Groceries, robots and a Hisense TV

As the Australian market remains buoyant with digital and mobile driving demands, I am pleased to say that the building blocks put in place at M&T Resources three years ago are now reaping some rewards. The thing is, ‘skills shortage’ will continue to be bandied about. Sure, we’re now experiencing the great digital transformation and data / intelligence, but there’re more technological trends coming our way, including Internet of Things and robotics, that will add to our talent problems.

Addressing the shortage starts with both recruitment firms and employers thinking more about earlier ‘intervention’. That means training and development, and encouraging more IT uptake. Nowhere is this more pertinent than in addressing the shortage women in IT – a topic close to my heart and that of M&T Resources’. Our DIVERSITY event in 2014 that featured the Hon. Anna Bligh kicked off our partnership with the YWCA NSW – where we intend to do more through their education programs to widen children’s career choices. How can we get more children, especially girls, to explore their potential in information technology, beyond the usual career paths of doctors, nurses, lawyers, and engineers? The exploration that goes on today probably extends to just the iPad or Xbox!

With that said, a lot of our clients are concerned about attracting and retaining the best. With demand outstripping supply at the moment, candidates are better-placed to choose. And as the MD of a recruitment firm, I know first-hand how easy it is for other firms to poach great people with money.

However, money is a short term fix – it can’t be the ‘retention strategy’. Candidates today also care less about working for large, well-known companies. In raising the retention rate of M&T staff to an average of 3.3 years (even though we have many new hires in the past year), the most important part of retention is culture. Culture creates the right environment that empowers people to achieve greater success. Instils work flexibility that is increasingly valued by candidates. Creates a learning environment backed by proper career development and training. Culture starts from the top, so as a leader, are you behaving in a way that nurtures a conducive working environment? Would potential candidates want to work with you?

In the past 12 months, the leadership team at M&T Resources started on management development programs which include executive coaching and mentoring. We want to have the best leadership team in the industry that potential employees want to work with. And we want to provide the best training and development opportunities –not just putting people in jobs, leaving them on their own and expecting great results.

Another persistent topic today is data and analytics. Majority of our clients are still struggling with getting more out of it. Where to start? What data to look at? How to get more actionable insights? This is where being part of SMS Consulting is truly beneficial. Being able to lean on the talented people in SMS’ Information & Data Management practice has helped us better understand and serve the needs of our clients. But I still can’t shake off the thought that there’s still so much more possibilities to leverage data. For example, I shop at my local Woollies every week, mostly buying the same grocery items. How about suggesting to get those same items delivered to me automatically? Saving me time and effort in today’s world would go a long way in ensuring my loyalty!

Over the Christmas break, I spent some time in Sydney and also travelled to Bangkok. This gave me vastly different perspectives on two cities; one that I have lived in for 14 years and one entirely new to me. Those who have visited Bangkok before would perhaps understand my initial admiration – amidst poverty and slums are great big buildings more modern and the ones in Sydney built by high-tech machineries. This made me wonder – where are the robots that we were promised in sci-fi magazines in the past? The robots to help you run your household, cook you dinner, serve you in restaurants. Google’s getting there with their driverless car. And I have no doubts that robotics will hit the big time in style.

Which makes me somehow wonder about the role of the TV in our lives. On one hand, it seems like such an ancient device. Sure, there are some evolutions in picture quality, pixel count, sound, but overall, it is still just playing the role of streaming videos into your home. Manufacturers keep rolling new models out, people keep buying them. The saturation of the product has meant there are really minor differences between brands. Case in point, instead of a Samsung or Sony, I recently bought a Hisense. Any difference? Not that I can tell.

With Apple TV’s ‘non-event’ in recent years, when and how can the TV play a bigger role in our lives? Will it be the main control panel for our living room? Will we use it to order the order to cook us dinner? Bring on the Internet of Things to the TV!

So I enter 2015 with lots of questions but also lots of excitement, in the world of technology in general and also in the further development of a company that has huge potential and one I am proud to lead.