14 Things you didn’t know about Cloudera

It’s fair that we can’t really start this without a little introduction to Cloudera. They were really bumped up our radar this year after topping $100 million in revenue in 2015.

Founded in 2008, Cloudera was the first, and is currently, the leading provider and supporter of Apache Hadoop for the enterprise. Cloudera also offers software for business critical data challenges including storage, access, management, analysis, security, and search.

  • Cloudera added 264 new software subscription customers in FY 2015 (which ended in January 2015) for a total customer count of 535.
  • Cloudera has over 1,400 partners, around 800 are systems integrators/professional services firms.
  • The company plans to shift is messaging away from the underlying technology and towards business use cases/outcomes. It is focusing its go-to-market efforts on two specific vertical industries – financial services and telecommunications – and on large enterprises with $1 billion-plus in annual revenue.
  • Once of the co-founders Mike Olsen is a pretty interesting fella. In a recent interview he revealed his dad has one of the very first Apple Computers “When I was growing up, my stepdad bought an Apple II computer. Serial number 125 – built by the Steves in a garage. That’s how I learned to computer program around 1976- ­77.”
  • Mike was also a Mexican chef who dropped out of Berkley – He was doing a PhD when he realised he didn’t like research half as much as he liked his team so left to join Illustra. (The Mexican Chef part came during some travels on a first break from Berkley).
  • It all started with Hadoop – Facebooks, Jeff Hammerbacher, Yahoo’s Amr Awadallah, and Google’s Christoph Bisciglia from Google all joined Mike in their excitement around Hadoop – and Cloudera was formed.
  • Hadoop is a technology invented by Google in the early 2000s. It was initially created to help sell more advertisements but quickly became transportable to other industries as a data management solution.
  • Hadoop refers to an open source file distribution system and job scheduler that distributes data analysis jobs over infinitely large numbers of small servers to process data-intensive queries at high speed. Hadoop is available free under the Apache open source license, but has also found its way into the enterprise via paid, supported distributions.
  • Cloudera announced it was launching in Australia in 2013, choosing Australia as the centre of Cloudera’s APAC efforts because the “language is easy, and the business culture, legal and financial infrastructure is the right fit”.
  • The market for big data technology is growing rapidly. In 2014, Cloudera closed a $US900 million funding round, $US740 million of it from Intel which now has an 18 per cent stake. The money was assigned to help Cloudera build its share in a highly contested and rapidly expanding market.
  • The company’s regional operations are run by Sydney-based Chris Poulos, vice president for Asia Pacific and Japan who said he already had a number of people in sales, engineering and support in Australia. He has a positive take on the Australian market: “Australia seems to be the leader in adoption of the big data, especially by large corporations. They have already done their skunkworks projects and are now moving to the next level.
  • In 2014 Cloudera, now the leader in enterprise analytic data management powered by Apache Hadoop, named to Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America. Cloudera was ranked 36th on the list with over 4,439% growth over the past five years.
  • Cloudera expanded its partner program, Cloudera Connect, by 78% during last year, announcing partnerships with Accenture, Capgemini, Dell, EMC Isilon, Informatica, Intel, Microsoft, MongoDB, NEC, Red Hat, SAP, Teradata, and others to accelerate the deployment of Hadoop. The Cloudera partner ecosystem, the largest in the industry, expanded beyond 1,450 companies.
  • They look for unique traits in their talent. Two key principles stood out – 1) Does this person fit with the rest of the team. No matter how skilled you are, if it’s not a team fit they’re not interested. 2)  Has this person done surprising things? Olsen told the story on his blog of an interview for a sales candidate – “I interviewed a candidate who’d had a long and successful run as a salesman for large enterprise software companies. That’s our profile. We see a lot of those candidates. This person, though, stood out from the crowd easily. After several years of success and great paychecks in sales, he’d quit his job for a couple years, studied and mastered Transcendental Meditation and trekked to Pakistan to climb K2. He succeeded in summiting the mountain and continues to practice TM today. With those experiences, and somewhat short of money, he went back to work selling software – We hired him.

Check out Mike’s full profile here.

Follow stories from the latest tech brands here. 

How to know if you’re the right fit for a fast growth company.

There’s a lot of buzz, myth and speculation around what it’s like to work in a fast growth or start-up company.

I came across a lot of material around culture, but not so much about career experience. So I had a dig around to get some real insight on working for a company that’s growing pretty fast.

The experience.

Without a doubt you’ll learn heaps – A common theme from everyone that’s worked in a start-up, whether they’ve enjoyed it or not, they’ve learnt loads. By loads I’m talking more in two months than the previous five years.

A start-up forces you to adopt new skills and responsibilities to make up for the big challenges that come with building a really successful business.

The pay-off – experience in all areas of the business and much more responsibility – you can find yourself in a powerful position when it comes time to move on.

No longer a small cog in a large machine – everything you do has impact, but this means it’s time to say goodbye to having a safety blanket. Want to contribute to success or even failure? Small companies will help you focus and push yourself – helping you to become a real problem solver and thinking of creative ways to get there.

The pay-off: you’ll often get to see results first-hand and share in the rewards and glory.

Surrounded by bright sparks – Perhaps one of the most often overlooked rewards is the team that you’ve joined. How many people work with passionate and enthusiastic team players every single day? This can spark inspiration on every level, leading to truly innovative ideas that helps the business stand out against competitors in the greater industry.

The pay-off: The opportunity to work alongside an entrepreneur is a big one — they identify a problem and find a new efficient way to solve it – you’d be part of that.

It’s not forever – If you’re looking for a comfy job with routine and regularity then you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s important to think about the day to day nature of the above and think about whether it’s for you. Joining a company that’s growing quickly gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

Joining a start-up gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

The pay-off: Working in a start-up is the ideal place to educate yourself on how to set goals, execute strategies, take your product to market and implement strong business operations.

Knowing if you have the right skills.

So you’re still weighing up if these organisations are right for you? I spoke to some of our top talent in Australia and they shared these traits needed to thrive:

Inquisition – Explore your options to find the exact best match for you. Fast growth organisations are not all the same and often have different models and very different products – take your time to find the perfect match as you’ll need to be passionate about the job you’re about to take on.

Judgment: Chances are you’re going to be figuring out a lot for yourself so you need to like making decisions that sometimes shooting in the dark. You show up for work and can sense what needs to be done without being told, and you do it.

Communication: Email, phone, face to face, pressure, sometimes chaos – You maintain calm poise and find a way forward. You aren’t alarmed by people throwing things in your direction – you can motivate yourself and teach others to join you.

Curiosity: You like to give things a go and test outcomes outside of your (and often your teams) comfort zone. You seek out the opportunity to learn. You avoid boredom and routine. You’re willing to keep trying and failing.

Courage: You’re going to stand up for what you believe is right – if you think the company is going in a direction that conflicts with it’s shared values, you’re going to voice your concerns and communicate your argument. On the other side of the coin – you’ll also be able to push forward when you don’t always agree with a day-to- day decision.

Passion: You’ll be signed up to publications and build networks of the industry you’re working in. You’ll be out and about at events when you can and reading the latest trends reports because you want to – not because you need to. It’s this passion that will help you identify problems in your own day to day operations and inspire to create industry leading solutions.

Do you work in a fast growth or start up company? I’d be keen to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Keep yourself in the know over the coming month as we’ll be following the hottest brands launching in Australia and sharing exclusive career insights with you. Sound like your cup of tea?

Yes please. 

We’re in the middle of a big sales shake up

There’s been a bit of buzz around ‘Inside Sales’. It’s a role that’s potentially supersized the growth of many a SaaS organisation over recent years.

It’s also been a bit of a game changer for careers. The notion is a fairly simple one.

Sales—especially B2B sales—is currently undergoing a transformation. As customers become more spread out and remote, sales models are having to act. We’re seeing a big increase in companies invest in a new sales models that involves high touch transactions. It’s been defined as ‘Inside Sales’ and it’s pretty popular with B2C and B2C companies selling high ticket services.

The nature of services offered by SaaS companies is often a fairly complex sell – it requires a relationship beyond traditional transaction.

Engagement, trust, genuine interest in what a company is trying to achieve is the new norm when making a sale.

Customers now have a cycle, and it’s not just a linear path – multiple touch points at multiple stages has put a strong emphases on Sales and Marketing working as one smooth transaction.

The inside sales model is often more cost-effective as a result of advances in sales technology as there’s capability to interact with a higher volume of leads.

Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics recently explained: “Enterprise sales are changing. People are busier than ever: they don’t want to take time out of their day to meet with a sales rep in their office. Fact is, they’d rather be at home with their family than getting wined and dined by someone they don’t know.

The upshot is that they’re willing to cut large checks without ever having a face-to-face meeting with anyone from your company. I’m paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on Salesforce.com and I’ve never met a sales rep in person.

Let’s face it, the CIO is no longer the only person who matters when making technology buy decisions. Demand tends to be driven from the bottom up by people who need, or already use, your product.

So focus on inside sales. We use a hybrid model that’s 90/10 inside/direct. We do million-dollar deals over the phone and use an in-person meeting to close. It cuts costs and our sales reps are twice as productive when they’re in the office.

We hire people who can have high-level conversations with executives and not embarrass us, but who are hungry and scrappy enough to get on the phone and figure out how to navigate the customer’s organization.”

It’s a big shift for sales teams, practically eliminating the need for a cold call. The conversations themselves are also well informed thanks to smart CRM and marketing automation tools. Hard, cold calling is being replaced with engaging, valuable conversation.

A few things you should know about inside sales:

How it took off – Helming a cash-strapped startup, CEO Marc Benioff pioneered several inside sales techniques out of necessity. Perhaps the most prominent example was the company’s offer of free online trials that required no prior contact with a sales rep.

Common job functions:
Sales prospecting
Inbound Sales
Lead Qualification
CRM data logging.

The bigger picture -The alignment between sales and marketing ensures that marketing focuses on the best performing leads in the funnel. Sales reps can interject with a call and close a deal without even leaving the office.

The key to success: Trust. There’s no use in having a world of information if it’s not used in communication. It’s down to the sales team to earn the trust of a prospect and gain an in-depth understanding of their overall business goals.

The right fit: It’s a pretty unique balance of skills for the role covering a large set. Reps combine phone, email and digital or social skills with the more persuasive and target driven skills of a sales rep. It’s a great opportunity to craft skills along the entire sales process from prospecting to researching to presenting to negotiating.

Future leaders: Inside sales leaders of the future need to be people-focused. They need to understand the required skills and competencies. Common paths from inside sales lead to senior inside sales role dealing with larger value deals or field sales BDM.

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

Old Aussie buildings… Don’t write them off just yet

The spotlight is well and truly on retro & refurb as Australia is poised to reduce energy emissions, operational costs and get smarter with space. But why is it so important now? How can technology help? Where do we keep making mistakes? And what can be done to make sure our older buildings stand out? We sought the expert’s insight from Caimin McCabe, Director, Cundall Australia ahead of his presentation at Retrfit & Refurb 2014

What would you say are the key drivers prompting property owners and investors to start thinking about retrofitting their own buildings?

There are a few key areas here:

  • In the building owner’s mind is asset repositioning or increasing asset value. They want to create a better asset and establish a point of difference from the competition.
  • The asset valuation might be done as a direct result of current operational costs to try and reduce the running costs of those buildings.
  • Retention is an increasing driver for retrofitting. Particularly in Grade B, C and D buildings where there’s a lot more competition for tenants. When their leases come up for renewal, they start to reflect upon whether they want to stay or if they’ll get a better deal elsewhere.
  • Flexibility is another area we’re seeing as a driver. There are increasing numbers of smaller entities who want smaller space in good locations, leading to a need to accommodate multiple (small) tenancies on each floor – particularly within Grade B, C & D buildings.
  • In the back of people’s mind whilst doing this are issues like NABERS Energy performance to see if it can be improved.

How are technologies and new approaches being used to improve environmental and operational performance of existing buildings?

I’d say the best bang for buck is actually looking at control upgrades and getting the building management system to actually do what it should be doing. Look at sub-metering to actually monitor where energy is being used; target reduction rather than assumptions.

The market is obviously seeing a lot of new technologies emerge, as well as enhancements to existing buildings including classic co-generation and tri-generation. In reality though, existing buildings can often find this difficult to accommodate as they don’t tend to have plant rooms available…

What’s quite important to us is it’s not just doing it for the environmental sake; the economics of decision making is equally important. Greater equipment efficiency and operation need to be considered..

Engaging the ‘right’ technical advisor or engineer to work alongside building or facility management in terms of the operational tuning is also key. The trick is to ensure this happens on an on-going basis in lieu of a one-off assessment.

We’re also seeing consultants and facility managers use big data analytics software to assess controls and trend log profiles in real-time to identify ‘rogue’ systems and control issues.

We’ve also found (and this is probably part of the whole-of-life approach) that there’s a tendency to ignore the façade. We’ve had some really good success on buildings where we’ve taken a step back and looked at the building as a whole and said: ‘Rather than just going in there and doing the engineering, we’ll check the whole façade.

We recently took this approach in a project that was focused on the chiller, in which we made many changes to the façade. This resulted in no need for a replacement chiller.

We re-commissioned and put in some new technology components, like diffusers to improve the air quality – we moved the pot of money around. In the end we got the building from its one star NABERS to a four star NABERS. We also significantly improved the indoor environmental quality of the building, so now the building is actually liked, not hated.

You might have an efficient building, but if you don’t want to work there, it doesn’t really matter.

Property owners of B, C and D grade buildings are under pressure to evaluate cost benefits. What are the key areas that need to be addressed during business case development to ensure ROI?

The interesting thing is, embarrassingly to some of the newer buildings, some of the older buildings actually have better performance. Just because they’re old doesn’t mean they’re bad. There is a trend in industry generally that new is good and actually sometimes old is better.

A lot of the old buildings are designed more with passive design in mind. The level of glazing, for example, in an existing building is generally a lot lower than on a new building. Our own office here has only 25 per cent glass, but we’ve got more daylight in our office than we would have if we were actually in a new building. This is because of how it’s introduced and how it’s used. The are a lot of advantages to those buildings which are not traditionally marketed or sold, which is why I talk about the whole building approach. It’s stepping back and asking: ‘What are the attributes? What are the benefits? How do I enhance them and connect the tenant to those benefits relative to other buildings?’

It’s important to realise there’s no silver bullet – if somebody’s trying to tell you that there is, don’t believe them. Every building is unique – there isn’t one size fits all. You have to judge each building on its own in terms of what’s there, but the approach needs to reflect the energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and the attributes that the building actually has.

Depending on the asset location and target market, the argument isn’t about ROI, but more towards differentiation from competing Grade B, C & D buildings.

Building owners are typically looking only at rent; they’re not considering the quality of the environment they’re in. That’s where I suppose our role is, along with other colleagues, to try and highlight what the building could be for them.

The real risk is what happens if the landlord decides on doing nothing. The danger for the landlord is that they are then left with looking at costly incentives for tenant’s attraction or attention. They’ve potentially got higher vacancy and operating costs weighing down the asset value. They could even be breaching bank covenants as they’re not actually getting the returns. In our mind, doing nothing for an asset owner of a B, C or D grade building in the marketplace is not really an option any more – they just need to sit back and determine how they want to do this and how to reposition the asset.

A major retrofitting and refurbishment project will encounter many challenges across the design and delivery phases. From your experience, what would you say are the main barriers that prevent people from achieving their aspirations on a re-lifting project?

A few areas here also:

  • Existing site or services infrastructure might not be sufficient to achieve required outcomes – there could be limitations inherent within the building.
  • Working around existing tenants can also be problematic and might limit the extent or timing of works that can be done to retain a ‘live’ building.
  • Availability of financing will always be an issue. There’s also a lack of understanding on the alternative funding mechanisms, such as an Environmental Upgrades Agreement (EUA).
  • The return on investment could also be perceived to be too low to actually do the work. In terms of guaranteeing better rents, it’s impossible to do that. We find there’s a tendency to jump in legs first without spending enough time doing the upfront assessment and design stated. When you start to do the actual work, you expose issues you weren’t aware of because the due diligence wasn’t done at the beginning. This in turn might result in costly mistakes (affecting overall budget) and subsequent cut backs or reduction in scope as part of a value engineering response.

5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

I’ve been working in the Australian healthcare industry for a few years now, and in all honesty, it’s slow progress. When it comes to tackling the critical long term challenges to fix some major holes in the healthcare system, it starts from the ground up.

During Australian Healthcare Week 2014, we thought it was time to get some of the Australian healthcare leaders in a room to discuss some of the key burning questions on everyone’s lips.

Several clear areas stood out, so here they are – the five questions that everyone in healthcare should be thinking about to revolutionise our system and drive real positive change.

So who was involved?

  • Leonie Hobbs, Senior Consultant, Carramar Consulting
  • Kathy Campbell, ICT Manager, VCCC
  • Rob Clarke, WSP Independent
  • David Johnston , eHealth Consultant,
  • Claire GrooMbridge, Facility Planner, Hunter New England Local Health District
  • Sandra Roggeveen, CEO, Dzhon
  • Stanton Kroenert, Manager, Woods Bagot
  • Damien Crough, Business Development Manager, Hickory Group
  • Ian Mitchell, Principal, Conrad Gargett Riddel
  • Don Garner, Group Leader – Health, Sinclair Knight Merz
  • John Goodchap, National Manager – Health, Hansen Yuncken
  • Steve Trevenar, Head of Business & Strategy Healthcare & Scientific Research, Lend Lease
  • Debra Barbas, Clinical Services Manager, St John of God Murdoch Hospital
  • Rohan Wilson, Architectural Director, DesignInc
  • Mark Halpin, Director – Infrastructure Management, The Townsville Hospital

Where should the money be going?

  • It doesn’t grow on trees

The Australian dollar is limited; nationally we spend $130 billion dollars a year on healthcare, which is 10 per cent of GDP. With substantial cuts announced in the Budget, it’s clear the pot isn’t getting any bigger. So where should we be spending the money? And perhaps more importantly – where are we going to get it from?

One of the biggest challenges is making sure the funds go where they will have the most benefit; it’s not necessarily the specialist treatments and big exciting stuff. There are two sides to this coin. Firstly, who should get treatment and who shouldn’t; secondly, we need to stop focusing on sickness and focus on health.

The table discussion centred primarily on the last 10 per cent of people’s lives and those that lead an unhealthy lifestyle, leaving the two intrinsically linked.

We’re currently spending 90 per cent of funding on that last 10 per cent. We’re also focusing on funding facilities, with not enough action being taken to manage demand.

The simple truth is, the growth rate is unsustainable and people’s lifestyle choices are smashing acute health services.

Some major reform is needed to incentivise people to stay healthy. Our current spend needs to be shifted; all agree that it’s currently imbalanced. Chronic Disease management was also thrown into the mix as a better way to spend money, with more of a focus on long term quality life.

Whether this starts with taxes on unhealthy foods, in a similar manner to cigarettes and alcohol, or wider initiatives around the planning and development stages of community – building in the opportunity for healthy lifestyles.

  • Shifting public perception

The general consensus is that people have the wrong perception of healthcare.

We all enjoy and expect good quality healthcare in Australia, but as we know, it’s not sustainable.

Although the national reform agenda is seeing small amounts of change, it’s nowhere near where we need to be.

One of the potential solutions comes in the form of private health and private insurance. More competition in the area enables it to be available at a reasonable cost. Previously seen as a luxury for the wealthy, few have a realistic concept of the cost.

  • Getting money into the system

As announced in the Budget, the Federal Government could potentially widen the gap to accessible healthcare with confirmation that patients will be charged with a GP tax.

The Government confirmed in its Budget announcement that the much speculated and controversial general practice co-payment model will be implemented.

From July 1, 2015, visits to the doctor will cost everybody $7 with the introduction of a Medicare co-payment. The co-payment will be waived for children and those on concessions only after 10 visits a year. The co-payment will raise $3.4 billion in the first four years, while upfront payments and a tightening of eligibility for the prescription drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will raise another $1.3 billion.

It’s the continuation of a long debate around co-payment.

Another $1.6 billion will be cut from health by freezing indexation of income thresholds, which determine eligibility for the private health insurance rebate, the Medicare Levy surcharge and other Medicare services.

There are a few problems hindering injections of cash into the health system; inefficiencies from whole-of-regime litigation, excessive tests, limited working hours and supply and demand from private insurers.

The group explored one of the key areas – working hours.

Many facilities are still limited by the 8-5 pool, leaving people with no choice other than to go to hospital. Can we have 24-hour general practices, reducing the demand on hospitals in the same way many health insurers do?

If the health facility functioned on a 7-day-a-week approach with staffing and services, would we be able to provide better care and reap back costs that outweigh operational running fees?

The day public facilities expand the operating hours is the day we can stop building new operating theatres. There’s a trend for more 24/7 facilities – let’s fund the infrastructure but then use it efficiently. A private facility in Brisbane ran its MRI 24/7 – ends up being cheaper to come after-hours.

Public health is getting better with new targets, but it’s some of these efficiency-driving measures that could make the real difference…a little more on that later.

Want to know the other 4? Read the full report here: 5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

5Q

It’s time for simulation modelling to shine

With a push for productivity improvement and cost reduction across the resource sector, simulation modelling has come under the spotlight as a method to help reach that goal. Previously used as a support tool, some resource companies are starting to drive modelling in new holistic and strategic directions.

The big players in the market are exploring programmes that align various parts of the business. One example is Rio Tinto’s ‘Integrated Value Chain Engagement Project’, which focuses on modelling to support integrated value chain analysis (running scenarios and establishing sensitivities throughout the whole process) and supports expansion projects (giving expected outcomes and establishing red flag areas).

The benefits

Jacob Rousseau, Simulation Engineer at Rio Tinto explains: “Our medium term mine planners go out and put together a mine plan for a site. We’ll then create a map of the site and analyse how it’s going to operate for the first 12 months. Essentially, we add their plans into our models and play it through – we can easily highlight potential flaws or problems which gives us a clear picture of the next year.”

This process acts as decision support, identifying the best approach for bottlenecks as mine engineers and managers might have different ideas on how to unlock value from the process. Simulation modelling enables mine sites to test each solution through the system.

As the decade-long mining expansion is starting to slow down, the emphasis on scenario testing has turned to upcoming projects and ensuring a streamlined operation.

“We’ve all heard the two buzz words; productivity improvement and cost reduction. We have a lot of projects that are still set to be built so we’re really focusing on how they can be more productive and improve output over input.

“Modelling allows us to look at where we can make improvements to each process, so if I have a truck, how can I get that truck to give me a little bit more stuff without buying another truck; or at this process plant, how can I make more use of the time that we don’t use the plant and maybe use it better etc.. There are improvement initiatives happening across most of the business units, especially in iron ore.”

In addition to value chain process improvements, there are some real cost savings to be made from modelling. One of the positives of running such a large operation with a number of people involved is the pool of experts with cost reduction ideas. Jacob talked me through a few areas where results are tangibly recognised:

“One of the engineers might have the idea to extend the load on a truck for example, going back and forwards to a crusher. We can check if it’s going to save more time or if actually it’s better to under-load that truck to get it moving quicker and conduct a faster turnaround., Will there be queuing problems? We’ll have scenario results from all possible options.

“The other thing is debottlenecking. During modelling studies we look at our whole process, identify a bottleneck, and in the model remember the bottleneck, play it again and see where the next bottleneck is. You build up to the target to where you need to be.

“People aren’t currently always seeing the true bottleneck; you have to understand the wider cost drivers of a process, even beyond your mine because that’s also being missed and sometimes misinterpreted.”

Challenges

With these clear benefits in mind, I started to explore some of the key challenges faced to establish what’s holding up resource companies from fully utilising simulation modelling.

The main and arguably most long standing obstacle is gaining the acceptance of modelling in the first place. There’s no doubt the resource sector has gone through leaps and bounds integrating technology over the last ten years; newer generations coming into management have driven automation into daily operations. However, all technology comes at a cost, and it needs to prove its worth.

It’s an area where Jacob has experience getting people on board: “You really have to go in and sell it, be confident that it’s going to give you the best answers and give you long term value going forward. You have to build the capability within the organisation too. When I started six years ago, it was just me – we now have a team of six and it’s still expanding.”

The future

There’s still a long way to go, and a lot still to be learnt if widespread efficiencies are going to be made across the sector. Jacob’s been in the industry for many years now and explains how there’s still big scope to expand: “All the mining houses could be utilising this technology more than they currently do, it’s still in its infancy. As soon as more people realise how to use even the more simple tools, taking this holistic approach to the whole process can make significant improvements.”

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