By Leon Gettler >>

ROBOTS are taking over industry and businesses need to get ready.

Mervin Chiang, head of market development at Procensol Australia, said companies needed to get on with their change management programs to get ready for it. 

He said robots were already taking over, even though we might not yet know it.

“If you think about it, technology always starts with the home before the corporates,” Mr Chiang told Talking Business.

“We had the weekend experience of social media before corporates started using things like Slack and Teams in various chatting ways to collaborate. It happened at home before it happened with the corporates,” Mr Chiang said.

“It’s the same with robotics and AI (artificial intelligence). We have Google Home, we have Alexa, we have Google Assist on our phones and we use GPS. There is a lot of AI everywhere.

“It’s no longer a robot arm that puts a car together, I think a lot of people think about bots and then automatically think of Terminator and robot arms. We’ve got to expand that understanding and corporates are trying to catch up.”


Mr Chiang said bots could now be programmed to mimic keyboard strokes to help alleviate menial, mundane or brain-numbing tasks of copying and pasting spreadsheets or crating letters out of systems. This made them an important part of any business.

“If you think about it, any industry that needs a computer to do work would have lots of spreadsheets, PDFs, emails to deal with and with quite a percentage of that work, bots can already do it today,” he said.

“So if you think about bots that way and not just robot arms in the production line or AI in a kind of futuristic predictive super-smart, Teminator 2 type of way, then pretty much every industry would be impacted by it. We already have chatbots in the retail and services industry so it’s starting to grow and hit every industry.”


This means people need to redefine what a bot means and understand what it can do for the business. He said rather than resulting in massive job losses, it could create many new jobs.

“I see it more as productivity prosthetics, to help with productivity and creativity, to take away the boring bits so that we can actually thrive,” Mr Chiang said.

“So if you’re part of an industry where your skill set is to do the boring bit, then we as employers in the industry have a responsibility to upskill or change the way they’re skilled to help increase productivity,” he said.

He said companies need to plan ahead and know that it’s coming. They need to invest in change management.

“It’s really basic transformation stuff. To understand there is a new technology. It’s potentially disruptive. To collaborate,” he said.

Mr Chiang said one of the big issues was that when bots or AI are introduced into organisations, the issue becomes whose job it is to manage. Is it the CIO’s job? The person in IT? Is it an HR job to upskill and train?

“Planning collaboration between HR and IT is one of the key steps and also to understand where these knowledge workers are and how they can actually increase their productivity if you take away the boring bits,” Mr Chiang said.

“To be able to plan what that is actually quite important.”

He said businesses needed to start planning for a digital workforce. One that will be more skilled. 

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

By Leon Gettler >>

BUSINESSES can only rebrand themselves in a competitive market by recruiting well and teaching  executives how to lead and manage.

According to Bruce Tulgan, founder and CEO of the US based consultancy Rainmaker Thinking, businesses might even look to the military for ideas.

He believes some organisations are struggling to attract strong talent. They are looking for solutions in the wrong places.

“Our research shows that high performance is the most sustainable way and what we’ve learned is it’s your leadership culture, it’s your management culture. That is the way to brand yourself as an organisation in a sustainable way,” Mr Tulgan told Talking Business.

“Too many organisations have a leadership culture by default instead of a leadership culture by design and as a result of that, most organisations, their leaders, managers and supervisors are under-managing people. They are not providing enough support, guidance and direction, and in today’s environment, that is a really damaging culture to sustain. 

“The problem is it takes a huge amount of effort and energy to move your culture to strong, highly engaged leadership, high performance and high rewards for everyone.”


Mr Tulgan said military organisations were a good example of entities that do it well. They recruit a lot of extraordinary people but a lot of ordinary people too.

It’s just that they get extraordinary performance. It’s not because it’s an easy job or high pay. What delivers results for the military is ‘mission-driven work’ and the leadership culture, with leaders or officers who are strong leaders and coaches that know how to build their teams and make them better.

”I always point to the military, not that I suggest business leaders turn their organisations into military style organisations,” Mr Tulgan said. “But there, even when they don’t pay much, even when the job is dangerous, even when they have to hire a lot of ordinary people, they are able to get extraordinary performance out of people all day, every day, and they have low turnover among high performers. Why? Because they build a great leadership culture.”

Mr Tulgan said it is very hard for people to succeed in work places where they are not getting enough support and guidance from their managers.

He said the top managers in business, like the best officers in the military, are not barking orders at people but teaching their teams and subordinates how to follow – and they have a culture where they don’t put anyone in charge of anyone without teaching them to lead.


This is where the best part of military-style leadership comes to the fore.

“A huge part of what works is the dialogue, not the push-ups.  It’s the coaching, not cleaning the latrine with the toothbrush,” Mr Tulgan said.

“I’m not suggesting that every aspect of military culture is what you want to bring into the private sector. What I’m saying is, learn how well the dialogue and the coaching works.

“When people come into an organisation, we teach them a lot and one of the things we don’t teach them is the basics of ‘followership’. How to be a good citizen in this organisation, how to prepare for meetings properly, how to prepare for one on one conversations with your immediate leader/manager/supervisor, how to keep your manager informed of what you’re doing and make sure you are going in the right direction.

“And likewise, we put people in positions of supervisory responsibility without teaching them how to do the people work,” Mr Tulgan said.

He said usually people get promoted because they are good technicians or good at their job, but they are not given the training to manage people.

“We teach them how to do a little extra paperwork, nobody ever teaches them how to do the people work.” 


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

By Jordan Reizes >>

WHAT MAKES a great leader, especially in rapidly changing circumstances?

I recently had the chance to interview Australian cricket legend Adam Gilchrist. Adam retired a few years ago, but when I asked people on social media if they had any questions for him, my inbox was inundated with people telling me that ‘Gilly’ was their favourite player.

No pressure.

We covered a lot of ground on the different aspects of leadership and how, if it’s done well, it can change the game. This got me thinking about how we can apply those strategies in our business lives. 

In business, as in sport, things don’t always go our way. During our conversation, I learned that from Adam’s perspective, attitude really is everything.

The right attitude is a critical element in changing a team’s results. He spoke highly of one of Australia’s greatest batsmen and his former captain, Steve Waugh.

Gilchrist reflected on the first team meeting in India in 2001 (the Australians hadn’t won in India for 32 years) and how Steve’s first words have stuck with him to this day.

Waugh asked his team, “Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?”

Steve Waugh led by example. In posing this question to the team, he communicated that by focusing on the goal rather than their excuses, they could win.


Focusing on the reasons that you can be successful is totally different than unwrapping all the reasons you can't.

As leaders, we need to be aware of this and focus on how we create a contagious attitude.

So, how do we do that?

The truth is, there isn’t a set way to lead. A leader brings their unique set of skills and values to the table – something Gilly pointed to in our chat.

“Of all the captains I’ve played under, they’ve each had a unique approach to leadership,” he told me. 

Gilchrist said one of the great leadership qualities of Mark Taylor was his ability to communicate in a clear and concise manner.

If leaders don’t clearly communicate why an action is necessary, people won’t be motivated to assist.

In fact, there’s a common communication mistake that leaders often make. They assume that communicating the what and how of a situation is the best way to influence and direct their audience. They often think the why is evident – and so it goes unsaid.


Effective communicators understand the value of why, and how it can motivate their team by arming them with the necessary information and insight.

To this end, technology is playing an increasing role with real-time intelligence, data and analytics providing the ability to gain insight into the why that may not have been available before.

“Early in my career, at the start of a 1997 tour, Mark Taylor sat me down to explain the role I was to fulfil alongside the big-name players,” Adam Gilchrist told me. “I came out of that meeting feeling just as important as Steve Waugh or Shane Warne, because he had given me responsibility and accountability.”

Responsibility and accountability encourage people to back themselves. I think this concept rings true whether you’re an elite athlete, a business professional or public servant. 

See the full interview and hear all the leadership insights ‘Gilly’ had to share, here:


Jordan Reizes is Asia Pacifc-Japan vice president of marketing for enterprise cloud and hyperconverged infrastructure company Nutanix. 



By Leon Gettler >>

WITH THE COVID-19 recession in full swing, Lyndall Spooner, the founder and director of consultancy and advisory firm Fifth Dimension, said business leaders need to adopt a wartime mindset.

She said whenever there is a downturn, businesses have traditionally been protective, whereas they need to become more innovative and push their businesses forward more than ever. 

“To me, the wartime mindset is you need to be basically relentless when things get tough and you need to rethink your business, where you are headed and what you’re going to do to make sure your business survives – and to be ruthless in that vision,” Ms Spooner told Talking Business

She said many businesses were not prepared for this as they had experienced nearly 30 years of growth since the last recession.

“I think a lot of businesses have looked at their success and probably over-inflated the success of things they’ve done in their business and not taking into account a lot of their growth would have come regardless of what they did or didn’t do, because we’ve been living in a growing economy for several decades now,” Ms Spooner said.

“So what happens when that economy changes and you are now in a downturn?

“You now have to fight to survive as a business. You have to make sure that every dollar you invest in the business is actually going to give you a very good return.

“And you shouldn’t rely on what you’ve done in the past because, I would say, where you did invest, you don’t know to what extent it was successful because there was this natural momentum in the economy anyway that was driving everyone forward,” Ms Spooner said.


Lyndall Spooner said Fifth Dimension urges its clients to use the right data to make the best decisions that they can. She said many companies had been basing decisions on data in an economy that was growing – and only discovered they needed new data when there was a downturn.

Ms Spooner said data came in two forms. The first was operational data setting out sales and revenue and profitability. The second came from the customer base and the market indicating what consumers needed and were buying, and how that might be changing.

She said this second area of data was what companies often got wrong. They often did not see they were looking at the wrong metric until they saw a decline.

“We are in an environment where consumer spending is declining and consumers are becoming far more discerning about the companies they want to buy from and the products they want to buy,” Ms Spooner said.

“So you need very good data to tell you how consumer sentiment is changing. What is it that they’re looking for? What should you be focusing on to invest in your business to have the right products and services to meet their needs?”


Ms Spooner said there was “no single metric out there” to explain consumer behaviours and businesses needed to look at what the right metric might be for the industry they are in – and what kind of metric suited the company, to help its brand grow

“Be a war time CEO, be prepared to let go what you’ve done in the past, find the metric that will help you grow in a very tough economy by better understanding your consumers and their needs than your competitors and ensure your business is investing in the right things,” she said.

Ms Spooner said a lot of marketing models currently used by companies were developed in the 1800s and the world was now a different place, in terms of how consumers get introduced to brands and select them, particularly with Google.

She said all this needed to be taken into account when selecting a metric. And also, companies should not rely on a single metric.

“You need an ecosystem of metrics to understand all these different areas and considerations,” Ms Spooner said.


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


RESEARCH published by Forbes magazine suggests most staff spend from 2.5 hours to as much as 6.5 hours per day reading and replying to emails.

Even at the lower end, that’s more than a quarter of each working day and that’s just the average; some workers in information-intensive roles or industries may spend much more than that. This can create significant bottlenecks when it comes to sharing information, collaborating effectively, and moving projects forward. 

OnePlace Solutions CEO James Fox said, “When email became widely adopted in the business world, it was revolutionary. It provided a faster communication method than letters and memos that had to be physically distributed and it was more private and convenient than faxes.

"However, as email has become ubiquitous, it has devolved into a time-wasting business tool instead of one that promotes productivity," he said.

“In many organisations, business managers are looking for ways to minimise the use of email or make it more efficient so that employees can focus more on deep work and creative tasks instead of on managing their emails. However, most of the solutions organisations trial end up with their own set of challenges.

"For example, instant messaging is too hard to organise and track, and it doesn’t work for team members in different time zones, while internal collaboration tools don’t always let third parties communicate with the team seamlessly.  

“As more employees and businesses are discovering the myriad benefits of remote working, the question of how to solve the email challenge is becoming more urgent.”

In many situations, email still provides the best option to communicate with teams, especially if that communication includes a lot of information. Therefore, it’s likely that the best solution to the email challenge will be one that seamlessly connects individuals’ emails to team collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or SharePoint.  

“Often, people receive important attachments via email," Mr Fox said. "They then have to manually save those attachments into SharePoint or, worse, shared drives that don’t have an obvious or reliable taxonomy, making those documents hard to find again. 

“Being able to put those emails and their attachments straight into SharePoint without having to switch between Outlook and SharePoint is a massive time saver. It means that all project team members can access all relevant information at all times, keeping projects moving forward based on the latest information.

"This reduces the amount of time people spend on managing emails and increases the amount of time they can spend on creative and innovative work, leading to greater job satisfaction and better results for the organisation.” 



By Tracey Dunn >>

THE FEDERAL Government has released more detail about the much-anticipated changes to the JobKeeper program.

In a press conference, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced a new and more targeted version of the JobKeeper program will commence from October 2020.

The changes will take effect from September 28 and will be implemented progressively so employers currently receiving the wage subsidy will continue to receive JobKeeper in its current form until the end of September.

The revamped JobKeeper program, labelled JobKeeper 2.0, will see some fundamental changes to the program, particularly around eligibility testing and the rate of pay required to be paid to eligible employees. Under the current JobKeeper program, eligible employers were required to satisfy the decline in turnover test once, with the test period limited to either a selected month or relevant quarter. 

While eligible employers were required to provide monthly data to the ATO of current and projected turnover, eligibility for the program did not cease if turnover returned to normal or increased.  

Under JobKeeper 2.0, eligible employers will need to re-test the decline in turnover in October and December to ensure ongoing eligibility. The PM has indicated the new JobKeeper eligibility tests will be based on a comparison of quarterly turnover and will not be limited to a one-off test.

To be eligible for ongoing JobKeeper assistance, businesses will need to pass the relevant decline in turnover rates as follows:

Eligibility period

Decline in turnover test period


October – December 2020

April – June 2020
July – September 2020

The relevant decline in turnover test must be satisfied in BOTH quarters.

January – March 2021

April – June 2020
July – September 2020
October – December 2020

The relevant decline in turnover test must be satisfied in ALL three quarters.

Testing of ongoing eligibility based on ongoing quarterly turnover will assist in ensuring integrity in the program and ensuring the program is targeted at those businesses impacted most by COVID-19.  This is a welcome change that will help limit the financial burden on the government and Australian taxpayers, but also ensures business owners impacted by COVID-19 are provided with the support to continue to operate and engage their employees until COVID-19 outbreaks are contained and restrictions released.  

While the detail of the new eligibility tests is yet to be announced, on the face of it, it appears the proposed changes will assist in ensuring financial support is targeted to industries most impacted by the ongoing effects of COVID-19 restrictions such as hospitality, tourism, entertainment and the airline industry. The proposed changes will also ensure financial support is directed to businesses in Victoria and New South Wales which have been impacted by an increase in COVID-19 cases and a second round of restrictions.

The PM also announced changes to the JobKeeper minimum wage condition which will see employees receive support based on their basis of employment as opposed to receiving a flat rate of support. The government has announced JobKeeper 2.0 will have a two-tiered approach to the minimum JobKeeper wage: one for full time employees; the other for part-time and long-term casual employees.

The new rates will be as follows:


Employee working >20 hrs per week*

Employee working <20 hrs per week*

28 September 2020 – 3 January 2021

$1,200 pf (before tax)

$750 pf (before tax)

4 January 2021 – 28 March 2021

$1,000 pf (before tax)

$650 pf (before tax)

This change is welcome as it will address the anomaly where casual or part-time employees were paid a flat rate of $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) irrespective of their usual rate of pay or working hours, or where stood-down employees receiving JobKeeper support from their primary employer have obtained temporary employment with another employer.  

The gradual weaning off of government support will give businesses the opportunity to revisit future sustainability. RSM strongly advises business owners to engage with their advisers to create a plan for the future, whether that be business growth, business reinvention or business cessation.

Finance Minister Mathias Corman had indicated in an earlier press conference that the government was cognisant of the issue where stimulus support packages, such as JobKeeper, were keeping otherwise-insolvent companies afloat and this was not the intent of the program. The proposed changes may be a warning for zombie companies. Given the impending changes and ultimate cessation of the program in early 2021, otherwise-insolvent companies may need to consider whether they continue to reassess eligibility or seek advice relating to voluntary administration or winding up while ASIC concessions surrounding insolvent trading provisions are still in effect.

Further detail regarding the changes is not expected until government resumes in September; however, today’s government announcement appears reasonable and equitable, and will ensure support is more targeted towards those who most require it.


About the author

Tracey Dunn is the associate director of RSM Australia, one of the nation's leading professional services firms with a 95-year history of assisting Australian businesses to innovate and develop.

* The 20-hour work test refers to the month of February 2020 (with some Commissioner discretion).

By Leon Gettler >>

A BIG ISSUE now for businesses is that employees are coming back to work, after the lockdown, but the world has changed.

Work places need to accommodate the new conditions and social distancing. And many employees who have been working remotely are reluctant to come back.

Office National CEO Gavin Ward said businesses need to come up with some ingenious ways to entice staff back to work. These include perks, creative activities, wellness equipment, elaborate desk top accessories, parties and more. 

“There’s a variety of reasons that people don’t go back. Some may say ‘I don’t want to do the traffic’ but I think you have to look after some fundamental things to make it work,” Mr Ward told Talking Business

“The first thing is we can’t ignore COVID. Make it safe. So one of the exercises is ‘Am I going to be safe in the new workplace’. So if you’re going to start talking about people, you will need good communication in terms of the way you’re going to prepare the workplace to ensure that they don’t get an infection so you’re going to have the right processes to say you’re going to wipe down the surfaces on a daily basis, that you’re going to have the wipes and all those sorts of things. So there is a fundamental thing, you’re going to make it safe.

“What you’re going to have to do is create an environment when they come back that they’re going to be engaged, that they’re part of the team. You’re going to promote connection about objectives, about what you’re doing and how you’re succeeding. These kinds of fundamentals are really important.

“The other thing business owners need to do is make them feel comfortable. Some businesses have been encouraging people to bring their dog into work, bringing part of the world they have at home into the office. Dogs also have an impact on the other people in the office and calming folks. Other employees might instead bring in a pot plant,” Mr Ward said.

“Business owners also need to look at the office environment. Is the light right for employees to do their work? Are there multiple screens elevated to the right height? Are the keyboards ergonomic? Are there brush-pens? Are the chairs right? Do they give good support? Can the seat be moved in and out?

“If you do these things and get the right equipment, when they come back they’ll find they’re much more connected, they’re much more productive and they can create really solid great work,” he said.


Fitness and wellness equipment at the workplace will also be important. Milestones like birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, successes and good occasion should also be celebrated.

Mr Ward acknowledged that many employees, after spending months working from home, would opt to come into the office three or four days a week, and do the balance from home. Companies will need to accommodate that.

“I think the world has changed forever and we’ve always had to consider the different styles of people we work with,” Mr Ward said.

“Part of what we’re doing is we need to entice people for the times that we need it, but I think we will always need to be agile and have some people working from home because I think they just won’t fit in the new workplace.”

He said the trend to hot-desking will be harder to sustain in the post-COVID environment.

“So the concept of working at a desk, getting up and moving your stuff back and someone coming down and sitting in that same space and ensuring that’s clean and ensuring you have the distance and socially isolate with the person next to you is going to be extremely challenging,” Mr Ward said.

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

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