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Getting into good books and going places: why global collaboration is good for business

Business and Enterprise

Posted on February 8, 2018

2 min read

In the digital age, organisations must embrace collaboration strategies that facilitate the seamless flow of ideas across geographies and time zones.

Today, companies and their employees are looking to go places. Businesses are on the lookout for expansion opportunities in new markets; employees want to work flexibly and have their voices heard – literally.

With the global business environment evolving rapidly, employees are in need of channels that allow them to respond to and resolve business challenges quickly and efficiently. This therefore raises the question – how can a business penetrate or sustain its presence in new markets if it has little or no ability to properly engage employees on the ground, respond to user issues, and ensure consistent service quality?

Cloud technologies empower today’s new way of working. They amplify the voice and value of employees, allowing people to work anywhere and stay connected to their data, colleagues and customers around the clock. For this reason, Springer, the world’s largest academic book publisher, turned to a best-of-breed unified communication platform and world-class network connectivity to get 13,000 employees in 22 countries on the same page.

The solution was designed by Telstra to meet Springer’s specific business requirements and provides six data links serving 10,000 end-points across three regions, enhancing redundancy and connectivity.

The technology is delivering point-to-point video and audio conferencing, multi-party video-conferencing, instant messaging and shared desktop experiences. It is also helping to connect disparate and legacy phone and IT systems that were hindering collaboration across offices.

Telstra acquires leading hybrid cloud service provider VMtech

Business and Enterprise

Posted on December 13, 2017

2 min read

Today we announced that we have acquired VMtech, a Sydney-based professional and managed services provider with expertise in the delivery and management of enterprise-grade hybrid cloud, connectivity and security solutions. Christopher Smith, Executive Director Business Technology Services, explains what this means for our customers.

Migrating to cloud-based infrastructure is on the agenda for many organisations today, particularly as they look to digitise their business and set themselves up for future growth.

Our multi-cloud strategy is to provide customers with integrated hybrid cloud solutions and managed services through unified platforms across cloud and on-premise infrastructure and applications, with our Telstra Programmable Network providing scalable connectivity to customers’ cloud environments.

The acquisition of VMtech will enhance our hybrid cloud capabilities and address a critical customer need – support with the design, implementation, optimisation and management of secure hybrid cloud solutions.

Telstra’s existing suite of technology consulting services across public cloud, networks, security and applications, together with VMtech’s end-to-end approach to designing and managing secure hybrid cloud solutions will provide a comprehensive suite of tailored services for our customers.

We have one of Australia’s largest teams of ICT services professionals who manage projects from single domain integrations to complex transformation projects across multiple technologies, industries and geographies. This is in addition to our growing services team in Asia and the UK.

We have built this successful business in Australia by scaling the capabilities acquired through acquisitions like Kloud, Readify and MSC Mobility, along with significant organic growth. We’re committed to further expanding this capability internationally and our acquisition of UK-based technology services business Company85 in June was part of this strategy.

The expertise from VMtech complements our vision to be a world class technology company and we look forward to working in partnership with the VMtech team to deliver our combined expertise to more customers in Australia, with a view to scaling these capabilities in Asia.

Tags: business,

Stephen Dubner: Turkeys and why data is useless without experimentation

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 27, 2017

6 min read

In a wide-ranging talk at the 2017 Telstra Vantage conference, opening keynote speaker Stephen Dubner — an acclaimed journalist and co-author of the best-selling book Freakonomics — used stories of poultry farming, hand hygiene compliance in hospitals, and even rat plagues to illustrate the importance of good data and experimentation in an ever-changing business world.

To begin, Dubner pointed out that poultry consumption has vastly increased in Australia and the United States over the past half century. He wondered why, and while researching he learnt that turkey meat is the big riser and that most turkeys bred for consumption are now bred through artificial insemination. Looking deeper, he found that most chickens still breed naturally but turkey consumption habits have changed. Many people now eat turkey breast as part of their ordinary diet, whereas turkey used to be primarily consumed whole on special occasions.

In order to meet demand for turkey breast meat, poultry farmers bred turkeys to have larger breasts. Eventually their breasts became so large that they became physically incapable of breeding naturally — these big-breasted turkeys could not have sex with each other.

This story, Dubner explained, can help illustrate that you need data to understand the world. But data on its own has little use, especially today — when, contrary to 15 years ago, we don’t need more data so much as we need more people who know how to ask the right questions of the data.

In his experience working with businesses, Dubner said that “the people who are most comfortable with data in the firm are often the IT people, [but] the people who most need to unlock the mysteries of that data are in different departments”. Those two groups don’t necessarily communicate well with each other.

In the latest of our Telstra Vantage Behind the Mic series, Adam Spencer speaks to Stephen Dubner. Subscribe to the podcast via apple.

Look beyond the noise

Dubner explained further that the noisiest part of a problem is often the symptom, not the cause. Artificially-inseminated turkeys with gigantic breasts are a symptom of the agricultural revolution, which has for over a century repeatedly squashed arguments that we will run out of food to feed the world’s population. The US throws away 40 percent of food bought for consumption, he stated. The problem causing famine is not a lack of food but rather that political, social, and economic dysfunction prevents the food from reaching the people who need it.

The challenge, then, beyond asking the right questions to find the root cause of a problem, is finding the right incentives to fix the problem. Or as Dubner put it, “If you want to make a good decision, if you want to change someone’s behaviour, you have to understand the incentives that are at play.”

To illustrate that point, he next turned to bathroom hand hygiene and the difference between declared preferences and revealed preferences. He polled the audience: who doesn’t wash their hands after using the toilet? No hands went up. That’s people’s declared preference — the thing they hope to do, their expected behaviour. But his own efforts to measure this, by lingering at the sink at public toilets, have suggested that only around 70 percent of men actually wash their hands after using the toilet. That’s the revealed preference.

Hopes don’t always match behaviour, even among doctors at a hospital — who in one study self-reported hand hygiene compliance of 73 percent but were then recorded by their nurses as having an average compliance rate of only 9 percent.

Poor hand hygiene leads to bacterial infection, which is the most common cause of preventable death in hospitals. Doctors are the most educated people in a hospital, so clearly education is a poor incentive for good behaviour. Dubner talked about a committee for hand hygiene at a US hospital that tried to find the right incentive. First they hypothesised that it was a communication problem, so they issued a memo. Nothing changed. Then a subcommittee thought to use positive reinforcement — they hid in the room before a doctor arrived for his rounds, then if he washed his hands they jumped out, applauded, and handed over a $10 Starbucks gift card. Doctors loved the free gift and hurried to wash their hands whenever they heard the subcommittee was nearby.

But it didn’t change the overall rate of hand hygiene, either.

The winning solution finally came from a quiet member of the committee — “the best ideas often come from quiet people who like to sit in a room with their own thoughts” — who got everybody in the committee to press their hand into a petri dish and then got those cultured. Most returned covered in bacteria. The committee then took a photo of one of these palm-shaped cultures and used it as a screensaver on every computer in the hospital, with an explanatory label. Compliance leapt to 100 percent.

Be ready to experiment

“The moral of the story is that the incentives that you think may work don’t always work, [so you should] work hard to use data to find out what’s actually the behaviour and be willing to experiment,” said Dubner, who also pointed out that sometimes incentives can even backfire and produce the opposite behaviour — as was the case in a town that had a problem with rats eating people’s trash and spreading disease.

The government first offered free extermination, then when that didn’t work they offered free bins with lids. That also didn’t work, so they offered a cash reward. For every dead rat, they promised to pay the equivalent of about US$4. That then gave rise to a rat farming economy. Far from exterminating the rat population, people would breed rats to kill them and claim the reward.

“The next time you come up with a plan that seems perfect on paper, experiment, try it out, gather some data,” Dubner concluded, “because it may work brilliantly or you may just end up with a pile of dead rats on your doorstep.”

Launching ‘Liberate’: Combine the best of the desk phone and the mobile

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 20, 2017

2 min read

We live in a world where the lines between work and personal life are blurring and people are using their personal devices more frequently for work purposes. From Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to mobility as a service, technology is enabling flexible ways of working for employees.

But, on the flipside, with the proliferation of mobile technology, people are communicating inside and outside of the office using multiple devices, various mobile communications tools and social media channels. This is causing implications for employee communications, and customer experience.

But all that is about to change.

‘Liberate’ your workforce

Today at Telstra Vantage, we announced our latest technology for businesses, bringing to market a solution to address the growing complexity of workplace mobility. And we’re proud to say, this is an Australian first.

The ‘Liberate’ product will provide our customers with a fixed to mobile network convergence capability natively to a mobile device.

This means, whether employees are on their own outside the office, or as a team in the office, they can now be as effective regardless of where they are.

How does it work?

Liberate unifies desk phones and mobiles in a single solution to simplify and enhance communications between teams and customers. Since call integration happens in the network, there’s an effortless handover between mobile and landline calls.

The mobile phone also has versatile Unified Communications functions, so employees can enjoy the best of your desk phone on the mobile for an office-like experience on the go.

Why is it so important?

We know that roughly 72 percent of enterprises businesses are either implementing or considering workplace transformation.

We want to help our customers on this journey, and that means arming them with the right technology that will empower their staff to mobilise, as well as meet the expectations and needs of their customers.

With our world-class network and reach, we know we are the best provider in Australia to meet our customers’ needs for an integrated fixed and mobile service at the network layer which will ‘Liberate’ their workforce.

Keep up with the latest in business and tech innovation at Telstra Vantage in our podcast series.

Twas the night before Vantage…

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 19, 2017

4 min read

I know September is a favourite month for many Australian’s – what with Footy Finals, the warmer weather creeping in and holidays just around the corner. For me, September is all about Telstra Vantage . . .it’s Australia’s pre-eminent ideas, technology and business experience and it’s awesome.

4 years ago the Telstra team set out to redefine the old school conference and event experience we’ve all been to. Looking at what’s in store this year, I can say with confidence that we have set a new standard in how companies can get value from spending time with a broad range of world leading technology partners.

This year will be even more focused on how we create brilliant customer experiences through the magic of technology. From Artificial Intelligence and drones, to eye movement technology that enables a dream to come true for a musician with physical limitations.

Read the book Freakonomics? Dreamed of travelling to space? Well this year we’ve got the award-winning co-author of the Freakonomics series Stephen Dubner and Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female private space explorer and technology entrepreneur joining the stage. They are going to challenge and inspire everyone to sit up and think differently about how they take on challenges.

With 6,500+ people expected on site this will be the single largest experience that Telstra have ever delivered – but it’s not about size, it’s about quality. It’s about curating a brilliant experience that helps customers solve their issues.

Too often people talk about tech for tech’s sake, this experience focuses on developing solutions that actually help our customers, so they walk away with practical skills and solutions to make real change, now that’s worth getting excited about. We’re excited to be working together with businesses around the world over the next few days, to go one better than last year and solve even more business challenges with innovative technology.

Before it all kicks off tomorrow, I wanted to share why I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning and why attending could be the best business decision you make this year. . .

  1. It’s all about you – our customers

You are at the heart of this experience – every detail has been planned with you in mind. Every year, as part of our preparation, we ask our customers what their business challenges are and last year we solved 85% of these at Telstra Vantage based on what our customers saw, hear and experience while here.  This is the main reason I love this experience – it’s more than just an event we workshop real business problems and our attendees leave with real solutions.

  1. You will see the depth and breadth of the Telstra ecosystem

Telstra has a role in creating, curating, advising and inspiring our customers. Telstra Vantage brings this all together quite literally under one roof – showcasing our partners, our solutions and how we work together to help you achieve your business goals. This is where we do what we do best and it’s inspiring to see the jigsaw come together with people leaving Vantage with all the tools they need for a better year ahead.

  1. And, how the magic comes to life

When you walk into the Vantage Village, you realise the power that technology has in making dreams a reality. The experience breeds excitement, it’s the feeling of inspiration in its truest form. You will discover the secret source that you’ve been searching for, learning how technology can be truly magic, and better still, the solution that your business needs to thrive.

I look forward to sharing more about Vantage over the next couple of days.

Telstra Vantage Podcasts

Keep up with the latest in business and tech innovation at Telstra Vantage in our podcast series.