Recent Blog
Recent Blog

22 June 2017

Technology-enabled teaching methods dramatically improves STEM learning and skill development

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Research conducted by the University of Canberra STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) in collaboration with tech giant Samsung has announced some pretty interesting findings this week.

Investigating the effects of a practical approach to mathematics education, the project found that integrating technology into primary school teaching practice increased students’ spatial reasoning and mathematical capability scores. In addition to this, it was also demonstrated that the integration of technology devices into secondary school science investigations improved student’s design-process thinking and inquiry-based learning.

The findings were presented at the Parliament House earlier this week in the presence of Craig Laundy, Assistant Minister for Industry Innovation and Science, and are a clear demonstration of the contributions to be made from industry participation in STEM research and education.

Education Minister, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham said the collaboration between Samsung and the University of Canberra highlighted how businesses and researchers could join forces to deliver real potential benefits for Australians.

“The Turnbull Government is focused on ensuring all students have the support they need to succeed and we encourage contributions like this one from Samsung and the University of Canberra because they have the potential to give young Australians even more opportunities,” Minister Birmingham said.

It’s clear that these partnerships have much to contribute to the national effort to reform the science and mathematics curriculum. Universities and industry need to continue the shift into this mindset and increase efforts to form partnerships, so we can collaboratively reignite a national interest in STEM education and fuel future productivity in the economy.

Samsung’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Tess Ariotti, says the findings hold significance not only for educators and policy makers but also for the wider community.

“By bringing together the best of Samsung digital technologies with proven creative design methods and world-leading science research, Samsung has gained a better understanding of training that can improve math performance and STEM education practices,” Tess said.

Professor Tom Lowrie, University of Canberra’s SERC Director, said “the research has allowed us to open the door to opportunities for action-based educational experiences and greater collaboration with educators and the wider STEM industry.”

Tess Ariotti and Tom Lowrie are co-presenting at the Future-Proofing STEM Industries summit, discussing the collaborative work being done between Samsung and the University of Canberra and the potential for nationwide STEM education reform with education-industry partnerships.

Join us at the event to hear from Tess and Tom, as well as numerous other case studies from top industry and university speakers.

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!

Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!

Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places. 

19 June 2017

Ctrl+alt+delete- Rebooting our digital government with the US Department of State

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Five years into a comprehensive Digital Government Strategy, the US Department of State has transformed the way they deliver digital services to the American people.

Fore-fronting the movement as the Director of the Office of Digital, Bureau of International Information Programs, is Sheila Rose Campbell. Her team is responsible for managing the digital platform for the 200+ U.S. embassy websites and providing industry-leading digital tools to support the Department’s public affairs staff worldwide.

Our Senior Conference Producer Claire Dowler chatted with Sheila ahead of Akolade’s Australian Digital Government Summit to discuss the Bureau’s progress in digitising their services as well as future initiatives.   

Claire: Your department has been undertaking the digital transition for several years now- what are some of the biggest achievements to date?

Sheila: Our bureau with the Department of State -- the Bureau of International Information Programs, which serves as our Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy shop -- has adopted a "digital first" vision for transforming the way we work and how we support our colleagues at our 200+ embassies worldwide.  Our biggest achievements have been to modernize our digital platforms for both our employees and our external customers. Internally, we've created a holistic, modern workplace and provided secure cloud-based tools so everyone on our team can work anywhere, anytime, on any device. Externally, we've modernized and consolidated our embassy websites under a unified, secure, scalable platform, reducing the number of sites from over 450 to less than 200. We moved off an old, obsolete platform, reduced our footprint by over half, improved the mobile experience for our users, and reduced the amount of time to publish content by nearly two-thirds. 

Claire: What has been your greatest challenge as you move to digital platforms? How did you overcome it?

Sheila: Our biggest challenge hasn't been moving to digital platforms per se, since we've been using digital technology extensively for years. Internally, the hard part has been educating people about the benefits of cloud and commercial technology, especially when there is so much misinformation about the cloud not being secure. Because senior leadership often feels intimidated by technology, it is too easy for people to say that some of this new technology is not "secure," which typically shuts down thoughtful decision-making. And leaders don't always know how to ask the right questions. So change management has been a challenge and is often overlooked.  We've overcome some of this by piloting emerging technology at a very small scale, where we can create a proof-of-concept and show some quick wins and the "art of the possible" to key stakeholders. 

Claire: What are some of the future goals for the Department of State? What sort of services do you hope to be able to deliver digitally?

Sheila: One of our biggest priorities is to roll-out a Contact Relationship Management tool (CRM) to our overseas colleagues and domestic offices.  Contacts are the currency of everything we do in public diplomacy, so it's critical for us to have a unified platform that can track all our relationships, the history of those interactions, and deliver better, targeted services based on people's individual interests.  Right now, we have too many people trying to manage contacts via business cards, rolodexes, Excel spreadsheets, and clunky legacy systems that are extremely inefficient.  With a modern, unified CRM, we have the potential to deliver better services to help people from other countries work, visit, and study in the U.S., and share targeted information about policy issues that are important to them such as  women's entrepreneurship and civil society.

Claire: What have been the benefits of adopting cloud technology?

Sheila: The biggest benefits have been a significant increase in mobility, collaboration, and productivity. People are no longer chained to their desks to get their jobs done. We've been able to move away from the dependence on email and move to a greater diversity of tools that are more open and collaborative, which is the same experience that people have in their personal lives. It's also increased staff morale, recruitment, and retention, because people know that the organization is investing in modern, familiar tools that will make their jobs easier.  The next generation of foreign service officers expect this kind of workplace environment, and if we don't provide it, we'll lose the best and brightest talent to other more forward-leaning organizations. 

Claire: What advice would you offer Government departments embarking on their digital journey?

Sheila: I would recommend starting small by piloting new digital tools within a program office/business unit that has a clear use case, rather than try to move to an enterprise solution right away.  Get some traction and quick wins first on a small scale where the risk is low and you can clearly show the value of the new technology in meeting a critical need.  And above all, invest in change management since that's more important than the actual technology.  Within the pilot, choose commercial technology that people are already familiar with to reduce the burden on staff and training. Make sure you have strong leadership who will model use of the digital tools themselves, as well as grassroots support. Regardless of whether your digital transformation is internal or external, be sure to adopt a user-centred design approach where you constantly focus on the customer experience and you regularly use data to make continuous improvements.

Sheila is presenting the international keynote at the AustralianDigital Government Summit, co-located with the AustralianGovernment Cloud Summit from July 25-27 at the Mercure Sydney. Bringing together 50+ national and international speakers, the events explore how the public sector can drive transformational change and establish end-to-end digital processes.



Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.




Fore-fronting the movement as the Director of the Office of Digital, Bureau of International Information Programs, is Sheila Rose Campbell. Her team is responsible for managing the digital platform for the 200+ U.S. embassy websites and providing industry-leading digital tools to support the Department’s public affairs staff worldwide.

Before joining the Department of State, Sheila served as the Director of Digital Integration at the Peace Corp, where she coordinated innovative digital solutions to support 7,000 Volunteers overseas.
While at the U.S. General Services Administration, she led the Centre for Excellence in Digital Government and the Federal Web Managers Council, helped develop the U.S. Digital Government Strategy, and spearheaded the .gov Reform Initiative to streamline federal websites. 

15 June 2017

Leaders to gather in Cairns to discuss Indigenous Economic Development

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Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and its people remain disadvantaged in several ways. But the urge to keep fighting for better life prospects remains strong. People from across the nation will travel to Cairns to join forces.

One of them is Karen Diver; Former Special Adviser to President Barack Obama on Native American Affairs and Former Chairwoman of the Native American tribe Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Ms Diver told how “Indigenous communities world-wide share many commonalities towards achieving self-sufficiency. Exploring best practices and where we can learn from each other is always valuable.”

One of the main issues is around economic development. Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia suffer from poor conditions with not enough financially successful businesses and few employment opportunities for its people.

But economic development is a complex interrelated issue which cannot happen as a programme initiative, said Ms Diver.

“It is best rooted in an environment that is holistic including education, housing, equity and other underlying support systems.”

Ms Diver will be travelling from the US to Cairns to deliver a keynote presentation at the National IndigenousEconomic Development Forum between 28th – 30th June. Ms Diver will be sharing her knowledge from working towards economic development within Native American communities.

“There is a wide spectrum among the 567 Native American Tribes on their path to economic development. Some Tribes are land rich, but lack access to population centres, and others have more social capital to draw from.  We'll explore more at the conference what these differences mean as far as strength and weaknesses in economic development.”

But mostly, Ms Diver is particularly looking forward to engaging with and celebrating the Aboriginal culture.

If you’re interested in joining Ms Diver as well as other Indigenous leaders from across Australia, visit: https://akolade.com.au/events/4th-national-indigenous-economic-development-forum/




Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.



08 June 2017

Government procurement professionals have to be strategic, not just transactional

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There can be no doubt that 2017 is a tough and challenging year for the public sector. This means challenges and hopefully opportunities for procurement professionals across the public sector. There is less money with further and deeper cuts to expenditure and services. Over the last decade public sector procurement professionals have been asked or perhaps on many occasions told to respond to financial pressures. In many cases they have responded well; but sadly too often this has not been the case. The pressures and expectations on this cadre of public servants will increase in 2017 and beyond. It could be the year when public procurement professionals demonstrate their great value to their organisations and to the public. It won’t be easy but it is necessary.

The most important response that public sector procurement officials should make is to act professionally. This means being ready to challenge flawed policy and executive proposals and decisions; and wherever possible to offer alternative options for achieving the desired goals. There will often be a need to demonstrate the long-term dis-benefits of what may seem like good short-term expediency – be it buying cheap and poorly made goods, procuring poor quality, etc. – when this will lead to poorer procurement outcomes, or outsourcing when this could lead to poorer service quality, reduced employment conditions and in the long term higher costs. Public procurement professionals have to be strategic, not just transactional.

The Australian Government Procurement Week being held at the Grace Hotel Sydney from 26 – 28 July 2017 will help procurement professionals to improve current public sector procurement operations and processes in order to maximise value for money outcomes. The 4 streams at the Summit will specifically focus on establishing stronger supplier partnerships to improve purchasing outcomes, designing more cost efficient contract and procurement frameworks, driving innovation and sustainability within public sector procurement operations and improving ICT sourcing and procurement strategies.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.

05 June 2017

Industry 4.0 needs digitally-literate innovators in Australia

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Australia’s workforce is ageing and the development of technical skills is not keeping pace with the retirements. We have a static rate of graduates, high dropout rates and lower and lower numbers of secondary students interested in completing the required maths and science to enter engineering.

It seems that the appeal of STEM is dwindling amongst Australia’s young people – a looming catastrophe in world of accelerating technological change.

We are in the midst of a new digital revolution known as industry 4.0. Technology is changing the way we live, work and play and shaping major trends in globalisation, automation, collaboration and the way businesses operate.  

It’s unquestionable that Australia needs to cultivate more cooperation and collaborative networks between education and industry to combat this. Closer engagement benefits schools, universities, businesses and students by providing them with vital job skills necessary for employment, but only 1 in 7 undergraduate students in the natural and physical sciences participates in industry programs.

If we’re going to developing these greater collaborative networks, the promotion of industry interaction through the curriculum in education is an area that warrants increased investment and attention. The promotion of STEM education and training is another focus area – participation in science subjects in Australian schools is at the lowest level in 20 years, and our ranking in school-level scientific literacy dropped between 2006 to 2012.

Akolade’s Future-Proofing STEM Industries Summit is addressing this head-on. You’ll find Australia’s most knowledgeable experts and thought-leaders all in one place, there to discuss how Australia is going to nurture a stronger pipeline for jobs requiring STEM skills.

Don’t miss out! Be part of the discussion on 19th -21st September in Sydney.

Written by: Beth Hampton

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!

Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!

Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.







02 June 2017

Adapting your contact centre KPIs to drive growth

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In an age of increasing customer-centricity, where we value service quality and the ability to access information through any channel of our choosing, KPIs such as average handling time and average talk time are not only redundant but counter-productive to your end business goals.

Consider instead implementing the following KPIs to maximise efficiency as well as effectiveness:

1. First call resolution

This KPI is a direct reflection of customer satisfaction and many argue it is the most important statistic you can measure. “It is the percentage of calls that the agent completely addresses the caller’s needs without having to transfer, escalate or return the call,” as explained by TalkDesk.

2. Customer satisfaction

Usually assessed through surveys and quality assurance measurements, customer satisfaction requires constant monitoring in order to inform your contact centres’ engagement strategy.

3. Agent absenteeism

Disengaged staff take more sick leave than their engaged counterparts. According to Auscontact, call centre workers recorded an average of 11.2 sick days annually, higher than the Australian average of 8.6. While a sly sickie or two is well within the rights of your agents, excessive absenteeism can have a drastic impact on scheduling, staffing and your bottom line. If your sick leave rates have you heaving it might be time to optimise your workforce management practices.

4. Turnover rate


Higher rates of agent absenteeism often go hand in hand with an elevated turnover rate. “This is the percentage of agents who leave the call center to work elsewhere. Agent turnover rate significantly impacts customer satisfaction, call center scheduling and team morale, thus it should be included on a list of metrics to track over time,” TalkDesk says.

Join us at the Contact Centre Summit to gain proven techniques from industry leaders on how to optimise your contact centre's operations and enhance the customer experience through emerging technology, workforce optimisation and effective use of customer data and analytics.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

31 May 2017

Leaders gather in Uluru to discuss constitutional recognition

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Indigenous communities around Australia are suffering from poverty and neglect.

Despite the fact that this for long has been a known issue and the government keeps coming up with various strategies and plans, the problem continues.

Hundreds of members from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have come together for the National Indigenous Constitutional Convention in Uluru this week, to discuss constitutional changes.

The aim is to establish what recognition means to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The information will then inform a final referendum that will be handed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

Labor’s Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the lower house, recalls to when she was ten years old in 1967, the year when Indigenous Australians were first allowed to be counted in the process.

Now, as a politician, she has another opportunity to drive change.

"Our job as politicians and as the parliament will be to receive the report, receive the outcomes of Uluru and work with those outcomes in terms of putting forward constitutional reform, the question and the timeframe for a constitutional referendum," Burney said according to News.com.

"The time has come in this country for Australia to finish the job of truth-telling in terms of our referendum, recognising aboriginal people, removing the race powers and looking at the other issues that come out of Uluru," Burney continued.

As leaders meet to discuss a rigorous principled approach, with a focus on the already existing variety of legal arrangements for Indigenous people across Australia. Since 1901, only eight out of 44 referendums have succeeded.
“We have a synthesis of the twelve dialogues from around the country, and we’ve pulled out of that some guiding principles … that will underscore the discussion,” said Pat Anderson said, Referendum Council co-chair, according to the Australian.

Amongst them, she said, was the crucial principle that “we will not do anything that abrogates our sovereignty”.
Specifically to discuss driving economic independence through strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander enterprises and practical employment strategies, Akolade brings you the 4th National Indigenous Economic Development Forum, returning to Cairns this 28-30 June 2017. 
Join us to hear from leaders across sectors and across the nation on strategies to strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and communities, create sustainable job opportunities and effective pathways into employment.
Written by: Mimmie Wilhelmson
Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

29 May 2017

The security challenges facing Industrial IoT

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A lot of the excitement and press surrounding the Internet of Things centres on home automation, wearable electronics, and other consumer applications. But industrial applications of the IoT, such as predictive maintenance and integration of the supply chain are likely to be the more compelling use cases, at least in terms of ROI. 

However, for Industrial IoT to realize its potential, it must overcome some substantial security challenges.

Virtually everyone agrees that security is a critical issue for Internet-connected industrial systems. Dell Inc., a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium, listed security at the top of its list of IIoT challenges.

It doesn't take much to extrapolate an attack to a company with Internet connected devices
The technical challenge is to secure Internet-connected devices from cyber network attacks, as well as local physical attacks.

A similar challenge exists for the cloud-hosted services, such as data analytics. The business challenge is to ensure that security is taken seriously and designed in by the equipment vendors, not looked at as a cost centre and patched on after the fact.

A group called the Industrial Internet Consortium (ICC) is already increasing awareness around the IoT security discussion. The Industrial Internet Consortium, formed in 2014 by AT&T, Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM, and Intel to accelerate adoption of the Industrial IoT, now has more than 200 members working to address these security challenges. 

They recently released the Industrial Internet Security Framework (IISF) that lays out best practices to assess risks to protect organizations. They are making steps in the right direction by promoting collaboration between companies to improve data security for the Industrial IoT, but the only realistic way to secure the plethora of valuable IoT data is through encryption. If the data being hijacked is protected with the highest level of encryption, it can prevent malicious use by cybercriminals.


The industrial IoT market is currently focused on reducing operational risks and improving business efficiency, but it is important for companies to stay focused on the ever-growing cyberthreats as the IoT expands into new markets. The harm that comes with a lack of data security would easily outweigh the benefits of an industrial internet and even result in physical threat and damage.

Want more on the accelerating Industrial IoT journey? Don't miss Akolade's Industrial IoT Summit coming to Melbourne this 20-22 September 2017!

Bringing together some of the most exciting and innovative case studies from leading Industrial Internet stakeholders, this ground-breaking Summit addresses the most significant challenges the Industrial Internet of Things is facing today and what is needed in terms of knowledge, technology, innovation, investment, collaboration and strategy to fully benefit from its potential.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.