Useful links by wuyunyi


									                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Issue 4 April 2008
                                                   Useful links
                                                   Join an e-business network

Last Word
Where do you go to get your IT questions
                                                   Take advantage of free networking evenings, newsletters and tools by joining a network
                                                   of thousands of small businesses at

                                                   Can search engines find your website?
                                                   Check using the search engine optimisation tool at

                                                   Need to understand e-business?
                                                   Find e-business and IT events in the region at
answered? You might set about
searching the internet, but you’ll
probably soon drown in technical
jargon.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Find the answers to
You may be fortunate and have a trusted IT
supplier, but for many small businesses that is    Get help with IT                                                                                                                                                                                               your IT questions
often not the case. You may rely on friends        Do you have questions about IT? Answer them now using the NEW Business IT Guide
and family, or maybe you consign it to the         for the West Midlands at
“too hard” pile and allow what could be a                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Small businesses have access to a new website that will answer all their
fantastic opportunity to pass you by.                                                                                                                                                                                                                             IT questions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Following the launch of the Business IT Guide for the West Midlands at
I’m delighted to announce that the Business                                                                                                                                                                                                             , local businesses have the chance to access an
IT Guide for the West Midlands is now live at                                                                                                                                                                                                                     online facility that will answer all types of IT questions in a simple, Not only is                                                                                                                                                                                                                        comprehensive language.
this website free to use but its guides and tips
are written in simple language everyone can
                                                   Areas that                                                                               Pictured: Adrian Steele and Richard Jones from Mercian Labels celebrate the success of Open Source software.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This facility is the first of its kind, designed to help small and medium sized
                                                   we cover                                           • Shropshire                                                                                                                                                businesses develop their IT knowledge and be more confident in their IT
understand, to help you make independent IT
decisions or simply find more information on
an IT topic.
                                                                                                      • Staffordshire                       Open Source software                                                                                                  decision making.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The guide is launched by e-Skills UK, supported by the National B2B Centre, to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  provide free informational guides on ICT subjects covering a range of business

I hope you will all take advantage of it in your
businesses. Don’t forget that there are                                        •
                                                                                                      • Black Country
                                                                                                      • Birmingham
                                                                                                                                            is labelled a success                                                                                                 and IT topics including:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  •   Hardware                           •   Software
general business guides on there too, so it’s                                                                                               A Staffordshire company has labelled Open                 “Having an academic background, the philosophy              •   Networking                         •   Security
                                                                                                                                            Source software as the future after                       behind the software appealed to me,” Dr Steele              •   The web                            •   E-mail
not just for those with IT issues.                                                                    • Hereford & Worcester                successfully turning its back on the big                  said.                                                       •   Smarter working                    •   General ICT support
                                                                                                                                            brands.                                                                                                               •   Finding suppliers
Once you’ve used it, share your experiences                •                                          • Coventry & Warks                    Mercian Labels, based in Watling Street, Cannock,
                                                                                                                                                                                                      “Damage from viruses, uncontrollable system
                                                                                                                                                                                                      changes, security threats and difficult and
with us at                                                   •                                                            supplies products including barcode, security and         expensive upgrade paths in existing systems made
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  With five different routes to information - facts, hot tips, a guide library, search
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  facility and a self-help tool - the Guide is accessible to everybody, whether they
                                                                                                                                            hologram labels to a wide variety of SMEs across          the decision comparatively easy.                            need to solve a common problem, or just find more information on a specific IT
Martin King-Turner
                                                                                                                                            the UK.                                                                                                               topic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      “The idea of being free of vendor lock-in and
                                                                                                                                            The company is a market leader in its field,              significantly lower licensing costs also appealed.”         The Business IT Guide website is free to use and can be found at
                                                                                                                                            employing 20 staff with a turnover of more than £1                                                          
                                                                                                                                            million a year.                                           Richard Jones took over as the new IT Manager in
                                                                                                                                                                                                      2006 and had a university background in Software
                                                                                                                                            When managing director Dr Adrian Steele joined in         Engineering.                                                Pictured (left to right): Martin King-Turner of the
                                                                                                                                            2001 he made overhauling Mercian’s computer                                                                           National B2B Centre with Andy Tabberer of e-Skills UK
                                                                                                                                            systems a major priority.                                 “It was evident that the current systems in place
                                                                                             •                                                                                                        had a lot of potential problems that would soon
                                                                                                                                            He said: “When I joined, the software and                 manifest themselves with serious detriment to the
                                                               •                                                                            hardware was outdated – we were running just a            company,” Richard said
                                                                                                                                            couple of desktop machines using Windows 2000.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      “The concept of Open Source had always been of
                                                                                                                                            “We developed our own code on the Microsoft               interest, and the idea of migrating to these
                                                                                                                                            Access platform, but it was no longer meeting our         solutions seemed most beneficial.”
                                                                                                                                            demands and the time had come to migrate to
                                                                                                                                            new Microsoft software, or look for something else.       The firm has found no compatibility problems with
                                                                                                                                                                                                      the standard word processing and spreadsheet
                                                                                                                                            “The urgency of this was bought to life when our          packages employees now use.
                                                                                                                                            systems went down for four-and-a-half days in
                                                                                                                                            November 2006 which resulted in the loss of               Martin King-Turner of the National B2B Centre –
                                                                                                                                            £10,000 profit.”                                          the e-business centre of excellence for the West
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Midlands – is pleased to see the company
                                                                                                                                            The company processes hundreds of invoices each           discovering the many benefits of the alternative to
                                                                                                                                            week meaning the efficiency of its systems is vital.      conventional software.

                                                                                                                                            Dr Steele investigated the options and the                “Mercian Labels has made a bold decision to
                                                                                                                                            technological robustness of Open Source software          embrace Open Source software and are set to gain
                                                                                                                                            made him consider this option.                            from increased efficiency and reduced costs.

                                                                                                                                            Open Source software refers to the process by             “One of the many advantages is the fact
                                                                                                                                            which programmers can read, redistribute, and             developments are driven by what consumers want
                                                                                                                                            modify the source code for a piece of software            not by the commercial targets of the software
                                                                                                                                            allowing it to evolve.                                    manufacturers’ marketing department.”

                                                                                        Do you want to become a Showcase?                                                                                                                                   Publicise your company’s use of e-business…
                                                                                   …find out how at                                                                                                                            find out more at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pictured: Haydn Gamble from Rope Task (right)
                                                                  SHOWCASE TWO                                                                                                                                                   with Rob Hupperdine from Nutcracker.     SHOWCASE FIVE

                                                                 Business is hotting                                                                                                                                                                                     Wednesbury firm is scaling new heights on the web
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A Wednesbury company is reaching new business                       “Those are two major deals,” said Haydn. “But we have also
                                                                 up thanks to mobile                                                                                                                                                                                     heights thanks to the worldwide web.                                won a series of smaller contracts too. We are now operating
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             all over the UK and Ireland, something we could not have

                                                                 technology                                                                                                                                                                                              Haydn Gamble set up Rope Task in 2002 to make the most of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the skills he picked up working at height in a variety of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             done without the internet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         industries.                                                         “When you consider the overall cost has been less than
                                                                  A Coventry company which maintains and services                                                                                                                                                                                                                            £10,000 for the website and the optimisation so far – it has
                                                                  air conditioning on the majority of London buses                                                                                                                                                       His company now provides height safety support services to          paid for itself several times over.”
                                                                  is making sure they are on the right route.                                                                                                                                                            a number of firms, ranging from cleaning of high-rise
Pictured: Mark Bonnett (left) with Alan Garrec (118 Taxi)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rope Task is soon to launch a dedicated height safety
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         buildings to installing glazing units into some of the highest
                                                                  Clayton Heaters in Burnsall Road, Canley, has fitted                                                                                                                                                   skyscrapers in the UK.                                              training centre close to West Bromwich, which will provide
                                                                  mobile trackers to its company vans to monitor its                Pictured: Liz Rowe of the National B2B Centre with Crest Marquee                                                                                                                                         local and national businesses with work at height and rescue
  SHOWCASE ONE                                                    engineers’ location.                                              owner Matthew Faizey.                                                                                                                The firm has worked with Dudley-based Nutcracker Design             from height training.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         to come up with a new website – – and
                                                                  The system is linked to the internet which allows                                                                                                                                                      has also attracted new visitors to the site by optimising it        “The site has paid dividends so far,” added Haydn. “And we
 Taxi man hails                                                   company directors Stuart Insley and Dean Allsop to
                                                                  check how long staff have been on site at depots across
                                                                                                                                    SHOWCASE THREE                                                                                                                       with search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, as well as
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         undertaking pay-per-click campaigns.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             are currently updating it to make sure it never loses its edge.

                                                                  London as well as the rest of the UK.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      “The fact that all of our marketing for the new training
 e-business a success                                             The high-tech move has improved the efficiency of the            E-business helps
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         As a result, Rope Task has landed a series of new deals across
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         the continent and now 50 per cent of its work is coming via
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             centre and equipment supply will be done via the web
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             speaks volumes for how highly we regard its power.”
 An assault in an unlicensed taxi led to a                        engineers and the company’s speed in processing                                                                                                                                                        the web – including two new contracts that have been
 business that is now driving forward on
 the road to success.
                                                                  paperwork for its customers.
                                                                                                                                   Birmingham firm ride                                                                                                                  worth £300,000 between them.

                                                                  Stuart Insley, who followed his dad, Geoff, into the
 Former University of Warwick student Alan
                                                                  business, said they had talked to the University of
                                                                  Warwick-based National B2B Centre to use their
                                                                                                                                   the Crest of a wave                                                                                                                      SHOWCASE SEVEN                                                            SHOWCASE EIGHT
 Garrec came up with the idea of 118 TAXI                         specialist knowledge in the e-business world.
 following a nasty incident involving one of                                                                                       A Birmingham marquee hire firm is celebrating after
 Alan’s female friends and an unlicensed cab in                   “The bus industry has an old-fashioned image but it is
                                                                                                                                   tripling its turnover in its first two years in business thanks
                                                                                                                                   to the power of e-business.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Countryside benefits                                                     Web puts company
 Leamington.                                                      continually moving forward to keep up-to-date with the

 Alan wanted to address the problem of rogue
                                                                  latest technology,” the 29-year-old said.
                                                                                                                                   Crest Marquees was formed after Matthew successfully combined                                                                            from being online                                                        on cloud nine
                                                                                                                                   a full-time sales job with running a bouncy castle business – and
 cabbies and came up with the clever idea of                      “Bus companies want their contractors to improve their                                                                                                                                                                                                                             An IT firm from Cradley Heath is on cloud nine
                                                                                                                                   decided to take the plunge into self-employment.                                                                                         A rural regeneration charity is celebrating an internet
                                                                  records and anything we can do to achieve that is                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  after securing a series of new deals thanks to an
 providing a telephone service to connect                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   breakthrough which has allowed it to help even more
                                                                  welcomed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          overhaul of its website.
 anyone, anywhere with a local and licensed                                                                                        Crest Marquees has become a major player in the Midlands                                                                                 countryside communities improve their local
 taxi company.                                                                                                                     marquee hire business after maximising the potential of the                                                                              economies.
                                                                  “The GPS system is linked to the ignition so as soon as                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nine IT was launched in 2006 to offer a full IT package
                                                                                                                                   internet to establish a reputation as a supplier to be trusted.
                                                                  the vans are switched on it feeds to a data centre.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                to businesses, focussing on e-security including
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ruralnet|uk was formed in August 2002 as a networking
 Using the number 118 8294 - or TAXI when                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            anti-spyware, data back-up and anti-virus software.
                                                                                                                                   “Initially I used a website template system which allowed me to                                                                          organisation which offers support to groups to help
 using letters on the key pad - users are                         “We log on to the Masternaut website which brings up
                                                                                                                                   get all the pictures and content that I wanted online but didn’t                                                                         themselves use IT more effectively.
 connected to a call centre and then the                          a screen that shows where the engineers are, how long                                                                                 Bryn Evans of Pizzazz (left) with James Pennington of the                                                                                    The company has just improved its website –
                                                                                                                                   really show off what we could do,” Matthew said.                     National B2B Centre (right)
 nearest taxi firm. A website, developed with                     has been spent on site and whether they are being held                                                                                                                                                                                                                    – with the help of Ice Blue
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Recent examples include supporting rural groups attempting
 the help of the National B2B Centre, enables                     up in traffic which is often the case in London.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Marketing & Design and has been driving traffic to the
                                                                                                                                   “I got a web design firm to make it look as I wanted it to.                                                                              to access the broadband internet network and assisting
 taxi firms to submit their details and become                                                                                     Customers who may be organising something very important like                                                                            community groups attempting to save their local post offices.            site by using search optimisation and pay-per-click
 part of the service.
                                                                  “We can then email a report to our customers almost
                                                                  immediately which is becoming more and more of a
                                                                                                                                   a wedding now understand we are a company that can be                 SHOWCASE SIX                                                                                                                                campaigns with major search engines.
                                                                                                                                   trusted.”                                                                                                                                ruralnet|online’s ‘Experts Online’ service allows subscribers
                                                                  requirement.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Hits on the site have risen by 20 per cent and Mike
 The website will also be used in the future to                                                                                                                                                                                                                             to pose questions about rural issues which are answered by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Davis, of Nine IT, has already converted the new leads
 allow web-users to pinpoint their nearest
 service. It also allows vital feedback for Alan
                                                                  “The change has meant the extra work that has been
                                                                  generated is the equivalent of employing an extra
                                                                                                                                   Initially the company used Google pay-per-click campaigns to
                                                                                                                                   drive traffic to the website.                                        E-commerce shines a                                                 one of a team of advisers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     into a series of sales.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The answers are then available for all users to see – meaning
 from satisfied customers.                                        engineer.”
                                                                                                                                   But Matthew was keen to ensure the company ranked highly in
                                                                                                                                   the “natural” search results.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        light on Nuneaton firm                                              there is a databank of researched information about a wide
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            range of matters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The company now has 20 clients on contract but has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     also signed a series of new customers on a
 The business, which is based at the Mercia                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         The future’s bright for a Nuneaton-based online
 Institute of Enterprise at the University of                                                                                      He said: “I saw another marquee firm topped the search results                                                                           ruralnet|uk chief executive Simon Berry said: “One issue that
                                                                                                                                                                                                         shop, following a sales boom in its specialist lights.                                                                                      Mike said: “Having an all singing, all dancing website
 Warwick, also operates a call centre in Hull.                                                                                     listings and I investigated employing someone to optimise our                                                                            came up was that when we operate “off line” we don’t
                                                                                                                                   results but I decided to do it myself.”                                                                                                  dictate what other people do - we simply respond to requests             is great but it’s not much use if people are not visiting.
                                                                                                                                                                                                is a leading seller of Mighty Bright
 Alan said: “118 TAXI has been running for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and provide the necessary support.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         portable lights and sight products for readers, crafters and                                                                                “So it was vital that anyone looking for an IT firm in
 more than two years now and still runs                                                                                            Following the optimisation, Crest Marquees now ranks in the first     musicians. The site also sells a wide-range of gifts and
                                                                                                                                   four or five search results on Google.                                                                                                   “However, online we push the website and services, such as               this area would find us when using search engines.”
 essentially as a social enterprise.                                                                                                                                                                     accessories.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Experts Online, and need people to follow links to our
                                                                                                                                   This has had a dramatic effect on enquiries through the website,                                                                         website.                                                                 He added: “People have found us through a search
 “I am delighted with the success of the                                                                                                                                                                 The company launched a new website in late 2007 to trade                                                                                    engine by typing in a relevant keyword. There are
                                                                                                                                   with five or more major enquiries every day.                          alongside its store– and sales have soared as
 venture so far and a lot of hard work has gone                                                                                                                                                                                                                             “One thing that emerged very clearly was the need to act in              several different combinations of words that lead to us
                                                                                                                                                                                                         a result.                                                                                                                                   and traffic has increased.
 into where we currently are.                                                                                                      Matthew said: “The company has tripled its turnover in the last                                                                          the online world in the same way as we do in the real
                                                                 Pictured: Rayhan                                                  year, and we are getting orders for bigger, more prestigious                                                                             world.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pizzazz owner, Bryn Evans, said the firm took its time                                                                                      “Many of those who have found us have been
 “I am looking forward to the future and hope                    Abdulmughnee from the                                             events.                                                               perfecting the website, and sought help from the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This revelation coincided with advances in technology which              impressed by the pay-as-you-go service we offer as
 the National B2B Centre will play a part in                     National B2B Centre (left)                                                                                                              e-business centre of excellence for the West Midlands, the                                                                                  they are not necessarily looking at a long-term deal.
                                                                                                                                   “Being towards the top of the search results for terms such as                                                                           allowed ruralnet|uk to ‘embed’ their services in locally
 helping me to shape 118 TAXI.”                                  and Stuart Insley from                                                                                                                  National B2B Centre.
                                                                 Clayton Heaters                                                   ‘marquee hire Birmingham’ has been crucial to this success.”                                                                             delivered websites.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     “So there has been a major increase in that side of the
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Bryn said: “The National B2B Centre has introduced us to                                                                                    business – it has definitely proved worthwhile and has
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This means the charity can put their text and graphics onto
                                                                                                                                                                                                         the e-commerce system Zencart which is an open source                                                                                       been an important step for the company.”
Pictured: Keith Bound (left) with                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           other websites – known as a ‘widget’.
                                                                                                                                                                                                         solution that is free to use and to which we can upload
Martin King-Turner
                                                    SHOWCASE FOUR                       Interactive website key to learning                                                                              content oursleves. It’s a very effective programme.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When a visitor views a page with a widget the last three                 James Pennington, of the National B2B Centre said:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            questions asked in ruralnet|uk’s Experts Online service are              “Most businesses out there understand that having a
                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pizzazz has built a good reputation through its own site                                                                                    website is an absolute must these days if you want
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            displayed, and people can register or log into the service to
                                                  A Coventry company which has introduced a series of                         “The two sides of the brain learn things in a very different way,” said    and its Amazon shop – and the firm expects business to                                                                                      potential customers to find out about you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ask their own questions.
                                                  organisations to new learning techniques is now looking to tap              Keith. “The Image Dynamics way of learning taps into the right side of     continually grow.
                                                  into schools and colleges by using e-business.                              the brain by using imagery as the primary learning source, making                                                                                                                                                      “But just having a site is no longer enough – you have
                                                                                                                              people see things from a new perspective and much more creative in         Bryn also believes that by putting effort into the                 Pictured: Liz Rowe of the National B2B Centre with ruralnet|uk           to ensure that people find there way to it.
                                                  Keith Bound runs Image Dynamics from the TechnoCentre and uses              their problem solving.”                                           shop, there have been long-lasting benefits           chief executive Simon Berry                                              Optimisation or pay-per-click adverts are ideal ways of
                                                  interactive digital media to improve learning by applying positive                                                                                     to his company.                                                                                                                             putting your business ahead of the competition.”
                                                  psychology, animated images, words and sound to help people get in          “These technologies are not limited to this country,” he added. “They
                                                  the right frame of mind to think laterally and develop key skills such as   work anywhere in the world and there is no better way of capturing a       He said: “We’ve produced more sales through it than our
                                                  creativity and problem solving.                                             global audience than through a website that meets the needs of clients     own site and it has helped raise our company profile and                                                                                    Pictured: James Pennington (left, of the
                                                                                                                              using interactive digital media.                                           awareness of our individual website.                                                                                                        National B2B Centre) with Mike Davis
                                                  He is now increasingly using his website –
                                                  – to market the company but also as a portal for people to learn            “I don’t think it’s acceptable anymore just to have a front page with      “For instance, because we sell a wide range of Mighty
                                                  on-line with a series of interactive functions.                             limited information – clients are more demanding with complex needs        Bright products through Amazon, when someone uses a
                                                                                                                              and require fast solutions to local, regional and global issues.           search engine such as Google, our listings will be at the top
                                                  And, after being nominated as a finalist in the World of Learning                                                                                      of the search results.
                                                  Innovation of the year award 2007 it helped the firm to land business       “Your website needs to engage your customers and clients, there is no
                                                  across the world – particularly in the USA and Denmark.                     better way than having an interactive web environment as it creates        “We are achieving sales that are much greater than we first
                                                  He is now hoping that education establishments in the area and all          curiosity and discovery through a rich engaging experience,                envisaged. Luckily, the Zencart system will cope with our
                                                  over the UK start to use his methods for informal and personalised          generating more interest and business locally and globally.”               growth even if we quadruple over the next year.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you want to appear on these pages? Find out how at

To top