Posted by PleaseTech Guest on 1. August 2013 15:52
Our guest blogger is...
Mary Thomas is a social media advisor to PleaseTech. She is the founder of Concise Training and the author of ‘Social Media Made Simple’.
The first question we must address is ‘what is social media’? It’s one of those phrases which means different things to different people. A teenager may think of it as Facebook whereas a business professional may think of it as LinkedIn. As a social media professional, I think of it as a way of engaging with a large number of people in a cost effective and time efficient way.
From a business perspective, it’s another marketing channel and within this social media channel, there are many individual channels which include some of the more famous ‘social networking’ tools as well as other channels that might not automatically spring to mind. These include Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, blogs, video, forums, eBooks / E-articles, image sharing tools, email newsletters, FourSquare, Groupon and QR Codes.
As a business with a specific target market, PleaseTech, for example, knows that not all of these tools are appropriate to its business and has taken a strategic approach to which channels best support its messaging to the target market and thus its overall marketing and sales activity. Based on audience, time, resources and content, PleaseTech has picked which of these channels most effectively brings ‘to life’ its flagship product, PleaseReview, and which best supports its communications with stakeholders.
For example, its YouTube channel (PleaseTechLtd) features an animated movie detailing the problems organizations face when trying to get large teams of people to effectively collaborate, author and review documents. YouTube is an efficient distribution mechanism which is widely understood and accepted, therefore allowing PleaseTech to easily communicate its key messages and product information in an easily digestible format to a large audience.
We all absorb information in different ways and that’s the beauty of social media, that information can be communicated visually, verbally or via the written word.
Talking about the written word, you are currently reading PleaseTech’s brand new blog, which is beginning to build up a wealth of content through interesting articles on a variety of subjects - such as this one. This is not entirely altruistic as the objective is to have an active blog which is part of search engine optimization and which, in turn, will increase PleaseTech’s chances of being found by search engines and becoming known as an expert in their field. Although, in retrospect, if this is the objective it may be better to concentrate on articles on document review rather than social media!
Building up such content is ‘content marketing’. But what exactly is content marketing? It’s a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a target audience. By giving away useful information, businesses become the ‘place to go for information’. As the brand of the business is developed, it becomes the ‘place of choice to do business with’. In the old days, content marketing was the advert in the trade magazine which you sent off to get a white paper. Now it’s as simple as having valuable content accessible via your website, blog, etc.
It’s important to differentiate content marketing to relationship marketing. If you go to any face to face networking meeting, it is clear that even in the B2B world, many people will select businesses based on relationships.
If you ‘like’ somebody or a brand, you are more likely to trust them and do business with them. The major brands use social media extensively to convey their ‘values’ and thus try and gain your support for the brand.
In a B2B context, it can be used to develop and build relationships with people that you know and more importantly, people you don’t know. PleaseTech is a classic example of a business which has an ‘electronic’ relationship with a great many of its clients. The relationship with such clients and prospective clients encompasses all means of communication, including this blog.
For PleaseTech, many face to face meetings take place at conferences and exhibitions across the US and Europe, but ‘touching’ people before they meet, whether that’s via a newsletter, Twitter, Google + or LinkedIn, and then, for example, supplying them with literature that allows them to scan a QR code, taking them directly to the www.pleasetech.com website, helps to build and nurture both new and existing relationships.
All this takes both time and thought; it doesn’t just happen by accident. It’s all about strategy, resources, content, tools, audience, aims, review and measurement. Combine these effectively and your social media will support your business goals.
Posted by David Cornwell on 25. July 2013 11:20
Founder/CEO of PleaseTech Ltd - collaborative document review and co-authoring for the enterprise.
The UK is basking in a wonderful summer. The best, apparently, since 1976. Obviously, I’d like to pretend that I’m too young to remember such a distant event, but, unfortunately I remember it well. I was a carefree 17 year old. How do I remember that particular summer? Well trust me, memories of long hot summers are rare if you are British!
So nearly 40 years later, here I am in another long hot summer but life has moved on and, as opposed to being carefree, I have responsibilities. Even though PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, I can’t kick back, relax and sit in the garden drinking Pimms (a uniquely British summer drink which conjures up images of croquet on the lawn - for those wondering what Pimms is).
Nope – no rest for the wicked. No sooner than one release is out of the door, our attention turns to the next. That’s the way it is in software development – an endless cycle of develop/test/release. The simple fact is that every software product in the world is a ‘work in progress’ – it’s never complete. There is always something to add, to perfect and to repair. Just keeping up with the release cycles of other vendor’s products (Windows Server 2012, Office 2013, etc.) is work enough, let alone the long list of enhancements we’d like to get done. So now we turn our attention to v5.1.
Over the next month or so we will be inviting our clients to a series of v5.1 webinars in which we will let them know the planned scope of release and request feedback.
The improvement cycle doesn’t stop at our software. Over the last couple of months we have commissioned a new support system to provide a better experience for clients and have even updated our website with a slightly re-modelled home page.
As those who follow us will know, we're great fans of cartoons here at PleaseTech. I believe they help make serious points in a light way, which most people understand. To celebrate the launch of PleaseReview v5.0, we commissioned a couple of cartoons to highlight the new offline tablet review capability:
Talking of cartoons, no one will have missed the fact that there has been a royal birth in the UK. We now have three kings in waiting – lucky us! However, those of you who follow our document review cartoons will have seen a cartoon regarding the royal birth before it all happened. Why do I mention this? Because, I’m pleased to say that the cartoon predicted ‘George’ as the name for a boy at odds of 5-1. I wish I’d put some cash on that outcome!
Thinking about bars…I earned a drink or three over the 4th July weekend when I undertook the WaterAid 6 Peaks challenge. You may recall the 6 Peaks Challenge comprises climbing the tallest peaks in England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and both North and Southern Ireland. The headline statistics were:
50 miles to walk
20,000 feet to climb
1,000 miles to drive (with two sea crossings)
72 hours in which to complete it
For those familiar with the UK’s ‘3 peaks’ challenge ( which involves walking the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours), the 6 peaks is like that but with a warm up (Snaefell on the Isle of Man) followed by extra time i.e. Slieve Donard in Northern Island and Corran Tuathail in Southern Ireland. We walk up Slieve Donard at night with head torches.
So, the good news is that most of us, including me, succeeded. The better news is that the eight team members (six climbers and two drivers) were still talking to each other at the end of it all! For 72 hours we were either in a minivan being driven to the next mountain or walking up (or down) a mountain.
Luckily I had a natural advantage. Years of cattle class transatlantic travel means I can sleep anywhere. Even, it transpires, in the back of a mini bus hurtling between mountains. Others were not so fortunate and found the physical challenge difficult when compounded by the lack of sleep. There is no mistaking it was a tough challenge and I am delighted to have completed it. I’m also delighted that we have raised about £4,500 (circa US$7,000) for the WaterAid charity. Furthermore, I’m proud that afterwards, of the six people left in the bar at 3:00am (of the circa 60 people from nine teams taking part), four were from our team! Many thanks to all who supported us.
Finally, I am delighted to say that we've finally managed to get our new movie released. Watch it here
Posted by Sarah Holden on 17. July 2013 13:35
Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.
There is always a certain amount of build-up prior to a new product release. This has certainly been the case for us here at PleaseTech. And in marketing, it’s always good to have something concrete to say. And it’s even better to be able to add ‘we’re the first’ which we can do – twice, following the release this week of PleaseReview v5.0, our collaborative document review solution.
We are the first to make it easier for busy people to catch up with the reviews waiting for their attention. The new offline tablet review (for iPad and Android) means you don’t have to be ‘connected’ to catch up.
We are the first to help users collaborate to capture high level feedback on a document – from multiple participants, in real time, on the same feedback document.
Ok, if you’re not involved in team reviews this may not matter to you - but to some it’s a big deal and will contribute to better productivity and better quality documents. For more detail on these and other enhancements do see our previous post or read the new release.
It is with a sense of relief for us all that the release is out the door and, now that the communication wheel is in motion and clients are already contacting us to upgrade their systems, minds are turning to the next project. That’s the thing about working for a dynamic technology company - people don’t stay still for long - there’s always more to do.
This continuous development cycle keeps us ahead of the curve and in recognition of this, we are proud to have been recently named a Gartner Cool Vendor in the social software and collaboration space.
This accolade reflects our work ethic and some of our key success factors are recognized in their report:
- Identify opportunities early
- Offer the solution in a variety of deployment models (e.g. cloud, mobile, on-premise)
- Match new technology investments to user cases
- Continue to innovate
Why are we cool? Because, in Gartner’s words we “tackle long-standing coordination, collaboration and peer review challenges faced by teams every day regarding group writing, reviewing and editing documents in a way that transforms a complicated, burdensome experience into a more efficient and controlled process”.
So, PleaseReview v5.0 is out of the door, but watch this space, v5.1 is already in development…
Posted by David Cornwell on 19. June 2013 10:07
Founder/CEO of PleaseTech Ltd - collaborative document review and co-authoring for the enterprise.
Well I’m delighted to be formally announcing what is in PleaseReview v5.0.
We initially announced the ‘high level’ plans last year and showcased some of the key features at the recent FOSE conference in Washington, DC and at the APMP Bid and Proposal conference in Atlanta. We will also have v5.0 with us on the booth at the DIA conference in Boston next week. We're booth #304 - please drop by if you're going. For more details visit the DIA website.
So, PleaseReview v5.0 provides the following enhancements:
- A modernized user interface;
- ‘High level’ feedback capability;
- Flight mode (an additional cost option) to provide offline, zero footprint review capability with HTML5 (i.e. modern) browsers;
- A customizable review experience designed to suite varying levels of reviewer sophistication with the introduction of User Types;
- Revised, simplified licensing;
- Various other enhancements, upgrades and fixes.
We always value client feedback and most of these enhancements are being introduced as a direct result of such user feedback. Several are intended to be ‘first steps’ to be further developed in future releases.
Clearly the standout feature is Flight Mode. The ability to review Word documents offline on a tablet and automatically upload and consolidate your comments and changes into the main review surely has to be a winner. We believe that PleaseReview is globally unique and this simply takes it a step further.
So diving into the detail ………
Modernized, Enhanced User Interface
The review interface has been ‘refreshed’ with new, larger, modern icons, the introduction of a count-down timer and, for Word documents, a ‘paper-like’ look & feel with page breaks.
Existing PleaseReview v4 users will recognize the overall environment and will feel ‘at home’ but will also notice numerous little improvements such as the selected paragraph being identified in the document and a complete rationalization of the options available. In addition to Reviewers, Authors also benefit from enhancements designed to minimize their need to click!
We’ve introduced a new feature called a ‘Feedback Document’. This is designed to enable the capture of ‘high level’ feedback on a document or document set. So now it’s possible to ask questions such as; ‘please rate the quality of the writing’; ‘what are the strengths of the document set’; ‘please identify the major risks’; etc.
This feedback capability is the first stage of our new ‘Beyond Review’ strategy. The idea being that now they have an efficient way for multiple people to mark-up and comment on documents, it’s time to leverage PleaseReview to provide business process benefits beyond simple document review. There will be further developments in this area.
The feedback functionality has been driven by requirements for color team reviews in the proposals industry. From understanding what's needed to getting something that works are two very different things but, even if I do say so myself, its implementation is extremely clever and it is very easy to configure.
The feedback functionality also makes it possible to use PleaseReview simply as a brainstorming tool. So PleaseReview can be used to capture the thoughts of participants on a topic rather than as a review process.
These days it’s all about the mobile worker. Last year we introduce our iPad module and have had the Offline Review Client (OLC) for a long time. But it’s not been possible to review offline on a tablet – until now.
So, imagine: You are at the gate reviewing a Word document on your iPad. The flight is called, you click into PleaseReview’s Flight Mode and select which reviews you want to work on during the flight. Whilst you board they are downloading. When the plane doors close and you need to flick your iPad into Flight Mode you have the selected reviews available for offline review. No apps, no installs – it’s all in the browser.
Whilst you're reviewing offline you will be able to see all the comments and changes made by your colleagues to the moment you downloaded the review. When you are next connected, upload your comments and changes. It’s that simple.
The only requirement is a browser which supports HTML5. So Flight Mode works with most devices, be it a Windows laptop, Macbook, iPad or Android tablet.
We think this is pretty cool. We hope you do as well!
As part of our focus on facilitating enterprise rollouts, we are introducing the ability to specify User Types in PleaseReview. This allows control over the review interface with the provision of different functionality to different types of user.
So casual users can have a simplified interface (with reduced available functionality) whilst more sophisticated users can have a fully featured interface.
This makes it easy to use PleaseReview throughout the organization even by less confident users. Expect further enterprise rollout features in future releases.
I think everyone I know agrees that software licensing is anything but simple. The basic problem is balancing flexible licensing which meets client requirements with the inherent complexity of the process.
Our previous licensing was very flexible was becoming rather cumbersome- for example, a user taking advantage of all the features offered by PleaseReview used three different licenses! This was difficult to explain to prospective clients. So we have simplified it.
We now have a simple hierarchical model of Power User, Enhanced User and Standard User which still provides the flexibility needed.
There have been a wide range of other enhancements and minor fixes designed to make life easier for our clients. If you’d like a webinar to go over the enhancements just let us know.
We have already started thinking about v5.1 and I’m over in Malaysia with the development team in early July to scope that out and bounce ideas around. Onward and upward!
Posted by Sarah Holden on 6. June 2013 14:04
Half of the PleaseTech marketing team.
Whilst Dave Cornwell, our CEO, has maintained an (almost) regular blog for several years, we’re expanding and inviting others from within and outside PleaseTech to join him.
The intent is to provide different viewpoints, cover various areas of interest and tap into the different mindsets of the individuals who work here or who are otherwise involved in document collaboration. Having been with PleaseTech for almost three years (goodness, already three years) I have come to appreciate and enjoy the very ‘special’ and diverse personalities I come into contact with and so look forward to reading what they have to say.
To accommodate these plans, we have moved our blog from a generic provider so that it is now hosted directly by PleaseTech. There are several advantages to us including improved SEO, increased brand awareness, control of our content and freedom of design. Also, being a technology company, we have all the expertise on hand if anything breaks!
So, moving forward, you will see regular posts from PleaseTech, covering company updates, opinions, shared knowledge, industry news and more.
From a marketing perspective, our blog will deal with some of the challenges we face and what we are doing to overcome them. A recent survey of over 800 marketers conducted by the B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn earlier this year confirmed what we face:
‘The number one challenge for B2B marketers is generating high quality leads’
The full survey results are certainly worth a read and provide some pointers into what works better in terms of marketing activity. Our challenges specifically come down to:
Finding the right person to talk to – whilst for some industries this is clear, document collaboration is often managed by a diverse range of people across the organization.
Education – many use workarounds or solutions that enable basic collaboration, and, in doing so, put up with the inefficiencies and frustrations inherent with these practices/solutions. They know no better (or have not had the time to research an alternative) and so their expectations are low, especially if their IT department has told them that the existing solution is ‘state-of-the-art’.
Convincing the IT dept. – Dave has covered this in previous blog posts and it continues to be a challenge. Business users are the ones who experience document collaboration issues, but frequently have to ‘live’ with the solutions provided by IT who often have the final say in how the dollars are spent.
Finding our ‘voice’ – whilst we know our business inside out, we continue to strive to know more about the different industry sectors and business disciplines we work with. It’s all very well knowing why our product is better and different but we have to touch the right chords with those we speak with. How can we help? What’s in it for them? What can they learn from us?
In future blog posts we will touch on some of the activities we have planned and that are currently underway to meet these challenges. We will share research, customer insights, best practices and independent expert contributions.
So, to gain an inside view into the workings of a technology company and all the cogs that make the wheel turn, as well as industry insights, personal deliberations and more, do sign up to catch the posts as they appear.