Interactive Support of the Photonics Industry
Posted on 2020-05-07 as a part of the Photonics Spotlight (available as e-mail newsletter!)
Permanent link: https://www.rp-photonics.com/spotlight_2020_05_07.html
Abstract: RP Photonics supports many companies and research groups with digital services. Additional interactive methods have been implemented to further increase the benefits.
It is well known that RP Photonics supports the photonics industry very much – not only paying customers in the business areas of technical consulting and simulation software, but also without any cost through the website, mainly with the RP Photonics Encyclopedia. Behind that is the conviction that being useful for others often pays back sooner or later. Indeed, that has worked very well over the years, and some ways we now expand that further.
Questions and Comments
In recent months, I have developed more ideas how to make our activities even more interactive. A couple of weeks ago, that led me to the idea of actively encouraging users of the encyclopedia (and people reading other articles) not only to enter feedback, but also to submit questions of general interest. Every encyclopedia article now ends with a section titled “Questions and Comments from Users”; the focus is on questions. Now, it typically happens several times per day that someone submits a question which I consider as useful for the general public, and then normally answer within one or two working days.
Questions of users often help me to understand what important aspects are still missing in an article, or what should be explained more clearly. I treat some of the questions by just improving the related article. It also happens that people make me aware of some errors, e.g. just some typo, and I am happy to correct such things quickly.
It seems that many researchers and industrial people appreciate very much that convenient new way of quickly resolving certain issues encountered in their work. Some people even hope to get more complex problems solved by deferring such jobs to me, but I can of course not spend unlimited time on free technical consultancy.
Digitally Delivered Training Courses
For many years, I have offered tailored training courses, and I consider those as some of the most productive things I can do for my customers. Within e.g. one or to course days, the competence of the whole team can be boosted.
Usually, I perform such courses on the client's site. However, particularly when I am asked by clients in the United States, I always check whether it is possible to deliver such a course through the Internet. It is not only that I like to avoid the hassles of traveling; a substantial amount of CO2 emissions can be avoided that way.
Further, there can be substantial flexibility gains. For example, a customer wants asked me to deliver a two-day course in California, spread over four half days within two weeks. That would definitely not be feasible if I would need to travel there, but doing it online was no problem at all. I even recommend that we split courses into reasonably short sections, so that the participants find it easier to concentrate and have opportunities to digest and discuss things between those sections.
Now, in times of the coronavirus crisis, digitally delivered courses are even more important:
- They allow R & D teams to further develop their technical and scientific skills while progress in the lab is slowed down by various factors.
- Such courses can be delivered to each participant separately, e.g. with a notebook in the home office.
- Continuing education also becomes more essential if plans must be adapted, for example focusing on new developments where the available skills are not yet sufficient.
A focus on digital methods of interaction is of course particularly useful in times of the coronavirus crisis. In particular, that holds for our important area of digital photonics marketing. I recently published on Photonics Marketing in Times of the Coronavirus Crisis, and since then various companies have started engaging with our ad package. Obviously, digital marketing has become even more important at a time where other options have faded away. People are now more actively searching for productive ways of utilizing their marketing resources in that area, and saved expenses from canceled exhibitions are used that way.
I now also started using Twitter with the identity @RP_Photonics. You may want to follow me there in order to get various kinds of updates and hands. You can also use that medium to exchange ideas and questions with me. I imagine that people may want to send me some photonics questions of general interest, which I then answer their – possibly with a link to a webpage.
I hesitated for a longer while to start with Twitter, since my impression is that Twitter is not that extensively used in photonics – and where it is, mostly not in a truly interactive way. Nevertheless, it may be useful e.g. to add postings there when I have any news – for example, new encyclopedia or blog articles. While some prefer to get such things through an e-mail newsletter and others use RSS or look around at Facebook, some may be more set up for Twitter. Already, I spread such updates via Facebook and LinkedIn. And maybe it will develop into something more interactive – depending on the engagement of people like you!
Some Technical Remarks
We have recently improved various details of our newsletter mailing system. For example, each mail is now separately sent out, and each mailing is temporally spread over several hours. Further, our server has been equipped with a so-called SPF record, helping the receiving mail servers to confirm that the claimed message origin is genuine. We hope that fewer messages will be lost in spam filters that way.
Unfortunately, we currently detect increased attempts of spreading spam and nasty phishing mails by abusing our high reputation: many people are currently receiving fraudulent e-mails which claim to have been sent from the rp-photonics.com domain. Presumably, most recipients easily recognize from various signals that those males cannot be from us. Some of them have contacted us to check the situation – which is in case of doubt of course a good method to deal with such things.
Unfortunately, we cannot prevent gangsters from sending out such mails, claiming that they are from us. Of course, they use their own mail servers for that, over which we have no control whatsoever. (To my best knowledge, our servers have never been hacked in the whole company history, although we do monitor frequent attempts.) We can only maintain our consistent communication style and implement a couple of technical measures (such as SPF records) in order to differentiate our own mails from the others.
This article is a posting of the Photonics Spotlight, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page and cite it, because its location is permanent. See also the RP Photonics Encyclopedia.
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