Business leaders should 'harden up'

Fewer regulations coupled with an increase in self-belief, funding, and education will help keep start-ups from moving offshore, a panel of speakers told delegates at the Salesforce1 World Tour in Melbourne
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Regulations and complacency are impeding on business innovation and are therefore driving companies offshore, a panel of speakers at the Salesforce1 World Tour in Melbourne concluded when they analysed how the digital economy is transforming the Australian industry.

Australian Information Industry Association chief executive officer Suzanne Campbell said from a public sector point of view, cloud specific regulations are adversely impacting on how government divisions, particularly on a federal government level, approach and uptake new technology.

"As a business unit manager as part of a division or agency, to move into cloud you'll need your secretary to sign off, you'll need your minister to sign off, and you may need the Attorney-General to sign off. Those additional provisions compel the person who is actually making the decision in saying this is going to be really hard," she said.

Similarly, Hills chief executive officer Ted Pretty said companies are being regulated by their own board and are "second guessing every management decision".

Pretty suggests that in order for new technology to be embraced by the board, they need to learn to understand it. In order to do this, he said companies need to "stop hiring and recycling the same people, and bring people from outside of the industry" that will be able provide new perspective around things such as service delivery.

"The best thing a board can do is reflect on their experiences, rather than think about managing risks," he said.

Salesforce.com executive vice president Vivek Kundra suggested in order for Australia to drive more innovation onshore, it is important to ensure core infrastructures, such as capital, education, and government policies are shaped to "create a vibrant ecosystem to encourage entrepreneurs".

"It's easier today than ever in history to come up with a great idea and launch a global company; that has never been possible in the past. You can have access to billions of customers in ways that was never structurally possible. That's the great tragedy that we're not seeing enough innovation come out from around the world. But the access is there," he said.

At the same time, Pretty believes the lack of confidence business managers have in themselves is also hindering on the level of innovation in Australia, advising them to "harden up and stop mucking around".

"At the end of the day, companies don't get built by committees, they get built by entrepreneurs, so we need to wake up to this; we have got very soft. I think even in our decision making team members are struggling to get decisions through the organisation, through the board, and through government. You have got to have the strength to say you have the vision," he said.

"You can push the naysayers over the line and you need to do it. If you don't have the conviction in yourself to do it then why would bother submitting a proposal to the board. We have to stand up for we believe in if you think that's the way it should go. You might actually get it wrong, but so what?"

Steve Hodgkinson, Ovum Asia Pacific chief analyst global public sector and IT research director, agreed saying the only way business leaders can cope with change and succeed along the way is to fail quickly, and succeed faster.

"The only way you can cope and succeed is by learning more quickly, going through faster and shorter cycles, and if it works, you do more of it," he said.

"The new generation of technologies like mobile, analytics, and cloud platforms, enables that because you don't need a three years capex intensive project in order to get to first base. You can start something today and get real operations and data, and learn how it works. If it works, do more of it; if it doesn't work then stop it, and do something else."

Aimee Chanthadavong travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Salesforce.

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