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So far Diann Turner has created 27 entries.

Don’t Miss the NVTC Panel on Using Mobility Solutions to Increase Sales and Revenue

Do you have the technology for success in 2012? How do the trendsetters plan to use innovative Mobility to make their businesses more effective and in turn win more business?

 

With quotas going up, budgets going down and no more hours in the day, it is imperative that your organization be on top of the efficiency curve to stay ahead. With today’s demands, telecommuting, our beloved challenges with traffic and other unique obstacles to achieving success, more and more companies are looking to mobility for solutions.

Join the Northern Virginia Tech Council (NVTC) Business Development, Marketing & Sales Committee to hear from a variety of business leaders as to how they are currently using mobility to address the above and better themselves in the market. Learn how they are using mobility to increase sales, lower costs and how mobility is changing the way they do business. You will also hear from the trendsetters and how they plan to be innovative using mobility to make their businesses more effective and in turn, win more business.

Trendsetters

Moderator: Tarik Reyes, Vice President of Business Development – Federal Mission Programs, Northrop Grumman Information Systems

Panelists: Deborah B. Dunie, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, CACI International Inc.

Rob Hines, Regional Vice President, Salesforce.com

Kevin Kiley, Director of the Enterprise Sales Group, AirWatch

Mike Maiorana, President – Washington-Baltimore-Virginia Region, Verizon Wireless

Paul Oliver, Regional Manager, Collaboration Sales, Enterprise East, Cisco

Hope to see you all on January 26th at Northrop Grumman at 7575 Colshire Drive in McLean, VA at 7:30 am!

Click here to learn more about the event.

Please register at www.nvtc.org/events

 

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Hospitality Providers: Top Five Tips for Achieving Maximum Technology ROI

As we head into 2012, it is important for any sector to maximize its technology investments to ensure the most effective business outcomes.  And, in no other industry is this more important than the hospitality world.  With fierce competition to capture guests’ attention, coupled with the ongoing challenges of a lagging economy, it is vital for hospitality providers to make the most of their IT spending.

Based on our experience in working with leading hospitality providers, we have provided the following top five tips for maximizing IT in 2012:

1. Align IT with Business Goals: When embarking on a new IT initiative, it is critical to align these efforts with business goals.  As such, hospitality IT leaders need to be fully connected to the C-suite and have deep insights into the overall business goals and strategies and use these to guide all efforts.

2. Use IT for Competitive Advantage: Hospitality providers need to gain competitive advantage by providing unique offerings, which will allow them to be differentiated from their peers.  In essence, every IT project has to support efforts to eclipse the competition – whether it is building out a new CMS, simply enhancing your core web site with more features and functionality or developing a mobile version of your web site.

3. Use Innovative Project Management Approaches: When working with IT vendors and integrators, it is important that your technology partners offer a project management approach that is highly effective and mitigates any risk of derailing a project.  One key approach is to make sure that your partners provide results early and often throughout the project management process – as opposed to presenting a solution at the end of the project lifecycle.

4. Be Realistic About the Level of Complexity and Associated Costs: When considering going for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) as opposed to a custom IT solution, it is important to be realistic about the costs and complexity associated with this decision.  The greater the complexity, the greater the chance that custom solutions are required, though as we have highlighted before, this is not always a “black and white” decision.

5. Remove Any Barriers Between Hotel Technology, Marketing and Operations: As highlighted in a recent white paper by Amadeus and RockCheetah, hospitality providers should consider creating the “IT Pathfinder” role.  This person can create a greater alignment between corporate business and technology objectives, as well as identify appropriate solutions and implement the initiatives that create the greatest economic value.  In addition, it may be more cost-effective to rely on an outside partner to serve as the “IT Pathfinder.”

Information Technology is clearly a major business driver for the hospitality sector.  When used appropriately, it can create major competitive advantage and ultimately drive additional revenue.  The key is to use your IT investment wisely, align IT with your business goals and make sure you are using the right partners and solutions to meet these objectives.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

It’s Holiday Party Season: CRTC and NVTC Hosted Key Networking Events with NetLink Resource Group’s Involvement

While the holiday season is an ideal time for reflecting, giving and planning for a prosperous year ahead, it is also a time of very noteworthy business networking holiday parties and events.  And, this year, NetLink Resource Group had the privilege of being involved in two major year-end networking gatherings.

On December 15th, the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council (CRTC) hosted its 4th Annual Holiday InfoMixer and we had the honor of being a Silver Sponsor of the event. In addition, NetLink donated a number of gifts for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation that we gathered from friends, partners and clients during our recent 15th anniversary party.

We also sponsored the NVTC Titans Breakfast on December 16th that featured keynote speaker Steven R. Appleton, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Micron Technology.  Mr. Appleton discussed some of the major mega-trends in technology usage, as well how U.S. policy needs to encourage strategic investments in the technology arena to create jobs and grow the economy.

As we move into 2012, we will continue to highly active in a number of business organizations, which include an ongoing sponsorship of the BWI Business Partnership, support at CRTC events, as well as my ongoing involvement in the NVTC Business Development, Sales and Marketing Committee.

I hope that all of NetLink’s clients, partners, friends and family have a wonderful holiday and a prosperous new year.  2012 here we come!

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Don’t Miss Out on The NVTC 2011 Sales Rock Star Panel

In just about every organization, there are a handful of sales employees who go above and beyond, defy all expectations and consistently achieve success.  Let’s face it.  These people are rock stars.

Have you ever wanted to know what makes these sales leaders tick?  What are their secrets and how can I put their best practices to use in my daily sales efforts?

Well, these secrets and more will be provided to you in the upcoming Sales Rock Star Panel hosted by Northern Virginia Tech Council (NVTC) Business Development, Marketing & Sales Committee.

The following panelists will describe what they are doing differently and share the secrets you need to break quota for your company.  From entrepreneurial start-ups, mid to large-size, commercial or products/specialty firms, you can apply the tips and techniques you learn from our panel of experts to your organization.

Moderator:

  • Greg Baroni, Chairman & CEO, Attain, LLC

Panelists:

  • Bobby C. Christian, Chief Growth Officer, Three Pillar Global
  • Siddhartha Chowdhary, PMP, Founder & CEO, Credence  Management Solutions LLC
  • Mark LaFleur, Vice President, Business Development, Learning Tree International
  • Janet Oliver, Vice President and Director, U.S. and European Operations and Business Development, ITT Mission Systems
  • Duane Sibole, Associate Director – National / Strategic / SMB, Verizon Wireless

See you all at Salient Federal Solutions in Fairfax, Virginia on November 18th at 7:30 a.m.   Click here to learn more about the event.

Oh, and who said rock stars only exist in the music world?

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Maryland Chamber’s Business Policy Conference Highlights Regional Policy Issues and Challenges

Each year, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce brings together the regional business community to discuss key policy issues at its Business Policy Conference. This year’s event, which took place on November 3rd and 4th, highlighted the themes of economic competitiveness, transportation funding, health care, immigration law, environmental sustainability and much more.

For NetLink Resource Group, the event is an ideal chance for us to network, learn more about these issues and promote our offerings to clients, partners and prospects.  We were excited to be one of 10 exhibiting companies at the event, which brought together about 250 business leaders from the area.

We like to align ourselves with business organizations like the Maryland Chamber because, while we are a provider of IT services and solutions, we ultimately aim to bring business value to clients through the use of information technology.

From its CEO panel to keynote speeches by Maryland lawmakers, the Chamber’s Business Policy Conference was the ideal venue for gaining a perspective on policy issues that impact the business community in Maryland.  If you have not had a chance to attend this event, we highly recommend you mark your calendars for next year’s conference.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Despite Cloudy Weather, CRTC’s President’s Reception Brought Unparalleled Networking and Good Times

As avid members and supporters of the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council (CRTC), we like to take advantage of every event that this unique organization hosts – not just for the good times, but for the unprecedented level of networking opportunities that are afforded to us.

For example, earlier this summer, the CRTC held its BBQ on the Bay, which brought sun, fun and wonderful networking opportunities.  Nearly 400 executives convened for this event and it clearly helped us expand our network of partners and clients.

And last week, we had the opportunity to attend the CRTC President’s Reception aboard the illustrious Catherine Marie yacht on the Severn River.  Despite cloudy conditions, the event brought together approximately 200 technology executives from the region who enjoyed great food and beverage, as well as got to rub elbows with Christian Johansson, Secretary of Business & Economic Development, for the State of Maryland.

As always, we would like to extend a big thank you to the CRTC for providing these forums for us to gather, network and expand our business opportunities in the region.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Disaster Preparedness: Business Continuity in a Time of Uncertain Weather Patterns

From epic snowstorms to earthquakes and hurricanes, the Washington D.C. metro region – and much of the country for that matter – has been dealing with weather patterns of epic proportions.  And, according to NASA climate scientists, extreme weather will continue to be the norm over the next couple of years.

While weather can cause major disruptions to our daily lives, the show must always go on when it comes to business.  Two to three days of business down time, due to a natural disaster, can cause a major loss in productivity and negatively impact the bottom-line.

Beyond offering employees the ability to telework during times of bad weather, there are also a number of other simple tactics that can be used to ensure business continuity for the small businesses employee:

  • Use The Yellow Pages: When power goes out, so does the ability to connect to the Internet.  As such, you should always keep an old-fashioned copy of Yellow Pages handy so you can call around and see what cafes, coffee shops or restaurants have power as well as a working Wi-Fi connection.  This may sound archaic, but I actually had to use mine during Hurricane Irene. 
  • Back Up Your Files: Always be sure that your files are fully backed up either on an external hard drive, or on some of the new cloud-based back up services like Mozy. This way, you will be immune to a power surge that could short your desktop or laptop computer.  
  • Remote Access/VPN Solutions: Along the lines of backing up your files, we encourage employers to invest in a remote VPN solution that will provide 24/7 access to key files for employees on the road, or working from a Wi-Fi hot spot.  
  • Have Cash On Hand: Getting access to an ATM machine can be very difficult in stormy conditions.  As such, it is recommended that you have a reserve of cash on you, or in your office, at all times.  
  • Be a “Good Customer” at WiFi Locations: While many restaurants and cafes offer courtesy WiFi to their customers, some locations are trying to boot those who abuse this luxury.  Some Starbucks locations in New York City have covered up their power outlets to discourage those who use them as their home offices.  So, when using a free WiFi at a café or restaurant, do the right thing and actually purchase your food and beverages from them.  Also, use common sense and try not to abuse the privilege by over staying your welcome. 
  • Bring an Extra Power Strip: Since open power outlets are hard to find at restaurants and cafes that offer free WiFi, always be sure to have an extra power strip with you.   You will be able to plug in and share your extra power connections with those around you – in case you were looking to build up some good karma.  

As the recent flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee became a major productivity killer for the D.C. area, it underscored that extreme weather can catch us off guard at any time.  The key is to take the right steps and be prepared to keep all of the trains running when it comes to getting your work done remotely.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

More Examples of Good and Bad Customer Service: When Will Businesses Get It Right?

As a society that is driven by meeting the needs of consumers via goods and services, one would assume that treating the customer right would be priority number one.  The ability to meet and exceed customers’ needs is what essentially makes or breaks any business.

Sadly many businesses completely miss the mark when it comes to customer service.  As I have highlighted before, there are many good and bad apples out there, and once again, I recently experienced both above par and well-below-par customer service.   Here are a couple more examples:

  • Stevens’ Battery Warehouse: When I had the air conditioning compressor fixed in my SUV a few months ago, the mechanic told me that my battery was on its last legs.  Not wanting to take any chances, I recently headed to Steven’s Battery Warehouse in Annapolis, MD.  In the parking lot, a technician pleasantly greeted me and replaced my battery in a matter of 15 minutes.  Had I gone to a larger automotive supply shop, I would have had to wait for hours for this simple service to be completed.  Way to go Steven’s Battery Warehouse!
  • Bad Brakes = Bad Service: Along the lines of more automotive troubles, I had to get new brakes installed in my car and the dealer quoted me a price of $250.00, which seemed reasonable compared to other quotes I received in the ballpark of $700.00.  Shortly after arriving at home the dealer called me and told me the real price would be $500.00.  When I asked why the price doubled, I was told that the original quote was only for the front brakes. What a bad way to provide a cost estimate:  low ball upfront and then spring the real price on the customer once the car is apart and in the shop.
  • Endless Calls to Comcast: In the wake of Hurricane Irene, I called Comcast to inquire as to when my Internet and cable would be restored and pressed option “1” asking them to call me back with an update on my service being restored – since they were dealing with a heavy influx of calls at that time that seemed reasonable.  To date they have not called back, by the way.  When my power was restored, I called their “national call center” – which was most likely in India or the Philippines – and I was advised that the entire state of Maryland was without service.  Although my neighbors had their service restored, so I called again.  I was assured that my service would be restored in a few hours.  On my 4th call I was advised that a trouble ticket had never been submitted even though my account was noted.  Four hours later my service was restored.  Had a trouble ticket been submitted earlier my service would have undoubtedly been restored sooner.  And, when I inquired about getting a credit for the downtime, they told me I had to call them back again.  Surely, natural disasters are a major challenge for companies like Comcast, but this was a case study in what not to do with regards to customer service.

On the positive side, my experience with Steven’s Battery Warehouse was absolutely phenomenal and it reinforced my belief in providing outstanding service.  On the flip side, my experience with getting new brakes left a sour taste in my mouth.

Customer service is paramount and there are those who strive for excellence and those that fall very short. Perhaps one day all businesses will fully understand the simplest tenet to achieving business success is that customer service is the key to profitability and it all comes from efficiently satisfying the customer.  And be careful, one bad customer service story can catch on like wildfire over social media sites like Facebook and Twitter!

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Removing Barriers Between Hotel Technology, Marketing and Operations

Although the hospitality sector has been dealing with an extended economic downturn for the past three years, a new dialogue has been emerging that focuses on the best use of information technology to fully meet marketing and operational goals – especially in the face of today’s economic climate.

As an organization that does a lot of work in the hospitality sector, we recently came across a compelling white paper by Amadeus andRockCheetah that fully explores a topic that we believe is very important:  how hotel companies can align business and IT strategies to drive business transformation.

Here are some of the key findings from that report:

Aligning Business and IT Priorities Hotel business leaders are focused on discovering innovative methods to grow revenues, attract new guests and reduce costs.  With hotel IT leaders prioritizing initiatives around cloud computing, virtualization and mobile technologies, they are attending to core central and property system platforms as opposed to following other industries in developing collaboration and web 2.0 initiatives.

Identifying Key Business Drivers and the Enterprise Value Chain — To bridge business and IT objectives, a common vocabulary is required to open lines of communication across business units. Outcomes must provide material results based upon clear actions that offer measurable economic value, while business drivers should relate directly to satisfying guest needs.

Defining Strategic Hotel Business Priorities — Hotel business leaders are seeking to enhance their property portfolios by expanding into new territories. Brand development rates high as a priority – from repositioning existing brands to the launching of new ones.  Improving guest satisfaction and operational efficiency are interrelated for hoteliers as both share the common goal of enhancing the guest experience, thereby increasing revenues.

Defining Strategic Hotel IT Priorities — Hotel information technology leadership is prioritizing enhancement of core CRS and PMS platforms while strengthening direct distribution channels. From an infrastructure perspective, virtualization of systems, with migration to cloud computing and SaaS, heads the list of key goals with the purpose of increasing security, reliability and scalability.

In addition, the report calls for the creation of the “IT Pathfinder” role.  This person would create a greater alignment between corporate business and technology objectives, as well as identify appropriate solutions and implement the initiatives that create the greatest economic value.

As the hotel industry has essentially survived one of the most dramatic economic downturns in history, many hoteliers are embracing new business initiatives that rely heavily on IT to drive business growth.

Being an organization that continually provides IT solutions that combine clients’ business objectives with the appropriate technology, we applaud this shift in the hotel industry.

And, as we are still facing uncertain economic times, we believe every organization must make sure that their IT investment provides a maximum ROI for continued business growth.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group

Sometimes Bad Customer Service Reminds Us That There’s No Room for Sacrificing Quality

Many businesses tout quality service as being the hallmark of their entire mission.  And as we have highlighted before, there are some business doing some incredibly outstanding things when it comes to service.

Though all it takes is one or two bad apples to remind us that there are some companies out there that are missing the mark when it comes to quality service. Following are a couple of glaring real-life examples of poor customer service.  If you will, we have been kind enough to change the names to protect the guilty.

First my neighbor had a daunting experience with a major provider of home furnishings and accessories.  She called the local store and could never get anybody to return her calls regarding the new kitchen counters she was having installed.  As such, my neighbor had to make several 40-mile trips to the actual store to get somebody to respond to her issue.  All of this could have been handled easily over the phone – if only someone had called her back.

The second example is regarding my son and a major insurance provider.  My son’s truck was hit by a person driving without a license and who did not have permission to drive the car – resulting in several thousands of dollars of damage to my son’s truck.  Since it was hit from behind, the repair shop felt that the truck should have been totaled because of damages that impacted the transmission.  The insurance company opted to have it repaired – as opposed to deeming it “totaled.” Now the transmission is fully shot and it will cost my son $5,000 to install a new one.   And by the way, the insurance company never sent anyone out to look at the vehicle again, return phone calls or re-open the claim.  Once this issue is resolved…if it ever is, my son is switching to a competitive insurance provider, which means the insurance carrier is losing a customer of more than 15 years.

In today’s hyper-connected world, all it takes is for a few bad customer service stories to make their way through the world of social media and then a company has a real public relations nightmare on their hands.

My advice to these companies is to take a page from Nordstrom, Trader Joes’s, Marriott and others by simply making quality service their top priority.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group