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Getting ‘that’ essential tech that made the difference with 2019 Telstra Business Awards New South Wales finalists

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Discovering ‘that’ tech can revolutionise a business – adopting and implementing the right technology is a game-changer. It might be new computer software that replaces old and cumbersome systems. Or it could be new apps that create opportunities once thought impossible.

Here, a collection of 2019 Telstra Business Awards finalists from New South Wales tell us some of the fundamental challenges of running their ventures – and the tech solutions that revolutionised the way they operate.

‘That’ essential tech to overcome initial hurdles: Gina Lednyak, L&A Social

“L&A Social is a full-service social media strategy and implementation agency which partners with some of the world’s largest and most dynamic brands.

“Initially we relied on the Google suite and spreadsheets to maintain visibility on projects, clients, workload allocation and performance. This was incredibly time intensive, inaccurate and often resulted in duplicate sheets and important documents becoming outdated.

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“Confidence in a platform and its data increases company agility and makes communication more effective throughout the organisation.”

“Implementation of project management tool Wrike has been critical for us to scale and create data points to measure how we’re running as a business. It can be used as a traditional PM tool, allocate work and timelines, communicate updates on project specifics and measure individual staff's billable utilisation – all fed into a larger company dashboard.

“These features have seen us dramatically improve our delivery of work to budget, management of our staff's workload, hiring timelines and identification of needs. And, ultimately, scale our businesses’ operations.”

Gina Lednyak is the founder and CEO of L&A Social, a finalist in the Medium & Making Waves category.

‘That’ essential tech to create mobility: Petra Playfair, Playfair Visa and Migration Services

“Playfair offers visa and migration services to skilled individuals, executives, multinationals and refugees seeking to live in the Australasian or Schengen zones. 

“Every day we have team members across the country, overseas and in remote locations working simultaneously on a visa matter. Imagine the chaos.

“Video teleconferences amongst team members and with clients delivered calm and eliminated chaos.”

Skype for Business has been a game changer. Our teams collaborate more efficiently, speeding up handling of client matters. 

“Team members are constantly working together by sharing screens and quick online chats. And team leaders can come together immediately to discuss, change and develop response procedures. 

“Technology saved the day. We've realised enormous gains in employee productivity and client satisfaction.”

Petra Playfair is the founder and CEO of Playfair Visa and Migration Services, a group that aims to humanise the immigration process. Playfair is a Medium & Making Waves finalist.

Essential tips for making the most of ‘that’ moment
  • “Survey staff about what they need, and trial different tech. Then when you’re ready to roll it out, invest time in training staff to ensure that integration is seamless (and staff feel supported in the transition). You want to ensure it is saving you time and making things easier, not making you double up on work.” – Lucy Kuper, Managing Director, Biologi
  • “Find out where the majority of your customers are buying your products from (e.g. Instagram, Facebook) and become an expert on that platform or technology. An absolute expert on it. ‘Doubling down’ on that area will help you grow your business.” – Teena Zerefos Waldron, Founder and CEO, Bondi Beach Baby
  • “Get advice from other business leaders and professionals. We’ve had great recommendations for tech from everyone from huge global players in our industry to small non-aligned businesses with similar growth goals.” – Grant Philipp, Founder and CEO, Office HubIntegrated

‘That’ essential tech to market a brand: Mike Wilson, JDRF Australia

“For JDRF Australia, a non-profit organisation driving progress for type 1 diabetes, engaging with our customers and supporters is a critical part of the delivery of our mission.

“We have a core support base that is incredibly engaged. But maintaining and nurturing this engagement and attracting new supporters is increasingly challenging in a multichannel world.

“Implementation of new technology in a small organisation must be carefully staged and supported in order to minimise problems.”

“We have invested heavily in marketing and customer relationship management software including Salesforce, Pardot and Hootsuite so we can map the customer journey, tailor our communications and have real-time analytics.

“This has provided more tailored – but scalable – communications planning,and a transparent measurement of activity and success.”

Mike Wilson is the CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Australia, a finalist in the Social Change Maker category.

‘That’ essential tech to streamline processes and engine growth: Funda Yolal, Tiny Terrors

“Tiny Terrors is a mobile psychology service providing families with compassionate parenting and behavioural support.

“Our psychologists’ online diary system enables us to connect with clients, be as organised as possible, and help with daily processes. Our system before implementation [was] tedious and time consuming.

“The essential tech in our field is our day-to-day online diary.”

“Our biggest challenge was the time and costs involved in implementing and railing the new system – training staff so they are all on the same page, trial-and-error testing of whether the system works for staff and clients. 

“But after implementing, we saw a huge shift in convenience, faster process and cost-saving in the long run.”

Funda Yolal is the director of Tiny Terrors, a business on a mission to equip parents with the tools and strategies to encourage positive behaviour with their children. Tiny Terrors is a Small & Succeeding finalist.

‘That’ essential tech to shape the future of SMBs: Dr Anthony De Silver, Hilltops Free Range

“Hilltops Free Range produces pastured eggs which are laid by chickens raised freely outdoors without any fixed building.

“Monitoring chicken flocks on a daily basis is the key challenge. It allows us to diagnose any potential problems early, track production, plan for the movement of the chickens and manage rotational use of the land.

“By collecting granular data on a daily basis and entering it into SharePoint, we are able to plan better, identify issues and predict trends.

Our vision is to improve the soil and leave the land in a better condition for the next generation. It is crucial to approach this in a data-driven and sustainable way, both economically and environmentally.”

“We are looking to include all data into blockchain, so it will be secured and non-corruptible – there for the long term.

“We see tech as the next big revolution in farming, enabling productivity, land regeneration and better water and sun use.”

Dr Anthony De Silver is the owner and managing director of Hilltops Free Range. The sustainability-focused farm provides ethical single-origin eggs and is a finalist in the Social Change Maker category.

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