Google to Australian Businesses: Get Online
Online business is on the upswing: the latest research released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that orders placed online between 2010 and 2011 totalled $189 billion, a 32 per cent increase from the previous year.
The percentage of businesses receiving orders online jumped from 13 per cent to 28 per cent, led by the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries.
“Whether you’re a pizza restaurant or the newsagent around the corner, it’s never been more important to be online,” said Claire Hatton, Google Australia’s Head of Local Business, in a media release. “For the next financial year the priority for every Australian business owner has to be [getting] online and make sure that your customers can find you, quickly and from any device.
“When we are out and about and we need to find the closest florists or locksmith we use our smartphone to find those businesses.”
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According to the 2011 report "The Mobile Movement: Understanding Smartphone Users" released by Google and Think Mobile, 95 per cent of smartphone users have used their device to look up local information, resulting in over three-quarters of these users contacting the business and nearly half making purchases.
Considering Australia’s high mobile penetration rate – more than half of the population owns a smartphone – it is likely that these figures will rise.
A joint initiative between Google and business/accounting software firm MYOB called “Getting Aussie Businesses Online” will allow any business to create a website in 15 minutes – and it’ll be optimised for mobile access to ensure you don’t lose valuable customers.
“If you own a business and you don’t have a mobile optimised website you are invisible to a large number of clients who will just go to your competitor who’s made the move online already,” said Ms Hatton.
Q&A: Professor Loredana Padurean, Asia School of Business
As someone who is creating Asia Pacific’s business leaders of the future, what do you believe are the essential skills leaders require?
In many ways, we need leaders who are Renaissance women/men or polymaths, as opposed to specialists of an industry or a field. A polymath is a person with profound knowledge, proficiency and expertise in multiple fields and today’s leaders have to be able to combine various ideas, look at problems in novel and useful ways, and develop a broad and yet still deep set of skills, talents, and knowledge.
You’ve coined ‘smart’ and ‘sharp’ as skills of the future. What are these?
They are replacements for ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, a concept coined by a US Army doctor in 1972 who observed that his pupils had different skills: dealing with machinery required ‘hard’ skills, while dealing with people and paper were ‘soft’ skills. This concept has served us well since, but I find it too binary, not to mention the semantic implications of the words themselves.
Soft implies gentle, delicate, mild, quiet, tender, weak. However, there is nothing soft in navigating competing perspectives and cultures, handling and delivering critical feedback or dealing with office politics. Instead, I prefer to call these skills ‘smart’. Hard implies rigid, difficult, heavy, static. But how can we think of engineering or software development as static or rigid? I believe ‘sharp’ is more apt as such skills need constant updating or sharpening.
I think it’s time to reflect on these classifications, because we can drastically change someone’s perspective by how we choose to talk about and frame something.
How important are smart skills in leadership today?
Smart skills are more important than ever because we live in a world of extreme diversity: generational, ethical, value-based, gender, etc. Gone are the days when giving an order was an effective act of leadership. I personally work with people from five different continents and across five different generations, therefore as leaders, we need to know how to adapt, motivate, inspire and connect. We need to increase our investment in learning about them in action, especially as smart skills are more difficult to develop.
I believe that a successful leader today has to be both smart and sharp. Take cognitive readiness, one of my top 10 smart skills. In order to be cognitive ready, one has to master system dynamics, one of my top 10 sharp skills. Also, did you know that one of the primary reasons why digital transformation fails is not the absence of digital literacy, a sharp skill, but the need for more validation and adaptability, both smart skills. So, instead of thinking of these skills as binary, I prefer to think of them as the yin and yang; co-existing and complementing each other.
So, you can teach leaders smart skills then?
Yes, you can, via a combination of the classroom experience, plus an action component supported by deeply embedded reflection. At ASB we call this Action Learning, and we teach it both in the MBA and in the executive programs. For example, in teaching a leader emotional maturity as a smart skill, first they need to learn what it is, and then act on it, before reflecting on what we did and how we did it. And then to repeat it, but this time with more expertise and awareness. It’s not easy, but that’s why my favourite mantra is ‘the job is easy, the people are not’.
Discover Professor Padurean's successful skills for a digital transformation here