21 December 2017

Why Amazon is not “just another competitor”

Author :
Many words have been written about the timing of Amazon’s Australian launch, with constant speculation and misinformation about the date. In coming years, the launch date will be nothing but a footnote. What really matters is how to respond to Amazon and, on this, there is much well-intentioned but unhelpful advice. Unhelpful because many commentators are now downplaying Amazon as “just another competitor” – when in fact the retail marketplace is about to be transformed. Following that advice could be the modern-day equivalent of launching a cavalry charge towards soldiers armed with machine guns.

My advice is to take a fundamental look at your online operating model.

Why Amazon is different and not “just another competitor”
To assess Amazon’s likely impact, it helps to understand why Amazon is different and not “just another competitor”. Let me explain by illustrating a framework based on two key elements of online retail strategy – product range and delivery offer (see matrix below).
The horizontal axis categorises an online retailer according to its range:
  • A “niche” range is based on a curated selection of products or a differentiated service.
  • A “category” range is based around one category (or a small number of related categories).
  • An “everything” range is made up of products from several unrelated categories.
The vertical axis categorises an online retailer according to its delivery model:
  • “Consolidated” delivery is when the consumer normally receives multiple products in one delivery, for example when ordering through Amazon Prime.
  • “Split” delivery is when the consumer receives several deliveries after ordering different products, for example when ordering on eBay.
To illustrate with real-life examples, let’s assume that by 2020 Amazon in Melbourne and Sydney offers a similar range and fulfilment model to Amazon in the UK right now. In the matrix, Amazon would sit in the top-right quadrant, offering products from almost every category (including fresh) in one consolidated delivery. For the consumer, this will be more convenient and cheaper than receiving multiple deliveries.

If we look at the Australian market now, we see online retailers in every quadrant except the top right. Only those operating a “niche” strategy, in my opinion, will be in the “blue ocean” and able to stand up in the long-term against Amazon’s consolidated / everything strategy. Everyone else will be competing in the “red ocean” of a market dominated by Amazon - unless they adapt their models. Here are some examples.

1. “Niche” retailers
Niche players target a specific segment with a differentiated service or range. An example is Appliances Online which offers an end-to-end service for white goods, including installation. Strong niche retailers have least to fear from Amazon’s arrival because Amazon is unlikely to seek to compete head-on. Amazon will sell white goods, but it will struggle to match Appliances Online’s exceptional customer proposition and product knowledge, built up over years of experience.

2. “Category” retailers
Category retailers make up most of the online market and focus on one category (or a few related categories). Their challenge is that Amazon will likely match their range but also offer consumers consolidated delivery with the rest of their shopping. If I currently buy groceries from Woolworths Online and clothes from The Iconic through two separate deliveries, then Amazon can make my life simpler by delivering everything in one go. In the long-term, my prediction is that these retailers will either need to become niche players, so they are not competing directly with Amazon, or partner with other retailers to offer a consolidated delivery option.

3. “Everything” retailers
The everything retailers are at greatest risk but also have the greatest opportunity. The risk will eventuate if their business model stays unchanged because Amazon will provide a superior offer – a similar range but ordered and delivered together.

The opportunity comes if these players can find a way to consolidate fulfilment. eBay is the longest-standing member of this camp, and will find it challenging to shift to consolidated fulfilment. Some others have more flexibility:
  • Catch Group is enjoying fantastic success with its new marketplace and already possesses Australia’s most sophisticated pick and pack operation.
  • Shipster, Australia Post’s innovative multi-retailer subscription service, could offer an alternative to Amazon Prime, if it can transition to shared fulfilment. 
  • Wesfarmers and Woolworths could match Amazon’s range across their portfolio of brands. The big challenge will be shifting their business model (and culture) to enable collaboration.
Within a few years Amazon in Australia will have a much stronger hand than most Australian online retailers, if the latter have not found a way to consolidate deliveries and extend their range. We see from recent moves by Catch, Shipster, and new developments in Wesfarmers’ and Woolworths’ brands, that some of Amazon’s Australian competitors are now moving in the right direction.

For leaders keen to truly understand Amazon and its likely impact, check out my one-day workshop Are you ready for Amazon? We have public workshops coming up in Melbourne on 5th December and Sydney on 6th December and I also offer in-house workshops and executive briefings for teams. Find more information on my website.

Guest Blog Written By:

Jonathan Reeve is a speaker, author and adviser. He is passionate about helping retailers to build profitable, stress-free, online operations.

Jonathan has worked in retail businesses in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia for over fifteen years. He was part of the team that developed the operating model for Tesco.com, a global pioneer of online grocery retail. Jonathan’s perspective is unique: he has both developed online retail strategy and led the frontline teams that deliver the service to customers. Jonathan has also worked in store retail and was the store manager of a large Tesco supermarket in London.

19 December 2017

Overcoming Safety Challenges in the Current Threat Environment

Author :

In response to a heightened safety and security threat environment, venue security and procedures also need to be heightened while still balanced with ensuring an optimal customer experience – increased collaboration between all stakeholders, plus the target hardening of venues themselves, has never been more urgent.

In this article, I share details of comprehensive risk management strategies employed to overcome safety challenges at some of Australia’s biggest and most high profile events, with a specific look into recent major events.
Minimising Risk
Overcoming Challenges with Comprehensive Risk Planning
“The biggest challenge with an event like Vivid or New Year’s Eve is of course that they’re open, free access events. Looking after the safety and security of over a million people on New Year’s Eve on the one night, and 2.3 million people over the 23 days that is Sydney’s Vivid Festival (an annual festival spanning multiple locations across Sydney from the Royal Botanic Gardens to Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo) with no screening and multiple entry points is a huge challenge.
Recent terror attacks across the UK and Europe and the recent thwarted planned attack on Melbourne NYE highlights the need to target harden a number of key locations in all major events and crowded places moving forward.
It is important to work closely with your jurisdictional Police Force, to target harden identified vulnerable locations and work in collaboration with them to monitor the outer perimeter for early risk detection – things like hostile vehicles, unauthorised people in designated event areas, that sort of thing.
With an event like New Year’s Eve or Vivid which not only are open and free access, but span a number of different locations it’s of the utmost importance to develop a consistent strategic management plan across all precincts that brings together everyone involved within the operation, from transport, police, ambulance, port authorities, fire brigades and of course owners and operators, to ensure that everyone is collaborating to mitigate risks through application of appropriate controls measures. The sharing of timely information and Intelligence is crucial.
With major events like Vivid and New Year there a many risk categories, such as patron safety at the water’s edge, crowd crush, general crime and of course terrorism risk that need to be addressed and therefore working closely with law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies is important to receive and communicate timely and early intelligence.
Prevention Strategies
Developing a Risk Management Plan
“For events like Vivid and New Year’s Eve ir for events in Stadia, which the government declares a hallmark event (major tourist event), there is an integrated Strategic Command Post within the risk management plan, located at the Police Operations Centre or Government Coordination Centre.
With a large-scale event there is a large deployment of security personnel on the ground and an integrated approach by all agencies under an Event Operations Centre and a Transport Management Centre to work seamlessly together to ensure all identified security risks across the entire transport network, from buses to trains and ferries, are managed effectively.
Underpinning all the management centres is a Crowd Control Strategy which outlines a number of crowd control actions as part of the risk management methodology to make sure the ingress, circulation and egress of patrons across the event footprint is safely managed.
Strategies deployed at major events include fencing at major intersections, barriers, way finders and VMS signs. These methods coupled with a strong communication strategy utilising traditional media, electronic media - social, all contributes to providing people clear direction on how to travel to various event sites, what to expect, which way to walk etc.
Risk-free Culture
Balancing Safety and Experience
“With the current global environment, it’s important to take a ‘worst case scenario’ point-of-view when developing a plan to overcome safety challenges at any public event, but especially in an open access environment.
With the implementation of command posts, crowd control strategies and event operations centres, Security on the ground, it is important to have an effective communications strategy and coordination structure in place to achieve a really comprehensive strategy that accounts for all possible scenarios.
Pre-major events it is extremely worthwhile to conduct tabletop exercises with all operations centres and security staff across the event footprint, where we can scenario test worst case scenarios – so a drill essentially – for various kinds of disasters from weather events to explosions, terror attacks or threats from active armed offenders. Training and continual testing of staff and procedures is critical to respond to any incident or emergency.
Every risk event comes with its own contingency plan where you can escalate up resources if necessary, and these scenario exercises really allow to test emergency response, command and control posts, and communication operations – the drills are essential in allowing all facets of the operation to come together and really understand the environment, the various threats, risks involved and the best solutions.
The latest technology such as CCTV sectoring, video analytics, artificial Intelligence should all be considerations of a suite of mitigation strategies.
In an open access environment, it’s impossible to screen everybody, but having comprehensive security plans and thorough strategies in place helps make these types of event safer. Open communication to patrons highlighting that while certain restrictions on which way people can walk, or where they can go may be a slight inconvenience, at the end of the day we all need to understand that in a PROBABLE threat environment all security measures are in place for the benefit of everyone.
Guest blog written by: Craig Sheridan APM, Managing Director, Sheridan Consulting Group

Craig has been appointed to a number of notable positions since retiring from the NSW Police Force including Lead Security and Risk Consultant, Vivid Festival Sydney 2016 and 2017, Lead Security and Risk Consultant for Property NSW, introducing an operational readiness framework for New Years Eve 2016 and other major events held across the Sydney Harbour Foreshore,  Lead Security and Risk Consultant, Department of Premier and Cabinet, New Years Eve 2016 and Australia Day 2017 Crowd Management as well as Head of Security, Rugby League World Cup 2017.

12 December 2017

The skill every EA should be including on their resume

Author :
Whether you’re an Executive Assistant actively looking for a new role or just open to new opportunities, it’s important to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up-to-date with the skills and traits potential employees are searching for.

Whilst it may seem organisations prioritise different skillsets, there are many traits which all companies are begging for.

We analysed a cross-section of job ads from across public and private sectors to identify the most common traits executives were looking for in their assistants.
So what’s the trait in highest demand?

A positive, can-do attitude. 

Most, if not all, job ads said they were searching for applicants who were proactive with willingness to learn and perform well in high-pressure situations. They had their eyes peeled for an EA who could foster positivity throughout the office, take pride in their work and collaborate easily with other staff members.

Being technologically savvy came in next with desired proficiency in Word, Excel, Microsoft 365 and Adobe. A keen eye for detail and proof-reading was also highly regarded.

Other notable skills include minute taking, organisation, diary management and stakeholder relations.
See below the full list of skills to incorporate in your resume:

·         Ability to take control and thrive in high pressure situations
·         Excellent communication and time management skills
·         High attention to detail
·         Able to exercise a high level of discretion, confidentiality and sometimes political sensitivity in liaising with internal and external stakeholders
·         A positive, can-do attitude
·         Strong written and verbal communication skills
·         Flexibility and a proven willingness and ability to learn
·         Good computer skills, especially in data entry, Microsoft Excel, Word & Powerpoint is essential
·         Prior minute taking experience
·         Highly competent & organized
·         Proven experience arranging travel, diary and events management at an executive level
·         Be a strong, credible advocate for the company with all stakeholders
·         Identifies more and less critical activities and operates accordingly
·         A team player but also able to work on own initiative
·         Ability to build rapport and operate at all levels of the business

Someone just viewed your LinkedIn profile- make sure they’re impressed with what they see.

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.

11 December 2017

Improving NDIS Service Delivery Outcomes: one speaker’s thoughts on unlocking innovation for providers

Author :
For providers operating in a NDIS environment the way one deals with an age of consumer choice and control is an innovation opportunity.

1. Selecting the lane for your innovation ambition

To survive and thrive you need to develop and adopt a clear and conscious strategy. In some parts of your organisation and operations you may select to be in a certain lane:
  •    fast lane: being a leader of change
  •    middle lane: being a fast follower that adopts innovation from others; or
  •    slow lane: choose incremental continuous improvements and drive safe reliable services
The recommendation from research is to be clear on your innovation ambition.

2. Managing an innovation portfolio

Find a way to get a good grasp of all the dispersed initiatives - by managing an “innovation portfolio
Image source: Harvard Business Review, “Managing your Innovation Portfolio”

So, what does this looks like?
  • In the band of activity at the lower left of the matrix are core innovation initiatives - efforts to make incremental changes to existing services and incremental in roads into new markets.
  • This could be improvements to current programs for current beneficiaries.
  • At the opposite corner of the matrix are transformational initiatives, designed to create new offers—if not whole new businesses—to serve new customer needs. For organisations operating or considering operating in the disability sector – this is a key area of focus
  • In the middle are adjacent innovations, which can share characteristics with core and transformational innovations.
Bansi Nagji and Geoff Tuff of Deloitte make the argument that organisations require a balanced innovation portfolio
Organisations with a clear innovation ambition - strike the ideal balance of core, adjacent, and transformational initiatives across the enterprise, and have put in place the tools and capabilities to manage those various initiatives as parts of an integrated whole.
Best practice suggests that outperforming organisations typically allocate about 70% of their innovation resources to core offerings, 20% to adjacent efforts, and 10% to transformational initiatives.
In contrast, cumulative returns on innovation investments tend to follow an inverse ratio, with 70% coming from the transformational initiatives, 20% from adjacent, and 10% from core.
 The ideal balance differs depending on industry and organisation.
One thing is common: Organisations should consider executing at all three levels of ambition and managing their innovation system deliberately. 

3. Maintain a culture for innovation

One of the most important things is to maintain an open mind. A sense of inquiry, of curiosity is essential for innovation. Indeed – curiosity - could be an elevated to an organisational value.
Disruptive innovation, requires a culture of experimentation, a model that allows for testing and learning.
The challenge to acknowledge is around creating a culture of innovation in well-run, well-established risk averse organisations.
The antidote, is having skilled and able innovation managers across all functions of your organisation. So, what should you look for when you seek out these change makers:
  • They are good at bringing the creative ideas of others to market
  • Demonstrate sound judgement about what creative ideas will work
  • Can manage a creative process from ideation to fruition
  • Can estimate and articulate how potential ideas will work in the marketplace.
Failing fast requires a paradigm shift.
A question for your board and management team (and even funders) to consider: “Is failure an option?” Failing fast tends to be cited as a key element for start-ups. So the question for consideration by organisations: are the board, team, and funders ready to accept the “failing fast” paradigm? If not, maybe an alternative more palatable option is to “think big, start small, act fast”

4. Partnerships may provide strength

In unity there is strength, according to the moral of the fable from Aesop, “The Bundle of Sticks”. Just like Aesop’s fable unity and innovation arises from successful partnerships between organisations, their people, and collaborators with other leaders be they from the same sector or from outside.
So, what should you consider before collaborating with others?
  • Know yourself: Understand your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Recognise your partner’ strengths: Understand what each collaborating partner contributes to the design and delivery of services.
  • Shared Values: A commitment to improve social, cultural and economic outcomes for the community that the organisations represent.
  • Shared culture: Mutual trust, respect with openness in all activities.
  • Structure: A collaborative approach to decisionmaking and working together recognising the interdependence between the organisations.
5. Understanding the vectors of innovation

Collaboration within your organisation and outside your organisation are just 2 vectors for innovation. Other required for an organisation to be innovative, were identified in the Innovation Index for the Not for Profit Sector, delivered through a partnership between Westpac, Give Easy and Australia Post.
The Index is a diagnostic assessment tool to measure the depth and breadth of innovation capabilities across all sectors.
The list of vectors are:
  • Internal Collaboration: the ability for individuals and groups to connect and work together 
  • External Collaboration: building and maintaining diverse networks and partnerships with outside suppliers, service providers, organisations and thought leaders.  
  • Innovation Focus: innovation needs a strategy in its own right, including a vision, goals and metrics.  
  • Openness of Culture/Vision: creating an environment where separate ideas and perspectives can collide regularly, with a culture of openness, sharing and generosity.  
  • Organisational Velocity: achieving exceptional levels of performance, relentless focus on improvement, quick to respond and adaptable to change.  
  • Rewards/Recognition: encouraging innovative behaviour through an active program of acknowledgement, including peer recognition, promotion or financial reward.  
  • Stakeholder Centricity: deep engagement and empathy with donors and beneficiaries so we can engage with them in the most relevant ways  
Today’s world is one of constant change.
Every day there are new challenges; new problems that need new solutions; new solutions that may come from innovation.

Guest blog written by: Lali Wiratunga, Board Director, TAD Disability Services NSW 
The opinions expressed here represent Lali’s own opinion and and are intended as general information.

Lali Wiratunga is a Board Director at TAD Disability Services and the National Manager of Westpac's Davidson Institute . He is an active mentor for emerging leaders in the community and cares deeply about helping people and organisations realise their potential. In 2016, Lali was recognised in Pro Bono Australia's Impact 25, an award that recognises leaders in the social economy.

Twitter: @laliwiratunga