Building smart cities with Churchill

 

Barcelona

 VP of the Australian Smart Cities Association, Brook Dixon travelled the world as a Churchill Fellow last year, studying the drivers of digital transformation in leading global cities. In this extract of his report, which he has curated and prepared for Datacom, he looks at the principles, which need to be applied to be considered a smart city:

The digital revolution is ablaze in cities around the world.  The fires of big data, open government, smart city, digital innovation, cities 4.0, and the internet of things, burn bright.

But what is the object?  How can cities most effectively engage with digital?  And what lessons from international experience are there for Australasian cities?

These questions I explored last year as a Sir Winston Churchill Fellow, visiting eleven leading smart cities – Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Seoul, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Raleigh, Lima, San Francisco and San Jose.

This study trip was a remarkable journey of digital city exploration and discovery.  From the evolution of civic democracy in Seoul, to partnerships in New York transforming 7,500 old pay phones into new digital hubs (unlocking billions of dollars in new value), to portable digital labs made from shipping containers for schools in Lima.

However, the key lessons relate less to such wonderful digital projects, which are specific to each city, but to the principles of purpose, planning and process, which can be applied in any city.

Principles such as – be a digital democracy.  Easy to say.  Much harder to do.  But in Seoul, they are making real progress with initiatives such as mVoting.  This digital platform (smart-phone app and website) allows rapid polling of citizen opinion through votes on policy and municipal matters.  Polls can be targeted by various demographic factors and citizens can set preferences for areas of voting interest.  mVoting has been used for hundreds of polls with direct influence on city policy, and enshrines Seoul’s philosophy of participatory democracy and ‘the citizen as Mayor’.

A second principle, and oh so important!  Get a smart city plan!  The digital cosmos is vast, its philosophy and technology concerns every part of the city – people, processes, services, administration, economy, and places.  It covers infrastructure, networks, data collection and analysis.  It can be applied to health, education, municipal services, utilities, justice, transport, the environment, and more.

Facing such breadth of scope, and depth of opportunity, without the focus and direction of a digital plan, digital actions will easily be fragmented. To plan is to examine the particular circumstances of each city, and to concentrate attention where digital transformation can make the most difference.

Beyond planning is dynamic reality, and the principle of innovation – being open to change, redesign, new ideas, doing things differently, and connecting things in fresh ways.  So to be a digital city is to embrace innovation, and to be innovative embraces digital.  This symbiosis is well understood by leading smart cities.  And their efforts to encourage, promote and support innovation are a pillar of smart city plans the world over.

Barcelona has a beautifully expressed innovation goal of “creating a dialogue and experimentation agora” where anyone can progress smart city innovation and research.

This goal is epitomised by the Barcelona Urban Lab, which facilitates use of public space to trial innovative products and technology to support commercialisation and improve municipal services for the community.  Pilot projects to date have included traffic lights adapted for the blind, remote utility meter readings, and smart street lights fitted with presence, vibration, temperature, humidity, sound and pollution sensors, GSM aerials, Wi-Fi Mesh access point and webcam for video surveillance functions.

Another principle, oh so important, but too dry for much attention here, is establishing strong leadership and governance.  Leading cities universally attested the value of this principle; and where it lacked, it was lamented, and where it was sound, it was lauded.

Now a final principle for those with smart city aspirations, and much more exciting than governance: to leverage new business models.  Think beyond the old paradigm of government spending and taxation, to new models of asset regeneration and shared value.

In San Jose for example, the Council recently partnered with Philips Corporation to upgrade 800 street-lights to modern LED luminaires, with big energy, financial and CO2 savings, and zero cost to Council.  How?  Because Philips installed micro cell equipment on 50 poles, and sold this data capability to the telcos.  And so we see improvements to lighting amenity, public assets, energy efficiency, commercial opportunity, mobile connectivity, and budget sustainability.  New value, created, captured and shared by leveraging a new business model and partnership.

Now that is a smart city!

Photo / View over the Passeig de Gràcia Avenue, Barcelona By Ralf Roletschek – Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44339377

Closing the customer experience (CX) gap

 

Passengers motion

Photo / GraphicStock

By Caroline White

People worldwide are finally waking up to the importance of customer-centricity. Forrester estimates that 84 per cent of organisations aspire to be CX leaders and Gartner says that for the third consecutive year marketing budgets are on the increase in a bid to improve it

Mercedes-Benz USA President and CEO Steve Cannon described CX back in 2015 as ‘the new marketing’ and every year Gartner report that it is increasingly on people’s agendas.

Hundreds of CX events are popping up worldwide and they are attracting all of the C-Suite – not just the marketing teams.

Unfortunately there is a gap between customer expectations and what they are actually experiencing. Famous research by Bain and Company in 2005 highlighted the staggering difference – 80 per cent of companies believed they were delivering  a ‘superior experience’ whereas only 8 per cent of customers agreed with them. This gap has closed slightly but there is still a long way to go, particularly as nowadays customers expect to be able to interact with a brand via multiple channels.

But why does CX matter?

Forrester defines customer experience as ‘how customers perceive their interactions with your company’. Tony Hillson, chair at Auckland’s recent  Customer 3.1 Summit said the industry has changed a lot over the past few years due to a shift from focussing on traditional service design and delivery towards what was described by keynote speaker, futurist Anders Sorman-Nilsson as a ‘transformation economy’’.

This transformation economy has been born out of a steep rise in the number of digital disruptors, e.g. Uber, AirBnB and shopping apps such as Wish. Digitalisation is making the world smaller –  another example is US retailer Amazon who is expanding across Australia and rumoured to hit New Zealand soon too.

These disruptors raise the bar for more traditional organisations who will need to enhance their CX to keep up – and that’s not just B2C but B2B too.

By implementing CX principles into strategy, technology, processes and people management, it is possible to keep up with disruptors, reduce costs and increase revenue. Forrester estimates that companies who excel at CX grow a staggering 5.1 times quicker than those who don’t.

And how do we improve it?

Here are ten top tips to taking your customers on a journey across mulitple channels:

  1. Plot the customer journey and work out where the most value can be added. Forrester says customers are willing to pay 4.5 times more for excellent CX. Look for ways to give them an memorable experience which makes them feel special. This doesn’t necessary mean the experience is bespoke but rather personalised on a large scale, e.g. Google remembers details such as where you visit frequently so it can provide you with updates and information relevant to you.
  2. Hone both the left and right brains. Left is the logical analytical side and right is the creative side. Both are needed to solve problems and communicate with everyone, e.g. when Benji Karsch first started working at US healthcare company, Cigna, there were no metrics relating to any CX initiatives. This meant they had no idea what was successful and what wasn’t – so the board didn’t value them. As a result he worked on a left-brained solution to impress the board and ensure buy in to future initiatives.
  3. Don’t spread yourself too thin, focus on one main metric, e.g. the net promoter or customer satisfaction score and link it to financial metric, e.g.  10% increased revenue if it is achieved.
  4. Work on two levels of buy-in. Start at the top with metric-based business cases for the decision makers, e.g. we will lose $5m if x happens. Have case studies from previous projects worked on and use storytelling to evoke emotion. Sign up at least one senior person to help drive CX initiatives and make sure their buy in is visible.
  5. Accenture report that 89 per cent of customers want a consistent CX across all channels, a seamless omnichannel. As soon as there is senior level buy-in, push to make CX and digital experience part of the same strategy. Hamish Nuttall, founder of the Naked Bus said ‘digital is just how we do business nowadays.
  6. Now it is time to get everyone else involved. People are more engaged when they come to the project early. Forrester say that companies with engaged employees have operating margins 4.1 times larger than those whose employees aren’t. Also CX initiatives should come from all departments, particularly from frontline employees who are interacting with customers on a daily basis. Encourage an experimental and adaptive culture. Benji Karsch, started a successful internal marketing campaign for employees at US healthcare firm, Cigna, called ‘Go You’. It challenged employees to go above and beyond with customers. To help foster this, they were allowed to choose specially branded t-shirts and decorate their name tag to express their individuality.
  7. Benchmark regularly so progress is visible and get feedback at different points of the customer journey so gaps can be found.  There are lot of mechanisms for feedback including pulse surveys, forums and social media. Jason Delamore, Marketing GM at Auckland Airport said an impressive 400,000 people have given feedback via a tablet in the airport in the last year.
  8. Boost customer trust so you can collaborate and innovate together. Rod Moynihan, Director of Sales at Zendesk says customers value empowerment, transparency and responsiveness above anything else so look at developing these traits. Once trust is formed, test the water with some small CX changes, e.g. a stripped-back, low cost prototype on a small section of people so there is little impact if it goes wrong and then expand from there.

    CXGroupPic

    Panel discussion: Lto R: Benjamin Karsch, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Revlon David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights, Briscoe Group Moderator: Kat Hardisty, Design Lead, Optimal Workshop Roxanne Salton, Head of Digital Strategy and Delivery, Mercury. Photo / Scott Clegg/ Conferenz

  9. Balance innovation, analytics and common sense. Although it is important to listen to customers, don’t just implement their suggestions blindly. Get to the root of whatever the pain-point is and work out the most efficient way of solving it. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your solution has to use new technology such as blockchain, artificial intelligence or machine learning – technology is just a means to an end.
    In some cases it can work really well, e.g. When Lowes Innovation Labs showed people how to do DIY with a Hololens it resulted in 36 per cent better recall than when they watched an instructional video, but often you can be better off sticking to more tried and tested technology. That said, consider the analytics opportunities that are available with Internet of Things devices – just be sure that are completely secure and enhance CX too.
  10. And finally never underestimate the importance of getting insights firsthand from the customer – it is much easier to empathise with them this way. David Hughes, ‎General Manager e-Commerce and Customer Insights at Briscoe Group has access to the customer feedback inbox from his email account. Natalie Kerschner, Senior UX Specialist at BNZ made whole teams of people go into branches posing as real business customers and Roxanne Salter, Head of Digital Strategy at Mercury had once worked where senior people had to do a monthly shift on the shopfloor. It was important, said Roxanne,  not to be afraid of asking stupid questions – since this is how issues were picked up on.

The Datacom Digital Experience team works with organisations to discover which CX strategies are best for them. We have a wide range of tricks in our toolbox from alignment workshops to journey mapping to concept testing.

Interested in knowing more? Email digital@datacom.co.nz.

 

To smartcities and beyond – 10 steps to get your public sector organisation ready for Digital Transformation (DX)

Digital Transformation Banner

By Caroline White

Technology is moving fast in today’s world. Every organisation is expected to know about – if not use – things such as the Internet of Things, blockchain, and artificial intelligence. Every city or town is now expected to aspire to be a smart city.

As newer types of technology emerge, this pace will only start to quicken. Brett Roberts, Associate Director of Datacom Auckland’s Digital, Customers & Collaboration Group likes to use Heraclitus’s quote – ‘‘the only constant is change’ so keep up or get left behind!

Digital Transformation (DX) is not just a catchphrase – technology is being employed successfully by the public sector worldwide to address important safety and security concerns and improve processes.

Body-worn cameras can protect parking officers when out in the field, sensors can be used to highlight buildups at traffic black spots and drones can be used to check tall buildings when people apply for building consents.

Compared with other countries, New Zealand has been slow on the DX uptake. PwC New Zealand say that just 50 per cent of Kiwi organisations are integrating digital and corporate strategies compared to 70 per cent  worldwide. Steffan Schaefer lists the areas where great improvements can be made: air and water quality control, environmental monitoring, energy saving, renewable energy solutions, and the prediction and prevention of natural and man-made disasters. Gartner also says councils could become a hub for technological innovation as they have access to swathes of data which could be valuable – if collected and analysed properly.

You know your organisation needs to start digitally transforming.  But what about the other people in your organisation? How do you convince the decision-makers? Here are ten tips for implementing change in  a public sector organisation.

1. Evaluate the pros and cons of digitising processes
The most common blocks for digital transformation are lack of budget, a lack of time or resource, reliance on legacy systems, a lack of technological skills and “siloed” data. However these problems will only get worse if action isn’t taken to move into the digital space.

Product Manager, Anthony Sidwell recently presented Antenno, Datacom’s new mobile app at PCA Smart Cities Conference 2017. One of the key messages of the conference was that DX isn’t just about implementing technology – it’s a way for councils to improve people’s lives as well as reduce costs and increase efficiency.

It’s an iterative process – so start small and work up. Look at where current issues are and where customer feedback can be improved. Then work out where technology can be used to solve them, e.g. does your team face a battle when dog licensing comes around as it is still done on paper rather than online?

In most cases, the pros far outweigh the cons and the sooner implemented, the sooner improvements can be made.

2. Actively look for and find solutions to any roadblocks
Once you know where the areas for DX are, look for any roadblocks – these could be change resistant or non-tech savvy members in the top team – or holes in your own rough ideas that you hadn’t thought of. Find the five most problem-focussed people you work with and ask them to pick holes in your rough plans – according to research just five people will pick up 85% of issues with a product, service or idea. Find solutions to those issues raised.

3. Impress with stats and bust myths
So now you’re armed with a reviewed rough plan, it is time to wow decision makers with some great ideas. It is important to work out how to sell it to them – find out what problem they would most like to solve, e.g. are they sick of all the complaints that the customer services teams are getting? Then find their preferred communication style so you can frame your ideas in a way that works for them. Prepare a ‘mythbusters’ pack of stats and common questions, e.g. why moving to cloud is safer and better than on premise systems?

4 . Set up a change management team
Once you have support from the decision makers, it is time to set up a change team of like-minded people to help you on the road to success. Each area of the organisation should be represented by a ‘change champion’ – someone to voice concerns for their area, make sure their requirements are covered and generally aid the change process. These people should be fully committed to the idea of change and ready to cajole those more risk-averse members of their team that change is necessary.

5. Foster an innovative culture
In his keynote at the DX2017 summit in March, Brett Roberts stressed the interlinkages between innovation and DX, advising companies to drive an innovative and adaptive digital culture at all times – it’s not just for the top team. Now is the time to reach out to the whole organisation, not just your change management team and let them know that DX is afoot. Encourage all generations and levels to get involved – particularly digital natives. You may find extra skills, expertise and ideas to add to the mix, along with new ways to problem solve.

6. Investigate different options and budgets
As a team, look into the problems you are trying to solve. Refine the requirements identified in step one, add some rough metrics and prioritise.  Once the list is complete, seek outside advice from a reputable DX expert who will be able to discuss the different options and give advice on the best possible digital strategy to fit your needs.

Don’t be afraid of speaking to people who don’t fit the normal council mould – it’s important to know what other councils are doing and where money could be saved via collaboration but it is also important to think outside of the box.

There is no reason why the public sector can’t do this too.  Antenno was born out of a need to solve communication issues between local government and their communities. Councils needed new ways of reaching people. At the same time, their customers were complaining of information overload and wanted to only have access to relevant information.

7.Write a plan with metrics
Once all options have been evaluated, it is time to write the DX plan. Datacom’s Head of Digital Experience, Fiona Monks, recommends that this should be a guiding vision or a ‘north star’ for the next three to five years with only the first six months described in detail. Every six months the team can get together and assess whether the organisation is on the right track.

Don’t forget to…

  • Include the metrics stating where you are now, where you want to be and how frequently you are going to measure them.
  • Consider all stakeholders and situations. Make sure all workflows have been reviewed and mapped – there is little point transferring archaic paper process to digital.
  • Include a disaster recovery plan – it shouldn’t be needed but as calculated risks are needed with DX it is best always to be prepared
  • Invite as many people to review it as possible before finalisation.

8. Get communication right
Communication is often cited as a reason for failure from DX projects. Plan meticulously and far in advance, working out what the best mediums for reaching different stakeholders are. Go interactive via social media aiming to build enthusiasm, excitement and confidence. Make sure there are clear avenues for feedback so worries can be quickly addressed before they fester.

9Look out for people resistant to change
However much communication is done beforehand, there will always be some people who are resistant to DX – particularly frontline employees who have not been involved with the decision- making process. Anticipate who these people are and make sure they feel safe and comfortable. Plan onboarding sessions for new technology and listen to them.

10. Have fun
A recent study by Gallup found that just 29 per cent of government workers are engaged in their job. Use DX as a time to turn over a new leaf and boost engagement levels. Share metrics and celebrate successes as a team. Have change champions at each site to drive changes forward and consider some sort of gamification, e.g. prizes for teams who adopt the new ways of working quickest. Points system with league tables and weekly updates can foster some healthy competition.

Ready to transform your organisation? If you need some inspiration, email us at digital@datacom.co.nz or find out more about our local government products including some impressive case studies here.

Datacom kicks off Microsoft’s Global Integration Bootcamp

By Tim Nelson

It started in Auckland on Saturday, then followed the sunrise across the globe.

Dawn on Saturday 25th saw Datacom stop the countdown clock on the Microsoft Global Integration Bootcamp website.

Starting at 210 Federal Street in Auckland and following the sunrise across 12 locations across around the world, the Global Bootcamp brought the Microsoft integration community together for an intensive day of interactive labs using the latest Azure technology.

With a dual opportunity to lead and learn alongside co-hosts Adaptiv and Theta the team added hospitality and plenty of coffee to create a warm collaborative atmosphere for everyone in attendance.
MicrosoftBootCamp.Presenter

Photo / Datacom’s Craig Haiden presenting at the weekend’s Microsoft Global Integration Bootcamp.

Independent consultants and integrators from both vendors and corporates turned the café into a hub of concentrated activity, augmented by a constant flow of online appreciation from around the globe as successive centres kicked off their day.

Plenty of knowledge was shared and new skills were learned. Hands-on labs covered the full Azure integration stack: enabling hybrid integration scenarios to surface data to the cloud; setting up Service Bus and Logic Apps to orchestrate data flows; configuring API Apps and API Management to present and secure data access; and working with IoT Hub, Stream Analytics and Power BI to provide both deep insight and responsive control of data and devices in real-time.

A big thank you to the dedicated team of organisers and presenters who made it happen: Craig Haiden, Mark Brimble, Mahindra Morar, Mike Howell, James Corbould, Morten Velling and Abhishek Kumar. Literally world-leading…

Check out more about the Global Integration Bootcamp here.

Digital Transformation 101: Insights from DX 2017

By Caroline White

Business leaders from across New Zealand came together to discuss their challenges at the Digital Transformation summit  in Auckland this month. The key themes were:

  • Understanding innovation and transformation and how they work together
  • Unlocking value by leveraging technology and new business platforms
  • Understanding changing audiences for customer-centric digital transformation
  • Recruiting and retaining the right talent and unlocking real competitive advantages

The Datacom sponsored event saw Brett Roberts, Associate Director of Datacom Auckland’s Digital, Customers & Collaboration Group, take to the stage for his keynote advising companies on how to drive an innovative and adaptive digital culture. Digital Transformation means companies need to act fast to ensure they aren’t left behind.

BrettRobertsDX2017CloggCloseupBrett Roberts speaking at DX2017. Photo / Scott Clogg: Conferenz

What is Digital Transformation?

Digital Transformation is the latest hot phrase to be bandied round in offices across the world – but it is also a commonly misunderstood term. Basically, it’s the act of transforming businesses digitally from end to end – from operations to infrastructure, meshing together technology, processes and people.

DX2017 featured 24 speakers in total, each offering advice that can be loosely packaged into five C’s: competitive pressure, the confluence of ideas, customers, culture and continuous learning, and finally the biggest C: communication.

Competitive pressure

Firstly, why do businesses have to digitally transform? Technology and innovation is moving at a faster pace than ever before. We live in an uncertain world – A study from the John M. Olin School of Business at Washington University estimates that 40 percent of today’s F500 companies on the S&P 500 will no longer exist in 10 years.

Foxtel’s Brett Cooper said digital disruptors are everywhere – the most well- known one for his company being being Netflix.

Competition has come from leaders who have shunned traditional business models and dared to do things differently – Uber, Amazon and Airbnb are just three examples.

Nicki Raistrick, Head of Digital at Fletcher Building looked at the same issue, raising concerns about traditional businesses making assumptions they shouldn’t. You may know the names of your customers and their likes and dislikes, but what do they really know about their customer’s customers – is there a new disruptor just around the corner?

Andre Guyer, Head of Digital Transformation for the Zurich Insurance, believes companies need to use money and experience as leverage against new entrants to their industry – to attack, rather than defend their market share.

New Zealand companies need to look at their products and services and work out where they are adding value to their customers – which enable them to innovate and provide a better service, and thus larger margin than foreign counterparts.

DX2017AudienceThe challenge of digital transformation – Brett Roberts speaks at DX2017. Photo / Scott Clogg: Conferenz

Confluence

At the heart of Digital Transformation is a triad, a confluence of people, business and process. It’s not possible to change one without considering impact on the other.

  • People – Robotics will feature heavily in the future, but nothing can substitute for the human brain. Algorithms are not the solution to all our problems.

Digital leaders still have a tough job in shaping the workforce of the future.  Traditional roles such as system administrators, operators, programmers, and help desk employees will decrease in demand and these people will need to be retrained and moved elsewhere.

New people for jobs which haven’t even been dreamt up yet will need to be sourced and an organisation is only as good as the people who work for them.

Quote of the day: “Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER compromise your hiring.” Hire diverse people with good attitudes who are ready to slot into an innovative environment. And don’t be afraid to hire people who don’t fit the mould – the best innovations don’t tend to come from when people stick to the mould.

  • Business – Transforming to digital can often unearth all sorts of issues that weren’t apparent beforehand. Go back to basics, make sure the company vision is clear, and map out all your processes to how they would work in the real world.
  • Technology – Big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence were all discussed prominently – and will need to be a part of any future plans.

Lots of companies are using all of these technologies already. Google Maps combines AI, robotics and big data. Starbucks and Amazon are teaming up for an AI, chat and voice app.

Trevor Delany, Head of Information Technology & Services for BP New Zealand said that customers had even arrived at its petrol stations asking to pay with bitcoins. It’s impossible to commit to all of the good ideas out there, but the smart people are those who see how this could fit into existing business models in the future.

Customers

Customers should be first priority for every organisation; but for many busy organisations, they are often the last. Every speaker at DX 2017 called for companies to be more customer- led rather than focusing strictly on products. Customer centricity was frequently discussed, especially innovation labs and collaborative programmes.

Culture and continuous learning

The one fundamental kickstarter is having an innovative culture. Allow everyone in the company to get involved and have their voice heard.

If staff feel are empowered in an innovative culture, they will rally and try to solve issues themselves. They certainly won’t sit by and let disruptors take over. Encourage staff at all levels to be curious and ask questions. You need to accept that you’re not always going to get it right – as Brett Roberts puts it ‘experimentation’, rather than ‘embracing failure’.

Don’t get complacent – embrace constant learning. For example, millennials often have a different way of looking problems compared to other generations. Don’t disparage that, encourage it. Datacomp, Datacom’s yearly hackathon has been so successful that it has become a blueprint for hackathons at other companies, such as Genesys and ASB.

And finally, the big C, communication

The overwhelming message from DX 2017 is to start focussing on people. A major part of that is communication.

Digital transformation is terrifying. Frontline employees can feel hopeless and removed from the decision making process. They’re often wondering: What is going on? Is my job safe? I’ve been here for 20 years – what are all these crazy decisions that the company is now making?

There will always be resistance to DX, said Gerard Smith, Senior Digital Manager for Teachers Mutual Bank.

You need buy in; to get your employees to embrace the model you’re trying to adopt. You need to educate and reassure them, and offer the appropriate training to enable them for the new model.

There is a human being behind every change the business makes, and they need to be engaged – help them celebrate successes, actively promoting your digital projects and highlighting the importance of the change.

My three takeaways:

  1. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Start with small changes and then work up. Review your legacy systems and grade the changes needed into levels of urgency and importance before implementation. If there is kick back from the top team, ask them what else they’ll spend their money on if it isn’t DX.
  1. DX is the whole package, not just the tech – people and business processes are just as important
  1. Uncertainty is a certainty –  Organisations need to be agile, nimble and ready to experiment or else they will die

What do you think? If you’re looking for some ideas on transforming digitally please email us at digital@datacom.co.nz.

Main photo/ Brett Roberts speaks at DX2017.  Photo: Scott Clogg: Conferenz

Tourism NZ intranet – built with Datacom – recognised as one of the world’s best

Tourism New Zealand’s staff intranet has been named one of the top ten in the world. International user experience firm, Nielsen Norman Group announced the award this week with Tourism New Zealand the only Australasian winner.

As well as winning the Nielson Norman group award, earlier this year Datacom and Tourism NZ were named winners in the Microsoft Partner Awards for Content and Collaboration for the same solution.

tongarirocropped

Photo: Tourists on the Tongariro Crossing – one of New Zealand’s most popular vistior attractions. Wikimedia Commons user Yogi De

“We have staff based around the globe and staff who travel internationally working from mobile devices so it’s really important as an organisation to keep our people informed and connected to our global whanau. The intranet was redesigned with these principles in mind so it’s great to see the site being recognised for being accessible and easy to use,” says Deborah Gray, Tourism NZ’s General Manager Corporate Affairs.

“The site was also praised for its use of plain English and social interactive features. We made sure to integrate the ability for staff to post photos and have conversations, it’s been really successful in helping staff engage with each other and share information.”

The redesign project took around six months to complete. The work included the review all content on the site, rewriting it to make it more accessible and more visual, as well as removing unused and old content.

The intranet site was delivered by the Datacom Office 365 team, helmed by Matt Swain.

Datacom’s view is that an intranet is based on 5 key pillars:

• Communication
• Content
• Collaboration
• Culture
• Doing Work

Evaluating where customer’s currently rate in each of these pillars, and what they are trying to achieve with their intranet is critical in driving successful, measurable outcomes.

Datacom believes that each phase of an intranet build should typically only focus on one or two of these pillars, with a light touch to the others. Having clear goals set against each pillar then allows organisations to clearly prioritise and deliver against each phase, while still gathering requirements for future phases.

It is important to keep in mind an intranet cannot be fairly judged as successful on day one, but needs to look at 6, 12, and 18 months in the future. Constant evolution is needed.

Datacom spent considerable amounts of time working with Tourism New Zealand to clearly understand their goals before work started. As such, the intranet was focused on social interaction to enable workplace collaboration, as well as the construction of valuable content. This allows the intranet to feel fresh and lively, a place where people want to work together, and utilises information well suited to the medium.

Jakob Nielsen, Principal for Nielsen Norman Group describes Tourism New Zealand’s site as having “A clean design, rewritten content, and well-integrated social features turned Tourism New Zealand’s new responsive intranet into an essential tool for communication and collaboration, regardless of location or device.”

See more here about Datacom Social Intranet.

 Daniel Thurston and Matt Swain

3 Ways to Develop a Trusted Relationship with an Outsourcing Partner

By Darren Williams

Like every person responsible for a business, its people and customers, I hold a high degree of personal responsibility for the work we do, the success of the business and the reputation our organisation holds in the marketplace. I have developed relationships internally and externally that I trust, that provide me with insights and that have a reputation for delivering when I need it most. When a trusted source speaks to me about a business evolution through technology, something occurs that is different than when an unknown source approaches my business with a similar concept. Trusted partners can speak to businesses’ pain points and successes and discuss organisational evolution through technology. Here are three ways Datacom South Australia has experienced trust-building with organisations with whom we’ve worked.

1. We work toward the right solution for their business: Technology continues to evolve, and this evolution, whilst providing opportunities for business improvements, more often than not introduces a level of complexity that is difficult for our clients to address. Organisations these days want to be challenged — they want a trusted provider to provide them with insights, to tell them what they need to do to turn around their business’s performance. A trusted provider won’t recommend a solution because it relates to a specific vendor they want to please, generates more revenue for them or necessitates the need for heavy support and troubleshooting that will force businesses to extend the arrangement past the point they require. A trusted provider will instead suggest the best solution for a business’s unique needs, budget and vision for growth.

2. We make their business open to new ideas: With a trusted source I will be curious, interested and open to a new idea — whilst always looking for the evidence to support the concept and to manage the risk of any possible change. I enter into the discussion “knowing” that they understand my business, my industry and what is most important to me. Providers that take the time to understand their clients, their business priorities and the varying technical approaches they can take to address their business needs establish a sense of confidence with their customers. The business then enters into a discussion with the provider “knowing” their operations, industry and what is most important to them will be understood, even if the proposed solution involves a forward-thinking or challenging idea that can change a business’s direction mid-stride.

3. We are constantly evolving our own skills: Businesses want a knowledgeable, flexible and proven technical partner— a partner that continually invests in their technical competence, works to advance their knowledge and delivery methods and proves that they themselves are agile. This trait has, time and time again, proven to be beneficial when working with clients that need flexibility from their partner to match the tempo of change in their business. The customer is able to stay ahead of the competition with the ability to flex, scale and innovate, because they have a trusted partner to help them achieve this.

Our business at Datacom has evolved very carefully and deliberately from a technical base. We can provide our customers with a high degree of confidence, so when we introduce a new technology, it is an introduction that can be trusted. Our teams have taken the time to understand our clients, their business priorities and the varying technical approaches they can take to address their business needs. Our continued investment in our technical competence through our project services, managed services, application development, data centre and solution architecture teams means our clients can expect us to continue to deliver insights into the constant challenge that is technology innovation and how that can be used to their personal and professional advantage.

Business is most effective, most efficient and, ultimately, most jointly beneficial when we are able to operate with a high degree of trust. Establishing trust is a slow process requiring diligence, ongoing performance and translating insights into business improvements.

Darren Williams has been at the helm of Datacom South Australia since the office opened in 2006. From humble beginnings, Darren and the team grew the business by developing customer relationships built on trust and Datacom’s strong reputation.

Since establishing Datacom Systems in SA, Darren’s primary focus has been developing a strong outbound sales core and dedication to quality delivery on products and services. 

How Technology Has Changed Betting

It’s much more likely that this Melbourne Cup, you’ll be placing your bets online or through a mobile app instead of through TAB betting and in-person bookies. However, gaming machine technology has also advanced if you still like to play in person.

More than 30 per cent of betting in Australia now happens online, whether it’s Melbourne Cup race wagering or gaming, a jump from 10 per cent almost a decade ago, according to a report by the Productivity Commission. It was estimated that in Australia, online gaming spending was somewhere near $800 million in 2010. To stay on top of the competition, especially during peak events like Melbourne Cup, betting and gaming sites have also had to evolve their technology. As Michael Sullivan, owner of Sportingbet, said in a November 2010 article in The Australian, consumers want a fast, seamless user experience that demands a robust and reliable web site.

Gaming machines have also evolved, with richer features, graphics and networked games in addition to more advanced information technologies and online capabilities, according to a June 2010 report by the Privacy Commission. Gaming systems manufacturers and providers such as IGT committed to releasing new games and playing styles each quarter of 2012, proving another prediction in the Commission’s report that more gaming companies would invest in research and development to stay innovative.

Betting this Melbourne Cup? There’s an app for that

Also on the rise are mobile betting apps, whose value Juniper Research predicts will reach $100 billion in five years. Given Australia’s high smartphone penetration – 52 per cent, according to Google, an increase of 15 per cent from a year ago –, it makes sense these apps have become an attractive way for Australians to bet. Many of the major online betting sites in Australia now have their own mobile app, which will let more and more Melbourne Cup punters wager from home, work or the road.

Also savvier are illegal gaming sites and cyber threats related to them. The Australian Government’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy estimates there are more than 2,000 illegal gaming sites and reports Australians lose about $1 billion a year due to these entities. Malware, phishing and clickjacking scams have also increased, especially during events such as Melbourne Cup. It’s recommended Australians use gaming or wagering sites and apps from providers registered with state government bodies this Melbourne Cup. And don’t forget, you can you usedevice management to make sure your employees aren’t betting on company time through mobile gaming apps on their personal devices.

How will you make your wager this Melbourne Cup?

The Technology We’re Excited For in 2013

It’s that time of year again — of New Year’s resolutions, gift-giving, seeing family and making predictions on the next big things to hit the technology space in 2013. Everyone from Gartner to Mashable hasprophesied the trends, so we decided to turn inward to ask our Datacom community for its thoughts on the tech and IT crazes to take the world by storm as a new year dawns. Here’s what they had to say.

“The trends I am looking forward to in the year 2013 are 3D 4K televisions without the need of 3D glasses and pushing 4 X High Definition picture quality. This has been released in the US and Japan, so hopefully it will enter the Australian market in 2013. The other is the next generation of high-definition gaming systems like the Xbox 720 and the Sony PS4, which is coming soon in 2013 with a more interactive gaming experience. I would like to see how it’s going to change the world of gaming.

Wireless charging technology is taking off, and this will have a large presence in the year 2013, where a lot of the major technology manufacturers such as Intel, Samsung and Microsoft are backing this up for all types of devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones. I would like to see what they come up with to change the way we charge our electronic devices. Also last, but not least, I’m excited to see the next generation of Apple innovations coming out in year 2013 competing to hold their lead position on the mobile platforms and technologies space.”

Sanj Rajah, Principal Architect, Datacom NSW

“I’m excited about the innovation that the IT market will produce consequent to tightening IT budgets in 2013. We’ll all need to work smarter and more efficiently to keep ahead of the game.”

Tom Scicluna, Client Manager, Datacom ACT

“I’m looking forward to the new flexible phones coming out in 2013 — so when I drop mine, it bounces as opposed to shattering into a million pieces…..

spokesperson from Samsung says their screens will be ‘foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than…conventional LCD technology.’”

Andrew Bird, Business Development Manager, Datacom VIC

“There’s a creative app that is one of the things exciting me at the moment — I love to see new innovative experiences which demonstrate a synergy between mobility, creativity and commercial return.

I’ve recently started using a new app called Foap. As I’m an avid iPhonographer, this app essentially turns your iPhone photos into dollars. Snap a photo, upload it to Foap Market and it will be available for companies that may buy it, earning you money based on photos sold!”

Wasim Anwar, Pre-Sales Solutions Architect, Datacom WA

“With the dawn of touch computing (Windows 8, iOS) and the explosion of social media, the local market is keenly interested in gaining access to information quickly and is more mobile than ever before. Backed by strong server and virtualisation platforms, the ICT industry is innovating and evolving. Microsoft’s Surface tablet has begun to enable business-grade access to corporate networks and will lead the progression away from the traditional PC era.” 

Julian Buckley, Professional Services Business Manager, Datacom QLD

So now it’s your turn — what technology are you pumped for in the new year?