The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and the global effort to practice social distancing, quickly changed the way we do business. Now that we are amidst a pandemic, some may be wondering which digital tools are best for their team to help them continue working remotely. We have compiled a list of three tools that are reliable, quick to implement, and help us continue to do business effectively when away from the office.
1. Microsoft Teams for Collaboration, Communication and File Organization
Microsoft Teams is an App available on a desktop or smartphone that boosts collaboration and communication among members of an organization. Within the App, you can quickly build teams for differing departments or groups of people working on special projects. This gives each group a place to converse, meet, share files and ideas with only those within the team. The App also allows for notifications to alert the team when there is an announcement, a new a file is shared, or a comment is made.
If you need a space to easily organize and share files, then Teams is the App you need. Within each team, you can create channels specific to topics in your business, so teammates stay organized. Even further, administrators can create tabs to link resources most used, making it easy for the team to quickly access what is most important to them. Matt Kaufman, VP of Palmer Donavin’s Door Division, commented, “Everyone on our team has the App on their smartphone and finds it easy to use. They know they can find the latest resources and can quickly share them with customers and vendors outside of the organization.”
Additionally, within each channel, there is a Posts tab that creates an open platform for the team to share thoughts on topics for all to see and build upon together. This can eliminate the dreaded ‘Reply All’ threads that have been known to clutter our email. This is also great for teammates across a large geographical area to share what they’re seeing in their local markets. It helps to build camaraderie and keep shared information all in one location.
Your team can continue to share ideas through group or personal chat and video conferencing. Unlike other tools, our team has confidence in and can rely on the Teams App to host calls with clarity. Conversations aren’t interrupted with connection issues and lag time when someone is speaking or feedback from others on the call.
With its many benefits, the tool has gained credibility and created many efficiencies for our group. We highly recommend you give it a try during this time where communication is so important.
2. Zoom for Webinars, Presentations and Training to Larger Groups
Zoom is a platform we use to share content with a larger group of people. Although, it can be used for internal conference calls and small group chats, we primarily use the tool to host webinars for 10+ guests. Once a user registers, Zoom handles the rest of the communication (with your branding). This includes an email confirming registration with a link for the guest to add the event to their calendar. The second communication is sent the day before to remind guests about the event.
Sure, there are many platforms like this, so why do we recommend Zoom? Josh Thompson, VP of Marketing, reassures, “I’ve reviewed many of the webinar platforms on the market today and none seem as user friendly as Zoom. The setup is fast, the connection is reliable and secure, and it is a great tool that integrates with others such as HubSpot”.
Ease of use and reliability play a large part in why we recommend Zoom. When you have guest speakers, you want them to feel comfortable with the tool you’re using and this one makes it easy. With the potential of hundreds of guests to join the live call, you can be confident the training will be smooth, uninterrupted by technology glitches, and the training will be impactful for your viewers. During our own Lunch and Learn Webinar Series, we have had success with each call and would recommend utilizing this tool to reach your audience, too. Especially with the potential of having a more captive audience during the days of self-quarantine, we recommend you use Zoom to help host learning events and webinars.
3. Power BI for Real-Time Business Analytics
Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence platform that provides nontechnical business users with tools for collecting, analyzing, visualizing and sharing data. Historically, Microsoft Excel has been the tool for business reporting, but since discovering Power BI, there is no looking back.
With employees across 12 states, we needed a platform that offered high level and detailed information to our front-line managers and sales representatives in a way that they could (and would want to) view it. Josh Miller, Data Analyst at Palmer-Donavin, explains, “This program has allowed our company to distribute important and real-time data throughout our organization in a way we did not think was possible before. With this tool, there seems to be limitless possibilities from a data and reporting perspective, and we look forward to growing with the Power BI Platform as it has had a tremendous impact on our company.”
So how does it work? According to Hitachi Solutions, “Power BI has impressive compression abilities for Microsoft Excel and text/.csv files, which allows you to view, analyze and visualize huge quantities of data that cannot be opened in Excel. Most computers would struggle to open up a 300 megabyte .csv file, making analysis and reporting in Excel a challenge. Adding several smaller .csv files to data, like sales data for neighboring regions, will be immensely difficult to combine with your previous dataset and analysis.”
With easy to read graphics, and the ability to quickly manipulate fields on the fly to show valuable customer information, our team has access to more data than ever. Plus, it’s mobile. The team has access to real-time data at the palm of their hands. While many companies are requiring teams to input data into a CRM, Power BI allows us to give data to our sales teams while they are traveling and making calls.
In any business, it’s important to see what products are most profitable, where they are selling and what trends there may be. With our experience, analyzing trends with Power BI is extremely easy. It takes merely seconds to view vast amounts of data. You can view data by various dimensions and attributes, including date-time dimensions. With this tool, you can make swift decisions, and at a vulnerable time like this, it is especially important we all remain agile. When it’s difficult to determine what the market will do, it is great having a tool like Power BI to tell us what is happening as the data comes in.
What does it take to get started? Miller commented, “If the user has a strong background in Excel then they will be able to learn the key functions of Power BI within 2-3 weeks. Somebody completely foreign to Excel or other data modeling programs may take about twice as long. However, the program has seemingly endless features, and even the most experienced Power BI users can learn something new every time they work within the program.”
With these affordable digital tools, your team can stay connected with each other and customers. And with the powerful analytics and reporting features of Power BI, you and your team can remain informed to make business decisions.
To learn more about any of these tools, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help you get started.