Recent Blog
Recent Blog

17 August 2018

Actioning a decision you don’t agree with

Author :

Whether you’re an executive assistant or a middle manager, one of the greatest frustrations is carrying out decisions that conflict directly with your opinions- perhaps even morals.

 You will likely find yourself performing the task and muttering bitterly to yourself, as well as those around you, that you’re not happy but you have to do it. Your attitude is passed on to the people around you and quickly creates an environment of resentment.

But you care about the future of your company. Your job, after all, is to help the organisation succeed which undermining the decision will do little to achieve.

The first question you ask should be to yourself: Do you trust the leadership of the organisation you work for? If you find yourself having a long mental pause it may be time to look for new opportunities elsewhere.

Otherwise you may need to consider your own stubbornness. Are you fixated on your own beliefs? Are you reluctant to consider alternatives to your own personal beliefs?

It’s logical any decision being made at an executive or board level has gone through rigorous assessment, consideration and discussion. That being said, if you see an issue which conflicts with your legal and ethical responsibilities, then you have a duty to voice your concern and continue voicing this until it is resolved.

The method of delivering the news to your team is important. Michelle Kankousy on Insperity suggests it could sound like, “I know this was a difficult decision for them. Several options were discussed over many weeks and they decided this was best for the longevity of the company.”

If your direct reports already know you disagree, it’s okay to say, “This isn’t the choice I would have made, but let’s try to implement this change to the best of our abilities. We can always suggest adjustments that will make this work better than we think right now.”

It’s in your best interests to be clear and reasonable after the decision has been made by not continually provoking the board or acting with hostility to those you disagree with.

Finally, remember there a few decisions which cannot be reversed. If the decision proves to have a negative effect on the company amendments can be made- with the added pleasure of a quiet “I told you so.”

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire is the manager of Akolade’s government and digital portfolio. She’s passionate about emerging digital trends, particularly in the public sector. In her spare time she enjoys picking up heavy things and putting them back down again and animals are her favourite kind of people. 

Follow me on LinkedIn for information regarding future Akolade events as well as future blogs posts @ Claire Dowler

15 August 2018

Community engagement key to educational success

Author :

Overall the education targets for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Children are not on track, according to the 2018 Closing the Gap report.

Neither attendance rates nor literacy and numeracy skills are on track, with school attendance rates appearing to have stagnated and have even gone backwards in the NT from 70.2 per cent in 2014 to 66.2 per cent in 2017.

Whilst the gap in literacy and numeracy skills has narrowed, only Year 9 numeracy is on track across all states and territories.

Despite the negative statistics, some schools are seeing some amazing results, and one of the key reasons for this is the schools’ relationships with the community and families.

It’s not just about teaching children in the classroom, but also getting the support from, and engaging, families, Elders and the community as a whole, and allowing them to have a say in their children’s education. When the family is engaged in their children’s education, so are the children.

Charlie (Wilbur) Klein is the principal of Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School, located over 600 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie in WA. He was earlier this year shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize award for his incredible contributions to his students and community.

Having worked in regional and remote education for the past 20 years, Klein has developed an effective leadership style in which he incorporates the whole of community. Tjuntjuntjara Remote Community School now operates on a school-community agreement, which includes teaching on country and including other people’s skills and knowledge.

Klein will share the successes of his work at the upcoming National Indigenous Education Forum, held in Perth on the 22-24 August.

Other education leaders sharing their work include;

John Rangiteremauri Heremia, Principal at Te Wharekura O Rakaumanga, who will be sharing the evolution of Maori education

Lionel Bamblett, from the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association, who will share how they collaborate with community and government bodies to see systematic and sustained change

Taffi U‘ilei Wise from Kanu o ka ‘Aina Learning ‘Ohana in Hawaii who will speak about Native Hawaiian Charter School Alliance’s  education model

Ricky Grace, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Girls Academy, will speak about how to get the community involved in the school.

Visit the National Indigenous Economic Development Forum’s website for more information:

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Naomi Neilson

Recently graduated with a Bachelor in Communications with a major in Journalism and Public Relations, Naomi Neilson has jumped straight into the world of media and press with Third Sector. She is motivated and passionate to explore the industry and thrives on creating an interactive and social platform for Third Sectors unique readers.

In her free time she can be found either watching the footy or designing her next big art piece around sourcing stories and engaging with new people.

Follow me on LinkedIn for information regarding future Akolade events as well as future blogs posts Naomi Neilson

14 August 2018

Maintaining ongoing cyber security within government organisations

Author :

Sometimes, the biggest misconceptions with cyber security are to associate products and services with an ideal cyber security strategy and create a bulletproof level of confidence.  However, most of Australia's ASX 20 organisations including the top four banking institutes, financial services, capital markets and of course the government sector couldn't be further from the truth.

Let’s take a look back over the last couple of years and months - recent hacks have compromised some real sensitive details such as payroll information, user personality tests, medical records, performance reviews, drivers’ licenses, personal addresses etc.  As you can think, organisations at this tier spends millions on cyber prevention however, organisations get involved in an incredible amount of cyber security risk and breaches.  Why?

Often at times people talk about ‘people’ being the weakest link in the cyber security chain.  I disagree.  People aren't the weakest link if they are utilised correctly.  "IT" people see users as liabilities, however, "IT" people do very little to empower, educate and create recurring moments where if users see, or feel something wrong is happening they challenge the situation.  In most cases attacks happen in less than 2 hours by doing a targeted attack on an individual.  Creating a level of pain, or associating a level of discomfort where the user will likely want to know "more information" and getting the user, to do a certain action which essentially causes the breach.

Using and complying with ISO standards is a good starting point, but as anything else it needs more attention.

As part of our cyber security strategy the number one tactic many organisations use is: to ensure they are ISO compliant –making sure they are following the "frameworks and industry best practices to prevent attacks" however, it doesn't seem to do much.  Having policies, documentation, standards and processes doesn't mean anything.  I'm here to give you the understanding that attacks are real and guess what - organisations are doing exactly what each other are doing - they are following one another and are in a state of what I call "mob mentality ". Organisations should rather be in their own dedicated cyber security tier and develop specific strategies that align with their core business challenges.

Sometimes the best strategies and tactics to developing a winning cyber security strategy is often having minimal and simple technology and no flashy lights.  -Not wanting to have the latest and greatest but implementing clear and simple strategies that can take your organisation from a somewhat

I can't wait to share with you some tactics that cost literally $0 to implement and give you a real false positive notification of an actual threat taking place.

Still interested? Come and see my workshop on Maintaining ongoing cyber security within government organisations at the Digital Government WA Summit 2018, Perth from the 4-6 December.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Andrew Constantine, Founder & Managing Director, CIO Cyber Security 

Andrew Constantine is the founder of Australia's Largest Private Community of technology leaders specialising in preventing cyber security threats with more than 3,000 private members.  His vision is to improve traditional cyber security education by introducing the real world approach.

Being the author of the CIO Solution Book - This was followed by the launch of CIO Cyber Security, a private advisory firm designed to help fellow Technology Leaders raise more cyber security awareness to executive management, by running simulated cyber security attacks and cyber warefare scenarios in a controlled environment.
 Andrew is an advocate of giving back to the community and supports Bear Cottage -fundraising and supporting children with life-limiting conditions.

09 August 2018

Measuring the levels of data maturity to capitalise on data accuracy – THE ICONIC

Author :

As we head into a world where organisations are becoming more and more dependent on data and analytics, the Head of Analytics and Data Science from The ICONIC divulges into where the industry is going and key steps to transform into a data-driven organisation.

Kshira Saagar:

At a very high level, there are two big challenges for a Data and Analytics team at any organisation:
  • Credibility
  • Time to insight.

Credibility refers to the aspect of the end user’s willingness to believe, agree and action on the top of our data-driven insights - and to get any logical thinking person across the spectrum of belief to action using data as your only tool is quite a challenge.

Following on from the first challenge is the natural second one of deriving fast and useful actionable insights from the humongous volume of data rapidly. As the famous adage goes, decisions don’t wait for data - so if the data and insights are not ready in time for decisions to be made, they most likely end up being exercises in vanity on a nice little PowerPoint buried within someone’s unread mails.

The future for any data-related initiative must be able to answer and accommodate three major components:

  • Scale
  • Veracity
  • Access
Scale - the one thing that we can predict confidently about the future is that the size of the data and the input sources for data collection will definitely increase exponentially. This means a lot of current approaches and technologies to data warehousing from 15-20 years ago will no longer help us with the data needs of the future - leading us to rethink a data architecture based on the new age data solutions - for the next 5 years, if not more.

Veracity - with such a big volume and velocity of data, comes the problem of veracity - i.e. data credibility. Collecting and processing millions and millions of rows/tuples/columns of data in a day is all fine but it will all mean nothing if, at the end of it all, the data is deemed unreliable and incorrect. A lot of older data solutions encourage data collection over data verification. Performing real-time event-driven algorithmic data integrity checks sits outside these solutions or need to be over engineered, which highlights the need for a new architecture that can not only collect process and clean data but also provide the options to check for integrity and provide more confidence over the data collected.

Access - the biggest roadblock to a future-looking solution is that given the lack of maturity of these solutions in the market, making data collected and processed on these platforms accessible to a wider section of the company becomes a challenge - not only for the wider business folk, but also to the common analyst who’s not too happy about having to write complicated Scala code to be able to even start interacting with data. This makes it absolutely imperative to come up with an accessible-for-all last mile that integrates well with the future data platform.

One crucial suggestion for companies investing in going deeper would be:
·         To set up a less fragmented and more cohesive foundation for their data and analytics teams.
That involves thinking about the data and analytics team as a horizontal, and not like a vertical tied to individual departments. Think of Data and Analytics as you would think of your Finance or Human Resources team - horizontal for the whole company.

Rather than having a separate Marketing Analytics department that churns out amazing insights into customer behaviour and another separate Product Analytics department that in turn generate their own deeper insights running counter to the aforementioned first team which is quite consuming in terms of time and energy - it pays to have all the Analysts and Data Scientists under one common umbrella but still deputed to work for individual teams. This is where cross functional thinking plays a big role and can not only unify data initiatives but also help in scaling them efficiently.

The data-action loop is getting closed faster than widely expected and I expect this momentum to keep growing upwards. For quite a long time data and analytics was pigeon-holed mostly within certain groups like Strategy and Marketing teams, and the output of most of this work ended up in the limbo land of PowerPoints and inboxes. The data-action loop was mostly never closed and analysts/data scientists could “predict” stuff and get away with incorrect and sometimes invalid findings - because the actions were never taken on the back of this data and analyses. This was and is not particularly motivating to data teams that want to make a serious impact and causes a vicious cycle of ineffectiveness.

But now that’s changing. Be it an in-house data team or an external consultancy, everyone is asked to ‘prove’ the value of their data-driven insights, offerings and strategies - and this can be seen reflected in how senior leadership and executive teams have started approaching the data angle. The landscape has evolved to an extent where it has become easy to “measure” effectiveness of a strategy, insight and/or the solutions powered by data. Data-driven insights can no longer hide behind the veil of “you-didn’t-implement-it”

When this healthy trend keeps growing, it will ensure that data is no longer a ‘good-to-have-eye-candy’ on a document but will be the centerpiece of all decision making. In turn, that will lead to people working in data and analytics to feel more vindicated about their work and feel the output from their teams are valued. Which finally will ensure that the these happy data team members produce amazing and more boundary-pushing outputs which will benefit the end customers’ overall experience with an organisation.

Still interested? Come and see me speak about Measuring the levels of data maturity to capitalise on data accuracy at the Australian Data Summit 2018 Sydney from the 19-21 November.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Kshira Saagar, Head of Analytics and Data Science, THE ICONIC

Kshira Saagar (Shee-Ruh Sa-Ga) has been with the Analytics/Decision Sciences industry for almost a decade now having worked across Americas, Asia, Europe and more importantly Australia. The bulk of his work has been focussed on developing solutions for the Analytics problem spaces of the Retail, Telecom and Insurance marketing departments at some of the leading Fortune 100 clients. In his other roles, he has enabled decision making through data for clients from the Media, Healthcare, Aviation, Logistics and FMCG organisations.

In his current role at The Iconic, as the Head of Analytics and Data Sciences, he's responsible for understanding and enabling data driven decision making. Previously at Datalicious & prior to that at Fairfax, he was responsible for institutionalising data-driven analytics across the company’s core competencies and building new-age analytical products for the organisation.

03 August 2018

It’s Show Time! - WA’s New Cyber Security Initiatives

Author :

With Western Australia having launched the Office of Digital Government under the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the importance of driving the public sector’s digital capability have never been greater.

WA’s McGowan Government is now investing more than $500,000 into the creation of a dedicated cybersecurity team to improve public sector cyber security. To put it simply, WA is driving digital and cyber security transformation. They promised a better approach to cyber security and that’s exactly what they are doing.

In summary, the McGowan Government’s approach to cybersecurity is a force to be reckoned with. They are implementing the following:
  • $7.4 million in funding for the new Office of Digital Government
  • More than $500,000 for a new cyber security team, who will develop whole-of-government cyber security initiatives
  •      The establishment of a Cyber Security Reference Group, comprising of representatives from 9 public sector agencies, to support development of a whole-of-government approach to cyber security
  •       A partnership with Edith Cowan University-  a globally recognised cybersecurity institution to collaborate on projects that improve the security of the WA public sector

What begun on July 1 2018 the Office of Digital Government initiated work as a discrete business unit within the Department of Premier Cabinet to drive public sector digital capability and improve cyber security issues that were neglected in the past eight years by the Liberal Government.

In a public statement, ICT Minister Dave Kelly stated “As the business of modern government becomes increasingly driven by technology and data, government must be prepared for the growing threat of cyber attacks”.

In early 2016, a Trojan virus ‘penetrated WA Parliament’s information technology network despite sophisticated firewall virus protection’ and affected key ICT systems. To avoid such a breach, WA is taking key steps to empower the public sector with confidence and systems to ensure that if such a threat occurs again, they are equipped and ready to handle it.

By forging the partnership with Edith Cowan University, the WA Government have made it clear that that they are joining forces to keep Western Australia resilient and safe against all cyber security threats.

The 1st of July 2018 saw Western Australia experience their most trans-formative ride ever. The public sector is joining forces to ensure that WA is prepared for a smarter, safer and reliable Digital WA. It’s Show Time!

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Vishi Peters 

Vishi is a Conference Producer of Akolade’s Government and Digital portfolio. She has a strong interest in current affairs and enjoys giving an educated opinion about emerging trends. She is passionate about photography, enjoys playing cricket and cooking different cuisines and expanding her knowledge of food.  

Follow me on LinkedIn for information regarding future Akolade events as well as future blogs posts @ Vishi Peters

30 July 2018

Why it’s dangerous not to own your own channels

Author :
Brands have long used social platforms to connect with and build out their audiences. Collecting fans like baseball cards, they would pour significant ad spend into Facebook’s brand-favouring algorithms, relying on third-party data to deliver ads and reach potential new users. Obviously, this has changed significantly in the last six months as Facebook removed third-party data offerings and updated the news feed feature to prioritise user content vs. branded content.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a social company has shaken things up. When Twitter shut down Vine in early 2017, it was devastating for brands and influencers that relied heavily on the video app to reach their thousands (and sometimes millions) of viewers. By delivering content on a channel they neither owned nor operated, they had given up the right to own their audiences as well, and had to dramatically shift to new channels to stay afloat.

So what does this mean?

It means that brands taking a long term perspective by building directly-owned audiences will ultimately be better off than those renting theirs from social platforms. Smart companies need to be asking themselves: how do we build audiences that are safe from external forces?

A brand should own its audience and means of content delivery - and now more than ever, the tools to do so are readily available. The elements needed for owned and operated channels are simple:

Something of interest that will drive people to your site.

This can truly be anything, as long as it’s of value to your audience. Thought-provoking and relevant content is a big one, like new blog posts, high quality video assets, product stories, case studies, etc. Having a major sale is another surefire way to draw people in. By driving consumers to your site, rather than engaging with them on social, you are increasing the chance that they might stay, look around, and become a repeat customer.

A quality CRM and marketing system.

The marketing value that comes from social platforms is their ability to gather, store and distribute information about individuals. Understanding consumer behavior is critical, which is why brands are drawn to using those channels. But with a proper CRM, you have the ability to create your own system of collecting data around your user behavior. Even on a small scale, mimicking how sites like Facebook track user data will add value to your company and get you set up to best market your products.

A sense of community.

It’s called social media for a reason - people are simply drawn to other people. Creating a sense of community on your own channel, where like-minded consumers can interact with each other as well as with your brand, is definitely going to set you apart.
To put it simply, companies don’t have to rely solely on Facebook and YouTube to communicate with their followers, and every day we’re seeing more and more moving in the direction of owning and operating their own channels. By driving people to their own websites and delivering content to them directly, they are ensuring their own future success and eliminating external risks altogether. So the next time there is a shake-up in the social arena - which is a ‘when’, not an ‘if’ - make sure you are not on the short end of that stick.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Fritz Brumder

CEO & Co-Founder, Brandlive 

27 July 2018

Defining conversions when you’re not selling anything

Author :

A key challenge facing digital marketers within the government sector is measuring success in dollars and cents. How can you go on spending when you don’t know what it has bought you? How can you measure your return on investment when the investment is hefty and the return is, well… ambiguous?

This phenomenon can ultimately make it difficult to garner support for digital investment and justify your existence. Finding a currency that doesn’t include a dollar sign is important. Identifying your currency and understanding how it adds value can help justify your current expenditure, focus your efforts and build your credibility when asking for additional investment. And at the end of the day, reinforce that it’s all been worthwhile.

So, what does a non-fiscal currency look like?

There are many metrics that can form your currency, including traffic (any sort of analytics, e.g. web pageviews, sessions, repeat visits, time on page etc.), sentiment (a measure of how much users like you, e.g. ‘was this webpage helpful?’, social media monitoring of positive/negative/neutral comments), and utility (a measure of how your content is being amplified, e.g. social shares, interactions and tagging).

It’s all well and good to talk about metrics as currency, but what if what you are doing isn’t measurable? If that’s the case, stop. And rethink your content strategy. Success needs to be measurable. It can be as simple as ‘increase traffic to a web page’.

Further, your content strategy should be directed by your audience’s needs and desires. They will decide what they like and what they don’t; what adds value and what is ignored.

If you don’t know your audience is and what they like, start investigating. Start with looking at your social media analytics on demographic make-up – who makes up the largest portion of your Facebook followers, and more importantly who makes up the largest portion of your Facebook engagement? Or, look at your email content that gets the most clicks.

Failing that, ask them. It’s remarkable how much you can glean from a short web survey or Facebook poll.

Now you know what your audience likes and what a successful campaign looks like, it’s time to define your end goal, i.e. your conversion. This conversion should be tangible like an email registration, a document download, or as simple as a hit on a campaign splash page. Defining your marketing effort with a dollar value (advertising spend, microsite build, consultant fees etc.) will enable you to amortise your spend across each conversion. How many conversions? How much did it cost? Voila! You have your ROI.

Compare apples with apples, campaign with campaign. Even after a handful of campaigns, you’ll start to get an idea of what your ROI is on CPM (cost per 1000 impressions, CTR (click-through rate), conversions (e.g. email registration) etc. Report on this, talk in dollars and cents. Everyone understands dollars and cents.

Reporting on your campaigns over time helps you establish what a good ROI is. It will help guide your efforts in planning future, and optimising existing campaigns.

In summary measure what you can, report on what you measure, and ensure your reports show improvement.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Kieran Clarke

Head Of Digital Engagement, Public Affairs at VicRoads

23 July 2018

Technology and Logistics: The Odd Couple

Author :

When I started my career in logistics in 2001, the most impressive piece of technology in our business were the vending machines in the lunchroom. If a customer wanted to know where their delivery was, we would call the driver’s mobile, and then ring the customer back on theirs. If they needed a proof of delivery, we’d fax it through. Two years down the track, we were getting pretty excited about the ability to book jobs online. Warehousing wasn’t much different - our clients were typically wanting to store slow-moving goods, or bricks and mortar retail stores holding replenishment stock.

In 2005 when I started importing and distributing footwear, I leased a warehouse in Sydney and stacked it with thousands of pairs of shoes, receipting each pair manually, we had no automation or warehouse management system to speak of. When I landed my first deal with David Jones and they asked if we were ‘EDI compliant’ I answered yes, and quickly googled what the heck EDI meant.

The incredible growth of eCommerce in Australia is showing no signs of slowing down, and it’s dragging a variety of Aussie industries and businesses with it. Even old-school ‘bricks and mortar’ icons like Gerry Harvey, who in 2008 famously labelled online business as a ‘con’, and claimed online businesses do not make any money. I lost count of the number of retailers who told me their customers preferred the ‘experience’ of shopping in store, some of whom have struggled in recent years. In 2018 Harvey Norman claims to be Amazon’s most ‘formidable opposition’, demonstrating the need to embrace Australia’s new found love of online shopping. Love it or loathe it, technology is advancing, and for many freight providers, DC’s, 3PL’s or retail businesses, it’s a case of evolve or die.

I think it’s fair to say that the growth of eCommerce in Australia has brought about a somewhat symbiotic relationship between freight and technology.  As eCommerce grows, naturally freight volumes continue to grow in-line, and as freight grows, technology companies have latched onto that growth. Those that have hung on for the ride, find themselves in an accelerated position, like the strangler fig in the daintree rainforest, which attaches itself to a bigger tree in the hope of reaching the canopy, often becoming bigger than the tree it harnessed.

In 2018 the fascinating rise of tech companies winning freight business continues. Companies with no vehicles of their own are doing some serious volume on the back of crowdsourcing great rates for everyone from mum and dad eBay sellers to multinational retailers, and giving the small guys economy of scale benefits usually reserved for the heavy hitters. In addition they have the the technical nouse to deliver a generally superior user experience in areas like tracking and returns. Tech in fulfillment is becoming so lucrative, that some players like Aftership are focusing almost solely on the tracking piece, whereas others like Shippit will provide the all-in package.

Warehouses and DC’s face a different challenge all together. Mid 2000’s plenty of 3PL’s were still relying on accessing the back-end of their client’s website to pick orders, or if you were really tech-savvy, an FTP server was used to exchange data. These days it’s all about API’s, and instant communication between merchant, warehouse, courier and customer. Warehouse automation has moved past conveyors, to robots picking orders overnight, to machines that make branded boxes to size.

Technology and logistics are well and truly intertwined, and tech companies have levelled the playing field for smaller businesses, creating a free market. The challenge for freight and logistics companies is to become more agile and innovative, to continue to invest in technology, and to learn from the guys who are changing the way freight and logistics looks in Australia. Presently at Showpo, we continue to deal directly with a variety of carriers, while least-cost routing the trade-lanes ourselves. We believe this helps us to offer a premium service, free to our customers, without too many middle-men clipping the ticket along the way. That’s not to say that might change in the future, as the evolution in this space has been rapid and impressive - Watch this space.

Still interested? Stay tuned for information on upcoming conferences and summits by following us on Facebook @ Akolade Aust 

Written by: Paul Waddy

Paul is the Operations Manager of Showpo, one of Australia's most successful ecommerce businesses. Paul founded an omni-channel men's footwear business in 2007, and has been importing and distributing products around the world for more than 10 years, including exporting to some of the world’s leading retailers including Asos, Zalora, Zalando and many more. Paul’s role at Showpo includes overseeing the supply chain, including two warehouses in Sydney and LA, Payment Gateways, and the Customer Happiness Department.