Tuesday, 31 July 2012

VeMerchant, world’s first cart recovery app launches in Apple Store

 Ve Interactive’s first iPhone and iPad app hit the Apple Store.

The VeMerchant app, dedicated to reporting live, real-time stats on shopping cart abandonment, recovery and conversion from the company’s VeCapture and VeContact software, is also the world’s first and only cart-recovery app.

VeMerchant is a dashboard reporting tool for online retailers who do not drive or track their sales through an existing affiliate network.

All data and analytics from Ve Interactive’s e-commerce software products are consolidated into Ve Interactive’s VeDataHub platform, which captures, segments, processes, remarkets and re-purposes millions of records daily, driving maximum digital revenues, and helping Ve Interactive’s online efficiency analysts get clients’ shopping-carts to their most efficient.

Explained co-founder CEO David Brown, “The way we’ve built VeCapture and VeContact is strategically modular, so that they can both operate independently, or be interdependent. Therefore in building VeMerchant, we’ve been able to draw from the VeDataHub in real time and launching the app as a further interface, demonstrates the scalable capability of our platform.”

The app is provided for free for all VeMerchant clients, fitting Ve Interactive’s philosophy of constant innovation in its products and services for the e-commerce industry.

The app brings live, real-time information to an iPhone or iPad from the VeMerchant platform, allowing merchants to view real-time reports so that they can monitor the performance of their remarketing campaigns and efficiency of their site metrics, on the go.

The app breaks down the following key statistics on a daily, monthly or annual basis:

• Abandonments
• Emails sent
• Email open rate
• Click-through rate
• Conversions
• Conversion rate
• Revenue recovered – Year to date or for a particular period specified.

Get the VeMerchant App

About Ve Interactive:

Head-quartered in London’s Tech City, Ve Interactive, founded in 2009, is an international data-driven-solutions company, operating in the digital marketing and software sector.

Named the Marketing Services Company of the Year 2012 by The Drum, Ve Interactive specialises in shopping-cart-abandonment, lead-generation and remarketing technologies for e-commerce merchants, as well as optimisation services. Its history of successfully increasing online conversions with its enterprise level software and Tier 4 data hosting, (Government level) has earned the company the reputation of being the most trusted cart recovery solution provider in the industry. It also works with the ICO and specialist media lawyers Lee & Thompson and has a dedicated Data and Compliance Officer in-house to ensure that its e-commerce clients are always compliant and using best practice.

The company is continuing to shape the e-commerce industry, having recently launched VeCommerce, the world’s first e-commerce platform with integrated cart recovery software.

Ve Interactive has also expanded its footprint internationally, opening offices in the USA, Australia, Sweden, Brazil and Germany. It was also recently shortlisted in the Software Satisfaction Awards 2012 and the Paris E-Commerce Awards 2012.

In 2011 it was honoured with a TechWorld 2011 UKTI Business Innovation Award, a British Interactive Media Association Award 2011 for Retail, a Marketing Innovation Award 2011, and a Best Business Award 2011. In 2012, it has been a finalist in the Econsultancy Innovation Awards, the Revolution Awards, the Performance Marketing Awards and The New Media Age Awards.

"Ve Interactive should be a key partner for any ecommerce business" Simon Harrow, Technology Officer - Kiddicare.com

Ve Interactive believes in responsible business and is proud to give its pro-bono services to the international charity, Concern Universal, to assist with their digital strategy. The Ve Interactive founders also incubate four other businesses that have a strong online element. Ve staff share in the ownership of these businesses too, which is not only great for their long-term wealth, but creates opportunities to gain greater business acumen as well.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

CloudApps chosen by British Business Embassy in run-up to London 2012

UK sustainability software leader CloudApps was been invited to take part in a UK-government backed online showcase of technology leading SMEs, which coincides with the visit of worldwide business leaders to London for the Olympics.

The Global Business Summit on ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) has been organised by the UK Trade & Investment as part of its London 2012 international economic legacy remit. CloudApps was selected as one of the companies to feature as part of an online Best of British showcase after the organisers received over 250 applications.

Around 400 delegates will attend the 3rd August event, with a much larger online business community. The event will be held at royal residence, Lancaster House, and speakers include Ministers, as well as leaders from UK technology companies such as BT, ARM and Logica as well as international ICT leaders. In addition to the high-level government and trade attendees, there will be a chance for the business globally to attend a ‘virtual conference’ which will last six months from the 3 August.

CloudApps CEO, Peter Grant said: “We have always believed ours is a sector where the UK leads the world and we are delighted to be chosen by UK Trade & Investment to represent our country at such a prestigious event. The London Global ICT Summit is the perfect platform to display how CloudApps helps global businesses manage down their energy and other costs through employee engagement. With this level of government support, we can really claim to be out in front.”

KYOCERA appoints Senior Service Manager to oversee European ITIL roll-out

KYOCERA Document Solutions
KYOCERA Document Solutions has appointed Norbert Wolter, Senior General Manager Service of KYOCERA Document Solutions Europe, to head a pan-European project to implement the ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) Service Management System across its European teams. The new project aims to achieve ISO20000 certification in 2013 by further improving KYOCERA’s service standards.

KYOCERA UK has pioneered the introduction of ITIL framework alignment to provide a structured and measurable approach to customer services which align with its MDS customer requirements. ITIL is particularly close to the hearts of KYOCERA’s MDS business in the UK, which initiated an ITIL training and alignment programme in early 2011.

Doug Muir, Customer Services Director, KYOCERA Document Solutions UK Limited said: “In the UK we have now trained over 30% of the entire company in ITIL practices and 50% of our Customer Services Division. We’ve also completely restructured our Customer Services Division to ensure we are fully aligned with ITIL. With Norbert guiding this project we can be sure that all of our Customer Service operations will continue to provide excellent service locally and ensure that our global customers can trust that the same service levels and operations will be consistently managed throughout their country operations.”

“Everyone is the same when it comes to one thing – the expectation of first-class service from KYOCERA. That’s what I’ll continue to work towards in my new assignment. I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead,” added Wolter.

The ITIL Service Management Framework is an internationally standardised approach which defines all required processes and responsibilities connected to providing a professional and consistent approach to Managed Document Services which rely on a mixture of hardware, software and services. KYOCERA Document Solutions Headquarters in Japan are planning to introduce the European ITIL approach worldwide.

For more details visit: www.kyoceradocumentsolutions.co.uk

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Are you one of life’s ‘initiators’…or one of the ‘herd’?

Are you the person that gets all your friends together for dinner? Are you the one that makes work meetings happen? Just one in five people is an ‘initiator’ who takes responsibility for organising the majority of their personal and business meetings, according to new research by online scheduling tool, Doodle.

A further one in five people – ‘disorganisers’ with an aversion to being- admit to never organising work meetings or social get togethers, whilst 55 per cent of respondents organise some meetings but are generally happy to herded by others.

The more senior the person, the more likely they are to be an initiator. These people tend to be busier than others, have more appointments per week and more contacts to manage. They also are more likely to use tools to help get meetings scheduled more efficiently.

Both initiators and other respondents are most annoyed by unresponsive people when they are trying to organise a group meeting – people that don’t respond was found to be more annoying than the difficulty of finding a suitable time or even no-shows and last minute cancellations.

“Scheduling meetings can be a real source of stress, so don’t let one person always take the strain,” said Tilman Eberle, Doodle. “Don’t be afraid to get help either - the portion of initiators amongst Doodle users is almost twice that as amongst general internet users.”

‘Initiators’ attend more group events:
• 50% have 3 or more group events per week (compared to 25% of non-initiators)
• Less than 10% of initiators have fewer than one meeting per week

Members of the ‘herd’:
• Formed a majority of the sample, with 55%
• Almost the half of the herd has 1 or 2 group events per week and only 17% less than one event

‘Disorgansiers’ don’t organise any events by themselves:
• They make up 23% of Internet users and just 3% of Doodle users
• 73% of them have less than one group event per week
• Many of them “don’t like to organize” (72%) and “don’t know a lot of people” (61%)

For more of the findings visit the Doodle blog.

Is remote working the solution to Olympic travel congestion?

Steven Turner, VP of IT Optimisation
The huge influx of tourists into London for the start of the Olympics has already put a great strain on the transport system with major rush-hour delays being reported on London roads after the Olympic Route Network (ORN) became operational as of Wednesday 25 July.

Numerous delays were also reported on the underground yesterday including a temporary suspension of the Northern Line hitting both regular commuters and those who had hoped they could escape the traffic chaos by using public transport. According to Dr Steven Turner, VP of IT Optimisation at Intergence – a leading independent IT optimisation consultancy – utilising cloud-based services and working remotely is the answer and preparation is key.

The congestion chaos is set to continue during and after the Olympics, with an estimated three million extra journeys expected to be made in London alone on the busiest days. Earlier this month Londoners were advised to try to “work from home, stagger working hours, work longer but fewer days, take annual leave and swap to walking and cycling where possible.”

Dr Turner explained: “Whilst not applicable to all employees, many of those who are office based could work both remotely and securely, improving productivity and work-life balance, whilst potentially saving hours of commuting per day. Secure, remote access technology is already widely available via cloud-based public services and also private connections to the corporate infrastructure via services such as Citrix XenApp or Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).”

Dr Turner continued: “To ensure a smooth end user experience, monitoring and optimisation must be applied to the applications: accelerating, protecting and prioritising essential services whilst preventing non-critical and recreational applications from impacting the end user experience.

This can be achieved by employing one or more of the following:

• WAN Acceleration via a software-based mobile client on the end user’s PC
• WAN Governance via a software-based mobile client on the end user’s PC and hardware control on the corporate WAN links
• Application performance monitoring of Services and WAN links at the Data Centre
• End user experience monitoring via a software based client on the end user’s PC to detect degradations in quality and sources of impairment

“The Olympics has provided a catalyst for businesses to introduce more flexibility into the workplace and is the perfect opportunity to test-drive the remote working model. The above techniques can provide the remote employee with an experience similar to that which they would expect were they sitting in the office, with all the added benefits of working from home” Dr Turner concluded.

Chinee fashion retailer Bosideng opens its doors

The newly-opened Bosideng London storeChinese men’s fashion retailer Bosideng opened the doors to its first European flagship store in the heart of London fashion, the West End, on 26 July 2012.
Located just off Oxford Street on South Molton Street, the 30 million GBP building is home to Bosideng’s new premium menswear collection, designed for the European market by Nick Holland and Ash Gangotra, who have previously collaborated with Oasis’ Liam Gallagher on his Pretty Green label.

Considered the first Chinese retailer to have moved over to the UK, Bosideng is a market leader in China with over 10,000 outlets, but the London store is its first overseas flagship store and will act as the company’s European headquarters.

Bosideng's new retail flagship store was delivered by Sheffield-based architects Ward McHugh Associates and London-based contractors McLaren. The building's stunning design was created by award-winning architects DSDHA.

“After years of planning, we’re delighted that our first overseas flagship store is open,” said Bosideng UK CEO Wayne Zhu. “It’s a pleasure to give the public the opportunity to browse our excellent European Autumn Winter collection.”

For further information please visit www.bosidenglondon.com.

Fortescue Metals Group selects Active Risk Manager for Enterprise Risk Management

Active Risk announced that Fortescue Metals Group Limited (Fortescue), one of the largest iron ore producers in the world, has selected its award-winning software Active Risk Manager (ARM) for enterprise risk management across its organizsation. Fortescue, based in Australia, is regarded as a major new force in iron ore.

ARM was selected after Fortescue performed an in-depth evaluation of four different risk management products. ARM will be used by Fortescue to proactively identify, understand, manage and plan the mitigation of risk across all its operations and to provide dynamic information for decision making.

Geoff Harry, Group Manager - Risk at Fortescue said, “We chose Active Risk as the people there clearly demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of risk management in terms of what it is and how valuable it is to an organization. A further reason ARM was selected is that there is a defined development pathway for the product. This combination of risk management knowledge, a proven technology platform and a way forward for the future made Active Risk Manager the first choice for Fortescue.”

Active Risk Manager is being implemented by Fortescue at corporate and individual business unit levels in order to provide visibility of the enterprise risk profile and to drive risk mitigation actions. The reporting tools within ARM will be used to further promote visibility of risk information across the enterprise to ensure performance.

Loren Padelford, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Active Risk commented, “As a leading player in its field Fortescue understands the importance of using Enterprise Risk Management to underpin outstanding business performance to build value for the organization. Our customers tell us that ARM makes the risk management process less complex by focusing on six core steps – identify, analyze, control, monitor, improve and report. This drives involvement within businesses and delivers senior management the relevant and timely information needed for strategic decision making. We are very pleased to welcome Fortescue to the growing community of ARM users in Australia and across the World.”

ARM customers include Leighton Contractors, US Air Force, London Underground, NASA, Rio Tinto and EADS.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

20% off Brochure Printing from Award Winning Shropshire Printers

Graphics and Print, the Shropshire printers are offering 20% off on all brochure printing for two weeks only, from the 23rd July - 3rd August. This is a great offer when you consider that the Telford based commercial printers are award winning printers for their brochure print.

Managing Director, Martin Kells, is extremely proud to be an award winning brochure printer and loves to bring customers value for money: “It’s not every day that a firm who are award winners in a particular field offer a discount like 20%. We proved the quality of our work beating off competition from over 2000 commercial printers to win the McNaughton Review Print Award for Brochures, so it’s great to be able to offer customers a discount knowing there will be no reduction in the quality of the product they receive. We constantly seek to bring value for money to our customers so a 20% discount on top of an already very competitive price, is a great offer which customers shouldn’t miss out on. But the offer does only last for two weeks so please get your orders in quickly to avoid disappointment.”

The offer being made by the Shropshire printers is subject to a maximum discount of up to £500 per customer and includes orders for either the brochure print on its own or design and print. Graphics and Print have been supporting customers to not only print brochures but also design them as well for over 30 years and with award winning designers’ within the Graphics and Print design studio, you are in safe hands. Earlier this year, one of the Graphics and Print designers won an award, beating competition from hundreds of designers from around the world, to design the Liverpool FC Twitter page. Graphics and Print has a great mix of designers, some with vast experience of the design and print industry and others who are new to print but who bring fresh, modern and creative ideas. The combination means that they can provide the best of both worlds in terms of creative design for their customers.

Having an in-house design studio is something else which Graphics and Print are very proud of. The whole end to end print process from design through to print, finishing and despatch, all takes place under one roof, meaning that the Shropshire printers can stay close to quality controls from start to finish – just one of the many reasons why they are an award winning brochure printer.

Alcohol brands must take social marketing seriously and avoid ‘dabbling’ to stay the right side of the regulator

Alcohol brands must take their social media marketing seriously and not be tempted to just dabble, or they could risk their reputations and a run-in with regulators.

That was the overriding message from a seminar staged by Birmingham-based communications agency Seal, which was attended by representatives from 10 brewery and alcohol brands and the Advertising Standards Authority.

Initiatives such as the recently announced ‘Responsible Marketing Pact’ show the sector is aware of the need to act responsibly. However, the situation at the coalface shows that social media marketing is more complex than many marketers appreciate.

The power and the pitfalls of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, when it comes to complying with strict rules on the marketing of alcohol, were outlined at the seminar at which delegates were advised that it was easy to be seduced by the low cost and huge reach of social media channels and its value in engaging and interacting with consumers.

Jason Navon, digital strategist, said: “Social media channels are powerful marketing tools but they need to be treated with caution. It is not simply a case of jumping on board because others are. It requires an investment of resources and the kind of care and attention you would pay to other forms of communications. It needs to be planned, run properly and constantly monitored.”

Seal is to issue guidelines on the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ of social media use to the industry representatives who attended the round-table discussion which was chaired by Gordon Johncox, Marketing Director of Aston Manor.

Delegates agreed that the social networks needed to develop better frameworks if they wanted to monetise their offering to the drinks sector. It was felt too that regulators must talk to Facebook and others to apply pressure for the functionality the industry required, particularly when it came to restricting access to content to the over 18s. Twitter was introducing age-gating in the USA for example, but it had yet to come to the UK.

Among the event conclusions was that the pace of technical innovation meant that the next ‘hot’ internet property could work in a completely new way and marketers will once again need to adjust accordingly.

Hayley Fletcher of the Advertising Standards Authority demonstrated how alcohol businesses could fall foul of regulations and codes of practice if they did not monitor social media keenly and used channels whose audience comprised more than 25% of under 18s. If you would not feel comfortable using something on an advertising billboard, don’t put it on your Facebook page, was her advice.

The dangers posed by the huge amount of user generated content by people who were unaware of and crucially did not care about the restrictions on anything to do with alcohol marketing was clearly shown in a case study.

Seal revealed how it had been called in to evaluate one alcohol brand’s Facebook page. It found a lack of control and monitoring had put it in breach of ASA regulations. Seal had to review thousands of posts, take the site down temporarily, remove certain videos and make recommendations to ensure it met alcohol-related codes while retaining a fun and engaging tone with its consumers.

Lucy Kemp, Seal’s Deputy MD said: “Understanding your consumers is key, including understanding some of the street language they use which we were not familiar with. We found you cannot leave the content to your consumers; it needs to be monitored so it does not damage your brand but it cannot be completely sanitised either because you will lose the engagement.

“An uncontrolled environment is a dangerous environment. If you are not sure about certain channels and comments posted, err on the side of caution. Do not just jump into social media; you need robust guidelines and processes in place. It is not something you can just set up and leave alone, you need to be active not passive.”

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Global employment survey shows levelling out in market for professionals and managers

A regular international survey of over 20,000 organisations in 50 countries has found that job markets for professionals and managers around the world appear to be relatively stable.

The ‘Global Snapshot’ project from the multi-national recruitment firm, Antal International, asked 20,546 companies in major markets such as western and eastern Europe, Africa, India, China and the USA whether they were currently hiring at professional and managerial level.

It then asked whether they planned to do so in the coming quarter and whether they were currently letting staff go or were planning to do so in the next three months.

Current hiring levels across the globe were down slightly with 51% of respondents recruiting at professional and managerial level in comparison to 55% in the last survey in April. 49% of organisations questioned intended to hire in the coming quarter.

However, the overall rate of attrition has dropped from 20% in April to 18% now and this is expected to fall again to just 16% over the next three months.

Western Europe
The highest levels of hiring were found in Iceland (94%), Denmark (75%) and Ireland (63%), while the lowest were recorded in Germany where only 27% of companies questioned were in the process of recruiting at professional or managerial level. In the UK the percentage of businesses recruiting was up from 45% in April to 49% now and is expected to drop by just 1% over the coming quarter. Despite that fact that Western Europe has been a long-term casualty of the financial meltdown of 2008, almost all of the countries surveyed in the region indicated at least some rise in hiring activity at professional and managerial level, even the Eurozone’s most high profile victims of the downturn, Spain and Greece.

Eastern Europe and Eurasia
The highest levels of recruitment in this region were found in Israel (80%), Russia (68%) and Bulgaria (63%). The lowest was recorded in Hungary (24%).

Middle East
Employment markets were relatively strong across the region, the weakest, in UAE, registering a respectable 54% hiring rate, up from 49% in April. The highest levels of recruitment were found in Qatar (76%) and Saudi Arabia (73%).

In the continent’s most high profile economy, South Africa, hiring levels were down from 53% in December to 50% now, but this figure is expected to rise to 57% over the next three months.

Asia Pacific
Pakistan recorded the highest level of recruitment activity in the region with 75% of organisations currently hiring, followed by Taiwan with 70%. Activity in China had remained constant since the last survey in April at 72% and this was expected to continue into the coming quarter. In India the percentage of organisations increasing headcount had also remained constant at 55%, but this was due to a rise marginally to 56% in the next three months.

The Americas
Canada registered the strongest performance in North America with 73% of businesses currently seeking staff, while the figure for US employers was 66%, up from 48% in April. In Latin America the most buoyant hiring market was in Mexico where 74% of businesses were hiring at professional and managerial level.

“In our view the results of the latest Snapshot research does not suggest either any significant improvement or worsening of the global economic picture,” says Antal’s CEO, Tony Goodwin. “Instead, we would suggest this indicates that many organisations have now come to accept uncertainty as an unwelcome, but inherent part of business life and are consequently pushing ahead with investment and development in this ‘new normal’. As a consequence, while McKinsey & Co’s notorious ‘war for talent’ may be on indefinite hold in many sectors and disciplines, there is no doubt that it is most definitely raging again over those individuals whose specialist technical skills and entrepreneurial application are key to driving businesses forward.”

A full copy of the survey report can be downloaded at www.antal.com

Prices to double for business electricity users?

Energy bills for business electricity and domestic customers will have to at least double to make the construction of new nuclear reactors in the UK financially viable, according to reports.

Energy companies would need to achieve a wholesale price of £100 per megawatt hour, over double the current price, to justify investment in the plants, industry sources have told The Financial Times.

A new generation of nuclear power stations forms the basis of the government’s strategy to ensure the UK has a secure and low-carbon energy supply into the future. But the cost of building the plants has increased by £3 billion since last year’s earthquake in Japan.

“If you do the maths on that, you would conclude that £100 is the number one would need to get a reasonable return,” a person close to the negotiations on the level of government support energy companies should receive to build new reactors told The Financial Times.

This week, a committee of MPs described the government’s planned energy bill, which aims to facilitate the £110 billion investment needed to replace the UK’s power plants, as so flawed that it was likely to scare off investors.

MPs have urged the government to reconsider the draft Electricity Market Reform bill over the summer to include provisions for it to underwrite the private investment required as an investment for power companies to invest.

"The government is in danger of botching its plans to boost clean energy, because the Treasury is refusing to back new contracts to deliver investment in nuclear, wind, wave and carbon capture and storage," said Tim Yeo, chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has already warned that energy bills will rise significantly by 2012 to cover the cost of upgrading gas and electricity networks.

The £22 billion programme is aimed at overhauling the network that distributes electricity around the UK. Distribution costs typically account for around 20% of a household gas bill.

Julian Morgan, managing director of the Energy Advice Line, the UK’s leading business electricity price comparison and switching service, said it was clear that there were tough times ahead for business electricity users.

“Whatever the outcome of the government’s energy reform bill, the amount of investment required to upgrade the UK’s ageing power stations is substantial and investors will requiring end-users to cover some of those costs,“ Mr Morgan said.

“It is now more important than ever for small and medium-sized firms to consider their energy spend very carefully as prices are inevitably on their way up.

“This means analysing their business electricity consumption, plus the price they are paying and their energy contract arrangements.

“Many firms are simply throwing money away by failing to ensure they are paying the best available market tariff and locking that in on a fixed contract.

“We help businesses every day save considerable sums by searching the market to find the best deals. And we follow that up with a contract management service so that we can help firms with any problems they have during their fixed-term contracts.”

The Energy Advice Line provides expert business energy advice to organizations of all sizes in the UK and offers the easiest, simplest and most reliable energy quotation service on the market.

The online service allows firms to input their details and with just a few computer strokes generate the five best energy quotes from a wide-ranging panel of business energy suppliers.

The Energy Advice Line also offers a free contract management service whereby a team of business electricity experts is available to help with ongoing questions or problems with the contract or energy supplier.

The service also includes a complementary renewal reminder service to let firms know when their fixed-term contract ends so they know when to give notice to their supplier and search the market for a cheaper deal.

For further information visit the Energy Advice Line at www.energyadviceline.com

Hunt is on for Best of British high street windows

Courtesy of Bentalls
Courtesy of Bentalls
It’s all been happening in Britain this summer, what with the Jubilee celebrations and sporting events including Wimbledon and now the Games. So if you’ve been out and about on Britain’s high streets, has a shop window display caught your eye as well as your imagination?

Britain is reputedly a ‘nation of shopkeepers’ and a competition has been launched to find exactly which of our high street window displays are truly Best of British. Ipsos Retail Performance would like your help in finding Britain's best displays and has unveiled The Ipsos Retail Prize to celebrate the most visually creative and effective high street designs in your village, town or city.

What is it that catches your eye? Is it stark minimalism, clever aerial props, or red, white and blue pomp and circumstance in bold eye-popping colors that gives the store that ‘WOW’ factor and makes a visit inside totally irresistible?

“First impressions count in retailing and the importance of visual merchandising, to engage and inspire customers into the store, is a very important means of increasing footfall and sales,” says Peter Luff, president of Ipsos Retail Performance. “This is why we are celebrating the art of window design – starting with the Best of British theme - with the Ipsos Retail Prize.’

The Consumers’ Choice Best Shop Window Design is the ultimate accolade for any window dresser. Nominated by shoppers on Britain’s high streets, these are the displays that turn heads, make them linger for a while longer, and ultimately entice them into a store. By nominating their favourite displays, consumers will be entered into a monthly draw where they could win a luxury Best of British hamper.

Retailers can also nominate their own window displays for a chance to become Best of British and win a prize. They can find out more information about their competition by visiting www.ipsos-retailperformance.com/bestofbritish

All of the images submitted by shoppers will be judged by Ipsos Retail Performance. Winners will be announced in October 2012. To find out more about how you can enter, visit http://ipsosretailprize.wufoo.eu/forms/photo-competition/

Monday, 23 July 2012

Keeping it brief: toffee announces snappy new cases for iPad and MacBook

toffee croc brief for iPad_frontThe leather brief collection comes in a stunning red or classic black for the 11” MacBook Air, 13” MacBook Air/Pro and 15” MacBook Pro, including for the new retina display version. Each slim-line case is superbly handcrafted from genuine pebble-grain leather. The new glamorous croc embossed leather range is available for the 13” MacBook Air/ Pro plus the iPad 2 and new iPad. 
Designed to protect your iPad or MacBook, these stylish cases are the most sophisticated way to carry your hardware this season, complete with retractable handles allowing for easy portability and use. The interior includes handy elasticated straps to embrace your notebook, securing and protecting it while you work.

The toffee briefs also come complete with front pocket detailing for holding all your everyday essentials, making them the ideal case for both work and lifestyle use.

“We know how important it is for our customers to have a case that protects their MacBook or iPad while looking stylish too,” says Natasha Sullivan, toffee co-founder. “That’s why we created these briefs, and added the exclusive crocodile print versions for those that want that extra bit of luxury.”


Available in classic black, the limited edition croc briefs are priced at £64.95 for the iPad2 and new iPad and £99.95 for the 13” MacBook Air/Pro.

The red and black toffee briefs are priced at £69.95 for the 11” MacBook Air, £99.95 for the 13” MacBook Air/Pro and £104.95 for the 15” MacBook Pro.

To view the full range of toffee products or for a list of UK stockists, please visit www.toffeecases.com.

Sydney based accessories brand, toffee, focuses on complimenting and protecting the stylish technology we all use on a daily basis. The brand started in 2005 with a number of stylish black leather sleeves for earlier Apple products such as the iBook and Powerbook. The range now covers a wide variety of products, in a rainbow of colours and materials. Using only high quality materials, toffee’s aim is to make products that look even better as they age. The popularity of toffee products extends beyond Australia to all over the world, with loyal fans who appreciate the company’s approach to quality and style.

The toffee range is stocked in retailers throughout Australia, New Zealand, North America, Asia and Europe, and has recently launched in the UK.

Website: www.toffeecases.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/toffeecases
Twitter: www.twitter.com/toffeecases

GFT Markets launches DealBook for Android™

GFT Markets, the global provider of retail and institutional currency and derivatives trading has launched a native Android™ application for its award winning DealBook® trading platform. DealBook® for Android is uniquely designed with speed, performance and reliability as key attributes. DealBook® for Android will also scale to fit most tablets and is additionally available for the Kindle Fire. This complements other bespoke GFT Markets DealBook® mobile applications that have been launched recently for both the iPhone® and iPad®, whilst a universal version of the mobile platform can also be supported on any internet enabled handset.

As mobile handsets become ever more powerful, retail traders across the globe expect to be able to monitor their accounts and deal in real time on a fully functional platform, regardless of their location. DealBook® for Android allows clients to place the full range of order types, set SMS or e-mail price alerts and edit these orders across over 120 currency pairs and 3200 markets as a CFD or spread bet. Clients also have the ability to monitor P&L accounts, access a range of text and video-based resources and get 24hr support by phone, e-mail or live text chat, anytime, anywhere.

Martin Slaney, Director of Global Product Management at GFT Markets, said: “The release of DealBook® for Android is the latest illustration of how we listen to what our clients want, then invest the time developing a product that exceeds their expectations. We will continue to work with our trading community to ensure that GFT as a company and the DealBook® trading platform both keep delivering the services they want, now and into the future.”

All GFT Markets clients can log into DealBook® for Android simply by using their existing account details and password. Live markets news and a full range of charting options, plus the ability to overlay key technical indicators is also available. The application can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

About DealBook® for Android

DealBook® for Android can be viewed on a mobile device. The user interface has been designed for the smartphone, but is accessible on any Android enabled tablet device.

Minimum OS compatibility is Android 2.1. The DealBook® for Android app was designed based on Android 3.0.
The application currently supports English and Japanese language versions.

From local offices in London, New Jersey, Grand Rapids, Dubai, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo, GFT provides its global client base with the opportunity to speculate and trade in a broad range of markets, quickly, efficiently and securely. Most known for its award-winning DealBook® platform available for desktop, the web, or mobile phone, GFT also provides options for automated trading, 24/7 customer service, and competitive spreads even in times of market volatility.
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Sunday, 22 July 2012

The importance of appearance: website users take less than 50 milliseconds to decide whether site’s good or bad

A study at Carleton University in Ottawa shows that website users take less than 50 milliseconds to form an opinion on whether a site is good or bad, according to the way it looks. The study, led by Professor Gitte Lindgaard, showed users the websites for 50 milliseconds each, and asked them to rate them in terms of aesthetic appeal. The results surprised even them: ‘My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds,’ said Professor Lindgaard – but users were able to rate sites within a fraction of that time.

‘The length of time people take to judge a website has huge implications,’ says Nick Taylor, managing director of Liverpool-based web design and marketing company e-blueprint. ‘Their first impressions give way to a ‘halo effect’, so if they think the site looks good, they transfer that assessment to its functionality. It means we literally have milliseconds to persuade customers that sites are trustworthy, efficient, and can do what they want them to do, which is why a bespoke website design always works best.’

Good design is composed of three vital ingredients; imagery, colour and typography. ‘Bespoke imagery shows customers you believe in your business,’ says Nick. ‘It’s also a big part of your personality, and good product photography - ideally between three and five shots from different angles - is essential. Colour also has a very emotional effect. We automatically associate certain things with certain colours, like red and black in horror movies, pastel baby products, and technology signalled by electric blues and greens or black and grey.’

Finally, typography gives us the biggest visual clue to what we need to do, and when. Clear, easy-to-read fonts, good spacing and consistent use of titles and ‘call to action’ text helps users to know what to do, and when. ‘Good design is vital, but you need to be clear about what you want before you start,’ says Nick. ‘It’s important to work through a complete ‘task analysis’ programme - working out what you want customers to do, and making sure that you’re creating all of the right steps to lead them that way.’

Matt Wilson, chief executive officer of Crosby Communications, an e-blueprint clients, says: 'We like the designs, creativity and innovation e-blueprint bring. They understand us, so they get results more quickly, which is more cost effective. We’re using that quality and resource to roll out another five to eight sites over the next six months…’

e-blueprint's five golden design rules are:

1.) Know what you need to achieve… Use a ‘task analysis’ system to work out the responses you want from a customer or client, and how to translate them into your site’s design

2.) Clean, consistent design focuses your customer’s attention on specific parts of the page, helping to ease them through the buying process…

3. ) At least 3-5 shots of your product – from different angles – help customers make potentially tricky online purchasing decisions

4.) Colour has a massive emotional effect. If people can only see the colours you use from a distance, they’ll already be making subconscious decisions about you and what you do…

5.) Good, clear typography tells your customers EXACTLY what you want them to do

Tanya Lyons, promoted to National Business Manager at multi-sector recruiter, Barker Ross

Tanya Lyons has been promoted to national business manager for multi-sector recruiter, Barker Ross.

Lyons will be responsible for developing large manufacturing and distribution accounts with a high volume of temporary workers, utilising Barker Ross’s biometric resources and e-training systems which ensure productivity and safety.

Lyons joined Barker Ross ten years ago in a trainee recruitment consultant role. She comments:
“I joined our industrial division in a trainee role, and soon saw that I had the skills to operate as a consultant. Barker Ross gave me that opportunity, which today sees me become national business manager. This role really suits me as for the last few years; I have specialised in high volume recruitment and really developed my skills and contacts in this area.”

Paul Ross, chief executive and founder of Barker Ross says: “Tanya has developed here and is now a very competent recruitment professional; whose dedication and commitment to providing a first class service at all times is second to none. The advantage with Tanya’s experience is that she thoroughly understands client requirements and is aware of Barker Ross’s ability to deliver against those. I’ve never known Tanya oversell and will only commit to what she firmly believes Barker Ross can deliver.”

“I think that keeping people like Tanya with us for many years has been the key to our success. Whereas many recruitment companies have quite high staff turnover, our people generally stay here a long time. And clients love this as they can build a relationship with someone and speak to the same person every time they need to recruit.”

Lyons is based in Milton Keynes, where Barker Ross recruits temporary and permanent staff for logistics, food, industrial, waste, construction, energy, civil engineering and housing companies.

Visa Europe Confirm Allied Wallet As Approved Merchant Agent

Allied Wallet has today become one of the 45 approved Visa Merchant Agents

Visa Europe announced that after 31 December 2012 banks should only allow their merchants to use Merchant agents that have been registered with Visa Europe, to ensure that agents comply with appropriate standards of security and acceptable business practice. The term 'agent' can include any entity that provides payment or payment related services to merchants (wallet providers, payment processors, shopping carts, web hosting companies etc)

From 1 Jan 2013, banks must either move their merchants from existing agents to ones that have been listed, or terminate the merchant's processing contract. Failure to do so may incur penalties from Visa Europe.

It is estimated that there are anything up to 6000 agents providing services for merchants in Europe.  Currently only 45 (including Allied Wallet) have been registered by Visa Europe. The list of approved VISA MERCHANTS was created by Visa Europe to serve the main purpose of encouraging online retailers to improve data risk management and become more aware and protected against online fraud and data compromises. Agents that do not comply to these regulations risk losing the ability to process any Visa payments on their websites.

Already PCI DSS Level 1 Certified for two years running, Allied wallet are proud to be registered on Visa Europe’s list of Merchant Agents.

Andy Khawaja, CEO of Allied Wallet said “ This registration, combined with our PCI DSS Compliance, demonstrates Allied Wallet's commitment to the security and reputation of all its partners (banks, merchants, resellers). At Allied Wallet we provide leading edge services, security and value and are very happy to now receive recognition from Visa Europe. We will continue to provide and maintain the highest security standards “

Allied Wallet continues to revolutionize the e-commerce industry by introducing new and innovative payment processing solutions for online merchants, enabling them to send and receive international payments. With PCI compliant merchant services for nearly any business size, Allied Wallet provides a state-of-the-art payment gateway to optimize online transactions. Please visit www.alliedwallet.com for more information.

Health of UK retail remains in doldrums but buoyed by summer events

The Retail Health Index drops again
The Retail Health Index drops again
- Demand in quarter two was better than expected, but still detrimental to the health of UK retail. A similar trend is expected in quarter three.

- Margins were better protected in quarter two than quarter one as promotional activity and discounting was more targeted and discreet.

- Costs remained largely neutral rather than detrimental to health.

According to the KPMG/Ipsos Retail Think Tank (RTT), the state of retailing was not quite as bad as in quarter two as it had predicted it would be back in April. The Retail Health Index (RHI) dropped one point to 78 over the quarter, maintaining the rate of decline seen in quarter one. The RTT expects this rate to continue in quarter three. Though the health of the sector is still in the doldrums, the downward gradient is not as steep as it was over the second half of 2011.

Following its meeting in July 2012, the RTT – a panel of retail experts that meets quarterly to provide authoritative and independent views on issues affecting the sector – states that summer events have helped bolster retail sales, and without them the sector would have suffered far greater. The underlying state of the economy continues to plague retailers affected by one of the country’s wettest summers on record; this despite petrol prices decreasing slightly and inflation easing.

At the end of quarter one, the RTT had predicted another difficult quarter ahead for the retail industry, whilst acknowledging it would be buoyed by The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. That proved to be the case, with food and drink sales in particular, boosted. However, the rise in footfall and sales on the back of the Jubilee was immediately dampened by poor weather, which has remained. This was in stark contrast to the Royal Wedding in 2011 when the event created a feel-good-factor that brought about a three-week mini boom for retailers.

RTT members agreed that April was a dire month, and were it not for the week of good weather in May and the Jubilee week in June, the quarter would have been far worse. On a positive note, though, RTT members reported that demand for indoor goods, including home ware and small electrical goods, is more robust, as households put more emphasis on home living and home entertainment. The inclement conditions and televised sporting events (such as Euro 2012 and Wimbledon) were also factors at play.

In the current abandonment of normal shopping patterns, of shopping for summer clothes as collections are released during spring and early summer, and for seasonal goods and equipment for the garden and outdoors, consumers are instead in reactive mode, responding to opportunities as and when the mood takes them. Demand is far spikier than before.

Helen Dickinson, Partner and Head of Retail, KPMG UK, said: “Overall, there have been some downsides and upsides to retail health in the quarter, but nothing especially dramatic, including the impact of the Jubilee. Costs remained pretty neutral and it was really low demand and eroded margins that were the two weakest links. The underlying trend is still very weak. When the good weather has appeared occasionally, it’s had an impact, but people are only spending then because they’ve been holding back.”

Dr Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Earlier in the year we saw a lot of promotional and discounting activity among retailers, but this could not be sustained because margins were taking a real hit. There has been some similar activity in quarter two, but this has been more discreet and targeted. In some cases, retailers have got away with offering a little bit less than they did in quarter one. Notably, the launch of summer sales at the end of June helped to lift footfall.”

Neil Saunders, Managing Director of Retail Analysts, Conlumino, added: "Shoppers spent far less in April, especially on summer stock. What we have noticed, though, is latent demand among consumers. Spend that would have happened in April was brought into both May and June. Much of this was driven by the Jubilee which was a fantastic excuse for people to splash out a little. Without this impetus the whole quarter would have been extremely subdued.”

Vicky Redwood, Chief UK Economist at Capital Economics, said: “Consumer confidence failed to pick up over the past quarter, consistent with the idea that underlying demand remains relatively weak - perhaps because disposable incomes are still under significant pressure. We will see real incomes rising soon for the first time in a long time, but pay is still below inflation. And other uncertainties, such as the Euro crisis, are having an impact on credit conditions, so all in all it’s still a bit of a minefield for consumers and retailers.”

Mark Teale of CB Richard Ellis, said: “There is a degree of consumer boredom with the High Street offer. It is not just the clone-town thing. Many brands are pretty tired: it is no coincidence that many of the multiples that have slipped into administration over the last 3-4 years had been around, with very similar offers, for many years. You can see the same thing happening with the traditional food court. Much of the fast-food offer is pretty tired too. High Streets need change. They need new blood. That is happening at the luxury end of shopping, most obviously in Central London. It is also happening at the discount end. Change elsewhere is at a snails’ pace, not least because many retailers are simply struggling to keep their heads above water and new entrants are few and far between. We are in recession after all. But new offers will grow out of the wreckage.”

Independent Retail Analyst, Nick Bubb, said: “The type of purchases by consumers have been highly skewed towards indoor goods such as televisions, other electronic and electrical devices, and other home related products. By comparison, the food sector is under intense pressure because it’s driven by events and promotions. The weather has had an impact, but it works both ways; people sometimes shop because there’s nothing else to do! What this all means is that we’ve seen wide variations in the performances of different retailers, such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer.”

Commenting on the next quarter, Richard Lowe, Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays, said: “There should be some upsides this summer as sporting events take prominence, enticing a greater number of overseas visitors to the Capital. Early summer sales have already given a much-needed boost to retail sales and contributed somewhat to the recent fall in inflation. This drop in inflation will benefit most households, however it will take time for this to have a material impact on consumer behaviours in terms of changing spending habits.”

Summarising the RTT’s July discussion, Helen Dickinson of KPMG, said: “The health of UK retail in quarter two was pretty much as expected and our forecast for quarter three is much the same as quarter two. There continues to be a poor and underlying situation facing retailers that pushes out any sign of recovery for the sector. The question is whether or not we will see any upturn. In other words, is the situation now normal, will it get worse, or is the ‘new normal’ just slightly better than what retailers are currently experiencing? The fact might be that yesterday was much better than it should have been.”

Aer Lingus targets business routes as part of airport switch

Aer Lingus is to move to George Best Belfast City Airport in the autumn after five years at Belfast International.

Following a tender process involving both airports, the decision has been taken to base two aircraft at the city airport during the winter and three during the summer.

A new-look winter schedule for 2012 will target two key routes for business, leisure and transfer traffic to London Heathrow and London Gatwick. There will be three flights daily to each airport in each direction.

The summer schedule, which begins from the end of March 2013, will operate daily flights to two sun destinations, Malaga and Faro in addition to the three daily rotations each to London Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

"Northern Ireland's vital London connections are secure with Aer Lingus," said Christoph Mueller, the airline's chief executive, who announced the decision to move airports. "The two aircraft which we normally use in the winter for a mixture of sun destinations and Heathrow will be used for Heathrow and Gatwick with a third aircraft serving two European routes in the new-look summer schedule."

He added: "This is a commercial decision delivering value for our customers and the company. George Best Belfast City Airport delivers a compelling location and a strong history of business flying. We believe the move will appeal to the 600,000 plus passengers annually who fly with us and especially the business traveller who now has a choice of two London airports with Aer Lingus.

"Indeed business travellers based in the Belfast City centre will now be able to substantially reduce transit times from office to aircraft. Customers who are members of our Gold Circle frequent flyer programme will also be able to use the business lounge facilities at George Best Belfast City Airport. We believe our dual offer of Heathrow and Gatwick supports the local marketplace during these challenging economic times."

Mr Mueller said the 100 jobs created in the £100 million investment made by Aer Lingus in Northern Ireland five years ago remained secure.

"We remain committed to the Northern Ireland marketplace," he said. "Jobs are secured in this move and indeed our plans for new routes in the future, may see employment and investment increase."

Aer Lingus works closely with a number of partner airlines and expects transfer traffic to grow through both Heathrow and Gatwick.

Brian Ambrose, Chief Executive of George Best Belfast City Airport said: "We extend a warm welcome to Aer Lingus and look forward to working closely with the airline in creating a strong base in which to develop a growing route network.

"I am delighted with the frequency of services to London Heathrow and Gatwick. By the end of October, Belfast City will offer Northern Ireland's only linkage to Heathrow with 10 flights per day."

Aer Lingus will commence flying from George Best Belfast City Airport on Sunday 28th October 2012.

Xactium lures senior talent from FinancialForce.com

Xactium, the Governance, Risk and Compliance solutions provider, has announced the hiring of two new senior executives as it builds its team to manage the uplift in demand. The new hires Paul Battisson and Andrew Firth will bring their experiences from global financial software firm FinancialForce, to enhance Xactium’s in-demand cloud services.

Andrew Firth takes over as Xactium’s Company Sales Manager. In his previous role as Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific Regional Sales Manager at FinancialForce.com Andrew advised businesses on the benefits of moving core accounting functions to the cloud. An expert on cloud computing, Andrew’s mission is to expand Xactium’s customer base which already includes large financial services companies such as JLT, Barclays and Lockton.

Paul Battisson, Xactium’s Product Architect is a Force.com certified developer with experience in agile leadership and change, holding qualifications as a Scrum Professional, Scrum Product Owner and Scrum Master. Motivated and focussed, he has experience utilising numerous different development platforms, including mobile development on iOS and Android, across various industries. Paul recently spoke at salesforce.com’s Social Enterprise developer event, Cloudstock.

As part of the FinancialForce.com core development team working on the company’s core accounting solution, Paul helped enhance and improve the team's agile adoptions and introduced test-driven development to the company. Working closely with a number of clients, where Paul has customised and implemented solutions, his current role at Xactium is to help develop the product architecture and delivery for Xactium's GRC solutions.

Andy Evans, CEO at Xactium, explains the motivation behind the new hires: “First of all, I am delighted to welcome Andrew and Paul to the team. The marketplace for talent is very competitive at this time and to attract new recruits from FinancialForce.com shows Xactium’s ambition to become the leading provider of on-demand GRC solutions.”

Leading Export Success Street Crane Commended by Chancellor's Visit

Street Crane is not just the UK’s largest factory crane producer, but also a major export success story. This was recognised in a visit by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne who toured the factory, meeting the directors and workers who are driving business growth.

Around 70 per cent of Street Crane’s £25 million turnover goes to export markets. Most of this comprises crane kits, the electro mechanical crane elements such as hoists, carriages and controls that are more easily exported. The company ship these to a network of 70 international partners, most of whom are crane makers who fabricate the heavy crane structures locally.

A package of technical and marketing support is provided to overseas partners. This includes access to Street Crane’s own design software and expertise so that partner companies in developing countries are able to fabricate crane bridges to UK and European standards. Many also use the company’s branding alongside their own on the completed cranes.

During his visit the Chancellor took the opportunity to reveal an innovative scheme whereby the government, through the Bank of England, will make low interest funds available to banks. This is on condition that they are used to make lower cost loans directly to UK business. “Many UK engineering businesses are finding it difficult to raise funds for capital investment in equipment. Let’s hope that this scheme makes it easier for these companies to invest in new cranes and we can then see a revival of the fortunes of our UK crane sales and the manufacturing sector generally,” commented Street Crane chairman Martin Street.

Street Crane Company themselves may have some interest in the new scheme as work is to start soon on a new 20,000 square foot factory that will double hoist production, with the bulk of the output destined for overseas.

Greg Higham Joins Marketo to Help Scale Company’s Record-Breaking Growth

Marketo, a provider of marketing software, has announced it has appointed Greg Higham as the company’s first Chief Information Officer. Higham brings decades of leadership success helping fast-growing organizations implement next-level technological infrastructure, and joins Marketo as the company continues scaling rapidly worldwide.

“A key part of our ongoing success is leveraging the best information to power our company – now and in the future,” said Phil Fernandez, president and CEO of Marketo. “We are extremely pleased to welcome Greg to Marketo as part of this new chapter of growth.”

“Marketo has successfully struck a business nerve in providing easy, powerful and complete marketing software that anyone can use, and so the company is growing at a rapid clip,” said Higham. “As we scale, I’m committed to setting up the technological and procedural backbone for this new chapter of the company – from new areas of compliance and security to making it an extremely well-oiled machine across all departments worldwide.”

As Marketo’s new CIO, Higham brings a unique blend of technology experience and business acumen with a direct focus on IT and strategy, operations management, business process reengineering, customer service, security and governance, new business growth and staff development.

Most recently, Higham served as CIO at FrontRange Solutions, where he spent the last four years directing and managing all information technology, SaaS operations and facilities functions for the company, which provides both on-premise and cloud IT service, IT asset and customer service management solutions.

Higham also served as CIO and vice president of information systems and technology at Witness Systems, a $250 million public company (acquired by Verint for $1 billion). From 2005 to 2007, he led the company’s global focus on world-class technology infrastructure, including implementing and evolving information systems and tools that enable aggressive business growth. Higham also served as vice president of worldwide customer services for Epiphany (acquired by SSA Global) and has held leadership positions at Inovis, Peregrine Systems, Harbinger, Premenos and Tandem Computers.

Higham holds a degree in Computer Technology from CDI, San Francisco and is also a graduate of Stanford University’s Professional Education program.

Marketo: Easy. Powerful. Complete.
Marketo is the leading provider of marketing software and offers the world’s first integrated solution for social marketing automation. 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 helps thousands of enterprise and mid-market companies around the world turn marketing from a cost center to a business-building revenue driver.

Marketo was recently named one of “America’s Most Promising Companies” by Forbes Magazine, the fastest-growing private company of 2011 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and the “2011 CRM Market Leaders Awards Winner for Marketing Solutions” by CRM Magazine. For more information, visit www.marketo.com, or subscribe to Marketo’s award-winning blogs at www.blog.marketo.com.

hybris Announces Rick Chavie as VP of OmniCommerce

hybris, a provider of multichannel commerce and communication software, today announced the appointment of Rick Chavie as the new Vice President of OmniCommerce. A highly recognized industry and technology executive with extensive global experience in retail and wholesale, Chavie joins hybris from NCR Corporation and will be responsible for leading cross-channel strategy, working with the hybris development team and strategic customers in delivering seamless customer experiences across digital and physical touchpoints.

“We’re extremely pleased to have someone of Rick’s stature joining our team,” said Carsten Thoma, COO of hybris. “His global, strategic experience at leading retailers, as well as at major technology firms serving the retail industry, will deepen our knowledge of our customers’ businesses and enhance our ability to partner with them on significant innovation initiatives. This will help us to scale our global business and penetrate new customer segments.”

Chavie brings over 25 years of experience in the retail industry, ranging from leadership roles at retailers such as The Home Depot and C&A - where he led transformation and growth programs - to executive roles in technology – where he led the global retail and wholesale business at SAP and was responsible for global marketing and solution deployment for the retail and hospitality business at NCR. He has also served clients across the major retail verticals - hardlines, softlines, and food - and branded consumer manufacturers in his partner and leadership roles at Deloitte and Accenture.

Commenting on his appointment, Chavie said, “hybris is the best positioned company to deliver what consumers and business customers are demanding: a seamless commerce experience across touchpoints. With its leading multichannel architecture, a premier customer base in retail, wholesale, and manufacturing, and an extensive partner network, hybris has a great platform for growth. I am excited to be joining this highly skilled team which has moved the company up the technology curve in sync with the demands arising from the convergence of digital and physical commerce channels.

Chavie holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, studied International Trade as a Fulbright Scholar at Germany’s Saarland University and the University of Cologne, and has a BA in German and Accounting from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

For more information on hybris, visit the website at http://www.hybris.com.

Hybrid SEIS scheme investment fund launched: the Mercia Growth Fund

Mercia Fund Management has launched the Mercia Growth Fund – a hybrid SEIS/EIS fund offering a unique opportunity for attractive returns from a balanced portfolio of companies, whilst taking advantage of income tax, inheritance tax and capital gains tax benefits under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (‘EIS’) and Seed EIS (‘SEIS’).

Birmingham/Oxford, 20 July 2012. Mercia Fund Management has launched the Mercia Growth Fund capitalising on the recent introduction of Seed EIS (SEIS) and the marked enhancements to EIS in the Finance Act.

Mercia Fund Management believes a hybrid fund will provide investors with a combination of maximised tax efficiency and the flexibility to invest in either EIS or SEIS from the same fund.

Mercia Fund Management has an established reputation for sourcing, investing and scaling businesses capable of rapid revenue growth to profitability (examples include the university spin outs Allinea and Native Antigen Company as well as non-university investments such as LM Technologies). Through its first fund (Mercia Fund 1), it has established strong partnerships with eight universities (including the Universities of Warwick and Birmingham) gaining access to proprietary investment opportunities with protectable intellectual property.

Mercia Fund Management’s active hands-on approach and its ability to both invest and leverage in further investment from third parties helps reduce the risk and enhance the returns from these investments. Many of these investment opportunities will be strong candidates for SEIS. Through Mercia Fund Management’s extensive deal flow and its existing portfolio under management, at least 50% of the prospective Mercia Growth Fund investments are already known to the management team.

Mercia Fund Management recognises EIS and SEIS as a highly attractive, tax-efficient investment vehicle for professional investors, UK wealth managers and UK family offices. Advantages include:

• 50% income tax relief (irrespective of your tax bracket) for SEIS investment
• 30% income tax relief for EIS investment
• Capital gains tax deferral (or mitigation for SEIS)
• Tax free capital gain
• 100% exempt from inheritance tax after two years
• Substantial loss relief.

Dr. Mark Payton, Managing Director of Mercia Fund Management said: “Mercia Growth Fund is perfectly positioned to help high earners seeking tax efficient investments. We see our new hybrid fund building on the successes of Mercia Funds 1 and 2 which have collectively invested in excess of £9 million and leveraged additional funding of circa £50 million in 34 businesses to date.”

The Mercia Growth Fund closes on 31st October 2012, but may close sooner if the investment target is reached.

Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.

For more information: http://www.merciafund.co.uk/open_funds

Mercia Fund Management is a leading provider of venture capital exclusively to growing technology businesses

About Mercia Fund Management
Mercia Fund Management is a venture capital fund manager with over £14 million under active management.

We provide investment capital to businesses seeking early stage (via Mercia Fund 1 which is partnered with eight universities), expansion and development capital to unquoted cash generative UK based companies.


UK Based Manufacturer Uses International Markets to Beat Local Recession

Information & Communications Technology (ICT) manufacturer & global energy giant, Schneider Electric, today announced that its NetShelter CX product has expanded operations into significant new international markets in the last year. The South-West based NetShelter CX Team - makers of portable, soundproofed server cabinets - now export to Latin America, Japan, China, Russia and South America, all from a manufacturing facility in Frome, Somerset.

The company’s unique ‘Server Room in a Box’ solution to Datacentre storage dramatically reduces the costs and environmental implications associated with the operation of a traditional server room, and allows for the deployment of computer server technology within the open office space. In typical usage, the Netshelter CX can reduce can reduce server noise by a perceived 90% and - when compared to a traditional server room - reduce floor space by 90%, operating costs by 98%, and capital costs by up to 80%.

International Acclaim
Netshelter CX already boasts an impressive Global portfolio of 5,000+ customers using the product, from SMEs to businesses and institutions of all shapes and sizes including the likes of Walt Disney, Innocent Drinks, Boeing, Shell, the BBC, and even The White House. Having joined the APC by Schneider Electric family in June 2011, and scooped the Award for Most Innovative Product for Corporate at the Latin American Channel Awards in October 2011, the NetShelter CX facility is on-course to achieving a 20% increase in manufacturing output in Frome by the end of 2012.

Growth in Exports
Despite more buoyant figures in recent days the UK manufacturing sector at large continues to stutter, with combined factors including the Eurozone crisis and weak domestic demand currently holding the sector at 8% below its pre-recession peak. While the weak domestic market has caused a many to scale back, the Netshelter CX team have found growth through exporting.

“We haven’t experienced a decline in demand here at the Netshelter CX factory in Frome,” said David O’Coimin, Managing Director of Netshelter CX and Solutions Offer Manager for Schneider Electric. “Now especially as part of the APC by Schneider Electric family we’re seeing increased demand for our soundproofed server cabinets, all over the world. There is a temptation in times of economic hardship to batten down all hatches, including marketing. However we’ve learned that by engaging with markets outside the UK we have found that there are opportunities to stabilise and grow.”

Local Workforce
One of the factors behind the success of the NetShelter CX product has been the company’s ability to take skills from the local workforce, including carpentry and industrial design, and reapply them to the burgeoning ICT sector.

The acoustic & ventilated rack cabinets that are created in the Netshelter CX factory in Frome are unique in that they blend in with traditional office furniture. And because you can now put a quiet, portable, ventilated housing for noisy computer servers right in the open office, they have quickly become a integral piece of equipment for an ICT industry in transition due to disruptive technologies such as Cloud Computing and Virtualisation, and one with a growing environmental awareness.

“We’re a very nimble business capable of fast-paced change and nowhere is that more apparent than at the Netshelter CX factory here in Frome,” said Dave Galvin, Netshelter CX Factory Manager, Schneider Electric. “Here we have taken skills from the local workforce – things like traditional manufacturing, design, carpentry skills, and applied them to solving a different and unique challenge which is the soundproofing of computer server cabinets in the open office environment. The building of products for what is a growing need in the ICT sector is creating local jobs here in the South West and putting more traditional manufacturing skills to good use in a modern, high-tech savvy sector.”

About Schneider Electric in Frome
The APC by Schneider Electric ‘Netshelter CX’ has been developed and manufactured from its base on the Marston Trading Estate since 2004. The NetShelter CX is a sound-proofed & portable ‘Server Room in a Box’, which allows customers to deploy noisy IT equipment within the office environment. For more information visit: www.kellsystems.co.uk

  Frome Manufacturing Video

PTS Consulting Group wins acclaim in the inaugural Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200

PTS Consulting PLC, the world class international IT Consulting and Project Management firm, today announced that the company has been ranked in the inaugural Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. PTS Consulting PLC ranked 41st thanks to a year on year average increase in sales of 72% outside of the UK between 2008 and 2011.

Founded in 1983, PTS Consulting PLC provides its clients with IT Professional Services, Managed Services and Resourcing solutions; specialising in Corporate Relocations and Data Centres. With 17 offices in financial centres that include London, Tokyo and New York, PTS Consulting PLC provides services to customers such as Morgan Stanley, RBS, the Financial Times and the University of Cambridge. PTS Consulting PLC has successfully delivered high-value, vendor independent solutions to its clients in 270 cities in over 75 countries and in some of the most demanding environments.

The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales, measured over their latest two years of available accounts. The International Track 200 is an expansion of our International Track 100 league table, which has been published for the past two years, and the minimum sales threshold has been increased from £5m to £25m.

Ian Henley, head of corporate banking, Commercial Banking Europe at HSBC, the title sponsor of the league table, commented:"It is a massive boost to confidence to see so many privately-owned British companies making such a positive contribution to the UK economy, despite tough trading conditions.”

To view the full Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 supplement, visit the Fast Track website.

TomTom to help ease London traffic congestion

Sat Nav firm TomTom is extending the functionality of its Map Share service to help drivers in and around London to avoid travel disruptions over the next few weeks.

The company has created a map task force to process map changes related to temporary road closures, changes in traffic flow and additional turn restrictions as they happen across the capital.

TomTom will make these dynamic map changes available to its customers via Map Share on a daily basis, free of charge.

TomTom has worked closely with key stakeholders to capture and share the road changes. Their map experts predict that July 28th is likely to be the most disrupted travel day, when more than 9000 road changes in London will be introduced.

The next most congested day is likely to be August 1st when more than 3000 changes will be made.

Other severely disrupted days with a large number of road closures will include the 5th and 12th of August.

The sat nav company has a team of more than 20 people working on preparing and testing the additional daily map changes. They will continuously process all road changes in and around London throughout the sporting season.

After 6pm every single day, sat nav users will be able to download the following day's road changes to their navigation device and reset any changes no longer required from the previous day.

"We released our latest map update in May which included structural road changes in London and surrounding areas and points of interest relevant to the summer,” says Tom Brown, TomTom's UK Country Manager. “Now we are going one step further. We want to ensure that our customers drive with the most up to date map available, taking into account the dynamic road changes resulting from upcoming events in the capital. Our aim is to do all we can to give London drivers the best navigation experience possible.”

In general, apart from specific road closures on certain days, some restrictions will be in force until mid-August, which will affect routing in London throughout the period.

Map Share is available free of charge to all 65 million TomTom customers worldwide, including users of their iPhone app. It allows drivers to personalise the map on their own device, share their changes with the community and receive around 250,000 road changes per month from other users.

Keeping up with consumers: challenges for the alcohol sector and social media marketing

The recently announced responsible marketing pact from the big alcohol producers was a welcome initiative, however, research commissioned by communications agency Seal shows that consumers and brand marketing teams are way ahead of compliance.

Some 79% of respondents to the survey of 1,000 Facebook users said they engage with alcohol brands across the social landscape. Although Facebook dominates Twitter, Google + and Pinterest were also used by the sample to engage with alcohol brands. The survey also showed:

• 90% of respondents access the internet daily from home
• 70% use mobile phones and social networks are part of daily life for this audience
• 68% of Facebook users visit the site daily and 48% of Twitter users log in daily.

Seal’s experience is that brands are entering into a number of social spaces with the best intentions but a lack of detailed guidance is leading to breaches of the relevant codes. Social media’s attraction to brands and it’s perceived low cost of entry has driven much of the activity but the potential risks need closer attention.

Age-gating of these channels, the simplest area of the code to comply with is far more problematic. Only Facebook offers comprehensive age and other filters to all brands. Yet gaining access to these controls on other networks such as YouTube and Twitter can be far more problematic.

Overcoming these issues is a key focus of a round table debate with leading brands and retailers to be held at Seal on Monday (23 July). Outcomes from the day will seek to address how brands can be responsible and social whilst complying with a strict interpretation for the regulatory codes.

Chair of the event, Gordon Johncox, sales and marketing director for Aston Manor Brewery said: “This research shows that consumers love the social space and increasingly want to engage with alcohol brands.

“It’s important that the industry fully digests the complexity of each of the channels to ensure full compliance with the necessary codes. I welcome the opportunity to discuss and share learnings from those working at the coalface of social media marketing.

“This initiative from Seal will bring some much needed clarity to an area that is more complex than many marketers appreciate.”

You can join in Monday’s debate via Twitter and post questions to the panel using #bingingonsocial. It runs from 11.30am to 3pm.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

itSMF UK celebrates 21 years of service management knowledge and vision at ITSM12

 itSMF UK, the UK’s largest service management user group, today announced an impressive agenda and speaker line up for its biggest and best conference yet – ITSM12. The 2012 conference will take place on 5th and 6th November at the Novotel London West.

This year’s keynote, Simon Wardley, one of the UK’s top 50 most influential people in IT (voted by Computer Weekly readers) will focus on IT strategy and new technologies. A visionary speaker, Simon has spent the last 15 years defining future directions for companies in the FMCG, retail and IT industries.

The itSMF UK Conference and Exhibition is the annual event for IT Service Management professionals, offering education and networking opportunities along with the highly popular Service Management Awards dinner. Over 50 educational workshops are scheduled, including presentations from all the itSMF’s special interest groups, an entire series of sessions dedicated to problem management, and experience-based talks from user organisations including Tesco Bank, The Co-Operative Bank, Oxford University and Everything Everywhere. The popular interactive plenary session will also be returning this year, allowing the audience to vote on discussion topics via interactive keypads.

Alongside the conference, the ever-popular industry exhibition includes all the industry’s leading tool vendors, product suppliers and consultancies – an excellent opportunity to catch up with over 40 organisations in one place.

Ben Clacy, Chief Executive, itSMF UK commented: “This year’s conference is set to be our biggest ever. We’re pulling out all the stops for our 21st birthday and we are planning to make this an event to remember. We have a really packed two days and so many excellent speakers, delegates really will be spoilt for choice – the only problem will be fitting it all in!”

The Service Management Awards will follow the conference on the Monday night, recognising the outstanding achievements and significant contributions of Service Management professionals, teams, contributors, trainers and students. Details of all this year’s award categories are available at www.itsmf.co.uk/Awards2012.

Colin Rudd, Chairman of itSMF UK, commented: “This year’s conference marks my first anniversary at the helm of the organisation. I’m really looking forward to helping the itSMF UK to celebrate its 21st birthday at the conference, a significant milestone in our history.”

Monday, 16 July 2012

Smart421 is UK’s first enterprise Amazon Partner Network Advanced Consulting Partner

Smart421 announces that it is officially confirmed on the Amazon Partner Network (APN) by Amazon Web Services (AWS), making it the first APN member in the United Kingdom at Advanced Consulting Partner level which is itself an enterprise and FTSE250 listed business. The move is significant as it assures Smart421 customers full access to its design, architecture, integration and managed services certified at Advanced Consulting Partner level, the highest grade certification possible under the APN program.

Robin Meehan, CTO at Smart421, said “We are seeing a growing number of UK enterprises joining the Cloud revolution. Many are benefitting from the combination of our services in Cloud architecture and integration where we have built on AWS’s enterprise-grade Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).”

Neil Miles, Managing Director at Smart421, said “We continue to support CIOs with market leading solutions. AWS is widely acknowledged to be global leader in Cloud computing. We are recognised for our thought leadership and proactive partnering business model which enables us to deliver transformational IT and enterprise solutions to our customers.”

Martin Brazill, Director of Sales & Marketing at Smart421, said "Smart421's partnership with AWS is already allowing us to deliver our customers a business and technical advantage. Whereas early Cloud adoption started with small and medium size businesses in sectors such as the media and gaming, we are now delivering business-critical IT with large enterprises operating in complex regulated markets.”

APN was first revealed earlier this year as a replacement for the AWS Solution Provider scheme. It is designed to help AWS expand its global footprint and commercial reach through a comprehensive channel strategy.

Smart421’s AWS Practice Manager is Steve Williams, a Solutions Designer of on-premise and Cloud-based IT systems, assisted by Malcolm North as deputy Practice lead, who specialises in architecting for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The AWS Practice has grown rapidly this year as Smart421 embrace Cloud across its Consultancy, Service Management and Development teams.

Smart421’s strategy is to sustain its business growth by delivering and supporting relevant technological change to through its portfolio of services to existing customers as well as to build its future client acquisition strategy.

 Smart421 delivers high-end consultancy, integration and management of business-critical IT systems for large enterprises operating in regulated markets. Smart421 has been an AWS partner since 2010. Among its recent engagements, Smart421 has been architecting and delivering solutions for major UK enterprises including a UK power utility, a mobile telco and a UK retail bank.

Smart421 is part of the KCOM Group plc (LSE: KCOM.L) a FTSE250 business with an annual turnover of £0.4bn, 1,800 staff and offices in major locations across the UK.


SugarCRM Expands Position in Development of Social Business Open Standards

SugarCRM, a fast-growing customer relationship management (CRM) company, has announced it has taken on new leadership roles with the OpenSocial Foundation to drive the development of social business open standards. SugarCRM’s CTO and co-founder, Clint Oram, has been appointed to the board, and John Mertic, SugarCRM community manager has been appointed as secretary.

“The OpenSocial Foundation is pleased to have SugarCRM as the open source leader in the CRM industry join the board,” said Mark Weitzel, president of the OpenSocial Foundation and director, platform and ecosystem for Jive Software. “Together, we are enabling a rapidly growing ecosystem of cloud-based social business applications, driving innovation in the social web. Our forthcoming release of the OpenSocial standard will set an exciting new benchmark for social computing.”

Mertic said, “OpenSocial has clearly become the industry standard for social-enabled applications. With OpenSocial, SugarCRM will deliver an immersive social application experience spanning across multiple business process flows and business applications. We are excited to be a guiding member of this standards body.”

As a member of the OpenSocial Foundation, SugarCRM will collaborate with key members, including IBM and Jive Software, to set the next-generation standard for social integrations in the enterprise. The OpenSocial Foundation will hold its annual meeting, the OpenSocial State of the Union 2012, on July 17th in conjunction with OSCON 2012 in Portland, Oregon.

“Unlike the proprietary models for social business solutions that are being touted by legacy CRM vendors, SugarCRM is working with other open standards leaders like Jive and IBM to develop open social business solutions that integrate and interoperate between best-of-breed solutions,” said Oram.

SugarCRM’s Open Platform and Business Model Drives Community Growth

The SugarCRM developer community continues to show strong growth, contributing to over 11 million downloads of Sugar Community Edition (CE) to date. During Q2 2012 alone, Sugar CE has been downloaded over 130,000 times from open source software site SourceForge, and it is currently the number one CRM project with approximately one download per minute.

“The global software market is increasingly recognising that open source CRM gives organisations the flexibility to connect with customers any way that works for them,” Oram added. “And for SugarCRM, the open source model isn’t just about exposing code – we put openness at the very heart of our business, and we’re working on building transparency and trust into all of our interactions with the Sugar community.”

Thriving Ecosystem Accelerates Product Development and Quality

The SugarCRM Open+ Partner Program includes a robust network of over 200 development organisations who are certified on the Sugar Agile Development Methodology and directly contribute to the development of the SugarCRM product line – making the product better at a faster rate than would be possible with a proprietary CRM solution. During the last 12 months, over 150 code contributions from the community have been contributed and merged back into the core source tree of SugarCRM. Some of the latest community projects incorporated into SugarCRM include:
• ECalendar: An enhanced calendar management solution with a more responsive AJAX user interface along with drag-and-drop editing of calls and meetings.
• iCal Patch: An extension of the vCal functionality of SugarCRM, enabling publishing of iCal-compatible vCals, and allowing Sugar calendars to be viewed within any iCal-compatible program such as Apple iCal or Google Calendar.
Letrium is an organisation comprised of community developers who have built several add-ons for SugarCRM, including the ECalendar add-on. “Users were looking to us to build a sophisticated calendar that integrated with SugarCRM, and SugarCRM was so pleased with the outcome of our project, they decided to collaborate with us to integrate our code back into the core application,” said Yuri Kuznetsov, developer at Letrium. “SugarCRM offers a flexible platform that’s easy for us to work with, and we are always seeking new, creative ways to flex the power of the application. We look forward to working on more collaborations with SugarCRM.”

With over 33,000 registered developers and more than 1,000 projects on SugarForge.org, the SugarCRM developer community plays a key role in the on-going development and enhancement of all of SugarCRM’s products. Since customers and developers have complete access to the Sugar platform, they can actively modify, extend, and integrate Sugar to meet the unique needs of their organisations. SugarCRM developers share their solutions on SugarForge, SugarCRM’s developer community resource, and SugarExchange, SugarCRM’s commercial repository of extensions and complementary applications. For more information, visit the SugarCRM Developer blog, or the Community webpage.

SugarCRM makes CRM simple. As the world's fastest growing customer relationship management (CRM) company, SugarCRM applications have been downloaded more than 11 million times and currently serve over 1,000,000 end users. Over 7,000 organisations have chosen SugarCRM's On-Site and Cloud Computing services over proprietary alternatives. SugarCRM has been recognised for its customer success and product innovation by CRM Magazine, InfoWorld and Customer Interaction Solutions.
For more information, call (408) 454-6900 or 1 87 SUGARCRM toll-free in the US, email contact@sugarcrm.com, or visit www.sugarcrm.com. You can also connect with SugarCRM on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.