HELLO, WE ARE 4 ROADS

BESPOKE.

Do you need a digital solution that an off-the-shelf product just can’t provide? We’ve created everything from bespoke health platforms to autonomous production line systems.

We also create bespoke products to integrate systems that run on disparate technologies.

ENTERPRISE.

Whether it’s a global solution or a small WordPress site, we can catapult your brand to the next level. In fact, we’re even a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner for Implementation.

COMMUNITY.

Are you looking to build better customer relationships through an online community?

We’re experts in strategy, implementation, and integration – as well as being the longest standing global partner of Telligent Community.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

A SMALL TEAM WITH BIG IDEAS

"The combination of their extensive knowledge and their experience with a diverse client base has been invaluable, supporting everything from development on small and
large projects, to consulting on our roadmap and strategy. 4 Roads have been responsive, timely and always willing to go the extra mile, we cannot recommend them enough."

Magnus-Andreas Sølvberg Aase, AFS Intercultural Programs

Online communities

CONSULTATION

If you are implementing yourself, our strategic advice will set you on the road to long-term success.

Our consultation service will help you:

  • Understand your community
  • Identify the opportunities

We can then offer strategic direction before and during implementation to:

  • Provide a clear community focus
  • Ensure community engagement
  • Safeguard innovation
  • Help promote your community socially
  • Help monetise your community
  • Futureproof your community’s development

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementation is our core offering. If you’d like us to implement a community solution on your behalf we can take full responsibility for the project.

Alternatively, we’re happy to augment an internal team, offering our experience to enrich your own capabilities as we implement in partnership.

Our implementation process relies on:

  • Agile project methodologies
  • Regular client interaction
  • Driving high-quality results quickly and efficiently
  • Focusing on accelerating time to market
  • Ensuring clients stay within budget

INTEGRATIONS

We’ve been Telligent partners since 2004 and Sitecore Certified Solution Partners since 2016, so we know a thing or two about adding community features to Sitecore websites.

If you run – or are about to implement – a Sitecore-powered site, we can help you add forums, blogs, wikis, chat, gamification elements and so much more…

Read more about our work with Telligent and Sitecore

Bespoke solutions

INTEGRATIONS

Our expert developers can create a wholly new system to ensure different technology solutions work together intuitively.

SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

Whether you’re starting with a blank sheet of paper, or planning to make use of existing software as you introduce a new application or technology, we have the development knowledge and experience to create new solutions to help transform your business.

WE ARE EXPERTS IN BRINGING YOUR AUDIENCE CLOSER

We have over 20 years experience in developing engagement solutions.

Delivering the best digital experience to your audiences is everything. Whether that’s customers, prospects, partners or employees, businesses today must simplify, modernise and automate their engagement solutions to help drive deeper loyalty, enhance business performance, accelerate processes, and position them above the competition. To find out how your organisation can bring your audience closer, we are offering a thirty-minute complimentary digital consultation with our experts in engagement solutions.

Software Implementations

SITECORE

As a Sitecore Certified Solution Partner, we’re can create a truly responsive website.  Combining a CMS with analytics and automation features for enhanced engagement and personalisation, will turn your website into a lead generation and optimisation engine.

We can also help you manage the transition to using the Sitecore Experience Platform.

Our overall Sitecore offering includes:

  • Implementation
  • Training
  • Ongoing support

WEBSITE DESIGN 

Our design and development experts deliver solutions for both B2B and B2C clients. Here are a few of the ways we create stunning websites:

  • We use NET and PHP solutions
  • We develop on open source platforms – like Umbraco and WordPress
  • We also develop on closed source and bespoke platforms
  • Our coders are experienced with ASP, ASP.NET, PHP, HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript
  • Our sites incorporate SEO, social media, mobile and other tools

E-COMMERCE

We have a wealth of experience in creating e-commerce platforms that really deliver. We can help you with:

  • Conversion rate optimisation
  • User experience design
  • Creating bespoke features
  • Integrating your site with an e-comms solution

Contact us on  0808 189 2044 to discuss your digital requirements.

WHY WORK WITH 4-ROADS?

Successful Projects
Cups of Tea Consumed Annually
Community Users Worldwide
Years of Operation

What our customers say

Our latest thinking and insights

smartglasses

Could Augmented Reality Give Smartglasses The Break They Need At The Opera?

Luke Briggs, Developer at 4 Roads gives his thoughts on how Smartglasses could get the break they need at the Opera.

Let’s be honest – smartglasses just haven’t caught on in the general consumer world. Few people want to have something relatively bulky and distracting all over their face. Whilst this is something that can just be put down to the technology not really being ready yet, it could also be because it’s not targeting the right market at the moment either. Maybe augmented reality in the form of smart glasses could start to gain some more traction by being used in places where overlaid information significantly improves someone’s experience, and one such place could well be the Opera.

I recently had the joy of being able to take my mum to experience La Boheme in New York. We were both first timers so neither of us had any idea of what was really happening. However, the MET Opera like many Opera houses has installed a subtitle system – a minimally invasive setup which displays translated subtitles on the rear of seats. To well versed Opera goers these systems are somewhat controversial, but to newbies and Opera-lite users they have become rather essential. The unfortunate thing is the UX of using these just isn’t great. When you’re looking at the stage, you can’t see the subtitles. When you’re looking at the subtitles, you can’t see the stage.

There’s a breathtaking scene where some 300 people are present in the stage area and the constant activity meant I didn’t look at the subtitles at all and just enjoyed it for the spectacle that it was. This separation of information made me think that overlaying the subtitles would be significantly easier – it would still have to be personal so they can be translated and not visible at all for the people who just don’t want them. That then quickly made me think of Google Glass and a quick search revealed a great piece from the Verge about exploring smartglasses at the Opera: (https://www.theverge.com/2014/6/27/5848964/a-night-at-the-opera-with-google-glass). Fortunately the project appears to be continually growing – I find it fascinating that such classic entertainment as the Opera is still subject to innovation right on the forefront of technology; I for one would certainly love to try it out!
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Self-Service for Online Communities. Embrace the robots, but keep the humans

Artificial Intelligence is something of a buzz term around online communities right now.

The promise of a utopian community paradise where 99.9% of a community managers workload is managed by super-intelligent algorithms, leaving them free to bask in the sun of ultimate member approval and attend year-long digital nomad retreats seems within reach.

The Artificial Intelligence juggernaut is coming, and with it will come the rise of Intelligent Self-Service (ISS)

What Is Intelligent Self-Service? Is Skynet Coming For Us?!

Fear not, we aren’t facing the apocalypse just yet. Intelligent Self-Service links together a plethora of exciting emerging smart technology that is powered by an open source Artificial Intelligence engine.

At its heart, ISS takes the self-service piece into the assisted service area allowing your member to sit in the driving seat and control the journey. ISS allows your members to choose the path that is right for them.

Let’s look at some of the features of an I.S.S. ecosystem:

  • Public forums
  • Blogs
  • Knowledge base hubs
  • Chatbots
  • Automated telephony
  • Intelligent virtual assistants

If this looks exciting you’re in good company, not least because this approach lets the user select the channel of their choice whether that be online, in-store or at an event. The use of the word ecosystem is very deliberate; no matter where your customers are or how they want to get efficient, accurate and cost-effective answers they can.

Artificial Intelligence plays a crucial role in this evolving landscape. It is constantly learning from customer interactions and joining tools to become smarter and more accurate, not to mention giving 24/7 coverage.

But Proceed With Caution For Online Communities

When dealing with automated learning data at scale (you can call this Big Data if you like, but it’s really just… data) there’s a tendency for communities to be measured by grouping people together and making certain assumptions about their patterns of behaviour. There’s a balance to be struck.

Is This Valuable? Absolutely.

We swim in a world of incredible analytics that can show us, in real time, what people are doing and how they do it.

Does It Miss The Point? Occasionally.

Many communities focus on the numbers. How many members? 500 in the last week! Yay! How many active users posted in the last hour? 67%! Yay!

Did those members provide true value to the community? Erm…not sure. The data doesn’t show that exactly.

Don’t Hammer The Flowers

Artificial Intelligence is, of course, reliant on a constant supply of clean, rich data that it can process, learn from and use to make calculated decisions. But it still relies on humans to add the level of empathy and understanding which makes the user experience valuable.

The machine layer offers community strategists power – think Tony Stark’s suit in Iron Man. Used as a tool, it can liberate our time for work that demands a human touch – essential to build that human infrastructure of interconnected ecosystems.

But the Iron Man scenario only works if community professionals help drive the creation of AI – behaviourists alongside technologists to shape nuanced, contextually astute intelligences that consider where the human begins and the machine ends.

And it only works if we introduce machines at the right moments and the right contexts.
Let’s not hammer the flowers. There’s plenty of nails to hit.

Community Management expert and SWARM co-founder Vanessa Peach.

The challenge with AI is when it is considered an either/or solution for your audience. Can it take over large parts of a monotonous process, on-boarding users quicker and using machine learning to serve them answers? Of course. Can it make the user journey contextual? Absolutely. Does this cover everyone’s needs? No.

Organisations that build the most effective AI and ISS systems understand that a blended technology solution with a level of effective human input produces the most trustworthy solution for your customers, with your team able to adopt a much more strategic position in shaping the big goals, rather than slogging it out at the coalface.

Emotion AI

Emotion AI, also known as Affective Computing is the next wave of development in attempting to recognise and show human emotions to make interaction and engagement more natural. It will certainly become part of the ISS ecosystem, as 2017’s Pepper Bot example begins to show:

Summary

Embracing Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Self-Service Solutions right now will put companies firmly ahead of the curve from competitors, and vastly improve their customer’s experience. The companies that will thrive long term are those who also understand the role and value blending human interaction and strategic input has in building a successful outcome.

As a final reminder, here’s what Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the world authorities on building brands and companies, said in December 2018 about the importance of humans:

Gary V

The Rise of Intelligent Self-Service 

The rise of Intelligent Self-Service: leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, knowledge management and more to empower customers to help themselves.

At 4 Roads, we have always helped our customers to form closer relationships with their customers through use of innovative technology. We’ve helped dozens of organisations across the globe revolutionise the way they interact with their customers, enabling them to resolve their enquiry and provide access to invaluable insights.

Since we were formed in 2004, we have witnessed first hand how self-service is becoming the first choice for consumers. After all, in todays digital age, customers want answers now, not tomorrow. That is why, over the past 12 months, we have been extending our services to include Intelligent Self-Service.

Also known as ISS, intelligent self-service solutions encompass several different technologies including chatbots, AI, online communities, knowledge management and more. Intelligent self-service helps customers resolve their enquiry or question in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, within the right context and on the channel of their choice.

During 2018, we have refined our ISS offering and are actively working with forward thinking organisations who are investing in self-service channels and looking to seamlessly integrate them into the user journey. Check out how we created a bespoke self-service platform, featuring artificial intelligence and chatbots for Hitachi Vantara.

Our opinion piece on The Drum, is perfect for more information on what Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) is. The article explains the fundamentals of ISS and how it can be implemented to truly benefit your company. Read the full article here to learn about intelligent self-service.

As premium members of The Drum, 4 Roads are collaborating with them in order to share our expertise with the wider industry by creating insightful and engaging content. Do let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like us to cover in the comments. 

Also, check out the News and Insights on the 4 Roads blog to see what we’re up too and delve into our previous work here.

Community Building Mistakes

Online Community Building

Online Community Building: How to avoid common mistakes

Successful online community building is a careful and considered process where it’s important to start small, measure and evolve. Too many organisations have a vision of monolithic proportion where they believe they can get thousands of members through the doors on day one who will be there months later.

It’s all too common for mistakes to be made that become costly, both in terms of investment and wasted work hours, that derail the potential and create a member and internal stakeholder apathy toward the community.

Here, we’ll look at some of the things not to do if you want to give your blueprint the best chance of success.

Do Not: Assume everyone gets it

This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? You’ve already been given the green light to get going so why would you need to ask this question?

Here’s the thing though; for a large number of your organisation, they have never actually been shown what an online community is and what it can do. Often, they’ll assume it’s some form of social media (it isn’t) or a flight of fancy from someone out of their pay grade and disconnect from it.

Too few organisations understand the importance of positioning the online community plan with the entire team. By defining what an online community is, explaining how it will help not only customers or members but the team themselves, and giving some examples of how an online community drives value in real case studies you will generate genuine interest and support from day one.

Take a look at this recent report by The Community Roundtable. It shows how a community can positively impact and add value to your entire organisation.

From the report:

“community programs that fall within the customer service department, for example, provide benefits not only for marketing (91 per cent of the time) and knowledge management (59 per cent of the time) but also for the learning and development function (35 per cent of the time).”

Source: Community Roundtable — State of Community Report 2018

Let people ask as many questions as they want. Take notes on particular concerns and capture challenges they would like to solve. Ensure people leave the room fully understanding what this could be for the organisation, the members, but also for them.

Do Not: Drown in data

We live in an incredible age of data. Tools can show per second feedback on what people are doing in your community and help guide your resources and growth.

There’s a keyword in there: “people”.

Data is terrific at giving us a snapshot of what the masses are doing and that’s important. However, the online community grows and succeeds when this is balanced in capturing the stories of real people doing real things.

When new members are looking to join and current members to stay, how many members you have, or what your average daily posting rate last week was like is less appealing than reading a compelling story that emotionally connects with them.

Likewise, when you’re reporting the success of your community back to the internal stakeholders, being able to pull out incredible user experiences is not only valuable for the community programme but can give other departments, like marketing, real-world stories that no competitor has.

Do Not: Ignore the power of your members

These are the people using your products and services on the shop floor. They can help solve problems, suggest improvement and even help identify opportunities for new products or services for your brand. They are the most powerful focus group you have. However…

Do Not: Make promises that can’t be delivered

It’s tempting to say yes to everyone on everything to make them engage and stick around. This quickly creates an expectation and any attempt to alter this will create a feeling that “the team used to listen and now they don’t care”.

Be fair to them. Ensure they know they feel valued and intrinsic to your brand but be clear that not everything can be done. Members like to be treated fairly and will respond accordingly.

Do Not: Underestimate the value of a community manager

This is not a social media manager. It isn’t someone from Marketing who got pulled in. This is a dedicated and highly respected role that has a very defined skill set. Under-budgeting in this area can easily derail a community project and destroy brand reputation amongst members.

A good community manager understands how to grow a community that lasts and can guide you through the content, moderation, engagement and metric challenges that will come.

Summary

When building an online community, what you shouldn’t do is as important as what you should. Helping the internal team understand what a community is, showing the effect it can have for the whole organisation and investing in a community manager will cement the foundations for success.

Likewise, valuing what your members can do and understanding that telling the stories, successes, challenges and experiences of real people can set your community apart from those who drown in data.

For more information on how we build bespoke community platforms for associations and organisations, and to receive your free appraisal, click here.

Showcasing Artificial Intelligence At Hitachi Vantara’s NEXT2018

4 Roads has had an incredible experience working with Hitachi Vantara on some very innovative projects recently.

We have created a bespoke self-service platform, featuring artificial intelligence and chatbots, which was used on their official event stand, at their global sales conference event, ‘Next 2018’ in San Diego.

Next 2018 specialised in the Digital Revolution, providing insights into strategy, business opportunity and technological innovations.

Our bespoke intelligent self-service event solution, developed specifically for Hitachi Vantara gave users complete control over building a virtual rack at the event, on large touchscreens. The platform not only highlighted key features and selling points of Hitachi servers, but allowed delegates to configure products in real-time, initiate a chat conversation with a chatbot and escalate their enquiry, directly to a sales rep at the event if required – a fantastic customer service tool.

One of our Web Developers, Luke Briggs flew to San Diego to provide a helping hand at Next 2018 and documented his experience. Check out the video below for our journey and insight into self-service software with Hitachi Vantara.

4 Roads develops Intelligent Self-Service solutions which helps customers to resolve their enquiry or question in the most cost-effective and efficient manner; using the channel of their choice whether that be online, in-store or at an event. ​It is our goal to revolutionise the way businesses interact with their customers and partners by creating solutions that enable them to resolve their enquiry and provides companies with access to invaluable insights.​

Request your Digital Appraisal and start your journey to delivering the best digital experience to your audiences.

MemberWise Network

4 Roads Named as a Recognised Supplier to The MemberWise Network 

4 Roads are happy to announce that we are now named as a Recognised Supplier to the MemberWise Network after joining the MemberWise Community. 

MemberWise is an innovative network for membership professionals in the UK. The network provides a whole host of useful services to members ranging from access to their monthly newsletter, which provides latest news and views in the sector, to access to their exclusive online community, MemberWiseConnect, the leading online community for the association and membership sector, which enables us to benchmark current activity and participate in industry related discussions.  

We are excited to have become a supplier in the MemberWise Recognised Supplier Programme, which is delivered to the MemberWise Network via the dedicated Supplier DirectoryBeing a Recognised Supplier provides us with visibility to over 20,000 horizon-searching membership organisations/associations and the opportunity to engage with the 5,000+ membership organisation/association members.  

We have already started to make the most of our membership – we had the pleasure to attend the Digital Excellence 2018 Conference, where industry-leading experts offered insights into membership organisations and community engagement. Participating in conferences not only keeps us up to date with industry news and technology advancements etc, but also creates great opportunities to meet others in the digital sector, plus gives 4 Roads a chance to connect with membership organisations directly. James Browne, Client Services Director at 4 Roads reflects on some of the interesting and also alarming findings from the conference which can be found in his blog post.

Being a member of the network provides 4 Roads with a chance to share our content and experiences via the MemberWise blog. The collaborative project provides innovative membership organisation and association-specific articles from membership and association professionals, influencers, thought-leaders and solution providers. It is a great place to pick up handy tips to improve member recruitment, retention, value, engagement and growth – so watch out for our guest blogs coming soon!  

Having a vast amount of experience on community strategy, development and implementation, in the membership organisation industry (such as our more recent work with the British Medical Association and Nordic Semiconductor) we are very excited to begin sharing our own ideas and experiences in this community of professionals and to meeting many other members in the future.  

For more information on how we build bespoke community platforms for associations and organisations, and to receive your free appraisal, click here.

CONTACT US

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