A report on Smart SMBs from the Economist Intelligence Unit found that next to revenue growth, the strategic focus of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is now firmly on improvements in operating efficiency, employee productivity and training.
Employing the most cost efficient and effective solutions wherever possible can be a key factor in the growth and success of an organisation, and new technology is emerging to provide such efficiencies. In fact, nine in ten of the SMEs surveyed have benefitted from technology in the past year.
The IT department is one area of business that is garnering new technology to enhance operational efficiencies. As such, embracing video and digital learning can be considered a part of the strategy to save time, improve IT support and collaborate with other parts of the business.
One way in which the IT department can produce engaging digital content and take advantage of video is through the medium of screencasting technology. Put simply, screencasting uses dedicated software to record a video of the presenter’s computer screen. Any onscreen activity from applications to mouse clicks and audio commentary can be captured and edited into a video.
Screencasting can offer an IT team a cost effective and efficient way to visually demonstrate any new IT software that has recently been implemented within a business and help solve any recurring IT issues. These videos can cover a number of different topics and demonstrate features that are difficult to describe verbally over the phone or in written copy. James McQuivey from Forrester Research believes that one minute of video is worth up to 1.8 million words.
An IT department can use engaging video learning content and screencasting technology in a number of ways:
Efficient rollouts to make the most of new investments
Purchasing new technology and rolling it out internally to employees is a significant investment for SMEs that are having to work with tighter budgets and resource constraints. While producing a written guide can offer useful information, it can also be open to interpretation, hard to understand, unappealing and lack any personalisation. Furthermore, written manuals are often left on the shelf until an employee needs access to information, which could in turn be outdated, by the time they review the guide.
On the flipside, video content offers the opportunity for an IT department to provide a wider team with an innovative, personal and interactive learning experience. Rolling out new systems with video frees up time that can be spent by an IT team to support an organisation in getting up to speed with the new solutions or products, and continue with day-to-day functions without significant disruptions. Videos can also be shared quickly and easily and on a range of devices, enabling employees to be able to learn, wherever and whenever, without need for an IT to be present.
One such company that has recently succeeded in using video to improve staff training is IT support and services company, Technology Services Group (TSG). As a growing business, it asks its 100-strong sales and marketing team, dispersed across 13 UK offices, to record and track its customer pipeline using CRM application, Microsoft Dynamics.
Traditionally, TSG briefed staff on how to use the CRM software through written PDF user guides and informal in-person training sessions with colleagues. The process was interpreted differently among the separate offices and as a result, new staff were sometimes taught to use the system in different ways. Following informal training, new staff also often forgot the training specifics.
To streamline this process, TSG looked for ways to offer effective training on how to correctly use the application, across the business. The company turned to digital learning as a way to improve their operational efficiencies.
By utilising easy-to-use screencapturing technology, TSG created a number of training videos. The software allowed users to easily capture activity on their computer screen and share the recordings with viewers to watch anytime, on nearly any device. After the videos were made available to staff through a central Microsoft SharePoint portal, TSG found that staff were much more likely to learn and use the correct process. This improved reporting and now sales and marketing managers have more accurate insight into the customer pipeline, progress and performance of their campaigns.
Bringing new staff up to speed quickly enhances productivity
IT teams within SMEs can be particularly challenged due to having a smaller workforce and resources than their larger counterparts. Often an IT team could be a team of one or two employees, placing them under pressure to perform day-to-day tasks, troubleshoot and deal with inbound technical support inquiries.
At the same time, an IT team is also relied upon to onboard new staff who might require training on how to use specific systems within organisations, quickly and efficiently, so that the employee can hit the ground running.
More recently, technology-savvy businesses have begun to use video to create visual demonstrations and walkthroughs as part of their onboard strategies. Once the video has been created, it is available for every new starter and can also be revisited at any time if an employee needs to refresh their memory.
Collaborating with other business functions can bring further success
For SMEs, efficient investment is key, and video technology such as screencasting can bring benefits that reach far beyond an IT department. The aforementioned IT support company Technology Services Group (TSG) have certainly found this. Fiona Stuart, TSG marketing manager says, ‘We are also looking at ways to use screencapturing technology to develop media rich marketing materials for our website, and create toolkits for our sales team to visually demonstrate our services and technology offerings to our customers. There are so many ways in which digital learning tools will deliver benefit for us in the future.’
Visual communication reduce resource burdens
For SMEs, operational efficiency is essential. Screencasting and video technology can enable significant cost, resource and time savings for IT departments, and enable them to provide better quality, easier to understand and more engaging training whether for new technology rollouts or new staff onboarding. Video can also help to bring a number of departments together, finding other use case examples including creating content for marketing and sales, thus ensuring that the investment in screen capturing technology is truly money well spent.
See also: The benefits of video marketing
Hiring through video
Businesses are turning to videoconferencing when recruiting new employees. SmallBusiness.co.uk speaks to some of them about their use of the technology.
Videoconferencing is a familiar sight in many boardrooms, enabling meetings to be conducted without leaving the office, and is a crucial tool for remote workers. However, now the technology has been adopted as part of the recruitment process by businesses and recruiters alike.
Simon Corbett, managing director of public relations agency Jargon PR, says that his company brought videoconferencing technology into its recruitment process at the start of the year. He began using Skype to interview potential candidates for a position as a time-saving device.
‘When we were looking to fill a vacancy, we’d typically get 15 to 20 CVs a week. We’d try and get four or five people in for an interview per vacancy and we just found it was really time-consuming,’ explains Corbett.
A face-to-face interview
The process, he adds, was to sift through CVs, then conduct an interview over the telephone before asking candidates to a face-to-face interview. However, Corbett says that in the future, interviewing via Skype might replace a phone conversation.
‘What we found was that over the phone, people often sounded professional – it’s not hard to sell yourself. But doing the videoconferencing has been good. I think it’s made people step up and realise it’s like a face-to-face interview,’ he adds.
Marc Fels has been in the recruitment industry for about 14 years and is now a director of Meet The Real Me, a video profile database aimed at graduates and the entry-level market. ‘You really are able to see how someone comes across on a Skype call and whether that person matches the characteristics of your business,’ he explains.
‘You can never replace speaking to someone sitting opposite you, but it’s a refinement process.’ Interviews via a video link are also becoming popular where there are geographical restrictions. Fels continues, ‘With regards to geography it allows you to interview people it might not have been possible to get in the office.’
Gina Leccacorvi is an account director at The Curve Group, which provides a recruitment service to businesses. She uses technology such as Skype to assess potential job candidates.
‘We would rather send across fewer candidates but those that we believe are right for a role than send a whole heap of CVs that might not be relevant. Therefore, we do our best to screen the applicants.’
Leccacorvi argues that videoconferencing ‘is part of business life’ and claims that candidates are equally familiar with the technology. ‘There are a lot of candidates who like being able to see the face of the person they’re talking to. It can make them feel more comfortable and that can help the interview to be more fluid.’