The NBN is changing the way Aussies do business, but among those feeling the most benefits are regional communities, who are seeing opportunities for growth and new ways to connect with suppliers and customers.
Almost 400kms northwest of Melbourne, agribusiness PB Seeds is seeing the value of the NBN as an enabler of its other solutions, including mobile technology and implementing a variety of cloud services across its operations.
“We had a satellite [connection] and it was very slow and clunky,” says operations manager, Andrew Brown.
“So the guys who do the banking, it was a nightmare. To get on websites and look at things was a nightmare.
“It was very clunky and, with what we wanted to put into place, the satellite wouldn’t work.”
The solution was to get onto the NBN when it rolled into town.
The importance of information
“We knew we needed to improve the efficiency in our information,” says Andrew.
“We had information in different areas and trying to share that information to make better decisions, you need to have information at your fingertips.”
And especially for a food producer with an online presence and multiple crucial processes, having visibility on where products are at all times is important for quality control, as well as the fulfilment of customer orders.
Getting that information together required a multi-faceted solution that’s incorporated Sharepoint, an Access database CRM, Microsoft Office 365 and Telstra’s Cloud services, all facilitated by the NBN at its main farm in Kalkee. The new solution replaced a “very basic” Excel spreadsheet process and allowed PB Seeds to manage customer orders, suppliers and track quality, all in near real time.
“And everything is attached to the line numbers, so that we’ve got full traceability back through the system for our products,” says Andrew.
“The speed of it has really excited some staff already. You know, it just makes their work easier when you’ve got the speed, compared to what we’re used to. And that’s a big plus.”
So the big question is, are the benefits of PB Seeds’ comprehensive solution resulting in a competitive advantage? Commercial manager Janine Sounness believes so.
“Definitely,” she says.
“We’re not fully abreast of what [the competition are] up to from an IT point of view, but we’re very, very happy with where we’re at with our efficiency gains that the NBN has enabled for us and the platform for our growth. PBSeeds are a grower and supplier of premium quality pulse grains (particularly lentils and chickpeas) to the food industry in Australia and for export.
“Our supply volumes are dictated by the weather as all our crops are naturally rain-fed. In some years our annual production can be half that of another year. Thus, business flexibility and efficiency is vital.”
“Technology is always changing, so it can seem hard to keep abreast of changes that may help your business and imagine what real difference it will make. Information and technology are powerful tools and if you can use the NBN to improve, streamline and speed up your business processes plus help your customers, then the benefits multiply so that’s terrific.”
“I have already had an interstate business colleague in a similar industry enquire about what we’ve done and keen to follow our lead,” Janine says.
And while some staff are already reaping the benefits, for Andrew the future looks even brighter.
“We’re only using so much of the functionalities at the moment,” he says.
“I think there’s a lot more work we can do on it, and if the NBN enables us to build a client relationship management system and record our conversations, [that’s a positive outcome]. The next phase for us with the NBN is to get our communications … residing in the same spot, so we know who said what to who and what the last conversation was.
“I would argue that we’ve got the scalability now, so if our business was to double we’ve got a platform to enable us to do that.”
It seems the future’s bright for PB Seeds.
Top tips for getting the most from the NBN
- Analyse your processes. Understand where pressure points are and where can be improved. For PB Seeds, this was in reducing its reliance on paper processes
- Find a solution that suits your needs. Get professional help to ascertain what can help you find your productivity sweet spot. This can be done through Telstra Business Centres for communication and technology requirements
- Find solutions that complement the speed of the NBN. The NBN empowers businesses to gain more visibility on their business, especially when coupled with cloud services and enterprise software. Exploring what can work with your NBN connection can help ensure you’re making the right decisions with the most up-to-date information