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Stretching beyond international borders

Our brand mantra is to ‘Stretch Beyond’ it seems fitting that our recent management strategic away day was held in the Polish and Czech Republic mountains.

Getting away from the office and into tranquillity to look back on where the business is now and on where we will be in the future was a great idea from our COO Michal who has a house set in the mountains.

One bit of advice for business success is to change your environment regularly. Travelling up ski cable cars to some of Southern Poland’s highest peaks certainly gave us all a different perspective on the business.

Clearly the weather was too hot for the snow that would form on the mountains during ski season but nevertheless it made for good walking and we made it to the Polish Czech Republic border at the summit.

Climbing a metal tower and looking towards Poland, the Czech Republic and into Slovakia on a wonderfully clear day got me thinking about stretching beyond.

From our Leeds headquarters office it is approximately 900 miles to Katowice as the crow flies. Our Chicago office is 3000 miles away from basecamp!

The Internet and mobile phone changes the game on where and how you can work. With all the big mobile operators now charging the same as they do back home in the UK the cost of doing business abroad has fallen yet again.

Although it’s not great being away from a young family FaceTime, Skype and Google hangouts give you a level of comfort that you’re only really a stones throw away from loved ones.

To round off what was a perfect number of days of strategic planning our flight in Katowice got cancelled. Thankfully we were re-rooted via Kraków to Leeds Bradford airport and arrived only half a day late back in the UK.

All in all it was great to meet is the senior leadership team in the mountains as we prepare to climb our next mountain!

Being International

Our senior leadership team at Webanywhere comprises of one American, two Brits and two Pols. Our diversity of cultures and experiences gives us real strengthen and not only do we find ourselves hosting a collection of international staff but also our customer base is becoming increasingly international.

As the geopolitical situation is going against globalisation Webanywhere continues to work in partnership with other countries. Whether it’s global warming, the fight against disease and poverty or world peace it’s better when countries work together.

We need to be outward looking in our approach to business not inward looking. Whether we get a hard or soft Brexit working together as a global economy will always beat shortsighted protectionism.

Learning Technologies 2017, London

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Webanywhere at Learning Technologies 2017

Early in February saw Webanywhere exhibit at London Olympia for Learning Technologies 2017. I have to admit the stand was the best designed yet and I was very proud to see some of the logos displayed of blue chip clients which we have grown over the years.

It was great to take one of our key customer UCLH to dinner and to socialise with the Workplace Learning team. This year we not only  talked about our and platform solutions but also about content services. Our Head of Learning Design Stuart Dyson had flown in from Katowice after missing his plane! Stuart was able to showcase some of the examples of our work and demonstrate our capabilities. Webanywhere now has instructional designers dotted across the globe in Chicago, Leeds and Katowice.

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Sean with Gill of UCLH

Webanywhere decided to offer content services a few years ago. In our experience platforms without content don’t get used. Content which talks to the LMS allows you to leverage big data for the learner, the teacher and the manager. You can then track people’s learning and use this feedback to enhance your online courses.

We now offer content to all our customers and this enhances the learner experience providing value for money on the implementation of your learning management systems.

As they use to say at my first job as youngster starting out content is king! And it most certainly is!

 

Webanywhere WOW Customers

Steve Ding with Customers at the BETT SHOW

Steve Ding with customers at the BETT SHOW

If you over deliver in business customers keep coming back. This is something Webanywhere strives to provide through our “Stretch Beyond” mantra – we don’t just want to meet expectations, we want to exceed them by going the extra mile.

Having a “WOW” customer experience means delivering small acts of kindness and making everyone feel especially important. Webanywhere focuses on 4 main areas to ensure our customer experience is second to none.

We endeavour to deliver great service to our customers. All phone calls have to be answered within 20 seconds and we allow our staff to talk to customers for as long as is needed – however long the customer is comfortable with. As long as they’re happy we don’t care. We don’t use customer care scripts and instead trust our staff to deliver a personalised experience to each customer.

We surprise customers by including product features and extra services they just don’t expect. This might be as simple as a hand written thank-you note or perhaps free usage of one of our software apps – this is our way of saying thank-you.

Webanywhere Staff Christmas 2014

Webanywhere Staff Christmas 2014

Having knowledgeable staff on the end of the phone is very important, and as a learning company we encourage our staff to become learning animals. Our own internal LMS (based on the same Totara packages we provide to clients) ensures that new staff are well-trained in our company policies, products and processes. We like to front-load the staff training so we don’t damage the customer experience further down the track. Every time a task is cleared in our CRM we ask customers to rate the task and give feedback. This data is then used for further training and process improvements. There is always room for improvement when it comes to the quality of our service.

Speed equals value and, in an increasing digital world and with the speed of the internet, people are becoming less and less patient. Our engineers understand this and create software and websites which load quickly, saving you time. We have strict service-level agreements that we measure and manage in order to address support tickets and customer change-requests in a timely fashion. When customers log issues we call them back straight away in order to guarantee that we understand their requirements and that progress updates are forthcoming.

Our philosophy is “WAW WOW Customers” – Webanywhere WOWs Customers – and we exemplify this in everything we do!

Webanywhere Opens New Leeds Office

Sean Gilligan and Tom Riordan at the New Webanywhere Office opening in Leeds

Sean Gilligan and Tom Riordan at the New Webanywhere Office opening in Leeds

It was a great pleasure celebrating the opening of our new office at City Exchange in Leeds. Alongside other important guests and dignitaries we had the Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor David Congreve and the CEO of Leeds City Council Tom Riordan in attendance.  However the main star of the show was a student from Wetherby High School who won our National Poet of the Year Competition.

Famous Yorkshire celebrity and Poet Ian McMillan recited the winning poem on “Do Computers Rule the World?“. I hope you enjoy reading Emily Wilson’s poem here:

Do Computers Rule the World? by Emily Wilson

My dog ate my homework
Was the line that used to be,
But now it’s all gigabytes
And my printers ran out of ink

The old park swing
That was full of joy,
Is now empty
Just swinging in the wind

The boy with his head down
Looking at a screen,
Just missed the chance of a lifetime
A friendship that could’ve been

Emily Wilson, Wetherby High School and Ian McMillan Yorkshire Poet - "Why do Computers Rule the World?"

Emily Wilson, Wetherby High School and Ian McMillan Yorkshire Poet – “Why do Computers Rule the World?”

The mother that climbed monkey bars
Can’t get her child to stop watching ‘Cars’
She asks herself why?
Why don’t children want to see the kites fly?

We’re completely addicted,
Addicted to the net.
Those children who want to make computer games
Instead of becoming a vet

It’s got us in its grubby hand
Controlling us through its links,
We’re buried in the sand
Puppets on strings that can’t blink

Children used to cry
From a grazed knee,
Now children cry
From losing to technology

It’s a disease
And it’s spreading fast
There is no cure
No way you’re going to last

The forever chatting world
Is now silent
All the chatting is online
And bullying is no longer violent

It’s all done online
The hate, rumours, the stories
We’re running out of time
To return to our former glory

Lord Mayor of Leeds at Webanywhere Office Opening

Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor David Congreve at Webanywhere Office Opening

We don’t dare say it to their faces
But we say it in online places
Where we think we’re safe from torment
But we’re not safe from judgement

So look up from your screen
And see the world as it is
We don’t need to be the robot generation
We need to stop at the outside station

So brake out of the chain
Out of your prison cell
To a world without pain
To a world which isn’t technology hell

I think it’s important that people work with computers not for computers after all it was the ingenuity of mankind that created them in the first place. Of course too much of anything is bad and we need to balance family life and a sense of the real world alongside reaping the many benefits of the connected digital age. I must start turning my iPhone off a little! We must not become slaves to technology, life is too short!

Moodle Moot Edinburgh 2014

Moodle Moot Edinburgh

Moodle Moot Edinburgh 2014

One of the key reasons educators and corporations choose Moodle is the strength of the Moodle Community. This year’s Moodle Moot was held in Edinburgh’s Corn Exchange again demonstrating the power of the community where 350 people from across the globe descended on to the Scottish capital.

Martin Dougiamas’ key note was slightly different this year. Martin had flown his children over from Australia to join in with the festivities. Each time a version of Moodle is release traditionally his kids have taken a photo symbolising which version number we are on. The next version of Moodle is 2.7 and will be supported for the next 5 years. Moodle users are recommended to upgrade their installs to this latest version which includes amongst other great features security patches. It was nice to see his kids take a photo with the audience in preparation for the new release in the coming months.

Martin in his key note demonstrated some exciting plans around user notifications and how in particular Moodle can talk to Apple and Google to enable SMART phone notifications. Furthermore, a brand new text editor has been coded from scratch to replace TinyMCE and allows Moodle developers to display only the text editing icons they need enhancing the user experience.

Moodle Moot 2014 Key Note PanelOn the Moodle Theme agenda boot strap themes are to be used as standard and the ‘More’ theme was demonstrated showing how teachers can customise their own themes quickly on the fly. Other impressive developments I witnesses included a sophisticated social media and notices module developed by Glasgow College which greatly enhances the student experience online. And finally, I was interested to learn more about conditional learning pathways and how depending on the grades of your students various notifications and additional resources can be unlocked. This enables a personalisation of learning whereby students who are struggling are given extra support materials and tutors are notified to intervene. Gifted and talented learners with higher grades can be challenged with more stretching resources individualising the experience.

Of course it’s not all about the technology it’s the people that make Moodle Moots special. Over lunch I spoke to people from the USA, Poland, Lebanon and Australia – well yes that was Martin Dougiamas the Moodle founder from Perth!