By Leon Gettler >>

COMPANIES need to reconsider their print strategies with the growth of mobile employees and remote workforces

Adam O’Neill, the managing director of Y Soft, said it was particularly critical with the ‘bring-your-own-device’ movement sweeping through the workforce, where people are bringing their own technology to work with them.

“We are talking about whether they’re travelling staff, field first staff such as sales and services personnel, we’re seeing an increase in activity-based work environments where staff internally are moving from location to location – and all those things naturally direct staff to devices with greater battery life and something that’s a bit more mobile to carry,” Mr O’Neill told Talking Business

“So when a business looks at what to implement from a print strategy, they need to look at how their staff is working and what their preference is.

“The other thing they need to consider is what paper-based workflows does the business use at the moment.” 

He said while there had been an anticipation that print was reducing, this had not happened to the degree the market had anticipated.

Mr O’Neill said the key was to develop systems that would allow employees to seamlessly and securely use the company’s printers from anywhere in the world, using their own mobile device.

This meant replicating their existing workflow from a laptop on a mobile device.

PRINT POLICY VITAL

Mr O’Neill said implementing a print management system combined with a print policy within the organisation would reduce printing costs.

“One way of doing that is assessing those reports, having a look at what we might deem to be unnecessary printing, like printing emails in colour, and then implementing a rule that would automatically enforce that and say change your colour email to black and white, just to reduce costs, and so on,” Mr O’Neill said.

He said this was easy to implement but the biggest issue was change management, addressing that human element and assisting people with that change.

One of the biggest challenges was being able to change the process of the paper coming out of the machine and having the print job come out of any device.

“It is a change to how people work and that has to be addressed through, I guess, education,” he said.

This tended to involve just short training sessions and advising people why the change was being implemented, whether it was cost driven, environmentally driven, convenience driven or a combination of all three.

In the end, Mr O’Neill said, it boiled down to internal advertising.

Done properly, it would ease costs by putting less pressure on the help desk, he said. 

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

By Leon Gettler >>

How does a small florist start-up disrupt Australia’s flower industry? Through technology and artificial intelligence.

Rob Lambert has done exactly that through his online business Flowers Across Australia.

The team behind Flowers Across Melbourne – who set out to completely disrupt the flower industry 10 years ago – has quadrupled the size of their business in five years, averaging a growth of 42 percent year on year in that time and now employ 40 staff.

The directors are a married couple, Rob being the tech ecommerce genius (who taught himself to code) and his wife Nadina, a florist.   

Flowers Across Melbourne are one of the biggest florists in Melbourne and have one of the largest ranges of flower and plants in Australia. The team has sent out 300,000-plus bouquets and arrangements since its inception. They have two sister companies based in Melbourne, Plants Across Melbourne, and Hampers Across Melbourne as well as a branch in Sydney called Flowers Across Sydney.

As well as managing the four ecommerce websites, Rob Lambert has also custom built his own app which tracks employee KPIs and happiness, via the iPads that all the florists use across the company.

And while most florists use Interflora, Flowers Across Australia made the intentional split because it wanted to control the process.

“The florist industry, when I started building the app, was very old school,” Mr Lambert told Talking Business. “We wanted to make it run better, run more smoothly with less mistakes.

“So we started building the app and started building KPIs. So every florist in the store has an iPad. We batch process orders, we have an automated system to give them the most urgent orders.

“The system itself understands when the next driver is coming in. The machine is doing that in the background. It’s trying to understand who I should give this arrangement to because we have different levels of florist as well.

“We want to make it more streamlined, it’s all about the customer experience.”

Mr Lambert said the business had grown spectacularly over the last 10 years, quadrupling in size. He said the next phase of growth was to move into Brisbane and Adelaide.

Flowers Across Australia sends flowers across Sydney and Melbourne, covering a 20km radius around both cities.

Most of the orders come in online, but some come in on the phone.

Flowers Across Australia also operates a gifting business, providing teddy bears, candles, and wine with the flowers.

“It makes a lot of sense because we have the logistical ability to do that,’’ Mr Lambert said. 

“Not everybody wants flowers all the time. There are different occasions where a hamper might be more appropriate.”

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

By Leon Gettler >>

IN 2004, Townsville local Luke Anear transformed his workplace health and safety consultancy into a software start-up, SafetyCulture.

The firm started in a garage and Mr Anear is determined to keep it that way.

The firm has developed iAuditor and Spotlight, innovative, low-cost, mobile-first applications that allow users to create safe and efficient workplaces by conducting centralised audits and, in real-time, quickly evaluating safety and quality.

“I used to be a private investigator spying on people who had been injured at work and thought this was pretty crazy … waiting for people to get injured and then spying on them,” Mr Anear told Talking Business.

“I created a training document business for the Australian construction industry, and that was great, but by 2011 you could see people had a computer in their pocket and they were people who normally didn’t sit in front of a computer. 

“So I thought it was a chance to build some tools and we built a check list app – and people would download it and use it in their workplace,” he said.

“It is all human entered information and high quality stuff.”

The downside is that it relies on people to check stuff all the time, so SafetyCulture is now developing an automated system.

One of its tools, Spotlight, has schools in the US using it in a unique way. They use Spotlight for tagging a potential shooter and notifying teachers and the sheriff’s department.

“We are facilitating the flow of information that wasn’t collected before,” Mr Anear said. “The starting point was pens and paper and some people have desktop software that is quite cumbersome and takes a lot of time to use so people will avoid it.

“We’re helping people share information and making it easier and fun.”

The firm now employs 280 people and is moving into hardware and the internet of things (IoT).

He said maintaining the start-up culture of the company was all important.

“If we don’t maintain a great culture, then we don’t attract and keep those people who can build those great products coming through. It’s something we pay a lot of attention to and making sure that people who are coming in are adding to our culture.”

www.leongettler.com 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

By Neville Vincent >>

THE TECHNOLOGY industry has a habit of inventing terms and phrases that are virtually incomprehensible to those outside that inner circle.

Despite our overall lack of comprehension, these terms take off and become hot topics and ‘ones to watch’ quite easily.

Blockchain frequently dominates our headlines, due mostly to its intrinsic link to the madness around Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – but how many of us actually know what it is? 

Others are easier to understand, such as artificial intelligence (AI), though our interpretations might be skewed by some memorable fiction over the years.

One that is growing in prominence but understood by few is DevOps. It’s a concept that’s either ignored completely or labelled as ‘best left to the techies’.

However, DevOps is among the most important business-level technology trends gaining real traction, and it’s high time business leaders in Australia took notice.

SO, WHAT IS DEVOPS?

DevOps, a combination of development and operations, is less a new technology and more a culture, practice and even a movement. At its core, it’s about people first; empowering teams within business departments with digital tools they need when they need them.

Any digital service – which could include new applications to manage finance or human resources, video conferencing, data analytics, and much more – involves a number of steps to go from concept to reality. These steps are usually research, design, construct, test, deploy and manage.

Traditionally, these steps have taken a long time, a lot of blood, sweat and tears and required huge financial investment, meaning businesses needed to carefully choose which digital services they adopt.

DevOps advocates the use of automation and monitoring at all stages of development and aims for shorter cycles so that digital services aren’t such a chore and can be spun up quickly.

The key ingredient to DevOps is perhaps the overused but at least well-understood term – agility. New technologies emerge every day and businesses need to be ready to react and deploy.

GETTING STARTED

Step one to creating a successful DevOps environment is implementing a simpler, more sophisticated information technology (IT) environment.

Modern environments, such as public and private cloud and hyper-converged infrastructure, are effectively automated to the point where they don’t need ‘management’.

That means your IT team has more time to focus on building a DevOps culture.

From a financial point of view, investing in an IT environment has always been a bit of a guessing game.

CIOs had to judge the amount of resources they would need over the period of about five years and then make a case to their CFOs and management. This often meant paying for more than was needed at the start of that cycle, and potentially being stretched thin by the end of it.

Cloud is scalable and has enabled a more favourable operational expenditure (opex) system for this spend. Bite-sized investment can be made as and when needed, meaning the IT environment is never behind or ahead of business requirements.

Consuming IT in this way often means vendor consolidation, ticking another box for CFOs and business leaders.

With a scalable environment, more resources can be deployed quickly and easily to manage the applications and services that come from DevOps.

CONTAINERS

If DevOps is a poorly-comprehended term, containers are likely to be flat out baffling, but are an important tool to add to your new IT environment to help enable DevOps.

In simple terms, container services such as Kubernetes and Docker are private spaces where applications can be run in a number of different ways.

Remember our list from earlier? Research, design, construct, test, deploy and manage. In a container, these stages are easier, faster and cheaper to work through.

There’s a lot more to containerisation, but that can be left to the techies – the takeaway message here is that a container can help enable a DevOps culture.

BUILDING THE CULTURE

With the right foundation and tools in place, the vital next step is to build the culture within the organisation. While DevOps must be led by management and the IT department, it requires buy in, cooperation and communication on an interdepartmental level.

Each department must communicate what it needs from a digital transformation standpoint. This can then be assessed, and a strategy can be formed that satisfies the need in line with what’s possible and what fits in with the company’s digital roadmap.

This is less about technology and more about change management. People can be resistant to changing the status quo and most outside of the tech department won’t understand what DevOps and containers are and why they should care.

What people should understand is the benefits DevOps can deliver – speed, agility, meeting customer needs with technology, automating daily repetitive tasks, the list goes on.

Communicating these benefits and building a DevOps culture in the right way will help bring the speed and agility businesses crave, and simplify the tedious tasks of people at all levels, and that is something we can all get behind.

Neville Vincent is vice president for Australian and New Zealand, ASEAN and India for enterprise cloud company Nutanix.

Digital business insights: By John Sheridan >>

IN MANY WAYS traditional politics is dead. The ‘tennis match’ of left and right, liberal and labour, socialist and conservative continually hitting the ball backwards and forwards, shouting a lot, but not actually doing very much is not delivering the goods. 

And meanwhile the world moves on, for good and for bad. With some very large ‘wicked problems’ emerging for us all to deal with.

The times of big picture strategies and visionary leadership seem to have slipped behind us. Yet many of those initiatives still look good in hindsight – e.g. The Marshall Plan, The Square Deal, Public Health System, Free Schooling and so on. But that was then and this is now.

Times have moved on, and the digital revolution has presented us with so many new challenges and possibilities. It has connected the world. And given us a host of social levers that never existed before. 

But so far, both vision and tools have been hijacked by ‘business as usual = the 20th century’. The technology is just being applied to reinforce the way things were.

When it could be applied to open the way to a new world of possibilities, driven by vision, expedited by the new tools of the 21st century.

One of the biggest barriers to effective change is simple. 

Recognising the ‘power of one’. 

THE POWER TO DO

What can I possibly do to make a difference … little old me? This question holds so much personal energy and potential in check.

Quite a lot, actually. Because, all positive change in history started with one person.

Understand that, and then understand the potential of using internet-based tools to add leverage to individual power through collaboration. 

And the equation changes.

1=1 = ‘what can I do?’

Changes to…

1 + 1 = 2, 1+1+1 = 3, or 11 or a thousand or more = and together ‘we can do anything’.

But it starts with the ‘power of one’. That has to be first recognised and realised by each of us.

Who do we see in the mirror every morning?

An actor? Or a commentator? 

A doer or a viewer?

Work that out. Then – we can all get on with it. 

In many ways, it doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is. Acting rather than observing and commentating is refreshing, inspiring, powerful and cathartic and can lead to further action.

I am not suggesting action without vision or focus. I am simply suggesting that we do what our ancestors did 12,000 years ago and move from hunter gathering and start ‘gardening’ or ‘farming’ our limited resources with intelligence. Much like farmers and gardeners do today.

But we need to manage all the productive resources we have not just seeds, animals and soil.

Productive energy with no direction = jungle. 

Productive energy with vision and direction = garden. Farming. Agriculture. 

We need to apply that same thoughtful, considered approach to everything that we do. Economic agriculture. Social agriculture. Innovation agriculture.

POLITICAL JUNGLE?

The current ‘jungle’ condition we live in is actually not the fault of politicians – local, state or federal. 

Politicians are themselves constrained by bureaucracy and the way government works. Many politicians have good intent (not all) but are frustrated by timing, budget, factions, ideology, external influence and then the slow mechanics of bureaucratic response to ministerial direction. 

Many of us could do something in three weeks or three months that would take government 2-3 years. And they would mess it up. I spent 20 years in advertising and became used to tasks being set, responded to, creative solutions being created, then measured against a strategic brief and turned into production in 6-8 weeks.

But government doesn’t act this way. Government usually gets driven and directed by fixed ideology rather than ‘good ideas’ which can come from anywhere and do. Nobody owns good ideas.

And they seem to enjoy the theatre of politics and the adversarial ‘tennis match’ just a bit too much, forgetting the primary function of government = service, management, fixing things and delivering the goods.

For it’s a digitally, connected and interconnected world we now live in, yet government rarely views issues holistically – which is where all the ‘wicked problems’ live, so fails to fix the real issues we wrestle with in society every day. 

Just about every citizen, in every country in the world could dictate a list of the biggest problems we face. And it would look pretty much the same, no matter where the list originated. The OECD created such a list a few years ago and nothing much has changed since then.

And there is no reason at all – why collectively – we shouldn’t have a go at fixing those problems. We don’t have to wait for permission.

There are big problems, medium sized problems and small ones, and if we can tick them off one by one, then who knows what might happen. 

There is no rule that says only people that visit Davos once a year, get to discuss ways of making the world a better place to live. 

It’s back to the ‘power of one’ – me and you. That is where initiatives start.

THE RED TOOLBOX

Over the years, I have met with chairs and CEOs of corporates and they mostly have the same issues as the rest of us and the same frustrations with lack of government vision and action. So I figured if we could address these problems and frustrations together, jigsaw puzzle piece by jigsaw puzzle piece, then we may just be able to collaboratively create a big picture of solutions. That anyone can use.

That’s all the RED Toolbox is – http://theredtoolbox.org – a set of tools for anybody to use to address problems.

The framework of regions (52), sectors (19) and themes – innovation, investment, future of work, export and sustainability – is simple, deliberately so, because hardly anybody has an argument with any of those themes.

And we don’t need to elect a leader or leaders within that broad context. We just get on with it.

We just need doers. Actors. Willing to work with others. Sharing value. In the same way that ants achieve tasks with no control from the queen. They just collaborate to do stuff as it arises. 

The purpose of the RED Toolbox was just to create structure for ‘the river of ideas and projects’ (regions and sectors), with direction generated by the five themes of innovation, investment, export, future of work and jobs, and sustainability.

That simple framework allows anybody to do stuff both with and without government support, recognising that no government on the planet has yet addressed the issue of governing holistically. Which represents an opportunity for the rest of us.

Roughly 97 percent of people are good folk. About 3 percent are sociopaths and 0.3 percent are psychopaths – so we should try to leave them out of it, as much as possible and focus on the 97 percent.

And there is no need to define or restrict the projects as long as they align with the key themes.

So government policy and direction then becomes largely irrelevant. It is all about what works.

And whenever businesses and citizens start collaborating to do things, most governments tend to offer support anyway – and we should always try to give mayors and politicians flags to wave and ownership, whenever and wherever applause is due.

Keep the politicians informed, but get on with the game regardless. 

Accept the ‘power of one’. Cast off ‘fear’. Do something.

Commentators sit and debate in the stands. Players play the game on the field.

We all only have a short time here on the planet and there is more than enough to do.

So 2019, full steam ahead. Let’s get doing.

#

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 15 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the first of which launched in 2016, the Manufacturing Toolbox. DBi has now also launched a series of international online trade showcases, promoting Australian goods and services to specific countries and promoting use of those showcases in those countries. The first, just launched, is the Australia-Taiwan Trade Showcase. Coming soon are trade showcases for Japan, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and India. Australia's Regional Economic Development (RED) Toolbox has now been launched at http://theredtoolbox.org.

http://www.db-insights.com/

CONSUMER fintech application Douugh, is raising up to $5 million in working capital on the market platform Equitise to secure its US and Australian launches in 2019.

Douugh promotes itself as being ‘on a mission to democratise banking globally’ and is building what it calls a ‘smart’ bank account for consumers, leveraging open banking.

A key ingredient of the Douugh offering is its artificial intelligence-augmented ‘personal financial assistant’ smartphone and PC app named Sophie. 

Douugh’s smart banking app will offer a Mastercard debit card and full suite of everyday mobile banking functionality, which operates with Australian Government banking system-wide guarantee on deposits. Douugh is set up to offer multiple enhanced and unique features that focus on helping users pay off debt, spend less, save and build wealth.

The Sophie AI service offers what Douugh calls “real time insights and notifications, learning how you spend money and understanding your goals to help you get ahead”.

Currently in private beta testing mode in the US and having just announced its global tie up with Mastercard, Douugh is now gearing up for rapid growth, according to founder and CEO Andy Taylor. He said Douugh would be launching first in the US early next year, with Australia set to follow later in the year.

Mr Taylor said Douugh is now opening up investment to sophisticated investors “to get in early and own a piece of the company to allow it to fund its US launch”.

Mr Taylor said Douugh had a clear initial focus on the global millennial market – and the ‘sweet spot’ of the millennial demographic for early adoption of the Douugh offering are “the HENRY (high earning not rich yet) segment”.

“HENRYs sit at the top 20 percent of US households based on income which starts at around US$100,000,” Mr Taylor said. “With nearly 125 million American households in total, the affluent segment numbers just under 45 million households.

“In most any spending category, the affluent top 20 percent account for about 40 percent of total consumer spending,” he said.

“This segment is ready to plan for their future and start accumulating wealth. This is where Douugh can educate and automate their finances and alleviate the stress involved, helping them live financially healthy by still enjoying the now while planning for their future,” he said.

“We believe the future of banking is about platform, data and identity. Our ultimate goal is to become a platform business, offering a financial control centre where people’s finances are managed on autopilot.

“Short-term, we will expand our AI capabilities and offering into wealth management and credit. Long-term, we will look to foster an ecosystem of partners within our own marketplace in order to allow customers to leverage their financial data and save money – across financial services, insurance, utilities and retail,” Mr Taylor said.

Mr Taylor pointed out that Douugh was actually a technology company, with no plans at this stage to become a bank. He said Douugh would not be taking on the business model, risks and regulatory capital requirements needed to operate as a bank.

Instead, Douugh is developing its own proprietary technology stack, leveraging the banking licence of existing banks to scale up a customer base in key international markets, operating as an OTT (Over-The-Top) application.

“Technology and the pioneering of a new, platform based business model, will be the key differentiators in winning customers off the major banks, and it will be the true fintechs with global scale that will ultimately be best placed to capture the market share in the long run,” Mr Taylor said.

Co-founder of Equitise, Chris Gilbert said he was “stoked” to have such an innovative fintech join the Equitise platform.

“As the fintech community continues to mature in Australia, it’s great to see Douugh roll out its ambitious international plans to scale and further develop a unique product offering, Mr Gilbert said.

“Equitise is pleased to be able to assist Douugh in its upcoming launch into the US market with capital secured from Equitise.”

www.douugh.com.au

ends

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