Small businesses that have the greatest opportunity to grow into big businesses are those that work to succeed today and excel always.
Growth and excellence are core to Perth-based digital marketing and web design agency, Living Online; Living Online works as a business and marketing partner for its customers, providing a range of services including ROI-focused search engine optimisation, social media, search engine marketing, and business strategy.
With clients all over the world and a talented team spread across Perth, Melbourne, and New Zealand, Living Online is heavily reliant on effective communication and collaboration. Because of its geographic dispersion, Living Online requires a cloud–based technology platform that is easily integrated, resilient, and highly efficient.
With this in mind, Living Online chose Microsoft 365 Enterprise Edition with the Teams Application as their communication and collaboration platform. This platform is leveraged internally as well as externally with clients, and has transformed the way the agency operates, says Brenda Ledwith, Senior Digital Marketing Consultant.
In making their technology decisions, Living Online buys for today – but invests for tomorrow; it’s a case of “succeed today, excel always” in action. That is why Company founder and CEO Evan Cunningham-Dunlop decided that selecting an Enterprise License for Microsoft 365 was the best way to ensure Living Online had the robust digital foundation that it needed now as well as an effective platform for growth. “Although we’re a small business, we always try to think like a big business. Technology is so critical to efficiency and collaboration within our team that we really don’t want to be limited by technology in any way.”
In any technology decision making, Cunningham-Dunlop casts his thinking forward two to three years to determine whether today’s decision will be future-ready.
It was that foresight that led the agency to select the Enterprise sku for Microsoft 365, ensuring its staff and clients would be able to access the platform’s full functionality including Teams from the get-go.
Microsoft’s strong reputation was also key to the decision; “I knew I wasn’t going to have problems with it” he says, which is an important factor for a business growing rapidly. After researching the product online and reading user case studies and reviews he felt that the Enterprise license would offer the greatest value, having no limitations on application access, and providing the support for the agency’s growth plans.
It’s paying off.
Teams has been the Gamechanger
Ledwith says that the agency uses “nearly all the functionality” in Microsoft 365 – adding that Teams in particular has been a gamechanger, enhancing communications and collaboration both within the agency and with clients, leading to soaring productivity and a more connected culture.
She says all staff quickly recognised the value of the platform and hopped onto it.
“Every Monday morning, we have a weekly internal staff meeting. For the staff in the office, we all sit in the boardroom and then we use Teams to create a meeting and video chat with our consultant in New Zealand as well as other consultants and contractors around Perth.”
It’s significantly enhanced the culture of the agency and overcome the sense of disconnect that people outside of head office previously experienced, she says.
“We also use Teams for meetings with clients instead of a standard phone call. It helps us to feel more connected with our clients and allows them to feel connected with us.”
Because Microsoft 365’s applications are seamlessly integrated, and the system can be linked to other business systems that the agency uses, it has led to significant operational efficiency.
According to Ledwith; “It was very easy to use. It allowed us to do everything that we wanted within the one platform. Everyone adopted it straight away and loved it.
“Previously one of the main problems that people were struggling with was the delays that came with email communication among co-workers. If someone needed to ask a question that was preventing them from completing a task, they would either have to physically disrupt that person if they work in the same office, which also disrupted everyone else in the office, or they would have to formulate a long email then wait hours for a response. This disruption in the workflow was affecting productivity and was resulting in a feeling of frustration among the team who just needed quick responses to their questions.
“So now being able to instantly send a message to someone and get a relatively quick reply increases our productivity 50,000-fold.
“Our sales team have also stated that being able to access Microsoft Teams via the app on their phones while they’re out on sales calls, has allowed them to quickly get answers and the resources they need, which then leads to more successful meetings. This is a great benefit to the business.”
Culture and Connection
With a robust, scalable, and effective digital foundation Living Online has been able to train personnel and onboard new staff to the platform rapidly, ensuring they are productive from day one.
“And as soon as you gain new clients, if you also teach them how to use these processes as well, then it helps the client relationship to move forward,” says Ledwith. She adds that customer feedback is very positive, particularly regarding the connection that it creates between customer and consultant regardless of location.
Clients also use Teams to directly access information about how their campaigns are performing by opening the particular channel in Teams for their social media campaign, for example. They can then assess the progress and if they wish, have an instant chat with consultants about that information or call directly from Teams.
Ledwith says that Living Online’s experience with Microsoft 365 and Teams reinforces to other small businesses with their sights set on growth, the critical importance of state-of-the-art software and good processes.
“Having the right software from the start will massively set you up for success. One final key takeaway is just how seamless the adoption of Microsoft Teams was. The speed of deployment was quick and painless and the adoption rates are at 100 per cent with no change management required. It has allowed us to save time and money as a business and make sure we are providing the best experience for our clients who also benefit from us using Teams.”