help organisations to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

Duttons appointed offline design agency by Friends Life

Duttons Design logo
Duttons has been appointed to the Friends Life agency roster, following a rigorous and competitive selection process. The company will be one of two agencies overseeing offline design across Friends Life, a leading provider of pensions, life insurance and investments to over five million customers.

Duttons has a strong track record in financial services and won the fiercely contested position as part of a three stage competitive pitch process, which included a written response, face to face chemistry meeting and strategic pitch presentation.

Commenting on the appointment, Emma Van-Heusen, Account Director at Duttons, said, "This is fantastic news for Duttons. We’re delighted to be working with Friends Life at what is a dynamic time for the financial services market, especially pensions, and we’re looking forward to working closely with the Friends Life team to build the brand’s offline communications."

Commenting for Friends Life, Karen Burrell, Head of Marketing Services said, “We are delighted to be welcoming Duttons aboard. They impressed us throughout the pitch process and we’re looking forward to a long, beneficial relationship with this energetic and insightful agency.”

Face-to-Face nets more business, study finds

MOO Logo
Dealing with contacts in person, rather than via email or social networking, is helping the UK's successful entrepreneurs and business owners generate a potential £9.45bn revenue a year, says new research from

Small businessmen and women may use a variety of online and offline ways to deal with clients, customers and suppliers, but many feel they do better when they can 'see the whites of their eyes', the study shows.

In particular, they are better able to judge a person by how they look or dress or the firmness of a handshake than anything they provide via Facebook or Twitter, according to business card experts MOO.

The firm interviewed 152 owners of small businesses in the UK about how they networked to help their ventures grow They found 42% believe if they were to hand out 100 business cards, it would generate £5,000 a year or more in revenue.

Spread across the UK's 4.5 million small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) it adds up to a staggering £9.45 billion a year netted through personal contact in business.

Modern business leaders do however combine this with social networking on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to stay in touch with a wider audience, and use these tools and others, like Twitter, to maintain a business presence online.

But when it comes to marketing, old fashioned methods work best. While one in four (25 per cent) consider their website to be their most important tool, 32% say word of mouth/referrals and 21% believe their business cards are their most important marketing tool.

Out of the 152 small business owners, good places to network show that some traditions remain unchanged with 47 per cent naming the pub and 61 per cent suggesting conferences. For those looking after their figures, 29 per cent said they network at the gym, according to the survey.

Richard Moross Founder & CEO of MOO, said: “Physical contact works better because it can often reveal more about the person they are dealing with than anything revealed on social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.

"Social media and other technology is incredibly helpful for keeping in touch, building relationships and just reminding people you are around and what you are up to. But if you want to win business and develop new contacts then nothing quite beats a face-to-face meeting it seems. Judging by the number of business owners who do business over a drink, at a social function or even on the daily commute, the informal atmosphere seems to encourage better networking."

Coinciding with the findings, MOO has recently launched a new facility on its website offering event organisers free business cards for their attendees/delegates (excluding shipping). Business card orders are sent to organisers to distribute at their event registration. With many organisers already taking advantage of the new service at high-profile events like SXSW and Startup Weekend, it reinforces the importance of face-to-face networking and business cards as the definitive personal marketing tool.

Additional MOO survey statistics:
• Reasons for networking include developing new contacts (74 per cent), getting new business (72 per cent), and keeping in touch with current trends and developments (66 per cent)
• Just over half (53 per cent) admit it also helps them when they come to look for a new job
• Almost half (49 per cent) say networking has brought ‘a lot of new business’ for their company
• When it comes to having a strong business identity, nearly three quarters (73 per cent) said their business card made an important impact when networking, and 72 per cent said it was important to have a presence on social media sites
• Seven in ten (72 per cent) admitted they were influenced by what a person looks like and 72 per cent by a firm handshake; while others admitted they were put off by a person’s bad breath or unkempt physical appearance.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Observer between 30 July and 8 August 2012 on behalf of MOO. A sample of 152 small business owners out of 510 UK respondents was interviewed online.

Turbine cuts through your paperwork

Turbine® responds to the needs of small and medium-size companies with a sleeker, more responsive version of its bureaucracy-busting online application.

“We’re taking the work out of paperwork,” says Matthew Stibbe, founder and CEO of Turbine ( as he announced the official launch of Turbine Version 8.

The new version of the web-based application makes it even easier for growing businesses to manage purchase orders, expense claims, time-off requests, HR records and staff feedback and performance reviews.

Turbine lets companies manage their staff more efficiently, save time, take control of spending and give employees convenient online self-service for routine paperwork chores. No more paper forms or misfiled requests!

Driven by customer feedback, Version 8 improves the look and feel of the site as well as its usability. New features include:

• A responsive interface. Turbine resizes automatically to fit the screen you are using, whether you are requesting time off on your smartphone, or submitting a purchase request on your laptop.

• Beautiful design. Subtle animations, elegant graphics and other grace notes make the new version look great. For example, it automatically takes advantage of the Retina display on the latest iPads and iPhones.

• Split-screen displays. The new list view mimics email clients and other popular web-based applications by letting you see a list of requests on the left in chronological order and the details of a selected request on the right.

• Faster, better. Version 8 adds powerful technology behind the scenes, such as client-side caching which makes the site snappier to use, as well as improved localisation settings and the ability to comment on requests.

The new version will make it easier and faster for employees and managers to take care of their admin so they can spend more time on their job and less time on necessary but unproductive tasks.

“It’s an all-in-one, Swiss Army Knife to cut through red tape at a fraction of the price of bespoke or big-company systems,” says Matthew Stibbe. Prices start at just $8 a month for up to five users and there’s a 30-day free trial.

“We love the paperwork you hate,” says Matthew Stibbe, “and Version 8 is a big step towards the paper-free, hassle-free office.”

Fellowes Shredders at Robert Dyas

This week is National Identity Fraud Prevention Week where a number of organisations from the public and private sector highlight the fact that identity fraud is on the rise in the UK and could affect anyone of us.

During this week Action Fraud is reminding us how to keep our identity safe with some simple tips:

• Don’t throw out anything with your name, address or financial details without shredding it first.

• Be careful about what information you share on social networking sites, and check your privacy settings.

• Monitor your credit status by getting regular copies of your credit report from a credit reference agency.

As part of this campaign, from this week, Robert Dyas is offering a wide range of Fellowes Shredders products in their shops across the UK. The company believes that Fellowes products will be a valuable addition to their own exclusive products and famous brand names such as Brita, Energizer, Karcher, Kenwood, Morphy Richards, Tefal, Durcell, Brabantia and Vax, to name just a few.

Fellowes and other entities including Action Fraud, Cifas, Equifax, Symantec Norton, Get Safe Online are the organisers behind the annual campaign ‘Don’t let it be You’ which highlights the actions that can be taken to protect against identity fraud.

The scale of the fraud in the UK is alarming; according to Members of CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service identity fraud increased by 30% during the first quarter of 2012.

Suppliers should offer business best deals too, argues Energy Advice Line

ENERGY suppliers should be forced to offer businesses as well as domestic customers the cheapest business gas and business electricity tariffs, according to the Energy Advice Line.

Julian Morgan, managing director of the UK’s leading business electricity price comparison and switching service for business, called on Ofgem to extend its reforms to small and medium-sized firms as well as householders.

Ofgem has just unveiled proposals to force suppliers to inform customers about the cheapest tariffs and to ban complex, multi-tier tariffs that make it difficult to understand bills and compare prices.

The proposed changes only apply to domestic consumers, but Mr Morgan said it was essential the reforms were extended to protect non-domestic energy users, particularly SMEs.

“We have long been calling on Ofgem to force suppliers to offer businesses their best prices when fixed-term contracts come up for renewal, because under current arrangements they often do the exact opposite,” Mr Morgan said.

“It is common practice for suppliers to automatically roll over unwitting businesses onto very expensive out-of-contract tariffs when their fixed-term contracts expire, and these tariffs can be 50% more, or even higher, than their cheapest deal.

“Suppliers have refused to stop this unfair practice and many, many businesses have been forced to pay exorbitant tariffs as a result.

“It’s way overdue for Ofgem to step in and extend the kind of protection they are offering to householders, to businesses.

“Ofgem’s stated aim is to reform the energy market to make it ‘simpler, clearer, fairer and more competitive’ for all consumers. If this is true then the non-domestic sector must be included.”

Ofgem is proposing to limit each energy supplier to no more than four core tariffs for each fuel when billing householders. Dual fuel discounts will be presented separately to increase clarity.

Mr Morgan said many businesses did not actually realize they were on the wrong deal and paying too much as business energy prices and bills were also exceedingly complex.

The Energy Advice Line has previously called on suppliers to offer clearer and more detailed information on bills in order to stop the confusion and to enable businesses to more easily search for the best available deals on the market.

It has also called on suppliers to print contract-end dates on bills, and to clearly explain to customers how to terminate their contracts so they can switch suppliers more readily.

An Ofgem spokesman said the government was committed to helping businesses as well as householders get a better deal from energy suppliers. Reforms to help firms would be included in Ofgem’s sweeping review of the non-domestic sector, which would be unveiled soon.

The Energy Advice Line is a consumer champion and the UK’s only independent business electricity price comparison and switching services exclusively for small and medium-sized businesses. The service enables firms to quickly and simply compare business energy and business gas prices, and to switch to the best available deal on the market.

The Energy Advice Line has produced The Business Energy Best Practice and Advice Guide to help firms combat unfair pricing tactics employed by utility companies.

To obtain a copy of the guide, for further information or a free quotation, visit

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Pru reveals almost half of UK business owners have no pension savings

Almost half (46 per cent) of UK business owners - or 1.3 million people - have no private pension savings to support them in retirement, according to new independent research from Prudential.

Of those who have failed to make any private pension provision, more than half (54 per cent) said this was because they simply could not afford to set money aside. Nearly one in five (18 per cent) say they don’t have a pension because they will never retire, and 9 per cent claim they have sufficient funds in a company pension from previous employment.

Nearly one third (29 per cent) of business owners, or 792,000 people, say they will be entirely reliant on the State Pension when they come to retire, compared with just 16 per cent of people across all employment types retiring this year in the UK.

Other self-employed workers will supplement their retirement incomes with money from a mix of alternative sources: 48 per cent will draw on other savings and investments, 25 per cent will use equity from their properties, 25 per cent plan to use their partners' pensions, and 19 per cent plan to use funds from the eventual sale of their businesses.

Prudential asked those business owners who don't have a personal pension whether they plan to start one in the future and the majority of respondents (63 per cent) said no. Only 13 per cent said they were planning to start a pension and just under a quarter (24 per cent) were undecided.

Stan Russell, retirement expert at Prudential, said: "It's sometimes hard for self-employed workers to distinguish between their business and personal finances. Often, investing in the business takes priority over saving for retirement - an issue that is particularly prevalent now, given the tough economic conditions facing UK businesses.

"Unfortunately, the long-term implications of not saving for retirement are that many retirees will have a real income shock and reduced living standards when they finally retire. And while a number of business owners say they don't need a pension because they'll never stop working, this optimistic approach won't always be realistic - for example because of health issues later in life.

"Although some business owners plan to supplement their retirement incomes with alternative sources of finances, a large proportion will be entirely reliant upon the State Pension - which should actually be a safety net, not a default source of income."

Saving into a pension has become a lower priority for those business owners who do have some dedicated retirement savings. The survey found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of entrepreneurs with pension savings had put their personal contributions on hold since the start of the economic downturn.

Payday lending site in attack on own industry

Exclusive Video Series Takes Unusual Approach To Educating Consumers

Cash-strapped consumers may express hatred for payday loans, but you’ve never seen the industry itself partake in self-loathing—until now.

In a strange twist, a series of exclusive videos launched by payday lending site 100 Day Loans UK confronts the stigmas plaguing these short-term loans.

A Unite union survey reveals that around 4 million consumers rely on payday loans, borrowing approximately £327 per month to get by, while losing more wages to pay off interest.

100 Day Loans UK recognizes the road to borrowing is paved with risks. While competitors tend to gloss over harsh borrowing realities, 100 Day Loans UK attempts to shine a light on the darker side of payday lending.

Unfortunately, payday loan misinformation may be all too accessible to potential borrowers. According to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Wonga received 82 complaints after one of their recent puppet adverts allegedly made misleading statements regarding loan terms.

Other lenders also attempt to appeal to consumer’s impulsive spending habits. The BBC revealed that Payday Bank promoted loans for celebrating May’s Diamond Jubilee.

100 Day Loans UK’s videos illustrate the dangers while managing to link desperate borrowers to the resources they need.

The videos with four consecutive weekly releases in October will address multiple real-world stigmas through dramatic sketches:
• “I Hate You Payday Loans – The Relationship”: a silent but powerful illustration of the danger of rolling over a loan.
• “I Hate You Payday Loans – The Rap”: one payday loan borrower vents his frustrations through an entertaining song.
• “I Hate You Payday Loans – The Ripple Effect”: one woman reveals a tragic, unexpected consequence of battling sky-high APRs.
• “I Hate You Payday Loans – Getting Dumped”: When romance and money don’t mix, a woman reveals how her little white finance lie cost her a shot at love.

In addition to videos, 100 Day Loans UK connects consumers to a bounty of resources, including a consumer survey, informative blog post series, infographic and e-Book.

100DayLoansUK is a licensed credit brokerage business which connects borrowers and lenders for the purposes of entering into short-term unsecured loan agreements. In an industry crippled by bad press, an unpopular product and irresponsible marketing tactics, 100 Day Loans UK is attempting to bring clarity to how these loans should be handled. For more information, view our videos at and please visit to get an education before you fill out an application.

LEA Wins Top Flight Award

 London Executive Aviation (LEA), one of Europe’s largest business jet charter operators, is today celebrating being named ‘Best General Aviation Operator’ in the Baltic Air Charter Association (BACA) Excellence Awards.

LEA was honoured at a ceremony held at the Guildhall in London. This is the third time the company has scooped the ‘Best General Aviation Operator’ award in the BACA Excellence Awards.

The award was decided by BACA members, who were asked to nominate the organisations they consider best in class. BACA is a premier industry association, which since 1949 has represented the interests of commercial aviation companies, particularly air charter providers. It represents over 125 UK and international companies, including air brokers, charter airlines, airports, business aircraft operators, consultants and others involved in air charter, scheduled flying and air cargo.

LEA’s managing director George Galanopoulos says: “We are absolutely delighted to receive this recognition from our respected industry colleagues, the most demanding group of judges one could imagine. Despite the toughest industry recession ever, LEA has continued to invest right across our business – in our fleet, our service provision and in training and technology. Today’s award is a welcome vindication of our commitment to excellence.”

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, LEA chief executive, adds: “The award reflects the extremely hard work of our entire team, who we would like to thank and applaud for this tremendous achievement. Winning this honour for the third time confirms the enduring strength of our organisation. Our absolute commitment to safety and customer service underpins everything we do and it is hugely rewarding to have these values recognised.”

Punch talks on new B2B opportunities with LinkedIn

LinkedIn's latest update - which encourages individuals and brands alike to build and engage with a network in a manner similar to Facebook - offers a major new opportunity for brand marketers that are keen to capitalise on the professional nature of the network, according to integrated social, search and PR company Punch Communications.

Since its launch in May 2003, LinkedIn has become associated with creating and managing professional connections – whilst being the backdrop for an online résumé.

The latest refresh arguably capitalises on the successes of other services – such as Facebook, amongst other sites – which are used as the basis for social brand building.

Pete Goold, the Managing Director of Punch, which also offers social search services, commented: “As a long-standing LinkedIn user, I think these latest changes really activate the potential of having an established professional network. From a brand marketing perspective, companies are able to not only create points of interest for their customers – whether business-related or consumers – but also to utilise employees' own networks, many of which will be well established given the ubiquity of LinkedIn as a career-enhancing tool."

The site's revised features include sections within the Careers Page, along with a new insights dashboard, a wider cover photo and targeted status updates with performance metrics for Company Pages. Recognising the growing importance of mobile applications in business, the new Company Pages can now be accessed via the LinkedIn mobile app.

Stemming from the successful Company Follow Feature, an ‘influencers to follow’ tool was developed in the beginning of October, which allows users to receive updates and the latest news from a select group of movers and shakers. The prominent individuals chosen as influencers, including Sir Richard Branson and President Obama, were nominated to help promote engagement across the platform, encouraging people to connect and interact with brands over relevant business and world news.

Pete added: “With these changes, LinkedIn is now an indispensable part of a company’s social marketing plan – particularly if targeting a B2B audience, although of course it's worth remembering that LinkedIn users are consumers too.”

With a team of experienced public relations consultants, Punch offers a wide variety of PR, search and social services. For more information about the how Punch could benefit your company or view our Infographic on the latest changes to LinkedIn, please visit Or call the Punch team on +44 (0) 1858 411 600.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Are SMEs divorcing their bank managers?

Launch of Inspired Cashflow• Bank Managers are being ditched and divorced, as Accountants, Lawyers and Finance Directors become the most trusted financial advisers according to 80% of SMEs
• Lack of credit and cash flow is a worry for 43% of SMEs

In a continued tough economic climate, SMEs need funding in order to survive and grow and are not aware of the range of funding resources available. New research of 1,000 UK SMEs from Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance unearthed SMEs attitudes and how they really feel about the state of funding available, and most importantly who they trust to keep their business on track.

The new research, commissioned to launch Hitachi Capital’s new simplified Inspired Cashflow offer, signals that the nation’s SMEs are heading back to the days of money under the mattresses and loans from family and friends, rather than putting trust into their bank manager to look after their finances. It appears views and ways of working have gone back in time over recent years, as only 21% said they would trust advice from their bank manager, compared with the majority seeking help from their Accountant (43%) which came out top, then their Lawyer or Independent Financial Adviser.

John Atkinson, Head of Commercial Business at Inspired Cashflow, part of Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, said: “We are in a very different business environment at the moment, not only are economic times tough, but our faith in the banks is at an all time low. This has created a difficult situation for businesses as companies don’t know where to turn, and because 43% of SMEs surveyed admit that cash flow is either a current problem or has been in the past year for them, it’s hard to hear that one fifth of those admit that their banks weren’t any help in solving this issue.

“It seems many SMEs don’t even know the name of their own bank manager, and since a lot of business is done online, there is no personal attachment or face-to-face interaction like there used to be. Complicated online processes and fees from banks and service providers can lead to companies making the wrong choices and the misunderstanding of how services in the market work, such as invoice finance. It’s scary to see that nearly half of SMEs are sourcing finance from secured loans (20%), bank overdrafts (17%) and even credit cards (12%) – all of which are expensive methods of finance for SMEs -– instead of opting for cost effective and simple means. And what’s even more worrying is that other sources including, friends, family, life savings and selling assets were used by nearly 28% to increase finance and cash flow for their business.

“These issues with banks and SMEs gaining funding are nothing new – but continue to be concerning as many SMEs aren’t aware of the range of finance options available, such as the access to invoice finance services. This is something we at Inspired Cashlow are trying to address, especially since over 50% of SMEs have never heard of Invoice Finance before and don’t understand how it works. The launch of new products such as, Inspired Cashflow, aim to shake up the market and lay everything on the line with a simple honest and cost effective approach for businesses to free up cashflow from their balance sheets.”

For more information please visit or call the team on 08081 635 394.

Experian's 192business named as preferred identity supplier to Law Society

Experian, the global information services company, announced its 192business unit has been selected by the Law Society as its preferred supplier of electronic identity verification tools for anti-money laundering purposes.

192business, part of Experian since it was acquired in March 2012, provides organisations with a range of electronic identity verification tools, including personal data verification, fraud screening and document verification. These products are already used by 44 of the top 100 UK law firms to meet client due diligence obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and to mitigate the risks of making payments in contravention of the UK financial sanctions regime.

Nigel Spencer, Chief of Commercial Affairs at the Law Society, said: "Experian and 192business have worked closely with the Law Society to ensure that its identity verification services are tailored to the specific needs of the legal sector. Accurate and efficient identity verification is vital for meeting the evolving challenges of complying with financial crime prevention rules."

Nick Mothershaw, UK director of identity & fraud services at Experian, commented: "Firms across the legal profession have successfully managed money laundering and payment risks working in partnership with 192business. Since 192business became part of Experian earlier this year we have further strengthened our position amongst the legal community and are delighted that the Law Society has chosen to endorse our range of identity verification tools."

Experian is a top global information services company, providing data and analytical tools to clients in more than 80 countries. The company provides banking software, helps businesses to manage credit risk, prevent fraud through its fraud management system, target marketing offers and automate decision making. Experian also helps individuals to check their credit report and credit score, and protect against identity theft.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

SEO Positive Responds to Announcement of Facebook Mobile Ad Network Trial

SEO PositiveLeading online promotion company SEO Positive have responded to news that Facebook is to trial a mobile ad network to its Beta users.
Facebook is tapping into a growing smartphone user audience by developing a mobile ad network that will be trialled on iOS and Android mobile users. The trial will allow ad exchanges to target mobile advertisements based on Facebook data that appears while on other apps and mobile websites as well as Facebook biographical and social information such as age, gender, location and likes.

The social media specialists at SEO Positive have responded to the news with interest as the moves may stand to increase Facebook’s profile as a highly popular and effective advertising tool. The addition of a mobile ad network allows Facebook to remain an important advertising tool as users move to accessing the social media site through their mobile app rather than on-site.

Ben Austin, Managing Director at the innovative online search company, recognises the importance of keeping up to date with the latest online marketing methods.

“This news shows Facebook is seriously tapping into its power as an advertising tool by using personal Facebook information to link advertising to the desired demographic. Investing in social media marketing is becoming an increasingly popular advertising method and our social media experts have a great understanding of Facebook’s principles.”

He added: “Investing in social media management allows businesses access to millions of users and a gigantic consumer base as well as a greater exposure to a younger audience.”

SEO Positive is continuing to watch these developments with interest.

SEO Positive was established in 2007 in Chelmsford, Essex with the aim of bringing effective yet affordable online marketing services to companies from all industries and backgrounds. The company offers a huge range of services including search engine optimisation, Pay Per Click account management, social media marketing and reputation management.

Hush! Let's make some noise on the High Street!

Hush Puppies display at Schuh, Oxford St
Hush Puppies display at Schuh, Oxford St
To mark the launch of a new premium footwear collection by Hemingway Design for Hush Puppies, a multimedia window display has been launched at Schuh in Oxford Street, London, to showcase the new arrival to its AW12 collection. By incorporating a Whispering Window device from FeONIC Technology into the display, audio and music can be heard both inside and outside of the store, attracting additional interest from passers-by.

The new footwear collection, led by the designer Jack Hemingway, sees a new interpretation of Hush Puppies’ with inspiration taken from British club culture and Hush Puppies’ iconic heritage. To illustrate the design influences, the window display in Schuh incorporates retro television sets, which play a behind-the-scenes film of the AW12 footwear collection photo shoot. Audio from film can then be heard with walking distance of the window, creating extra impact.

Julie Bradley, Marketing Manager of Hush Puppies Europe - a division of Wolverine Worldwide Inc said: “We believe that the inclusion of audio branding for the launch of our new footwear collection by Hemingway Design will help us stand out from the crowd. In today’s retail environment, it is important to use a variety of methods to attract interest from shoppers.

"Therefore, FeONIC’s Whispering Window cleverly projects music out onto Oxford Street; not only does this add another element to the installation but it also draws the attention of passers-by and encourages them to take a greater look into the window.”

Adds Brian Smith, Managing Director of FeONIC Technology: “We understand that the reaction to the Hush Puppies and Hemingway Design display has been really positive to date. In fact, if you have the opportunity to do so, I recommend you head to Oxford Street to see and hear the window display for yourselves. The installation will be in store until Monday 24th September.”

For further details regarding the FeONIC range of invisible audio products, telephone +44 (0)1482 806688 or email More information on FeONIC Technology is available via or via Twitter @FeONIC.

Legal brands to “revolutionise” legal services

Quality Solicitors
Leading US and UK legal brands, LegalZoom and QualitySolicitors, partner to provide “best of both worlds” complete legal solution.

LegalZoom, the most recognised legal brand in the US, has announced it is set to launch in the UK later this year in an exclusive partnership with leading UK legal brand, QualitySolicitors. The partnership will see a wide range of legal products and services offered online, combining LegalZoom’s technology with QualitySolicitors’ expert solicitors, who will offer local support and advice from over 400 locations across the UK.

A wide range of personalised documents including company formations, employment contracts, wills and power of attorney and even divorces will be available online 24/7 - with local QualitySolicitors on hand to review or help complete the document and provide further face-to-face advice and representation where necessary. Businesses and individuals will also be able to join various subscription based legal plans, providing a range of online services and ensuring easy access to their local QualitySolicitors.

QualitySolicitors Chief Executive, Craig Holt, summarised the move: “Making high quality, personalised legal solutions this quick, accessible and convenient has the potential to completely revolutionise the way people and businesses deal with legal needs in the UK.” “We are confident consumers and businesses will be extremely impressed with the high quality of our online legal solutions” said Edward Hartman, co-founder of LegalZoom, “More importantly, when so few people know where to turn for legal help, this is an ideal way to begin a long-term relationship with a local solicitor; specifically, a QualitySolicitor.”

Hartman continued, “We are thrilled to bring together the largest US legal brand and the largest and most exciting legal brand in the UK. Our personalised, online legal solutions have already helped more than two million customers globally in the past decade as well as helped form over 1 in 5 new businesses in California, the world’s 9th largest economy. Now, in partnership with QualitySolicitors, we will greatly expand the UK consumer’s access to legal solutions by connecting them to one of over 400 solicitors’ offices convenient to them. “

Holt continued, “QualitySolicitors continues to add leading local firms to our network and are now in over 400 locations across the UK. We are working with LegalZoom to research and identify suitable law firms in those remaining areas without a current QualitySolicitors firm, in order to ensure this partnership has comprehensive nationwide coverage. Those firms selected to apply to join the panel will be notified in the coming weeks. This is one of a number of exciting panel opportunities we expect to conclude in the coming months on behalf of our member firms; secured by virtue of being the only legal brand with an extensive local presence.”

The move comes in light of recent reforms to the UK legal market, dubbed ‘Tesco Law’, allowing banks, funeral providers and even supermarkets to offer legal services. Whilst the reforms were intended to improve access to legal services in a market often seen as intimidating and impenetrable, Holt believes QualitySolicitors’ partnership with LegalZoom provides the better solution, “Legal services offered by supermarkets and others will be faceless and entirely remote and miss the crucial local, personal element. This partnership brings the best of both worlds, combining the speed, convenience and value LegalZoom’s technology brings, with the comfort and confidence provided by knowing a local QualitySolicitors expert lawyer is on hand to help at any point.”

Hartman added, “We believe this partnership will significantly improve access to legal services in the UK and some of our more innovative products, in particular, will see significant benefits to consumers and businesses over what is currently available. For example, we will offer personalised contracts for home building projects and contracts of service for au pairs or nannies - just two common examples where currently people tend not to access legal services and, as a result, are often left exposed due to a lack of formal agreement. Equally, we will help new businesses get up and running efficiently, from forming the company to creating tailored terms of business and employment contracts.”

LegalZoom was founded over 12 years ago by lawyers from some of the top law firms in the US. Since then, it has become the leading provider of personalised, affordable online legal solutions for families and small businesses – helping over two million people be protected with legal documents and access lawyers through its legal plans. QualitySolicitors has quickly grown to be the UK’s largest provider of legal services with local law firms in over 400 locations where it promotes a customer-centric approach to legal services including opening on Saturdays and offering a wide range of fixed-price legal services.

LegalZoom is the America’s leading provider of personalized, affordable online legal solutions for families and small businesses. Founded more than 12 years ago by attorneys with experience at some of the top law firms in the country, LegalZoom has helped over two million Americans become protected with binding legal documents. Although LegalZoom is not a law firm, it can help people access an attorney through its legal plans. The company is headquartered in Glendale, California. For more information, visit”

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Half of finance departments believe reports they produce are never used

Nearly half of managers and directors view reports produced by someone else no more than once per week

An alarming 46 per cent of finance professionals believe that they produce reports that are never used and 63 per cent believe that senior managers should make more use of financial information. This is according to research by Source for Consulting (Source) in partnership with the Commercial Division of Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced). Source surveyed 104 decision makers and finance professionals in UK mid-sized companies and carried out qualitative research with UK managers and management consultants.

According to the research report ‘Making the numbers add up – how better financial accounting can support and promote growth’, the belief of finance professionals that reports are under-utilised is not misplaced with 48 per cent of the managers and directors surveyed confessing to reviewing a report produced by someone else no more than once a week. 22 per cent of these managers and directors admit to using reports only ‘occasionally’ with 7 per cent stating that reports are never used.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions (Commercial Division), says, “It is clear that not all the reports produced by finance departments in mid-sized organisations are being used like they should be. This is bound to create frustration amongst the finance teams with the production of reports being viewed as wasted time and effort.”

The managers and directors surveyed provided a number of reasons for failing to use reports produced by someone else on a regular basis. 31 per cent feel that the data in the reports they receive is out of date with 27 per cent stating that the data is inaccurate. 26 per cent feel that it takes too long for the finance department to produce a report when asked and 23 per cent admit to receiving too many reports and so they are unclear as to what to focus on.

Fowler comments, “With nearly a third of the managers and directors surveyed confessing to lacking confidence in the timeliness of the data in the reports and a similar figure feeling that the data is inaccurate, systems and processes need to be put in place to ensure that real-time and accurate financial reports are produced. This will provide managers and directors with greater confidence in the figures.”

Rachel Ainsworth, Senior Research Manager from Source for Consulting, adds, “Reports are vital for critical decision making, however they are useless if their value isn’t recognised and the figures are not trusted. Financial education and cultural changes in addition to reliable and robust software systems and processes are therefore required to ensure that business decisions are based on solid, timely and trustworthy information and analysis.”

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Saniflo helps business grow

Sanicubic sited under slopeWhen Play Factore, Manchester decided to expand their childrens’ play business an idea to utilise space underneath an existing artificial ski slope initially proved a problem. Plumbing for facilities would be problematic due to the distance to mains pipework, but not for long with the help of Saniflo! Saniflo products are designed to go where conventional drainage cannot!
A Sanicubic unit was recommended and installed by the contractors CMB Fylde Engineering Ltd to discharge waste from a disabled WC area adjacent to the main reception.

The Sanicubic is situated in a store cupboard behind the WC and pumps waste from a WC and washbasin. The discharge rises vertically 11 metres and horizontally 25 metres following the ceiling line of the indoor ski slope above. It then enters a soil pipe at first floor level to reach the mains drains. A perfect solution off piste!
The Sanicubic is a high performing macerator pump that can discharge waste and water from multiple WCs and other waste water producing appliances. It pumps waste away through small-bore pipework up to 11m vertically, 100m horizontally or a lesser combination of vertical x horizontal.

The unit has inlet diameters of 110mm for WC waste and 40mm for waste water. The unit can handle waste water of up to 70°C for short periods and has dual motors for absolute reliability and power.

Now all the children can come out to play, thanks to Saniflo!

For more information contact:

Saniflo Ltd.,
Howard House,
The Runway,
South Ruislip,
Middx., HA4 6SE

Tel: 020 8842 0033
Fax: 020 8842 1671

Plain Sailing? New Marine Labour Regulations – what do they mean for your insurance?

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 has received its thirtieth ratification and is likely to become law within 12 months. La Playa’s Mike Taylor-West highlights the insurance implications.

The Convention provides for minimum rights for paid crew employed in chartering operations; rights to accommodation, medical care, and compensation for lost earnings due to sickness and injury sustained during their employment (under shipowners’ liability). Existing recommendations in this area are now set to be enshrined in law - globally applicable and uniformly enforced.

Although the Convention has not yet been ratified by the UK, it's now expected to become effective within the year. Even vessels which are not flagged in member jurisdictions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will be affected, as the rules will apply to all vessels operating in territorial waters of IMO members.

The ultimate aim of the MLC is to mirror working conditions that UK workers have on land and, while private pleasure vessels are unaffected, superyacht owners should be aware that even occasional chartering, which is not uncommon, will draw them into fulfilling MLC 2006 requirements. There may be some dispensations but in simple terms you can expect the following implications:

When chartering your boat you must provide…

Suitable medical care - including “urgent medical or dental”, whether the vessel is inside or outside the UK
Medical expenses until the crew recovers from the illness/injury or is repatriated, or their condition is declared “of a permanent character”
Compensation for loss of wages following injury or illness sustained, and loss or unemployment following the loss or foundering of the vessel
Financial security to assure compensation in the event of the death or long term disability of the crew due to an occupational injury, illness or hazard
Wages during periods of sickness and injury for up to 16 weeks, whether the crew remains on board or not
Burial or cremation costs in the UK following the death of crew in the course of employment

In addition, new-build boats must henceforth meet minimum standards and design of crew accommodation.

Shipowner's liability
Medical Care Assessment

Mike Taylor-West, head of La Playa Private Client Marine, outlines the insurance implications of the MLC becoming law: “If you’re up-scaling to a vessel with crewing requirements for the first time, or chartering, it’s important to get the right advice on the insurance you’ll need to comply with MLC 2006. With the new legislation coming into play in 2013, you’ll need to consider your arrangements for crew medical insurance, crew accident insurance, and yacht owners’ liability cover”.

Visit La Playa's Marine Page

Smart Traffic feature for 2nd successive year in Sunday Times Tech Track 100

Smart Traffic LogoSmart-Traffic the UK’s largest Digital Marketing Company make it two in a row with a successive top 50 listing in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100
Smart Traffic continue to build on previous success with a second successive listing in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100

Chief Executive Officer at Smart Traffic Philip Cheek says, ‘To achieve a listing in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 for the second year in succession shows we are maintaining our momentum and building on what we have already achieved. Our clients know we do a good job and although that is the main thing, it is always nice to gain national recognition for our efforts as a company.’

The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 league table comprises of Britain’s 100 private tech (TMT) companies with the fastest growing sales figures over the latest three years.

Philip Cheek goes onto say, ‘Although gaining national recognition is a major morale booster for the whole organisation we know the job is far from finished. Our expansion program into overseas markets, particularly Australia, is rapidly gaining ground with clients seeing exactly what we promised them, a decent ROI.’

To add context to the Sunday Times Tech Track 100, a typical featured company has between 20 and 200 staff, is owned and run by entrepreneurs, has three years sales growth of between 40% pa-280% pa and has sales ranging from £5m-£50m.

Philip Cheek concludes by saying, ‘As previously mentioned, although we do appreciate national recognition our main objective as a company remains the same, ensuring our clients are better performing from a search perspective than their competitors.’

Smart Traffic (est.2006) provide Search Marketing Services to a diverse range of clients throughout the UK, Continental Europe, the US and Australia.

Advanced announces partnership with reconciliation solutions provider ReconArt

The Commercial Division of Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced)has announced that it has entered into a partnership agreement with ReconArt, the provider of the 100% web-based Total Reconciliation Lifecycle solution™. The ReconArt™ solution is now available to Advanced’s customers, providing them with an intuitive and quick-to-implement answer to all their reconciliation needs.

ReconArt, which can be implemented in-house or provided as a hosted Software-as-a-Service, fulfils an organisation’s entire reconciliation requirements, providing support for all types of transaction matching, exception management and reconciliation activity.

By replacing multiple, disjointed and often cumbersome solutions currently used for different areas of reconciliation and different stages of the reconciliation lifecycle with a single, integrated solution, ReconArt improves efficiency and reduces both operational costs and risk. It also ensures compliance with audit, regulatory and statutory requirements.

Simon Fowler, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions (Commercial Division), says, “ReconArt is the most comprehensive and user-friendly reconciliation solution on the market, making it the ideal choice for Advanced’s customers, regardless of size and industry sector. We are pleased to be adding ReconArt to our business applications portfolio and look forward to it streamlining our customers’ reconciliation processes and driving down their operational costs.”

ReconArt covers all reconciliation activity. This includes bank, cash, credit and debit cards, payables, receivables, suspense, fixed assets, inventory, ledger-to-sub ledger, inter and intra-company and non-financial data. It also manages all stages of the reconciliation process, from data import, transformation and enrichment through to matching, exception resolution, reporting, analytics, period-end reconciliation, attestation and certification.

Nicolo Nisbett, Executive Vice President Sales from ReconArt, says, “As ReconArt is so fast to implement and easy to use, organisations can be up and running very quickly. Being web-based, the solution is very cost-effective and can deliver a swift return-on-investment, making it a compelling proposition for finance departments across all business sectors.”

Monday, 17 September 2012

EIU report highlights growth of new banking models

Developing country lenders leading a virtual banking revolution will grow to 35% of the global market by 2016

A quiet revolution is occurring in the methods and composition of the global banking market, according to a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Banks in the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, and Africa are expanding rapidly, with plenty of scope for continued growth in their home markets. The report, Beyond branches: Innovations in emerging-market banking, says players such as Banco Bradesco of Brazil, HDFC of India or Kenya’s Equity Bank and M-Pesa are set to become the new kids on the banking block, accounting for 35% of the global market by 2016.

Crucially, their expansion is set to revolutionise banking methods, as innovative business models developed for lower-income markets are deployed across the developed world. Branded bank branches will become increasingly irrelevant, as financial transactions take place more frequently on mobile phones, over the Internet, in partner retail locations and even through home visits. A gradual decline in the use of cash will also make branches and automated teller machines of steadily declining importance.

Jason Karaian, author of Beyond branches: Innovations in emerging-market banking explained:  “This is a textbook case of disruptive innovation. Emerging market banks are growing to fill a domestic vacuum. In China 64% of adults have a bank account. In Brazil, the figure is 56%. In Russia (48%) and India (35%), less than one in two adults uses banking services.

“Tapping into underdeveloped markets has required a greater use of mobile and virtual banking. Now, as these new actors take to the global banking stage, they are set to transform the way the industry operates worldwide. This is both an opportunity and a major threat to the existing giants of world retail banking.”

Rich-country banking systems accounted for over 90% of worldwide industry assets as recently as 2004, according to EIU data. The financial crisis of 2008-09 marked the beginning of a global shift in the industry. Developing-country lenders now account for about 24% of global banking assets, and this share will increase to over 35% by 2016.

New model banking
New technologies are an important driver in the rise of emerging-market banks. Mobile banking and mobile payments have received the most attention, particularly in Africa, where few people have bank accounts but many own mobile phones. Other breakthroughs are important as well: widespread wireless Internet access now allows banks to reconcile financial transactions as they take deposits, honour withdrawals and grant loans nearly anywhere. Meanwhile, new payment systems increasingly allow for instant, cash-free transactions.

Low-cost business models are another key driver. Financial firms in developing countries are accustomed to serving many low-balance account holders. To do so, they have created appropriate systems for customer service and account maintenance. They often save money by reducing their own costs for expensive staff and locations, instead relying more heavily on technology, the outlets of their partners, and even mobile branches on lorries (in India) or riverboats (in Brazil).

Beyond branches: Innovations in emerging-market banking is available at:

Doing business in Germany: an invitation to meet key speakers from the German Convention Bureau, the German National Tourist Office and Lufthansa

Germany The Travel Destination
Invitation : ‘Green Meetings’ in Germany and ‘Sustainability in Business’

The German National Tourist Office and The German Convention Bureau are hosting a seminar and dinner on Wednesday, 26th September, from 4.30-8.30pm at the Blue Fin Venue, 110 Southwark Street, London SE1 0S. UK journalists are invited to attend.

The event is hosted by Mr. Klaus Lohmann, Director, UK and Ireland, the German National Tourist Office; keynote speakers include Mr. Dirk Schreier, Marketing and Pricing Manager of LUFTHANSA and Mr. Matthias Schultze, Director of the GERMAN CONVENTION BUREAU (GCB).

Green meetings at the world's major trade-fair and convention venues are the way forward: they are eco-friendly, they use the latest technology and they are always that bit more successful than you might have expected.

With two thirds of the world's flagship trade fairs held in Germany the seminar is an opportunity to find out more about ‘Green’ conferences in Germany and sustainability in business.

You will be given the chance to sample some ground breaking ethical products and to discover innovative approaches to ‘green business’, plus there will be news on sustainability trends and the evening includes a dinner buffet with wine tasting.

To register please reply via short email to or click on the following link:
Germany - Open for Business

"We look forward to seeing you there", said a spokesperson.

See their ‘10 Green Tips’ here for ideas on how to hold a ‘Green’ meeting:

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Reckitt Benckiser implements hybris Product Content Management, prepares for global roll-out

hybris, a provider of multichannel commerce and communication software, has announced Reckitt Benckiser, a major brand in the global health, hygiene and home care sectors, has implemented hybris Product Content Manager (PCM) to manage and support its product catalogue and intends to leverage other hybris components across the business.

Reckitt Benckiser is a FTSE Top 25 company and its success is led by powerful brands such as Finish, Vanish, Durex, Dettol, Harpic, Scholl and Veet. It operates in over 60 countries and sells in almost 200. In 2010 the company sold 20 million products a day. The hybris platform was originally selected by SSL International to support its eCommerce initiatives, which became part of Reckitt Benckiser in 2010. However, in Q4 2011, the company upgraded to a Group Licence and at the same time also purchased both the PCM and Customer Service modules from hybris.

“Our first priority was to use hybris’ core strength to support our product catalogue,” said Andrew Wootton, Head of Digital Solutions at Reckitt Benckiser. “We had experience of the hybris platform and we were looking for it to help us successfully transfer our product data online and improve efficiency. This integration is ongoing and growing in usage all the time, and ultimately we will publish this to our global retail customers.”

The Reckitt Benckiser team, based in Manchester, UK, has worked directly with hybris to implement and roll-out the PCM module. The next stage will be a much broader implementation, using hybris B2C Commerce to support transactional brand sites, from one platform, representing a major cost saving for the organization.

“We expect to improve our customer journey, so we are currently looking at the eCommerce options open to us,” said Andrew Wootton. “The adoption of the hybris platform has been very positive so far and we hope that it will continue to show all its strength as we move forward with our plans.”

Speaking about the contract, Ariel Lüdi, CEO of hybris, said: “Reckitt Benckiser is one of the world’s most successful organisations and we are delighted that our platform is helping them to achieve their commerce ambitions. Ensuring that the correct product information is in place and can be seamlessly updated will have a very positive effect on brand affinity and downstream selling opportunities once the company goes live with its various websites. With firm foundations in place, Reckitt Benckiser will be well positioned to deliver a first-class online service to its customers worldwide.”

Comufy’s Social CRM lets brands use Facebook Notifications to re-engage app users and increase ROI from apps

Social media marketing software company, Comufy, is the first company to integrate Facebook’s new Notifications function to a Social CRM system. Comufy has developed, as part of its social media marketing platform, a way for brands to send personalised messages to large numbers of Facebook app users, to notify them when their favourite apps have new content or offers that are relevant to them. This helps brands re-engage app users, and gives apps more longevity (and therefore deliver better ROI).

If you use an app on Facebook, the chances are that over time, you’ll stop using it, either because you forget about it, or because you don’t know if or when it’s been updated with content that’s relevant to you. Facebook is constantly seeking ways to create greater value for marketers from its platform, while retaining integrity with its app users. At the end of August, Facebook took a major step forward in helping marketers drive customer re-engagement, by launching Notifications API. This lets app owners send a message to customers, which appears in the notifications area at the top of your Facebook page. Comufy is the first company to develop a scalable Notifications service for brands: it lets app owners send personalised messages to large numbers of customers to alert them to new app content, features or offers that might interest them.

The Notification service is part of Comufy’s Social Suite, a social media marketing platform that captures and stores customer data (with permission) in a social CRM database, when the user signs up to the app. This data is then made available to marketers for analysis, segmentation and to create targeted, personalised messages.

“It’s pretty hard to ignore the little red notification number at the top of your Facebook page,” says Phil Mohr, Comufy’s CEO. “If you can re-engage customers by telling them when you’ve got something that’s really relevant to them, then the app has a longer lifespan, which increases its value to the brand. The real beauty of the Comufy system is the information marketers will be able to get from their customers – what they like, what they don’t like, and what content keeps them coming back. It gives a social media campaign much higher value and strategic importance.”

For a demo of Comufy Notify, see

UK Competitiveness slipping: Increase in workplace conflict to blame?

The UK’s inability to deal with conflict at work is reducing our efficiency. On average 370 million working days a year are lost as a result of conflict (CIPD, 2008). Unless UK Plc. opens its eyes to the impact workplace conflicts are having on our economy the situation can only worsen.

The value of employees is tied up in their emotional resilience and ability to deal with conflict at work – to get on with clients and colleagues and get on with the job. And we’re not doing well in comparison with the emerging Economies.

According to global research by OPP in 2008, Brazil not only trains more employees in conflict management than any other country but also “tops the league for positive outcomes from conflict; 84% versus 76% overall” (OPP 2008). Soon, it won’t just be the quality of life attracting British business brains abroad. If we do not act to deal with our conflict inefficiencies the UK could face the same fate as our manufacturing industry in the 1970s, as our reliance on the service sector means interpersonal skills are more essential than ever. Fall behind in how we get along with others, and we will once again get overlooked as companies set up businesses where people can be better relied on to sort out differences directly, and not take their employer to court.

So to stay competitive the UK service sector must accept the business imperative for becoming more conflict competent.

The Global Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEE 2012) has highlighted the UK’s fall from 7th-12th place in only a year. By making “conflict competence” a workplace must-have, our service sector will gain a new competitive advantage, and work more efficiently with the resources at hand.

“Conflict Competence” means valuing how relationships are sustained from top to bottom, and from policy to practice. Policies alone won’t succeed. Mediation is a case in point.

Managing Director of CMP Resolutions Katherine Graham said:  “Even though mediation can be found in most policies, it has yet to deliver the results it should. There is more to be done and that’s why CMP, as a long-standing advocate of mediation and pioneer of workplace mediation, has taken a step back to see the bigger picture. Why is workplace conflict such a tough employment issue? Because managers haven’t yet developed the skills they need to have difficult conversations; they still avoid managing poor performance, and find it hard to get their staff talking again when things go wrong. So we think Conflict Competence is the answer.”

According to the OPP, the UK workforce keeps their emotions “bottled up”, avoids conflict, and lets difficult situations get worse. In-order to buck this trend and make sure we can communicate with each other and our trading partners internationally, Britain is going to have to learn to relax that stiff upper lip!

White Paper: “Be a conflict-competent Employer and reduce the human, financial and reputational costs of escalated disputes”

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

EPiServer adds advanced behavioural merchandising capabilities to increase e-commerce conversions

Partnership with Apptus integrates personalisation, intelligent search and recommendations to enhance the online shopping experience offered by e-commerce enterprises

EPiServer, an innovator in multichannel digital marketing and e-commerce software, today announced the availability of behavioural merchandising for EPiServer Commerce through a partnership with Apptus and the integration of Apptus behavioural merchandising. The add-on uses Apptus’ self-learning software to automatically generate product navigation, personalised recommendations and offers for individual visitors, helping online retailers increase customer satisfaction, conversion rates and order values.

The behavioural merchandising software features ‘plug and play’ integration with EPiServer Commerce, minimising implementation time and risk, and can be deployed easily on any number of pages using pre-built widgets. Utilising customer behavioural data in this way is a cost effective method for organisations to improve conversion rates without the need for additional resource.

The auto-generation of tailored content provided by behavourial merchandising removes the need for merchandisers to build and maintain multiple rules and settings in order to deliver a personalised, up to date experience. Therefore it is particularly suited to helping companies with large or complex product catalogues to present customers with the most relevant search results, offers and product recommendations.

The automatic recommendations are based on an array of data including past purchases, trending top sellers, shopping basket, and recent activity. Apptus’ technology is also the only existing solution that uses the same behavioural software engine to power both search/navigation and recommendation functions.

“Taking e-commerce to the next level means personalisation is an essential part of the online shopping experience, but providing a personalised visitor experience based on huge and complex product catalogues can be a real challenge," said Bob Egner, vice president of product management at EPiServer. “This new behavourial merchandising add-on will reduce the work required for our customers to personalise while providing a powerful tool that enables them to increase conversions and boost order values.”

Michael Mokhberi, CEO at Apptus said, "Creating relevance in sales-related interactions is a great challenge for online retailers. Choosing a combination of EPiServer Commerce and Apptus Behavioural Merchandising means a unified and easy-to-install solution for personalised search, navigation and recommendations. Until now, solutions with this level of advanced capabilities have only been available to large retailers with multi-million dollar budgets. The cooperation between Apptus and EPiServer enables unparalleled relevance for online retailers.”

For further information on Apptus behavioural merchandising for EPiServer Commerce, please visit:

Prudential reveals fears over new generation of lost pensions

One in six (16 per cent) workers have lost track of their pension funds after changing jobs, according to research from Prudential, raising new fears over a generation of lost pensions.

To compound matters, the survey of employees found that three in four (76 per cent) people have no idea of the value of the company pension pots they have built up over their careers. Just 24 per cent are confident that they know the value of their combined pension funds.

More than four in five (81 per cent) workers failed to actively transfer their previous company pension funds across to their new employers, while another 15 per cent relied on their new employers to make the switch.

Keeping track of pension funds is a significant risk for younger workers, in particular, as they change jobs more frequently than older employees. According to Prudential's survey, workers aged between 18 and 34 have had, on average, three full-time jobs, compared with those aged 55 and over who have had just five jobs in their careers.

Stan Russell, retirement expert at Prudential, said: "Saving into a pension today is an important step in the right direction for workers, to help ensure a comfortable retirement.

"It is essential for people to understand what type and level of savings they have built up in the past. They must make sure that their previous employers have their most up-to-date personal details and are sending them annual pension statements, so they can keep themselves properly informed.

"Keeping track of pension savings at every age is important but it is even more crucial for younger workers, who are likely to switch jobs more often, to actively manage this process. It's also important to consider the benefits of transferring previous pension savings into a new employer's scheme, although seeking advice before making such a big decision is a must. For those who have lost track of their previous company pension pots, the Pensions Tracing Service should be able to help."

Prudential's research also found that workers who do know the value of their combined pension pots say they have built up an overall fund worth £110,207, on average, over their working lives. However, there is a significant gender gap here as men believe they have built up pension savings totalling £154,094, whereas women estimate they have saved only £50,512.

Charleston Financial Services Selected For Strategic Partnership Programme

Hertfordshire-based Charleston Financial Services is one of 18 brokers to have been selected for Shawbrook Bank's Strategic Partner programme, based on the particularly high quality of applications and successful conversion rates.

Shawbrook is a specialist savings and lending bank that offers it’s customers a modern take on the traditional banking model. The bank is committed to making it more straightforward for credit-worthy small businesses to borrow, and offers a range of lending products and savings accounts for individual and small business customers.

Shawbrook launched the Strategic Partnership programme for its network of commercial mortgage brokers, to recognise and reward those with the highest quality of work and ability to achieve a high conversion rate of new applications to successful loan completion. Charleston Financial is the only broker in the area to join the programme.

Shaw brook distributes its lending products through brokers rather than using a branch network, which means the bank can act quickly and efficiently when a loan is needed.

James Hardwick from Charleston Financial said: “We are proud to have been chosen as a strategic partner by Shawbrook Bank. It is refreshing in the current market to have a strong relationship such as the one we have with Shawbrook who are continuously working to improve both their customer offering by supporting and working with brokers. As a strategic partner we are now able to offer our customers a streamline and efficient mortgage process and at the same time reward our introducers for choosing Charleston Financial to package their Shawbrook cases.”

Stephen Johnson, Managing Director of Commercial Lending at Shawbrook Bank, added: "Brokers are a lynchpin in our business and we value their knowledge and market expertise. For our brokers and for Shawbrook, efficiency is key to completing deals and we launched the Strategic Partner programme to recognise and encourage the highest quality of business. We are excited to be able to reward Charleston Financial as one of the highest performers. We remain committed to working with all of our brokers and intermediaries to provide straightforward, no-nonsense banking to businesses and individuals in the UK."

Monday, 10 September 2012

Logistics group saves £100,000 a year with electronic invoicing solution from m-hance

The Russell Group, one of the UK’s leading logistics and warehousing firms, is achieving efficiency savings of over £100,000 per year after automating its purchase-to-pay process using m-hance’s electronic invoice solution, Invoice Approvals and Accruals (IA & A).

Before implementing IA & A, the Russell Group’s purchase-to-pay processes were extremely time-consuming and costly as a result of handling paper. Purchase invoices would arrive into its head office in Glasgow and then have to be circulated to its 15 different sites across the UK where they would require signatory approval. Invoices would often get lost or mislaid, resulting in further delays to the approval process.

Ronnie Johnstone, Group ICT Manager, from the Russell Group, explains, “Previously it took approximately four weeks from distributing an invoice to the relevant person to manually authorise it and then return the approved invoice to the finance department to process. As the organisation grew this became extremely inefficient as we used to spend inordinate amounts of time chasing people for approval.”

Johnstone continues, “The lack of visibility as to where invoices were in the approval chain also impacted the control we had over our finances and our supplier relationships who are very important to us.”

Using m-hance’s IA & A solution tightly integrated into its finance system, the 75,000 invoices that the Russell Group receives each year are now electronically scanned or emailed directly to its head office. IA & A accurately tracks the status and location of all unapproved invoices using its finance system’s query tool, speeding-up its entire approval process and significantly reducing the amount of wasted time associated with lost or missing documents.

The solution’s powerful invoice matching workflow provides added functionality for users to approve, reject or query scanned invoices via a web browser. This functionality also incorporates enquiries for entering and approving requisitions in addition to checking and approving invoices that have been marked as requiring approval, improving financial visibility and accounts payable reporting.

Johnstone comments, “By automating a range of paper-based processes m-hance’s solution is saving us in excess of £100,000 each year and has given us much greater financial control. IA & A is so easy to use and has given us remarkable time savings by reducing our invoice approval times from four weeks to just ten minutes, transforming staff productivity levels. Furthermore, paying our invoices in a timelier manner has enhanced our supplier relationships, and will place us in a stronger position to negotiate early payment discounts in the future.”

To further streamline its accounts payable processes, the Russell Group is considering implementing eInvoicing, m-hance’s new cloud-based invoice processing solution. eInvoicing, which seamlessly interfaces with IA & A, enables users to easily process text PDF invoices received via email, further cutting the costs associated with manual processing and eliminating the need to ever print, scan and circulate paper invoices.

Johnstone adds, “As a leading supply chain and logistics company we take our responsibilities to the environment extremely seriously. By dramatically cutting paper consumption we anticipate that eInvoicing will support our green agenda and deliver us additional significant efficiency savings by reducing our processing costs by up to 80%, further improving our bottom line.”

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Vodafone UK calls time on call charges for small businesses

- Talk and text as much as you want, get a free landline number on your mobile and loads of internet with Red Business, our best ever value plan for small business

- Unlimited calls and texts plus One Net Express, to make sure your business never misses a vital call, from £34.17 (ex VAT) a month

- Add Vodafone Data Sharer and share internet between devices Vodafone UK is launching Red Business, its best ever value plan for small business, bringing unlimited voice, text and a landline number to your mobile, plus loads of internet.

Vodafone pioneered mobile phone calling in the UK when it launched the first commercial service back in 1985. Since then phones have got smaller and smarter and new services have been introduced to make working on the move even easier, but talking is still a crucial part of doing business.

Now Vodafone is giving small businesses the ability to talk to their clients, customers and colleagues for as long as they need to without worrying about the cost. Businesses also get a landline on their mobile with Vodafone One Net Express included in the plan, ensuring they won’t miss a vital call whether they’re in or out of the office.

One Net Express helps small businesses change the way they work. It gives them a virtual landline number that goes straight through to their mobile phone. There’s no installation and the service comes with a host of additional features you wouldn’t normally get with a landline – such as a single voicemail inbox for all mobile and landline calls, free call forwarding and hunt groups, so you can be sure someone in your organisation always answers.

Red Business is available from £34.17 (ex. VAT) a month, and includes unlimited calls and texts, a landline number on your mobile plus 1GB of internet. For businesses looking to enjoy even more internet, Red Business Data includes a massive 2GB for just £38.33 (ex. VAT) a month. Both are available from 7 September.

For just an additional £5 a month, small businesses can also include Vodafone Data Sharer, a new service that allows you to share your internet among multiple devices at the same time. It allows you to be more productive on more devices when you are on the move. The new service also means that you only have to manage one single internet plan but you can share it among up to three devices.

Enterprise Director Peter Kelly said: “Talking has always been crucial to doing business and in today’s economic climate staying in touch with customers, colleagues and suppliers is more important than ever. That’s why we’re bringing unlimited calls and our One Net Express service together in Red Business. It’s the perfect plan for small businesses: unlimited calls, texts and loads of internet plus a virtual landline for your mobile phone so you’ll never miss a vital call.”

Unlimited means unlimited

Red Business offers unlimited calls to all UK mobiles – not just other Vodafone mobiles – and standard UK landlines, with no restrictions on how long a customer can talk or how many people they call.

For further information (from today, 7 September) visit