Lord Mayor's Business Forums - Wayne Gerard

The following is a transcript from Wayne Gerard, CEO and Co-Founder, RedEye Apps, speaks at the Brisbane Lord Mayor's Business Forum on 30 September at Richlands Lions Club. 

The goal for tonight is to think about innovation and think about how can innovation help you, help your business to be more competitive, both locally and globally?

So let's start. Who's selling locally - put your hands up?  A couple of you.  Who's selling interstate?  Who's selling internationally?  Who's using innovation to help you compete internationally?   A couple of you.  Great.

The objective is to really think about what's happening in the market and how can I leverage what's going on? This year alone, over $110 billion has been invested.  So in the last nine months, $110 billion has been invested in technology that will either help you compete more practically, more sustainably or it will disrupt your business. This year $110 billion worth of technology is being created and that technology spans and interacts with every single industry.

So what I want to do tonight is talk a little bit about the technology that's coming and Cat's shared some great stuff already and we'll talk about it from the perspective of your business.

So who knows about the cloud?  Who uses the cloud?  Not to store pictures.  The cloud is a huge changer to the way people operate.  Who used to have all of their data stored onsite in their business?  Who's moved away from that?  Has it saved you money?  A lot of companies today can start up a lot faster with a lot less operating cost if they access things like cloud-based storage, things like cloud-based applications.  So the cloud is a new way, or a new environment to safely and easily access your information.

As Julian said, in 2011 we started a software company.  So we started a software company because we were running an engineering company and we were literally sitting on a coal terminal up in North Queensland and we kept on getting given the wrong set of engineering drawings.  We went, you know, there's got to be a solution to this problem.  That just doesn't make sense.  So we went and looked at all the solutions on the market and we realised there really wasn't a purpose-built solution to this problem.

We thought to ourselves, you know, how many engineering drawings are there in the world?  So we looked around at the building we were in and we went geez, that's got to have a couple of engineering drawings.  Then we looked at the roads and the power stations and the airports and the hospitals and the coal mines and we went, you know there's actually quite a fair few of these things.  So we identified an opportunity to build a solution that we now sell globally.  We have actually built a business where we own no infrastructure.  No infrastructure.  Everything we've done, we've done in the cloud.  All of our data stored in the cloud.  Our software environment that we develop our coding in is in the cloud.

We started with myself and three people.  Today we employ 45 people.  So 40 odd people here in Brisbane and five people in the US, in fact seven people in the US now.  We've been able to build a scalable global business in three years and have nothing, no physical assets.  In fact we own one vehicle and if I'd had my time again, I wouldn't have done that either.  Definitely used to, but.

So the cloud and technology allows businesses to scale a lot faster, a lot faster. 

There's technology today that's revolutionising the way that you interact across your client base and inside your business.  So these are some of the business areas - this things great isn't it [laughs]? - that you can go and pay per use, or pay a service fee every month to access technology that will help you understand your clients better.  Help you engage with your clients better.  Help you manage your supply chain or your stock better.  There's stuff here that will help you interact with clients in the field. 

Who uses a mobile device in some kind of information on a mobile device when they're dealing with clients?  Put your hands up if you do that.  Look around the room.  Hold your hands up guys.  Does it make you more productive?  What do you reckon?  Definitely.

We just finished a project with BHP Billiton in the States where we introduced mobile technology to their workforce.  We improved the productivity of their workforce by 84 per cent.  For them, that was a saving of hundreds of millions of dollars.

So introducing technology that allows your workers to be more productive.  If it saves a minute or two minutes every time they do something.  If it saves an hour or two hours, or if it saves five hours, those numbers add up and that's money that you can redirect into more marketing and acquiring new clients or building an application that extends the value you deliver to your clients.  Who's got a purpose-built application that forms part of the business offering or how they interact with their clients?  One company, two companies?  Great.

The more world becomes global, the more choices our clients have.  Who agrees?  The more the world become global, the more choices our clients have.  That means that our clients, your clients.  You think about your clients.  Could your clients be buying stuff from someone overseas?  What do you reckon?  Absolutely.

Regardless of what you sell, there is $110 billion worth of investment happening right now, which means there's stacks and stacks of smart people out there looking at your market and going, what could we build that would help people to better service clients in your market - that technology you are either going to buy that and use it, or one of your competitors is going to buy it and use it.  Who knows what I mean?  Yeah?

So does it make sense to stop and think about in your business, how could you better interact with your clients?  In your business, how could you become more efficient or more productive in the way you deliver your service? 

Is there information that you should be using?  Is there information you're collecting about your clients, or you could collect about your clients, or you could collect about the performance of your product or your service?  Is there information you could collect, that if you did collect it and you did look at it, that it would help you to be even more productive as a business?  It might save you some time, might save the lesser number of returns or might mean that less product goes off before you get the chance to sell it.  It could be any number of those things.  Who knows what I mean?  Yeah?

So technology can influence every area of our business.  If you think about your business, are there areas in your business that maybe now is the right time to go, hey, we should look at how we innovate in this area? 

What happens if you don't?  What happens if you don't take the time, you don't stop and step back from the day to day doing stuff and go, what happens if I don't innovate and my competitor down the road does?  Or even worse, my competitor in another country does and they now start selling to our clients.  Is that going to impact your business?

There's heaps of opportunities to introduce technology.  A little bit about what we do and how we've done it.  We basically built a solution where people can put all of their data into the cloud.  So we've got big companies going and giving us, like, well I'll give you an example.  We just signed a new client that has 1.2 million engineering drawings and they're putting those 1.2 million engineering drawings into the cloud and making them accessible to any person that needs to work on them, any person that they invite to work on them.  They can work on them on an iPhone or an iPad or android device or on a computer from anywhere in the world.  So that makes their business a lot more effective.

What could you do?  What kind of services could you add to your clients that might make their business more effective?

Does your business need to be - can it afford to be the same tomorrow as it is today?  Or are there things that you might want to think about embracing?       Say you are a panel-beater.  Is there technology that could help you to better quote?  Is there technology that could promote you as a niche panel beater for a special kind of vehicle that gives, kind of positions you, differentiates you as a the domain expert in say, you know, Holdens or Jaguars or something like that?  Could you attract clients that you maybe haven't attracted before if you use technology to reach them?

Social media is critical.  Social media is no longer about being social.  It's really interesting when you talk to the top three hundred CEOs in Australia and ask them, who's encouraging their business, who's encouraging the people in their business to get on social media?

A couple of weeks ago I was down at ANZ in Melbourne and they had their national conference.  Their CEO is encouraging every staff member to have a social media presence - the CEO of ANZ Bank.

People want to engage when they want to engage, the way they want to engage.

I had a problem recently with an organisation that was meant to provide a service to my company.  I could not find a phone number.  I could not get in contact with the person that could actually do anything.  I jumped onto Twitter.  I found the COO's twitter address and I posted on Twitter that I was having a problem and I'd love his help.  I got instant feedback, like within, we're talking like 20 minutes this guy jumped on Twitter and said hey, let me  know what's going on and I will see if I can help.

That saved me $29,000.  Twenty nine thousand dollars this company was trying to charge me for a thing that just wasn't going to work, a contract that wasn't going to make sense.  By using social media I was able to effectively engage with the supplier in a way that I could not have done a couple of years ago.

So think of social media as more than just, what did you have for lunch, and where are you now?  Think of social media as a mechanism or a communication platform that gives you instant access to the people that matter.

We're doing a campaign right now on social media where we're taking photos of the buildings and the assets that we visit and we're promoting how many drawings they have.  So we have this hashtag, how many drawings?  We started this campaign a couple of days ago. On the first day of this campaign, our photos were shared with over 100,000 people - 100,000 people.  That's 100,000 more people thinking about, gee whiz, engineering drawings are important to me in my business as well.  That's access to a client base that I wouldn't have got if I had have just done traditional marketing or traditional client engagement.  So there's lots of benefits of social media.

For those of you that love Pinterest, if you're in an environment where you sell products, food or repairs or some kind of physical product, Pinterest is a great way to build a community and really worth investigating.

So I guess the question I wanted to leave you with is a fairly straightforward one.  What areas will you innovate in?  Where is your business at today?   What happens if you don't change it?

I think Brisbane's an awesome place right.  You can grow a global company in Brisbane - the perfect environment to do business, access to great people who will help you.  You've got Cat over there.  The resources from Digital Brisbane are fantastic, absolutely fantastic.

The Lord Mayor and Councillor Simmons and the Brisbane team here can put you in contact with, the experiences that they can share, to help you become more relevant, both locally and globally are substantial if you leverage them and that's what I guess we're all here for tonight.

Thanks very much.

Go back to the Lord Mayor's Business Masterclass - Innovation and new ideas videos.

16 December 2015