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Guy Cranswick

Guy Cranswick was an IBRS advisor between 2002 - 2017 who covered Google (Apps and Search), broadband/NBN, Web 2.0 technology, government and channel strategy, including areas of business productivity. Guy had worked in the UK and France as Strategy Manager for Initiative Media and director of European operations for Modem Media (Poppe Tyson), the first online marketing and development company. In Australia, Guy was Senior Analyst at both Jupiter Communications and GartnerG2 covering online technologies and strategy in Asia-Pacific. He has published analytical articles in business and technology media, including the AFR, and was the winner of the Australian Institute of Management 2003 essay prize on the topic of corporate communications.

Conclusion: The arrival of weblogs over the last two years has opened new opportunities for communication and is a well known marketing device aimed at audiences outside an organisation. The principles of a blog: direct contact and debate are applied at online message-boards where company executives answer questions and take advice on new software from users.

An intranet blog used however, as another form of internal public relations, with comments posted by executives aimed at employees, may only serve to uncover the assertive self-promoters within an organisation.

Within an organisation blogs may be used to disseminate information to groups of staff and replace group emails. A blog to share expertise among staff may be more productive and useful because the volume and flow of information in companies is large and an electronic noticeboard in a blog offers a medium to manage the information.

In considering blogs for staff to use it must be clear what medium the blog will replace, to some extent email, and consequently, what rules will govern its use. Select a small group to trial its introduction and from that experience use the feedback to expand the use of a blog to other relevant groups.

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Conclusion: The speed and ease of use that broadband delivers is still a rare commodity amongst the majority of Australian businesses, especially the SME. A constant refrain is that broadband must be pushed into the bulk of Australian organisations and for sound commercial reasons. It’s not clear that many businesses are interested; however, to ensure that broadband is a common standard. In the B2B marketplace organisations do not seem to be adversely affected by suppliers that do not have comparable communications infrastructure.

Even if there is a real problem of efficiency between business, changing conditions in the market is not easy. Pushing attitudes to change rapidly when the cost is borne by someone else won’t happen. The telecomm landscape is settled and the power of Telstra, directly and indirectly through its infrastructure affects, pricing to other suppliers of broadband.

Individual organisations could only use their voice through lobbying. So far, the loudest voices in the broadband debate have been from self-interested parties and they haven’t been able to state absolutely clearly why and how broadband will improve productivity. Their appeal to redress Australia’s relatively low standing on the international broadband league table relies on simple chauvinism.

The widespread low broadband usage in business is not a concern, despite its coverage, and it’s nearly impossible to know what the economic benefit would be if broadband was in every organisation in the country. Where companies and organisations do have broadband efficiency problems with their business partners they might work together to resolve them.

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Conclusion: A common complaint from IT specialists is that "the business" doesn't understand what they can deliver to an organisation nor fully comprehend what their capabilities are. A direct result of an organisation's internal dysfunction in this regard is that projects and teams fail to deliver timely and effective work.

According to IT Skills Hub, a not for profit organisation set up by the Commonwealth Government and the Australian Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) industry to deal with education and training in the IT sector:

"IT managers can't translate a project into a business outcome. So team members don't know what's expected of them or the project. IT managers […] need to be your best managers since all projects rely on people working together to deliver a product/solution. They also need to be great communicators who can manage the relationship with the customer and the teams."1

The ways and means of solving the problem, both in work practices and overall management between departments are possible using the basics of communication and cooperation. Managers must take the responsibility of identifying the problems and then establishing a process to cure it.

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Cynicism is much too easy at election time as the general impression is that few large differences exist between the players. To understand the policy differences between the contenders Information Age sought some answers from the two main parties which were answered by the two politicians responsible, for the Coalition, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan and for Labor, Senator Kate Lundy.

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Conclusion: According to Roy Morgan Research, nearly six million people use a search engine each month and the competition to serve them is becoming more intense. With the July launch of its search engine, Sensis, the advertising arm of Telstra, is marketing its services more aggressively. Over the last few years it has defined a niche for itself in the SME sector of Australian business and aims to capitalise on that relationship for the future.

Despite Google's apparent pre-eminence and Overture's strong ties with major online publishers, Sensis purports to offer a range of products that the two do not have. Competition will be greater now as Overture is directly pitching at the SME sector but with its variety of online properties, Sensis claims to have a suite of services that are appropriate to any type of organisation.

Organisations will benefit from the additional competition in the search and services market and ought to examine the product portfolios of each company to see how they can deliver results through their channels more efficiently.

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Conclusion: The Vision Foundation of Australia estimate that 18% of the population, or nearly four million people, have a disability and a large percentage of those people, have impaired sight. Based on a straw-poll survey of government and private enterprise websites, those disabled people will, or may, not be able to fully access most sites.

For organisations which have not made their sites compliant with the law, a casual attitude is not acceptable. To remedy some problems of access, such as, replacing text for graphics is straightforward. Adaptation, to allow for different browsers as well as voice output and Braille browsers, is also necessary.

Elements of a site including branding devices, such as pack shots, logos, as well as site functionality may also need to be overhauled, which  may mean revising the architecture and or design so that the objectives of the website remain intact.

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Conclusion: Company reports used for planning and discussion are not always as clear as they might be. There are a few basic rules which can clarify what is required to be an effective report writer.

Firstly, ensure the argument and the structure is clear; that there is a beginning, middle and end to the flow of ideas to make the report cohesive. Secondly, use short sentences to make the argument unambiguous. Do not rely too much on bullet points in spite of the fact that they are widely used. A sentence argues a case and guides the reader through a thought. On the other hand, a bullet point asserts a point but may not convey an argument satisfactorily.

Most reports will have executive summaries or recommendations. To make the recommendations convincing it is essential that the arguments throughout the body of the report connect with each other. Structure will aid clarity, and these elements are the two hallmarks of good writing.

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Conclusion: Increased demands on bandwidth have been growing in the last two years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics' figures for the March - September quarter of 2003 showed a 180% increase in bandwidth usage by business and government. As an index of demand this trend is significant and poses for managers the question of how to plan for bandwidth demand in the future.

Although most organisations differentiate the "backbone" bandwidth, the "peer to peer" bandwidth, LAN bandwidth, and voice over IP bandwidth, from each other, demand on all networks should be assessed overall to forecast how an organisation should manage changes to its requirements.

New applications also put pressure on existing networks. The rapid deployment of applications naturally turns attention to the adequacy of current networks and platforms to deliver those applications. With increases in demand what was once acceptable to a business becomes insufficient. 

The challenge for managers is how to forecast, taking into account temporary surges in demand and also longer term trends.The two techniques below will help managers plan for such requirements:

1. Review the business strategy and the upcoming demands across your organisation and whether current arrangements are suitable for the next two years. This review should include the influence of competition and market conditions.

2. Establish an efficiency benchmark of current communication services to be certain of what is delivered and at what cost. There are many widespread claims as to the additional effectiveness and efficiency from more bandwidth, but these claims are not generally qualified with productivity figures to support them. A clear understanding of the benchmarks will assist future investment decisions.

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Conclusion: The quality and precision of variables used in a plan will decide the fate of any plan. Variables come in many forms: sales, market trends, technological enhancements and so on.

Practical issues, such as the size of any given budget in a plan, may also influence and qualify the variables. Limitations on available resources may influence decisions to account for all relevant variables.

For example, the existing status of technology, or if a competitor has succeeded to your cost, could yield more realistic and sharper variables for planning.

All variables must be included in a general or master, plan, or in the appendix to it. The reason is straightforward, as it will indicate the thought process used to develop the plan and why. This level of information will also assist in subsequent iterations because the elements are discernible.

Two straightforward techniques can improve planning:

  • 1. Review past plans and the logic that gave those plans coherence.
  • 2. Cluster the variables of your current planning so that the relationship between them and net effect of one versus the other is clear.

By doing so the thought processes within the plan should be focused to everyone involved in the process.

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Conclusion: Channel strategy has become more complex with a range of options and better means of reaching various markets. The mobile phone is already a powerful tool and with the onset of more applications could emerge as the next, most discrete, channel in relationship management.

Changes will not occur overnight, but managers ought to look ahead to the next twelve months for options that are suitable to their organisation. This channel may be an effective one, replacing mail and leaflets, for both business and government, including local councils.

A plan to consider the mobile as a CRM tool should, at this stage, examine:

  • 1. Current channels and options and the cost of delivering them to see whether they can or ought to be changed.
  • 2. The aptness of emerging applications and how they might be adapted.

With the market reach of the mobile phone a strategy should be identified soon to take advantage of the channel.

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