At aNb Media, having fun is serious business. The small firm of under 20 employees is a well-established publisher of trade journals for the toy and licensing industries. Their widely-read magazines are passed to an average of eight individuals per subscription – a statistic that is especially important to advertisers and a leading indicator of success within the publishing industry to improve productivity.
The company, however, recognized that it couldn’t afford to rest on its printed publications alone. “We were just a trade magazine firm,” concedes Jim Silver, president of aNb media and editor of the TimeToPlay online magazine site. “Our world had changed, and we had to change. We had to restart the company, launching Web sites and consumer platforms in the digital world.
“We launched a consumer Web site that talks all about toys, TimeToPlayMag.com. We also launched a trade Web site. We launched a TV show on MomTV, their Number 1-rated Web show, Talking About Toys. We launched a game show on Twitter. So we’d done all these things, we’d changed our entire company, but we didn’t know how to do everything. We had to play in the technology world, but we were far behind in the IT world.
“It was time to play catch-up, or we weren’t going to survive. We didn’t have the money to hire a large staff. We just knew we had to work hard.”
Keeping up with the changes and staying on top of demanding schedules wasn’t exactly child’s play, however. “We’re the experts in a $20 billion industry. You see us on network TV shows. A lot of our business is travelling, so we were out of the office for weeks at a time. We needed help staying in touch, staying on top of things. We couldn’t access our e-mail from the road, we couldn’t access our own computers. While we were on the road, we were writing scripts, we were writing shows, and we were really lost. We were losing 20 or 30 hours a week. And everything is about timing in this business.”
“We can’t be looking at a pile of work when we return to the office. When our staff members came back from the road, they were looking at a nightmare.”
“We needed brains,” declares Silver, “and that led us to eMazzanti Technologies. They showed us Office 2010, and we said, ‘Wow, we’ve got to have that kind of stuff!’”
The Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and consulting firm devised a solution built around standardizing on Microsoft Office Professional 2010 for both the Windows and Macintosh Platforms, and moving the PCs to Windows 7. This would give the aNb Media staff of 10 the advantages of the latest scheduling, interoperability and user-interface enhancements, so that aNb Media could work and collaborate better, and stay productive anywhere.
Predictable Upgrades Though Software Assurance
Even though aNb Media is a small company, using Volume Licensing and Software Assurance delivered multiple benefits including a streamlined upgrade path and improve productivity.
“They used to buy everything as a shrink wrap,” explains Carl Mazzanti, CEO of eMazzanti Technologies. “We introduced them to Volume Licensing, which makes a lot of sense for them. For instance, we knew Office 2011 was coming out for their Macs, so now it’s a question of when we can install the new version, not when they can purchase it.”
The Software Assurance agreement allowed aNb Media to migrate its technology in the near term, without having to pay again to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2011 for the Macintosh when it became available. And the company could make the move whenever eMazzanti Technologies was available to come onsite and do the upgrade, as opposed to having to wait until aNb Media could work through a separate purchasing cycle.
Standardizing on the leading-edge Microsoft products, especially Office 2010, paved the way for eMazzanti Technologies to efficiently address the multiple issues that were stifling productivity at aNb Media. These included implementing reliable backups of the terabytes of data including publications and video files that the company stored; getting a spam problem under control; and enabling more efficient document-sharing.
Improve Productivity with Windows 7 and Office Pro 2010
As Silvers relates, “I don’t get into technology, I just use it. I let the eMazzanti team set up what will be helpful to us. We just use what they show us, to make our lives easier.”
Mazzanti explains: “What their firm is most jazzed about is when we give them more time back.” For instance, “with Windows 7 and Office together, they can snap something they’ve done in a newsletter on one screen, set up the magazine layout in another screen, snap the pages of the magazine into separate windows, and go through the article and recreate it for a blog post.”
This is major time-saver for Time To Play staffers who often need to improve productivity and review previously published content, such as a magazine article, and adapt it for an online post or newsletter.
Working Better to Improve Productivity Together with Outlook 2010
Much of the collaborative work done by the staff is handled through email, especially while employees are traveling. New features in Microsoft Outlook 2010 such as Schedule View, Quick Steps, Conversation View, and Room Finder facilitate this teamwork to improve productivity.
Chris Byrne, Director of Content for TimeToPlay, also known as “The Toy Guy,” says the new Outlook saves the team a lot of time and improve productivity. “We have things like calendars that stack, we had different elements, we could know who was where,” he says.
Silver says, “I sent an Office invite for the first time and I got everybody to come to a meeting! And I was able to manage my contacts a lot better, especially when I was on the road.”
Mazzanti declares: “Outlook is biggest item for them in Office 2010. One of the things we showed them was in Outlook where you can stack all the calendars together. When they’re at an event, they’re in front of a lot of people. They can slide the calendars on top of each other, which allows them to know who’s available to meet with which press contact at the show so they can get coverage.” In addition, Quick Steps streamlines email handling to improve productivity by performing often-used, multi-step tasks with just a single click. Conversation View is another time-saver that organizes emails into threads to ensure that users are reviewing and responding to the most recent message.
Mazzanti recalls, “When I was showing Office 2010 to Jim, it was like, we need that.”
More Time for Creating More Content
Silvers credits Microsoft and eMazzanti with helping them execute aNb Media’s transformation, by making the staff’s use of technology up-to-date with the times. “Bringing us up to the modern age has allowed us to compete, and gives us the time we need to efficiently work and be effective,” he states. “Without Office 2010 there would not be enough hours in the work week to do what we’re doing today.
“It’s all about time. That’s the biggest thing they’ve given us. We can only crank out so much in a week, and we’re a small staff. When you add up all the efficiencies, Microsoft and eMazzanti gave us an extra 20 hours a week. That’s like adding another person to our staff.“ Annually, that amounts more than 1,000 additional employee-hours to generate the content that’s at the core of the business.
Focusing on Toys, Not Technology
The intuitive nature of the features built into Office 2010 have allowed the aNb Media staff to take advantage of new technology without being overwhelmed
by it. Here, Silvers sees parallels with his own industry, where toys are increasingly incorporating all kinds of sophisticated electronics and software. “A five-year-old looking at a new toy should not know the technology is even in there,” he declares. “The technology might make the toy wonderful, but the child should not be saying, ‘Wow, that technology is cool.’ The technology should be blended in so the child recognizes how cool the toy is.”
“That’s how I feel about our relationship with Microsoft and eMazzanti. We’re not technology experts, and we don’t want to be technology experts. We want companies like Microsoft and eMazzanti to keep us ahead of the curve, so what we do is easy.”
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