All companies are technology companies now; Technology is revolutionising the way even the smallest and most traditional businesses manage their operations

All companies are technology companies now

October 29, 2013 – 10:18AM

Sylvia Pennington

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Michelle Jones from Blerick Tree Farm visiting her crop in China.

From humble home services to rural concerns, digital technology is revolutionising the way even the smallest and most traditional businesses manage their operations. Although only a fraction of companies around the world would consider themselves to be in the technology business, increasingly the great majority of them rely on technology to stay in business.  But John Roberts, Gartner vice-president and chairman of this year’s Gartner Symposium, held on the Gold Coast this week, says businesses are still working out how to extract maximum value from technologies, including social media, mobile communications, big data and cloud.Even chief information officers say only 43 per cent of technology’s potential has been deployed in their organisations.

“They think they’re not even halfway. They’ve done the easy part, to date – networks, data centres, ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems are in place,” Roberts says.

“Through cloud and software as a service, everybody will be able to play in the same space, and they’ll have to. It will be the next wave of what used to be called e-business.”

Finding a babysitter has traditionally been a low-tech affair but Sydney taxi driver Edward Atra plans to drag the process into the digital era with MySitters. His online marketplace enables families to find and book local sitters using smartphones’ geo-location in minutes. The app uses PayPal to avoid the late-night hunt for cash.

Former teachers Michelle Jones and Ron Geritz are transforming their business of growing ornamental trees and shrubs into an operation with international reach.

The pair own Blerick Tree Farm, in Neerim South, Victoria, and run a garden design service. They scored a juicy consultancy gig with a fledgling tree farm in China, courtesy of their “excellent web presence”, according to Jones.

The couple use Vend’s web based point-of-sale system, Quickbooks accounting software and Dropbox to do business at home and when in China. Security cameras controllable by iPad also allow them to see what’s happening at the Chinese facility.

“Technology has launched us to this new level,” Jones says. “If we hadn’t been early up-takers, we wouldn’t have achieved what we’ve achieved.”

Appointed last year to boost the city’s digital business activity, Brisbane City Council chief digital officer Kieran O’Hea says firms that embrace new technologies are looking to boost their productivity, whatever their size.

“For example, a progressive tradesman using a mobile phone and web site listing can upgrade to a smartphone and download some useful apps to increase efficiencies and improve business,” O’Hea says.

“At the other end of the scale, Procter and Gamble, valued at $82 billion, is one of the most famous examples of a global company that has undergone enterprise-wide digital transformation.”

Change is often led by ‘digital champions’ who are quick to see how technology can make operations more efficient, O’Hea says.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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