Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.

Universities missing a trick for generating revenue

Universities have always had a complex mission around the mix of what they do; from teaching through to research and community engagement. We’re now seeing a new type of demand – that of economic development.

For the Group of Eight and other Universities there’s going to be a growing focus on strengthening collaboration with business and contributing to productivity in the economy. International links also look set to contribute more significantly.

To gain a little more insight on where the potential lies both now and in the future, ahead of his presentation at Higher Education Funding,  I caught up with Robert Chalmers, Managing Director at Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Inc and Commercial Directors Convenor, Group of Eight.

What do you anticipate to be new funding streams on the horizon?

There is an increasing focus on accessing philanthropic funding streams within universities and we’ve seen a number of major fund raising campaigns launch recently. A number of others are now going through that same process.

Philanthropic funding will be more significant in the future. If you compare Australia to the US, we’re well behind the level of contribution of philanthropy to the funding mix that you might see in the US – I’ve no doubt that will be a big focus.

In response to reductions in funding from government, particularly from a Federal level, there is definitely a lift in interest accessing alternative funding from the private sector. Either from business, industry or venture, or from high net worth individuals.

On the outer edge of new funding streams, something that may not provide a major contribution initially, but will be part of the mix as we go forward, is crowd sourced funding.

Crowd sourcing has an impact beyond just the funding model in validating the promoted concept and improving engagement, but you certainly see the potential of that with things like Kickstarter, the use of Pozible by Deakin and so on. It’s still early days, small start, but into the future, it will be part of a hybrid of different funding streams universities will be juggling.

Do you see any common opportunities missed that could be generating revenue?

When we look at the broader issue of connection and value creation – rather than immediate revenue – the alumni connections are crying out for better engagement. I speak to a lot of people about these issues; all of us recognise that’s an area where universities are not harnessing the connections they build with their students, adequately, after their time with the institution – especially in the context of their commercial interactions.

What obstacles need to be overcome to release the potential for generating commercial interest?

I’d highlight three: awareness of existing successful stories of engagement and impact, awareness of the pathways to engagement, and the focus on areas of need.

Often, universities focus their marketing efforts around the teaching and learning part of the agenda; the students. We’re not so good at marketing the benefits of our research engagement, for our partners, our clients, and the broader community. We’ll talk to research quality and our research eminence, but we’re not systematically focused on talking to the end output or impact of that research and the impact of innovation on productivity.

As a result, people are not aware of what’s out there right now, and what’s making a difference; so they have less appetite to engage. We’re now working to target stories of impact in a digestible format to the person in the street.

We need to concentrate on identifying needs in the community, and bring those back into Universities, so that we can see how we can hook research capacity up to that need and produce a result.

What’s the current focus at Adelaide? Where are you targeting your efforts?

The promotional effort is a very important one for us as a sector, to engage better.

At Adelaide, we’re also looking at our international partnerships, especially the more promising ones, in areas like the US and China. International connections are one of the fastest growing areas of engagement and income. However, we still suffer from tyranny of distance, and there may be some cultural competencies that people need to develop a bit better to engage in the region.

We’ve also done a lot more joint networking sessions with industry associations – to try to bring researchers together with those needs in the industry. The aim is to reach out and understand what the needs are, and then connect capability to them.

4 marketing essentials from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn

Today marks the start of our 2014 Digital Financial Services Summit and as a content marketer it’s a personal favorite from our portfolio.

This morning kicked off with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook all talking about their latest developments and it was interesting stuff. It genuinely makes me excited to be working in this field.

There seemed to be some real change in the room from even just 12 months ago. People are really starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to smart, customer centric marketing models but a few key things really stood out.

The linear funnel is dead.

Ok, maybe that’s slightly dramatic but we can’t just move people down a linear path any more. Just like digital in its essence, we’re currently going through exponential growth in the way we service and market to customers. Connecting on a ‘flight path’ now seems more accurate than taking through a funnel.

For example, statistics demonstrate that people on average have taken themselves through 60 per cent of the overall buying cycle by the time they engage with a brand. Using a flight path approach will allow companies to connect across more or those touch points rather than assuming they can be pushed through a linear funnel. It also offers the best chance of being in mind before 60 per cent of the decision has been made.

It’s perhaps these sorts of statistics that drove Barclays Bank in the UK move 25 per cent of their service desks straight into one of the leading supermarkets, Asda.

Content is not.

Content marketing is the leading marketing tactic. It’s been around for years, probably around 150 but in 2014 the barrier is low and the ROI is high.

In Australia, Facebook users who log on everyday (85 per cent of overall users) log on 14 times. There’s a constant hunger for keeping updated and consuming knowledge.

Even on LinkedIn, well known as being a place of job opportunities – Content is currently viewed 7 times more than jobs posts on the platform.

So what’s going to make good content going forward? It’s still the same principle – helping someone and offering value. To tie in with the omni style flight path, and 50 per cent of traffic now through mobile, we’re going to see the rise of Big Rocks. In other words, those big pieces you can slice and dice 5-10 other ways. This generally starts with an eBook, but then splits into articles, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts etc.

We’ve still got emotions

Many a marketing team is trying to get a grasp on data, targeting, segmenting and creating various different buyer personas. However, some of the most successful marketing campaigns of the year have played more on our emotive sides, a reminder to never forget the powerful impacts a heartfelt campaign can have.

The latest example is the #TDThanksyou from Canadian Bank TD. And yes, I challenge you to watch it without shedding a tear – I failed (6 times). The video with the tagline ‘Sometimes you just want to say thank you’ has had over 10 million views and doesn’t play on any of the features the bank can offer with smart analytics or intelligent services. Nope it focuses on positive awareness and brand reputation, but I tell you what – I’d bank with them!

Mobile mobile mobile

I wish I’d started a kitty for $1 every time the word mobile was mentioned. Mobile has very much become our primary screen and we need to make sure every single landing page is optimized for that.

In any customer centric model, to be with the customer from the start of the journey, there absolutely has to be a massive focus on mobile. It’s about ‘information that moves with you’ – get that wrong and you’ve lost that customer forever.

Drawing on finance as an example, search results show that ‘home loan’ as a term was very much a Monday-Friday search. It completely dropped off at the weekend. However, we’re now seeing a consistent level of search results 7 days a week – this is causing the home lending companies to move into real estate listings to be there on the day as the person is looking at a house – being a mobile tap away from seeing if the buyer will be accepted for funds as the notion pops into their head.

Google are working on a next generation mobile concept for our everyday lives with phones connecting into the internet of things. ‘Project Tango’ (and you can find more here https://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/#project) uses visual cues to map out interactions. The goal of Project Tango is’ to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.’

Only time will tell the next big trends to make an impact, but no matter what tech occurs, it’s never been more important to start planning for being agile as a business. There are things that aren’t in the market yet, but the only way you can take advantage is to set a flexible working model now.

Last note – Did you know that if you’d have bought 100 bit coins in 2010, they’d be worth 761,000 now!?

Join the conversation @digifinance #digifinance

11 ways the University of Melbourne is blazing a trail for Campus Development

There is a lot to be excited about with the University of Melbourne’s new building known as the Melbourne School of Design.

On the surface alone, the building boasts a 6 Star Green Star Education Design rating. It’s the first building to ever be awarded all 10 innovation points under Green Star, including the recently added credits for life cycle assessment.

The 6 Star Rating represents ‘World Leadership’ in environmentally sustainable building practices. Only 12 buildings in Australia have received a 6 Star Green Star Education Design – v1 rating – the ABP building is the largest to achieve this.

I wanted to take a look under the bonnet of this impressive building, and recently caught up with Project Director Anne Thompson, who explored the key features paving the way for future global campus development:

Built Pedagogy:

  • The building provided an opportunity to express a commitment to built pedagogy, both in terms of design as well as through the construction process. The University has embraced the opportunity to engage with the students during the construction process. Project consultants John Wardle Architects have given lecture series to share the design process; Brookfield Multiplex builders have also delivered a regular construction lecture series.
  • Every fortnight we provided site tours for students and staff and a viewing platform was installed during the demolition phase for the Faculty to hold tutorials overlooking the site.
  • Three time lapse cameras positioned around the site have provided an amazing tool for lecturing, the project team and to capture this one off opportunity. This has been supplemented by actual construction drawings for students.
  • Focusing on sharing how we’re designing and building the new MSD Building has been an extremely rewarding endeavor, which means our students and staff are familiar with the building before they even move in. There is a general buzz of excitement in the Faculty hallways discussing the latest concrete pour and progress.

Campus Integration and Stakeholder relationships:

  • The team at FABP made a substantial commitment to market intelligence. Anne, the builders and even the Dean have frequently contributed to a public blog. It’s updated every few weeks and keeps people informed of progress.
  • The building program is four months ahead of schedule; quite a feat considering development took 18 months in total. The extra time is planned to be spent on specialist heritage reconstruction of the Japanese Room into a specially designed envelope, as well as commissioning and relocation of University staff. Classes start in earnest next year.
  • To match the flexible spaces in the building, the outdoor spaces have full Wi-Fi accessibility allowing tutorials to be delivered outside. This engagement with the campus is planned and driving mobility and collaboration across campus.
  • Beyond teaching, the Faculty is very active within the architecture community and the City of Melbourne; it will be a great space for exhibitions, displays and events, with spaces designed to be changed and tailored as needed.

World Leadership rating with 6 star Green Star achievements:

  • As part of the development, a few trees needed to be removed. The trees were salvaged, dried out and will be used as part of the planned Woodwork studios run by the Faculty, where students will use the timber for the new building. These memories and reuse of the old building materials are gentle reminders of the history of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
  • The building has a host of other features that helped achieve the 6 star rating including; mixed mode heating and cooling, double-glazing, glare reduction, rainwater collection, water recycling, low-energy light fittings, low-water sanitary fittings, levels of natural light, fresh air, bike storage facilities and showers.
  • ‘Innovation’ points were awarded for a pre-occupancy study of the building occupants, eliminating all car parking on the project site and preserving and integrating the National Trust-listed Joseph Reed façade.

Join Anne for a site tour of the new ABP building during Campus Development 2014. For more information, or to book your spot visitwww.campusdevelopment.com.au or call 02 9229 1000.

Free Blended Learning Webinar: It’s question time.

Watching one of those television debates recently, an idea popped into my head. The thought of having  industry experts answering the hot questions from their peers struck a bit of an intrigue chord.

Shortly after, I started working on our Blended Learning event. I’ve always been a big fan of our eduction portfolio – the pace of change is rapid and it’s pretty inspiring to see the fundamentals of teaching and learning transform.

So that’s how the Blended Learning 2014 Webinar was born. It’s pretty straight forward, it’s free to watch and get involved, and we’ll do the hard work by providing an awesome expert panel.

And here it is… Be sure to register and get involved, we’ve had over 300 registrants so far and we’re getting pretty excited:

Ahead of the 3rd Annual Blended Learning Summit we’ve gathered a few of our speakers, leading experts on blended learning practices, to discuss some of the most pertinent topics when it comes to implementing, transitioning and executing a flexible learning program.

We’ll also be taking your questions to be answered during the webinar so if you have a burning question be sure to let us know.

The webinar will be held on 16 July 2014 from 12-1PM (Eastern Standard Time)

What topics will be discussed in the webinar? (15 min each)

  • Implementing flexible learning
  • Managing the change
  • Putting it into practice
  • Q&A

Register for the free Blended Learning Webinar
You will be able to submit your questions upon registering

Our expert webinar panel:

Associate Professor Angela Carbone
Director, Distinguished National Senior Teaching Fellow, Education Excellence
Monash University
Gilly Salmon
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Learning Transformations
Swinburne University of Technology
Cathy Gunn
‎Deputy Director and Head of the eLearning Group, CLeaR
The University of Auckland

8 lessons learnt from dredging projects

There’s no shortage of hold-ups when it comes to dredging projects, with such a big industry, Australia is full of them. Ahead of Dredging and Reclamation 2014, I caught up with a few project leaders to see where mistakes have been made. Some key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you:

Mapping is key

Financial considerations are hard to overestimate in any project. Developers can often be unwilling to spend money on mapping and monitoring, instead opting for the simplest possible technique. Unfortunately, as you go down the line with this approach, there’s still some surprise when the approvals get rejected. Without the right equipment, the operation tends to go over thresholds or other similar measurements. In the field, the simplest technique doesn’t give you the answer all the time. You’ll only end up having to spend your money on fines and delays instead. Be one step ahead of the regulators and the public.

Transferring risk can end up costing big bucks

Dredging project owners are always looking to reduce their risk, trying to create contracts that transfer risk to the dredging contractor and it doesn’t work. A contractor can decide at some point that they haven’t made enough money, pick an area of AS 2124 and attack it and make a claim. If multiple contractors operate within a wharf or similar structure at the same time, this can cause access issues and lead to further claims.

There’s an illusion in the current way contracts are done that risk can be transferred from the project owner. Whilst this may save short term costs, it can lead to substantial cost and time delays down the line.

Owners still have a lack of experience in terms of practical dredging knowledge. Most teams have a procurement unit working in isolation and independently of everyone else, which leads to a single vision. Risk becomes points on a paper inside a contract that becomes transferred rather than dealt with from a practical view.

Communication is top priority

It seems obvious, but it’s still an area that leads to many issues throughout the dredging process. This is crucial both for contract relationships and to avoid delays and disputes from stakeholders.

Collaboration, partnership, and being able to see another person’s perspective is key. Building a rapport builds confidence and trust that the contract and project is being handled responsibly – work together early and often, both at the project level and more broadly.

Good planning up front and a robust assessment of baseline environmental conditions needs to be locked in. Have a very well defined project description early on and don’t change it. All of those things will help approvals, stakeholder communication and consultation.

The ‘unforeseen’ can be avoided

If you’re acting for the Principal, start thinking about the likelihood of unexpected conditions at the early feasibility stage of a project right up to when you select a tenderer. After selecting a tenderer and the Contractor is working on site, you lose much of the power to influence. Take steps to identify possible latent conditions at any early stage, before you’re confronted with them during project execution.

Latent conditions need to be managed

If a Principal is faced with a more complex project with varying soil and rock types, then it is well advised to carry out a more thorough investigation to lower the risk of not detecting a latent condition. Obviously there is a cut off; a Principal can’t investigate every cubic meter for the planned Project.

Any site investigation can only be a representation of anticipated subsurface conditions. Principals should always aim to reduce the risk to an acceptable degree. Consider Early Contractor Involvement with the scope of the planned site investigation.

Geotechnical modelling has huge potential

 

Both the Principal and the Contractor should formulate a robust 3D geotechnical model of the likely subsurface conditions. The model can determine what materials you are likely to encounter in different types and categories.

The Principal’s consultant and the Contractor’s production estimator can then calculate the derived productions fairly accurately. If a latent condition is encountered, a geotechnical model can provide the parties with a benchmark to calculate where the differences are. Be wary of interpretation – different biases can lead to issues.

Take proactive measures

A proactive way of dealing with disputes as they arise is needed. A dispute board can be selected for their knowledge and expertise before any dispute has arisen. By undertaking an on-going relationship and regular site visits, the dispute board will acquire a good working knowledge of the project. When a dispute arises, the dispute board will have a much better understanding than a court or arbitral tribunal, which will only be appointed after a dispute has arisen.

Keep learning and evolving

The fundamental of dredging is that you dig the stuff up out of the ground and put it somewhere – that hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way that you do it, and that’s driven from environmental approvals.

The management of reclamation areas has improved enormously, and understanding how to minimise the amount of turbidity or sediments that get back into the environment. That’s going to become much more important as work is done in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Innovation will be dealing with the conditions and coming up with the best outcome using all of your knowledge and resources available to come up with a solution.

The Dredging and Reclamation conference has been developed as a value creation forum where knowledge, new ideas, best practice and real world learning experiences can be shared amongst other dredging professionals. Providing key case studies from leading practitioners, the conference will share insight into Australia’s most exciting dredging projects in the planning, design or development stages.

Find out more by visiting www.dredgingandreclamation.com.au or call 02 9229 1090.

Facebook on a quest to revolutionize financial services marketing

With 12 million users in Australia, Facebook has developed into a core marketing platform to help organisations achieve their business objectives.

The organisation has been through a bit of a transformation of late, with the initial focus being the social networking customer experience – adding features to revolutionise the way we communicate and share with each other. Now though, the spotlight is well and truly on the business world, to leverage the wealth of information Facebook holds to drive efficiency and experience for financial services.

Here in Australia, Paul McCroy joined the Facebook team 12 months ago and his role as Head of Travel and Finance tasked him with the objective to build a team that can work closely with financial services to use Facebook. Paul explains: “It started with the team we created. We’ve hired a group of people to really understand the problems industry is faced with; we have people who worked in finance now working for us. It’s a constant focus to understand the problems faced by industry and build our Facebook platform to solve those problems. From there we want to work closely with financial services here in Australia to help them use Facebook in the best way possible.”

Whilst some of the big four were initially sceptical about the potential threat of Facebook in the financial services arena, the social networking giant has insisted they want to grow new users and enhance experience, rather than create banking services of its own.

Mobile

There’s a huge focus on mobile and it’s clear to see why. Digital advertising overtook traditional advertising for the first time last year, drive mainly by the onset of mobile. With 10 million active daily users and 85 per cent accessing via mobile devices – it’s easy to see where the potential lies for many a marketing team. Paul explains:

“Digital has overtaken television and mobile is the new upstart. Facebook became a mobile first business two years ago, transforming from desktop. Here in Australia, there’s a higher mobile percentage than any other developed country. Facebook represents an opportunity to take advantage of the fact that more people are consuming media on mobile phones.”

It’s this drive to mobile that’s seen a surge in app development over recent years, with the finance industry among the top performers for app engagement, providing customers with ease of access like never before. But with many banks allocating huge resources to develop their own assets, is there really any need to tap into the Facebook pool? Paul explained where the potential lies:

“One of the immediate benefits is the opportunity to capitalise on the trend. Mobile Banking was developed to service the customers where they are. It is also the most cost efficient way to service customers and has been quoted by Mckinsey as 1/8 the cost of servicing via the call centre.

“One in every five minutes on a mobile phone is spent on Facebook properties. When you want to speak to people who are on a phone, Facebook is where you should go. Our biggest growth area is banks taking their apps to our platform and promoting their advert in front of their customers. Customers then go and install that app unit. In terms of results, we’re the most cost effective for getting apps installed – 30 to 40 per cent of app installs come from Facebook.”

“Phase two is where the banks have people with the app installed, but they’re not necessarily engaged. We have developed a tool that helps with app engagement. Essentially, once it’s installed, you continuously re-engage them so that they use it as a utility. By them frequently engaging on the app, it takes the pressure off the contact centre and service channels, so the overall experience has been a success.”

Easing data concerns

There are some real alarm bells that often get triggered thanks to some serious spotlight on large data companies like Facebook and Google. Naturally an integrated banking service would lead to some data concerns, an area Paul insists is at the core of that they do:

“We don’t give anybody data. We have 12 million Australian users who do a lot of things on our platform. What we do is provide a targeting interface to enable advertisements to people that fit their interest behaviour. That data is never given back to an advertiser, it stays with us. Our primary goal is privacy. We’re one of the largest data companies the world has and will ever see. Everything we do is about keeping our site secure. It works well with banks, as it’s exactly the same as what they do. Whilst some people see data as a problem, we see it as a really nice fit.”

 Driving experience and efficiency

The team at Facebook are already seeing results creating unique experiences by targeting the right people, with the right content, on the right platform.

“When it’s done well, the conversions are huge. There are key challenges facing industry right now – efficiency, scalability and profitability.

We know certain media channels are becoming more expensive, every company in the world wants to achieve their goals in a more efficient manner. Where in the world is there more scale and engagement than Facebook? Our users are very engaged and it’s a huge opportunity to reach your customers and prospects at scale.”

Paul will be speaking at Digital Financial Services 2014: “I want to impart some of that knowledge to the audience and provide real life examples. A big thing we want to bring is what we see trending and how we can work with you to capitalise on some of those trends. We’ll also take a look at what we’re developing in the future.”

Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or follow @digifinance for more information on the event.

View the full interview with Paul here: http://youtu.be/t196-WP4_8U