Ditching Windows and desktop for Google and mobility: The Woolworths story

In April 2013, Woolworths migrated to Google Apps and Chrome. The migration was part of a larger transformation program at Woolworths Limited.

The move was part of a strategy to use technology to promote greater collaboration, productivity and effectiveness. Rolling out Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Talk to 26,000 staff.

The aim – to ensure staff could experience the productive and collaborative benefits of being able to work from any device, anywhere.

I caught up with Deon Ludick, Program Director at Woolworths Limited, to gain insight on how this is working operationally and get an update on results to date. He explained:

“We started moving the collaboration suite through Google Apps and vigorously adopted it as the solution; the docs, the mail, the calendar, the share drive, the Google drive, the social media.  The second part was moving desktop into the Citrix environment. It allows us to be device-agnostic and choose whatever hardware we want to give our staff. We gave people Chrome OS because of its simplicity to manage. It’s a secured device, so it doesn’t have the same threats that you have with the classic Microsoft operating system right now.”

“Our vision is to have an environment that keeps itself up to date; that’s the big advantage we’re getting through this whole program.”

Increasing productivity through software

Woolworths adopted the software as a service stack in the cloud, specifically around Google’s full collaboration suite. It’s their cloud – they just leverage the applications. Key areas driving productivity include:

  • Co-authoring documents – A key area where the team has seen success; also the most popular with employees.
  • Video conferencing- Features like Hangouts have eliminated the need for many face to face meetings, saving time commuting around busy cities and easing the ability to interact.
  • Forms – Woolworths never had a particularly great form solution, the Google Forms app both produces a slick looking form, and grafts all the responses in one place, which has saved the team time.
  • Mobility – One of the key metrics of the program is around flexibility. As the platform is up in the cloud, it can be on anybody’s device. You can start a mail on your PC then continue with your phone, or at home; whichever suits on any device. The software service is up in the cloud in the data centre and you get the continuity regardless of the device.
  • Social – There are 25,000 email accounts on the Google platform. Additionally, we’ve given our 175,000 store and distribution centre workers a Google Plus login because these workers don’t have email. As an organisation we all collaborate now on Google Plus. There are also Google sites and Google Drive for filling out forms and accessing the network.

Driving mobility

The software is the service in the cloud, which in turn unlocks mobility. Deon highlighted the potential this brings for the retail giant:

“Our position is unique because we’re not locked onto a device. It makes you completely device-agnostic and Google does a fantastic job to have a tablet or mobile version, or a browser version.

“We’ve chosen to move off our legacy desktop environment too; the current focus is moving away from a PC environment and towards a Chrome OS environment.

“To achieve that, our legacy Windows environment has moved onto a Citrix solution. It’s a HTML5 Citrix solution, which is unique to Woolworths. We don’t care what device you use – if you’ve got a Chrome browser and an internet connection, you can work on that device.

“The classic workstation in enterprise is now completely mobile. My favourite example of this is when I had to approve leave while flying to New Zealand and the plane had Wi-Fi. I logged in to our Citrix environment mid-flight, accessed the right system through our intranet and confirmed the approval. That’s the kind of mobility we have now.”

Engagement

The target at Woolworths is to be in a transformation program instead of just an enablement.  Engagement metrics have allowed the team to track progress at different stages of the rollout program.

“Our first measure and benefit is engagement. We ask our users, especially during the software Google adoption, point blank: ‘Are you feeling proud of the organisation using this latest technology?’ The same people were asked that question three times: two weeks after migration, then four months, and then eight months into the journey,” Deon explained.

“Each time the answer would increase – there’s been an increase of ten per cent already of employees agreeing they are enjoying their job more. Our results in collaboration are also up 20 per cent and efficiency ratings are up almost 30 per cent.

We’re also measuring flexibility; the amount of people logging on from home is up 30 per cent. ”

Rolling out the hardware

For the next phase, Woolworths will begin rolling out 8,000 Google Chrome OS devices to replace Microsoft Windows desktop computers – believed to be the largest such deployment in the world.

“The aim for the next six months is to complete the rollout. The thing with desktop applications is the fragmentation and the granularity; everybody’s got a little nuance, uses something slightly differently. It’s a very detailed job as we won’t be rolling out generic devices to everybody. The technology is ready, but the next big step is adoption. We pride ourselves on change management, so the next six months will only be a success when people adopt the technology and are more productive.”

The program will continue to run the same surveys as with the Google rollout; this time for the device rollout stage of the program to make sure people have accepted the change with the same pride and extra productivity as when they moved to the Google platform.

Change management will continue to play a big role, by using a staged approached, and there’s confidence in this new phase:

“The software as a service key was actually not complicated. Going into the cloud, the Google platform was quite straightforward as they already had half a billion people using the solution.  That allowed us to dedicate a lot of time to change management, using a lot of our resources – we feel we’ve done a pretty good job. Those learnings will now be used when rolling out the more technical solution – devices. Change management is the magic here, not the technology. “

Hear more on the Woolworths story from Matt Chamley, Head of Infrastructure at Woolworths Ltd during www.enterprisemobilitysummit.com.au.

Capitalising on the North West Rail Link Investment for greater good in Sydney

There’s no doubt the North West Rail Link is a game changer for the prosperity of people in Sydney; specifically North Western Sydney. Its operation will fundamentally change travel patterns and accessibility arrangements.

In addition, Badgerys Creek is going to be an enormous boost for Western Sydney and a catalyst for substantial investment in road and rail transport infrastructure.

So how are these pockets of infrastructure going to come together and unleash benefits to the whole of Sydney? I recently caught up with Tom Gellibrand, Deputy Project Director at North West Rail Link, to gain some insight on the greater impact of transport investment.

Integration

Tom and his team are responsible for the integration of the new rapid transit network into the wider transport network.

“We are identifying the best way of integrating the North West Rail Link into other modes.

“We’re working with agencies in government to make sure that our service is integrated with all transport modes. We’re working with Roads and Maritime Servicesand road improvements are going to be integrated with our service – they will complement each other.

“In the physical dimension, our designs accommodate for bikes, pedestrians, taxis, buses, commuter car parking – all connecting together at a precinct level.

“We’ve got a modal hierarchy for our precincts which puts the pedestrians first, then cyclists, buses, taxis, tap and ride, and commuter car parking.”

Overcoming obstacles

To release the highest value benefit from the project, all stations, precinct areas and adjoining urban development will be linked into stations to provide long term benefits – a task which Tom explains has a few key challenges:

“At a physical level, that means how and where you’re actually constructing the roads and creating those links. From the planning side, it’s looking at land use and activating precincts with commercial activities. That will make them destinations onto themselves.

“It’s going really well, but it is invariably a challenge, because we’re a transport provider and will need to work with other organisations responsible for land use planning.”

“We can build the train line and run the train at a a reliably high frequency, but we have to make sure that the urban form and future development capitalises on that investment. It’s one of our critical success factors.”

In addition to urban regeneration, the project will also be accommodate the government’s plans to hit the growth in housing and employment objective:

“The railway line itself traverses a number of really key centres including Rouse Hill, Norwest Business Park, Castle Hill, Epping, Macquarie Uni, Macquarie Park down to Chatswood.

“The level of service is going to increase the attractiveness of these centres for people to work in. In terms of future growth in employment; it’s highly likely that the centres will become increasingly attractive for people to invest in.

“We expect a significant increase in the growth or housing and employment along the North West Rail Link.”

The project is on track to have all major contracts signed by the end of 2014. The next tangible milestone for the community will be the commencement of the tunnel boring machines in late 2014.

Hear more from Tom and the the Key players involved in Sydney’s infrastructure future during NSW infrastructure in September.

Free Blended Learning Webinar: It’s question time.

Watching one of those television debates recently, an idea popped into my head. The thought of having  industry experts answering the hot questions from their peers struck a bit of an intrigue chord.

Shortly after, I started working on our Blended Learning event. I’ve always been a big fan of our eduction portfolio – the pace of change is rapid and it’s pretty inspiring to see the fundamentals of teaching and learning transform.

So that’s how the Blended Learning 2014 Webinar was born. It’s pretty straight forward, it’s free to watch and get involved, and we’ll do the hard work by providing an awesome expert panel.

And here it is… Be sure to register and get involved, we’ve had over 300 registrants so far and we’re getting pretty excited:

Ahead of the 3rd Annual Blended Learning Summit we’ve gathered a few of our speakers, leading experts on blended learning practices, to discuss some of the most pertinent topics when it comes to implementing, transitioning and executing a flexible learning program.

We’ll also be taking your questions to be answered during the webinar so if you have a burning question be sure to let us know.

The webinar will be held on 16 July 2014 from 12-1PM (Eastern Standard Time)

What topics will be discussed in the webinar? (15 min each)

  • Implementing flexible learning
  • Managing the change
  • Putting it into practice
  • Q&A

Register for the free Blended Learning Webinar
You will be able to submit your questions upon registering

Our expert webinar panel:

Associate Professor Angela Carbone
Director, Distinguished National Senior Teaching Fellow, Education Excellence
Monash University
Gilly Salmon
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Transformations
Swinburne University of Technology
Cathy Gunn
‎Deputy Director and Head of the eLearning Group, CLeaR
The University of Auckland

Change is coming to HR… Are you ready?

Business transformation was previously driven by a focus on cost savings. It’s maturing at a rapid pace to focus on the customer, standardising functions where possible to drive efficiency and new service standards.

Any function involving transformation brings the people to the forefront – as a result, HR has become a strong voice in the boardroom.

Last week saw the return of APAC’s largest business transformation event. SSON’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Week really shone the spotlight on HR transformation throughout 2014 and into 2015.

Although we’ve seen a rapid change in the HR function of many organisations over recent years, there’s still plenty on the horizon. A few key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you. There’s also a practical look at some of the tips shared for the most common theme of the event… change management.

Process Standardisation

It’s going to be a tough balancing act between standardisation and specialisation – finding that balance is going to be critical to success.

Without standardisation it’s going to be nearly impossible to use KPIs to chart improvements as the HR function continues to become more strategic. It’s time to start thinking about:

  • How do you balance standardisation vs. specialisation?
  • What is the role of global process owners in standardisation?

Recruitment process

As it gets tougher and tougher to find the right skills to fit the right culture, organisations are starting to think outside the box when it comes to recruitment. With software engineering, energy and life sciences, mathematics, IT, and other technical skills in short supply, companies need to expand their sourcing and recruiting to a global level. That could mean locating work sites where the best talent can be found and building talent networks that attract people worldwide.

A couple of key questions are hot on the lips of many HR execs…

  • Should recruitment be kept in-house?
  • How do you select an RPO partner?

Culture

Long gone are the days when culture was just a nice add-on for organisations. Culture fit is going to have a big impact on recruitment; it’s no longer just about matching skills and salary expectations. This will no doubt be the make or break of many relationships for the organisations choosing to go down the outsourcing path for recruitment.

Enabling flexibility

There have been many studies demonstrating the focus on BYOD and flexible working. This is going to have a huge impact on HR, employees are going to get to choose how they want to work, and the business has to be agile enough to make it work.

Retention

Instead of making HR jobs obsolete, technologies will transform them, allowing HR professionals greater ability and more time to do their jobs and develop their skills improving recruitment and retention.

The key question: How can data be used to drive recruitment and retention practices?

A few of the case studies discussed how 99 per cent of the time on data has been spent looking for it, with 1 per cent left to analyse it and no time to action it. Data has some real potential to improve retention, offering insights to employees – something never before possible.. This won’t just be the fancy software; almost all speakers who have been through HR transformation spoke highly of employee surveys and implementing Employee Value Propositions (EVP).

Keeping momentum

The Hackett Group came armed with some statistics looking at where the focus was for continuous improvement over the next 12 months – talent management was a clear stand out.

Change management doesn’t end at installation; change leaders will have to embed the change principles into the day to day development of employees.

Change Management – The insiders tips.

Without doubt change management is still one of the biggest challenges any organisation faces. It’s clear to see why: process improvement, customer service, technology – it means nothing without happy staff driving it.

Here’s a summary of some key takeaways to consider in your organisation:

  • Drive it from the start. It’s a long term goal with the aim to be customer focused; all employees should respect and value each other and keep that front of mind.
  • Be firm. Don’t be afraid to send a message that if you’re not going to come on the journey for improvement, consider if it’s time to move on.
  • Culture sits next to strategy and operational excellence – build the values from the ground up and spend the time with the staff. All your service efforts are banking on it.
  • Don’t merely lift and shift when it comes to shared services or outsourcing – just because you’ve moved it, doesn’t mean the job is done. Take a look at exactly what the implication is for the business and the staff that work there. Change management and culture might be in the shared service centre, but what’s happening with the people left? The new challenge is to learn how to engage the shared service centre.
  • Be clear on the lines of reporting – your staff will get frustrated if they can’t get responses or outcomes.
  • Standardise where possible – simplify, standardise and leverage. Align the template to your own issues, take the methodology and link it to your own culture or environment. It’s about winning people’s hearts and minds and engaging them in what you’re doing. Using a template doesn’t always account for that – it’s just a starting point.
  • Look at what to use, when to use and how to use – there’s science to change management, and the art comes with how you use it.
  • Use analytics and insights – change can be hard to measure, but it’s not impossible. Use engagement surveys and indicators of satisfaction around sick leave, training, meeting participation and engagement rates. All can provide you with a benchmark to measure success – if that engagement goes up, you’re onto a winner.
  • Be flexible and adapt to your drivers – what drives your employees now might not drive them tomorrow.
  • Finally… Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more.

Accelerated design for new hospital – check out how it’s done.

In the run-up to Health Facilities Design and Development conference, I wanted to explore some of the new case studies on the agenda.

One topic that really stood out is Jeffrey Williams’ presentation in his role as Director of Nursing at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals, in particular the short time it took to get the project off the ground.

I caught up with Jeffrey recently when he gave me a sneak preview on some of the features of the new hospitals, key design innovations and a breakdown of the user group consultation process:

Project overview

Construction of the new 367-bed co-located public and private hospitals has reached 70 per cent, and is on target for a November 2015 opening.

With 307 beds, the public hospital will offer a wide range of services to the communities of Perth’s northern and eastern suburbs and the inner Wheatbelt, while the 60-bed integrated private hospital will offer the choice of private health care.

State and Commonwealth Governments have jointly invested $360 million in the public hospital project that will be operated by St John of God Health Care under a public private partnership agreement. The WA-based private health care operator is investing $70 million in the private hospital.

Fast facts

  • First major hospital facilities to be built in the Midland area in more than 50 years.
  • HASSELL architects and Brookfield Multiplex are the design and construction partners.
  • The public hospital will treat approximately 29,000 inpatients, 55,000 emergency patients and 89,000 outpatients in its first full year of operation.
  • The public hospital will provide an expanded range of services from those provided by Swan District Hospital free of charge to public patients.
  • There will be 367 beds in total – 307 public beds and 60 private beds.
  • The public hospital will have 50 per cent more beds than the Swan District Hospital.
  • More than 1,000 staff will be employed at the hospitals.
  • Easy access will be provided for pedestrians, vehicles, and public transport.
  • On-site parking will include 725 staff bays and 221 visitor bays.
  • Easy drop off and access to the emergency department will be provided.
  • Patients, visitors and the community will enjoy landscaped gardens, courtyards, public art and plazas.
  • The hospitals are being built on an eight-hectare site, four times the size of the Midland Oval.

Accelerated design

The State Government released its expression of interest in September 2010 seeking responses within five weeks.

Post EOI submission, St John of God Health Care continued to work closely with its partners Brookfield Multiplex and HASSELL to develop a design within the allocated budget while awaiting confirmation of our selection to tender for the request for proposal.

Thankfully St John of God Health Care was selected and had a short 20-week window in which to prepare and submit a response.

On 1 December 2011, St John of God Health Care was announced as the preferred tenderer and, following negotiations, signed a contract with the Western Australian Government on 14 June 2012.

During the negotiation phase, St John of God Health Care, Brookfield Multiplex and HASSELL worked closely with the State Government’s consultants to ensure that any major design issues were dealt with at a high level so that construction could start as soon as possible after contractual completion.

This preparation allowed St John of God Health Care to achieve the State Government’s goal of starting work within one month of satisfying the conditions precedent, in August 2012

User group design

While we completed the design very quickly, we could only establish the design user groups after the contract was signed. This led to a concurrent construction and user consultation process that meant we had to focus on those areas where we needed to finalise the design and start building first.

We began a four-step user group process, with each group running between 16 and 20 weeks.

At the first meeting, we presented the users with a schematic design. The architects and builders then took the users’ advice and presented the modified design at the second meeting. The third stage was detailed design when we presented drawings showing room elevations and the position of furniture and equipment. The fourth meeting was a presentation of the final detailed design and allowing the users a last opportunity to highlight any remaining issues.  The detailed design was then signed off ready for construction drawings to begin.

Taking the Emergency Department User Group as an example, the users told us that the waiting room was too small and so we adapted the design accordingly. This process allowed us to drill down into the operational detail by asking them their opinion on matters such as the number of cubicles and the department’s layout.

Accelerated construction

While the user group consultations were taking place, preparatory construction work, such as piling and pouring concrete for the floors got underway. We also made decisions such as the location of wet areas to enable holes to be drilled for the later installation of pipes and drainage.

In those early days, we included around 130 square metres of expansion space on each floor. This built-in flexibility meant that we were well prepared for short-and long term expansion and design changes.

Managing expectations

From the word go, we made it clear to the user groups that the construction budgets were fixed.

The WA Health Clinical Services Planning Framework was a useful tool as some things were a given and did not need to be included in the design discussion.

For example, we had already made sure that we had the right number of beds and could explain to the users that we were working with a 30-bed medical ward, a 24-bed short stay surgical unit, or a 12-bed intensive care unit.  We also knew that St John of God Midland Public Hospital was a Level 4 hospital for cardiology and a Level 1 hospital for intensive care.

We were therefore clear about what we were trying to achieve and this allowed the users to understand the clinical scope so they could focus on how the unit might work and how we could make workflow more efficient.

Innovation in design

We standardised all of the rooms that are common across multiple areas of the hospital. For example, a dirty utility and a clean utility have the same layout in all areas.

We will be using swipe access widely throughout the hospitals for security, including to high traffic areas such as emergency department and restricted areas such as drug rooms.

All patient bedroom ensuite rooms were manufactured offsite as ‘pods’ to a standard, including a standard bedroom pod and a mental health pod, and installed within a short timeframe. While this was cost neutral from a construction perspective, cost and time savings were achieved in the installation.

We decentralised our staff stations, meaning that most ward areas have two or three staff stations instead of one centralised staff station and so clinicians will be closer to their patients.

Finally, we designed to accommodate future expansion. When the State Government issued its proposal for a 307-bed public hospital, they said that the hospital must have the capability to expand to 464-beds by 2021.

The design accommodates expansion in several ways:

1. Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit

This 12-bed shared unit has six rooms configured for intensive care patients and six rooms configured for coronary care patients. The six coronary care rooms can quickly be converted to intensive care rooms as the required services are already in place and space exists in the adjacent area for 12 coronary care beds to be installed with minimal disruption.

2. Operating theatres suite

The operating theatres suite is designed to cater for the maximum 464-bed capacity with nine theatres and three procedure rooms. These are all of equal size and configuration meaning that the three procedure rooms can easily be converted into theatres, while the procedure rooms can be re-located to a nearby area of the hospital.

3. Private beds

The two 30-bed private wards have been integrated in such a way that when the State Government wants to expand the public hospital from 307 to 367 beds, these can easily be converted into public hospital beds and St John of God Health Care will build a stand-alone private hospital on a nearby site.

4. Additional wing

The expansion to 464-beds can be achieved by adding a new wing extending out from the existing ward block on the northern side of the hospital. Again, this is designed to be achieved with minimal disruption to existing hospital operations.

Lessons learnt

I have two roles and two sets of responsibilities on this project: the first is clinical design and the second is transition and operational readiness. I have learnt lessons across both of these areas.

It was challenging in terms of the limitations on which people within WA Health that we and the other tenderers were allowed not access during the bid preparations. If we were to go through the same process in the future, we would request earlier and wider access to key players in the public sector.

Secondly, we would focus on operational preparedness earlier. While we had a firm view of how we would run the hospital, we did not start working through this in earnest until after the building program started. If we had begun earlier, we would have benefited from additional preparation time.

However, all aspects of the project, including the partnership with WA Health and the North Metropolitan Health Service, in particular, have worked really well. In terms of construction and commissioning, everything is on budget and on track for opening in November 2015

Working in partnership

The traditional public private partnership means the State saves on design, construction and facility management, but continues to deliver the service. As our model also includes clinical services delivery, the State Government can achieve further efficiencies.

Overall, it has been a very positive process, with the focus now firmly on completing construction, operationalising our commissioning program and finalising the details of the patient transfer from the existing Swan District Hospital that will close when the new hospital opens.

Hear more from Jeffrey during his presentation at Health Facilities Design and Development Victoria.

8 lessons learnt from dredging projects

There’s no shortage of hold-ups when it comes to dredging projects, with such a big industry, Australia is full of them. Ahead of Dredging and Reclamation 2014, I caught up with a few project leaders to see where mistakes have been made. Some key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you:

Mapping is key

Financial considerations are hard to overestimate in any project. Developers can often be unwilling to spend money on mapping and monitoring, instead opting for the simplest possible technique. Unfortunately, as you go down the line with this approach, there’s still some surprise when the approvals get rejected. Without the right equipment, the operation tends to go over thresholds or other similar measurements. In the field, the simplest technique doesn’t give you the answer all the time. You’ll only end up having to spend your money on fines and delays instead. Be one step ahead of the regulators and the public.

Transferring risk can end up costing big bucks

Dredging project owners are always looking to reduce their risk, trying to create contracts that transfer risk to the dredging contractor and it doesn’t work. A contractor can decide at some point that they haven’t made enough money, pick an area of AS 2124 and attack it and make a claim. If multiple contractors operate within a wharf or similar structure at the same time, this can cause access issues and lead to further claims.

There’s an illusion in the current way contracts are done that risk can be transferred from the project owner. Whilst this may save short term costs, it can lead to substantial cost and time delays down the line.

Owners still have a lack of experience in terms of practical dredging knowledge. Most teams have a procurement unit working in isolation and independently of everyone else, which leads to a single vision. Risk becomes points on a paper inside a contract that becomes transferred rather than dealt with from a practical view.

Communication is top priority

It seems obvious, but it’s still an area that leads to many issues throughout the dredging process. This is crucial both for contract relationships and to avoid delays and disputes from stakeholders.

Collaboration, partnership, and being able to see another person’s perspective is key. Building a rapport builds confidence and trust that the contract and project is being handled responsibly – work together early and often, both at the project level and more broadly.

Good planning up front and a robust assessment of baseline environmental conditions needs to be locked in. Have a very well defined project description early on and don’t change it. All of those things will help approvals, stakeholder communication and consultation.

The ‘unforeseen’ can be avoided

If you’re acting for the Principal, start thinking about the likelihood of unexpected conditions at the early feasibility stage of a project right up to when you select a tenderer. After selecting a tenderer and the Contractor is working on site, you lose much of the power to influence. Take steps to identify possible latent conditions at any early stage, before you’re confronted with them during project execution.

Latent conditions need to be managed

If a Principal is faced with a more complex project with varying soil and rock types, then it is well advised to carry out a more thorough investigation to lower the risk of not detecting a latent condition. Obviously there is a cut off; a Principal can’t investigate every cubic meter for the planned Project.

Any site investigation can only be a representation of anticipated subsurface conditions. Principals should always aim to reduce the risk to an acceptable degree. Consider Early Contractor Involvement with the scope of the planned site investigation.

Geotechnical modelling has huge potential

 

Both the Principal and the Contractor should formulate a robust 3D geotechnical model of the likely subsurface conditions. The model can determine what materials you are likely to encounter in different types and categories.

The Principal’s consultant and the Contractor’s production estimator can then calculate the derived productions fairly accurately. If a latent condition is encountered, a geotechnical model can provide the parties with a benchmark to calculate where the differences are. Be wary of interpretation – different biases can lead to issues.

Take proactive measures

A proactive way of dealing with disputes as they arise is needed. A dispute board can be selected for their knowledge and expertise before any dispute has arisen. By undertaking an on-going relationship and regular site visits, the dispute board will acquire a good working knowledge of the project. When a dispute arises, the dispute board will have a much better understanding than a court or arbitral tribunal, which will only be appointed after a dispute has arisen.

Keep learning and evolving

The fundamental of dredging is that you dig the stuff up out of the ground and put it somewhere – that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way that you do it, and that’s driven from environmental approvals.

The management of reclamation areas has improved enormously, and understanding how to minimise the amount of turbidity or sediments that get back into the environment. That’s going to become much more important as work is done in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Innovation will be dealing with the conditions and coming up with the best outcome using all of your knowledge and resources available to come up with a solution.

The Dredging and Reclamation conference has been developed as a value creation forum where knowledge, new ideas, best practice and real world learning experiences can be shared amongst other dredging professionals. Providing key case studies from leading practitioners, the conference will share insight into Australia’s most exciting dredging projects in the planning, design or development stages.

Find out more by visiting www.dredgingandreclamation.com.au or call 02 9229 1090.

Facebook on a quest to revolutionize financial services marketing

With 12 million users in Australia, Facebook has developed into a core marketing platform to help organisations achieve their business objectives.

The organisation has been through a bit of a transformation of late, with the initial focus being the social networking customer experience – adding features to revolutionise the way we communicate and share with each other. Now though, the spotlight is well and truly on the business world, to leverage the wealth of information Facebook holds to drive efficiency and experience for financial services.

Here in Australia, Paul McCroy joined the Facebook team 12 months ago and his role as Head of Travel and Finance tasked him with the objective to build a team that can work closely with financial services to use Facebook. Paul explains: “It started with the team we created. We’ve hired a group of people to really understand the problems industry is faced with; we have people who worked in finance now working for us. It’s a constant focus to understand the problems faced by industry and build our Facebook platform to solve those problems. From there we want to work closely with financial services here in Australia to help them use Facebook in the best way possible.”

Whilst some of the big four were initially sceptical about the potential threat of Facebook in the financial services arena, the social networking giant has insisted they want to grow new users and enhance experience, rather than create banking services of its own.

Mobile

There’s a huge focus on mobile and it’s clear to see why. Digital advertising overtook traditional advertising for the first time last year, drive mainly by the onset of mobile. With 10 million active daily users and 85 per cent accessing via mobile devices – it’s easy to see where the potential lies for many a marketing team. Paul explains:

“Digital has overtaken television and mobile is the new upstart. Facebook became a mobile first business two years ago, transforming from desktop. Here in Australia, there’s a higher mobile percentage than any other developed country. Facebook represents an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that more people are consuming media on mobile phones.”

It’s this drive to mobile that’s seen a surge in app development over recent years, with the finance industry among the top performers for app engagement, providing customers with ease of access like never before. But with many banks allocating huge resources to develop their own assets, is there really any need to tap into the Facebook pool? Paul explained where the potential lies:

“One of the immediate benefits is the opportunity to capitalise on the trend. Mobile Banking was developed to service the customers where they are. It is also the most cost efficient way to service customers and has been quoted by Mckinsey as 1/8 the cost of servicing via the call centre.

“One in every five minutes on a mobile phone is spent on Facebook properties. When you want to speak to people who are on a phone, Facebook is where you should go. Our biggest growth area is banks taking their apps to our platform and promoting their advert in front of their customers. Customers then go and install that app unit. In terms of results, we’re the most cost effective for getting apps installed – 30 to 40 per cent of app installs come from Facebook.”

“Phase two is where the banks have people with the app installed, but they’re not necessarily engaged. We have developed a tool that helps with app engagement. Essentially, once it’s installed, you continuously re-engage them so that they use it as a utility. By them frequently engaging on the app, it takes the pressure off the contact centre and service channels, so the overall experience has been a success.”

Easing data concerns

There are some real alarm bells that often get triggered thanks to some serious spotlight on large data companies like Facebook and Google. Naturally an integrated banking service would lead to some data concerns, an area Paul insists is at the core of that they do:

“We don’t give anybody data. We have 12 million Australian users who do a lot of things on our platform. What we do is provide a targeting interface to enable advertisements to people that fit their interest behaviour. That data is never given back to an advertiser, it stays with us. Our primary goal is privacy. We’re one of the largest data companies the world has and will ever see. Everything we do is about keeping our site secure. It works well with banks, as it’s exactly the same as what they do. Whilst some people see data as a problem, we see it as a really nice fit.”

 Driving experience and efficiency

The team at Facebook are already seeing results creating unique experiences by targeting the right people, with the right content, on the right platform.

“When it’s done well, the conversions are huge. There are key challenges facing industry right now – efficiency, scalability and profitability.

We know certain media channels are becoming more expensive, every company in the world wants to achieve their goals in a more efficient manner. Where in the world is there more scale and engagement than Facebook? Our users are very engaged and it’s a huge opportunity to reach your customers and prospects at scale.”

Paul will be speaking at Digital Financial Services 2014: “I want to impart some of that knowledge to the audience and provide real life examples. A big thing we want to bring is what we see trending and how we can work with you to capitalise on some of those trends. We’ll also take a look at what we’re developing in the future.”

Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or follow @digifinance for more information on the event.

View the full interview with Paul here: http://youtu.be/t196-WP4_8U