Growth in a connected world

Emma will be the key-note speaker at next week’s business conference “Growth in a connected world” where she will explore in greater detail the forces of change impacting your business, customer relationships and infrastructure.

Understand, Grow and Lead by embracing these changes.

Read Emma’s related post on Driving your own upturn

DETAILS OF CONFERENCE:

GROWTH IN A CONNECTED WORLD

Date:  Wednesday 23 March 2011

Time:  7.30am for an 8.00am start

Location:  Sydney Masonic Centre, Corner of Goulburn and Castlereagh Streets.

NB: Ample parking available close by.

RSVP:

Register your interest by emailing ned@greengoldit.com.au Or

Register online at www.ontrackaus.com Events Or

Call (02) 9261 5111 / (02) 9248 0162

Who Should Attend:

Business Owners, CEO’s, CFO’s, CIO’s and Senior Managers.

Event hosted by:

Green and Gold People to People & Ontrack Systems (AUS) Pty Ltd.

Supported by SAP and NETFIRA.

SAP Business One, is an affordable integrated business management solution for Small and mid-size businesses, turns your existing business assets into thriving resources.

NETFIRA is a B2B supply chain software solution for small and medium businesses, allowing them to buy and sell online without a need for the website or EDI.

Driving your own upturn

Screen shot 2011-03-17 at 9.20.12 PMThere is no more normal.  No back to normal. No creation of normal.  There is only readiness and the acceptance that certainty in business has been removed.

What is required is a nimbleness and a feeling of empowerment to quickly synthesize and work out the emerging opportunities and the dangers that can be found in the ever-changing markets, changing technology, and changing pressures that surround us.

An organization’s readiness to make decisions, to take risks, to learn along the way, to adjust, becomes the new standard. An organizational culture that supports, encourages, embraces and celebrates new information and innovation. One that equates change with opportunity and an exciting future.

Competition has never been greater.  Competition for talent, competition for resources, competition for your customers, competition to be heard and valued by the people who matter to you – your customers.

Choosing to compete on price is no win for anyone – you lose profits and someone, somewhere is likely to do it cheaper, followed by someone else offering it cheaper again.

Competing on first to market is also time-limited.  Someone will follow and offer the same, maybe more, maybe better and certainly followed by a number of others.

Competing with the product and services you serve today will not serve you tomorrow. They will be substituted by new, better, sexier and more personalized or smarter versions or something that supersedes them entirely.

To remain relevant and of interest to your customers, you can compete on one thing only – your ability to consistently evolve and differentiate and to create the best possible customer experience.

You need to implement a model that supports sustainable and continuous innovation.  To build an organization that supports innovation that supports the improvement of your customer’s lives in a way that is valued and meaningful to them.

And critically, an organization that allows your people to be free to innovate, to think, to create, to build, to serve, to deliver growth.

Who is going to be the hero?  The leader of change? The leader of innovation? The leader of your success and future? The leader of growth and upturn?

The answer is You. Yes, You.

You need to create the space in your organization to shine. You need to create space to allow your team to shine and enough to allow all your people to shine.

You need to get every non-differentiating system and innovation-roadblock, innovation-killer and time-wasting activity out of the way so you can spend time on:

  • Finding ways to introduce new products and services to existing customers.
  • Identifying new customer segments to target new, innovative, personalized and relevant offers.
  • Capitalizing on opportunities in emerging markets and enhancing your performance in existing markets.
  • Delighting your customer through their unique experience dealing with you

If you are not already finding this time, thinking or operating this way, then your time is already limited.  Either you will be replaced by others who are, or your organization’s ability to compete will be time-limited.

Tic toc tic toc.

Time is ticking.  Time for change. Time to do things differently. To think differently.

If you want growth and are under pressure to deliver numbers, then take ownership within your organization to drive your own upturn and success.

Be the change you want to see in the world…

"We are all connected" by Erica Marshall of muddyboots.org   I love this quote by Mahatma Gandhi.  And I try to live by this mantra.

Having lead an ASX-listed technology company as President & COO for 5 years, and after working 20 years in leadership positions for a range of corporates and agencies( working full time whilst raising my 3 kids), I took the big scary decision to step out last year and take a more entrepreneurial/self-starting career change.

After taking some time out to contemplate what next (travelling around Australia in a Winnebago with kids and husband), I decided to take my future into my own hands and do a number of things:

1)  Stay focussed on doing what I love and feel passionate about “helping people and businesses grow”, and to

2)  Find a new and different way to leverage my experience by playing to my strengths and passions

I now focus my time on sharing my experience and developing people through coaching, leadership development, workshops, speaking, writing and am now working to help businesses grow through harnessing the power and value of the web.

What drives me is my excitement about the increasing ubiquity of the web, faster processing and download power, interconnectivty and mobility through an ever-increasing range of electronic products and platforms, and how this has opened up the global market. 

The model introduced by Apple with the ipod and itunes was a real paradigm changer for all businesses. Now all companies are looking at how to take advantage of technology and how they can connect, interact, create lock-ins with their customers through more personalised, targeted products, services and support – all delivered through the web.

The web is undeniably becoming more social. Right now, people are meeting, finding, sharing, and connecting with one another through the social web – leaving behind digital footprints that are as unique as they are. As an example, a recent Nielsen study found that 75% of global consumers who go online access Social Networks and Blogs, and that there was a 66% increase in time spent on Social Networks/Blogs compared to last year. 

Australia’s social media audience is estimated at 9.9 million and 40% of online Australians are now interacting with companies via social networking sites, reinforcing notions that Australians are open to engaging with brands and companies online. And this type of penetration is typical of western countries and increasing at a rapid rate in the developing countries.

It is through this changing world and the increasing take up of what has become the social web that I co-founded DIGIVIZER together with my (very smart) partner Clinton Larson to help businesses bring sense to the billions of connections and conversations that are happening on the web each day.  To help them find what matters to them and to help them use it in ways that they can extract value and a return to their bottom line.

And so I now introduce DIGIVIZER to you… 

DIGIVIZER delivers to businesses the digital footprints of people you know and people you would like to know, providing insights into who and what people are saying and about things that matter to you. All presented in meaningful, people-centric, easy-to-understand and easy-to-access sets of data.

When integrated with your customer relationship, sales and marketing platforms and programs, DIGIVIZER gives you a new edge to enable more powerful personalization and targeting through all customer interactions – significantly increasing the return on your marketing and sales investment.

We are in the early stages of growing, balancing client requirements with the development of the base platform.  It is exciting, it is challenging, and it is unlocking some powerful results.

I truly believe this Social CRM is the future for businesses and as a very wise person said, that the personalization of our experience on the web will no doubt be viewed as the characterizing aspect of the current phase in the evolution of the web and the way we will do business.

And so, the journey continues.  And it all starts with making the changes you want to see in the world – starting with yourself and your world, then looking beyond. 

Exciting times for us all ahead!

Inertia – the biggest threat to progress

Years ago when I was studying for my HSC, my parents imposed a curfew. I was not able to go out unless I did 15 hours study a week. Fun & Exciting  by pmeidinger

Fortunately for me they did not specify where I had to spend my time, so I focused a minimum of 10 hours a week where my passion lay – painting and art – and the rest to what I considered at the time as the boring subjects.  The 15 hour study curfew became easy to meet and the targets I had for my social life were able to be easily fulfilled.

It was a great lesson around naturally pursuing the areas you feel passionate about.  This time and effort I naturally skewed towards was also rewarded in me later winning a number of art awards. I easily connected that if you work and operate from a position of passion, it delivers you significant power to excel.

When you love something and love what you are doing, you naturally progress.  You find things easy to do and easy to commit to.  This principle serves you just as well in your working career as it will in your personal life.

I am sure you can validate this principle with your own examples.  

Recall a time where you pursued something you felt really passionate about and it propelled you to success.  Now reflect on how you felt.

You felt buzzed right?  When you did what you love and you achieved the goal you were hoping for, you felt highly energized, invincible and ready for more.

This isn’t rocket science, so why do we sit for far too long in jobs or in situations pursuing something where we don’t feel that passion?

A number of people I know have communicated their unhappiness in their current situation. 

They try to justify not doing anything by rationalizing away the risks of changing with the comfort levels of today. They know and can be strong at articulating what they would prefer to be doing, even going so far to identify the steps they need to take to get there, but still don’t go and pursue it. The longer they look for reasons to not move, the more the barriers to change seem larger.

When focusing on the fear of change and potential downsides, there is a great danger that the sense of “too hard” will set in.  Or worse, you quickly move into a mode of accepting what you are not happy with, with a feeling of “this is good as it gets”.  So you stay in something you are not happy with.

Yet we can all recall examples and look to people where a decision to change was made and it was pursued.  Or perhaps you know someone or were forced to make changes through circumstances not of your own doing. 

These changes and shifts in life often become the catalyst to move onto much greater things, greater than what may have first been considered.  It is a powerful feeling when you have new opportunities, new ways of thinking, new ways of working, new ways of juggling life to pursue. 

We look back and see that change as the greatest thing that happened to us.  Change brings opportunity. Change brings great personal growth which helps us professionally.

More importantly change gives us an opportunity to tap into our passions.  To find the things that once again excite us, energize us, propel us forward.

So don’t allow inertia to kill your progress. 

Make the changes today to align what you do with your passions.   At a minimum, the bigger the wave of change and the bigger the ride, the less likely you will have time to look back and you will enjoy the process of moving forward.

Take a step forward today and see how quickly your passion will carry you towards success.

More for Less for More

Earlier this year I was at a conference and was lucky enough to hear Dr. R.A. Mashelkar  present an inspiring address on Gandhian Engineering.  A concept that incorporates the principles of doing more (providing more features, more services, more  value) for less cost to make it more accessible and available to much larger numbers of people.  Hence the phrase “More for Less for More”.

Tata Nano Car WhiteAn example of this was the launch earlier this year of Tata’s radically innovative car, the Nano.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony at the 9th Auto Expo in New Delhi, Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group and Tata Motors said, “I observed families riding on two-wheelers – the father driving the scooter, his young kid standing in front of him, his wife seated behind him holding a little baby. It led me to wonder whether one could conceive of a safe, affordable, all-weather form of transport for such a family”.  He challenged his organization to think differently about the problem and they did.  Only a few years later they delivered the Tata Nano, a “comfortable, safe, all-weather car, high on fuel efficiency & low on emissions” for approx US$2000.

Tata received more than 200,000 orders in the 3 week period following its launch in March. Today they can produce approx 3,000 cars per month.  A small number considering the demand . 

However with increased production capacity being addressed, we will see over time improvements in quality and consistency, and the addition of features likely to be provided at an even lower price.  And of course the competition will follow benefiting greater numbers of people.

Already there are announcements by a number of car manufacturers that they too will be entering this low end/low emission category including the bigger, more well-known names.   The Japanese car industry turned the car industry on its head once before.  They lead with price and followed with quality.  The same is happening with Korean cars now and we will soon see the same with Chinese and Indian automobile brands to follow.  Large-scale change can and will occur and accessible and affordable cars will be available to those who require a safe form of transportation, and who were previously locked out, in the near future.

The challenge is certainly there for businesses to think about how best to serve and care for the 6.8 billion people we have on this earth.  There are two aspects which drives the need for businesses to broaden their current thinking:

  1. The ubiquitous nature of the internet & wireless technologies – the increasing speed of technology for increasingly commoditized (and thus reduced) pricing is making it easy for people all around the world, including within developing nations,  to connect and transact with anyone, anywhere, anytime.  The flattening of the world opens up additional markets – more product choices for people, more potential customers for business. The greater the global demand, the more solutions will exist in logistically moving or upgrading goods and services around the world.
  2. The expanding social and environmental conscience – the ever-increasing pressure to evaluate our footprint on the world and the increasing gap awareness in wealth between nations.  This will continue to grow as the consequences of our current policies and actions continue to become better understood, and the forums for voting with your feet become more common.

With increased competition as the world continues to flatten, businesses will require greater creativity and innovation from their people.  Without a model for constant and differentiated innovation, businesses will suffer and ultimately become irrelevant.  Increased competition from the developing nations will continue to place pressure on value for money. 

And as price drops due to competitive and consumer pressures, so will margins.  Thus there will be a requirement (not just an opportunity) to sell to more people together with an increased requirement to build meaningful, personal relationships with customers.  This will drive the way organizations will think about their product or service offerings in the future.

A decision will need to be made by businesses. 

Do they cater for a few customers and charge a premium or do they rethink their business model and approach with the objective to do “more for less for more”?  Both models will require continuous innovation and competition will require them to define how they are going to keep doing it better than anyone else.

I applaud the technology, medical, science and engineering organizations who are already thinking this way.  Interestingly this approach increases profits for most of those organizations. But real revolution starts with awareness by a bunch of like-minded people that things need to change for the better.  Revolutionaries’ prophesize through education, communication and real example, encouraging more and more of the general population to follow and take action.

It poses an interesting question to every one of us:  What responsibility can we take in our every day decisions to stamp out oppression, poverty, hunger, poor health, and environmental damage?

 In every decision we make – either business or personal – how can we make an impact on providing equal opportunities for people to thrive no matter where they are located?  Can we offer more for less for more people?

The questions may seem big, the actions we make may seem little, but every one of them will make a positive difference.

Taking your product to market – How to turn your product into a business

Emma presented the topic “Taking your product to market – How to turn your product into a business” at BootUpCamp, an intensive workshop where participants go from an idea to a fully operational web business in two weeks.

To watch Emma’s presentation go to:

Part 1: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/10/

Part 2: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/11/

Part 3: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/12/

Part 4: http://www.viddler.com/explore/BootUpCamp/videos/13/

Get something positive out of the recession

Get Electronics WeeklyEmma Lo Russo offers five tips (to electronics organizations) for grasping opportunities created by the downturn.   Read the article as published in Electronics Weekly, 24 June 2009, and as promoted on the cover page and published on page 10.  Electronics Weekly targets electronic product organizations and electronics engineers.

Full transcript of article below:

Recessions get a bad press.  But they are really opportunities with halitosis.  Once you get over the shock, you can set to and work with the opportunities to create breakthroughs.  It’s all about channeling recessions in a positive way.

The electronics design sector is ripe for this kind of thinking.  The current recession can be deployed in your favour, to blast away the staid thinking that abounds in the sector.  That things are done the way they are done because they have always been that way is a common refrain.  Time it went the way of the thermionic valve.

Here are five tips, made with appropriate humility, that reflect the opportunities for change under the cover of the current recession:

Innovate

Nothing that has gone before will be good enough for the future.  This is code for “innovate” and innovate means doing different things in different ways, not doing things better.

So take a holistic approach to electronics design that starts with the broader desired user experience.  How do they want to interact with your product (not how you want them to interact)?Microsoft Word - electronics weekly Altium 062409,p10 Art.Lo Rus

And take a close look at the rule book on which you base your design methodology.  Does it still serve your needs, or does it now struggle to do so?  Is it based on a divide-and-conquer approach to electronics design, in which you divide the complexity of the task into manageable elements to conquer the design comlexity, only to find that you have killed off innovation?

Connectivity

It doesn’t matter how cool it is if it’s not connected.  I doubt you need reminding that connectivity is the most important attribute of any device today.  This is also code for saying that making something look cool is the minimum attribute of a successful product, and everyone will copy you very quickly.

If the past 40 years of electronics was the age of miniaturisation, we are already well into the age of connectivity.  The next generation of electronic products will not be stand-alone devices, as they have been in the past.  Instead, electronic products are being promoted, to become elements in much bigger ecosystems.  They are now the means by which users tap into these ecosystems.  The metal, silicon and plastics from which they are made become less relevant in this much broader view of design.

So, design from this perspective.  That means start (once you have worked out the desired user experience, of course) with creating the intelligence you want to pour into the product, and then, and only then, find the right device hardware into which to pour it.  After all, you don’t create a statue by starting with the mould.  You reflect first on the emotional connection you want to make with the work of art you are about to create.

Intelligence

It doesn’t matter how cool it is if it’s dumb.  Intelligence is at the core of successful products, and not just successful consumer electronic products.  The intelligence of a device is also how you will differentiate in the future, and it is much more difficult to copy than hardware. 

Designers must stop thinking of a design as discrete hardware, programmable hardware and software, and instead define a design by its functionality, and then map this functionality to the most appropriate implementation.

The true value inside tomorrow’s products is defined by the soft elements of the design.  These soft elements should be the focus and the place to start.  Don’t constrain the critical properties, its function, connectivity and the user experience of the end product before you have even started.

Changing competition

You no longer know who your competition is, or where they’re based.  Sorry for stating the obvious. But one bad thing about recessions is that they can camouflage a much larger shift that had started before the recession kicked in.

Take a deep breath, Google “innovation” and see what comes up.  These data show one thing: that the design and manufacture of products even as sophisticated as electronic components will likely be done somewhere else in the future.  The question to ask, therefore, is whether you want to play in this game, and what do you do to stay in the game?

Check your tools

Nothing should stop you from doing what you want to do, or have to do.  This is code for assess your tools and support systems right now.  If there is any aspect of what they offer, or how they work, that gets in your way, be ruthless.  Change them.  Change them now under the cover of the recession.