Category Archives: Uncategorized

Launch of 2030 Communications Vision

Everyone must commit to driving Australia to the forefront of the communications age if Australians want to retain their relative standard of living, a group leading small business, communications, regional and consumer representatives said today.

The representatives of business, local government, regional communities, telcos and consumer representatives came together in late 2014 to launch the Communications Vision 2030 project, an initiative to shape a digital vision and set of goals for Australia to achieve global digital age leadership.

The group announced it would convene a policy seminar in early 2015, bringing together a wide range of experts and stakeholders to discuss a pathway to national digital economy leadership by 2030.

Five outsourcing platforms to improve your small business

Adapting to the digital economy can require specific skills and expertise. We understand that it can be a stressful and expensive process at times. It is also daunting for business owners who realise how many new skills are required to take advantage of digital opportunities.

Online freelancing tools have made it easier and more economical for businesses to access professionals with diverse skill sets from all over the world. You can contract these skills at prices that are much more affordable than you might think.

Common services (amongst many others) outsourced by businesses include graphic design, web design, programming skills,  app development, SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) and content writing.

Internet freelancing platforms open small businesses up to a much wider net of providers capable of providing great services at a lower cost.

Note: Please use discretion and caution when selecting your provider to ensure the best outcome. Always read reviews and view a portfolio where possible.

Below we’ve listed five outsourcing tools you may consider for your business.

1. Freelancer

OutsourcingFreelancer is an Australian-based (but internationally available) freelancing platform founded in 2009. You can create an account for free (or login with your Facebook account) and add details of the work you need completed. Skilled workers can then find your job based on its criteria.

You may also want to set-up email notifications to let you know when people with certain skills become available. Freelancer is certainly one of the largest freelance market places with roughly 11.5 million users.

2. Elance

Elance

Elance.com

One of the first online freelancing platforms, Elance was founded in 1999 in the USA. Like Freelancer, businesses can create an account for free (or login with Facebook or LinkedIn) and post jobs to attract freelancers.

Elance offer extras such as referral programs and payroll services. As a result, Elance can be more suited to larger-scale businesses.

3. Fiverr

Outsourcing

Fiverr.com

Fiverr is a great tool for those odd jobs, one-offs and bits and pieces you need to get done, and often quickly. That’s not to say it has to be poor quality!

The idea is that anyone can sell their services starting at $5 for just about anything. You can complete voice-overs, logos, banners, translations, or t-shirt prints (amongst many, many other things) for surprisingly low costs. Fiverr is self-moderating, so be sure to look at reviews of the provider and pay attention to details such as the turnaround time, Many providers will offer optional extras such as extra-fast turnaround or additional designs.

You can also view the average turnaround time, orders in queue and average rating of each user.

4. 99designs

outsourcing

99designs.com

99designs started in Melbourne in 2008 with the objective of changing the way businesses solved their design needs. The idea is based around a ‘design contest’.

As a business, you provide 99designs with a design brief. You will then choose a package. According to the package, 99designs offer a ‘prize’ to designers who will then compete to win the ‘competition’ (i.e. make you a happy customer).

This gives you the benefit of having dozens of design options pitched to you from multiple designers! Not a bad idea. If you find a designer you love working with through this process, 99designs will facilitate that relationship into the future.

Packages start from $299.

5. oDesk

outsourcing

Odesk.com

oDesk, has recently merged with eLance.com. It is a freelancing tool that caters to your digital needs. Like other online freelancing tools, it allows you to post your job for free, review candidates and track and pay for your freelancer all through the oDesk platform.

You may wish to employ an individual for a one-off project, or a team of developers for a long-term team project. It’s up to you!

Data intelligence to boost crop yields

Data for farmers

A recent article from The Economist highlights how new data technologies are set to create digital disruption for farmers.

CRops economistHybrid seed producer, Monsanto, have bought out a Silicon Valley start-up for $1 billion USD to build their system of ‘Prescription Planting’. The system can tell farmers with precision which seeds to plant and how to cultivate seeds in each patch of land. It is predicted that the new technology will be the biggest change to the agriculture industry since the introduction of genetically modified crops.

The system was originally created by two former Google employees, who mapped out 25 million fields in the US and superimposed climate information on top.

Crop Insights

While the program was originally intended to help sell crop insurance, Monsanto have used the tool to provide a sophisticated planting system that can predict which seeds grow best in which field under specific conditions.This is done by combining the climate information with their extensive data on seed yields.

Many planters are already capable of steering themselves using GPS technology. Precision planting provides a further progression as farmers can now plant with different depths and spacing, varying according to the weather.

Results are already showing great promise, with yields increasing by 5% over two years.

Concerns

Some farmers are concerned over how such technologies will affect the agriculture industry.

Advanced technologies may remove some of the discretion and skill that farmers have been accustomed to for generations. Furthermore, there is concern over what organisations like Monsanto will do with the data they collect.

There is grey area over who owns the data collected, and hence whether data organisations can on-sell data to competitors, use information for commodity trading or for acquisition of underperforming farmland.

American farmers are already responding to such threats, with the American Farm Bureau drawing up a code of conduct for data organisations to comply with. The code will provide farmers with ownership of their data and prevents organisations from sharing their data with third parties or using it for purposes other than those for which it was provided.

Takeaways for Australian Farmers

Digital and data insights are set to greatly impact agricultural industries. While developments are still in early stages, expect more frameworks, policy and competition to evolve around these technologies over the next few years.

Those who are willing to become early adopters of change may find themselves gaining significant competitive advantage. For more information on how technology is disrupting business visit our sister website www.digitalagriculture.com.au

Five social media tools that can drive growth in your business

By now every business owner knows they should at the very least be considering social media in their business. It has become widely accepted, and research has proven, that social media when utilised correctly can improve marketing efforts and increase customer engagement.

How do we decide which social tools best apply to our business? The list of tools is growing and changing continuously, which requires ongoing reassessment. When coming across new technologies, it is always advisable to analyse the following:

  • Do your customers use this technology or are they likely to in the future?
  • How will the new technology deliver value to our customer?
  • What resources and skills will we need to utilise the tool?
  • What associated costs exist?
  • What risks will we need to manage?

Try these questions on five tools you may not have considered for your business:

Pinterest

Pinterest Kitchen ProductsPinterest is a tool that all businesses with visual products  should investigate closely. It follows the traditional notion of ‘pinning’ pictures you like to a pinboard, but now users can choose pictures from anywhere across the web and pin and curate multiple images on their own boards.

Communities of users with common interests choose and aggregate images on Pinterest. Interests are wide and varied with popular interests including food, cars, education and celebrities. Many businesses use the tool to organise and share their own images and make them available to relevant interest groups. Good imagery gets shared by individuals and communities and is a great way to promote the visual aspects of your brand.

Any image on the web can be pinned to a user’s board, which in turn can be shared and drive traffic back to your website (providing gains in Search Engine Optimisation and potential sales leads). Big retailers such as Nordstrom and Target in the US are increasingly using Pinterest to drive instore purchases.

So how can you capitalise?

Start creating great images for your website and Pinterest account. If required, consider hiring a photographer for a day to really get the best out of your products and brand!

Whatsapp

Whatsapp has made big news recently having been acquired by Facebook for US$16 billion. The mobile app (available for iPhone and Android) has made waves, allowing users to privately message individuals or groups using their mobile internet connection. The beauty of Whatsapp is its simplicity.

The ability to send free messages to groups has made real-time, mobile collaboration for businesses and working groups very accessible. If you work in a small team that needs a simple, and fast way to communicate as a group on the road – this may be the tool for you.

Vimeo

Like YouTube, Vimeo is a video platform that is embeddable and shareable and allows you to upload your own videos and create a customised video feed.

However, many argue that Vimeo is more suited for high quality video production with its cleaner interface and higher streaming quality.

YouTube is still the most used tool to share your video content and improve SEO. However, if your brand is creating high quality image content that you want to share in higher definition with less interference from advertising – Vimeo may be a great tool for you!

Snapchat

Snapchat is still widely perceived as a social messaging tool for teenagers, but with the continuing trend towards private messaging and image-heavy messages, more businesses are beginning to adopt Snapchat as a new marketing tool.

This great article from Social Media Examiner provides five examples of brands using Snapchat for their marketing activities. Be clear on your strategy, how you’re going to use the tool and what value you’re going to add to your customer. Snapchat can work really well for music and sporting events, to create buzz for new product launches or to drive sales by offering limited-time discounts.

Snapchat is a reciprocal social tool, meaning that both parties have to accept the other as a friend before messaging can occur. So you’ll have to offer some value to get your customers to engage with you! Be creative.

Yammer

Yammer is one of the more widely used internal collaboration tools (although there are now many).

Internal communication tools erase the necessity for long, complicated email chains that are impossible to backtrack. They also aid collaboration, creativity and innovation.

There is a misconception that such tools are only of use in large organisations. However, many smaller organisations make great use of tools like Yammer, being able to share interesting and useful content, add topic tags to group similar content over time and being able to collaborate while colleagues are out-of-office.

Regardless of your business size, Yammer can provide a great central knowledge hub. The Yammer website provides some great examples of organisations benefiting from internal collaboration.

What tools do you use? Tell us your stories on Twitter using #digitalhume.

The Digital Economy Glossary

The Digital Economy, digital technologies, the digital divide and digital strategy – we’re well aware it can be easy to get lost in all the jargon and tech-speak. We’ve put together a simple glossary to help you make sense of the terminology and get to the bottom of how to use the internet.

Digital Economy: The Australian Government defines the digital economy as: “The global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the internet, mobile and sensor networks.” Another way to think of it is as the internet enabled economy

National Broadband Network (NBN): The Department of Communications defines the NBN as a next-generation broadband network designed for Australia’s future needs. It will provide faster, more reliable broadband access to all Australian homes and businesses through a mix of three technologies: optic fibre, fixed wireless and next-generation satellite. The NBN is also the biggest telecommunications reform in Australia’s history. The NBN is currently under government review to determine details of the future rollout.

Digital Technology: The term ‘digital technology’ for our purposes refers to the entire digital eco-system. This includes the NBN, mobile connectivity, the world wide web, cloud computing applications, apps, and all other digital and computing hardware, software or data.

Cloud Computing: This term according to TechTerms refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. These services are offered from data centers all over the world, which collectively are referred to as the “cloud.” This metaphor represents the intangible, yet universal nature of the Internet. If you use an email service such as Gmail or Hotmail you are already using the cloud.

Digital Divide: Digital divide refers to a gap between different groups and demographics, defined by their access to knowledge and resources surrounding new information and communication tools such as the internet and associated technologies. An often cited digital divide, is the divide between senior citizens and teenagers’ familiarity with social media platforms. The digital divide is also used to describe the divide that will open up between those with high speed broadband access and those without it.

Digital Disruption: Deloitte define digital disruption as a measure of how much the arrival of new digital technologies will drive change for business, the economy and society as a whole. The music and newspaper industries are among the industries most deeply disrupted by digital technologies as people now access music and news services and products online often free of charge.

e-Commerce: TechTarget define e-Commerce as the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet, especially the World Wide Web. In practice, this term and a newer term, e-business, are often used interchangeably. For online retail selling, the term e-tailing is sometimes used.

e-Health: e-Health refers to the use of digital technologies in the delivery of health information for professionals and consumers, the use of IT to improve public health services and education, and the use of e-commerce practices in health systems management.

Open Data: Open Data Handbook defines open data as “data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone –subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and share alike”.

3D Printing: The making of parts and products using a computer-driven, additive process, one layer at a time. 3D printing builds plastic and metal parts directly from CAD drawings that have been cross sectioned into thousands of layers. It provides a faster and less costly alternative to machining (cutting, turning, grinding and drilling solid materials). (from PC Mag)

For more information on internet basics, terminology and getting started, see the Department of Communications’ Internet Basics web resources. The Internet Basics website also has its own extensive glossary of internet terms, which can be found here.

 

All Online by 2017

By engaging and up-skilling all communities in the Hume region, the Hume Digital Strategy aims to have all residents online by 2017. The challenge requires the coordination of organisations, resources and technologies in order to encompass all groups in the community.

Local governments are a key driver behind the move toward greater digital literacy, and can help by providing both physical and intellectual resources to facilitate community learning. One local government currently leading the way is the Adelaide City Council. The Grote Street Library is home to the Adelaide Digital Hub. The hub “aims to connect the community and city businesses with technology and the online world and get ready for the National Broadband Network (NBN)”.

The Digital Hub includes a community training program, a Digital Enterprise Program for business, an Innovation Lab and the iPad Buddy Program.

The Digital Enterprise Program is comprised of an interactive workshop series designed to lead businesses through the practical information they need to know about the NBN, an introduction to tools that can improve efficiency and demonstration of online marketing tools, including social media. The program, funded by the federal government, will help provide a strong foundation for businesses to establish their digital presence.

Some groups are at higher risk of digital exclusion than others. Statistics show that older members of the Australian community are less likely to utilise internet access, and a 2010 report identified that lack of interest and skill were main drivers behind low levels of involvement, as well as the cost of holding an internet connection.

The iPad Buddy System helps engage older residents with digital technologies by providing each participant with an iPad, a volunteer buddy, a support network and regular social catch-ups, allowing participants to meet other residents share their experience. The iPads come pre-loaded with books, games and apps, and best of all, it’s free!

Many communities around the world are doing work to close the digital gap. The video below from Governance International shows how local programs in Camden in the UK are helping older citizens become digitally active.

What do you think? How can we get ALL online by 2017? We’d love to hear your ideas.

Digital Strategy for Albury Wodonga

Albury and Wodonga have recently released their digital economy strategy for public feedback. In the spirit of advocating and sharing digital information, we spoke with Matt Taylor, Manager of Economic Development at the City of Wodonga, about the report and its implications going forward for the cities of Albury and Wodonga.

The full report can be downloaded from the City of Wodonga here, and community feedback is highly encouraged. An executive summary is also available for those with limited time. Matt Taylor emphasised that the report highlights that the potential benefits of the digital economy are extremely significant.

“The upper limit of our forecasted benefits from the digital economy is $571 million per annum in value added. The impact that could have on our community is enormous.”

The Albury Wodonga area is well placed in terms of digital readiness, largely due to a number of key business leaders who are setting the example in embracing digital technologies along with council digital initiatives such as the ‘Snap Send Solve’ app for reporting incidents to council. But as with all communities in Australia, there are a number of challenges to be faced in order to reach the upper limit and unleash the full benefits of the digital economy.

One of the biggest challenges is communicating the realistic benefits and costs to the community to facilitate adoption. A 2013 local business survey revealed that 30% of respondents believed there would be no benefit from digital training, while 10% of respondents believe the costs of implementing a digital strategy will outweigh the benefits.

Education and digital leadership therefore need to comprise a large part of the digital strategy. Digital success will partly be a product of a digital culture in the region that supports and grows itself. Local collaboration around digital best practice and good news stories should be facilitated through networking events, discussion forums and the creation of an online digital business portal for learning and sharing.

An integral component of the digital culture will be the establishment of a Digital Economy Strategy Working Group. The group should be comprised of key members from government, business, health, education and the community to promote ownership of the strategy and appropriately coordinate the digitisation of all sectors in the Albury Wodonga community.

There are 31 key actions in the delivery project plan. Some interesting actions include:

  • The establishment of the working group as discussed above
  • Delivery of an eGovernment project to expand Council services online
  • Delivery of a desktop client video all/booking project for community engagement and internal corporate use
  • Establishment of a “Digital Retail Champions” network for collaboration to address barriers to digital retail
  • Review of Wi-Fi in Wodonga
  • Increased awareness of health models and the introduction of NBN funded telehealth scheme

The full delivery project plan is available from page 52 of the strategy.

If you are doing some great work with digital technologies in the Hume region, submit your story to Digital Hume to share your wisdom with the rest of the community.

How to market Digital Hume

The fifth and final strategic focus in the Hume Digital Strategy is the marketing of Digital Hume. The strategy recommends using Digital Hume to strengthen the region’s branding and identity as a forward-looking and connected “smart-region” with a great environment and a diverse, modern economy that is attractive to current and future investors and communities.

The strategy is to put Digital Hume at the centre of the marketing and branding of the region. To achieve this the following actions will be undertaken:

  • Making Digital Hume a core part of the suite of initiatives and strategies marketing the region
  • Using Digital Hume to reinforce a wider effort by the Hume Alliance to market the region for inward investment, lifestyle re-location and to retain key workers
  • Ensuring digital initiatives in the region are promoted under a common “Digital Hume” branding – whether or not the initiatives are undertaken by the Hume digital partnerships or partner members
  • Collaborating on sharing best practice and resources amongst the communication and marketing professionals of all partner organisations

Do you have ideas for marketing Digital Hume? We’d love to hear your ideas via Facebook, Twitter or comment on this post below.

Uni TV Switched At The Rural Clinical School in Shepparton

unitvkc

Ken Clarke watching a dental procedure on Uni TV. (Source: IBES, 2013)

The Victorian Minister for Technology, The Hon Gordon Rich-Phillips officially switched on the Uni TV project on Friday 12 April at the Rural Clinical School in Shepparton.

About The Uni TV Project

The Uni TV project delivers dental education via Internet Protocol Television (IPTV). Dental education has usually been restricted to face to face interaction where students were forced to attend classes in person. However, with the launch of the program students can now view transmissions live and on demand of high-definition 2D and 3D images of procedures.

Final year students in the Doctor of Dental Science will trial this technology to enhance their learning. Uni TV provides them with a great opportunity to stay up to date with their course from a remote location. For example, students from the Rural Clinical School in Shepparton can access relevant material for their studies even while away from the main campus.

Speaking at the switch on, IBES Senior Research Fellow Ken Clarke said, “IPTV infrastructure was designed to be scalable. It can provide multiple simultaneous channels for many independent ‘broadcasters’. Various educational, community, and professional organisations could use IPTV to reach their own target audiences with specialised services supported by various business models.”

Uni TV is a partnership between the Melbourne Dental School and the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES), Ericsson Australia, AARNet and Panasonic Australia. It is supported by the Victorian Government’s Broadband-Enabled Innovation Program (BEIP).

Funding Opportunities through the Digital Futures Fund

The Digital Futures Fund is a Victorian Government initiative supporting collaborative projects that involve the development of information and communication technology (ICT) solutions. The objective is to ‘transform current business practices and deliver productivity benefits to Victorian small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)’.Digital Futures Fund

The program is designed to help SMEs overcome business challenges through the use of ICT by reducing barriers to specialist ICT resources, knowledge and technical expertise. The fund provides financial support to projects undertaken in Victoria for a maximum duration of two years. Successful project applications will satisfy the following requirements:

  • Assist Victorian SMEs to solve shared business challenges through the development and implementation of ICT-led solutions
  • Deliver significant improvements to products, services and/or business models and productivity
  • Commit to share project learnings with other businesses

Business challenges are required to be measurable and quantifiable (e.g. time, staff, energy, waste, dollars etc.) so be sure to keep this in mind when generating your project proposal.

Available funding ranges from $50,000 to $500,000 depending on the project, and is related to the complexity, level of innovation and/or the expected quantifiable benefits arising from the proposed project. The applicant must be able to contribute at least 25% of the total project value. More detail on funding requirements, and what is and isn’t eligible for funding is available from the Business Victoria website.

Projects must be collaborative, meaning they will comprise a minimum of three parties. For full details on eligibility please see Business Victoria. Their website also contains detailed information on the application process and a range of information sessions happening throughout February.

This is a great opportunity for small and medium businesses to innovate changes that will help themselves and fellow Victorian businesses operate competitively in evolving markets into the future.