A recent trend sweeping education and training is BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – whereby participants use mobile devices to help facilitate or enhance the instruction. The movement has spread from students toting laptops to college classrooms to their high school contemporaries wielding iPads from one class to another, with a lot of instruction and resources being shared digitally.
The newest BYOD frontier appears to be continuing education and professional development programs, where often participants arrive with smartphones, tablets or laptops to the surprise of providers armed only with handouts and a PowerPoint display projected on screen.
There’s a reason business and other organizations appear to still be slightly behind the BYOD curve – or just taking it slower. While making instruction and resources available to personal devices can increase productivity and reduce costs, it can also increase security, privacy and legal risks.
The latter issues – and a focus shift from what’s good for the user to what’s good for the enterprise – drove tech giants like IBM and Cisco to create platforms and solutions for large organizations ready to dive into BYOD. But those solutions aren’t for everyone, especially providers hoping to do it themselves or maybe just dabble in BYOD.
To help persons more in the DIY category, we searched the Internet to find some of the best resources for those ready to embark on a BYOD build out. Below, we list the five most important steps you should consider in establishing a BYOD component to your training or development programs.
1. Create a policy
If your BYOD program will allow access to your system or network, you will need to develop a policy that specifies things like what devices will be permitted, what apps will be allowed, what determines acceptable use and how to turn off the program to employees are participants that have “exited.” Check out CIO.com’s seven tips for a successful policy, Symantec’s interesting infographic on the topic and TechRepublic four different BYOD policy templates, including one for school systems.
2. Develop a security protocol
Again, if your BYOD allows access to the organization’s system, several security measures must be in place to limit security and legal risks. Among these: the individual’s devices must be password-protected; corporate info should never be stored locally; and devices must support the ability to be remotely wiped should they be lost or stolen. You can dig a little deeper on some of the best practices by viewing articles in Forbes.com, accountingweb.com and veracode.com.
3. Determine functionality
In broader terms, BYOD can be as simple as an employee using his/her smartphone to access company e-mail, contact and calendar information, or as complex as logging in to company CRM systems or other technology platforms. In training circles, it might be an employee – or program participant – accessing online resources, an app, or social media that support the training. You determine what is going to be made accessible to the BYOD program, weighing potential benefits versus costs, capabilities and security/legal risks.
4. Build Awareness
If you got it, flaunt it. With mobile device saturation approaching two billion and the majority of devices brought to work or your event today being individual-owned, your BYOD program has a captive market just waiting to be engaged. Inform constituents about the offering, how to access it, who to call if they have issues, etc.
5. Get feedback
Making resources and tools accessible to individuals’ mobile devices won’t do much for productivity or cost reduction if no one is taking advantage. The best way to match what your BYOD program delivers to what your constituents want is to constantly get their feedback. And, with your connection to their devices, you have an easy means to gather such input.
When you are nearing your BYOD launch, pre-empt the many potential technical hurdles with good planning. Learningsolutionsmag.com suggests that you carefully explain Wi-Fi use to reduce download time and costs for your participants, put your materials in small chunks (e.g., adjust your video quality) so they are downloadable and reviewable on a small screen, build for the lowest common denominator, and make it as easy as possible with links directly to content.
If you happen to be a voracious reader and want to become an expert on the topic, you could bypass all of the links posted thus far and go to the special CIO.com guide, where you will find the most comprehensive collection of articles about BYOD on the Internet.
If you are already practicing BYOD and have some helpful tips you can share with ABC Signup customers, by all means, tell us about it. Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts about BYOD or what you’ve read in this article.
If you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup or registration software, always feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail.
Every so often, we share some of the things customers do with ABC Signup’s registration software that make us smile.
It might be the efficiencies customers gain from the software or the interesting events facilitated by it. It could be a unique usage or a creative design. It’s often an educational or informative program that we can just tell will make a difference for participants and perhaps the community. And on occasion, customers leverage ABC Signup in a manner that motivates us to do something differently (and might have a similar impact on you). For instance…
- Ready to deploy the software for a completely different, standalone event? The Medical Center - Bowling Green regularly uses ABC Signup for everything from daily parenting and wellness classes to health screenings to periodic conferences. They go the extra mile with a customized webpage for the annual running event they sponsor, the Medical Center 10K Classic.
- Want to see a winner play? The Missouri Valley Conference, through member (and ABC Signup customer) Creighton University, used our software around this time last year to help fans purchase tickets to the men’s basketball conference championships.
- Interested in becoming a hot tub salesperson for a week? What if the week happened to be during the sales conference in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico facilitated with ABC Signup by Latitude Events?
Sometimes, our customers just wow us with sheer volume. Our bandwidth proves its mettle each Spring when the Howard-Suamico school district opens its popular summer school registrations and thousands of parents hit the site almost simultaneously to select the programs they want for their children.
Other times, customers simply inspire us. Last summer, KACTE asked us to put their entire annual conference materials in a mobile format. We built a site, uploaded volumes of information, and created a sensible navigation that helped KACTE deliver an electronic version of the event binder. The experience created an “Ah-Ha” moment for us that led to our creation of a do-it-yourself tool for mobile event content we call MeetingZilla.
The downside of publicly marveling about our customers’ creations is that we undoubtedly miss much of the awesomeness out there. You guys offer tens of thousands of programs or events or fundraisers or memberships or surveys or something yet to be thought of usually involving an event page and a registration form. Not everything catches our eye.
So, if you have something unique, creative, awesome or helpful to others that you’ve put out there with the help of ABC Signup – by all means, tell us about it. Use the Comments section below to share it or share your thoughts about what you’ve read and seen in this article. Or, you can e-mail it to us and maybe we will include it in our next blog sharing cool stuff created by customers.
If you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup and the complete registration software platform that helps make the above possible, please feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail.
Valentine’s Day already? Uh oh. It’s too late to buy one of those grizzly-sized stuffed bears which basically say “Honey, I ain’t even trying this year.” Instead, we’ll rush out to CVS to buy a special something for our loved one. Before we do that, and subsequently receive our punishment, we’ll send a dozen virtual roses your way. You’re a lot easier to buy for.
Why a dozen? One for each of the following attributes that make us crazy for you:
1.Thank you for your loyalty.
Some of you have been with us for more than a decade, which like saying you like us even though we sometimes forget to put the toilet seat down. On average, more than nine out of 10 of you stick with us each year.
2. We appreciate your encouragement.
From our first customer to our latest, you motivate us to aim higher when growing and improving our customer base, our niche segments, our overall product and our service. We don’t even think of it as nagging.
3. Thank you for your generosity.
You pay a fair price for our product which in turn pays the bills to keep our company growing and our households mostly solvent. That heart-shaped Whitman’s Sampler at the drug store ain’t gonna buy itself.
4. We love your awesomeness.
You do awesome things. Your programs and events annually educate, inform or entertain hundreds of thousands across the country. Now, what did we do with that box of tissues?
5. Thank you for your kindness.
We communicate with you on a daily basis and you are remarkably professional, courteous, kind and respectful. Perhaps our teenage daughter could come to live with you.
6. We love how you open the door for us.
Many of you make great ambassadors of our software as you refer ABC Signup to others looking for a registration management solution. For the record, we are not opposed to this activity on your part.
7. Thank you for your compliments.
If you poke around the “Customer” section of our website, you will find case studies and testimonials full of praise for our product from the best source possible. That source is you, in case we didn’t make that clear enough.
8. We like how you sometimes hold our hands.
On occasion, your challenges are unique, complex and even daunting. Sometimes, we need a little hand holding to guide us both to the appropriate solution. Prior to this hand-holding, we promise to apply copious amounts of hand sanitizer.
9. Thank you for your patience.
There are instances in which some of you must wait for us to change something or notify you of a change that’s coming. Rarely do you complain. Again, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a teenager comes to mind.
10. We are grateful that you make us laugh.
ABC Signup is a sophisticated software solution deployed across six time zones. Between setting up that ABC Signup account and receiving that final post-event evaluation form, our customers find ample opportunity to do and share funny things. Sometimes, though, we’re laughing on the inside.
11. Thank you for being forgiving.
On the very rare occurrence in which we don’t put our best foot forward (e.g., communicating the log-in link’s permanent move to admin.abcsignup.com), you typically take the news in stride, make the necessary adjustment and move forward. We hope our spouse will show the same graciousness when opening a box of waxy chocolate.
12. We love how you complete us.
Our software today is vastly superior to the beta version launched in 2002, and much of the improved features and functionality came about as a result of our response to your feedback. We believe the customer-centric nature of our software – and your part of our partnership – differentiates us from the competition. And to prove that we always strive to get better, we promise to never use “customer-centric” again.
Please accept those dozen flowery bits of praise as our Valentine’s Day expression of appreciation for all you do as an ABC Signup customer. If you would like to leave your own Valentine’s message, please post your thoughts in the Comments section below. If you would simply like to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or shoot us an e-mail.
TrainingIndustry.com annually publishes its assessment of trends likely to impact the training industry. In the 2014 outlook posted in Training Industry Magazine (pages 24-28), central to their trends is what they perceive as a major shift from a “learner-centric” model of training to a “business-centric” model. In short, the author sees training today becoming more aligned with the needs of the business as opposed to training geared more toward what the learner wants/needs.
In an area ever-pressed for more efficiency, this seems like a natural evolution, especially in internal corporate training environments. It’s about accountability, about making sure business expenditures produce results. And according to the report, trying to align training with business needs – then finding ways to deliver that training efficiently – is driving all sorts of innovations.
At least five of the 11 trends listed in the article, for instance, entail leveraging new technologies and platforms to better facilitate training.
“Conformance of Content to Modality,” as an example, suggests that instructional designers develop content that can be configured to whatever type of device (e.g., smartphone) the learner uses. Similarly, “Customization of Services & Content” points out that there are now four generations of learners in the workplace, and content must be designed for any learning style as well as device.
For training providers, these trends advocate making your programs more accessible to technologies and methods of learning. So, maybe you add a virtual program to complement your classroom version. Deploy “gamification” for the Millennials. Or, put your conference materials in a mobile format.
A third trend, “Open Access to Content,” addresses the wealth of courses and “how-to” content available through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and YouTube, and the challenge this mass of material and opportunity poses in keeping the learner focused on what offerings actually meet the needs of the business and the learner. A fourth, “Integration of Video,” acknowledges that human learning is mostly visual and there are close to three billion how-to videos available on the Internet and that number is growing exponentially.
With both of these trends, training programs are challenged to not only harness and focus all of the new offerings that are available, but in the case of videos, also create and incorporate their own video productions into the learning experience.
A fifth trend, “Digital Content” speaks to the conversion of classroom training content into digital format, as in course materials being converted to easily accessible e-books. This is already happening in schools, and the technology to do it yourself with your training or course materials is readily available.
Other trends listed included “Consistency,” “Demonstration of Knowledge” and “Blending of Content.” Consistency stressed the importance of effectively delivering learning initiatives across geographies, business units and learners’ levels within an organization. Demonstration of Knowledge, while self-explanatory, highlighted the growth in social badging, certifications and the credentialing bodies that issue certifications. Blending of Content related how learning is achieved through a combination of informal means and structured training.
TrainingIndustry.com also provided its usual macro trends, offering its projections on corporate training spending growth (will increase by 1%), job growth (to remain flat) and what’s happening in the world of training industry source engagements (deployment will continue to be very tactical).
This assessment is just one of a number of resources offered available on the market to help training providers prepare for what’s around the corner. If you want to share your thoughts on these trends – or share other valuable trend-related resources and ideas – please use the Comments section located below this blog.
If you would like to know more about registration software and ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).
Here’s a New Year’s resolution we can all support: strive to get the most out of what you’ve got.
Finish that doctorate, write that book, seed that empty garden, strengthen those relationships or strengthen yourself. Take a fresh look at everything around you and put those many tools you have to work for the better.
Take ABC Signup, for example. If the 80/20 rule were applied to our complete registration software, we would guestimate that 20% of our customers use 80% of our software’s functionality, while 80% only use about 20% of the available features.
There happens to be much more to ABC Signup than creating event pages and registration forms and generating reports related to participation, payment, and so on.
Did you know, for instance, that ABC Signup has a Resources scheduling component that allows administrators to setup a scheduling process for things like training rooms, AV equipment and even instructors?
Were you aware of the software’s Budgeting tools, which allow you to input event-related expenses and revenues to track a real-time budget for your program and individual events?
And have you explored any of the three modules introduced last year? One enables administrators to upload multimedia files, another allows program registrants to upload files, and the third enables users to create learning plans for individuals or groups tied to their training programs.
Not only are there a number of hidden gems feature-wise within ABC Signup, there are also a number of less conventional ways to deploy the software. We look at a half dozen of them – including uses such as membership management and employee suggestion programs – in our ebooklet, 6 Bonus Uses for Registration Software.
At this point, you may be asking yourself, well, how do I find out what I’m missing? Try any of the following four steps:
1. Sign up for a training session.
We want you using all six gears of our software. Participation in one of our regularly scheduled training sessions might get you from zero to 60 quickest.
2. Talk to your account rep or our customer service staff.
We love to hear from our customers, and we really love to talk about our product. Give us a call, tell us what you are trying to accomplish and we’ll point you toward the right features or maybe just create new ones just for you.
3. Read the What’s New and Help sections on your ABC Signup administration site.
We built these sections to keep you informed and make it possible to get instant answers to your questions. We update them continuously.
4. Read our newsletter and blog.
We probably write too much about our product, because that’s what we know. Still, there’s a lot of good information out there about the awesome tools that come with our complete system. We also use those publications to solicit your input, so if you aren’t keeping up you may be missing an opportunity to offer the impetus for our next big development.
If you would like to add your two cents to this blog – or share a New Year’s resolution or two – please weigh in using the Comments section below. If you would simply like to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or shoot us an e-mail.
Fancy cheese, fine art, good bourbon and ABC Signup share something in common: they each get better with age.
For a software-as-a-service product like ABC Signup’s registration software, that ever-evolving and improving nature is one of its fundamental strengths. We seamlessly incorporate new features and enhancements into the software, so there’s no need to ever download an update or purchase an upgrade model a couple of years later.
As a consequence, the software that customers currently use to help manage programs and events is different from what they deployed in December of 2012. In the “What’s New” section on ABC Signup’s administrative site, customers will find about two dozen entries in 2013.
So, what’s better in 2013, you ask?
- For starters, several technical and procedural security measures made your data and our system even more secure.
- We also added a non-Java-based wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) content editor for event pages to aid those of you annoyed with Oracle’s ever-updating Java freeware.
- We fully integrated our software with GoToWebinar, allowing anyone conducting virtual events to enjoy the full functionality of ABC Signup to enhance registration forms, automated e-mails to participants and post-event reporting and evaluations.
- We created a basic mobile interface to allow administrators to mark attendance via smart phone, tablet or other device and view basic information about their event such as registration status, individual fees paid and a financial snapshot.
- We added new social media tag functionality, allowing you to place – just about anywhere on your pages – tags for the majors (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn) and their respective “share,” “recommend,” “send,” and “like” tools.
- And, we incorporated new calendar features that allow users to push their ABC Signup calendar events into Google and Outlook calendars.
That covers just a handful of the software improvements of 2013. We also created three optional functionality modules to complement ABC Signup’s registration software: Media Manager, which allows users to upload video and other large multimedia files; Learning Plan, which provides tools to design, assign and track learning plans for program participants; and Registrant File Upload, which enables individuals to upload large files such as presentations or portfolios.
Here’s the even better news. We aren’t done. We have a cool unveiling or two planned in the coming months, and we will continue to develop new features and improvements to our software in 2014.
We find that such an approach is a good way to attract new customers and retain existing customers’ business. And, since many of these developments are in response to customers’ feedback, we’ve learned that such efforts not only keep our customers happy, but keep them engaged in helping us improve. That’s a win-win – kind of like aged cheese and bourbon.
If you would like to know more about ABC Signup or the enhancements we’ve made to our registration software in 2013, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). Use the Comments section below to add your thoughts on this blog.
What’s more awesome than your new computer, tablet or smart phone, right?
The machine does everything you need. It’s super-fast, not “buggy,” and all of a sudden you’re cruising in the fast lane of productivity. But as you get to warp speed with its programs and applications, something happens to rub some of that shine off your new toy. “Progress.”
It might be a software or application update. It could be a new operating system. An “upgrade” is ready for some component on your machine, and you need to upload and install it. For every several that go smoothly, there’s one that doesn’t. You either find your machine no longer in the fast lane (e.g., Java issues), or worse (like an iPhone 4 trying to run ios7.0X, software so demanding for the hardware that it makes one think that Apple is trying to make that model obsolete).
Wouldn’t it be great if that software update just happens automatically, without a need to upload and install anything, restart a computer, downgrade to an older (but working) version or buy new hardware?
That’s the beauty of most software-as-a-service (SaaS), web-based software and platforms. You don’t buy them in a box off a shelf or ever have to mess with downloads, uploads, installs or re-boots.
You’ve likely experienced the ease of these SaaS tools firsthand. Perhaps you participated in a webinar (GoToMeeting), posted or sought a career opportunity (Oracle’s Taleo), used your organization’s CRM system (Salesforce) or filed your taxes online (Intuit’s TurboTax). Or, maybe you manage registrations for your programs or events with a certain registration software (ABC Signup).
With any of these tools, the latest, most up-to-date version will be at your fingertips the next time you use it. Each will typically notify you of any advancements made since the last time you deployed the software. And, other than periodic password changes for security, the new and improved version will be accessible without you ever needing to do a thing.
One of the beauties of the Internet is the many resources it links to create opportunities for things like “cloud-based” delivery and software-as-a-service. All you need is a good connection to access the latest, greatest versions of the tools you use.
If you would like to know more about ABC Signup, our registration software or software-as-a-service in general, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). Use the Comments section below to add your thoughts on this blog.
“Paperless” is an awesome concept. But, it only occurs when the economics work.
Take any number of conferences or events that provide participants with presentations, background materials, venue information, floor maps, details on local attractions and so on. More often than not, that information is printed, copied and bound as part of the registration packet provided at sign in.
Such events can generate thousands – even tens of thousands – sheets of paper, plus a lot of time and energy spent collating and packaging the materials. There’s also an inconvenience factor for participants associated with lugging around a binder from one conference session to the next.
Why not go paperless, you ask? This event material was likely either created by computer or pulled from an online site. So, why couldn’t someone just make the information accessible via participants’ mobile devices?
They can, for a price. Solutions that allow administrators to compile the information and package it in an easily accessible mobile location are available today. Unfortunately, they can cost anywhere from $5,000 to more than $20,000 – economics that keep many events in paper. Some of these solutions are really cool “apps” – well, cool until some participants on site haven’t installed the app or uploaded the most recent upgrade.
Like any innovation, ultimately prices will come down, functionality will be tweaked and more solutions will appear on the market. That change, coupled with the saturation of mobile devices, will eventually cut out event binders – not trees.
If you would like to know more about registration software or ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone. Use the Comments section below to add your thoughts on this blog.
Sometime in your career, your normal day will abruptly be disrupted by the Internet’s most-dreaded word-number combination, “System 404.”
Whether you discover it yourself or learn about it from an angry customer, that System 404 message – on a blank page where your home page should be – means your website is down. This virtual power outage demands immediate attention. Here are a few things you should and should not do.
Expect to hear from several people that your site is down. The next round of communiqués will ask when it will be back up. If you get to round three, well, it may sound like an angry mob. Some may be hysterical. Not you.
Find the source of the problem and throw as many resources at it as possible. If the issue is with a third-party host, contact them immediately and stress the gravity of the situation (and the money you might be losing with your virtual storefront unexpectedly closed). Take steps to ensure a long-term fix.
Most likely, this is an accident, a glitch, a completely unintentional occurrence. If not – say, for instance, you’ve been hacked – get mad. But otherwise, a calm approach is the right approach. There will be time to express displeasure, define the impact and get assurances of improvements going forward – after you get the site back up and running.
Get the word out
One way to save yourself from being inundated with calls is to let your organization know the situation. Whether or not you need to extend the same courtesy to your customers depends upon a number of factors specific to each organization.
Do not assume the parties responsible for whatever caused the site to crash are aware that it is down. A third party host could manage thousands of sites and not know your site has an issue until you make them aware of it.
Switch to your backup site
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. If you have a backup site that you can switch on (and seamlessly switch off when your regular site is back online), do it. That’s what it’s there for.
Find silver linings
“Well, it wasn’t us, it was a third party” or “Hey, it’s not as bad as the ACA website” do little or nothing to reassure folks in your organization or your customers. Find the cause so you can do everything you can to prevent it from occurring again.
Construct a better System 404 page
One way to somewhat disarm those disappointed in your non-functioning website is a System 404 page that says a little more than just “System 404.” It might include an apology, some humor, or just an acknowledgement that you are aware and working on it. Check out these clever examples.
The Internet is built upon layers and layers of technology, most of which are outside of your control. On the occasion that one broken link in the technology chain trips up your site, be prepared – and know it will be back up and running faster than you can say “System 404” eventually.
If you would like to know more about dealing with System 404 errors, or just want some additional information about ABC Signup and registration software, please contact us by e-mail or by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to add your thoughts to this article – perhaps telling ways you get feedback from non-customers – please post below in the Comments section of this blog.
It’s one of the least sexy buzzwords still making the rounds of event and training “trend” forecasts. It seems too obvious to be viewed as anything new or game-changing, yet some of the experts cite it as one of the trends ready to rock the event and training sectors.
Why? Because each year, hundreds of billions of dollars change hands in the event and training industry, and today we have the technology in place to better determine whether we are getting value from either side of the transaction.
In event and training circles, accountability comes in several forms. There’s basic return on investment (ROI) type accountability, whereby the cost of staging the event or training is reconciled against the proceeds from registration fees, exhibitors, sponsorships, etc. There’s a secondary ROI that measures the impact of the event or training on participants, be it through evaluations that examine their satisfaction or testing that assesses their grasp of the content presented.
For organizations that receive government funding, accountability might relate to completing a certain number of trainings or reaching a minimum number of participants in an event. A childcare resource center, for instance, might need to keep providers under its umbrella up to date on certification requirements. A continuing education program might need to tabulate the number of CEUs awarded.
The bottom line: administrators of events and training programs – now more so than ever – are tasked with delivering data that in one form or another measures some aspect of their offerings (and a similar move is afoot for participants). For some, this growing accountability requirement can pose an unworkable challenge to their current registration and reporting process.
Thankfully, there are solutions available on the market. One of the advantages of a complete registration software solution, for instance, is tools that allow administrators to survey participants, monitor the budget for their events and programs, and track and record participation, CEUs, certifications and much more.
As an example, a customer using full-featured registration software for their conference can plug in expenses (venue, catering, audio-visual, etc.) and export a report at any time showing how costs compare with current revenues accrued as registrants, exhibitors and sponsors’ payments are processed. With some software, the customer can even export the data in chart and graph form and compare the most recent event’s revenues, attendees or other data points to prior years’ results.
Similarly, records can be exported and sent to participants’ organizations, regulatory bodies and others to verify attendance, course completion, etc. A practicing dentist, for instance, is typically required to accrue a certain number of continuing education credit hours over a specific time cycle. A training provider with a complete registration solution can pull that individual’s information in an instant.
In the broader education industry, a district or school might want to know how many of its teachers attended professional development workshops in 2013, and from what departments. Or, who signed up but didn’t show up? Or, who hasn’t met their CEU requirements? With the right system, that information is a click away.
A good system’s evaluation tools can also be used to survey participants about all facets of an event or training, test their understanding of the subject matter and get feedback on how to improve the offering. Again, that data can be compared over like events or trainings to identify trends.
If you would like to know more about the growing importance of accountability in events and training and how to track it – or just want some additional information about ABC Signup and registration software – please contact us by e-mail or by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to add your thoughts to this article – perhaps offering ideas to improve accountability – please post them below in the Comments section of this blog.