Recently published in the Australian Institute of Company Directors magazine

I was interviewed recently by Company Director, the magazine of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

The interview was about innovation, and how that has driven the development and growth of Digivizer.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned in the journey so far, as discussed with journalist Stuart Ridley:

  • build for scale
  • ensure your differentiation, and do everything you can to maintain that
  • back yourself and know it’s OK to face challenges – as long as you learn from them
  • be prepared to disrupt what you’ve done previously – to go after the bigger prize and opportunity (we’ve pivoted a number of times)
  • be prepared to accept new challenges – especially if you move from a corporate position to starting your own business
  • innovation comes from experimentation – build that into your company’s culture, and allow your teams to test, fail and learn
  • be prepared to take risks

You can read the interview here. I’d love to hear your thoughts – contact me via LinkedIn.


In the media: funding alternatives for entrepreneurs, the future of polling

I was recently published in Entrepreneur magazine, talking about the alternative approach taken here at Digivizer to fund our growth: a new, dual approach that encompasses self-funding, driven by early and sustained revenues, and partnerships with organizations that have market width and depth, that in our case also become customers.

I’ve also been quoted recently in the Australian Financial Review, on the recent Australian Federal Election – and why the polls got the result so wrong beforehand. I think the biggest opportunity exists in using social media platforms to poll, rather than older methods that clearly now don’t work, or are too prone to error. When you go where your audiences are (in social media and search) and listen to what they are already saying and searching for, you will get greater predictability on the likely outcome.

 

More than filling a quota: The Women who power Digivizer

In light of International Women’s Day, I went searching for inspiration by considering how to find the voice and other examples that represent how we at Digivizer think about people, equality and the future workforce, in amongst the thousands of articles arguing against gender inequality.

There seemed to be a consistent angle the majority of articles were taking. Too many communicate disempowerment, and often reinforce the position that being female would dictate their potential success for the rest of their life. Whilst our lack of progress on all scorecard measures is troubling, we must never allow women to feel that fighting against gender inequality was futile.

“Gender Inequality plagues the business world. Men dominate the executive ranks, and as such women face disproportionate challenges in their efforts to rise to the top…women are egregiously under-represented when compared to men…Misogyny has been knowingly built into corporate structures ran by men, and these influences and beliefs create systems that disadvantage women and prevent them to move forward.”

The author in this article (like many articles published in light of International Women’s Day), in 100 words or less, successfully affirmed her next 1000 words would be detailing how women are victims within the workplace, how our gender prevents us from achieving what’s in our capacity, and how the only people that both victimise and prevent us, are men.

Like so many others, this article seemed to focus too much on what women supposedly can’t do, rather then what they can do- and what they are doing already. Like all societal change, we need to celebrate those who are breaking through, breaking new ground, leading by example and proving gender plays no limiting role.

So this posed the question: Do women really look at their gender as a preventative? Do they view their sex as the only barrier between themselves and success? Are men really what stops us from getting what we want? And are we currently arguing for gender parity the right way?

So taking this idea we asked some of the women who power Digivizer, to answer 4 questions. And these were are our collective answers:

Sanjita Shah (Senior Software Engineer)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? I am one of a group of people who have been instrumental in the building, staffing, and running of a school in a small village in Gujarat, India. There was no school in the village and for safety reasons, girls were not allowed to travel to other schools as they were too far away. The school has been running for 18 years now. Children educated in the school have gone on to become doctors, engineers, and teachers.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My mother. She grew up in a rural Indian village and did not have the opportunity to study. She made up for this lack of education later in life by studying continuously after she got married, and initiated many projects. These included starting the above school, eye camps, cattle shelter, health centers and support for poor families in rural Gujarat.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Always be learning. No matter what age.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? I encourage my friends and family, but don’t have the credentials to pass the message to a wider audience.

 

 

Sarah Purvis (Digital Marketing Analyst)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Doing what I’m passionate about! Working my butt off during high school to get into my degree has been totally worth it. Studying also brought me to Digivizer. Digivizer has taught me so much about myself and my work ethic!

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? A podcast I listen to, No Such Thing as a Fish, constantly inspires me to explore the world and keep learning. When I listen to each week’s podcast, I’m constantly awed at the breadth of information delivered in an entertaining manner. It inspires me to constantly explore the depth and history surrounding the things I do, and to question everything around me.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Something I’m really passionate about is representation within the legal system, and the equitable division of power across peoples. There has never been ethnic representation on influential judicial benches and this is something that needs to change in order for other elements of justice to change – namely the nature of police discretion and the overrepresentation of ethnic populations in incarceration.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? The lack of awareness surrounding these issues, and the lengthy time it takes to change these elements. There is a lack of data around this area – the information collated doesn’t acutely reflect the ways that Government policies could be changed through looking from a different lens. What I hope to achieve in combating these issues is spread this message of justice through using the data to support and prove the need for accurate representation of every person within the legal system.

 

 

Caitlin Stonehouse (Senior Communications & Content Manager)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? While it’s been cool to have some big achievements in work and life along the way (including amassing a fabulous earring collection), what I’ve been most proud of is that I’ve been true to me and who I am, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by awesome people who give me mojo every day. My biggest inspirations would be my Mum, my sister, my niece – three generations of brilliant women who continually teach me things – and my best friend. Without their support, encouragement and sometimes tough love, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Some version of ‘You do you’. There can be so much pressure to be a certain way or to believe a certain thing, but if it doesn’t gel with who you are, you don’t have to take it on board.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? Maybe having a private Instagram account?

 

 

Madeleine Soden (Digital Creative)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Completing my university degree and smoothly transitioning into an industry job has been my proudest achievement. I’m grateful I landed a job at Digivizer, and, whilst it has been challenging, my confidence, personal development and professional skills have flourished. I also travelled alone to Africa, Europe and USA in my gap year: I developed self-reliance, assurance, overcame my fears and learnt so much! I am most proud when I feel I am developing and growing.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My mum is my best friend, my rock and the most inspirational person in my life. Her kind and genuine selflessness has taught me the importance of treating everyone with respect and compassion.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? People often have colossal plans to change the world, to help everyone and fix everything. However, I think that looking after those closest to you is second to none in the pursuit for a healthier community. Consequently, if everyone worked within their communities there would be a ripple effect around our large social climates, and everyone would be looked after.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? My fear of being rejected as well as not having the confidence to speak up inhibits me from expressing my opinions. I need to learn to embrace these vulnerabilities in order to help my own communities.

 

 

Jess Millo (Executive Assistant to the CEO)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Writing and recording two albums with my band is something I am most proud of.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My dad Mario inspires me with the amazing orchestral music he writes and my writing partner Kitch inspires me when we are writing, singing and performing together.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Avoid buying products that contain Palm Oil (aka Sodium Laureth Sulphate). With the rate of deforestation in Borneo due to palm oil plantations, the Orangutans (along with many other animals) are on the brink of extinction because they will have no jungle left to live in.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? I talk about it with people I know. Although I don’t have the audience to spread the word globally, there are plenty of companies taking action now to help. Every time I choose a product without palm oil it’s helping the cause.

 

 

Anastasia Tighe (Head of Creative Production)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Moving to New York at the beginning of my career. It was out of my comfort zone and it forced me do things on my own as I no longer had my support system around me. I learnt I could achieve anything on my own and that having limited resources shouldn’t stop you from achieving goals as long as those resources are used wisely.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? I have a ridiculously talented mother who has a work ethic to boot. She has taught me that simply being talented or simply working hard won’t be enough to be successful at work, and that it’s harnessing both effectively that will allow you to reap the most rewards.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Wear Sunscreen.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? I’d need to come up with something more creative than Baz Luhrmann’s 1997 Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen), so I probably just need to block out the time more than anything else.

 

 

Chantelle Zhang (Web Developer)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? I decided to change my career and completed the relative course in my maternity leave. It was difficult as I had to balance taking care of a new born baby and study (and never have enough sleep!), but I survived it.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My Grandma, she is a courageous and wise women who achieved a lot in an age where women were discriminated and treated badly in China. She taught me that a women should be independent, courageous and responsible for her life, and to never rely on parents or her husband.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Live to the most of your life, it’s never too late to do anything.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? Haven’t had the right chance.

 

 

Stephanie Seebacher (Content & Community Specialist)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? I think for me it was finishing uni. Both my parents finished high school in year 10 and hadn’t gone on to do further study. I honestly wasn’t the most amazing student at school. So while adding the additional years of study straight after school was super daunting – I managed to finish it and come through with a lot more faith in my own abilities.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My mum is definitely one person who has always inspired me. She uses her free time to care for others and fully supported, encouraged and nurtured my Christian walk. Her passion is also inspiring. She spent three years of her life volunteering with her football team (South Sydney Rabbitohs) when they got kicked out of the Rugby League competition in the late 90’s. While many might think this wasn’t a revolutionary sacrifice, it taught me that when there is something important to you, it’s worth sacrificing time and committing to.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? I think it would be – as humans, we need to be more aware of the implications of the things we do. Whether it’s the words we say or the actions we make towards those around us (both close friends, but particularly strangers). We need to think about the implications of that, of the potential damage you can have on someone else.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? I think as a society – and with social media in particular, we have almost dehumanised others. To the point where there is almost no awareness that there is someone with feelings on the receiving end of the comments and actions that we take. I don’t think that it’s something that one individual can change – its a wider problem. But I think that there are small changes that we can make and be conscious of how we treat people and speak with people.

 

 

Lilli Lo Russo (Social Content & Community Associate)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Never being afraid to speak up. I know this sometimes gets me in trouble (well, a lot), but I am proud that I have never refrained from vocalising my thoughts and opinions. Whether it be for a social justice cause or as simple as what I want for dinner, I am proud that I speak up when it matters.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My little sister, Eliza. She is 15 going on 30, and has achieved more in her little life time then majority of retired adults. Lizey teaches me every day to be unapologetically yourself, and to reach for the stars- because you can achieve anything you put your mind to! (I’d attach everything she has achieved if I could, but surely LinkedIn has a word limit).

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? There is never a time limit (or quite frankly, any other limit) on learning. Everybody should always keep learning, and nobody should be exempt or prevented from education.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? Nothing really, except I don’t have access right now to a large audience to tell that message. But I do have access to those that I know already, and all big things start small…so I guess that’s where I’ll start!

 

 

Brodie Smith (Content & Community Specialist)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? In the space of 9 days in 2016, I wrote an 80,000 word fiction novel that has formed the basis of a series I’ve been steadily working on ever since. These days the series stretches over more than a million words, and the first chapter was recently named a finalist in a magazine competition! That’s what I’m most proud of – that I’ve persevered with this project, and not just abandoned it in a drawer, like so many other stories I’ve written over the years.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? I find a lot of inspiration in different people and things every day. Some days I get blown away by the kindness of my friends, and that inspires me to be a little bit kinder. Some days I am inspired by someone in the office having a particularly clever idea, which motivates me to learn and try new things and share my own ideas.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? It gets better. And then it gets worse, sometimes. But then it gets better again! And you’ll never know what it’s going to be like tomorrow unless you’re there for it.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? The social imperative to not share the bad things? Everyone wants their lives to look Instagram-perfect and I am definitely not immune to that. It’s hard to share the bad things. I’m currently working on that with family and friends, and there’s no way I’m comfortable sharing stuff like that in public and online. I think we all need to get better at being real online.

 

 

Francesca Meliton (Community Engagement Manager)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Buying my dream car (Mazda MX5) and using it in amateur motorsport. I didn’t think it was possible so it was epic making it happen using my own skills and power. I’ll be back at the track this weekend!

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? Probably my parents because they didn’t want me to just be academically successful but be successful in anything I choose to do. My dad always told me that you can’t put a price on knowledge.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? A simple 3-part message: Don’t let fear hold you back. Make mistakes. Learn.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? I don’t think there’s anything that prevents me from telling that message. It’s something I’ve tried to instill in students I’ve taught or tutored as well as people I’ve trained in my working career. The toughest part being a living example of the message.

 

Ingrid Stockley (Head of Office & People Operations)

What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Being a mum.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? My parents. Fiercely independent, hard working people who came to this country with nothing and left an amazing legacy. I miss them both every day.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? Be your authentic self always, if people don’t like that version of you, they are not your people.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? Nothing really- however you can’t put experienced heads on young shoulders, it’s something people have to subscribe to or learn along the road of life.

 

Emma Lo Russo (Chief Executive Officer)
What have you done in your life that you are most proud of? Starting and then growing Digivizer to the size and opportunity it is now. Doing it whilst raising my three amazing kids and enjoying the support from my gorgeous husband has shown that all I wished for could be achieved.

Who in your life inspires/inspired you the most? I do gain great inspiration from what Bill & Melinda Gates have achieved and how they have given back to society. It is very human, very altruistic but also demonstrates how they exercise their great smarts and influence on the world and bring a great element of honesty, sincerity and achievability to an entrepreneur such as myself.

If you had an opportunity to really get a message through to a large number of people, what would that message be? The only person limiting your growth is yourself. If you focus on adding value to as many people as you can whilst simultaneously looking to continuously learn yourself, you will always stay relevant, engaged and fulfilled.

And what do you think inhibits or prevents you from telling that message the most? Like many women, I used to lead by example.. I have since learned if you grow people you grow your business and you grow yourself. So that means taking the time to stop and focus on others.

So after feeling inspired, what did these answers reveal?

  • That being a woman has not “prevented them from moving forward” in sharing the messages they felt passionate about.
  • They didn’t think as a woman they “faced disproportionate challenges” to achieve what they hoped for in the future.
  • That nobody thought as a woman they were “egregiously under-represented when compared to men”.
  • Not one answer stated that being a woman prevented them from achieving what they were proud to have already achieved.

The key thing if anything we need to work on is building the confidence to communicate the key passion and key lessons and mandates that will help all women live the passion and life they want to live.

There is no denying these 13 women and their histories are a microcosm of the female experience, however it is clear that reading about the incredible accomplishments and aspirations of these 13 women, inspired me much more than the previous 13 articles I’d read.

We need to change the debate. If we consistently blame the cause of female misrepresentation on men, then we indirectly reinforce that our experience as women is completely in the hands of males, and the ideal of gender unison fades further into the distance.

We are all much more than an underprivileged and under-represented group of females. We are women who are smart, driven and compassionate. We have the ability to cultivate whatever future we want. We are women with impressive resumes, incredible experiences and fierce goals. We are also women who support each other’s individual differences, goals and success.

The Gender debate, needs to move a lot further than a debate on gender. We aren’t dealing with a powerful man and a powerless woman. We’re dealing with two, equally unique and capable genders who are asking to be given the same opportunities as each other. And this is the mentality we should all have whenever fighting against gender inequality.

The Financy Women’s index revealed this morning we are still 12 years away from financial equality. To achieve this it is critical that we instead highlight the great work and examples of women to ensure we expect, ask and obtain to make equality the norm.

Don’t limit the argument to woman vs man, and don’t reinforce sexism by repeating all the reasons why females are apparently inferior.

So no more articles and arguments on all the things women apparently are prevented from doing. Let’s instead celebrate the women who lead, who do fabulous thing and who are changing the world for the better. The more we celebrate the many amazing women, the more we inspire others and the more this becomes the norm.

This article was written as a team collaboration. Thank you to Lilli Lo Russo for leading this project.
This article was also published on LinkedIn

Build capability in your organization so you can pivot fast and build a competitive advantage without breaking your vision

 

 

As we proudly progress with another product update released today (refer digivizer.com) I am reflecting on what it takes to continue to grow and do more than just survive. With key outcomes that include launching our new product, now made affordable for every business, expansion into Asia, 30% of revenues earned overseas, and the launch of our gaming and esports specialisation in goto.game, it has taken a number of pivots for Digivizer to grow to where it is today.

Knowing how to survive by building a culture of learning and pivoting fast is essential because in the world of startups and early growth, nothing is for ever. As serial entrepreneur Steve Blank says in his book The Four Steps To The Epiphany, a startup is “a temporary organization used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” I think that’s true of most startups. It’s certainly been true of Digivizer.

We’ve learned, though, that to build out our ability to grow-fast in our organization, we have needed to build the capability to pivot quickly. If you do, you can thrive and change direction to take advantage of new opportunities, and move quickly away from slower growth, and from initiatives that don’t provide returns or suck up resources.

Let’s take a look at the journey so far.

Changing direction to move faster

We started Digivizer with a vision to build a technology company, initially to track all Australians on the social web. Early customers were larger enterprises that included a number of Australia’s banks, tech and telco companies. All loved the data, insights and input into strategy that Digivizer was able to provide. Understanding the digital footprint and behavior of their customers with context was used for the first time by many of these organizations.

The promise of overseas expansion beckoned early on. Australia represents just 0.33% percent of the world’s population. Our horizon was always global, even as a startup. Early engagements included for a global company, as one example, incorporating and analysing Chinese language within our analytics engine.

Our pivot history

However, the learning in the smaller (and younger) Digivizer led to the first in a number of pivots: the investment to support such a multi-language contract ultimately proved too high for a fast return that would also depend on local representation. To help scale Digivizer technology we decided to stop other language support (despite the lucrative contract) and focus only on English.

By this time, more organizations recognized the value of real-time insights. They wanted turn-key solutions, support in real-time decision-making, content and managed digital and social marketing programs, and measurement of performance in real-time.

Our second pivot was to build a creative services team centered on social community managers and creatives that could rapidly build, input and track performance within the Digivizer platform. This allowed us to bootstrap growth and product development off client creative services revenue, whilst providing a point of differentiation. We were not an agency because everything we did was based on our own data analytics engine, and we were not solely a technology company because we could action insights in real-ime with creative services. This saw sales doubling each year for the three years.

With our technology now able to identify social segmentation around what mattered and who people were following, pivot number three beckoned – in audience-first thinking. Identification of influencers within market segments, and adding the ability to engage, track and report on the impact of any influencer programs, offered the next opportunity for growth.

The underlying platform that had worked in our early history began to slow scalable growth, and to stretch precious resources. We had originally built our own data platform to take advantage of low comparative cost, only to see the costs of maintaining that platform becoming excessive. A migration to the cloud, not a decision we took lightly or one that was simple to execute, allowed us to focus on building our IP, changing the focus for our valuable engineering resources.

Our most-recent pivot takes us back to our original vision: to provide a way to help grow every business by helping them understand and make better decisions around their digital investment.

Whilst continuing to deliver creative solutions, we’ve now our brought our technology to companies of any and every size, including and especially SMBs and startups, with our SaaS product.

Tough decisions reap rewards

At the time, some of these decisions were hard to take, but the results speak for themselves: we have gone to market faster than we otherwise would have.

Pivoting need not be drastic, nor mean discarding years of strategy and work. Our pivots were not fundamental changes in our strategy, but they were in prioritization of resources and implementation plan. And while some were momentous at the time, they were made with care and were completely congruent to our vision. What became obvious is that hiring, developing and building capability around pivoting, and seizing new opportunities, fast becomes the true business competitive advantage. When we started there were about 20-30 players in the same space. Now there are just two of us left in Australia of those early players, and we do and offer very different products and solutions.

Lessons learned

In planning to pivot, as part of developing a strategy that will meet your image, you must also incorporate a people strategy flexible enough to accommodate change.

You need to understand what your customers actually need and ensure that’s what you deliver in a way that they see as being valuable.

Always seek to build on the learnings from the steps you’ve taken before, without being hidebound by the actual steps or sunk costs.

To pivot is more than not breaking your business: it is about seizing the moment as each opportunity presents.

This article also published on LinkedIn

‘This will hurt’: Innovation stifled by tough R&D scheme

Last week I was interviewed by Emma Koehn of The Sydney Morning Herald, about the changes currently being debated and legislated by the Australian Federal Government to its R&D Tax Rebate scheme. Her interview appeared today. 

Digivizer has been claiming the research and development tax incentive for the past five years, relating to a range of software development projects for our digital content analytics platform.

The incentive had been invaluable in growing Digivizer, but we now find ourselves spending hours proving ourselves to AusIndustry, which administers the scheme with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

At the time of the interview we were reviewing two research and development tax incentive claims that were granted to Digivizer over the past two years. At the time of writing, this had already cost us another $22,000.

As I say in the interview, I don’t know what this will lead to, but it will hurt us either way.
A number of people active in the Australian startup and technology sectors have reached out to me about this. It’s clearly an issue that resonates with many. I’d welcome your thoughts.
.

Winning the ACS CXO Disruptors Award

Humbled and taken by surprise. Last night I was awarded the inaugural CXO Disruptors Award. Not that I needed encouragement or acknowledgement, but I feel an even greater responsibility to keep driving change and disruption for good.

Thank you to my amazing Digivizer team who inspire me every day. And of course my amazing family who support and encourage, love and nurture me every step of the way.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

An amazing night. Congratulations to all the winners!

Original post seen on LinkedIn.

How unsure are you of your digital channel performance?

In a recent article in the Think with Google series, Casey Carey,  Director, Platforms & Publisher Marketing at Google, makes a telling point: just 17% of advertisers surveyed said they are looking at the performance of all their digital channels.

Which leaves the following questions unanswered: What about the missing 83%? And why is it so difficult for them to know what’s actually working across their various digital platforms?

It gets worse. The same article also carried another insight: 25% of markets cite organizational and structural challenges as reasons for not adopting data-driven attribution – what the real causes for a purchase by a consumer actually is.

It seems that many organizations, even big ones with budgets and resources , struggle to make sense of what they spend.

And all of this gets worse for smaller and medium sized businesses, who have most to gain from using digital, and perhaps most to lose from missing an opportunity or deploying precious budget in the wrong channels or on the wrong content.

The problem has been that knowing the performance of your digital campaigns across multiple platforms has previously been too hard, too late, too inaccurate and too expensive.

Part of the challenge is that to make this a reality is difficult. For example, IBM says we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day. That’s a lot of zeros.

Breaking that down to what matters to your customer, where they are and what they will engage with becomes critical to get right and of great concern to those wanting to get the most of their budget.

To do so, data has to be normalized across multiple platforms for it to become useful in a comparative sense, with even something as trivial as the start of the day being different for each platform, but also to see the same measures of engagement or click throughs to be consistent and to make true price and conversion rate comparisons.

Data is the lifeblood of marketing, customer satisfaction and selling, yet it seems data solutions tend to either be priced out of the hands of most businesses – either in licensing costs or in the time and complexity required to get this up and running.

This is the core thing that Digivizer has worked on solving for businesses of all sizes.

We’ve taken eight years of product development and six years of using our own technology with some of the biggest brands and companies in Australia and overseas, and made both available to companies of any size.

You can now see how your investment across all the main digital platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Google Ads – is working.

You can choose any number of paid media measurements for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google – total spend, impressions, CPM, engagement and engagement rate, CPE, video views,  Link Clicks, click-through rate (CTR), and cost-per-click (CPC) for campaigns and adsets.

You can track who’s talking about you and to you.

You can use hashtags to create and follow conversations important to your brand.

You can track your in-channel performance.

We have removed  complexity and obstacles to understanding in detail what’s working about your digital marketing – making it easy to see where to continue to invest.

All for US$89 per month on our starter package – about the price of a daily cup of great coffee.

If you have the authority in your accounts to see your social channels data and paid, you can be up and running in minutes and finally see everything at once. You can create an account (with 30 days free)  at digivizer.com.

 

This article is also published on LinkedIn.

People strategies in fast-growth startups: creating sustainable growth foundations

 

Digivizer team in retrospective, planning and goal settingWhen companies are in fast- growth stage, it is not unusual to have new people, reporting to new people, who report to new people, working with new technology, serving new customers. The growth inevitably leads to a ‘cascade of newness’. Despite your smaller size, you need to be super- disciplined at ensuring that in your haste to build and resource up as fast-growth demands, that you do not make hasty or incorrect hiring decisions. Nor can you afford circumnavigation around deep onboarding and knowledge-transfer programs designed to ensure new people understand the culture, their role, and performance expectations and measures.

Equally in fast-growth you need to resist the urge to prescribe and over- engineer on process. The key to growth is getting really smart people in, making sure they know where the company is heading, and then enabling and encouraging them to forge the path within a “one team, one dream” business focus, yet at the same time be encouraged to take individual responsibility for making smart decisions, and delivering measurable success.

Building foundations

Foundation elements in getting this right start with the talent and skills of those you employ. Alongside these sit attitude – does this person share your values, will they be a good collaborator, and aptitude – are they the right ‘fit’ for your fast-growth environment. You then want to ensure everyone aligns around customer success first. If you focus with clarity on the customer’s success (and what you do to enable it), it is the best way of ensuring your own business and everyone’s personal success.

How do you hire to ensure you have the right people?

For Digivizer, hiring starts with the mandate: look for smart, talented people, who get things done, are infinite learners and are not an arsehole. Our values crafted by our employees themselves are not negotiable, focusing on “one team, one dream”, truth and transparency, responsibility, courage and growth.

Getting our foundations right is one I think Digivizer on the whole has done well. We ensure everyone is clear about our vision, our objectives, our values, our success measures and our recruitment and care of people. We then continually check on progress with everyone. Nothing beats survey data around employee engagement, performance, and satisfaction to ensure we get this part of our business right and the best it can be. Our leadership mantra is simple – grow people and you grow business. Spending time understanding and providing challenges for people, is the surest way to deliver growth.

Despite knowing the importance of getting our people culture right, we have recently experienced growth pains we needed to address. As such, I wanted to share our painfully learned and reinforced lessons to help others going through similar growth periods:

  1. Some people won’t grow with you. They liked it small, they liked it when they were more important and integral. As you grow you need people who can grow ahead of you and those who see the need to continuously grow and learn. People either grow with you through multiple levels and evolutions, or they can’t (or won’t). You need to quickly identify and deal with those who can’t grow or cope with fast change,. They will be happier elsewhere, and so will your team who want to stay focused on the growth challenge.
  2. Employees who come from larger corporates or consultancies, where process and bureaucracy are well-established, can be uncomfortable and unhappy in a fast-growth company. Whilst some say they want the start-up/growth experience, you need to find a way to identify people who have the capacity and the willingness to switch from big corporate steady-state mode, to hectic ground-moving growth mode. Whilst you need principles to guide decisions, it is far more important to hire and encourage people’s comfort in fast-moving environments, where they thrive on continuous change, risk and complex challenges. You want people who want to choose the scary upside-down roller-coaster over the safe merry-go-round. You can’t ever afford for anyone try or desire to make things slower or easier. If you see that is the motivator, you need to address it immediately.
  3. Excuse-making and sub-cultures are like cancer – you need to address it with radical candour and if not completely and quickly realigned, cut it out of your organisation immediately.  Coach those who are willing but never allow those who think there is an option to resist change, or to not take on responsibility for culture, values, performance and outcomes. It is never OK to have an alternative view counter to your company vision. Explain the surgery to the rest of the team once you have acted, to remove any concerns of those who are doing the right thing. It is important that people are encouraged and feel protective of their environment, and see that they are responsible for the changes they want to see, and feel empowered, energised and secure about doing the right thing.
  4. Don’t ever lower the bar on hiring. And the more critical the role, the more important it is to have multiple interviews, and multiple interviewers. Whilst you need to move quickly, you need to get your recruitment right as the opportunity cost on getting this wrong (distraction and what is not delivered from someone who is holding the seat of someone who could be great for you). For hires that you are unsure of, or for teams with a structure in flux, turn these roles into timed contracts which allows you to more easily change and shape your organisation. If for whatever reason someone is not right, deal with this immediately. You can’t afford to allow those who don’t represent your values to erode the teamwork and team values already built.
  5. Ensure the values are real every day – your team must know what they are, you must talk to them, share them, live them, relate decisions to them and ensure they are present in all you say, do and communicate. You can never over communicate the values and drivers for the business.
  6. Make sure your leaders know how to practise radical candour and can do performance management discussions. It is critical that everyone in the organisation has regular discussions around:
  • Here is what you are doing really well – provide specific examples and what behaviours you observed that lead to great outcomes
  • Here is what you really need to be focusing more time on. You need to be really clear about what is expected, how this helps, and how they will know if they are successfully performing. Ensure you commit to a follow-up time to address it
  • Here is something that will be a potential issue and hinder your performance if you don’t address it immediately. Be 100% clear if someone needs to take some immediate action to ensure that their success or ability to stay in their role is not at risk
  • What can we do to help ensure your success (and then help them)!

What does a successful people culture in early-growth companies look like?

It is important to understand that start-up/fast-growth cultures are not for everyone.

Smart people who have traded in roles at larger companies are replacing having lots of other people, processes, systems, money and prestige/leverage that they may no longer have in start-up/fast-growth stage companies. This can cause tension between those used to working at organisations with deep pockets and plentiful resources, and those who understand the tight cash that most start-ups operate within which requires smarter thinking or happiness to do without. I have seen some of the best and creative ideas flourish when being developed within budget and time constraints.

It’s important to keep aspiring to build, change, and improve a people-culture as you grow, and ensure everyone plays their part in its nurture. The most valuable people are those who are happy to work to objectives, no matter how difficult they are, and are happy to be measured by key results, clearly identified, and answer whether they are on track or not. Assume everyone is there to do the right thing, and then build off that base-assumption to improve the results.

Always focus on results, not effort. It’s important to have a results-driven culture rather than one that rewards effort. It should never be around the number of hours someone works, or how much time goes into a project. Either you achieved what you set out to do or you are not doing the job needed. If the latter is the result, conduct constructive retrospectives to identify what needs to be done differently.

A great growth culture has your team happy to be challenged, to continuously learn, test and apply. To change tacts when things don’t go to plan. They are happy to ask whether there’s a better way – and most-important of all, to take responsibility for making that happen.

They are highly adaptable, can roll up their sleeves, take responsibility for delivery and understand all kinds of challenges and options for a company at any of its stages.

They also enjoy the feeling of success that comes with delivering on the objectives for the customer, and in celebrating the milestone achievements along the way,

As a leader in fast-growth, what you do and say impacts culture. Everything must be your own team and your customers success front and center. It will keep your culture grounded in high performance, high enjoyment, high care, and trust in the high rewards that will come.

What are your experiences and tips for managing people culture and performance in fast-growth?

This article is also published on LinkedIn.

Why the government needs to invest more in Australian innovation … or perish

Last week’s AFR Innovation Summit raised a number of challenges Australia is facing. These challenges remained without solutions.

Conflicting views seemed to run counter to what the long-term view should be: how Australia plans for future prosperity, what we need to do today to ensure that we will have jobs tomorrow, defining a positive role for AI, and supporting innovation in software and technology. What’s at stake here is a relevant future for the Australian economy and a diversity of companies in sufficient numbers that create the greatest benefit over the longest term.

Our collective intent seems confused. The government should be inspiring and supporting the investment made every week, by companies like Digivizer, in product research and development, market development, export development and growth, so that we develop world-class products that create export wealth for Australia.

We have invested millions of dollars in product research and development — not on esoteric experiments that meet subjective measurements of proof of some sort of “pure” R&D, but on R&D that confirms new ways to create business value. For our part, we continue to research, develop, test, apply, learn and iterate to create something commercially viable.

Companies that grow through continuous development, which are able to separate what generates revenue today from investment in what generates revenue tomorrow, should be applauded and incentivised — especially those with track records of taking previous years’ R&D and apply it to future revenues.

We will only stay relevant and valuable if we continue to devote a good percentage of our time working out what will be important in the future. Yet speakers at this week’s conference opined that what companies like Digivizer do is somehow “not real R&D”. Certainly, the government’s policy now seems clear: to return savings from a cornerstone program back to the government, regardless of the fact that a number of speakers quoted figures showing how low Australia sits in the global innovation stakes. Let’s not forget that today’s R&D support in Australia is for many a forward tax rebate against investments already made, involving many hundreds of hours of self-assessment, often subject to seemingly subjective assessment, diverting energy and focus away from where it really counts: actual innovation.

It is a great disappointment that our government’s rhetoric is now focused on savings rather than on investment  for the future.

As CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall said, you can’t save your way to success.

Or, as Daniel Petre of AirTree Ventures phrased it: “The government shouldn’t f— up the R&D tax incentive — it’s critical for start-ups and critical then for founders to retain equity.”

Meanwhile, countries such as Sweden, Israel and Germany redeploy up to 100% of the savings from earlier R&D schemes into direct R&D grants.

Australia runs the risk of being an innovation backwater. Figures from the conference cite a drop in Australia’s gross R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP from about 2.25% to about 1.9% between 2007 and 2015. The OECD’s figures grew from about 2.3% to nearly 2.4%. The World Intellectual Property Organisation puts Australia at 17th in our region, behind Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea.

For a nation with just 0.33% of the world’s population, we need to do better at going global. The government needs to create certainty, clarity and consistency with a focus on future global relevance, and then do all it can to allow businesses to flourish. By all means demand rigour, but don’t confuse forcing companies to jump through an endless procession of hoops with innovation.

We need to prove we are building a nation that supports innovative businesses with something new to offer. We need to support these businesses in their critical growth stages, to ensure they will continue to make a positive difference.

This article was also published on Smartcompany

Making the best of our technology available to every business

At Digivizer we continue to learn so much from providing services to our enterprise customers. We’ve spent a lot of time with customers like Microsoft, Lenovo, Intel, Barilla, McWilliam’s Wines, Snapfish, and more.

We’re grateful for their continued support as we broaden our range, and for all that we have learned and grown together.

Increasingly, we’ve been asked to help smaller-sized businesses. We still want to look to deliver services like digital creative, paid media and analytics at different budget levels.

We also see the much larger opportunity to help empower and arm all small-to-medium businesses with the same insights that we provide our enterprise clients – and that we use ourselves to our own advantage.

We’re passionate about helping all businesses easily understand their investment in digital marketing, whether that be organic, earned or paid. Businesses need to know exactly how they are performing across all their social and search channels. We want to make this available in an affordable way to every business.

We want to make it easy for businesses to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.

I’m excited to share with you that for some time now we’ve been building a new product. It brings all our high-tech, big-end-of-town data crunching into a much more streamlined, accessible, affordable and valuable experience.

We have been testing and gaining feedback from our existing customers and are now ready to extend a beta version to more businesses.

For a limited time, we would like to invite you to register your interest to join our private beta at no cost or obligation to you. The more it’s used, and the more feedback is shared with us, the more we learn and understand what is important to you, and the better the experience for everyone becomes.

What does Digivizer deliver?

The Digivizer app brings all your digital data – paid and organic – into one live interface. That way, you can see what’s working on any given channel at any given time.

Digivizer gives you live data and insights to help ensure you deliver the right message, on the right channel, at the right time, to drive measurable business results. We answer questions like:

  • How am I performing?
  • What’s working and which platform?
  • Are we doing better than previously and where is doing better?
  • How much am I spending at any one time and where?
  • How am I performing against my objectives:
    • Impressions
    • Engagement
    • Video Views
    • Lead Conversion
    • Sales
  • How can I make sure I am not wasting my money as I am spending it?
  • How can I get this information easily and in one place?
  • How do I make my reporting easier?

One platform

Before now it’s been expensive – in time and tools – or just impossible to get an easy, single view across all platforms in one place.

We hear from our customers how painful it is for them to co-ordinate across each social and search platform. This has been made harder with the changes each platform makes. They move things around, change their algorithms, change what you see, and what things mean.

With Digivizer, you can easily connect all your paid accounts across social and search into our platform, see key insights and make easy comparisons. Today our product supports Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google Adwords, and Google Display.

Real time

A key pain point for many customers is that they find out how their investment in digital is performing weeks and months after they have spent the money. This is far too late to action any learnings.

Traditionally, small businesses are forced to access each platform manually and pull out the data, which takes hours. Then they have to interpret it, cobbling together a single report to see how their investment is working for them. Alternatively, they look at the final delivery point of lead or sale, and which individual platform has delivered it.

By the time you’ve been able to get the answers, the chance to adjust your strategy has passed. If it’s not immediately obvious with a big spike or dip in the numbers, then often you’re left frustrated, feeling like you’ve spent money and time without the ability to influence the outcome.

Having one view of cost-per-lead versus a view of what is delivering best value for money and what’s most-valued by customer, are missing. That’s what Digivizer can provide.

Easy to use

With Digivizer, you’ll be able to see how your ad campaigns are performing graphs and tables that are easy to control and explore. You’ll be able to add and remove the variables you choose – like date range, platform, objective.

When some part of your campaign is working really well – or not working as well as it should – you’ll be able to see it in the data and jump right in to start figuring out why. Want to take the long view and see how your campaigns have performed against each other? You can do that, too.

Best of all, you won’t have to just invest your money and cross your fingers for three months. You can see what you’re paying for as it happens. This gives you the freedom to turn it up, or turn it off, as you choose.

Affordable

We’re working to ensure the best of our technology is made available for the lowest per month price so it can be available to all businesses, with all your owned, earned and paid social and search media data and insights at your fingertips.

Over time we will continue to add a greater number of platforms and insights to cover the broader digital marketing funnel.

It’s an exciting time for Digivizer. We can now start offering the best of our technology built over nearly 8 years to every business. Those who we know deserve to get the best out of their digital spend, who are sorely in need of tech tools that remove the stress and pain, we hear you!

Please join us in a private beta. Register your interest to join at no cost, no obligation now, at digivizer.com.

A version of this article is also published at digivizer.com.