Better Business Technology

Profectus counts all the sneaky extra charges that ruin your EBIT

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

FINANCIAL EROSION is the EBIT killer – that is, a business’s earnings before interest and taxes. It occurs when businesses such as retailers get overcharged, even slightly, by suppliers along the supply and value chain.

While small, these minor overcharges snowball and can become a huge issue. Financial erosion can also come in the form of rebates not claimed by retailers or small oversights with compliance of contracts.

Enter the Profectus Group, which helps companies with compliance and recovery issues. To wit, in 2021 Profectus helped recover nearly $29 million in unclaimed revenue or supplier overcharges for its clients across nearly 6,500 claims. 

Focus on the ‘true’ earnings

According to Profectus CEO Chris Hutchins, that is just the tip of the iceberg. 

He said financial erosion occurs when companies, like retailers and manufacturers, do great procurement deals and lose the value of those deals through inadequate compliance and controls.

“So you can imagine a small amount of a price being wrong over a lot of invoices. It adds up to a lot, or perhaps the client is being charged for too many units of something, or a surcharge,” Mr Hutchins told Talking Business.

“So the value being designed is not the value being realised.”

He said inflation, an issue facing businesses all over the world, was making it worse. While businesses can’t control inflation, he said they can control deals and make sure they are not leaking EBIT.

Profectus, which has been in business for 21 years, helps clients automate compliance and recovery in the financial control space. It does this with a combination of software: audit software, contract compliance software, and rebate deal management software.

“Through these technologies, we are able to help clients really get to the devil of the detail,” Mr Hutchins said. “If you think about really big end businesses, even small businesses for that matter, it’s just not possible to be across every single transaction in your company, so that’s what we do. We come in and help automate that.”

He said businesses try to keep track of these transactions using Microsoft Excel. However, he said the problem was that Excel is completely manual and relies on humans to update the data and put in the calculations.

“Which means there is a risk of human error.”

Big names save big money

Prospectus has prominent clients across Australia and New Zealand including household names such as OfficeWorks, David Jones, Chemist Warehouse, BHP, Fonterra, Super Cheap Auto and it also works with some of the big banks. 

While Profectus has a business focusing on Australia and New Zealand, it plans to take its offering globally and help businesses around the world.

Mr Hutchins said there was a lot of potential demand for Profectus’s services from the mining sector with commodity prices being so volatile and the shift towards electrification.

Another sector is manufacturing, with its cost inputs rising.

Then there is retail, which is ideally placed, because of the high frequency of transactions, and the construction industry, with complex rules around labour costs.   

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


Smart Communications to keep focus on people

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business

A NEW PLATFORM aims to give super funds, banks and insurance companies the kind of customer engagement people expect from Amazon.

James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications – a leading technology company that helps businesses engage in more meaningful customer conversations and which works with top Australian government agencies and highly regulated companies like banks, insurance companies and super funds – said this was now the big trend. Smart Communications works with the nine largest banks in Australia, four top insurers and 50 government agencies.

“If you look at all these regulated industries, they need be operating from a customer experience point of view at the same level as the very best digital brands that are out there,” Mr Brown told Talking Business

“Their competition is not the next bank or the next insurer. Their competition is Amazon, Dominos, Deliveroo, whatever it is that provides a great customer experience. That is the benchmark now.

“Many citizens and consumers don’t compare their bank or government agency to another bank or government agency. They compare it with Amazon or whatever the best digital experience they’re getting across the spectrum of engagement that they have.”


To achieve this Smart Communications has developed a platform which collects data and conversations. It creates highly personalised two way conversations. It is on a massive scale.

Mr Brown cites one case of an Australian insurer. The firm has provided more than 400 million communications for them.

Smart Communications works with major regulated companies across Australia and around the world, and government agencies, to transform the customer experience with more analysis and control of conversations. The company works with superannuation providers, insurance companies and banks

“Where we work really effectively is that really deep intersection of customer and citizen engagement and regulatory complexity,” Mr Brown said.

“We manage to create great customer experience for complex, highly regulated environments.

“And one of the things we’re seeing with banks and insurance companies is that the legacy landscape in those industries is often very complex.”

The system also uses a lot of artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure the communications are appropriate and in context. The customers will also use artificial intelligence for their analytics.


Mr Brown said companies in regulated industries since COVID have been looking to create deep and meaningful customer experiences, turning them from one way interactions to two way conversations.

He said in Australia in recent years, there had also been a rapid adoption of cloud technology in these sectors which had facilitated the adoption of the company’s platform.

The company is about turning one way communication into “genuine two way conversations,” he said.

“The richer and more detailed they get, the better.

“We are very focused on building out this conversation cloud that allows organisations to really look at the conversation as an enterprise-wide challenge and deal with it with enterprise wide solutions,” Mr Brown said.

“If you look across all the major industries and government bodies that we work with, it’s a complete transformation of that forms process, with really rich omni-channel two-way communications.

“We believe the conversation is the best way to deliver customer experience.” 

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


Unused office parking is a great parking solution

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business

ALL OVER THE WORLD, office parking is a problem. Regardless of whether you’re in London or Brisbane, this is where ParkOffice is valuable.

ParkOffice uses a COVID-19 focused solution allowing employers to track which staff members require parking at the office on a given day. An algorithm then allocates available parking to those who are most vulnerable or whose need is greatest.

By leveraging the ParkOffice solution, companies are able to increase parking availability by up to 40 percent. ParkOffice is a leading parking management software solution for smart offices that optimizes employee parking by assigning and releasing parking spaces as required, reducing administrative costs, and adding value to real estate. 

Company co-founder and CEO Garret Flower said sharing spots now, post-COVID, is the most efficient thing for companies to do.

“It you look at the big office buildings and residential buildings, there is so much wasted space on a daily basis, so what we have is lots of companies and people who have apartments that may not need the full use of the parking space any more on a four-week basis,” Mr Flower told Talking Business.

“So what we do is allow companies and employees to release the spot when it’s not being used and it goes out into a pool. Other people can then use that spot on the day that they need it, making it a lot more convenient, more efficient and just helping people to find space when they actually need it.”

ParkOffice was developed as a website and app, Users download the app and use ParkOffice, when their company is registered, to start sharing parking space.

Mr Flower said what they discovered was that big companies didn’t want to rent out space to anyone. They want to trust the people that are getting the space.

So the ParkOffice business started sharing the spots with companies and employees in the same building. Once the trust was established, they started sharing the spots with companies and employees in the building next door, or in the buildings surrounding that building.

“That’s where we built what we call the trust pipeline,” he said. “We found it’s very successful. It’s generally in areas where parking is in demand.” 


Mr Flower said ParkOffice was now located in 20 different countries – places that he had never been near – and selling the software to companies with languages he doesn’t speak. Apart from New Zealand and Australia, ParkOffice can be found in Luxembourg, Belgium, and Denmark. He is also looking to expand into Canada.

This is important because, across these 20 countries, people were choosing to spend less time in the office. On days when people go to the office, they are overwhelmingly driving to work, he said. The other days, they are using their cars to head off to different places.

That requires an extra layer of flexible management for companies and residential landlords. ParkOffice provides that layer through its software.

“What’s fascinating about software is that it can really help scale and solve global problems,” Mr Flower said. “Parking is a global pain in the arse. We’ve come up with a solution to solve one segment of the market that we feel is enormous. It’s one that has an enormous real estate footprint.

“If you were to take the roof off buildings in Australia and New Zealand, you would see more parking spaces in residential and office buildings than all the on-street parking combined. So that’s an enormous amount of space that’s probably lying idle.”

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

Customer data platforms give big picture insights

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

COMPANIES EVERYWHERE have to deal with tons of data on different platforms, from customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to customer data platforms (CDP) to customer loyalty programs, point of sales systems, and all their marketing tools. The problem is how do they integrate it?

Enter the customer data platform, or CDP. It aggregates all the data and uses artificial intelligence to make the data more meaningful for companies.

It’s an important tool in a digitised market where customer-centricity gives business a competitive edge.

Tom Treanor, the chief marketing officer for Treasure Data, the California-based enterprise CDP that powers an entire business to shape customer-centricity in the age of the digital customer. He said CDP is becoming important for business.

“A lot of tools are focused on what’s the function that they serve. All these tools are developed in how they manage the data. There is no one tool that cuts across all those tools and allow you to aggregate it in one place and makes that data useful back into those tools,” Mr Treanor told Talking Business.

Mr Treanor said by aggregating all that data, CDP “makes all the other aspects of that stack better”.

“It actually improves the stack by giving more intelligence to each of those tools as well,” he said. 


CDP personalises the data and makes it more customer-centric, Mr Treanor said.

“There might be some personalisation tools that handle one channel or focused on things like email or the web, which is very transactional, but this allows [more], since you’re aggregating data across the whole experience, “ he said.

“I can include sales and support and other functions in there, that are customer facing. You actually get that omni-channel view of the customer as opposed to a lot of these tools that are looking at a view of the customer within a particular silo,” Mr Treanor said.

“To be able to do omni-channel personalisation, having the advantage of that data that sees the customer across different experiences, whether it is in-store, on the web, whether it’s talking to support, then you can personalise the message and make recommendations, whether it’s on the web site, or that support call or whether it’s in an email campaign.

“You can have the information to personalise at the customer level or at the segment level. You can utilise AI (artificial intelligence) to make predictions.”


Mr Treanor said companies with no centralised management of customer data, which sits in a lot of silos, cannot manage customer data well. This is critical for marketing teams and for risk reduction in their compliance.

Customers that have used Treasure Data’s CDP platform include the global brewer Anheuser-Busch – which produces beers such as Budweiser, Bud Light and Stella Artois – and Subaru. 

Mr Treanor said customer data was important for much more than marketing.

“What we’re looking to do is utilise the customer data in sales and support as well and across other divisions,” he said.

“When we work with the data teams that manage these organisations, they find it of value and sometimes the product teams utilise the data and can do activations within their product.

“People, sometimes for the first time, understand how many customers they actually have,” Mr Treanor said. 

“There have been cases where all these different systems tell them different information about how many customers they have, so [when]they unify their data, they know how many customers they have and they actually have insights about those customers and a better understanding of the customer journey.”

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


To succeed, business leaders need new insights … Anaplan

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

WITH BORDERS CLOSED, the airline industry struggling, pressures on global shipping and supply chain disruptions causing spikes in global inflation, Anaplan has its work cut out.

Anaplan is a cloud-based platform that helps organisations transform. It’s used by leading Australian and New Zealand enterprises across consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail, finance and healthcare to help these companies better plan for the future.

Andy Thiss, the head of Anaplan ANZ, said companies needed to address the supply chain problem with rapid scenario planning because “to be able to flex with the times is really going to help organisations”.

“That’s where a platform like Anaplan really helps to play and streamline that whole process,” Mr Thiss told Talking Business


He said companies should think beyond silos when dealing with supply chain issues.

“Organisations have been planning for a very long time, some are doing it better than others,” Mr Thiss said.

“Organisations typically plan in silos,” he said. “So there is a sales function, a marketing function, there’s a finance function, IT, HR. What they do really well historically is record that. So they have a CRM system, an ERP system. And then at the other end of the spectrum, they report on it.

“The problem we’re solving, what we’re helping organisations with is what we call the messy middle.

“So between where the source system lies and the reporting system lies is a convoluted web of spreadsheets, power points, multiple lines of rework where you can bring in a platform like Anaplan. It will connect those source systems to the business intelligence tools to allow you to basically use that as crystal ball to predict the multiple scenarios you might need to in an ever-changing environment.

“What it is, is getting these organisations to understand that by connecting these different silos, they’re going to be much faster, more agile and ultimately have a competitive advantage out there in the market place by leveraging this data which is technically sored in various different components of the enterprise.”


Mr Thiss said this process could be used successfully by any industry.

“We work across financial services, services aligned to business, telcos, mining, engineering, construction, retail,” he said. 

“The big problems we’re solving, that we’re seeing at the moment, do tend to be around supply chains and workforce planning here in Australia.

“It’s quite an interesting time for us, being a cloud-based platform. The only thing I would say there is the ability to collaborate in real time is absolutely critical. It’s got to be fast, it’s got to be agile, it’s got to be quick and then it has to have the ability to connect these other systems so you can make use of that data, make smarter decisions faster.”

Mr Thiss said organisations were now realising more than ever that they cannot do what they have always done.

He said Anaplan was a transformational technology that connected up all the data to allow business leaders to do demand planning for their products and services.

“By helping them connect all the systems, the variables, at speed, in real time and accurately, they’re able to make better decisions and much faster,” Mr Thiss said.

He said a cloud based platform not only helped bring the different data points together but was also critical in collecting information from staff working remotely in different countries, cities and states.

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

Empired finds a secure silver lining in the cloud

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

THE BIG CHANGE in the last two years to remote working – and working from home brought on by the pandemic – has created a big challenge for cloud-based systems

Empired practice manager for the modern workplace, Jaen Snyman said the changes with the pandemic left many organisations unprepared to have most of their staff working from home.

“That’s where the cloud and public cloud make a big difference,” Mr Snyman told Talking Business.

“If you do have that set-up, then it doesn’t matter where you are accessing from, you can still get to your applications, you can still get to your business, you can still do your work as per normal.”

This, however, had changed the security landscape for businesses. 

“Previously, your devices would have been on your network at some stage, so you could patch it and manage your devices and make sure your laptops are patched to the latest security updates,” Mr Snyman said.

“Now it’s created quite a bit of a challenge where people rely on you to be on the network to do it but you’re not, you’re working from home.”


Securing the network would create major challenges for companies with remote workforces as the onus would be on the companies whose workers are now connecting to their environment from an unsecured location and unsecured network.

“I don’t know if your home network is secure, I don’t know if your neighbour is listening in to your wireless and tapped into it and what other devices might be on your network and if those devices are actually secure or if any of them has been breached,” Mr Snyman said.

He said hackers were now using the principle of “lateral movement”.

“That means if I hack one of your devices in your home and compromise that one, then I can move to another device on the same network laterally.

“I don’t need to hit your primary objective first. I can hit a soft target first, spoof your passwords that you use and try those passwords to other devices that might be on the same network.”

He said they could do this on any system, including business systems on home offices.

“If that is the CFO working from home, and I manage to hack into his kids’ computer, because the kid might not have a strong password, and dad uses that computer every now and again, and happens to use the same password he uses at work, then I know the CFO’s password and I can try it on his corporate identities.”


Mr Snyman said subscriptions were now driving the adoption of cloud technology, which is often used for CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource platform) systems.

Because it’s already built in the cloud, businesses can also configure it to add value to their applications, to arrange it the way they need it.

The back-ups are done and the disaster recovery is in place, he said.

“All of that plumbing and maintenance is done by the provider and you as a customer can solely focus on the business value side of it,” Mr Snyman said.

While cloud is secure, the onus still comes back on the company to provide their own level of security to ensure there are no breaches.

“The application itself is secure but you yourself can make mistakes and give people access,” Mr Snyman said.

“If you don’t implement proper procedures and policies, for instance for password controls, to allow your users to use very simple passwords, or no passwords at all, then you have a fairly high risk of being compromised,” he said.



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



Unions welcome ' long overdue' offshore renewable energy laws, but it's ‘unfinished business’

THE Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have welcomed what they are calling "long overdue laws to facilitate offshore renewable energy projects". 

It is a critical first step by the Federal Government in allowing the development of offshore renewable energy, especially offshore wind, which the ETU and MUA have long been advocating for, according to MUA assistant national secretary Adrian Evans

He said the unions were now calling on the Federal Government to immediately begin consultation on the location of Offshore Electricity Areas to give certainty to projects that will create jobs, clean energy and economic investment in regions already slated for offshore wind. The areas included are the Gippsland region of Victoria; the Hunter and Illawarra regions of NSW and; the Rockingham/Bunbury/Geographe Bay region of West Australia.

Mr Evans said Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor "must make the consultation on the Gippsland Offshore Electricity Area his highest priority".

“Star of the South, the Gippsland and Latrobe Valley communities, and maritime and electrical workers have already waited years for the government to get this legislation in place,” Mr Evans said.  

“The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is already planning for an Offshore Wind Zone in this area. The Federal Government needs to catch up and give project proponents the certainty they need.”

ETU assistant national secretary Michael Wright said the Minister "must complete this consultation and declare a suitable Offshore Electricity Area before any offshore wind developers can apply for a Feasibility Licence".

“Building offshore wind will play a critical role in creating thousands of jobs for workers affected by the energy transition, whether they work in coal-fired power stations, coal export ports or offshore oil and gas,” Mr Wright said.

“These projects can create a strong and consistent supply of renewable energy, next to the heavy industries that need it, and also create green hydrogen in bulk for use by these industries while delivering regional diversification and opportunities for workers.”

The MUA and ETU also cautioned there was still more work to do on the legislative framework for the industry with the need for further regulations to be developed for the licencing process for each project.

“The government needs to create regulations which must be used to maximise the use of local goods and services, the employment of local workers (particularly energy workers) to foster opportunities for training and skills development, and to increase employment and income opportunities for First Nations people,” Mr Evans said.

“However, this work must not delay the process of declaring Offshore Electricity Areas.

“The consultations needed to make appropriate declarations of these areas must occur now, to allow time for strategic environmental assessments, feasibility studies and planning.

“And while the important environmental, feasibility and planning is being completed there is unfinished business with the new offshore renewable laws.

“Despite union concerns the proposed framework requires offshore renewable operators to cross multiple Work Health and Safety jurisdictions each day and removes important rights for workers, the Government ploughed ahead," Mr Evans said.

“Substantial work is needed to ensure that the Work Health and Safety provisions are fit for purpose and properly harmonised with the national Work Health and Safety system.” 

Priority areas

The four areas the ETU and MUA are proposing that consultations begin on declaring Offshore Electricity Areas are:

  1. As a priority, a Gippsland Offshore Electricity Area, which is already being planned by AEMO as an Offshore Wind Zone, and is the site of projects planned by Star of the South and Flotation Energy.  Significant transmission capacity is available now.
  2. An Illawarra Offshore Electricity Area, which is already being planned by AEMO as an Offshore Wind Zone, and is the site of projects planned by Green Energy Partners and Oceanex. Significant transmission is available with a low expansion cost.
  3. A Hunter Offshore Electricity Area, which is already being planned by AEMO as an Offshore Wind Zone and is the site of projects planned by Oceanex and Newcastle Offshore Wind. 10 GW of transmission capacity is available now, making it the lowest expansion cost of any Renewable Energy Zone onshore or offshore.
  4. A Rockingham/Bunbury/Geographe Bay Offshore Electricity Area, which is the site of projects by Green Energy Partners and Oceanex.


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