By Leon Gettler

EVERY BUSINESS is now engaged in remote work. But according to a survey by Riverbed Technology, many businesses find it challenging.

John Milionis, the channel director for Riverbed’s Asia-Pacific Japan network, said working from home thrust upon business by COVID-19 just exacerbated a trend that was already out there. All COVID did was make it mandatory for employees.

He said Riverbed, which has been around since 2004 and works with 92 percent of the world’s top 2000 organisations, had undertaken a global study on the future of work in response to the changes thrust upon business by COVID-19. 

“Some of those challenges are really around ensuring that their workforce can be as productive at home as they were in the office,” Mr Milionis told Talking Business.

“Certainly another one of those challenges is around security. Networks and infrastructure were built around a certain landscape, most of us being at work, in the office, in our principle place of work and all of a sudden we’re now at home and potentially that outlines security risk.”

SORTING OUT PERFORMANCE

Mr Milionis said Riverbed identified issues around performance such as slow file downloads, buffering – and competing with one’s children when mum and dad are trying to work while the youngsters were home learning or ‘smashing’ YouTube.

The other interesting part of the Riverbed survey was that around 70 percent of companies had not prepared themselves to support employees working from home.

“In other words, their business wasn’t ready to allow everyone to be mobile and to perform at their optimum,” Mr Milionis said.

He said issues around poor quality of audio and video was also relevant to the way people work now.

“In modern day work places, there’s probably a couple of key things we do and one is we use a hell of a lot of video and the second is we collaborate and share a lot of things,” he said.

“The challenges around that have certainly been prevalent. It suggests that visibility of the IT infrastructure is really critically important for business leaders.

“When we are unable to perform at our optimum or when we do have issues around things like buffering, or slow videos, or slow files, it does impact on the economics of any business so having visibility as to why and being able to remediate that is really important.”

He said that also created a lot of stress for employees who have to work from home, impacting on employee productivity.

BUSINESS IMPACTS OF HOME WORK

Mr Milionis said the Riverbed survey had found that in excess of 20 percent of businesses now found their employees were working from home full time.

Mr Milionis said that affected a lot of dynamics like return on investment, barriers to success, and areas where the business needed to invest

“Some of those barriers involve the ability of giving their remote workers that office feel so they can work at their optimum, they can do their work and be as efficient as possible,” he said.

“So things like improving performance, improving file downloads.” 

He said Riverbed could provide businesses with software that could sit on a business lap top and make key applications perform a lot better.”

Mr Milionis said if businesses were going to move to having virtual workforces, they needed to empower that talent for them to perform.

He said there were three variables that impacted the performance of that talent: where is the talent located, what are the applications they are trying to use and where are the application servers hosted?

“Once you triangulate that, you can start building your IT infrastructure,” he said.

www.riverbed.com

www.leongettler.com

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 Leon Gettler >>

FROM little things, big things grow. That’s the lesson learnt from the little-known oil company, Zea Relief, and its unique range of products that are changing the way people treat arthritis, inflammation and pain at home.

The company’s co-founder and managing director Hayden Brass said he had turned Zea Relief from a family project into a company based around a unique Tasmanian oil, Kunzea. Most of the products are listed as therapeutic goods for symptoms such as arthritis, joint pain and muscle pain.

The plant for the oil grows in parts of Victoria, around Wilson’s Promontory and the only place in Australia where it is harvested and distilled is in north-east Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands. 

Mr Brass said his entire childhood had been spent working with oils and attending expos and shows with his parents, working with natural products.

“We were living down in Tassie at the time and people kept asking for this unique oil,” Mr Brass told Talking Business.

“We hadn’t really heard of it. We did a bit of research into it and decided to actually keep testing it and develop products that people could safely apply to the skin.

“We did it over a number of years, saw great results, saw there was a fair bit of research around the oil and its composition, but no one was really utilising it. So we saw a market there for something that was quite unique, that nobody was really tapping into.”

THE GOOD OIL ON BUSINESS

Mr Brass said he decided in July 2016 there was the potential to turn it into a scalable business after he completed a university course in marketing and business.

“We have spent the last three and a half years refining it, getting really good feedback, getting the products listed and really setting up the foundations for a business that could be scaled and be known in Australia and overseas eventually,” Mr Brass said.

As part of the process, his mother who is also a massage therapist, had been using Kunzea on her clients and this had produced some great results.

That created encouraging feedback to take it further and turn it into a business that was selling 40,000 of its most popular products around the country and had a mailing list of about 20,000 clients

Zea Relief products are sold in Chempro stores in Queensland and the company has partnered with Mr Vitamins in New South Wales and Nature’s Works in Tasmania.

The company’s core focus, however, is to sell online and have direct communication with its customers. 

Mr Brass said the great advantage of that is it develops a close relationship with customers.

Another big driver of the company’s growth has been to market Kunzea through Facebook and Instagram. This, he said, creates room for great conversations with customers

“We see a lot of other companies who advertise on Facebook and online and they don’t even respond to comments and questions that customers have,” Mr Brass said.

“We go above and beyond wherever we can to answer their questions, there and then, in real time and being as helpful as we can.”

www.zearelief.com

www.leongettler.com

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 

MEDIA Super and Cbus Super, two of Australia’s better performing super funds, plan to join forces and have signed a memorandum of understanding to begin due diligence on a joint arrangement to come into effect next year.

Media Super oversees just under $6 billion in retirement savings for workers predominantly in the printing, arts, media, and entertainment industries.  Cbus is a $54 billion dollar fund primarily for workers in the building, construction and allied sectors.

The proposed joint arrangement will potentially manage the retirement savings of over 800,000 Australians.

The partnership will see a merging of the funds’ investment and administration operations with both the Cbus Super and Media Super branding maintained.

Media Super chair, Gerard Noonan said the joint arrangement would let Media Super members access the benefits of scale. 

“By increasing our size, we can provide access to a greater range of investment opportunities and provide a better deal through cost savings, potentially reducing the investment fees,” Mr Noonan said.

“Cbus has a strong offering with 30 percent of its investments internalised and ownership of its market-leading developer, Cbus Property.

“We believe that the merger will also continue to build on our leading responsible investment approach and have a much stronger voice with the companies with which we engage.”

Cbus Super chairman Steve Bracks said Cbus understood the importance of maintaining a strong connection with members.

“For 35 years our fund has had a strong bond with our members,” Mr Bracks said.

“This affinity with our members has built a strong level of trust in the fund. Media Super has a very similar history and connection with their members.

“This is an exciting opportunity for both of our funds and I am very pleased to see this proposal progressing.”

The partnership is conditional on a more detailed due diligence process taking place. This will provide an independent assessment proving confirmation that the joint arrangement is in the best interests of members for both parties.

A spokesperson said both funds would not be making further public comments until the due diligence process concludes. 

www.cbussuper.com.au

www.mediasuper.com.au

ends

By Leon Gettler >>

SOCIAL ISOLATION and working from home has created a massive amount of business for courier service Aramex Australia.

Aramex CEO Peter Lipinski told Talking Business that certain types of orders have been up by as much as 30-76 percent.

He said the big orders were coming in for wine, pet food and flat pack furniture for people working at home. Tools for home improvement and even weights. 

At the same time, deliveries of apparel have decreased, largely because imports were down.

“The couriers are saying they’re getting quite a workout,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said the growth in online ordering has been massive.

“Obviously due to restrictions, they don’t want to venture off. They do order everything they need and we deliver a very wide range of products,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said Aramex operates in 27 regions across Australia, from Cairns to Tasmania, all the way to Perth and the entire eastern seaboard.

ARAMEX SYSTEM GROWS

Aramex is run as a three-level franchise, with regions franchised. Each region has courier franchisees who operate as independent owners.

There are 900 courier franchisees and the company also has a crowd-source model that allows it to expand its deliveries in peak times.

“They service their local customers and they operate in the same area every day so they’re almost of the community,” Mr Lipinski said.

“Maybe that’s why we’re seeing such a growth because they know their customers and they’re in the same area every day – and people turn to them when they need help shipping products around.

“Our system has always been built on the courier franchisee and the regional franchisee being part of the local network.

“A lot of our regional franchisees are involved in local charities, schools and clubs and I think in situations like we’re in right now, it definitely helps them secure additional business – and I know a lot of them do things for people pro-bono as well.”

He said customer satisfaction has been rising and the company has worked hard to ensure there are no delays in delivery. 

“At the end of the day, just because we’re operating in difficult conditions, it doesn’t mean people should be affected and get their goods a week later,” he said.

DELIVERING FOR THE DELIVERERS

Mr Lipinski said the company has measures to ensure the safety of its couriers, especially in reaction to the current pandemic situation.

“We’ve implemented staggered start times and shifts, we’ve put in cleaning processes, we’ve changed the delivery structure where we no longer require people to actually sign, we just sign on their behalf, we just need to verify they’re in front of us,” Mr Lipinski said.

He said the company has also brought in a system where it just has to leave the product in a certain agreed place.

At the same time, temperatures of couriers are measured every day in the depot every day when they come in.

He said he expects the courier business will continue to do well, even as more businesses re-open.

“I think the shift to online will remain and I think a lot of businesses that previously didn’t have a strong presence online will re-evaluate their options and make sure they are ready and enabled online,” Mr Lipinski said.

“I think there will be a change in people allowing employees to work from home more often in a structured way and that will drive the online market as well.

“Online is an easy way to obtain goods and its time saving and people are time-poor.”

www.aramex.com

www.leongettler.com

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 >>

LONGTAIL UX, an Australian start-up that improves website ranking and ad performance on Google, has just secured $5 million in new funding from Investec Emerging Companies Fund to expand into the US and UK markets.

The big question, is how did they do it when businesses are finding it hard to raise cash when the economy is contracting because of COVID-19?

According to the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Andreas Dzumla, it didn’t happen overnight. It followed extensive negotiations with Investec before the outbreak of the pandemic. 

“It had been a process of almost three years, of us knowing each other, they know about our business. There was a long relationship,” Mr Dzumla told Talking Business.

He said serious discussions about the funding started in August and got serious in November.

Mr Dzumla said the COVID-19 situation at the beginning of this year changed everything.

“I think everyone in February still saw this as a Chinese problem and even in early March, and then from one week to the other, things changed dramatically,” he said.

DEAL TIMING CHALLENGE

The onset of the pandemic  meant Investec had to look at what it meant for them and Longtail had to assess what it meant for its own business.

Mr Dzumla said there was a period of two weeks where no-one really knew what the impact would be. However, in the end both sides had done sufficient due diligence to go ahead with the deal.

Longtail has an extensive client base including Woolworths Group’s Dan Murphy’s, Adore Beauty, Kogan, Booktopia and Yellow Pages. 

It’s broad and, as Dzumla says, it’s a good thing it’s not limited to the travel industry.

“It’s so broad, which is why we both felt confident that while it was uncertain times, we could go forward,” Mr Dzumla said.

He said Longtail UX was already expanding overseas with teams in the US and Europe.

The company’s overseas teams had given the company good insights into the impacts of the pandemic as they were more acutely felt in markets such as Spain and the US.

PROFIT FROM LANDING PAGES

Longtail’s software helps companies profit from their landing pages. Its software makes websites more relevant and creates a better user experience.

The software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and focuses in on key words and search intentions. The company also hosts the systems on its own,

He said Longtail UX had also been at the forefront of remote work and, with its plans to expand overseas, remote working in sales and account management in different time zones would become a key part of its business strategy.

The headquarters, however, will remain in Sydney.

Sales, for example, would be done with video calls and client service is done remotely

The company also had a remote work policy right from the start.

“We are quite well-prepared comparably for the situation” Mr Dzumla said. 

“Before this, everyone in the team, every two weeks, could work from home.”

www.longtailux.com

www.leongettler.com

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

BRISBANE DISTILLERY Company has not only performed a highly useful community service in turning its manufacturing capabilities over to producing hand sanitiser, it has also consequently boosted local employment.

While thousands of businesses have been repurposing their capabilities to create valuable services to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, Brisbane Distillery Company joined other distillers in pausing production of their alcoholic goods to add in a new product line: alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Brisbane Distillery Company founder, Jon Atherton was nevertheless astonished to see sales grow exponentially.  

Mr Atherton not only chose to temporarily change the whole operation of his business, but also took on the challenge of establishing a new supply chain for hand sanitiser amidst national shortages of bottles, pumps and even raw ingredients.  

To be able to meet the local demand, Brisbane Distillery hired more employees and grew the business workforce from six to 34 in a single month. Additionally, in this past month, the factory fulfilled 15,000 hand sanitiser orders – a production total of 165,000 litres. 

DIVERSE EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF

Having served in the Australian Army and worked across various industries over the last 30 years, Mr Atherton said he had been fortunate to have had diverse experience in running multiple businesses, establishing new networks and scaling teams. That varied knowledge has allowed him to pivot quickly, he said, and transform the distillery into a hand sanitiser factory – in turn becoming one of the largest producers in the region. 

“There is a little bit to making a really good gin that, if you focus on the details with gin, you can focus on the details with hand sanitiser as well,” Mr Atherton said. 

The sanitiser Brisbane Distillery sells is suitable for use in medical and health services, has 80 percent alcohol content that is said to kill 99.99 percent of viruses and bacteria. It is also a non-gel formula, so does not leave residue.

The product can be utilised in health care facilities – such as hospitals, aged care and other residential facilities – as well as for general consumer use. 

Supplying to federal and state police, ambulance and fire services, the team at Brisbane Distillery has been working harder than ever to keep the stock ahead of demand.

Prices for the hand sanitiser start from $10.50 per 600ml bottle with pump and from $57.50 per 5 litre bottle.

www.bstill.com.au

ends  

By Leon Gettler >>

GREG MCLARDIE runs a company, Two Hands, that exports hundreds of millions of lobsters into China. He is in a very challenging situation.

Mr McLardie runs the risk of the Chinese wet markets, which notoriously helped create the coronavirus through unhygienic conditions.

However, the business will now be supplying Chinese restaurants, by-passing the wet market system. The lobsters go straight to the restaurant.

The Two Hands business model tags each lobster and uses blockchain. 

Two Hands hasn’t been supplying restaurants in China since January 27, since they have been closed. The restaurants opened three weeks ago but haven’t yet started buying lobsters because things in China are still slow.

People aren’t yet going to restaurants because they need to keep their social distance and they have to wear face masks. Mr McLardie said the chefs are telling him they won’t start ordering until May.

“I’m in constant contact with the executive chefs in Shanghai and the executive chef for the Waldorf Astoria said to me last week the whole world knows that coronavirus started in a fish market. He thinks that makes the Two Hands model very compelling because we avoid the fish market,” Mr McLardie told Talking Business.

His company was now being encouraged to bring in even more lobsters, when the restaurants start trading again.

“We connect fishers and farmers directly with the restaurant, with the chef. And with that direct connection, we have been able to reinvent the supply gain and eliminate middle men,” Mr McLardie said..

GOING DIRECT TO THE CHEFS

The way the Two Hands system works is that the fisher or farmer puts a smart tag on the product which cannot be removed until it gets to the chef. The product is weighed and the quality information is assessed.

That information, together with the fisher and farmer information, along with the pricing, is uploaded into the marketplace and made available to the chef in the restaurant. They place the order and the order is aggregated in Australia.

The lobster is packed in Australia, it arrives in customs in China and goes straight to the restaurant, avoiding the importer, the wholesaler and last mile distributor.

“So we avoid the fish market and because we’re using smart tagging with blockchain technology, we can guarantee the provenance of the product and we can guarantee the ethics of the journey the product went on,” Mr McLardie said. 

The critical part, he said, was to have all the information provided on the blockchain.

“Every time there is a change in the custody of the product, that change in custody, or any activity that affects the product, needs to be uploaded to the blockchain,” he said.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time and effort making sure there are no gaps.”

Mr McLardie said there can no longer be any case for ‘business as usual’ with coronavirus.

He said what Two Hands is doing resonates with restaurants in China. People want to know they’re eating safe food.

Mr McLardie said the model has the potential to expand into other Asian markets.

“That’s what we’re pursuing. That blockchain is of great beauty that can expand globally at a very rapid pace,” he said.

“With a public curated register, you can expand globally very rapidly. This is the first time we have a technology that can ensure all the participants operate ethically.

“I think we can move quickly to that world, thanks to blockchain.”

www.twohands.world

www.leongettler.com 

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.

Contact Us

 

PO Box 2144
MANSFIELD QLD 4122