The University of Bolton has been providing companies with help and support for more than 50 years. In 2007 the Business Support and Development Unit (BSDU) was formed offering a unique brand of bespoke programmes for companies.
The University is unrelenting in its desire to stay abreast of commercial, social, cultural and economic change and incorporate its impact in its courses and work with partners. In 2009, in line with this ethos, the BSDU commissioned a project to improve the effectiveness and transparency with regard to the way it managed relationships and engagement with current and potential business customers.
Luke Stansfield, Information Systems Developer at the University, explained. “We had no real system to manage relationships and interactions with our customers and business contacts. This was identified as a real risk which could potentially damage the excellent business relationships we had developed. We knew that if we could improve the effectiveness of our Continuing Professional Development marketing campaigns, these could provide a valuable source of additional income. We also wanted to effectively manage the diversity of relationships between individual companies and different parts of our organisation.”
CRM platform to fit existing processes
It was recognised that a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution would provide the required platform and after looking at a number of options the University decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM. “It was the logical choice for us”, said Luke. “We are predominantly a Microsoft-based institution and unlike some of the alternatives it offered out-of-the-box installation with the capability to customise it to fit our processes. It also enabled us to complete the project within budget.”
Recognised for its category-leading capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps to increase productivity and create a connected organisation that is equipped to please customers. It provides a powerful set of CRM capabilities within the familiar Microsoft Outlook application, helping to reduce learning time and leverage existing investment on Microsoft Office.
“Once we had decided on the application, we needed to find a partner to help us implement it”, continued Luke. “So we invited three companies to tender and eventually chose Collabco.” Collabco is a specialist Microsoft Partner focused on SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, UAG and mobility. They deliver a complete portfolio of services including: technology consultancy, IT strategy consultancy, development, project implementation, support and training.
“We chose Collabco mainly because of their approach”, said Luke. “They offered to develop the platform with us, which gave us the opportunity to build a solution around our refined business processes”
Maximising cross selling
Collabco consultants initially carried out a functional requirements analysis. This identified a number of issues with regard to the non-sharing and collation of information and the need to centrally monitor responses to enquiries for BSDU services.
A key part of the new solution was to enable academic staff within all schools to add and maintain their contacts and interactions with external businesses in a central CRM database. This would enable monitoring of the response to enquiries and highlight and escalate those that were not being dealt with within an acceptable timeframe. It would also facilitate the cross-selling of services to existing and past customers and allow for the effective management of marketing campaigns to ensure response was maximised.
With these requirements established Collabco were able to work closely with key University staff to produce a detailed functional requirement that covered: BSDU, marketing, data migration, security, integration and reporting. This then facilitated a gap/fit analysis together with a comprehensive gap resolution list as the basis for the design of the new CRM solution.
Managing contacts across the university
After implementing a pilot, the full solution went live in Mar 2011 and since then the University has continually increased the use of the new platform. “We have so far run a number of successful marketing campaigns utilising it”, said Luke. “It has proved its worth and more people within the University are now beginning to see the benefits it can bring.”
Importantly, the solution will eventually be used to manage contacts across the entire University, something that was identified as an issue at the outset of the project. This centralised approach will help to monitor the response to an enquiry, regardless of which department within the University handles it. It will also move the University towards their desired endpoint of having a more efficient and responsive marketing function that maximises the selling of its services to customers and prospects.
Platform for the future
“We have developed a strong working relationship with Collabco”, concluded Luke. “They took the time at the outset of the project to understand the way that we worked and how we wanted to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM. This gave us the confidence that the final solution would meet our needs, rather than us having to change to meet the software’s functionality.
“I was impressed with their attitude and professionalism during the actual implementation. On a number of occasions they worked out-of-hours to ensure that project deadlines were met and we came in on time and within budget. I feel confident that with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Collabco we have the right solution and partner to enable us to achieve our aims both now and into the near future.”
About Collabco: Collabco is a specialist Microsoft Partner focused on SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, UAG and mobility. They deliver a complete portfolio of services including: technology consultancy, IT strategy consultancy, development, project implementation, support and training.
Guest blog post from Gerald Haigh, freelance writer. Gerald writes regularly for the Microsoft education blogs.
‘Bring your own device’ (BYOD) is capturing a lot of attention at the moment. Mark Reynolds blogged about it earlier this year, with particular reference to the success of the policy at Saltash.net community school. Mark also drew attention to the way Microsoft’s ‘System Centre 2012’ technology will support schools wanting to move to BYOD and also to our publication ‘Embracing Consumerisation of IT in Education’. More recently, Tim Bush added a further blog on System Centre 2012, drawing attention to a webcast overview of the subject by Gordon McKenna of Inframon.
At the same time, I’ve been looking around to see if we can learn lessons from business, where BYOD is also a hot topic.
There are multiple BYOD headaches for businesses. Upward pressure from employees is almost irresistible, for example, and yet the community of users is likely to be diverse, geographically dispersed, and not particularly amenable to regulation. At the same time, illicit invasion or passing on of business intelligence can put at risk major deals, or even the viability of the whole business.
The online edition of CIO (Chief Information Officer) magazine recently ran a story about a business executive whose smartphone, loaded with sensitive data on customers, fell into the hands of a man who rang the firm offering not to use the information in exchange for $50,000. The same publication reports on a survey of 600 businesses which shows that over half have had security breaches as a result of BYOD.
At the same time, it’s true to say that the prospect of letting end users pick up the hardware bill themselves is just as attractive for businesses as it is for schools. That’s why a company like Cisco, for example, has seen its BYOD count grow 52 percent in one year and now has well over 50,000 personal devices on its network. Cost savings have been around 20percent.
"We don't pay for it, and our users are happier," says Lance Perry, Cisco’s vice president of IT. "Isn't that a beautiful thing?"
"We don't pay for it, and our users are happier," says Lance Perry, Cisco’s vice president of IT. "Isn't that a beautiful thing?"
My pursuit of information on BYOD in business began with a blog on the subject by Brandon Faber on the IDG Connect site. Like all good blogs, it’s replete with links and references, including the ones I’ve already quoted, and all of which are worth following up. Just in case you haven’t time, however, here are some of the points I picked up along the way, together with my thoughts on what lessons there might be for schools.
The bottom line is that BYOD can work well for schools. The Saltash experience shows that. In fact you can argue that it’s almost perverse to ignore the devices owned by students and teachers and then spend precious money on similar equipment. At the same time, though, you have to be realistic about the practicalities. So, for example, although BYOD can save money, (As Cisco finds) it’s certainly not a free lunch.
Another CIO article quotes a survey which says that in the business setting, BYOD can end up more expensive than equipping people with company devices. By no means all of the hidden costs are applicable to schools, but some of which include ensuring security, dealing with data loss, managing multiple platforms (including constant attention to the devices of people joining and leaving) It all adds up to being careful to understand real costs and not gloss over them.
Then, it’s probably true to say that out there in the big wide world, business leaders and managers like BYOD much more than do IT professionals for the following reasons:
1. BYOD can mean that IT takes on an apparently limitless ‘help’ burden. The same article http://www.cio.com/article/print/703511 says, ‘With BYOD, IT departments are caught between the proverbial rock and hard place: IT doesn't control the actions of the carrier or the devices, yet is still being held responsible to support BYOD employees, even if IT isn't getting additional resources to do so.’
2. In business at least, IT people worry much more about security than the users do. Brandon Faber’s blog reports a survey of lawyers which found that 78percent of them weren’t seriously concerned about the consequences of losing a device loaded with client data. Brandon puts it more colourfully,
‘BYOD puts control into the hands of employees who could not care less about data security – until the proverbial **** hits the fan, followed by lots of begging at IT’s feet to somehow make the pain go away.’
All in all, there’s a strong sense of caution out there in the business world. Should schools be just as cagy, even pessimistic about BYOD?
To be fair, there are some differences. A school is a closer knit community. Controls and policies should be easier to define and enforce. It ought to be possible to educate adults and students to the point where all are security-conscious. And on top of that, a straight, ‘Behave, or you lose your access’, ought to be enough. As Mark Reynolds writes, on Saltash.net
‘They give wireless access to devices they know about and they block anything they don’t. It is then down to the teaching staff to manage the way students use those devices when they are in school.’
That’s clearly different from business where a sales manager, for example, certainly isn’t going to welcome the task, on top of everything else, of policing the team’s use of their smartphones. Which means, of course, that IT really will be firefighting when things go wrong, and the damage is done.
There’s still a lesson for schools, though, about vigilance, not taking anything for granted, and making sure that policies are kept up to date and consistently followed through over time.
Then there’s the question of the dislocation, in business, of perceptions between IT and end users. That sometimes happens in schools, but our experience is that schools which are ICT leaders and innovators have network managers and technicians who are fully signed up to the vision of learning.
If that’s not the case, then it’s likely that BYOD is not their only problem.
Which reminds me that, of course, it’s the vision of learning that counts. It’s not just about getting hardware for free after all.
For more thoughts on BYOD, view/download our Consumerisation of IT in Education paper.
Powered by HTML5, the Windows Internet Explorer Brandon Generator project is written by Edgar Wright, also responsible for the popular films Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. The interactive animation is a unique graphic novel bought to life with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9. The all-star lineup continues with narration by Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh) and animation by Marvel and Lucas film illustrator Tommy Lee Edwards, plus music from David Holmes.
This all-encompassing movie, game and comic book is a web experience to enjoy and immerse yourself in. Brandon is a writer who has writer’s block and passes out after drinking too much coffee. After he awakes, he finds himself surrounded by creativity he doesn’t remember. Viewers are invited to submit their thoughts on what those writings might look like, and using a mixture of comic-book style animation, video and sound, the site displays the suggestions.
The story has been designed to showcase the most stunning, visually rich and immersive experiences possible using IE9 and web standards-based HTML5 technology. HTML5 is the newest mark-up language for the web, and makes this production viewable on all modern browsers - although it’s best viewed in IE9. HTML5 is the fifth version of the standard first created in 1990. The aim of HTML5 is to improve support for the latest multimedia, whilst keeping it readable by all computers, devices, web browsers and apps.
Computer games in schools Like lots of other games, when used with effective teaching practices, Brandon Generator can bring many important factors to education such as play, fun, rules, goals, problem solving, story interactivity, outcomes and feedback – all of which are significant features in learning. There are a number of ways that games can be used in schools including supporting existing educational outcomes, as a stimulus for thematic learning and also to get young people creating content rather than just consuming it through computer games design.
There is a growing body of research to suggest that Games Based Learning has a real pace in the 21st Century Education Systems. However, Games Based Learning has the most transformational impact when it is combined with good learning and teaching. In a classroom setting games should not be just used as rewards or for entertainment but as a whole new approach to learning.
You can follow Brandon on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with the action. To access exclusive content and have Brandon's story within easy reach, consider switching to Windows 7 and IE9.
"We would have had to invest thousands to have ensured the level of uptime and support that Office 365 for education provides as a standard service. There was never a question of us matching that level of support ourselves. There was simply no budget to do that."
-- Julian Elve, Head of Information Services, The Schools Network
The Schools Network The Schools Network is in the business of transforming education around the world. Over the past 25 years, this London-based, not-for-profit organization has partnered with business and the community, building a network of innovative, high-performing schools and academies. It works with schools and academies in the United Kingdom, China and Abu Dhabi. The Schools Network’s work results in better teachers, better student achievement scores, and students who are better-prepared to make a difference in the future.
The Schools Network found that changes to government policy meant that it would generate less income from grant-funded projects. The network needed to become more commercially-focused. It needed to find new ways to work effectively, streamline processes, and cut costs, without impacting programs that were leading to better outcomes for so many schools and students.
IT Challenges Over the course of its 25-year existence, the organization's entire technology infrastructure had grown and expanded in a manner that was more spontaneous and organic than planned and cultivated. The email infrastructure with its aging servers was particularly challenging to maintain. Travelling employees accessed email securely with virtual, private, network technology, but often only after a call to the service desk for help. In addition, the infrastructure tended to break, leaving some 500 users around the world with no way to communicate easily. The Schools Network realized that a cloud-based, messaging solution which was managed and maintained by an external partner, could be compelling and cost-effective.
IT Solution and Benefits The Schools Network examined cloud-based messaging solutions from Microsoft as well as several, other vendors. The Schools Network soon determined that the Microsoft Office 365 for education offering best-suited their needs. Microsoft Office 365 for education combines the Microsoft Office desktop suite with Exchange Online, Lync Online, Office Web Apps, and SharePoint Online. Not only did Office 365 for education provide features and functionality needed to support its dispersed employees, but Office 365 for education works with Microsoft Office Outlook 2010, which users were already familiar with.
The Schools Network worked with Perspicuity, a London-based Microsoft Network Gold Partner, to help in their migration to Office 365 for education. A team of users put the solution through its paces in a pilot. Then, over a weekend when users were offline, The Schools Network moved its 300 users over to Office 365.
The Schools Network needed to streamline its infrastructure, reduce operating expenses, and improve the availability of email—and it accomplished all these goals by migrating to Office 365 for education. Familiarity with the Outlook interface made transitioning to the new mail system virtually transparent to users, and they noticed they had better availability and responsiveness.
In addition, they found that streamlining the infrastructure with Office 365 reduced their IT overhead and their capital expenses. "When we projected the savings we'd gain from using Office 365 for education, we projected freeing up two days of IT personnel time per month, just from not having to manage email servers," says Julian Elve, Head of Information Services. Because Office 365 for education is available on a subscription basis, there are no upfront server and licensing costs. That alone saved The Schools Network more than £34,000.
With the email infrastructure in the cloud, personnel from The Schools Network can access email at any time, from anywhere, without difficulty. Moreover, the security and reliability Office 365 offers through regional datacenters delivers a level of protection not necessarily attainable from an in-house installation.
Read the full case study.
Posted on behalf of Kevin Ryan from Prodigy Learning
Last year the World Championships in Microsoft Office attracted over 228,000 students from 57 countries around the world. In recent times the competition has been dominated by participants from many of the Asian countries. With competitors from China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Japan reeling off title, after title, after title…
That was until last summer when 15 year old student Rebecca Rickwood, from Sawtry Community College in Cambridgeshire, took the World Finals in San Diego by storm. Rebecca scored a perfect 1000 in the custom build Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam and won a $5000 cash prize and the coveted title of World Champion in Microsoft Office – watch the video.
Rebecca’s exploits received worldwide coverage on her return from San Diego with articles on the BBC, Telegraph and Metro.
Well, it’s this time of year again and the search is already on. This year the winning entrants will win an all-expenses paid trip of a lifetime to the World Finals at the BELLAGIO in LAS VEGAS.
Do any of your students have what it takes to become World Champ?
To find out more about the UK competition and how your school can participate click here.
Keep updated through the UK Competition Facebook Page.
Visit the worldwide competition website: www.officecompetition.com
For competition rules and more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Microsoft System Center 2012 transforms the way you deliver IT and application services to your institution, optimizing resources across public and private cloud, managed from a single pane of glass
System Center 2012 cloud and data center management solutions help you:
To learn more about System Centre 2012, our data sheet can be viewed/downloaded below:
OneNote is a great tool for use within the classroom and beyond. The ability to record and add both audio and video to your notes is a great feature and the following, snipped from the OneNote blog, gives a nice overview of how easy this is.
Want to record your lecture and add it to your class notes in OneNote? All you have to do is place your curser at the spot on the page where you want the audio, then on the Insert tab, click Record Audio. You can also move the file around on the page once the recording is done.
Click the arrow to the left of the recording to play it:
Or you can play it back using the controls that appear at the top of your page:
Maybe you also want to capture your professor's lecture on video. The steps to recording a video are the same as recording audio--except you click a different button. On the Insert tab, click Record Video.
A round-up of this weeks posts:
Have a great Sunday!
Windows 8 offers unparalleled new opportunities for application developers to build and sell apps world-wide via the Windows Store. In this event, we'll deliver developer-level, demo-driven sessions that give you an accelerated entry into what it means to design, develop and publish exciting, modern, polished, world-ready applications for next-generation devices running Windows 8.
Were hosting a special one day event for UK Students only at:
1. Beginners Welcome.
2. A familiarity with .NET development and Visual Studio would be advantageous but not required.
Register Now to avoid disappointment
Agenda (subject to change):
09:30 – 10:00 - Registration Opens
10:00 – 11:00 - Windows 8 for Modern App Development
11:00 – 12:00 - Metro Design Language
12:00 – 12:30 - Lunch
12:30 – 13:30 - "Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Device
13:30 – 14:30 - “Metro Style" Apps - The Power of the Cloud
14:30 – 15:00 - From Idea to Store – Next Steps on the Journey
You may be considering a cloud based solution to save costs and increase efficiency in your school, college or university. There are lots of factors to take into account when moving to a cloud solution in your institution, from security and compliance to access and support for users.
This is a useful document that compares two offerings – Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps. The two services are reviewed in this ‘Day in the Life of an IT Professional’ presentation, including links to some supporting reports, videos and customer feedback.