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‘Infrastructure’ is a missing link in attracting the right talent

By Matt Young >>

DESPITE concerns about the local and global economy, Australian CEOs are bullish about revenue and staff growth over the next few years.

About 70 percent expect revenue growth, while a quarter expect to increase headcount by up to 10 percent, according to a KPMG survey of almost 1,300 chief executives. 

One of the big challenges of course, is hiring the right people to sustain this growth. Identifying, attracting and holding onto the best people is vital to the elusive formula of business success. 

And it’s a challenge that is growing more complex. Coupled with skills shortages in a number of areas, CEOs and large businesses in Australia need to change the way they attract talent. Gone are the days where a job for life, with standard increments and a nice pension pot at the end of it all, are enough.

The millennial generations coming through the gate don’t have dreams of walking through the same door of the corner office or the ivory tower five days a week for 40 years like the generations of old.

Globalisation has created a worldwide marketplace, but this has conversely complicated the hiring process for businesses as they’re all now fishing in the same pond.

Businesses now need to sell themselves to top talent to recruit it. For many, this involves a powerful human resources (HR) team and human capital management (HRM) software systems. The workplace environment has been adapted to suit the needs of the ‘rock stars of the business’ these processes bring in.

Flexible working seems a big selling point, and it resonates with newer generations – you can work from anywhere, any time. If you do decide to come into the office, why not bring your dog with you, take some time out in our custom-built gym, coffee hub or breakout room?

Even with this, the challenges remain. Is it possible that businesses are missing a simpler trick?

Companies have been quick to jump on the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture and provide laptops, smartphones, tablets and wearables to suit today’s workforce. This is the front-end, the user experience.

Supporting the front-end is the far less interesting but equally important back-end, the datacentre infrastructure that supports these devices and the ever-increasing amount of data and workloads businesses create.

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ENTERPRISE

While companies are happy to shell out for the latest and greatest devices, many rely on outdated infrastructure that simply cannot support their digital goals.

Young hires today are typically born in the 1990s, and this will soon shift to the 2000s. We’re talking about digital natives here, people who grew up with technology and the internet being part-and-parcel of daily life.

They’re unlikely to know the nostalgic sound of an Internet dialup modem, what a floppy disc looks like, and may never have listened to a cassette or had to rewind a videotape at the end of a movie.

Technology is second nature to these digital natives. They’re accustomed to it being always-on and have no time for lag, loading or downtime. They don’t need to know how it works, just that it works, and these expectations can create problems when old infrastructure disrupts their technology experience in the workplace.

Sluggish back-office systems, waiting for simple word docs and PDFs to load, not being able to connect to the server from home, jitter when streaming or video conferencing are issues modern workers simply won’t tolerate.

Research from Deloitte shows that investing in and using the latest technology is among a list of key reasons millennials would choose to work for an organisation. Others high on the list include a good work/life balance, flexibility and professional development training programs – all of which can be enabled through technology.

That means more than the latest gadgets – the back-end and front-end must both be taken into account. You wouldn’t put low-quality fuel into a brand-new Ferrari.

NATURAL PROGRESSION

The availability of more modern enterprise infrastructure shouldn’t come as a huge surprise for Australian businesses. We’ve all been using public cloud services for years now, and newer but still well-established innovations such as enterprise cloud and modular data centres have been on the radar for a while.

But still, so many don’t avail of these technologies and this creates an imbalance between the digital strategy they want to roll out, and the infrastructure in place to support it.

The problems go deeper than irritating workers – inefficiency, a lack of resilience and failover leading to costly outages, and unnecessary, unautomated grunt work are common issues that stem from yesterday’s infrastructure supporting today’s environment.

Infrastructure is not the first thing CEOs think about when it comes to the hiring process, but getting it right could be the key to separating yourself from the noise and setting the right tone to bring the best talent into your business.

www.nutanix.com

  • Matt Young is head of Asia Pacific and Japan for Nutanix, an enterprise cloud platform company that helps business utilise ICT convergence for better organisational outcomes.
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Why it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top for CEOs

By John Karagounis >>

LONELINESS was one of the first things I noticed when I started working closely with CEOs a decade ago, right at the height of the global financial crisis (GFC). Not my loneliness, but theirs.

Many were feeling the intense pressure that was coming to bear on the corporate world at that time. These highly intelligent and competent people, who seemingly had it all, were feeling emotionally isolated. 

Many confided in me that they felt they had no one to talk to, no one who could relate to them. 

It was an exceptional time because the GFC put an incredible amount of pressure on everyone in corporate management, especially chief executives.

However, this feeling of loneliness is about more than dealing with the external pressures of an event like the GFC. It’s something many CEOs feel at an existential level.

Over the past decade as the CEO and managing director of The CEO Circle, I have interacted with more than 500 CEOs around the country. At The CEO Circle, we bring them together in confidential surrounds to connect, share, learn, develop and grow for their greater personal, professional and organisational success.

They tell me nothing prepares them for their role. There is no manual, no handbook, no preparation whatsoever.

When they start in the role, they soon realise it’s the loneliest job in the world. They have a yearning to connect and engage with like-minded CEOs because they understand that the best advice they could possibly receive is from their peers, who have been where they are and empathise with what they are going through.

This sense of loneliness and the need for connection is something I have explored in my new book Why I Wrote This Book: For Greater Success.

These captains of industry possess incredible skills and capabilities, have deep insights and are fully equipped to run billion-dollar companies. But do they understand the essence of connecting?

The short answer is generally no. They’re usually not good networkers. There are exceptions; those few with gregarious, extrovert personalities or those who really commit to the task.

However, the reality is most do not invest time in connecting and engaging with people on a proactive basis. They do it when a need arises, like when they lose their job.

It’s at this stage of their journey where reality hits hard. Suddenly they feel isolated and alone.

But there are three key things CEOs can do to mitigate this loneliness: learn to network properly; stay involved and active in the outside world; and genuinely appreciate people.

What does it mean to network properly? Networking has a bad name for some because social media platforms like LinkedIn have made it easy to just click ‘accept’ and believe that is the extent of it. This is networking at its most superficial.

Networking is about building meaningful and mutually beneficial professional relationships that will stand the test of time. It might start with clicking ‘accept’ or swapping cards but it has to go deeper. Think quality, not quantity.

Work on connections where you can bring real value to the table. Don’t think about networking as a means of profiting from a relationship; start thinking about it as a means of giving something to a relationship. Giving is the essence of connecting.

Why should you stay involved in the world beyond your workplace? Because this is your life support system. Your friends and your family provide the buffer between you and the often harsh realities of work. I’m not a believer in the concept of work/life balance as such; I believe it is more about integration and finding harmony. Part of this harmony is making sure you don’t shut out the people in your life who are special to you.

I would extend this to things like hobbies and community activities too. These things give you a chance to switch out of work mode and dive into another aspect of your life, connecting you to different people and having different relationships than those you would have at work.

Do you genuinely appreciate people? My wonderful friend Jon Burgess espouses this simple ideal: “Who matters? Everyone matters.” This is at the base of what it means to connect and engage, and to move beyond feelings of loneliness and isolation.

It is about genuinely appreciating not only the people in your immediate circle, but also the wider world. Chatting with a stranger in an airport lounge; making time to really hear what a client has to say; or talking to your kids and their friends to get a new perspective on the world. These interactions can bring colour to your world when it starts feeling grey.

 

Loneliness is a silent pain. By reaching out to give, share, and connect, you open the door to a community of people around you. Share yourself with these people and you will be richly rewarded in return.

 

* John Karagounis is the CEO and managing director of The CEO Circle, an exclusive peer group forum for business leaders. www.theceocircle.com

 

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Consider the physical risks of cybersecurity

By Lyndon Broad >>

CYBERSECURITY is a hot topic. Businesses of all sizes are becoming acutely aware of the damage caused by data loss, leakage and theft.

They are aware of the threat posed by malicious intrusions such as denial of service attacks and ransomware infections.

Business leaders know they need to develop strategies based on technology, processes and education to mitigate these risks. Yet many fail to make the link between digital and physical risks. 

Protecting business systems from unauthorised physical access is a vital first step in preventing malicious or inadvertent damage.

To properly mitigate cyber risks, it makes sense to adopt an engineering-based approach. This should include three levels of cyber-risk assessment – physical, information security and industrial control systems.

 

SHUTTING THE DOOR

So while businesses must be alert to the risks presented by high-profile ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya, or employees opening emails containing malicious code, they should also be shutting the door on unnecessary physical exposure.

A recent story in the Seattle Times highlights the cyber risks posed by physical breaches. Washington State University warned a million people that their personal data may have been accessed by thieves who stole a safe.

This contained a backup drive used by the university’s Social and Economic Sciences Research Center.

FM Global is developing a risk assessment framework to cover all aspects of cyber security risk. We currently conduct physical assessments on all commercial and industrial properties we insure, supplemented with a digital security risk assessment which is about to be released.

We’ll start assessing industrial control system risks in 2018. Our analytics team is working with external cybersecurity experts to gather intelligence and develop this comprehensive framework.

The FM Global research team then apply our proven loss-prevention approach to create thorough account-level cyber-risk assessments.

Our approach extends beyond providing insurance coverage that helps clients manage risk. We also provide coverage for loss of business due to a cyberattack.

For example, if a large manufacturer’s industrial control systems fell victim to a malware attack, we would cover loss of production as well as the hardware damage.

 

COMMON MISTAKES

We have recently started physical assessments of cyber risk at client premises. These have revealed a number of common mistakes that are easily prevented:   

 

  • Having a network port on a door intercom.
  • Unsecured server rooms.
  • Server racks installed in open areas.
  • Easily accessible cables and ports.
  • Data backups stored in accessible areas.
  • Infrequently used building entrances that are unsecured.

 

Our in-depth research and physical assessments show how the physical component of cyber risk is often overlooked.

This exposes companies to considerable financial and reputational damage.

We encourage all businesses to evaluate the physical risks inside their doors and implement solutions to protect their future.

 

  • Lyndon Broad is the operations manager at FM Global, a business insurance, loss prevention and risk management organisation that uses engineering rather than actuarial principles to help protect organisations.

www.fmglobal.com.au

 

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Start-ups don’t need money – they need customers

STEVE ARTHUR knows a lot about start-ups – successful and otherwise – and he has some unusual words of advice for those starting a new business, well informed by experience.

“You don’t need money to start a new business, you need customers,” Mr Arthur said.

In fact, Mr Arthur – who was involved with the launch of natural fruit blended producer Nudie and is the founder of Australia’s first co-working and incubator site, Desk Space – has distilled what he calls “unusual advice for start-ups” from his observations and experiences.

“So many people think that if you don’t have capital, you can’t start a business,” Mr Arthur said. 

“This is incorrect. Any new idea or concept needs to be reverse engineered initially.

“If you do this and you can work out that you have a customer, you can start a company, because this is how you will generate revenue.”

While being involved with five of his own start-ups, Mr Arthur has been involved with advising and overseeing more than 200 other new businesses. 

This vast spread of experience has largely come about through his involvement with Desk Space companies. He described Desk Space, founded in 2009, as “a hybrid between a co-working space and incubator”. He said it operated as a “transitional space – from what you are doing now to what you could be doing next”.

Today, the members of Desk Space are known to collectively turn over more than $100 million a year.

Mr Arthur said while the expression ‘cash is king’ was the most common catch phrase heard when starting up a new business adventure, it was “an antiquated view for anyone thinking about their first entrepreneurial steps”. 

His five top tips for start-up entrepreneurs may be initially viewed as unusual, but they are borne of hard experience, covering how to save money, how to attract grants, attracting investors, offering equity partnerships and moving on to licensing.

By using the five tips, Mr Arthur believes start-ups can “cut to the chase” and more rapidly drive their businesses.

www.deskspace.com.au

 

UNUSUAL TOP 5 TIPS TO START A NEW BUSINESS

Steve Arthur’s unusual top five tips to start a new business are:

 

WHITE LABEL

“Use existing technology so there is no need to spend on web developers. White labels are pre built platforms that allow you to put your brand over the top. The hard work and the bulk of the cost is already done for you.”

 

GOVERNMENT GRANTS

“The government wants to drive start-ups. Each State has its own way of funding and assisting start-ups, so don’t miss out on these opportunities.”

 

INVESTORS

“People believe this is the hardest way to raise money. If you are prepared, know your product and market, and you have perseverance, people will want to invest money with you.” 

 

DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIPS

“Offer equity in your business to other people. They will assist with setting up the business in the areas you are weak in and at the same time provide you with a service.”

 

LICENSING

“Look for companies abroad and offer to be their Australian arm. You can use their name, knowledge, skills. They can use your knowledge of the Australian market.”

 

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