27 October 2017

Social media teams in government embracing shift to video

Author :
You sit up quickly when Facebook tells you Australians spend on average just 1.4 seconds looking at a post on a mobile phone. How do you get a message across in such a short time?
It was just one of the many challenges and insights at this 9th Social Media in government conference by Akolade Australia in Melbourne.
How to harness social media video and put communities at the centre of policy remain top priorities for communications in the public sector.

Key takeaways from the experts

Having Facebook and Instagram in the room was clearly a draw-card. You don’t often get updates from the social media giant about Australian numbers, but Facebook’s APAC Government and Policy lead Roy Tan was there to deliver them:
  • 12 Million Australians are checking Facebook every day.
  • More than 90 percent of those check on Mobile
  • They spend about 1 hour and 40 minutes a day on Facebook and check the platform about 14 times a day.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

It's a full house today @ . Pleased to have Roy from  introducing  ,  & how to's on reach for gov
The advice from Facebook for government was clear: be authentic and use lots of video to do it. This, not surprisingly, is a challenge for many agencies. Video is expensive and requires technical skill. Many of the attendees talked about a shift to inhouse video production and low-cost video production as a way to get value for money.

Decentralise and federalise

A recurring theme from speakers such as Mark Bayly from Victoria Police and Susan Manniche from the Bureau of Meteorology was the need to decentralise and trust content creators across an agency. For example, the Bureau’s social media team has several hundred people (meteorologists or comms) trained and authorised to Tweet.
How to leverage content across a government agency was also the message in my own presentation.  I appealed for agencies to have a policy and governance framework that frees up content creators or channel owners. Let communication teams know what they can and can’t do on a platform such as Facebook on behalf of the agency. Clear boundaries means better response times for customers.

What happens next?

Despite a decade of rapid growth in digital engagement, many government agencies are still grappling with the basics. This is a reflection of low risk appetite, and ultimately a desire to get the strategy right and ensure value for money. Another commonality was evident from questions from the conference floor time and time again: social media is worth the learning curve because social media can put the customer front and centre of communications.

Guest blog written by:
John Kerrison

John Kerrison was a broadcast journalist for 11 years who worked in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra. He hosted Technology Behind Business for Sky News. He has a Masters in Organisational Communication from Charles Sturt University with a focus on new media and crisis communication. He currently works for the NSW Government in a strategic role, advising on social and digital media.

25 October 2017

5 predications about the future of retail stores

Author :
“By 2022, brick and mortar retail spaces will be little more than showrooms” Eddie Machaalani & Mitchell Harper, Co- CEOs of Bogcommerce.

In an era of unprecedented ecommerce disruption, the burning question facing all bricks and mortar retailers is what does the future hold for stores?

As a small child I can remember holding my mother’s hand tightly as we walked through crowded department stores, afraid to let go for fear of being lost in amongst the masses of insatiable shoppers.

 Fast forward a few decades and the differences are stark. I recently took my little girl to a household name department store. There was some traffic on the ground level but as we explored the upper levels, a common feature emerged; silence. The top floor appeared completely empty, my daughter marvelled at her new found playground, playing hide and seek in and around the clothes racks.

It is no secret that the technology era has dramatically influenced consumer shopping behaviour. Whilst online shopping statistics rising, what we do know is there is something about the in store shopping experience that still appeals to us.

With the traditional notion of a store quickly becoming extinct, what does all this mean for the future of stores? 

1. Online shopping won’t replace bricks and mortar 
I think bricks and mortar is an amazing opportunity to use our stores and our store staff as a vehicle to truly engage with the community in a way no other retailers are doing” Jim Brett, president, West Elm
What we know is that whilst we like convenience and speed we also like the ‘experience’ of shopping. Furthermore, there are particular products that retailers struggle to maintain online sales for. If we know physical stores will exist in the future, the question is in what form? Predications suggest that the stores of the future may be points of purchase but not in the traditional sense, perhaps they will be more like experience hubs for customers to feel, touch and compare items that they then order for home delivery.

2. Stores will become more responsive like platforms
Like smart phones, stores are heading towards a more responsive, agile fulfilment model fuelled by the latest data analytics technologies. ZARA, for example, has such a responsive supply chain model in place that they only stock the exact number and type of apparel in each specific line that they will sell based on the strength and accuracy of their demand planning and forecasting. This enables them to ensure their physical store space is optimised at all times. 

3. Retailers must optimise selling space 
Following on for the ZARA example, JB HI – FI have developed clever strategies to ensure that their stock is selected in accordance with what their customers want to ‘experience’. That is in contrast to the more transactional items that their customers are happy to buy online. This is an excellent way to make selling space count! 

4. Retailers will diversify last-mile fulfilment options
With Ecommerce changes impacting how retailers and 3Pls do business, last mile fulfilment models are being upended.  Trends like crowdsourcing apps and same-day, more convenient delivery are driving exciting innovations in last mile fulfilment that will continue to emerge in the coming years. Via crowdsourcing, UberRUSH for parcels, Postmates, Deliv and Amazon Flex all currently offer spot-market deliveries.
Meanwhile, with drones offering a means of providing ‘next level’ delivery convenience, early adopter Amazon is calling drone delivery the future of last mile fulfilment and others are quickly jumping on board. In 2016, Dominos pizza delivered a pizza via drone (partner Flirtey), to a customer's door in Auckland. 

5. Stores will become much more experiential—or cease to exist!
It seems that in order to survive the new on demand economy, retailers must compete on experience. Apple is an excellent example of a retailer that providers their customer base with exceptional in store experience. With staff always at hand, customers can try products, ask questions and learn about new functions. In addition, Nordstrom’s new ‘Reserve & Try in Store’ feature enables customers to choose items online and try them on in person in store. Both these examples show ways in which retailers are offering valuable instore experience to drive traffic to their shop fronts.  

With ecommerce transforming the retail landscape, disruption is ever present. And with any big change, there comes opportunity and challenge. One thing is for certain the stores we see and experience today will look vastly different in the next 10 years. The retailers that will thrive in this new environment will be adaptable, innovative and above all responsive. It’s an exciting time for those who are ready, willing and able to jump on board and embrace the new world. The question is, are you?  

Research sources include:

Written By: Luana Clarke

From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!

Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia.

Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

24 October 2017

Risk mitigation in an era of digital – can workforces keep pace?

Author :
The rise of ‘digital risk’ in the corporate environment means facing a whole new dimension of threat.

Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, widespread and complex in today’s digital landscape. We might be reasonably good at managing predictable, lower-level risks, but organisations often have a false sense of security about their ability to anticipate and deal with more hazardous fraud threats that evolve rapidly in a digitally-connected world - recent reports actually indicate that fraud risk has been identified as the most expensive crime category in Australia.

A digitized risk function provides better monitoring and control as well as more effective regulatory compliance… but this starts with people. To keep pace in the evolving digital economy, it’s fundamental for workforces to be upskilled and get proactive about tackling new and emerging threats. Organisations need to be driven by digital growth and adaptable to change.

Ultimately, the integration of digital risk-specific goals into organisational processes, data and behaviours can not only significantly reduce losses and fines in core risk areas, but also improve organisational efficiency and create widespread value.

Companies need to face up to digital disruption and embrace new technologies to stay resilient. But what’s the best practice for digitizing operational practice and aligning with corporate strategy?

Join us at the Australian Cyber, Fraud and Risk Summit 2018. This event is uniquely focussed on exploring all the critical topics within the domain of cyber crime, risk, fraud and corruption – a discussion not to be missed!

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.

20 October 2017

What does it take to be an ideal EA?

Author :

Behind every great executive is an even greater executive or personal assistant. But what qualities make the difference between a good and a great EA?

1. Master of the calendar

At all levels of government, executives live and die by the calendar. Between meetings, appointments, conferences, calls and presentations, the EA is like the air traffic controller of your life which keeps them from colliding.

2. Priorities, priorities

To be a master of the calendar the EA must often have the ability to prioritise as conflicting appointments arise. Thinking strategically and bringing only important items to their attention can be a desirable characteristic of an EA as you can use your discretion to deal with the more trivial items on the agenda appropriately.

3. They know what matters

Doing well as an executive only means so much if you don’t have time to spend with family and friends- not to mention getting your R&R. Balance is key and your executive assistant will help you achieve it.

4. There’s no ‘I’ in team

An executive and their EA is a partnership and establishing a working relationship based on trust and respect is crucial both to workplace wellbeing but also developing a dynamic skill-set for progressing in your own career. They should collaborate with their executives and work towards mutual goals.

5. They look after themselves too

A truly successful EA takes care of themselves as well as their executive. You can’t perform at your best if you aren’t energised and focused. A great EA has the ability to separate work from their home life which often means turning off emails- or at least dedicating a window of time to handle anything urgent and marking the rest for the following day.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior 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.

The Game of Drones: Personalised Delivery Services Are About To Become A Reality

Author :
Project Wing, an initiative developed by Alphabet, a conglomerate owned by Google, has conducted a multitude of test flights in a variety of controlled environments in order to bring about a personalised and reliable drone delivery service that will reach the backyards, rooftops, public parks, farmlands and difficult to reach areas in Australia.

Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez and retail pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse have been testing the possibility of drone deliveries in NSW and ACT, however, while the drones are proven reliable, the service is yet to become available for the general public.

Right now, Guzman y Gomez are figuring out how to engineer a process utilising technology to ensure the food is handled safely and quickly enough to be delivered to the customers still fresh. The pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse, on the other hand, will need to look into devising an ultra-efficient process for the massive range of products that will be available for order. In the near future, drone deliveries will also be used in catastrophe relief situations to transport water, mechanical parts, and food and medical supplies to emergency service.

Despite the many benefits of a personalised delivery service, several countries are also looking into safety aspect - drones can be used to cause harm and snoop around military bases and other sensitive areas such as airports. To the unconventional issue, the governments of France and the Netherlands have come up with an unconventional solution – training eagles to take down drones, naturally.

The drone-hunting aves are being trained at the French Air Force base in the south west of France where they are born on top of drones and are kept there during early stages of feeding. Once ready to fly, they are brought to a field to intercept drones and if successful, they are rewarded with meat. The eagles are seen as a safe solution in comparison to using nets to capture or shooting down the unwelcome drones.

Written by:
Simona Zukaite

Simona joined Akolade and relocated to Sydney after eight years in Hong Kong where she worked for a leading media and publishing company producing legal and financial conferences in Asia-Pacific. Simona studied Law in the UK, Paris and Hong Kong and found her passion for events after working on an international arbitration law conference and moot trial competition in Hong Kong in 2012. The recent move is the next chapter of adventures Simona has sought to pursue in Australia following the running of an annual FX investment conference in Sydney for three consecutive years.

11 October 2017

It’s time to embrace the change and drive innovation

Author :

Australia’s Not-for-Profit sector is now facing ongoing challenges as never before.

Last month, the Australian reported that the sector sees 3,000 new charities pop up every year, competing for the same decreasing amount of funding and grants.

While researching with professionals in the NFP space, it has become apparent that most are struggling; struggling to keep up with the constant change. Many are operating under old models, with out-dated boards and with no room for innovation. And not to mention the disruption of technology has brought to the sector.

As a result, many NFPs and charities are struggling to be sustainable and remain viable in the new commercialised market.

However, there are a few key areas that have come up during our research that leaders of an NFP can do in order to put their organisation in a better position.
  •         Firstly, it’s all about navigating your organisation through an era of change. And in order to do so, you’ll need to create an innovative and strategic leadership whose mentality can be filtered down through all levels of the organisation. Leaders need to ensure that there’s a clear goal that the organisation is working towards while also engaging all staff to work towards it.
  •       Once you have this leadership mindset, you need to develop strategies to embrace and drive change, rather than shy away from it. Ensure you’re at the forefront of the latest trends, rather than ten steps behind.
  •          Now that you’re embracing change, it’s about time to embrace technology. Technology might seem scary and complicated, and many feel so far behind they don’t even know where to start. But starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. If utilised correctly, technology can bring your organisation many advantages; anything from increased efficiency in regards to admin work to how to improve donor relationships, target a broader market, grow your brand and increase transparency and business accountability.
  •          Last but not least, you need to ensure you have the right employees for your organisation. Most NFPs are filled with staff with big hearts fighting for the good cause, but they may lack the financial skillset, marketing strategies or business development, someone from a corporate background could bring. Attracting the talent that will take your organisation to the next step is critical, and having engagement strategies in place to retain them is equally crucial.
Developed together with leading industry professionals, the upcoming Australia’s Not-for-ProfitLeaders Forum is designed to give decision makers from Not-for-Profits the tools to steer the business in the right direction.

Leaders from some of Australia’s most prominent Not-for-Profits will gather between the 5th-7th of December to share their successful case studies on how to make an organisation stand out, grow and bring its staff with you on this ever-changing journey.

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.

06 October 2017

3 reasons why customer experience is essential to any business

Author :
Companies around the world compete not only on the quality of good or services they provide but also on the customer experience that they deliver. It is the new competitive battleground.

The contemporary customer is a demanding one, one that expects his or her needs to be attended to quickly, smoothly and seamlessly. Businesses that manage that and exceed their customers’ expectations are those who become leaders in their industries. Those that create unique, long lasting positive experiences become the champions of the modern customer.

As Heads of Customer Experience around the world strive to achieve this, here are the top 3 reasons why excelling in CX is essential to any business:

CX that works is shown to improve business KPIs and has a link to a company’s financial success. According to which50.com, poor customer experience costs Australian businesses $122 billion a year.

Customer retention, acquisition and advocacy are directly related to the quality and effectiveness of a CX program. According to Aon’s 2017 Global Risk Management, damage to brand and reputation is considered a Top10 global risk that keeps Risk Managers awake at night.

 Market share
A customer’s loyalty will bring you a tangible competitive advantage. 82% of adults in the US are loyal to brands according to ICSC survey (International Council of Shopping Centres).

The 3 reasons above are but a simplistic view on why good CX is seen as a crucial element within a solid business strategy. By focusing on creating legendary customer experiences and embodying the desire for your business to go above and beyond, you will be creating an advocate out of every consumer and reap multiple benefits. 

Written by:
Simona Zukaite

Simona joined Akolade and relocated to Sydney after eight years in Hong Kong where she worked for a leading media and publishing company producing legal and financial conferences in Asia-Pacific. Simona studied Law in the UK, Paris and Hong Kong and found her passion for events after working on an international arbitration law conference and moot trial competition in Hong Kong in 2012. The recent move is the next chapter of adventures Simona has sought to pursue in Australia following the running of an annual FX investment conference in Sydney for three consecutive years.

Young people still job-hunting in WA

Author :
In the past year, Australia saw rates of unemployed and underemployed 16-24 year- olds rise to its highest numbers for 40 years.

Funding changes and economic turbulence have caused uncertainty in the job market landscape, and an increasing number of Australia’s young people grow unconvinced of their employment options for the future. Fewer students are engaging in programs and schemes that increase their employability and enhance their skillsets.

But what’s causing the disengagement? And what’s the solution?

Put simply, it’s a multifaceted problem.

From a social perspective, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds of low-income families, mental health issues, criminal histories or poor housing are much less likely to engage in meaningful engagement opportunities. This is particular prevalent amongst indigenous communities.

Also contributing to disengagement is the rise of technology and web-based interaction.  A young person’s employability rests heavily on the strength of their social and communication skillsets, both of which are strongly impeded by the anonymous, limited and artificial nature of online interaction.

These issues unsupported by the current instability in the labour market and the number of opportunities available. More and more young people are surrendering to part-time or casual work, offering very limited job security and financial stability.

It’s a critical time for talking about how and why disengagement has become so widespread. Not only are young people’s employment prospects affected by youth disengagement, but it’s a social issue that concerns communities, families, schools and society as a whole.

Now is the time for conversation about how we ensure young people are put on the path to meaningful professional careers. What are the gaps, where are they prevalent, and how do we close them?

To discuss WA’s leading strategies for this, Akolade is taking The 4th Future of Youth Employment Forum to Western Australia.

This event is bringing WA’s most influential thought-leaders together to share best practices for re-engagement, successful collaboration, and effective transition pathways into employment for Australia’s young people. This is your opportunity to hear insights and case studies from the Federal and State Government, as well as WA’s biggest education providers, NFPs and industry leaders.

Join us to hear from:

Kellie Hippit, Branch Manager Youth Employment, Department of Employment
Gail Manton, Program Manager, School Pathways Program, Department of Education WA
Professor Dawn Freshwater, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Western Australia
Ross Kyrwood, CEO, YMCA WA
Darshi Ganeson-Oats, Director Strategic Partnerships, South Metropolitan TAFE                    
Deborah Hancock, CEO, Scitech
Peter Nikoletatos, National Industry Lead in Education, Optus

We hope to see you there!

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.