Gallup’s Workforce Data Offers Insight on How To Maximize

Internet Strategies And Your Bottom Line

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This article was prepared for the January 16, 2002 edition of U.S.

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Internet Telephoning Reaches for Maturity

Convergence is where we are headed. Wireless devices

the size of a peppermint patty strapped to the wrists of traveling

business people will carry news, live football games, phone calls

from the boss, and real-time video of the kids chasing the dog through

the living room. "That won’t happen tomorrow," says Chuck

Rutledge of all-encompassing electronic convergence, but less

comprehensive

examples of the coming together of our communications devices are

here today.

Rutledge, vice president of marketing for Eatontown-based Quintum

Technologies, speaks on "Convergence: New Service Deployment

Possibilities

for Enterprise and Service Providers" on Thursday, January 17,

at 8 a.m. The free event is sponsored by the New Jersey Technology

Council and takes place at the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s

Hazell Center in Newark. Other speakers are Mike Watson of iQ

NetSolutions, and Mike Krueger of Dialout.Net. Both companies

have headquarters in New Hampshire.

Quintum, a 53-employee company that was founded in 1998, works on

telecommunications convergence, bringing the computer and the

telephone

together. The IT network is used to carry phone calls as well as data.

Now, early days for the technology, Rutledge explains that the

convergence

is at the transport level. In other works, voice and data use a single

infrastructure, and typically it is IT focused. Both go over the

Internet.

Even this marriage — far short of live streaming video viewed

on a wireless wristwatch — is just getting underway. "It’s

still mostly data over data networks and voice over voice

networks,"

says Rutledge. But early adopters — those folks who banished

personal

secretaries and passed out laptops back in the late-1980s — are

beginning to sign up. The technology is especially well suited for

industries where one company has many outposts. Financial firms, with

brokerage offices in every sizable city, are early adopters. So are

retail businesses with hundreds of stores, and airlines with ticket

offices throughout the world.

The big draw of the telecom convergence technology is that it saves

money. It uses one infrastructure rather than two, allowing companies

to do away with the trunk lines that typically carry phone calls among

their far-flung offices, or at least their major offices. And it cuts

down on phone charges. "Companies with offices in South American

and Asia can spend 50 cents a minute on phone calls," says

Rutledge.

Calls over an IT network cost nothing most of the time.

The cost savings aren’t enough to get too many IT officers to champion

the systems to their bosses, not yet. Many fear going out on a limb

for a new technology. "I haven’t tried it, no one I know has tried

it," the thinking goes. It’s too risky to take a chance,

especially

with a company’s core communications on the line. Fears break down

into three categories, says Rutledge.

Quality of service. "There are lots of problems with

voice (over the Internet)," Rutledge admits. The Internet was

not designed to carry continuous information. Its data passes through

a number of hubs on its way from Point A to Point B. "Things get

stacked up," he says, "and sometimes nothing comes out the

other end."

The new convergence systems answer this objection by monitoring voice

transmissions and switching to another network when one backs up.

"Sometimes that means going back to the telephone network,"

Rutledge says. Convergence does not mean a company can ditch its phone

service altogether. Not at all. It is necessary for local calls, for

911, and, once in a while, as a back-up when Internet networks get

too clogged up to carry voice clearly and reliably.

Ease of integration. Companies have their IT systems and

their phone lines in place. Ripping either out to obtain convergence

is a proposition few want to undertake. Convergence businesses that

want to attract customers need to minimize changes to existing

networks.

Ease of use. Nearly all of us grew up with telephones.

Although some will remember party lines, where neighbors shared a

connection and each had to listen for his own distinct ring, the

instruments

have always been incredibly easy to use. Compared with nearly any

piece of equipment in the home or office, including the electric can

opener, and certainly the VCR, the phone is a delightful no-brainer.

No company wants to tinker with the lovely certainty that is a dial

tone.

Seamless telecommunications convergence, says Rutledge, means

"users

don’t see a change." Anyone who has experimented with placing

free Internet calls over a PC can vouch for a fact that no amount

of "free" makes up for the poor connections, dropped calls,

and hassles of placing a call. This is not the case with in-office

telecommunications convergence systems like those Quintum installs,

Rutledge assures. In offices already wired for convergence, everyone

picks up the phone and dials, the same way they always have done.

Switching to an optimum connection occurs out of sight, and users

never detect it.

Rutledge, who hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering from

Monmouth

University, Class of 1982, worked for Vialog Communications before

joining Quintum. Before that, he spent 13 years at AT&T. Telecom

convergence

systems still take a leap of faith, but those willing to become early

adopters can reap substantial financial rewards. "Payback on

systems

tends to be nine to ten months," Rutledge says, "but some

companies can be paid back in weeks."

Top Of Page
Gallup’s Workforce Data Offers Insight on How To Maximize

Human Capital

People. Few companies can do without lots and lots of

them. But how to get the most out of these humans for the greater

good — and profitability — of the company? The Gallup

Management

Journal (GMJ), a glossy new business magazine published by the Gallup

Organization in conjunction with Time Inc. Custom Printing, exists

in large part to provide answers.

GMJ’s founding editor-in-chief is Jessica Korn, a graduate of

Yale, who holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard. Before

joining GMJ, she served as program advisor on the New Information

Economy at the Freedom Forum’s Media Studies Center in New York,

adjunct

professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business, and lead staff

advisor on the enactment and implementation of the Telecommunications

Act of 1996.

Korn speaks on "Power to the People: What the Numbers Tell Us

about the Impact People Have on an Organization’s Performance All

Across the Board," on Wednesday, January 23, at 5 p.m., at a

meeting

of the American Society for Quality, at Raritan Valley Community

College.

Cost: $25. Call 609-730-9681.

The numbers in GMJ, many derived from Gallup surveys, fuel articles

that delve into the many factors that make a difference between

employees

who contribute to a company’s success, and those who sabotage it.

These excerpts illustrate the breadth of factors at work in human

interaction on the job:

The gender question. These days, women find more

fulfillment

in their jobs and personal lives than men do — and the gap has

widened. In GMJ’s second annual survey of U.S. workers, engagement

among women rose at twice the rate it did for men. This is significant

because, as Gallup knows from its research, higher levels of employee

engagement (which predict satisfaction and emotions like loyalty and

pride) result in higher productivity.

Think big, act small. Gallup has measured engagement for

employees at small and large companies. The key findings: Engagement

is highest (33 percent of employees) at companies with fewer than

50 workers. Engagement is lowest (22 percent) at companies with 1,000

to 5,000 employees.

Gallup researchers trace the higher engagement of small-company

employees

to their greater sense of "local control," the feeling of

connection to, and accountability for, company output. But at large

companies, hierarchy and bureaucracy can make employees feel their

contributions don’t matter.

To replicate the local control of small companies, managers at large

companies should bear in mind that some work units within an

organization

can be engaged at the small-company level. In work units of fewer

than 10 people, however, engagement will soar or plummet depending

on the manager. That’s because in small groups each member keenly

feels a good manager’s ability to communicate and motivate — and

a bad manager’s incompetence. So, if you expect your small teams to

be top performing, make sure your managers are up to the challenge.

Talk of ages. The best and the brightest in any workplace

are bound to share certain traits, such as a sense of responsibility

and a positive attitude. But one thing they won’t have in common is

their ages. That’s because highly dedicated employees are found across

the age spectrum. In GMJ’s fourth national survey of U.S. workers,

the percentage who say they are engaged, or deeply involved in their

work, varied only slightly by age group.

So, what might we learn about boosting engagement by examining some

workplace attitudes of different age groups? As it turns out, age

groups vary significantly in their view of the workplace as a

meritocracy:

Only about a quarter of workers age 25 or older strongly believe that

promotion is based on ability, compared with 40 percent of

18-to-24-year-olds.

And only about a quarter to a third of workers age 25 or older trust

their company to be fair to all employees, compared with 45 percent

of younger workers.

If the older workers’ more jaded view truly reflects their experience,

managers should be able to boost engagement by asserting that their

companies are committed to fairness. That doesn’t mean everyone who

wants a promotion will get one. But it does require managers to

recognize

all employees appropriately.

Cost of disaffected workers. Actively disengaged workers

tend to be less productive and report being less loyal to their

companies,

more stressed, and less secure in their work. They miss more days

and are less satisfied with their personal lives.

Like death and taxes, these workers will always be with us. But their

numbers can be reduced, and great benefits will result from making

even small inroads into the problem. Using two approaches, we estimate

that the lower productivity of actively disengaged workers penalizes

U.S. economic performance by about $300 billion, nearly equal to the

nation’s defense budget.

The 24.7 million actively disengaged employees miss 86.5 million more

work days than average workers and 13.6 million more days because

of illness. These numbers do not include the effect on turnover,

safety,

or health-care costs.

Gallup’s conclusion, according to the magazine: "We

calculate

that with all other macro-economic factors staying constant, a

five-percentage

point decrease in the percentage of actively engaged employees would

boost U.S. productivity by $79 billion a year."

Top Of Page
Internet Strategies And Your Bottom Line

Having a web presence is an integral part of business

in all industries. It is the way you present your company or use your

presence that will make the difference and allow you to stand out

from the rest.

Dean McDavitt, vice president of business development for

Internet

company FASTNET, speaks on "Web/Internet strategies and your

bottom

line" at a multi-topic GetContactX seminar on Thursday, January

24, at 8 a.m. at the Ramada Inn, Route 1 South. Other topics are

"Positioning

your company in light of new business trends and technology

changes"

and "Human resource issues for small to mid-sized companies."

Paul Mlynarski, tax partner at Deloitte & Touche, addresses

the former topic, and Patrick McCann of HR Logic speaks on the

latter.

McDavitt, a graduate of Kings College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania,

who holds a master’s degree in public administration, has been with

FASTNET for two years. The company, based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,

says businesses need to ask whether their websites give a good

representation

of the business, are easy to navigate, download with lightening speed,

and contain interactive elements. Each factor is crucial. The best

websites also let internal and external customers gather information

and order products.

The list of what makes a website an important business asset differs

based on its audience and their needs. Via E-mail, McDavitt offered

the following tips:

Looks aren’t everything. A great looking website can be

very cool, McDavitt says, but will accomplish nothing if it does not

meet the needs of your audience. To build a profitable site, you need

to have an outstanding marketing and sales influence in the creation

stage. A site should be designed to drive revenue that will affect

the bottom line. Your site should have enough information to allow

a person to make a decision about your company or products on the

first visit.

Make E-commerce easy. To create greater profits, a good

E-commerce solution or application is key. The package should be very

user friendly and not flashy. Use the least amount of steps possible

for the site visitor to accomplish what they set out to do, and ensure

that the process is easy to understand. Simplify the process.

Customers

want a site that shows the product, helps them understand the product,

and presents the best information so they don’t have to look any

further.

People do not have much free time these days, so they need a visit

to a website to be fast and comprehensive — not time consuming.

Don’t stop at U.S. borders. A good example of a customer

effectively using a web site to generate profits is a company that

has a product with international appeal. FASTNET worked with a company

that had an international pharmaceutical product. They had no web

presence to allow international companies to order the product online

and receive up-to-date information on the status of their orders.

Their international sales accounted for only 5 percent of all sales

activity. That percentage went up 90 percent after they created a

user-friendly site with up-to-date information and a simplified

ordering

process. The goal was giving users a pain free experience.

Websites are becoming an application that allow users to be more

interactive

with a company or product they are dealing with. Your visitors are

no longer just doing research. If you want your products to be

recognized

across the globe, you need a website to reach your entire audience.

The web has created the opportunity to mine diamonds not only in your

backyard but also in the backyard of others at a fraction of the cost

of traditional marketing strategies.

If the site is down, you’re out. The key to ensuring that

prospective customers see your website is to make sure it stays up

and running. Choose a host that has the infrastructure and technical

support to monitor the availability of the site. A common mistake

companies make is spending big money developing a website, and pennies

to host it. No matter how good your site is, if it is not available

when people want to see it, then you have no site at all.

Spend the money to keep your business running 24/7. A website works

when you sleep, and needs to be monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a

week. Do your homework on the company hosting your site to make sure

it meets all the criteria for keeping your site running seamlessly.

Look for a 24/7 fully operational and manned hosting center. It is

very important to know what type of connectivity the facility has

to the Internet. Can the provider implement VPNs (Virtual Private

Networks) for your internal and external customers? Can it secure

your site from unwanted intruders?

If the visitors to your website find it very slow and painful to even

get into your site and get started, they will run and may never come

back. Your site is a representation of how you do business and how

important the customer is to you. If you want to boost your revenue

and enhance your reputation, create a fast, interactive,

international,

easy-to-navigate website, and make sure it is working on your bottom

line 24/


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