3 Solutions For Innovation And Sustainability In the Workplace

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Innovation and sustainability are more than just buzz words. They are the way of the future, and not just for business. As technology advances and we look for long term viable solutions, we are being introduced to a wealth of possibility unlike anything we’ve seen before, particularly as far as software and computing goes.

Wanting to provide an innovative and future forward solution for clients is often what draws people towards a software solution like aXcelerate RTO Software

Find out more below about how you can start developing a culture of innovation and sustainability in your workplace – and it might be cheaper than you think to implement.

1. Cloud Computing

In this day and age, people move between their desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile multiple times in a day. Businesses have multiple offices spread across cities, states and even the whole world. Previously, logging onto a server has been a cumbersome process, particularly for those needing remote access. Cloud computing has changed that by offering a web based data storage solution that is accessible from any device, anywhere. Whether you go for one of the more basic offerings like Drop Box or take out a powerful hosted solution, cloud computing is definitely the way of the future and something that you should start thinking about sooner rather than later.

2. Subscription Based Software

Previously, businesses have been slow to take up the latest version of software and computer applications because of the exorbitant start-up costs associated with fitting the whole organisation out with the latest technology. Often you’ve just invested in what used to be the most up to date solution and suddenly a new release is announced or comes out less than twelve months later. New options for web based downloads and monthly subscriptions guaranteeing access to the latest release software have been real game changers. It is often a more affordable solution, and payable either by annual fee or monthly direct debt. Everything from the latest Microsoft Office applications to powerful design tools like the Adobe Creative Suite are all available on a subscription basis.

3. Video Conferencing

Skype and other face to face video call options like Apple’s Facetime have revolutionised the traditional business meeting concept and opened new opportunities for global collaboration without the need to travel long distances or deal with at times patchy international connections. Even a cross town meeting can significantly impact on your usable work time in the day by the time you factor in travel and preparation time.

You may be wondering where the sustainability comes in to these solutions. While it is often associated with environmental benefits (and there are definitely some ‘green’ wins in reducing the amount of IT hardware and travel that the average business can rack up in a year), businesses looking for sustainable solutions need to focus on cost effective, viable and long term benefits when making decisions. Paying tens of thousands of dollars every year or two to stay up to date with the latest software is neither viable nor sustainable for the bottom line long term and being able to work with people in another country may help businesses to grow beyond what they previously thought possible. These solutions are going to be the way of the future, so it is definitely beneficial to start giving them serious thought and consideration now.

What is the most innovative thing that your company has done?

Considering job swaps


Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are all sorts of new management ideas and trends these days, but the idea of the job swap is very interesting, and possibly very useful.

One morning in May Nadim Hossain drove to work, sat in a weekly sales forecast meeting, met with the marketing team, and gave feedback on ad messaging. Only it wasn’t his office, his job, or even his company.

À la the TV show Wife Swap, Hossain, then vice president of marketing at San Francisco-based PowerReviews, was in the midst of an executive job swap. He traded roles for the day with Jon Miller, VP of marketing and co-founder of San Mateo, Calif., software firm Marketo, hoping to gain some insight into his own role by experiencing someone else’s.

It worked. Since PowerReviews — now owned by Bazaarvoice — is a Marketo customer, Miller came away better understanding the issues facing chief marketing officers. Hossain, for his part, returned to PowerReviews with pages of notes on ways to motivate his sales team, woo big brands, and identify leads. “A fresh environment is always a good way to generate new ideas,” Hossain says.

Check it out and then consider this for members of your team.

Are you using social business tools?

The image above isn’t practical for all businesses. For small, virtual businesses to larger corporations, getting workers around a table to solve problems or implement new procedures is just not an option. teleconferencing can help, but social business tools can be even more effective.

When Red Robin Gourmet Burgers introduced its new Tavern Double burger line last month, the company had to get everything right. So it turned to social media.

The 460-restaurant chain used an internal social network that resembles Facebook to teach its managers everything from the recipes to the best, fastest way to make them. Instead of mailing out spiral-bound books, getting feedback during executives’ sporadic store visits and taking six months to act on advice from the trenches, the network’s freewheeling discussion and video produced results in days. Red Robin is already kitchen-testing recipe tweaks based on customer feedback — and the four new sandwiches just hit the table April 30.

Facebook’s initial public offering Friday — the largest by a technology company — is a watershed moment for the consumer side of the Web, but social networking’s real economic impact might be ahead as companies learn how to harness “social business” tools.

These corporate social networks can be an incredible tool for companies of all sizes. Just imagine the impact all of this can have on innovation and productivity in your company? The social media revolution is just getting started and it will impact your career and workplace as much as your personal life. Don’t get left behind.

The importance of spotting talent

Apple announced the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs on October 5, 2011. He was 56. Jobs was the founder and former CEO of Apple that transformed personal computer technology and invented devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. He is shown in 1999 file photo at Macworld resting on a red iMac computer in San Francisco, California. UPI/Terry Schmitt/files

With the death of Steve Jobs, there will be countless articles covering his career, and many of us can learn a great deal from his success. We’ve already posted his advice to college graduates about finding what you love to do. Jobs was also an incredible innovator and manager, even if he was a tyrant at times.

If you’re a manager or you run your own business, this story might be helpful. It comes from a Fast Company article after Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO but published before his death.

Jobs had recently come back to the company after a 12-year hiatus working for two of his own startups: NeXT, which made ultra-high-end computers, and Pixar. He was taking a tour of Apple, becoming reacquainted with what the company had become since he’d left. It must have been a sobering, even ugly, sight–Apple was dying at the hands of Microsoft, IBM, Dell, and other competitors that were doing what Apple did, only cheaper and with faster processors.

In a dusty basement across the road from Apple’s main building, Jobs found a solitary designer who was ready to quit, languishing amid a stack of prototypes. Among them was a monolithic monitor with a teardrop swoop, which integrated all of a computer’s guts into a single package. And in that room, Jobs saw what middle managers did not. He saw the future. Almost immediately, he told the designer, Jonathan Ive, that from here on out they’d be working side by side on a new line of computers.

Jobs may not be the greatest technologist or engineer of his generation. But he is perhaps the greatest user of technology to ever live, and it was to Apple’s great fortune that he also happened to be the company’s founder.

Those computers that Ive and Jobs worked on became, of course, the iMac–a piece of hardware designed with an unprecedented user focus, all the way to the handle on top, which made it easy to pull out of the box. (“That’s the great thing about handles,” Ive told Fast Company in 1999. “You know what they’re used for.”) That single moment in the basement with Ive says a great deal about what made Jobs the most influential innovator of our time. It shows an ability to see a company from the outside, rather than inside as a line manager. He didn’t see the proto iMac as a liability or a curiosity. He saw something that was simply better than what had preceded it, and he was willing to bet on that instinct. That required an ability to think first and foremost as someone who lives with technology rather than produces it.

Jobs was always able to see opportunity and usable innovation that others could not see. He could also spot talent and put people in situations where they can thrive. The story of his visit to Xerox is legendary, as they had the graphical user interface and had no idea people would want it in their home computers.

You may not have a Jonathan Ive in your organization or revolutionary products sitting on a shelf, but you probably have some very talented people who are stuck in jobs that waste their talent. Take the time to know your team, and dig deeper than your immediate reports. Find the talent, let them work, and your company will have a better chance to thrive.

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