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Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Mike Doman
Technology Journalist

Mike Doman is a technology, lifestyle, industrial and education writer

Over a three part series, we’ll look at the power of technology and how PB Seeds has changed its operations using a combination of Telstra Cloud, National Broadband Network (NBN) and Telstra Mobile. First, let’s look at mobile.

PB Seeds owners standing in field of their farm

In Kalkee, 15km north of Horsham sits PB Seeds. Peter Blair’s father, Tom, started the original farm in the late 1950’s, with his son, Peter Blair creating the PB Seeds brand in 2003. The farm sits on 1200 hectares of land, growing up to 50 varieties of crops including lentils and chickpeas.

Operations Manager, Andrew Brown says “it’s one of the most vertically integrated businesses [he’s] ever worked for”, encompassing research and development, sowing, harvesting, cleaning, packing and shipping to food manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and direct customers under the one business

So there’s a lot happening every day.

And being able to get in touch – with suppliers and customers, with staff across multiple sites, and with all levels of the supply chain – is integral to keeping the business going.

A wide brown land

Commercial Manager Janine Sounness says her tablet keeps her company between Kalkee and Horsham, and also when she travels interstate.

“We do have customers in South Australia, New South Wales and [around] Victoria which I do have to travel to from time to time. It’s not a majority of what I do, but when you travel you need to have your information at your fingertips,” she says.

For Andrew, the role of the mobile is vital to his day-to-day, but especially when he started at PB Seeds during a heavy growth phase.

“I live and breathe email. [But, due to a growth phase when I started] I didn’t have a desk and I didn’t have a proper computer for a month. We had to physically build another office and attach it to our existing office.

“So my mobile was my tool of the trade. And for months and months and months when I was engaging with people … I only had a mobile.

“[Mobiles ensure] we just know what’s going on.”

In the coming months, we’ll explore how PB Seeds is using cloud services and the NBN to evolve their business.

Sign up for Smarter Business Ideas here, and get the latest updates on their story.

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A big (blue) tick

Due to the regional nature of farming and agriculture, Janine says ensuring phones are “Blue Tick” can help get the most out of the coverage that’s available.

“When I’m travelling through the farming community there are areas where there can be problems still, so I have a phone with Blue Tick [certification],” says Janine.

“Farmers are our clients too, and they live and breathe mobile phones, in terms of contacting us and us being able to contact them easily. It’s a really important tool for farmers, the mobiles.”

Phones with a "Blue Tick" symbol indicate that a handset has been tested and proven to work better in rural areas. These mobiles are recommended for people to maximise coverage experience outside metro areas.

Connecting with other services

“The owner, Peter Blair, he’s in touch with the international market so he’s overseas,” Janine says when asked how mobile factors into other technology solutions including Telstra Cloud Services.

“The connection he has via his mobile and being able to look at information through our cloud services is useful. I mean these things are really useful tools."

And tools integrate into a wider solutions package, with mobiles playing a role in helping the business get efficient, connected and have up-to-date information within arm’s reach at all times.

Andrew adds that for Blair, the information he accesses through his mobile while using international roaming allows him to make the best decisions while meeting international suppliers.

“When Peter’s travelling overseas he’s normally dealing and talking with prospective overseas customers.

“Using Sharepoint [on his mobile] he can get costing sheets, and he can see previous costings for different destinations and different varieties and what it costs today. So he can just bring up the spread sheet, put in the current exchange rate and then he’s got very accurate tools to have business conversations.”

Key takeouts:

  1. Make sure it’s got the tick. For businesses in regional and rural areas, ensuring your phone is Blue Tick certified can help get great coverage
  2. Different devices for different uses. For Janine, a tablet is more effective when she’s speaking with customers. For Andrew, who works from home once or twice a week, the mobile is his lifeline
  3. Make it part of a broader strategy. To get the most out of your technology, ensure all your devices and investments work together. For PB Seeds, having Telstra Mobile, Telstra Cloud and NBN working together has seen a number of efficiency benefits. 
Looking to join the network without equal?

 Read more about Telstra services available to small businesses here.

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Photgraphy: Sarah Walker

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