A Simple Guide to Building a Dynamic Infrastructure

March 25th, 2010 kim No comments

This post is taken from Nick Drabble’s GuruOnline interview ‘building a dynamic infrastructure‘  and you can view the whole video in its entirety at GuruOnline now.

When it comes to building a dynamic infrastructure, firstly you need to understand what’s right for your business and there are a few ways you can go about this, in the first instance there are executive briefing documents, white papers, and client case studies etc which all document what others have done before you. Next need to work out what your business priorities are and understand where you’re trying to get to, look at where you are today and map out a series of steps that improves your IT services in line with your business goals. Read more…

Categories: IT Advice Tags:

Five Top Tips For Running A Home Business

September 1st, 2009 kim No comments

Although losing your job can seem like the end of the world many people have been turning it to their advantage, it’s given them the perfect excuse to start again. Some have taken this opportunity to try a new career, maybe go back to education; many have decided to start their own businesses and work from home.

Who hasn’t sat in the office on Friday afternoon, spending more time dreaming about working for themselves rather than actually concentrating on what they were meant to be doing? If you’ve recently found yourself out of work, have spotted a genuine gap in the market you know you can fill, or you’ve just had enough of your boss, starting up your own business from home and being self employed doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may first seem.

If you’re starting your own business, it makes a lot of sense to run it from your home, you have no (additional) rent to pay, you don’t have the expense of traveling (which in itself can amount up to a whole extra day per week) and you could find it easier to be on hand if needed by friends and family

You’ve decided you want to work from home, what are you going to do all day? You’ll need an idea; there are a few ways to come up with one, have you spotted a gap in the market you know you could fill? Do you have a hobby or something you normally do for fun you could actually get paid for? Maybe someone’s already offering something you know you could do better? There are loads of ways you could start up a home business

Once you’ve got an idea for your home business, go and sell it. Make a list of all the people/organisations that might be interested in you and approach them, try to speak to them in person or at least over the phone (emails get ignored very easily and buried even easier). You can’t afford to burn any bridges so try not to let any discouragement show, they may not be interested in your product or service at the moment but that might change next month or they may know someone else who could be interested. (for loads of great advice on sales and selling techniques, check out Richard Denny’s exclusive set). Be friendly, polite and positive and you’ll be surprised by how far you get.

You’ll also need to consider the more mundane tasks of running your own business from home, if you thought it would mean an end to all that admin and paper work you’d be wrong. You will need to notify your insurance company (especially if you’re going to have additional equipment like computers around). Unless your new business is going to be particularly noisy, or involve large lorries rumbling down your road at unsocial hours, going to be producing strange smells, or have large amounts of people rolling through your front door all the time you shouldn’t need to inform your local authority if you become self employed. All local authority websites will give you an exact list of criteria you’ll need to check though and this will tell you if you need to notify them. Whilst you’re doing all your setup admin, don’t forget to let the tax man know you’re trading from home, as soon as you’re incurring any business expense or making any money he’ll need to know.

Now you need to get some good exposure for your home business, the easiest step to get your business in the media is to write a press release, and send in a good image. A good press release has a good headline, includes facts and figures and preferably a quote, if you can get endorsement from a celebrity that would be even better. Send it to someone who writes about the kind of things your business is involved in and again follow up with them just to make sure it’s a story they would be interested in and the kind of story they’ll print

One last bit of advice when starting your own business, follow the golden triangle, this is spending a third of your time on three things, one is business development (going out and generating new clients), the second is taking care of your existing customer, and the third part is admin, making sure you’re registering the vat, keeping the books in order etc. that way you’re business stays in order. If you are able to spend roughly a third of your time on each of these areas, you’ll find your home business runs as smoothly as possible.

All that’s left to do now is enjoy being your own boss!

There are so many of places offering you help you may not know where to start (well, GuruOnline would be a good place!), Emma Jones started Enterprise Nation for this very reason. If you are serious about starting your own business from home, this site should definitely be on your ‘must check out’ list, it’s a great free resource that can help you start and grow your business from home, check out Emma’s sets on GuruOnline to hear her great advice on starting a home business

Categories: Start Up Advice Tags:

Basic Business Guide To Social Media

July 14th, 2009 kim No comments

At the moment everyone is claiming to be an expert on social media, and you cant spend more than five minutes on the internet without tripping over someone begging you to consider their opinion on the matter, so with all this choice what makes Guru better than all the other competition? Well, Guru only interviews industry experts and the below blog is a brief summary taken from an exclusive interview on social media for businesses by Google, who I think we can all agree know a thing or two about the internet.

Social media is basically about making the internet a more social place, traditionally, it was a way for people to understand what’s useful on the internet based on social interaction, for example Amazon, have been saying for years that people who have brought this item have also brought this item, that is someone saying this is probably a good recommendation for you. Newer sites also offer something similar, they’ll have the most read article today or most commented article today, the whole point of this is that you can see exactly what content is most relevant in real time.

The more modern version of social media is all about people being able to bring their friends on to the internet. It’s become more mainstream recently with things like MySpace and Facebook where you actually log on and create a profile, and specifically call out your friends. Sites like twitter have made it easy to communicate on line without having to have a formal relationship.

Social media is important for a whole host of reasons, they main one being that because it fits so conveniently into most peoples lives it’s becoming more and more popular, the more generic sites are constantly reporting massive growth figures and newer and more industry specific social media sites and networks are being created everyday. The more time people spend on these networks the more they’re actually using them as their hub for the internet so the more important it is for brands and businesses to understand how to speak to these people on these platforms. With things like instant messaging you can see if the person is online, you can see when they’ve got the message and with some programmes, you can see when they’ll reply. People don’t have time to wait for email; social media can keep up with what going on in your life as it happens which means it can also keep up global news and current affairs as they happen to. This instant gratification and this need for people to understand what’s going on and how people are communicating right now is really the key to social media.

So we’ve established what social media is and why it’s so important, what you need to know now is, how can you use it to benefit your business?
There’s a huge number of ways for businesses to get started with social media, in most countries in the world it’s becoming really popular, there are millions of websites, conferences, webinars etc all there to give free advice on how to use these sites. Start with just putting your brand out there and allowing people to follow and identify with it, as you get more technical you can start to do things like allowing people to add badges and custom applications to their profile, a badge can be something as simple as a picture of your product or a picture of your logo which people will start to generate round the web for you.

Another really simple way you can use social media to enhance your site, would be through an open social application, allowing people to login to your site with an existing login they have from a different account or site. External reports from people like ComScore say that as much as 70% of your users will drop off if you present them with a registration form, so allowing them to login with an account they’ve already created with another service can really increase engagement on your site.

One of the more generic examples of these would be Google’s Friend Connect this is a tool that allows you very easily to let people log into your website using their account from another service, it’s cut and paste code so it’s as easy as putting a your tube video on your site, you just go to the Friend Connect site select the gadgets you want to install, configure them by changing the colour or the text, and then you’re presented with some code, all you have to do is copy and paste that onto your website and people are able to login.

The best approach to social media is to just get out there with your brand name and message and have a go, so long as you have something productive and constructive to say, the chances are your target audience is out there and they’re listening, all you have to do is find them.

To find out what else Google has to say on social media for businesses, check out their video, while you’re there, if you found this post interesting you may also enjoy Google’s second interview on international pay per click for business.

Categories: Social Media for Business Tags:

An Introduction to GuruOnline

July 6th, 2009 kim No comments

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis may have noticed we’ve changed over to wordpress. Whilst making sure all the old blog posts didn’t get lost I noticed that I’ve never really written a blog on GuruOnline itself and the theory behind it.

So this blog is going to look at Guru, why you should have it bookmarked as your number one business resource and what makes Guru better than anyone else out there offering free business advice.

GuruOnline is a video based business resource, offering hundreds of interviews on dozens of different industries – All the videos are instantly streamed, all feature recognised industry experts, massive range of topics covered and best of all, it’s available for anyone to use and it’s all free! Over the coming months, Guru is going to be broken down into industry specific channels, we’ve recently launched our international trade channel in association with the Institute of Export and now have an entire channel dedicated to international trade, here you will find everything you need to know about importing, exporting and international trade in general, any questions you have about international trade will be answered here and if you cant find what you’re looking for, get in touch and we guarantee we’ll be able to help you.

We all know you can’t spend two minutes on the Internet without tripping over someone offering your business free advice, so why use Guru? Well, first off, it’s all in video format, so you don’t have pages of solid text to sift through. All our videos are broken down into precise and accurate short videos (ranging from 30 seconds to 2 minutes). All the videos not only feature certified experts, but the team behind Guru are pretty good at bringing you the content in the most efficient way possible.

Secondly because it’s not anonymous text, it’s all video based which means you can see exactly who is giving you this advice and when you can see it’s IBM who are talking about IT security, you know you can trust the source. If you’re watching a video about export and it’s by the Institute of Export you can be pretty safe in the knowledge that the information they’re giving you is the most current, up to date and relevant. All this means you don’t have to just take our word that this person knows what they’re talking about.

So I’ve been going on about Guru and how amazing online video is, but what’s the big deal with video anyway?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, what’s a video worth? What’s hundreds of videos worth?

In a nutshell, online video brings you the information you’re looking for, as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s the most user friendly and interactive way of browsing the web.

You don’t have to just take my word for it, a quick look at the history of the internet shows online video’s natural progression, YouTube is one of the most popular sites on the internet and arguably the most famous when it comes to online video, it was first launched in 2005 and within 12 months Google brought it in one of the most talked about and ground breaking acquisitions in the history of the internet, back then Google knew what a big part online video was going to play in the internet and they were right, according to Alexa, YouTube get around 18% of all internet traffic everyday, according to online monitors Hitwise, in 2007 it was said that YouTube consumed as much capacity as the entire internet took up in 2000.

Online-publishers.org found that in a study of Internet users, 40% watch online videos at least once a week and over 70% watched online videos at least once a month.

ComScore reported that 76.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.

In April 2008, The Telegraph has even predicted that the internet could grind to a halt within two years under the pressure of booming demand for online video.

So I’ve convinced you that online video is massive and it’s only going to get bigger, why would you use Guru when you’ve got all this apparent choice?

It only contains information that will be relevant to businesses:
Guru is not just any website offering you video content, it is all specifically aimed at businesses, (you’re not going to stumble across an angry teenager having a rant about totalitarianism just because their teachers wont let them wear a bolt through their nose to school). Guru features advice for almost every industry, no matter what sort of business you’re in, there is going to be something you’ll find informative.

Easy to use:
Everything is broken down into channels and categories, and it’s all cross referenced so you don’t have to worry about not finding what you’re looking for, if you want to know about financing a business venture in China, you’ll find what you’re looking for under finance and international trade (in fact you’re likely to find that one under world regions on the international trade channel too). All the videos and interview titles are clearly labeled with the question being answered showing alongside every video. The site is designed to be as user friendly as possible, we won’t gain anything by showing off how talented our web developers are by being complicated for complexities sake.

You know you can trust the information:
As I’ve mentioned before, if you want to know about how to implement a good IT security systems in your office and you’re watching an interview from IBM you know you can trust them. Every contributor on Guru knows what they’re talking about and they’re the leader in their field, if you’re researching a completely new business venture and you’re not sure who the company is, all interviewees have links to their own website for your validation (or even to contact them if you’d like more information). If you want to know about starting a business venture in Russia, who better to listen to than the Russia Chamber of Commerce? Or Google if you want to know about social media?

That really should be enough to convince you why GuruOnline is the definitive business resource, there are several links in this post, if you’re new to Guru why not follow one of them and spend five minutes having a look around the site, we’re adding new content all the time so dont forget to keep checking back. If there are any topics you feel we are missing and you think you could be a Guru please don’t hesitate to get in touch and maybe we could be filming you?

Categories: Business Advice Tags:

International Trade Channel Launch in Association with the Institute of Export

July 2nd, 2009 kim No comments

All advice on the International Trade Channel is delivered by experts from 12 participating organisations including the Institute of Export, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the CBI, UKTI, Business Link, The Middle East Association, the Intellectual Property Office and the China-Britain Business Council.

Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the project is the first time such a comprehensive resource has been offered free of charge and reflects the Institute’s role as the leading authority in best practice and competence for businesses trading globally.

The UK’s leading independent international trade body has brought together a raft of leading experts in the field of exporting and global business to launch a free online tool.

The Institute of Export and International Trade has spearheaded www.guruonline.tv/export which answers essential questions about conducting business abroad using more than 500 bitesize video clips – from how to manage currency to dealing with interpreters, as well as often overlooked details about local custom and etiquette.

All advice on the site is delivered by experts from 12 participating organisations including HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the CBI, UKTI, Business Link, The Middle East Association, the Intellectual Property Office and the China-Britain Business Council.

Sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the project is the first time such a comprehensive resource has been offered free of charge and reflects the Institute’s role as the leading authority in best practice and competence for businesses trading globally.

The concept was brought to life by online media company GuruOnline which uses video to provide users with the insights and guidance of industry’s most esteemed figures. An official launch took place at The Middle East Association at Bury St, London on Tuesday, June 23.

The Institute of Export, a not-for-profit organisation, is the only professional body in the UK offering recognised vocational qualifications in international trade.

It also provides a dedicated business membership scheme, designed to deliver expertise to firms involved in international trade. The service includes direct mentoring, a specially-designed ‘quick-answer’ system and tailored corporate training for staff involved in global trade.

Lesley Batchelor, Chair of the Institute of Export and International Trade, said: “No other resource offers a breadth of information in such an accessible format. In bringing together the UK’s most important international trade bodies we have concentrated a wealth of expertise on one site.

“Global markets can make a significant contribution to Britain’s economic recovery. However, we need to ensure businesses have the knowledge and skills to reap the rewards.

“This site offers enterprises of all sizes advice on how to overcome the challenges they face and clear answers to the questions that arise as they seek to make the most of international opportunities.”

John Bugeja, RBS head of trade UK & Ireland said: “We are proud to strengthen our relationship with the Institute of Export through this innovative service. As the UK’s largest corporate bank, RBS is committed to supporting the needs of UK businesses, and international trade is an integral part of this. Moreover, at a time when companies are increasingly seeing growth opportunities in overseas markets, this portal gives them the advice and information they need to make better informed decisions for their business.”

China Britain Business Council Director Chris Cotton said: “This is an excellent quick reference guide compiled specifically for UK exporters – and the use of video content ensures that it is an exciting, engaging and valuable source of information on many aspects of international trade.”

The Middle East Association Director General Michael Thomas said: “Many businesses find it difficult to steer a path through the minefield of international trade and simply want an overview of how to go about conducting business abroad. This is a terrific resource for doing just that, and it does a terrific job of unpicking complex themes and topics.”

Richard Hall, Managing Director of Pd-m International Ltd, a product design and global manufacturing consultancy, said: “The quality of information and video footage available on the site is very informative, accurate and compelling. Clearly the Institute of Export has spent a lot of time in creating the new website to a highly professional standard. The portal is very easy to access and welcoming to navigate.

“I have no doubt that this will be an excellent source of information and inspiration to those in or considering international trade.”

Test your local knowledge:
• Why if you are doing business in the Middle East is it okay for the person you are meeting to be late, but not for you?

• Why might March 8 be an important day for the women in your Russian office, while February 23 is special for the men – and what you should give each of them on those days?

• Why does it pay to present your business card at a first meeting in China with both hands?

Categories: International Trade Advice Tags:

An Introduction to International Trade

June 8th, 2009 kim No comments

When it comes to business advice, Business Link are one of the most recognised names in the UK, they cover a whole host of topics and GuruOnline are proud to have several exclusive interview with some of Business Link’s most authoritative international trade experts. This blog is just a quick look at a few of the questions they answer; don’t forget to follow the links at the bottom of the post for more comprehensive advice on international trade.

The primary reason most companies trade internationally is to reduce risk, if you think of the old adage of not putting all your eggs in one basket, the same applies to the business world and international trade, if you’ve got a stable market here in the UK it might prove prudent to look at how you can grow your business internationally.

The first step you would take when looking into international trading would be examining your business here in the UK, this would make it easier to start looking for a market internationally that might compliment your own. It’s simply a case of thorough research

One of the main factors to take into consideration when trading internationally is finance; this is again going to involve thorough research. Whichever country or countries you choose to trade with you will need a very comprehensive knowledge of their currency both in relation to your own currency and the value of your product or service. One of the more secure ways to trade internationally is with letters of credit, these are a banking instruments you use to insure that you’re paid, if you have a letter of credit against any transaction you are guaranteed to get the money as long as you adhere to a set of criteria that you agree with your customer at the outset.

When it comes to international trade, you should always make sure the export price has been carefully researched and you understand the different elements of that price, this means your product or service is very unlikely to be marketed at the same price you might charge in the UK. There are several factors you’ll need to take into consideration before concluding a price you wish to market your product or service at. The first is how much it might cost you to collect and convert any foreign currency. Secondly you’ll need to make sure all your logistics are covered and thirdly, you will have to do some form of market research too and this cost will also need to be covered in some shape or form. These are just three very generic points and you may come across many more especially when you start to deal with the specifics of individual countries.

Preferential trade agreements are agreements set up by trading blocks, an example of a trading block would be the European union as it’s a block of countries that work and trade together and have agreements. Basically, it means it’s easier to do business with some countries than it is with others.

European Union regulations have dramatically changed the very nature of international trade. In terms of distribution, you are no longer allowed to sell exclusively in any specific market, you can’t be restricted, but your marketing activities can be. As far as agents are concerned, they actually have employment rights and you have to be very careful about how you appoint them. When it comes to international trade it would advisable to research very thoroughly before you signed anything.

It’s not just the business world which you’ll need to research when trading internationally, you must also understand local customs, cultures and etiquette too. One of the nicest things you can do is actually be observant of the business etiquette you’re looking at. For example if you were to spend a period of time working with the Japanese, you would learn they are not very keen on hard sell, you’d also learn they have a tendency to nod their head and say yes a lot as you’re talking, this doesn’t necessary mean they’re agreeing with you but that they understand what you.

Punctuality can also be a major area of importance with international trade, culturally we tend to vary in the way we treat our meetings, in the UK we like to be punctual and we try very hard to keep our meetings down to about an hour, if you went over to Italy, they’re not so punctual and it’s not an offence not to be punctual. In Germany it’s a huge offence to be late for a meeting, some Germans will not see you if you’re more than ten minutes late. These things need to be looked at and planned into any visit you make.

International trade can be a very complex but very rewarding business venture. As with all business ventures, thorough research and due diligence is essential. There are plenty of organisations out there which are designed to help you, whether it’s step-by-step assistance you need or just a general nudge in the right direction.

Business Link is there to offer free business advice and support on almost any topic; GuruOnline has over 50 exclusive online videos from Business Link offering free international trade advice on a whole host of topics from incoterms to international marketing to managing risk to operational requirements.

5 Tips To Help Your Russian Business Trip

May 27th, 2009 kim No comments

The Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, which is a not-for-profit, company limited by guarantee that has worked to promote trade and cooperation between the UK and Russia since 1916.

If you’re planning a business trip to Russia any time soon, there are several things you may not have even thought of which will need to be taken into consideration. Here is a quick checklist just to make sure you have everything covered.

Currency
The dominant form of currency in Russia is the ruble. It is best to get your money exchanged before you get to Russia, although there are plenty of places to exchange your currency, especially in the bigger cities, you might have problems exchanging large amounts of pounds sterling. It is much easier to exchange dollars and euros.
There are cash points in Russia, but unfortunately there are not as many as there are in the UK in a normal city or town. It is best to be prepared to pay for most things with cash and take advantage of cash points when you see them, especially if you’re staying in a smaller town.

Visa
There is a visa requirement between the UK and Russia; if you’re going to Russia on business you’ll need a visa. If your business trip is going to be short, or you’re just going for a meeting, you will simply need a business visa, this would usually be provided by your Russian business partner.
If you’re trip is going to be slightly longer, if you actually intend to work in Russia, then you’ll need a work permit as a business visa will not suffice. A work visa is much more difficult to obtain and you will need proper legal advice and the aid of a government institution to help obtain you one

Accommodation
The central city hotels will be the most comfortable for businessmen, they are safe, clean and hospitable.
If you’re trip is going to be too long to justify a hotel and you decide to rent accommodation, it is advisable you have someone with you who speaks the language and knows the legalities of the property market to ensure you remain safe.

Legalities
According to Russian law, any foreign citizen arriving into Russian territory has got to register with the police, if you don’t register you’ll have to pay a fine and find yourself in a lot of trouble. It’s common practice for Russian authorities to stop people on the street and check documents and passports.
There are two ways of registering with the police, you can either register at the hotel where you’re staying and that will count as registering with the police. Or making the state aware you’re in the country and you’re being looked after and it’s easy to find you. If you’re renting an apartment, your landlord should be able to do this for you.

Travel
As far as traveling in Russia is concerned you’ll probably find public transport more efficient than your own car because the traffic situation is quite difficult in the larger Russian cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Most of the bigger Russian cities have an underground system, this tends to be very reliable and is particularly economic too, and is very easy to navigate as all the signs and maps are translated into English too.
If you need to travel across Russia, the most effective way to do this would be by either train or plane. Both, like the underground system, are rather cheap. Obviously the train takes a little longer but it can be a nicer journey where as the plane would be much quicker even though it may cost a little more.

GuruOnline offers an exclusive video interview with the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce so for more international trade advice on doing business with Russia, you can watch the whole interview for free now.

Categories: International Trade Advice Tags:

Performance Management and Business Intelligence

May 11th, 2009 kim No comments

Last week I gave a brief overview of one of the new IBM sets on GuruOnline all about IT Support, this week I’m going to explain a bit of what is covered in the second new IBM set about performance management and business intelligence.

Stephen Brook is from IBM Cognos Innovation Center and he explains in detail how performance management and business intelligence can work for business.

Business intelligence and performance management is really concerned with providing the tools and processes to help you make better business decisions. It tends to be characterize in terms of being able to answer three critical questions, the first is, how is my business performing? Secondly is, why is that so? (Understanding the driver behind your business) and thirdly, being able to say in the light of that, what should I be doing next? Answering the how question is usually done with tools like dashboard, score cards. Understanding why you’re getting the results you are, is something you typically do with reporting and analysis tools, finally understanding what you should be doing next is with planning and forecasting.

Stephen then goes on to explain the differences between business intelligence and performance management.
Business intelligence is sometimes characterised as having an effective corporate memory, it’s about being able to take the data you have in your organisation and turn it into useful information that people can use.
Performance management is an umbrella term that extends that concept, and talks both about understanding that process and the drivers in your business and pulling that information together then using that to make forward decisions like budgeting to forecasting.

In essence you will see improved business performance, and the ability to make better business decisions faster, that’s about being able to identify the key risks facing your business, and understanding how to mitigate them, and also about being able to identify opportunities, and very quickly put action plans in place to capture those opportunities. In practical terms, it’s about avoiding situations where people in your organisation are arguing or debating whose numbers are correct and what data is correct, because they will have the correct single version of the data at their fingertips if you have a performance management system in place.

These are just snippets from three videos, taken from a set of 17 videos. For the rest of Stephens free business advice on performance management and business intelligence, follow the link to GuruOnline to watch them all.

IT Support Advice from IBM

May 5th, 2009 kim No comments

We’ve recently added two new IBM sets with over 30 videos to GuruOnline. John Burchill explains in detail how IT support can work for business.

When it comes to IT support your business is probably looking for two things, you’re looking to save operational costs, especially in this current economic climate, and you’re looking at protecting and maximising the IT investment you’ve made to support your business. Both of these objectives are easy to achieve so long as you understand the criticality of the IT systems and components in relation to the business. The higher the importance and criticality then the higher the service level. The lower the importance and criticality then the lower the service level. By taking this approach customers can actually realize saving of up to 30% as apposed to a single service level across the business. This is the smart approach to IT support.

The smart approach to IT support means there are packages available for every business, from the global corporation down to the small businesses. Off the shelf, prepackaged, pre priced IT support is going to be more suitable for some small businesses and it’s available in different service levels. If you’ve got a mission critical server that you want covered, then you could get a committed or guaranteed service which is straight of the shelf, and for a lower level of service, say for a development or a test system, then a Monday to Friday, or a next business day responses would be appropriate. The key is really to understand your environment and assign the right level of service.

One of the most significant changes in IT support in recent years is the growing importance and dependence on remote support. Traditionally, when customers had a hardware problem they’d call in an engineer, and engineer would order a part and if they couldn’t fix it, they’d maybe get the senior engineer involved and this meant long down times for customers. Remote support really turns that on it’s head. It takes the burden away from the customer site so the support translates into higher availability for the customer.

Most IT systems these days are built with a level of resilience, resilience is designed into it to protect against critical business impact, but it’s important to look at what the implications are of an outage on the business, it’s also important to consider how systems and IT components interact with each other regardless of manufacture. It’s then a case of taking all this information and creating a benchmark. Against your IT systems and components, what support have you got in place today? Is it fit for purpose? Can you identify any gaps that require addressing? The next step is to get a align the service with the business critical components making sure to remember software support because operating system support is a key component in any IT systems, not only the technical support but also all the non defect support so for business critical environments, is it appropriate to have a service which answers the ‘how to’ questions. There are tools available on the web that can get you started with self assessment.

To find out what else John has to say about IT Support visit GuruOnline to view the rest of the sets.

Categories: IT Advice Tags:

International Trade Advice from The Middle East Association

April 27th, 2009 kim No comments

GuruOnline is growing every week with new contributors and sets being added all the time. Our international trade sets are one of the most popular, receiving thousands of views every month.

In one of my previous blogs I talked about the exclusive sets by the China Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the practical free business advice they offer on international trade and the benefits trading with China can bring to your organisation.

One of our new sets are from the Middle East Association, which similar to the CBBC, give free beneficial advice to business that could profit through international trade.

Michael Thomas, Director General of the Middle East Association, explains how major companies in the UK like Shell, BP and Rolls Royce etc set up the organisation nearly 50 years ago, to promote good will and trade with the Middle East region. Today they’re representative of 70% of all UK exports, they’re a non-profit and non-political organisation which ensures their advice is impartial and in your companies best interests.

Michael goes on to explain how the Middle East is the fastest developing market in the world, there is no other area or region of the world which is growing as fast as the Middle East, you just have to look at the amazing progress that’s been made in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries to see what’s going on there and no British company can afford not to be involved.

There’s lots of assistance out there for companies looking to do business with the Middle East, the British government is making a huge effort to promote trading with the area as is the UKTI. The commercial departments and the embassy’s around the region are much more business focused than they ever were too.

One of the major sectors which is coming out at the moment is the educational and vocational training side, the Middle East has a major problem, in that it has to create jobs for it’s people, about 50% of the population of the Middle East are under 25, and they all need jobs and training to do those jobs.
Populated countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also looking for joint venture corporations with a world company; so, anyone in the UK with a good product who would like to look into a local manufacturer would also prosper in the Middle East.

Michael also explains some of the more particular details of international trade, including business visas and legalities, traveling and what to look out for with each of the major Middle East countries, from accommodation to customs to currency. For more international trade advice on doing business with the Middle East from the Middle East Association check out the rest of the sets on Guru now.

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