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.

18 July 2018

Data disappears during digital transition

Author :

‘Digital transformation’ are the words on the lips of every public sector employee whose role involves ICT, online services and record keeping.

Touting the benefits of increased speed, accuracy and enhanced organisational agility, federal government has poured $70m in funding to support ICT and digital measures in the 2017-2018 budget.

However the total number of IT workers imported into Australia each year have been frozen in time a 2016 due to changes in the methodology for collecting the data of overseas arrivals and departures.

Traditional paper outgoing passenger cards were eliminated in June 2017 with the goal of making life easier for travellers. At the time it was hailed by then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton as “state-of-the-art passenger processing technology” that would slash queue times.

Immigration’s CIO Randall Brugeaud shared a similar enthusiasm for the move; “The human recognition systems potentially allow us to process people without any human intervention.”

The ‘net migration of ICT workers’ dataset has since disappeared from Deloitte Access Economics’ annual ‘Digital Pulse’ report.

“Due to changes in the methodology for collecting Overseas Arrivals and Departures data, a detailed occupational breakdown of this data is no longer published,” the report said.

The incident has done little to restore Australian citizen’s faith in government for digital transformation after a history of ICT budget blowouts, data corruption and un-operable systems.

“I wonder how long it will take before someone realises downsizing, offshoring, out-sourcing and 'right-sizing' are strategic tools & goals light-years ahead of government digital readiness?” comments one on the original article by IT News.

“This makes no sense. The government still records passengers coming and going, there is just no additional paper form which was always just thrown in the rubbish bin after immigration anyway. This is more likely just another failure in the ABS's IT systems,” says another.
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 blog posts @ Claire Dowler

11 July 2018

NZ’s bottom line is digital

Author :
The benefits of digital transformation to a country’s bottom line have been proven in a recent IDC study commissioned by Microsoft.

The report revealed:
  •       Approximately 55% of New Zealand’s GDP will be derived from digital products or services by 2021, compared to 6% in 2017
  •       By 2021, digital transformation is expected to add 0.7% CAGR GDP growth annually
  •        Digital transformation has increased profit margin, revenue from new and existing products & services, productivity, as well as improved customer advocacy (and these benefits will also improve by at least 40% in three years)
  •       Leaders in digital transformation reap double the benefits compared to Followers
  •       Digital transformation in New Zealand will benefit citizens with increased access to better education, training and creation of higher value jobs

The report has been closely followed by the assembly of the Digital Economy and Digital Inclusion Ministerial Advisory Group which has been established to link innovators, leading thinkers and enablers with the key purpose of enabling government to grow the digital economy and reduce digital divides.

The group is chaired by Frances Vallintine, Founder and CEO of Tech Futures Lab and comprises 15 members from across central and local government, NGOs, Māoridom, industry and community groups.

Established by Broadcasting, Communications, Digital Media and Government Digital Services Minister Clare Curran, Ms Curran said she was committed to ensuring no-one was left behind given the rapid pace of technological change.

“Creating a blueprint for digital inclusion will help ensure New Zealand businesses and all Kiwis have access to connectivity, as well as the foundational skills and motivation, to thrive in their online lives,” Ms Curran said.

“The 15 members have been appointed for a period of 12 months and I expect to meet with them next month to discuss the Group’s work programme for the year. There’ll also be opportunities for people with different sector-specific expertise to be part of this work and shape the way we tackle digital divides.”

The government has been warned, though, to be wary of worsening the digital divide given it is now in discussion regarding the policy for transitioning to 5G.

In a request by The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment for industry players to provide their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of a 5G rollout, telecommunications company Chorus warned that the economics of 5G will be challenging and that a ‘business as usual’ approach to deployment was unlikely to achieve economic sustainability.

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

06 July 2018

Social Procurement: Changing Value

Author :

In the race to create greatest value in procurement, social impact has been one of the most poorly understood and captured drivers of value.

Recently we worked with one of our buyer members to audit their supply chain.  The objective was to ascertain the amount they were spending with social enterprises. They didn’t believe that they were spending anything at all, and when the audit was complete it showed that they were spending over $1 million with four social enterprises that were delivering packaging services.

The reason they didn’t know that social enterprises were already in their supply chain was because the enterprises had won contracts through standard RFT processes, which don’t recognise social impact as value. In other words, the social enterprises in their supply chain had won work because they were in fact the cheapest, best quality, most on-time, least risky supplier option overall.

As a result of the social enterprises fulfilling these contracts, 20 people with a disability were employed. That’s a good story and a significant stream of value that the buyer organisation wasn’t capturing.  

Research into Corporate Social Procurement in Australia (2014)  conducted by Social Traders and The Faculty found that organisations who do capture social impact information resulting from their procurement strategies, identified it as a powerful engagement tool with customers, staff and in some cases with investors.

The effect of the audit on our buyer member was significant. Previously, they had wanted to buy from social enterprises but were sceptical about their capacity (‘We might spend a couple of hundred thousand with them’).  Knowing that social enterprises had already met their stringent standards gave them the confidence to increase their spending with social enterprises– and also encouraged them to recommend that their tier 1 suppliers follow their lead.

The change in behaviour from this buyer member is significant as they will now move from a million dollar spend with social enterprise to tens of millions in the coming years. Such a small shift will over time create hundreds of jobs for those that wouldn’t otherwise be employed whilst also generating broader-ranging benefits for the business.

This story shines a light on a number of critical concepts.

Firstly, value is not static and there are great opportunities for procurement to drive new value streams in organisations.

Secondly, if you don’t ask you won’t get. Most large organisations in Australia will have social enterprises in their supply chains but if they don’t ask the question they will continue to leave this value on the table.

Thirdly, changing an organisation so that it begins to ask for and capture the value from social impact is not easy.

Organisations are quite set in their ways and there is often need for the support of an intermediary to assist and a strategy to be put in place.

Fourthly, social enterprise isn’t a bi-word for ‘fluffy’ or ‘sub-standard business’. Most of these organisations win and retain contracts, competing with commercial businesses on quality, price and timeliness. They just happen to exist for the benefit of the community and have developed business models that enable them to deliver on their mission, be it employing disadvantaged cohorts or addressing other social issues.

Social procurement is growing as business and government see the benefits.

The time is right for all procurement professionals to embrace social procurement and create new value streams for their organisations whilst enjoying the experience of changing lives.

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

Written by: Mark Daniels

Mark Daniels is Executive Director, Buyer Services at Social Traders and will be presenting at the upcoming Government Procurement Summit.

03 July 2018

Transformation - What it means to me...

Author :

In my years of delivering small to large-scale change, there are a number of consistent themes and lessons (I refer to them as scars) that I have gleaned. So I would like to share with my network.

Now I don’t profess to know everything because as human beings we are always learning and growing, and are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. And I am pretty sure I have not covered everything - so I preface this as a discussion rather than a dictation.

Seems transformation is the buzz-word at the moment and has been for some time. Do we really know what it means and what is required to achieve this?

My handful of ‘sparkles or crystals’ – as I like to call them – will not guarantee success but will definitely provide a good base to start from.

1. Clarity like a Diamond

Do we really know why we want to undertake a transformation? I am sure you have seen many amazing videos to understand this (Simon Sinek is definitely one of my inspirations), however I am not sure that this is practised. Instilling feeling and passion in our 'why' is critical to accelerate understanding and buy-in, improving chances of success.

A clear vision of future business capability and a target state operating model – as aligned to our 'why' – allows development of a traceable plan between where we are today and where we want to be. More importantly, this clarity bonds the 'guiding senior team' and drives consistent messaging across the organisation.

2. Committed as a RockStar

Commitment at the senior level is an action statement not a spoken sentence. Walking the talk is key to shifting resistance and if demonstrated consistently from the top, expedites shifts in behaviours and ways of working across the organisation. This includes role modelling future behaviours and changing what gets measured. 

It takes an organisational team effort to shift cultures, peoples attitudes and ways of working, which is best expedited from the top. 

3. Co-Design like kids building a sand castle

Do not assume that senior people know best, as often the best ideas and innovation come from our front line people and customers. Our customers will honestly outline what is most important to them. The benefits of collaboration and co-design far outweigh the risks of non involvement. Yes it might take a little longer, but the investment upfront multiplies value at the back-end.

The motivation and inspiration I have witnessed in teams from being asked to contribute to a company’s future still brings tears to my eyes. And these projects and changes have in my experience, been the most successful ones. As human beings, we want to contribute, be the best we can be, and then be acknowledged for our efforts.

4. Communicate using a blingy loud speaker

The best projects and programs I have been involved in embedded a consistent program of clear, concise and targeted messaging at all levels. Not only is this an effective tool for outlining plans and acknowledging success, it also reinforces clarity and alignment of purpose, often encouraging valid questions.

Make sure that your communications strategy leverages multiple channels to tackle different audiences and needs, and never, never under-estimate the value of face to face communications.

5. Credibility like the moon and stars

It is difficult to sell a large-scale change to the Board, Senior Managers, people and customers as it requires investment and potential diversion from the main game. Build credibility by intentionally planning ‘quick wins’ to consistently demonstrate and communicate achievement.  Make sure your metrics for success include these objectives.

5. Combine ‘glitter’ with BAU

To ensure we are set up for success, we need to understand that if we are doing something additional on top of our existing operational activity, then something has to give. It means acknowledging that this transformation will impact everyone in some way, shape or form and we need to re-align our priorities. Expecting people to do more on top of their daily job is unreasonable and unrealistic.

6. The Crowd – The People – The Gems

If I had to choose only one thing to make transformation successful, it would be to put people first. Listen to the people, engage the people, understand their concerns and address them, communicate and communicate again, have empathy and be kind.

Transformation is not about implementing a new system or a new process, it is not about saving the company money and it is not about increasing revenue. These are outputs not outcomes.

Transformation is about winning the hearts and minds of the people so that they are inspired to contribute and facilitate the change. By delivering true value to people (and customers), we in turn improve profitability and make our customers and shareholders happy.

More importantly, we change people’s lives forever, who come to work motivated and inspired to be the best they can be every single day.

This is what true transformation is. 

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

Written by: Renee Armstrong 

Making a difference in life and career through helping people and organisations realise potential and value. As an inspirational and motivating leader, I am passionate about leveraging people as the differentiator to enable organisational strategy and success. I pride myself on changing people's lives and transforming organisational culture.