In December 2018, I attended the CEO Forum hosted by Anthony Moss from Lead Your Industry

I’ve attended previous CEO Forums but this one was the best yet. The panel discussion was especially informative and comprised three industry thought leaders - Mark McCrindle, Ashton Bishop and David Pring.

Near the end of the forum, the panelists were asked to give their predictions for 2019. Of those predictions, there were three that resonated with me:

  1. Pragmatic implementation - rather than the wow factor;
  2. Collaboration - solving problems by working together, not just outsourcing; and
  3. New opportunities in Western Sydney for all businesses.

As well as considering how I can take advantage of these opportunities at NetCare, I thought I might review each of these three predictions with my Technology Success hat on. In other words, how can Sydney-based businesses  gain a competitive advantage by viewing these predictions through a technology lens.

Pragmatic Implementation

Being pragmatic means dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.

In the context of technology, a good example is the use of software within your business. Rather than finding the latest and greatest piece of software to solve a business problem, its often the case that learning all the features of your current applications may go a long way to overcoming the problem.

It’s often better to get a problem 80% fixed quickly and cost-effectively rather than taking extra time, extra cost and extra resource effort to implement a new application that gets you to 90%.

A good example of this are the cloud-based accounting applications like Xero and MYOB. Both these applications are continuously updated with new compliance functionality being added.

At NetCare, we use MYOB and over the last 12 months we’ve taken advantage of these improvements to run our business with the same admin resources, even though both our revenue and compliance requirements have increased. All without paying anything more for our existing accounting software.

When discussing technology with business leaders, I often find the most under-utilized application is their monthly Office 365 subscription.

Sure, they’ve moved their email system to the Office 365 Exchange service and they’re now using the latest version of Office, but very few are looking at the services beyond email.

Services like SharePoint for file-sharing and Microsoft Teams for collaboration within the business and with external partners are typically not deployed at all.

In addition, some are considering (or already paying for) other cloud applications to solve business problems that their current Office 365 subscription can provide in a pragmatic fashion.

Collaboration

Collaboration is all about working with someone to produce something. In the business environment, this is mostly about solving business problems by working together. Sometimes these business problems are internally focused, but often the biggest rewards are achieved by collaborating on solving problems that customers are experiencing.

Traditionally, the provision of technology support services has been provided on an outsourced basis, but in 2019 I expect we’ll see more businesses involved in collaboration projects with the next generation of IT service providers that I call “technology success providers”.

In 2019, trends like Digital Transformation and the Internet of Things will need to be embraced by businesses that want to retain and extend their market leadership.

In line with the concept of pragmatic implementation, a quick way to get on board with these new trends is to collaborate with technology success providers who already have a track record in achieving strategic outcomes.

Examples include:

  • Providing data links between accounting applications and customer-facing websites;
  • Implementing smart warehouse systems;
  • Providing real-time updates for project-focused businesses as well as their partners and customers; and
  • Adhering to increased regulatory and compliance data security requirements in a way that creates a competitive advantage and new business opportunities.

Opportunities in Western Sydney

In the coming years there will be $30B worth of investment in the Western Sydney region.

Construction has now started on the Western Sydney Airport – Australia’s first smart airport set to open in 2026. It will be curfew free and surrounded by the Western Sydney Aerotropolis – a thriving industry landscape for defence, aerospace, medical technology and education.

In addition, there’s major developments on the way in both the Westmead Health Precinct and the Liverpool Health and Academic Precinct.

Positioning our businesses to make the most of these massive growth opportunities sounds to me like a strong priority for 2019. It’s very interesting to note that all the key stakeholders are using phrases like “smart”, “innovative”, “world-class excellence” and “transformative”.

This suggests that an integral component of this opportunity is to deploy the latest technology in every industry sector involved.

he CEO of Western Sydney airport, Graham Millett, is setting the pace by planning for both passenger and freight drones, and the NSW Government has already committed to developing a 5G wireless strategy for the new Western Parkland City.

Planning for Technology Success in 2019

Whatever your industry sector, I suggest you engage more with your technology providers on how they can add real strategic value to your business in 2019.

The three predictions outlined here are some examples of how you can use technology to increase your business success. There are many other technology initiatives your business can take to achieve financial growth and success in 2019.

I’d be delighted to hear from you if you’re interested in a deeper discussion about how technology can help your business be more successful.