Better Connected (interview published in Briefings magazine October 2014)

 

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BYOD managing business calls on a personal device

BYOD or Bring You Own Device is both an advantage and a headache for companies.  Whilst it enables anybody to use their own smart phone to transact company business and allows for personal taste it can be a headache to manage and administer.

Here is a typical scenario of one of our newest customers.  With a $6 billion business and 8000 people across the globe the move to a BYOD had made sense for them.  Savings were made in device purchasing and support, savings were made in negotiating a one size fits all air time package and moral was boosted by enabling employees to decide what model and brand of phone they wanted.

However the unintended consequences began to outweigh the advantages.  Namely with 3000 people making regular international business calls from their devices the administration became excessive.  At the end of every month the companies accounts department had to deal with 3000 bills with international calls identified and needing to be paid back through their expenses process.  A nightmare of reconciliation, authentication and validation not to mention a mountain of paper to record and store.

Luckily they came across our own Call2 Corporate solution which whilst it was not specifically built for this problem solved it simply, quickly and effectively and saved the business money in the process.

Call2 corporate enables a user to download a smart phone app to i-phone,  android and Blackberry phones and through this make high quality ‘real’ (ie not VOIP) calls from and to anywhere in the world.

The advantages are this:  a global business can buy all its global minutes centrally and distribute them to individual devices anywhere in the world.  This means that none of the corporate business calls show up on the individuals bill and what’s more the corporate can report and administer thousands of accounts simply and easily from an on line portal.

Best of all our local and international call costs are up to 80% cheaper than you would pay your mobile company and can be bought in your currency of choice.

In short no billing reconciliation, guaranteed high quality low cost calls to anywhere on the planet, full management and administration suite and 24 hour customer care if you every need it….smiles all round!

If you are interested in this solution or would like more information call our expert Paul Roake on +441753710430 or email him at paul.roake@comxo.com

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Surviving the Datchet Floods

My normal route to work

As some of you might know ComXo offices are right in the centre of Datchet an area seriously affected by the great floods of February 2014.

I returned from a break in the sun with my family on February 10th and came into an office dealing with an ever rising Thames the effects of which were becoming all too close to home.

My car park space

As part of our Managed Communications Services around the function of Switchboard ComXo provide over 175 City of London businesses with Business Continuity Support and for this reason we had considered and invested significantly in our own resilience.

Les Wilson wading into the Crisis

With the waters rising it was on with the waders and the invocation plan went into action under the trusty and experienced lead of Les Wilson our BCP crisis Commander.

Time for a morning dip

With our own operation under threat due to our plant room being situated in the car park the emergency services were deployed to keep us operational at all costs.

All hands to the pump

At this point we used all of the tools that we have developed as part of our managed service Emergency Desk solution.

Emergency generators were fired up, text blasts went out to all of our own staff to update them on the situation as it changed, emergency conference call rooms were established, the employee help line was updated as the crisis evolved, our SBA virtual cloud based telephone switch was fired up at our ‘Sun Guard’ emergency site and we began to take calls and provide services from dual sites simultaneously, the intranet became the hub for photos, stories and humourous comment and our marketing department began sending regualr updates to our customers.

A photo of my parents caught on their way to a meeting with me that appeared in the Metro newspaper.

In retrospect it was the ‘unknown unknowns’ that determined the evolution of the crisis.  We had not ever thought that the emergency services, the army and the press arriving and camping out in our ‘back yard’ would actually be the main issue as car parking spaces became impossible to find within half a mile of our facility.

But as Les Wilson later said ‘knowing that 24 hours a day a team at ComXo was on hand to take instruction and communicate with the rest of the company meant that accurate and rapid information could be deployed whenever it changed.

On the fourth day the waters subsided and whilst we had been tested we had prevailed with no loss of service or interruption to our customers….an extraordinary result.

Crisis overcome and smiles resume

 

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National Telephonists Day

Myself and Greg Mace from Rapport with Credit Suisse

On the 10th of March 2014 ComXo and our Strategic partner Rapport founded what we are hoping will become an annual celebration of Professional Telephonists.

The date of National Telephonists Day was set to coincide with the anniversary of Alexander Graham Bells’ first ever telephone call and gave us here at ComXo the opportunity to understand, appreciate, celebrate and spoil the cohort of extraordinary people who provide exceptional Switchboard Services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to our 175 Professional Service sector clients.

We all made cupcakes for the Telephonists

The appreciation of the professional telephonist is limited and their role is sometimes poorly understood as it is often confused with a Call Centre operator, yet their job is eminently more complex, challenging and valuable to our customers.  For instance the Switchboard telephonist is the gateway to an organisation and simultaneously protects their clients first impression of their brand whilst also supporting and enabling their staff.

National Telephonists Day gave me a platform to think about this profoundly and experience it personally as I went back to the floor and did a 24 hour shift, midnight to midnight with these extraordinary people.

Midnight trolly service

Although I started myself on the phones 25 years ago and often boast that I did the first night shift 18 years ago when we moved to 24 hour cover, getting back to the front line was an eye opener.

The sales team washed the telephonists cars

I am now reminded of just what a great job our Professional telephonists do, how technically skilled they need to be, how motivated and dedicated to exceptional service they are and what a lucky man I am to have them!

Nearing the end of my 24 hour shift

 

 

 

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Phone hacking in my business? Should I worry?

Now you might not think anyone would want to listen to your work conversations…right?  What could be more dull?   There is no celebrity tittle tattle worth listening to, no juicy gossip to fill the front pages of the tabloids.  But as we found out in a recent piece of market research there are other reasons and other people who may find what you are speaking about on your calls rather interesting.

ComXo now supply 50 of the top 100 law firms with managed communication services around the function of Switchboard.

That is to say 7 days a week 24 hours a day we have specifically picked, highly trained people based in Windsor whos job it is to protect a company’s brand at the first point of contact ( ie we answer the phones) but also to enable and support their staff by providing managed services whenever they need them wherever they are in the world…For instance booking taxis in the middle of the night in Beijing , providing a 500 person conference calls on a Sunday in Dubai , sending out 5000 text messages to a workforce to tell them what to  during the recent storms, or providing follow the sun first level help desk resource for a multi country facilities team.

However we also supply the financial sector and more specifically we are known for providing 24 hour managed services for complex and sensitive conference calls.

Now ComXo differentiate ourselves from our competition by building all of our managed communication solutions on our own proprietary platforms.  This means that we bespoke all of our solutions not only to the requirements of the professional service sector, nor to the specific requirements of the legal or finance sector but to the specific requirements of a single firm.

This means that we have been able to create a specialised managed service for firms where security is of paramount importance and apart from the finance sector you would think that city based lawyers conversations would be one of those.

However when we transferred our best practice knowledge from the finance sector into the legal sector we were surprised to find that the thinking around security and best practice was very much less developed.

Our relationship managers were coming back with stories that horrified us and we could not believe we’re true.

For instance one top 5 law firm recounted an example of one of their senior partners who was found to still be using the conference number and PIN code from another top 5 law firm he had left 5 years prevously.  This guy was billing all his calls to the competition!

So we  commissioned The Legal Support Network to carry out a survey across the sector to get a representative study of what the sector saw as important, what the current landscape for conferencing is and where the future is taking it and what best practice exists for what is a quickly becoming a sector as highly regulated as the finance industry.

The findings of this report however are startling and you can download them below.

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The Coronation Arch…a few photos

Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfullness

Daily Telegraph picture of the day 19th September

Shadow and light

The Genesis

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The Coronation Arch official Opening

Saturday was a wonderful finale to what has been a challenging yet inspiring project to have been a part of.

“whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.”

With a full cast of local dignitaries including Deputy Lord Lieutenant Geoff Branch, Mayor of Windsor and Maidenhead, Andrew Jenner, Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle Air Marshal Ian Macfadyen and Britain’s best beloved gardener Alan Titchmarsh we gathered at the top of the Long Walk and were treated to the wonderful choral voices of The Courtiers.

After a windswept speech from myself, Alan Titchmarsh spoke without notes and from the heart for 10 minutes on why gardeners and horticulturalist are so important to the nation.  ‘Without gardeners and plant growers none of us would be here’ he reminded us and quoted from Jonathon Swift that …”whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.”

Ribbon cutting

Following that we cut two ribbons at either end of the Arch to mark its opening.  Firstly The Governor of Windsor Castle first to signify Her Majestys representative from the castle end and then The deputy Lord Lieutenant Her Majestys reporesentative of Berkshire.

Alan Titchmarsh and scheme designer John Warland

We then wandered under the wonderful Arches with a glass of bubbly and nibbles and took photograps and The Mayor gave out certificates of thanks to the key people in the project.

It was an exhausting but joyful and up lifting occasion and a suitable end to the constrcution part of the project.

Some of the Volenteers

Now we will endevour to sell each Arch to raise money for the Coronation Legacy Fund that will provide a bursary to a young, local, deserving horticulturalist every year for the next 60 years.   I am happy to say that we have had confirmation already of the sale of one Arch and an option on another.  A good start by any standards.

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Anna Friel lends her support to a great community project

It was great to have Anna Friel visit the Arch earlier this week.  Anna has been an Honorary Vice President of the Royal Windsor Rose and Horticultural Society for over 3 years.  She is really hands on; always comes to the Summer Show with her daughter Gracie and makes biscuits or a cake for the raffle.  Thanks Anna for all your support.

Anna and the Arch

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The Coronation Arch is finally up!

The final pieces are put in place, ITV film local school children planting up the willow crowns and RWRHS Honorary Vice President and local resident Anna Friel comes to the site to have a tour.

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The coronation arch construction

Here are some pictures of the construction of the Coronation Arch

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