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Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Small business: going big on mobility

Melbourne marketing agency optimising benefits of mobility

Efficiency up, staff engagement up: marketing agency gives thumbs up to mobility.

Melbourne, Australia marketing agency, Optimising, had to unshackle itself from internally hosted servers and Microsoft Exchange products to move forward.

Founded in 2008 by James Richardson and Daniel Zuccon, the company consists of a core team of ten staff focused on providing clients with website design and online marketing services.

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Optimising co-founder James Richardson

Richardson, who is also sales and marketing director at Optimising, says the original tech setup was needlessly complicated, labour intensive to maintain, and expensive. It also didn’t integrate well with the Android based smartphones and tablets that staff had become accustomed to using.

The company made the decision to switch to Google’s suite of cloud based office apps, Drive, for real-time document collaboration. Optimising also came to rely on Google’s instant messaging and video chatting platform, Hangouts, for keeping in touch with sales staff who were frequently on the road while Evernote became the application of choice for note-taking in meetings. The business uses Trello for project-specific communications to avoid clogging up the inbox.

“Having everything cloud-based and available easily on mobile devices allows us to be a more flexible workplace, whether that be working from home, interstate, or maybe just from our rooftop terrace,” he said.

The device-agnostic nature of cloud-based applications also means employees who don't own laptops can use their tablets for client facing work.

Richardson says the key drivers in making the switch were increased visibility of staff output and the ability for employees to access whatever they needed easily from any device and location.

“All our platforms such as Trello, Xero, Google Mail, Chat and Drive, as well as Evernote all sync perfectly to mobile and desktop, making everyone’s jobs more seamless.”

Richardson says that the wealth of mobile applications and services in the market means that some time investment is required in determining whether the tools selected “will solve a business problem, or create more work."

But while Optimising was content to use out-of-the-box cloud services, the company decided to build its own secure, cloud-enabled encryption platform for sharing sensitive data.  Richardson says the company uses that as an alternative to Dropbox.

Richardson’s advice to other SMBs considering mobile adoption is to embrace the flexibility it brings into the workplace.

“A solid mobile setup within your business not only improves efficiency, it will make for happier employees and less distracting IT issues.”

Richardson says that the company has adjusted into a flexible workplace culture by ensuring staff always have access to tools and services that help them do their job as opposed to falling into the trap of micromanaging.

“Obviously we trust everyone who works for Optimising, so nothing we do is a check of employees, more as a way to make the Optimising business process more efficient,” he said.

“We encourage a flexible workplace in terms of hours, as well as workplace. It’s not unusual for us on occasion to work from a cafe, from home, or from the couch at the office. This is done through the devices our employees use, but also the tools that we use. This is done to create a more laid-back work environment for staff,” he added.