Early education as it should be

Recently I saw a headline article on the ‘School of the future’, with a particular focus on design, or to use the relevant term, the “built environment”. Whilst the focus was important and necessary, any content that referred to how the design of the built environment promoted best practice teaching was conspicuous in its absence. How often is discussion about structural environments contributing to culture, and very little about people? Talk to most parents and you quickly realise that the relationships between their children and their teachers are front and centre. This becomes particularly important in early education, the period of time before attending ‘school’ as it known. In the early education sector, which is largely composed of preschools and long day care centres, the discussion assumes another dimension. There is not only a difference between the built environments of an early learning centre and a school, but also the nature of the educators and the skill sets required of them now and into the future. In fact, a glimpse into the future of early learning quickly alerts us to the realisation that the educators of tomorrow will need to assume a range of skills that are quite different to the educator in (say) a  primary school. Here are just a few some likely scenarios, hopefully with a lot more rigour than a Nostradamus prediction: The educator of the future will need to be more adept in recognising factors that inhibit learning. The earlier these are identified in a child’s development, the better. This implies that an early educator will play a more essential role in this process. Following on from that, the early educator will need to be better trained in how to best address these factors, particularly in children who have  special needs. Again, remedial action sooner rather than later is advisable. Early learning centres will need to form stronger pathways and links to local schools so that children can transition more smoothly. The wealth of data and knowledge gained by the early educator would be invaluable to the next teacher, and the strength of this link can go a long way toward addressing the learning challenges of a young child. The manager and staff of your local preschool or long day care centre may assume a role as the parental counsellor and guide. Apart from the faithful local nurse, pediatrician or doctor; who stands beside the parent who is finding it tough adjusting to parenthood? Add to this the pressure on family relationships, financial adjustment and a busy lifestyle and all of a sudden, your child’s first educator becomes a confidant, counsellor and resident shoulder to cry on. How do we equip these people whose career was chosen based on other criteria? The educator of the future will need a deep understanding of diverse cultures and backgrounds. As a nation Australia has a unique blend of  many cultures that challenges our established ways of understanding and relating. A better understanding of a child’s background can be essential in delivering better learning outcomes, particularly if it is assumed that ‘success’ in the early learning revolves around effective partnerships with families. So, what does this have to with the built environment and design? Everything I say, if not a lot. If engagement with parents is important in these years then providing spaces for this to occur is important. The need to train and equip staff continually requires intelligent design. If we are truly committed to the individual requirements of children with  special needs then thought needs to be given to how we best create the environment for our early educators to enable them to succeed. The school of the future may look impressive, but education of the future needs to involve the educator of the future. Domenic Valastro CEO Integricare   

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Great to Good

Yes, you read it right. The title of this piece is ‘Great to Good’. I’m going to talk about how, in the 21st Century, we need ‘Goodness’ more than ‘Greatness’ when it comes to innovation. Between 1996-2001, Jim Collins’ team researched and wrote a bestselling book called Good to Great. They described 11 out of 1,435 companies that had shown the highest level of success over the decades. Most of them were organizations that ‘make and sell’ products (Abbott Laboratories, Kimberly-Clark, Philip Morris, and Gillette Company). Other books such as Built to Last (1994) by the same author and In Search of Excellence (1982) by Tom Peters made similar studies with concurring results. However, the majority of these great 20th century companies failed to sustain their level of greatness in the Open-Source era. The management consultant giant McKinsey and Co. did a follow-on study that found 32 of the 50 companies described in these books to only matched or underperformed the market over their subsequent 15-to-20-year period. In fact, the ‘great’ Circuit City and Kodak both went bankrupt. The question is “Why?” If I asked you to name some innovations of the 20th Century, which ones would you think of? Well, many of you might already be thinking “Stop asking and just Google them, silly!” That is true; excuse me. So, I typed ‘Innovations of the 20th Century’, and the results I got are 1) Nuclear Power 2) Personal Computer 3) Airplane 4) Automobile 5) Antibiotics 6) Television, etc. We are familiar with all these inventions. Here is another question: Do you know who these people are? And what they invented? In parentheses are their dates of birth. Charles Darwin (1859), Thomas Edison (1879), Albert Einstein (1921), Alexander Fleming (1928), Edwin Land (1948), Robert Metcalfe (1973), and Peter Dunn & Albert Wood (1998)? They were inventors of the 20th Century; many of which gave rise to the said products. Now, how about these? Jack Ma (2000), Jeff Bezos (2003), Mark Zuckerberg (2004), Reed Hastings (2007), Brian Chesky (2008), Travis Kalanick (2009), Anthony Tan (2012). They were also inventors, but of the 21st Century. Obviously, all names listed are ‘innovators’ of their time. But the real question is, what is the difference between the first and second set? The answer, to me, is how the meaning of innovation has changed. We have spent over a century making and producing ‘things’. Never has the world experienced so much wealth, consumed so much resources, collected so much assets, and generated so much wastes. In fact, most of us own at least 4 of the 6 examples of Innovations of the 20th Century that I outlined above. Books such as Consumptionomics (2011) by Chandran Nair and Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (2012) by Peter H. Diamandis provide further evidence of this prosperity. By the way, in case you were wondering, Peter Dunn & Albert Wood (1998) are inventors of the performance-enhancing drug Viagra. Innovation in the 21st century, however, is about sharing – not producing. If I were to now Google Innovations of the 21st Century; here is what it would tell me about inventions that are impacting lives: “The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. The world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock. And the world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no property. Something big is going on.” These businesses own virtually nothing they are providing to customers, yet they have created tremendous values and changes in the world. Unicorns, Decacorns and Hectocorns are the theme of the present era. It is the age of making money out of nothing; what Hamish McRae @TheIndyBusiness dubbed ‘The rise of content non-generator’. As a matter of fact, businesses of the 21st Century are being invested based on their ‘value-ation’ rather than the traditional Return on Asset or Profit & Loss statements. Even Google does not own the search results that were returned. It merely drew them from existing data generated by millions of resources around the world. The innovations in the 21st Century are different. Something big is indeed going on. The 20th Century was an era of geniuses; one needs not ponder for long to think of Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the inventor of the E = mc2 equation; the special theory of relativity; and a recipient to the Nobel Prize in photoelectric, which serves as the basis for Quantum Physics. Or, even before that we had Thomas Edison (1847-1931) who was a prolific inventor, holding 1,093 US patents in his name. These genious discoveries have since gave birth to products like nuclear power, lights, television, automobile, spacecraft etc. Such influence partly explains why most parents strive to raise their kids to be as smart as possible. The genius craze led to children books with titles like ‘Raising Genius’, the ‘Baby Genius’ DVDs, and movies such as ‘Goodwill Hunting’, starring Matt Damon as the improbable ‘genius’. Notice that none of the innovators in my second list has a Nobel Prize. And I think it is unlikely that any of them will ever get one. Innovations of the 21st Century era do not rely on one to discover secret codes of the universe. Facebook basically lets people around the world share their diaries; Airbnb is a brokerage for vacant rooms; and Grab is a virtual concierge who goes out and get us a cab. There is no complex ingenuity at play here; only laymen who see questions that the world has been waiting for answers. These start-ups simply integrate and utilize things that already exist to provide good answers. In the current era of resource abundance, one does not need to have an IQ of Einstein’s, or to dedicate a life of failing 10,000 times like Edison to concoct an invention. A good idea or two will suffice. 20th Century was about a few people finding GREAT discoveries. 21st Century is about all of us, using the breakneck speed connectivity that technology provides, to do GOOD things together for a better future. That is my meaning of Great to Good. Leadership Insights 1. The New S Curve: Organizations in various countries that I am working with are all buzzing about disruptive innovation – how to build the new growth cycle? To begin cracking that code, one must understand that innovations of this era are unlike anything we have ever seen before. I would argue that even […]

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Are platforms like FHIT the way of the future for personal trainers?

Over the past five years, the fitness industry has undergone considerable structural change due to the rise of digital technology and entrepreneurs forging a career in helping people achieve fitness goals. Fitness Centre revenues in Australia are forecast to reach $2.4 billion in 2022/23. In 2017 the ‘licensure for fitness professionals’ industry grew reflecting the rise in fitness professionals and personal trainers worldwide. To stand out from the crowd, these fitness entrepreneurs are tapping into the thriving digital space to innovate their offering and reach a wider audience. Lauren Hannaford (ex-Wiggle and Dorothy The Dinosaur) has created FHIT, a digital fitness program for subscribers to use at the comforts of home, at work or even while travelling. All the online streaming program requires is an internet connection – no equipment, no gym, just a personal coach who happens to be Lauren Hannaford. Speaking to IdeaSpies, Lauren says the fitness industry has come a long way in terms of innovation. “If there continue to be new discoveries in the way the human body functions, the industry will continue to create new innovative ways to train,” said Lauren. “Whether that’s using new machines or through greater understanding of the mechanics and functionality of the body, new styles of training and techniques will continue to evolve and improve the way we train.” The FHIT program is largely based on various HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which is the first choice of training technique among many fitness experts in the industry due to its lack of equipment, time efficiency and flexible space arrangements. Lauren has also incorporated techniques as a former National gymnast, including body-weight training, into her workouts. The move towards an online streaming workout program is both cost effective and convenient. It eliminates the hefty cost of gym memberships, waiting for gym equipment to be free, travel time to and from the gym and working out in an uncomfortable environment. FHIT users are encouraged to embark on a fitness journey at their own pace, increasing in intensity as they progress. For motivation, Lauren joins the session with you as your personal trainer with workouts ranging from 15, 30 or 45 minutes with quick add on options of 5 and 7-minute burner workouts. To provide a holistic approach, users receive personalised messages from Lauren, regular blog updates and personal check-in messages to keep you in check, motivated and on-track. Lauren cites social media as a major reason for creating FHIT with frequent requests for fitness programs, tips and advice. “I started FHIT for both personal and professional reasons. Over the years I have constantly been asked to write programs, give fitness tips and advice for people. I decided the most effective way to achieve this is to create an online platform like FHIT where people could exercise anywhere, anytime but in a way, that is personable, instructional and motivational.” said Lauren. As the convenience economy grows in Australia, online based platforms are also growing and the need for products and services at the click of a button is stronger than ever. This has allowed for the emergence of an alternative personal training system. “As personal trainers are becoming more digitally focused and want to be able to train anywhere and at any time, their clients still crave the communication and connection that comes with a trainer.” Lauren said. To learn more visit https://www.laurenhannaford.com.au  

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Rebranding Australia as an Entrepreneurial Nation

The Academy of Entrepreneurs launched a Corporate Challenge in collaboration with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in response to the Australian Government Initiative to develop a stronger Nation Brand. The initiative is all about better positioning Australia to enhance our global competitiveness. The Foreign Policy White Paper of 2017 found that the current nation branding is fragmented with no unified representation of Australia internationally. It showed that the number of individual brands in the global market place was diluting the effectiveness of the collective promotion of Australia. The students of the Academy of Entrepreneurs presented their Brand Australia proposals to Fiona De Jong, Head of Australia’s Nation Brand at Austrade after being mentored through the Corporate Challenge by two creative industry leaders, both entrepreneurs in their own right, Duncan Harriss, Managing Director of award winning integrated production company Limehouse Creative and Dan Aldridge, Creative Director, BBC Studios Australia and Hyperkid. Fiona De Jong said, “I had the opportunity to hear the top four pitches from extraordinary entrepreneurs of Australia. I was blown away by the creativity, and the expression and the imagination of these incredible young people in our country. Each of the ideas was executed in different ways but collectively articulated some really special attributes of this country and that’s what this whole project was about. Let’s get to the essence in a simple way about what’s great about his country and let’s celebrate that. The people in this course were able to do that over the course of a very short period of time so I do thank the Academy of Entrepreneurs for the opportunity to have this project come to life and for sharing with us the inspiring ideas from young entrepreneurs in our country.” “What brief could be more exciting than helping rebrand and better brand Australia! The Nation Brand initiative is one that resonates with our own industry and citizens of course but perhaps more importantly, one that needs to be heard across the world by potential investors and talent to convince them Australia is the place to come to realise their dreams. We believe that Australia is the perfect place to test and launch a start-up; because we are a multicultural, young, innovative nation with a strong economy. Entrepreneurs are a key voice, a current and future demographic and engine of Australia,” says Duncan Harriss. Over 5 weeks, 61 students and budding entrepreneurs from over 40 nationalities workshopped ideas and creative concepts to rebrand Australia. Students learnt branding and advertising 101, analysed what Australia has to offer as a nation and critiqued other successful global nation brand campaigns Dan Aldridge said, “The brief most certainly peaked my interest and my hunger to be part of an ambitious and exciting branding exercise. By sharing my expertise, wisdom and skillsets in branding and design, I feel the young budding entrepreneurs that have attended our sessions have really got a lot out of it, with a wide range of integrated ideas and concepts being displayed.” The Academy of Entrepreneurs was founded by CEO Paula Mills with the aim of disrupting the education industry. The Academy teaches various business diplomas and entrepreneurship to students from all over the globe. Paula Mills says, “This is a great opportunity for students to test their strategic thinking, problem solving and entrepreneurial skills, whilst giving back to Australia with campaigns designed to make it more attractive for students overseas to consider launching their start-ups in Australia. It’s interesting to see how most visitors and students come to Australia for the laid-back lifestyle and its natural beauty but then most end up wanting to stay due to Australia’s young, multicultural, welcoming and strong & safe economy. For that reason, I pitched to Austrade the idea of letting our students share their experiences & ideas, so we could together build a campaign and attract more young talent into Australia.” The Corporate Challenge winners (left to right) were Eduarda Costa, Renata Torres and Gabrielle Marek. For more information, please contact: Jacqueline Cridland Account Manager, Taurus Marketing 02 9415 4528 jacqueline.cridland@taurusmarketing.com.au Samantha Sakr Account Executive, Taurus Marketing 02 9415 4528 samantha.sakr@taurusmarketing.com.au The Academy of Entrepreneurs has built a bridge between education and the start-up business world, allowing students to network with top leaders, be taught by serial-entrepreneurs, exchange ideas with likeminded colleagues, be coached and mentored, receive investor pitch training, and learn via entrepreneurial challenges. Our mission is to supercharge leaders with empowering entrepreneurship skills for them to succeed. Limehouse Creative is an award winning full-service production company that believes in intelligent integration. Based in Sydney, Australia, we house a celebrated network of specialists who produce arresting creative solutions for clients from all over the world. Operating a core team and an extended network of partners and experts both locally and abroad, we collaborate with agencies and brands to create world- class visuals and content for all media channels, including print, television, online, digital and across social media. Hyperkid is a global creative agency with over 20 years’ experience in branding, design, talent shoots, content marketing and digital strategy. We have straddled both client side and Agency, working collaboratively, creatively and cleverly to push all boundaries. With an infectious creative vision, we take strategic risks to engage audiences in ways that are both unique and impactful.  

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Sharing a journey of Spiritual Awakening and Self Discovery

Meditation can help individuals with mental health issues cope with stress, anxiety, and depression, according to Healthdirect – an initiative of the Australian Government that provides free health advice. Professor Willem Kuyken and his colleagues agree. In 2016, the researchers found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is as effective as antidepressants. With one out of five Australian adults reporting that they experienced mental health conditions based on 2007 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS),  the study comes as a welcome addition to the techniques used by psychologists and healthcare professionals that provide mental health services at the Department of Social Services. Meditation as Therapy Kuyken, a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford, notes that although mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is not a panacea, it is a new way to stay well. Meditation, a type of mindfulness therapy is defined by Shafii in his study Silence in the service of the ego: psychoanalytic study of meditation published in 1973 as “a psychological state of active passivity and creative quiescence.” The impact of meditation and self-reflection on mental health has been studied for centuries but the research done by Kuyken and his team provides a more structured approach to the technique. According to Kuyken, MBCT is a form of mental training that allows individuals to arrest depressive relapse by being in tune with the early signs of depression.   As Good as Medication  What truly makes Kuyken’s findings special is the fact that mindfulness is as good as psychiatric medication. Based on the study, individuals who participated in MBCT sessions without the aid of medication were able to avoid a relapse for a period of two years. Drugs, the study shows, also have the same efficacy. It must be noted though that older meditation techniques such as tarot reading or yoga are just as beneficial. Tarot reading, for example, can help individuals reflect while yoga offers inner peace for its practitioners. Awareness of Your Own Thoughts Meditation and concentration can provide clinically depressed individuals with better awareness of their own thoughts. According to Kuyken, knowing that thoughts are not facts is essential in the practice. This knowledge can be quite helpful especially for men and women who get depressed due to negative thoughts. Proponents of the practice also say that mindfulness techniques such as meditation do not only improve mental health but can also help reduce stress.   However, Kuyken reiterates that despite being a compelling alternative to psychiatric drugs, this holistic technique is merely one of the ways to ease mental distress. Australians who do not have access to MBCT sessions can take a look at Kenneth E. Miller’s advice. Miller, an expert in psychology, notes that mindfulness is not just about meditation and that it can be as informal as eating a meal, walking, running, biking, or taking a shower. Mindfulness, according to Miller is being present in the moment which means that anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression can take advantage of this technique to improve their mental well-being. Supplemental Tool Meditation may not be able to cure or prevent mental health problems on its own but it is a good addition to the tools and techniques that can calm the mind. With stress being a major factor of mental health issues, managing it through meditation can help those who experience depression or anxiety. Meditation, based on the study, can also give individuals a chance to get in touch with their thoughts and countering those thoughts through introspection. Author- Cassie Steele, 23 June 2018

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Deep learning techniques

If you have been wondering how there is always so much to do yet so little time, time has come when you can finally put a halt to that thought as artificial intelligence has just the things you need. In fact, with artificial intelligence and cognitive computing you can get things done with greater efficiency and much lesser effort than you thought was possible. Deep learning, which is one of the technologically superior methods behind the formulation of Artificial Intelligence, traces the evolution path of human intelligence design to develop machines that can perform tasks on their own and without human supervision helping in automation. It is very interesting to note how deep learning has altered the way we operate in various aspects of daily activities and necessity areas. Let us take into consideration 10 practical use cases of Deep Learning Techniques that have been witnessed in the last few years. ONE: Facial Recognition using visual intelligence of machines It is astounding how security cameras have grown over the years. Today, machine learned security cameras used at airports or secured parking lots use their analytical ‘mind’ to not only record a particular intrusion but also review and analyze the scene. Objective: To identify, detect and track persons of interest, parked vehicles, missing luggage and many more using CCTVs or other high-end cameras. Deep Learning Technique:  A VPU or a Vision Processing Unit, is a much advanced deep learning product that takes over the conventional CPU or GPU. A lot of processing and machine learning is conducted on the device which helps it to analyze a particular scene. It uses Convolutional Deep Learning Models to detect and track objects and individuals. Inference: Most of the airports are now able to use the deep learning techniques to identify and track persons of interest (e.g. terror suspects, etc.), track your luggage and detect any suspicious item very quickly. These VPU-enabled security cameras installed at airports, generate alerts the moment they find someone leaving their luggage, thus making it possible to detect airport security threats within minutes. Installed in traffic scenarios, they can also recognize driver-less cars and help them find the right parking spots.  TWO: Understanding customer behaviour in ecommerce Deep learning is being used to develop techniques to get clearer ideas about customer wants and expectations in the ecommerce industry. Let us see how. Objective : To understand customer behaviour and their propensity to purchase a particular product. Deep Learning technique: Recurrent Neural Networks (RNN) has a potential for higher accuracy than any other machine learning technique. An RNN network is generally made up of computational cells which are fed with consumer histories. These cells are provided with a given-time step, which helps the program to understand the consumer’s step-wise behaviour when he/she is viewing a particular product on a site. For example, an RNN cell will note when the consumer clicks on an ad, is directed to a site, views a product and adds it to the shopping cart. These RNNs are often long-time memory cells and they remember and relate customer behaviour across a line of products. Inference: E-commerce sites, such as ebay and Amazon, are greatly benefited through Deep Learning.  The entire session journey of consumers are noted. The longer and dynamic an event is, the greater is the propensity of people to click on the ‘buy now’ button. Once a particular consumer behaviour is noted in case of a range of products, the site is optimized to ensure that the next time a similar consumer visits, they get a more engaging experience so as to convert into a purchase within the shortest time.  THREE: Having a private tech self-support With the introduction of computers, there were recurring talks about how machines would replace humans one day. It is now possible to minimise human-labour and improve efficiency with machine learning. Objective: To improve work efficiency of an organization by installing machine-learned support staff unit, instead of hiring manual labour. Deep Learning technique : Algorithmic Scheduling Agents are built using a blend of deep learning algorithms that ensure distribution of labour so that a number of tasks are performed within the shortest possible time and at minimum costs. Agents like cyborg systems are developing using the technique. Inference: For calendar coordination and scheduling, we have Clara and to gather staff report and consolidate meeting information we have Howdy. Google Now is the preferred program for keeping on schedule through proactive alerts, and for follow-ups after meetings, GridSpace Sift is a brilliant manager. FOUR: Transforming industrial sector through Internet of Things Data Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refers to the interlinking of physical devices, buildings, vehicles and other items through electronic, sensors and software so that the data is collected and exchanged. Objective : To initiate preventive maintenance of machine units through machine learned sensors, in order to improve longevity and improve performance. Deep Learning technique: Sensor data analysis. By using machine-learned sensors and IIoT, accurate maintenance time predictions are made. Timely maintenance of machines is very important to ensure that work for a long period of time. Initially manufacturers would mostly rely on guesswork to time the maintenance interval of machines. IIoT is combined with predictive analysis gives the perfect maintenance times. Machine learning of prior downtime incidents also play a great role. Inference: In several countries, chemical manufacturing units and aircrafts units are installing machine learned sensors to get complete idea of new challenges and insights. This has helped in reducing pitfalls and machine breakdown, thus considerably reducing costs and maintaining a healthy and hygienic environment in manufacturing units. FIVE: Convolutional neural networks finding minerals Multi-special satellite images have helped found mineral resources in several countries like Australia. Geologists have been able to use the mineral indexes integrated with the algorithms to find traces of minerals (even gold) deep inside the earth’s crust. Objective: Detecting mineral deposits using multi-special satellite images have helped found mineral resources. Deep Learning technique: Transfer learning is a great way for convolutional neural networks to carry out this function. These networks are pre-trained and fed with data over minerals and geographical location accuracy, before they are operated. Converting information into geospatial data is the challenge that has to be undertaken. Inference: Geologists in Austria, are currently using the procedure to locate minerals in relatively unexplored areas of the land. SIX: Deep learning facilitating automatic grading of eye diseases GPU-based medical research machines are now using deep learning methods for medical break-throughs. […]

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Small Business trends to look out for in 2018

Australian businesses are facing an onslaught of international competitors vying for market share at the expense of local small businesses.  Technology has had a large impact on businesses, allowing for innovation with new advances or face being left behind with possible closure. The rise of the sharing economy such as Amazon, Uber and AirTasker has disrupted the traditional structure of businesses in terms of price, location and choice. To globalise your business and open your market, all businesses, small and large should have an E-commerce setup and rethink the size and purpose of their ‘brick and mortar’ formats. While this will require significant investments in IT, the returns will be recouped through increased sales and possibly greater margins. Marketing personalisation using enhanced customer relationship management programs will assist in tailoring messages for your customers, using click segmentation to assist in retention and sales growth. As we move towards originality, the days of using stock images, generic electronic database emails and impersonal calls will no longer cut it. Consumers are looking for original and authentic content, particularly if your business operates solely online. Social media advertising presents a new way to connect with your audience in a timely and relevant manner which has reduced media spend in traditional outlets such as TV and PRINT.  The move to digital E-commerce poses risks and, as time goes by, the sophistication of IT hacks and attacks will become more prevalent. Customers are largely unforgiving of data breaches and so trust will be paramount in ensuring emails aren’t considered spam messages. According to Symantec, 5,000 spam messages are sent per person each year, meaning malware could infect unsuspecting users for bank information and personal details resulting in identity theft.  The modern workplace will also contribute to the way employers and employees interact with each other and the way they get on about doing their work. Businesses will become smarter in how they use workplace space to drive productivity, install new technology and improve motivation. While highly divisive, the evolving formats of “remote workplaces” is set to expand despite employees finding it more productive to be in a workplace environment.   One of the most important times of the year is the Federal Government Budget handed down every year in May. Following international policy trends and Australian Government initiatives businesses should keep an eye out on new policy decisions including asset write-off programs, discussion around lowering corporate tax rates and reducing State and Federal business red tape.  To hear more about these ideas or developments, the Australian Small Business Champions Conference is being held at The Star, Sydney between April 21-22, 2018.  It will connect Australia’s leading experts across various business sectors to share insights to help business “Grow, Shape & Plan” taking their small businesses to the next level.  For more information and special IdeaSpies pricing – click on the link below:  https://championsconference.com.au/register John Wanna – Taurus Marketing

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The focus is now on Employee Experience (EX)

There are now signs that employee experience (EX) is the next priority for organisations, following the major emphasis on customer experience (CX). This is good news for staff! While CX is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company, EX is the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection with an organisation. Innovative leaders and HR teams are thinking beyond staff satisfaction and employee engagement to look at the entire employee experience. Successful organisations offer better employee experiences that attract better staff and keep them engaged.  They proactively design and manage EX, not just respond to annual staff engagement surveys. A key result is better customer service- a virtuous circle. Consumerism is now part of the recruiting process. Just as customers can choose from a variety of brands based on reviews they can search on the web, employees can also use online resources to choose potential employers. Websites such as Glassdoor make it much easier for prospective employees to assess the EX at a company they’re considering. We are now in a very competitive environment where the best people are in increasing demand. They are less likely to want to work in organisations where they are not valued and don’t have a voice to influence outcomes. Instead they want to work in organisations that value innovation and the role that they can play in it. According to a Gallup Report the percentage of adults who work full time for an employer and are engaged at work — they are highly involved in and enthusiastic about their work and workplace — is just 15% worldwide. While this is a problem it’s also a huge opportunity- business units in the top quartile of Gallup’s global employee engagement database are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile. How EX can be improved EX should be considered as a strategic priority by Management and Boards. Deloitte suggests that the EX journey in organisations can be mapped, perhaps using design thinking, just has been done for CX. Ford is an example of a company focussing on innovation, including CX and EX. Some suggestions to improve EX are to take a holistic view: define purpose; recruit staff that suit the organisation culture; provide staff development that suits their needs; move people more often; offer continuous feedback; consider work/life balance with flexible work options; review workplace design; hackathons; invest in an idea capture tool that gives people at all levels a voice in contributing ideas; and ensure leaders are well trained so they are receptive to suggestions and ideas as well as to developing their staff. In sum More and more people want to work in an innovative culture where work has meaning, brands have genuine value and new thinking leads to useful ideas being implemented. Purpose and passion are now the lifeblood of a successful organisation. There is a significant opportunity to increase employee engagement through EX. Organisations with innovative cultures embracing new thinking such as EX are the most likely to succeed. Innovation should involve all people in an organisation, not just a select few. IdeaSpies Enterprise is a new, fun and effective idea capture tool that’s designed to encourage ideas from staff. It’s been successfully trialled by KPMG Greater Western Sydney and was launched this month at Ashurst, a leading international law firm. You can see a video that shows how it works here. Lynn Wood – Chief Idea Spy

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Fighting Tech Innovation’s Dark Side

Since we live in a machine age, the growing concern is that new technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, autonomous cars, and precision medicine are so powerful, pervasive and evolving that they can become uncontrollable. So how do we overcome it? New technologies can be potentially scary and bad. It’s a step into the unknown with uncertainty whether it may fail and it takes to integrate into society. Since we live in a machine age, the growing concern is that new technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, autonomous cars, and genetically customised ‘precision medicine’ are so powerful, pervasive, and fast-changing that they become uncontrollable. All this can put society and quite possibly the entire human race in grave danger. For instance, July 2017 saw Facebook abandon an experiment after two artificially intelligent programs appeared to be chatting to each other in a strange language that only they understood. The two chatbots communicated with one another having created their own changes to English which seemed to make it easier for them to work, but it was mysterious to the supervising human engineers. The chatbots’ bizarre discussions happened as Facebook challenged them to try and negotiate a trade with one another in attempt to swap items like hats and balls that were all given a certain value. But negotiations quickly broke down as the robots appeared to oddly chant to each other in a pattern of incomprehensible English that didn’t seem to be a glitch. Were the robots becoming uncontrollably too intelligent for their own good? Even more recently, Amazon’s voice assistant device, Alexa, let out unprompted creepy cackles. The device is designed to respond or act only when prompted by with a wake word that’s “Alexa” or “Amazon”, but this apparent glitch is happening without any prior interaction, spooking Alexa owners. Alexa is intended to be a domestic device in the home, so the use of voice assistants is often met with caution — voice commands are recorded and sent to the cloud for processing, a system that stokes a fear of eavesdropping, unintended or otherwise. Incidents like this and at Facebook, where an AI assistant seems to rebel against its owner, naturally furthers such concern. Upon that note, tech pioneer Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has  said, “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation.” He has also said, in relation to a self driving car ,“You’d test the living daylights out of it before you let it on the streets.” To counteract that and to control the different levels of future technological uncertainty before going to market, would be to apply regulations to the technology sector. After all, within any industry, regulation is necessary to keep things in check — it should not be too restrictive, but obviously progressive. However, there is a lack of government involvement within technological innovation because government ministers don’t understand it and they don’t know what to do about it. This is starting to change on an international scale with the World Economic Forum which is tackling the dangers of big tech. Within the UK, there are such organisations like Nesta, an innovation charity which works globally and always in partnership, as they do with Manchester University on the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR). They address the strategic intelligence, governance, and responsible research and innovation aspects of new and emerging technologies. Organisations supporting innovative entrepreneurs are London Innovators who help radical London-based entrepreneurs and GSMA supporting initiatives that shape the future of mobile communications and expand opportunities for the whole industry. There’s also N77 Society, whose recruited field experts as members assess advancing technological projects’  benefits or dangers to society. They all add a strong filter to adjust and cancel out technology’s bad with good. All organisations and societies in the the technology field can help develop an ‘innovation culture’ for larger regulatory bodies i.e. government to certainly promote the positive impact of innovations. It can inform and teach public officials who regulate technologies, business people who build them, and citizens who use or are affected by them — to craft inclusive policies that governments or companies can try out. Overall, technological innovation is necessary. We as humans constantly progress together as a society, country and a world. Throughout time, technology has enhanced our daily lives and we all take it for granted in all areas. Whether it be communication with the Internet and smartphones; travel with planes and motor vehicles or entertainment with televisions and music formats, it’s all there right before us. The attraction towards more advanced technological innovation is a belief in progress towards an improved or more advanced condition — a brighter future as we all move forward. Francesco Segramora 16 March 2018

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Creating an innovative culture that sparks useful ideas

IdeaSpies Enterprise

Research has shown that long term organisational success depends on developing, testing and implementing new ideas- not being satisfied with the status quo.  The increasing pace of change resulting from the digital age is putting more pressure on the need for ideas that lead to new products and services as well as ideas that improve the way we work. The easiest way to get ideas to improve your business is from your employees. They understand your business and want you to succeed, so why don’t most organisations do this well? There are three key reasons: Established organisations are focused on execution. Managers want their people to focus on what needs to be done soon rather than think about the future. Many managers believe that ideas from lower level staff are not useful, hence it’s a waste of time to ask for and consider them. There isn’t a simple process to capture and rate ideas from employees. An innovative culture- what is it? The most successful organisations have leaders who understand the value of innovation and address the above issues They encourage an innovative culture by offering positive employee experiences which results in high employee engagement The best people stay and there is a constant flow of ideas that improve the business. Innovative cultures offer jobs that promote teamwork and offer opportunities to make a contribution so talented people can learn and progress. When a culture is innovative, people are honest and open, encouraged to share ideas and able to explore initiatives without fear of failure. There is recognition that failing to try anything new is often the biggest risk. People feel more empowered and rewarded when they know that they will receive credit for ideas they suggest, their ideas will be seriously considered for testing or implementation, and rewards are both transparent and timely. For anyone thinking that innovation is a fad, 2018 will mark adoption of the world’s first global standard for innovation processes. We all have choices about how much thought and time we put into something. When our ideas and suggestions are not adequately considered we just seek to contribute elsewhere. Insync research has shown that 51% of people rate lack of job enrichment as the most important reason they leave their job. More and more people want to work in an innovative culture where work has meaning, brands have genuine value and new thinking leads to useful ideas being implemented. Purpose and passion are now the lifeblood of a successful organisation. Organisations with innovative cultures embracing new thinking are the most likely to succeed. Encouraging an innovative culture Leading tech companies have innovative cultures. However many more established organisations have hierarchical structures that make it difficult to adapt to change. Therefore they are vulnerable to disruption. To avoid disruption and encourage an innovative culture there must be leadership from the top with innovation as a key strategic focus. There needs to be a process for encouraging useful ideas that’s well understood. Some organisations have established innovation management positions that are tasked with promoting and supporting innovation across the organisation. Other suggestions to encourage an innovative culture are: including ideas from employees or innovation on committee agendas, an award for innovation, investing in an idea capture tool that gives people at all levels a voice in contributing ideas, and ensuring leaders are well trained so they are receptive to suggestions and ideas from their employees. Innovation should involve all people in an organisation, not just a select few. IdeaSpies Enterprise is a new idea capture tool that’s designed to turn the tide in your favour… naturally.

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DIY PR 101 – Bootstrapping your own communications

Freelancer’s Liam Fitzpatrick explains how to get your startup in the media:  You’ve got a great business, but no one knows about it. Time to get yourself noticed. And sites like Ideas Spies are always on the hunt for people doing new and interesting things. So how do you go about it? ‘Be interesting and interested’ A former boss of mine had a phrase for most scenarios. Little pocket-sized mantras. ‘Be interesting and interested’ sounds obvious, but it involves being able to know what will appeal to others. You spent time honing the audience for your product – now you should spend a little time reading the media to understand which journalists already write about your sector, and what gets them excited. Would I read it? Generally the media will be looking for a human interest angle – whether that’s your founder’s story or the impact you’ve had on your customers’ lives. Stats will help to quantify success in the mind of a journalist or their readers (number of users, fundraising figures, etc). At the end of the day, ask yourself if you would read the article if it wasn’t about you. Not every announcement is going to cause bottle-popping celebrations outside of your business. Which is fine. For those stories which you ‘have’ to get out there, make them work from an SEO perspective and document it on a free listings site like: PRLog, BusinessWire, PRweb, MediaPost, there are hundreds of sites – just Google ‘free press release distribution’. Thinking about context You will need to demonstrate that you’re aware of things outside of your own world. Be interested in what is going on in your industry and trends from other sectors. It will help you when you’re trying to illustrate to the media where your business sits in the wider world. What are you doing that others aren’t? Does your business sit in a trend which a journalist can include in a wider feature? Get out there The ‘be interesting and interested’ advice applies to networking too. It’s not all take. The most famous startup communities are well-known because of the amount of time people give back. But you need to build your network. Event sites like Meetup and Eventbrite will give you access to a world of people who could help your business. Give up the occasional evening and reap the rewards. Most of these events are free and it could result in your startup’s next investment. If your startup is based on a clever idea, which it should be, you can also post your “elevator pitch” on IdeaSpies for free. ‘What matters is what matters, to the people that matter’ When speaking with the media be aware that the journalist will likely have to pitch in your idea to their editor. So think like an editor and argue why readers will be interested in your story. Tips Avoid jargon – general rule, if you can’t explain it in a sentence your mum would understand it’s too complicated. Talk about the benefits not your product – why should the reader care about your business? Get to the point – who, what, where, when, why in two paragraphs both in emails and releases. Look for journalists who write similar stories – both Fairfax and News Corp news brands have ‘Small Business’ sections looking for startups to feature. Liam Fitzpatrick , Communications Manager of  Freelancer, recently talked about getting PR for your startup as part of the StartCon Leadership series.

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Inspiring action by sharing a clever idea

The purpose of IdeaSpies is to inspire action by sharing clever ideas and this story is a perfect example of how this can happen. Our son told me about rain gardens being installed by the City of Sydney Council. These self-watering gardens are often installed when new traffic public works improvements are made to the City’s streets. They are typically at street corners in the space where cars cannot park, and they replace what was once asphalt road pavement. I thought this was a clever idea so posted it on IdeaSpies- Raingardens  Then a while later early on a Monday morning I saw Council workmen installing islands in our street. I was really pleased- I thought they were installing rain gardens. However I was very disappointed to be told that they weren’t installing rain gardens. They were instead planning to pour concrete in the islands. We live in a heritage street and I was very disappointed that it would look like we had sewerage outlets in our street! I was told by the workmen that the work was planned for Friday of that week. Unfortunately I had no time to deal with the issue with the Council as I was attending a 3 day course to help develop IdeaSpies. I did however visit my next door neighbour that night, show her the idea on IdeaSpies, and say how disappointed I was. When I returned home from the 3rd day of the course on the Wednesday evening I was was very pleasantly surprised to find a stack of signed petition forms from neighbours on our entrance table. My next door neighbour had drawn up a petition and taken it to others in the street. The petition asked our Council to give us rain gardens per the idea on IdeaSpies. Based on this support from neighbours I called our Council then, when I couldn’t get through, I called the local newspaper and a reporter was very interested in the story. Simultaneously our Council changed plans. A street meeting was arranged and we all agreed on the flowers to be planted in the islands, instead of the concrete. The idea on IdeaSpies had inspired my neighbour to take positive action- our street is now looking good! What are you doing to inspire action that makes something, somewhere or someone better by sharing an idea you see? Idea Spies are observant people who care about the world and make it better by sharing clever ideas happening around them.

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