This week, we launched our first ever Business Productivity in the Cloud event, in partnership with Hootsuite and Zendesk. Amazon Web Services was kind enough to sponsor us for this event which saw a good number of professionals from various walks of life in attendance. Speakers from the companies included:
- Tiang Lim Foo, Market Development for Evernote Asia Pacific
- Vicky Truong, Head of Social Media Coaching for Hootsuite Asia Pacific
- Timothy Kua, Director of Field Marketing for Zendesk Asia Pacific
The event began with an introduction to Amazon Web Services by Locarno Pan, Sales and Business Development for AWS. He started the session by asking how many people knew about Amazon Web Services. While a handful of people raised their hands, it was not nearly as many as the number of people who knew Dropbox. Well guess what? Dropbox’s storage services are provided by AWS. AWS has powered hot start-ups like RedMart all the way to big enterprises.
How Can You Drive Business Productivity Through Cloud Services?
The Virtual Business Gateway
AWS offers pay as you go pricing, while renting out computing resources to business, thus providing them with agility and cost savings while eliminating the need to build a complex in-house infrastructure from scratch. Locarno’s introduction to cloud infrastructure provided through AWS worked help set the stage for the main discussion for the three cloud service providers to come.
Moderator Ivan Chang, Head of Accounts & Engagement from Start Now added that the benefit of cloud services is that they are “always on”. For example, if you use a note feature that is native to your phone, you would have difficulty accessing that note if you were to work off a third-party desktop. Hence, there are clear benefits for moving your traditional business model to cloud in certain industries.
The Modern Workspace
Tiang Lim shared that Evernote is a workspace that lives across your phone, tablet and computer where modern professionals can write free from distraction, collect information, find what they need to discuss and present ideas to the world. Evernote is redefining the modern workspace and productivity for businesses with new collaborative features and access to your work, wherever they are.
“All businesses care about getting more sales and reducing costs. Having cloud technology amplifies a person’s productivity – it is an investment into competitiveness.”
In Tiang Lim’s view, cloud services take the worry out of choosing IT software and customizations. Although it does require some start-up investment, the time component of that investment is very low, and many cloud services run out of the box. For traditional businesses, moving to cloud provides a competitive edge. Tiang cited the example of a plumber in Australia using Evernote to better collaborate with customers and run his business, as well as seamlessly save and sync notes on Evernote across various devices. As far as he knows, he’s the only plumber that’s doing this. Providing a superior customer experience gives him an competitive advantage over his competitors.
In answer to a question posed by a member of the audience about managing multiple files versions through Evernote, Tiang Lim shared that you can drag and drop documents into Evernote, open these documents, edit them and have changes to the document saved and synced across all devices seamlessly. In many instances, 80% of the documents you create do not require page breaks or margins. Dragging and dropping files into Evernote does away with the need to log into various different accounts to manage files. Content thus becomes social in that you can share it collaboratively with your team members through Evernote too.
This quick tip surprised even long time users of Evernote like Ivan, who had been using Evernote for 8 years and was unaware that Evernote was capable of saving changes to documents within notes and syncing across various devices.
The All-In-One Social Media Management Dashboard
Vicky spoke about how Hootsuite was the social media management dashboard where a business could manage all the social networks that matter to one’s business. A small business with a lean team might find that they do not have enough time to manage various social channels, but Hootsuite helps businesses to collect social channels all in a single space to facilitate that process. Businesses that invest in social deliver a 60% higher profit growth, receive 3 times more brand recommendations and report 20% more revenue – now that’s a pretty compelling case for your business to go social.
Vicky’s take on cloud productivity is that there is a learning curve, but it’s necessary for greater productivity. Her advice to businesses was to understand the value of the various tools at their disposal to optimize their workflows. Many a time, B2B companies think that they do not need a social presence as their customers are not on social, however it is important to claim social real estate, as it authenticates that you are real. Although customers may not buy from you through social channels, they may go online to complain about you and you may be completely unaware of it. Businesses need to know where customers voice their feedback and they need to create a space for customers to do so too. On social media, gaining brand awareness and voice is also very important.
Ivan added that it could be little triggers that could cause your business to consider cloud services. He cited an example where a team member tweeted something inappropriate from a company account that was picked up by mainstream media and widely circulated. That was the catalyst for that business to get on Hootsuite.
When it came to the question of whether Buffer or Hootsuite was better for managing social media, Vicky’s advice was that it came down to your personal needs. Buffer is great for scheduling, but Hootsuite is better for analytics and collaboration so it really depends on your business and social objectives.
A Scalable Customer Relationship Management System
Timothy talked about how customer support was not sexy in the past and not scalable. Zendesk however, makes customer service beautifully simple. In the past, businesses might have to build complex in-house IT infrastructure for customer support, but Zendesk does away with the need for that. It cuts down support time and collects analytics about your time to respond at the same time, so businesses can benchmark themselves against the industry standard. Customer support can easily be streamlined as customers who email support are assigned a ticket and it is handled accordingly by the relevant personnel.
Building a helpdesk from scratch is a horrible experience. Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, you have both internal and external conversations. Relying on your email client along to handle the tracking of tickets is not an efficient way to manage customer support as you’ll actually receive more complaints when emails get lost in the crowd. When tickets reach a certain velocity, using an email client solely for tickets becomes extremely unproductive. Even lean teams and small companies can benefit from Zendesk. Even if you have a small team, it is still beneficial for your business to create a FAQ section through Zendesk as it helps with ticket deflection. In addition, Zendesk offers live chat features to interact directly with customers and track their issues.
Cloud Services: A Fragmented Ecosystem?
During the Q&A with the speakers, someone raised the issue of the huge fragmentation in cloud software. Many people are using multiple cloud services and apps these days, however as Tiang Lim explains, it is possible to get these services to integrate and work together seamlessly. For example, Evernote has an integration with Hootsuite and both companies have a huge ecosystem of other apps that feature both interesting and productive integrations with their core products. There are also web services that allow you to connect various cloud apps such as IFTTT for personal apps, and Zapier for businesses and enterprises.
In closing, Tiang Lim encouraged businesses to change their mindset in terms of it being a monetary investment and think in terms of it as an investment in potential and productivity. In Ivan’s words, cloud services allow a small medium enterprise to act as a Fortune 500 company – they allow businesses to expand possibilities and scale rapidly.