Synergy Finds Its Center

It is no secret that the American workplace has rapidly changed and the “Madmen” office culture from the 50’s, (you know, the chain smoking cigarettes and having midafternoon drinks), is gone. Now-a-days, the 40-hour work week is all but history. The stress of keeping a job has never been higher and the American worker is momindful mind birdsre physically and emotionally taxed than ever.

We all know stress is bad for our health but what you may not know is that stress is terrible for the bottom line – not just your company’s but it’s detrimental to your own checkbook as well. This comes to fruition in two ways. The first is rather obvious, that being healthcare costs. Stress related diseases cost Americans and the businesses they work for an astronomical amount. Healthcare spending has soared as high as 300 billion dollars according to the World Health Organization, proving many employees and companies are spending more on healthcare than ever before. Unfortunately the cost isn’t predicted to drop anytime soon either. Within the last 30 years, stress levels in women have grown 18% and they’ve grown 25% in men. These elevated levels have resulted in the American worker being exposed to an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. In fact, two thirds of all doctors’ visits for employees are due to stress related conditions. You might not expect stress to affect your performance or the company’s output but it is, without a doubt, doing so. U.S. employees spend 200-300 percent more on indirect healthcare in the form of absenteeism, sick days, and above all lower productivity.

The second way stress robs us blind is by cutting into productivity. While you may be putting in extra hours, the benefit of each additional hour spent working while stressed yields a lower quality of work. While the “work yourself ragged and squeeze ‘em for all they got” mentality might have been the approach that kept butts in seats for more hours, studies have shown it doesn’t always mean more revenue generated. We are seeing that happier employees produce more in less time than individuals who are stressed out due to working longer hours. Like some economist said way back when, the law of diminishing marginal returns is always at play. The time you spend at your job will not be valuable if you are overly stressed out and in this case it’s not only supported by economics, but science too.

However, all hope is not lost. We as employees must find balance in our lives…a “center” if you will. For many Fortune 500 companies that center is coming in the form of meditation. It is widely known that one of the best and least expensive ways to become healthier and happier is through meditation. In fact participants in a mindfulness program displayed “an increased sense of purpose and had fewer feelings of isolation and alienation.” Combine this with the decreased symptoms of illnesses related to stress and you get a Grade A solution according to the Huffington Post.

The benefits don’t stop there. According to an additional study done by the National Institute of Health, benefits can be even more dramatic than these aforementioned ones. Individuals that participated in frequent mindfulness meditation saw up to a 23% decrease in mortality and a 30% decrease in death due to cardiovascular disease. To those who thought working yourself to death was just an expression, and to those who thought meditation was simply some breathing exercises…you couldn’t be more wrong.

The wonderful thing about mindfulness is that there is no overhead. There is no equipment needed to indulge in enlightenment. All you need is yourself and an open minded approach. While there are studios available and an increased number of classes popping up around the United States, mindfulness can be practiced in your own home or cubicle. According to http://www.helpguide.org, mindfulness lies in practicing techniques to achieve a state-of-alert, focused relaxation by deliberately paying attention to the thoughts and sensations without predetermined judgment. These steps allow the mind to refocus on the present moment.

To practice mindfulness on your own (courtesy of helpguide.org):

Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor

Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale

Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations, and your ideas

Embrace and consider each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

 

These exercises practiced and incorporated into a daily routine can be extremely helpful for individuals in high stress positions or for anyone seeking to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. In this new business landscape, companies recommend their employees try to find their center and practice mindfulness.

Encouraging our employees to lead physically and mentally healthy lives? WE MINDFULLY DO THAT.

Why is IT So Impersonal?

emaIL ARTICLE BANNERIt’s funny how things we once pegged for dead seem to find their way back into mainstream. Like a cat with nine lives, items from previous decades are rising from the ashes and making their way to the forefront of pop culture. Millennials are grooving to vinyl again, teenagers are walking around snapping Polaroids, and John Lennon’s sunglasses are the hottest thing in fashion. Everywhere you look there is a back to basics approach.  Does this only apply to pop culture? Or in this digital world can this apply to business?

I’m glad you asked, because that’s the reason I sit down in front of my computer to bring you some cold hard truth. Fact is, advertising is going back to basics. What does this mean? Are we going to see “Where’s the beef?” spots and 30-minute TV infomercials again? Does it mean your computer screen will be flooded with popups once more? No, both of these predictions miss the mark. In fact, to see what I am talking about, you will have to look up from your monitor, stand up, and head out the door. That’s right! I am talking about regular, direct mail.

Direct mail is back. That stuff that gets delivered six days a week, the same form of advertising that used to make your heart jump for joy in your youth is making a comeback in the B2B sales realm. Your tech guys might ask, “We have email and it works all right so why do we need direct mail?” Well Mr. IT Guru, your company likely does have email. I’ll even make the prediction some employees have more than one email address. However, if you are like 99% percent of Americans you will agree that email, and furthermore digital communication in general, has become tired. I personally can attest that if I don’t recognize the sender, or your subject line reads, “Dear Sir or Madam,” you are getting
thrown in the trash quicker than an “Office Space” TPS report, (as I said we are bringing things back). In fact, with a house list, e-mails only generate a .01% response rate as compared to direct mail’s 3.7%, (according to a direct marketing association survey). With more companies having in-house tech support devoted to reducing spam, increasing firewall security, and limiting means of digital contact, electronic communication is not only becoming blasé , but it’s also becoming a royal pain in the uh …neck.tps-reports-coversheets-800x450

What is the driving force behind direct mail dusting off the cobwebs and getting back into circulation? Many in the sales realm attribute it to building meaningful relationships again. When asked why he supports direct mail, Scott Langohr, Business Development Manager at Synergy Computer Solutions, stated, “I get hundreds of emails from prospects and companies every week. After a while it all becomes white noise.” Scott continues, “When someone takes the time to type something out and send me a hard copy, it’s attention getting, much harder to look past, and it’s a nice personal touch.”  Recent survey results seem to speak to Scott’s point. That same DMA survey showed direct mail to be up to 30 times more effective than email marketing with over 50% of respondents saying they prefer direct mail to email.

So what’s the overall message here? I think it’s clear that some if not all IT companies have lost that personal touch. Yes, we are all involved in the same space. We often work within or sell similar services built on even more similar platforms but we no longer communicate like we used to. Too often we utilize what we create in our day-to-day jobs to communicate, sell, advertise and broker deals. The driving force behind business is personal communication no matter what line of work you are in. Direct mail allows us to step out from behind the computer screen, to reach out with a more personal touch, and show that the person or entity on the receiving end is worth more to us than a few swift keystrokes.

Synergy is committed to restoring the personal touch into IT business.  That is why we will be reaching out with our new direct mail campaign. We understand that your business and IT resources are important to you and that makes them important to us.  We will be sending personalized letters to our prospective clients with the goal of arranging face-to-face meetings and doing our part to show we value you as a customer, and that you mean more to us than an email. Putting the personal touch back in IT? WE DO THAT.

Instant Get-Ification: By Mark Smith

What is Instant get-ification? It’s the era we live in now. Customers, clients, buyers want it all and they want it now. That’s instant get-ification.

How does instant get-ification look? Well, how long are you willing to wait for a web-page to load before you give up on it? A minute? Please…30 seconds? 10 seconds? Any longer than five seconds and your mouse is hovering over the “close” button, isn’t it? How long will you wait for an app to respond on your phone? What about that order from Amazon – can’t a drone get it here today? How about your coffee at Starbucks? How long will you wait before you honk at the guy in front of you at the stoplight?

Instant get-ification is a key component of what Forrester Research calls the, “Age of the Customer.” It’s all about the customer and how quickly and easily they can get what they want. See the graphic below and you’ll get the point.get 1

I recently attended this discussion held by Forrester Research at the Colorado History Museum, (kind of ironic), where they defined this Age of the Customer and especially how it relates to Synergy – well, at least the IT function here.

So how does instant get-ification and this “Age of the Customer” affect the IT function in most companies including Synergy? Greatly, if you ask the folks at Forrester. In fact they even have a new term for Information Technology. Now it’s called BT or Business Technology because it’s no longer about Information Technology for information’s sake. Now it’s technology for the sake of the time-and-service-obsessed customers of that business in particular.

It used to be that the majority of the work done in IT departments focused on internal tasks like email, reports, intranets, and other non-customer facing responsibilities. But now a greater portion of the IT spend is going towards outside, external, customer-facing applications and functionalities. This can include the website, customer portals, e-commerce, external communications, appointment scheduling, and mobile-device enablement. This is technology meant to help customers rather than supplying information for internal users.

That’s not to say that Information Technology is going away. The function still exists but it is moving outside of the company’s building and into the cloud. And the budget for traditional IT services is also rapidly decreasing and being replaced by dollars spent on Business Technology instead – as you see here:get 2

How to use this news? First, of course, is the acknowledgement that technology is continuing to evolve. That’s not exactly a ground-breaking statement but it still needs to be said. Even within Synergy, watch for innovations designed to help our customers more so than our employees. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s necessary for our survival as a firm.

And from my own sales and marketing perspective, this means I must evolve as a sales and marketing professional. Today, the vast majority of my contacts are in IT and are working on traditional IT problems.

Perhaps now I should be spending more time and effort calling into the business areas of an account such as sales organizations, client service teams, billing, and external communications… because here at Synergy Computer Solutions, we solve IT problems AND we solve business problems.