Apple & IBM Form Historic Partnership

IBM and Sun Microsystems in the 90s each avoided the idea of purchasing Apple, are now contemplating a partnership, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal and

The idea of the two companies partnering is particularly interesting given their histories of partnerships and the acquisition plans both drew up on more than one occasion during Apple’s lowest points in the 1990s.


apple ibm


The Similarities

Like Steve Jobs once did with Apple, Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, restructured IBM to eradicate its complexity to better match his skills and experiences. The result has been a company that may not have always been the best brand on market but often has the optimal profitability. In a world of too many generic offerings, both companies were able to differentiate themselves using their own secret formula.

As well, both companies are distinctively trying to fight the trend to focus almost exclusively on price competition and are hoping to increase value so that they can justify higher margins and enhance customer service.

Both companies have a long track record for customer and employee loyalty and are relatively unconventional in their ability to get buyers to publicly praise them and their products. While the Apple fan base is well known, what isn’t well known is how hard it is to get IT buyers to praise them for their service. At IBM, there are several businesses — such as Visa and HyGen Pharmaceuticals — that are consistently advocating for what IBM does.


The Differences

Apple is well-known for embedding their marketing initiatives deeply into the company’s vision and making choices based not on what engineers feel is the right thing to do but are based on what customers are hoping to buy. This marketing focus is not something that IBM has implemented just yet– although it should be — because many of its market-leading products aren’t of interest to their customers.

IBM, on the other hand, is known for quality, and in its market has to drive to achieve success. Apple has good quality, but it is generally differentiated by perception. Apple should bring its quality up to IBM’s levels to better match its image with the expectations of its buyers.

While we appreciate both companies’ need to keep future products secret, IBM appears to be more transparent when it comes to making people aware of problems and correcting them. Granted, this is a requirement of the segment that IBM occupies, but critics remain pessimistic that consumer electronics companies’ common method of stonewalling about problems puts consumers too much at risk.

It will be interesting to see how this partnership will play out in the near future. How will this effect each company’s customer service and sales records? Read more about the merger here.


4 Tips for Training Staff on New Software

Forward-thinking businesses seek opportunities to bring in new software to help run their business more efficiently. The most common problem they face is their staff – who do not want to see change and are worried about not being able to understand the new technology in place.

If you decide to implement the new business software, you should make sure all your staff understands the purpose of the new software, the benefits of this, and any important points of what the software package can do to improve their productivity and performance. The more you explain the more likely it is that your staff will understand and enjoy the new training.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when training your staff on new software or any technology introduced in the workplace:


new software



  1. Pair up workers-Encourage all employees to teach one another through what is called the buddy program. In order for this system to work, your company should have support and established structure in place. Otherwise, staff members could get tied up in their daily duties and let opportunities slip away.


  1. Mentorship opportunities – Start an in-house version of a formal mentorship program.  Pick 10 of your best employees from among a group who has volunteered to become mentors.  In order to ensure that both sides commit to the training process, it’s important to set up a framework. Both parties should make a long-term commitment (i.e. 3 months) and that means meeting for at least 1-2 hours a week until the mentee is comfortable using the software.


  1. Cheerlead– Opt for a more realistic, yet positive portrayal of the upcoming changes. Your employees will look to you as their manager for direction on how to feel and what to think about the new implementations, and many will resist change simply because it’s change. Experts advise mangers to answer the “‘what’s in it for me?’ question for anyone you expect to use the software—which is really just another method to ensure your staff knows the importance of why they are learning what they are learning.


  1. Use positive reinforcement -Want your team to stay motivated during the training and beyond? Use positive reinforcement every step of the way.  Experts argue that positive reinforcement both shapes behavior and enhances an employee’s self-worth. And if you use positive reinforcement immediately after someone learns something new, you’ll encourage fast and thorough adoption.

Although there is an upfront cost, the long term value far exceeds the cost. If your employees do not know how to use the system properly, they won’t buy into your proposal. When staff members don’t buy into what you’re doing, this nullifies any potential future returns. With Carmel Vision you don’t have to worry about lost investments. Our account managers will prepare you for the transition and provide you with the ammo you need to ensure the staff that the investments you are making are smart ones.


Continuing The Discussion on Outdated CRM Software

smart luggage

In one of our previous posts we discussed the implications of working with outdated software.  The highlights include costly outages, inadequate support, increased concerns over security breaches, and sharp learning curve for new employees. No one can decide for you whether to upgrade the older software to a much newer one or to continue using the old outdated software and simply offer intensive training to all staff. You have to make the decision yourself.

What we can do is help you make informed decisions by providing you with the facts and best practices.

Recently, I was browsing through CNN and came across an article on smart luggage. The article got me thinking and made me scratch my head once or twice. I traveled 7 times overseas to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Of the 7 times I traveled, twice an airline lost my luggage. I eventually got the luggage back…but the first twenty four hours were the most hectic. The airline would not reimburse me within the time period because they claimed that 95% of the lost luggage cases are resolved within 24 hours.

I don’t know about anyone else’s experience, but I was very upset. I was traveling throughout France and the next day I would be going to a remote city of Avignon. The day after was a Sunday and holiday in France and the likelihood of me getting my luggage that day was zero to none. I ended up getting my luggage the same evening, but the worry and the sweat of spending my holiday without my personal goods was unfathomable. The entire trip was only 10 days.

The Jumbo Jet Maker Airbus recently unveiled a new concept design for smart luggage at the Paris Air Show. The luggage would have an embedded tracking device capable of transmitting their locations to travelers and even contacting airlines directly when they get lost or misplaced. This product is still in the development stage, but it gives travelers like me a sense of relief.

Getting back to outdated CRM Software….when using it, you never realize the additional perks that come with newer, and more advanced software. You may be struggling to juggle various tasks and ensure that every employee who works for you stay productive. But why struggle, when you have so many options out there to help you make the most out of your work day and to better streamline operations?

Same thing with those old, ripped suitcases. Why keep those old suitcases when you have ones that are more light weight, more durable, and soon will even be embedded with a GPS tracker?

Call Carmel Vision at 1-855-Infoflo to learn more about how our contact management system can help you become more productive, greener, and proactive in resolving customer complaints and concerns.  Let us show you what you’e missing out on and help you fill in the gaps.



6 Tip to Reduce Your Business’ Carbon Footprint

It’s now more important than ever before to be conscious of our impact on the environment. Businesses all across the world are taking the necessary steps to reduce their carbon footprint and make a conscious effort to preserve our scarce resources. Have you taken steps to make the shift over to a more environmentally-friendly office? If not, here are a few tips to get you started.


carbon footprint


Encourage online payments

It may not seem like a big deal, but the paper used to send out cheques, envelopes and (late) payment notices adds up at the end of the day, especially when you are business with 100+ employees and 1000+ customers . You can make a small but highly impactful difference by making it easy for your customers to make payments online through a secure online portal and for your employees to receive direct deposits instead of printed cheques.


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

It’s time for us to put our education to good use. Schools all across the world are encouraging eNewsletters, litterless lunches, the reuse of paper, proper recycling etiquettes, and the like. So why shouldn’t this trend continue into the workplace? Recycling produces less landfill and lowers the cost of waste disposal.

Here’s a quest for you and your employees: place a used (clean it) coffee cup in the lunch room beside the microwave or vending machine. Every time someone drinks a pop have them take the tab off before chugging it into the recycling bin. Those tabs can be used to create a wheelchair for someone that needs it.


Create electronic versions of important documents

Need to invoice customers or send out reports? Why not create electronic versions and email them or make them accessible via the web, rather than printing and mailing them? You’ll conserve paper as well as economize on things like ink and postage. As well, your customers will appreciate the convenience, in case they lose the important document. Check out this document management software tool for more information.


Communicate via email

If you’re still using papermail for all client and employee correspondences then its time to upgrade to emails, messengers (i.e. Skype) and CRM software systems with reliable after sales support. That will cut down your stationery consumption by more than 40%. If you’re still hung up with CRT monitors, replacing them with LCD and LED screens will bring in some major savings on your energy bills. Traveling isn’t always needed for attending meetings, so economize by communicating through email, Skype, and GoTo meetings.


Take a tablet or netbook to meetings

Rather than using notepads for taking notes during meetings, take notes on your tablet or laptop. When you need to access it, you can do so at the click of a button, without having to flip through the papers.


Unplug/Turn Off Office Equipment When Not in Use

Turn off and/or unplug office equipment, lights and electronic devices when they are not being used by employees. As well, encourage all employees and customers to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Make sure that the last one out of the office turns off the lights-just like they do at home.


New Antispam Law in Effect in Canada

The long awaited Canadian Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect on Tuesday, July 1, 2014. The legislation governs the way we send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) to prospects. It is important for all companies in Canada to comply. The purpose of the legislation is to reduce the number of unwanted emails to people’s inboxes and to ensure that the messages we get are ones that we approve and want. That is why a big chunk of CASL focuses consent through the following means: Implied Consent – One of the most obvious ways you can obtain an implied consent is through an existing business relationship or what we call the business card cue. Current clients and referral sources are two examples of an existing business relationship. Express Consent-This is given directly from the content – can be either or oral in writing. You have permission until the person withdraws the consent (through unsubscribe) to send the emails. CASL


Businesses that fail to comply with this law will be heavily fined. Penalties range from $1 million to $10 million. Based on the experience of other countries with similar legislation, Canadian government officials expect to see results quickly. They look at Australia as an example – the year after Australia passed this kind of legislation in 2004, it dropped out of the world’s top 10 spam originating countries. Canada is the last of G8 nations to pass this law.


These messages are exempt from CASL:

  • Messages to an employee, contractor, or person who is working with your company.
  • Messages to family members or a person with whom you have a personal relationship with.
  •  Messages attempting to enforce a legal right or court order.
  • Responses to a current customer, or someone who has made an inquiry about your products/services in the last six months.
  •  Messages that will be opened or accessed in a foreign country, including the U.S., China, and most of Europe.
  •  However, you should be aware that all G8 countries now have some sort of anti-spam law in place.
  • Messages sent on behalf of a charity or political organization for the purposes of raising funds or soliciting contributions.
  • Messages that offer information about warranty, recall, safety, or security information.
  • One message to a recipient who you don’t have an existing relationship with on the basis of a referral. The first and last name of the referral must be disclosed. The referrer may be family or have another relationship with the person to whom you’re sending.
  • Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, membership, account, loan, or other ongoing relationship, including delivery of product updates or upgrades.
  • If your message does not meet one of these criteria, consent is required under CASL



It is recommended that all companies receive express consent from their recipients. When in doubt, businesses should send another email confirming the relationship and requesting that the recipient re-subscribe to email blasts. Here is what the law mandates you to deliver alongside your message. 1. For the purposes of subsection 6(2) of the Act, the following information must be set out in any commercial electronic message:

  • the name by which the person sending the message carries on business, if different from their name, if not, the name of the person;
  • if the message is sent on behalf of another person, the name by which the person on whose behalf the message is sent carries on business, if different from their name, if not, the name of the person on whose behalf the message is sent;
  • if the message is sent on behalf of another person, a statement indicating which person is sending the message and which person on whose behalf the message is sent; and
  • the mailing address, and either a telephone number providing access to an agent or a voice messaging system, an email address or a web address of the person sending the message or, if different, the person on whose behalf the message is sent.

2. If it is not practicable to include the information referred to in subsection (1) and the unsubscribe mechanism referred to in paragraph 6(2)(c) of the Act in a commercial electronic message, that information may be posted on a page on the World Wide Web that is readily accessible by the person to whom the message is sent at no cost to them by means of a link that is clearly and prominently set out in the message.


How To Effectively Correspond Through Emails

Last week, we attended a workshop on developing effective communication skills in the workplace. The purpose of this workshop was to teach forward thinking companies to use emails to get more of what they want and to raise awareness about common errors businesses make in this commonplace communication form. Here is a brief summary of what our Contact Management Software Specialists learned from attending this very informative professional development seminar.


email marketing

Common Pitfalls:

The first common mistake highlighted in the workshop was the sending of emails only when something is REALLY needed. The purpose of an email is to build relationships before you need something – urgently. That means not waiting until the last minute-procrastination is not a very productive way of doing business. It’s recommended to send multiple emails with shorter lengths than to send one bulky email that is over one page long to read when printed.


The first common pitiful leads us right into the second one – forgetting that there’s a human reading the email on the other end. All emails should have the proper introductions. Whether it is hello, good morning, how are you, you are using valuable warm-ups cues to soften the serious nature of the email.


Improving Business Practices:

There were two valuable lessons we learned from this workshop and we thought we would share them with our readers and customers.

1)      Scheduling Emails in Advance – Arranging for emails to be sent in 24 or 48 hours gives you (and the clients) time to breathe between non-urgent tasks. It also sets the pace for future communication whereby your client no longer expects you to reply right away. The more structure and parameters you give to the form of your messages, the easier it is for the clients to know what to expect from your business relationships.

2)      Keep Emails Short and Productive – Every business should commit to making every email message 5 sentences or less whenever it is possible to do. Setting the limit to the amount of words you write ensures you stick to your aims/goals. This brings us to the first pitfall we identified in this article – sending emails only when it is urgent. It is recommended to send more emails throughout the day, rather than one big one. Remember, the person who’s reading the email is human too and has other priorities.


Use these suggestions as the starting point to creating e-mail etiquettes that will help you and your team stay productive, proactive, and professional.