By Leon Gettler >>

DOCUSIGN, the company behind the e-signature, is leading the way to help companies fight climate change.

Environmental benefits are part and parcel with DocuSign’s product offering for over half a million customers worldwide, ranging from Wal-Mart and Unilever to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

DocuSign CEO Dan Springer is taking the company’s corporate social responsibility pursuits to new levels. 

He said it makes a lot of sense to have environmental benefits as part of DocuSign’s product offering as the e-signature removes a lot of the paper.

“At a certain point, we started to become a pretty big business and we realised we were obviating the need for people to use so much paper, and in saving paper, one of the obvious benefits from an environmental standpoint is you don’t have to cut down as many trees,” Mr Springer told Talking Business.

“So it became a natural component of what DocuSign was all about, to be saving our forests and having a positive impact on the environment.”

BILLION OF SHEETS OF PAPER SAVED

Mr Springer said DocuSign had found evidence that it was saving customers billions and billions of sheets of paper.

He said DocuSign had now developed a counter to show customers how much of an impact their company was having on the environment.

“We measure it in terms of pounds of wood, how much tree, they have saved,” he said. “But also we take a look at the water savings because production of paper is quite water intensive and it also uses a lot of energy so it’s carbon emissions related.”

It also eliminates waste, that the company uses as part of its tally. All that from an electronic signature.

DocuSign has also set up a foundation that makes grants. In addition to that, the company was focused on getting its employees to do volunteer work in their communities. 

Every year in November, the company has a DocuSign impact day

“Across the globe in all our offices, our employees do volunteer efforts in their communities,” Mr Springer said.

“We also give our employees three days off in addition to that where they can work in charitable organisations in their communities across the globe.”

DocuSign has also joined an organisation called Pledge One Per Cent where companies take one percent of the value of their business and donate that to not-for-profit causes.  At the time, DocuSign had a market cap of $3 billion so DocuSign took $30 million and made a commitment to contribute that over a 10 year period.

It has subsequently been working with the Jane Goodall Foundation, which focuses on the inter-connectedness between people, animals and the environment.

www.docusign.com.au

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Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.  

By Leon Gettler >>

BLOCKCHAIN and cryptocurrency could radically change the way companies do business, and even pay their staff, according to Jonathon Miller, managing director of Bit Trade and Bit Trade Labs.

Bit Trade is a digital platform for the everyday Australians to trade and manage their blockchain assets, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. 

Bit Trade Labs, on the other hand, is an incubator for blockchain and distributed ledger projects. It is a mission of both companies to empower people with the tools and knowledge to trade blockchain assets. 

As the founding member of industry body Australian Digital Commerce Association (ADCA), the companies are committed to the growth and mass adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Australia.

“They will be able then essentially to connect employees with employment opportunities before they have a bank account,” Mr Miller told Talking Business.

“They can use cryptocurrency as a digital banking platform that they’re not responsible for maintaining so it reduces those costs, it reduces those risks.”

Mr Miller conceded there were still some risks, but it was very much about being informed and educated about its implementation.

DE-RISK BY DESIGN

Mr Miller said there were always risks with internet technologies but a lot of those risks could be addressed through good design.

He said platforms such as Bitcoin and Ethereum were experimental, with cryptocurrencies embedded as part of their token offering.

And businesses, he said, were taking to it.

“Businesses are using tokens to raise money,” Mr Miller said. “Instead of going to traditional market places, they’re going to global market places with tokens. That is now becoming a regulated arena and that is now welcomed.

“What you’re seeing is this trend of businesses using cryptocurrency, using blockchains and we help people tap into these markets. We help people not only tap into a local market for these but a global market.”

BACKING REGULATION

Mr Miller said ADCA was now part of the global conversation on regulating cryptocurrencies.

 “We obviously have to look to the US, we obviously have to look to the UK, Europe and Japan,” he said. 

“This technology is very much part of the internet. It needs regulation that suits that. It has to be on a global scale, it has to have the inter-operable.”

Mr Miller said his firm was using the crowdsource legislation to go out and raise funds in Australia.

“We have investors from all walks of life,” he said. “We’ve got our own customers coming to back us, we’ve got institutional investors who are really excited about this space and we’re seeing interest from people who believe in cryptocurrency and who believe in blockchain.”

www.btrade.io

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Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.  

ends

By Jamie Humphrey >>

CLOUD computing has well and truly become mainstream and a central part of the chief information officers (CIO) agendas as they rush to digitalise their businesses.

However, knowing what to do and being able to do it in the most efficient manner are two different things. Companies therefore face several practical hurdles in cloud adoption.

Research firm Gartner recently revealed that although software-as-a-service (SaaS) remains the largest area of information technology (IT) spending in Australia, most future growth will be seen in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), with a predicted public cloud spend of A$6.5 billion in 2019.

That is a 19 percent increase and greater than the forecasted 17.5 percent global average. 

As with other technologies, one size does not fit all in cloud computing. 

With a wide range of providers, platforms, services, and varying cloud computing environments to choose from, the central question for most CIOs is: which cloud, or combination of clouds, best suit my requirements?

NOT SO SIMPLE

Shifting commodity applications like web and email hosting to public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft can be straightforward.

However, business is not always that simple, and it becomes more complicated for other applications and data.

Stricter regulation and governance, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and mandatory data breach notification scheme, and corporate sensitivities around intellectual property (IP) extend strict protocols to protect data.

In many other cases, it makes sense, is required by law, or is desirable, to keep sensitive enterprise data on private clouds (on premise) – isolated from the public internet and with strict access to select groups in an organisation.

THE HYBRID PATH

Hybrid or multi-cloud can offer a direct route through the haze. While the terms hybrid cloud and multi-cloud are often used interchangeably, there are important differences between the two.

Multi-cloud is a horizontal alignment of clouds, where the clouds are mixed across multiple providers. While this mitigates risk by diversifying cloud providers and services, the workloads remain separate and there is no communication or coordination (orchestration) between them.

Hybrid cloud, on the other hand, is a vertical alignment and refers to the pairing of public and private clouds, which are bound by proprietary technology or a fabric, thus enabling data and application mobility. Within this environment, data is securely shared between applications sitting in either cloud environment.

Multi-clouds are not necessarily hybrid arrangements, but hybrid clouds are always multi-cloud arrangements.

So, hybrid cloud can integrate and intertwine a mix of private and public clouds as well as on-premise environments such as hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI). And while each of the environments has various touch points and integrations, they remain fully independent, preventing risks of data leakage from one platform to another.

Therefore, hybrid lets enterprises reduce risk, but also benefit from increased efficiency and productivity, as well as refining the operations of the business to add the entire value of its data for the betterment of the customers and the company.

GOING MAINSTREAM

In 2017, the Australian Government announced its Secure Cloud Strategy to simplify government agency transition to the public cloud for improved visibility and operational effectiveness.

The goal is to ensure that the individual visions of each agency is supported and can offer a common platform, accessible across agencies to encourage collaboration and standardisation.

What the strategy, and many like-minded strategies across industry and government, fails to acknowledge, is that not all clouds are made equal.

There are a number of obvious advantages to public cloud, but it also has some significant limitations and drawbacks. What is certain is that hybrid cloud’s combination of public and private resources maximises cost-savings, productivity and innovation while minimising latency, privacy and security issues.

It’s been a long road to recognition for hybrid – first ignored, then dismissed, and finally embraced. The incumbents who praised the exclusive virtues of public cloud have gone silent, or even hit reverse on their cloud strategies.

Hybrid cloud is fast becoming the mainstream in Australia as the rush to unlock the true value and full potential of cloud accelerates.

Many early adopters and innovators have long advocated for a hybrid model, while lamenting the limitations to business of inflexibility and the ‘one size fits all’ restriction of public cloud. It seems now, everyone else does too.

As businesses and governments look for the freedom to invest, create and innovate, it will be left to the instant access and control of the ever-increasing cloud networks to provide that freedom. This will result in software-driven enterprises being free to focus on enhanced customer and citizen experience and shape the future of business and the economy. And for that, there is only hybrid cloud.

The clash of the clouds is now in full force. All efforts, energies and entities have their sights set on the next frontier in business improvement and efficiency. And given the players that have suddenly entered the fray, the growth figures for the sector mentioned earlier may be underestimated – by a long way.

www.nutanix.com

Jamie Humphrey is the Australia and New Zealand managing director for enterprise cloud company, Nutanix.

ends

By Leon Gettler >>

How does a small florist start-up disrupt Australia’s flower industry? Through technology and artificial intelligence.

Rob Lambert has done exactly that through his online business Flowers Across Australia.

The team behind Flowers Across Melbourne – who set out to completely disrupt the flower industry 10 years ago – has quadrupled the size of their business in five years, averaging a growth of 42 percent year on year in that time and now employ 40 staff.

The directors are a married couple, Rob being the tech ecommerce genius (who taught himself to code) and his wife Nadina, a florist.   

Flowers Across Melbourne are one of the biggest florists in Melbourne and have one of the largest ranges of flower and plants in Australia. The team has sent out 300,000-plus bouquets and arrangements since its inception. They have two sister companies based in Melbourne, Plants Across Melbourne, and Hampers Across Melbourne as well as a branch in Sydney called Flowers Across Sydney.

As well as managing the four ecommerce websites, Rob Lambert has also custom built his own app which tracks employee KPIs and happiness, via the iPads that all the florists use across the company.

And while most florists use Interflora, Flowers Across Australia made the intentional split because it wanted to control the process.

“The florist industry, when I started building the app, was very old school,” Mr Lambert told Talking Business. “We wanted to make it run better, run more smoothly with less mistakes.

“So we started building the app and started building KPIs. So every florist in the store has an iPad. We batch process orders, we have an automated system to give them the most urgent orders.

“The system itself understands when the next driver is coming in. The machine is doing that in the background. It’s trying to understand who I should give this arrangement to because we have different levels of florist as well.

“We want to make it more streamlined, it’s all about the customer experience.”

Mr Lambert said the business had grown spectacularly over the last 10 years, quadrupling in size. He said the next phase of growth was to move into Brisbane and Adelaide.

Flowers Across Australia sends flowers across Sydney and Melbourne, covering a 20km radius around both cities.

Most of the orders come in online, but some come in on the phone.

Flowers Across Australia also operates a gifting business, providing teddy bears, candles, and wine with the flowers.

“It makes a lot of sense because we have the logistical ability to do that,’’ Mr Lambert said. 

“Not everybody wants flowers all the time. There are different occasions where a hamper might be more appropriate.”

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Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

By Leon Gettler >>

COMPANIES need to reconsider their print strategies with the growth of mobile employees and remote workforces

Adam O’Neill, the managing director of Y Soft, said it was particularly critical with the ‘bring-your-own-device’ movement sweeping through the workforce, where people are bringing their own technology to work with them.

“We are talking about whether they’re travelling staff, field first staff such as sales and services personnel, we’re seeing an increase in activity-based work environments where staff internally are moving from location to location – and all those things naturally direct staff to devices with greater battery life and something that’s a bit more mobile to carry,” Mr O’Neill told Talking Business

“So when a business looks at what to implement from a print strategy, they need to look at how their staff is working and what their preference is.

“The other thing they need to consider is what paper-based workflows does the business use at the moment.” 

He said while there had been an anticipation that print was reducing, this had not happened to the degree the market had anticipated.

Mr O’Neill said the key was to develop systems that would allow employees to seamlessly and securely use the company’s printers from anywhere in the world, using their own mobile device.

This meant replicating their existing workflow from a laptop on a mobile device.

PRINT POLICY VITAL

Mr O’Neill said implementing a print management system combined with a print policy within the organisation would reduce printing costs.

“One way of doing that is assessing those reports, having a look at what we might deem to be unnecessary printing, like printing emails in colour, and then implementing a rule that would automatically enforce that and say change your colour email to black and white, just to reduce costs, and so on,” Mr O’Neill said.

He said this was easy to implement but the biggest issue was change management, addressing that human element and assisting people with that change.

One of the biggest challenges was being able to change the process of the paper coming out of the machine and having the print job come out of any device.

“It is a change to how people work and that has to be addressed through, I guess, education,” he said.

This tended to involve just short training sessions and advising people why the change was being implemented, whether it was cost driven, environmentally driven, convenience driven or a combination of all three.

In the end, Mr O’Neill said, it boiled down to internal advertising.

Done properly, it would ease costs by putting less pressure on the help desk, he said. 

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Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

By Leon Gettler >>

IN 2004, Townsville local Luke Anear transformed his workplace health and safety consultancy into a software start-up, SafetyCulture.

The firm started in a garage and Mr Anear is determined to keep it that way.

The firm has developed iAuditor and Spotlight, innovative, low-cost, mobile-first applications that allow users to create safe and efficient workplaces by conducting centralised audits and, in real-time, quickly evaluating safety and quality.

“I used to be a private investigator spying on people who had been injured at work and thought this was pretty crazy … waiting for people to get injured and then spying on them,” Mr Anear told Talking Business.

“I created a training document business for the Australian construction industry, and that was great, but by 2011 you could see people had a computer in their pocket and they were people who normally didn’t sit in front of a computer. 

“So I thought it was a chance to build some tools and we built a check list app – and people would download it and use it in their workplace,” he said.

“It is all human entered information and high quality stuff.”

The downside is that it relies on people to check stuff all the time, so SafetyCulture is now developing an automated system.

One of its tools, Spotlight, has schools in the US using it in a unique way. They use Spotlight for tagging a potential shooter and notifying teachers and the sheriff’s department.

“We are facilitating the flow of information that wasn’t collected before,” Mr Anear said. “The starting point was pens and paper and some people have desktop software that is quite cumbersome and takes a lot of time to use so people will avoid it.

“We’re helping people share information and making it easier and fun.”

The firm now employs 280 people and is moving into hardware and the internet of things (IoT).

He said maintaining the start-up culture of the company was all important.

“If we don’t maintain a great culture, then we don’t attract and keep those people who can build those great products coming through. It’s something we pay a lot of attention to and making sure that people who are coming in are adding to our culture.”

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