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Tech innovation: key insights for business

Chris Holmes, Tim Ebbeck, Ross Dawson and George Parthimos

Chris Holmes, Tim Ebbeck, Ross Dawson and George Parthimos

The past, present and future of innovation in the technology sector, including opportunities for startups, were examined by thought leaders at a roundtable hosted by Oracle Australia.

The event, held on Tuesday, 10 May at the Altitude Restaurant at Sydney’s Shangi-La Hotel, featured the following speakers:

  • Tim Ebbeck, Regional Managing Director of Oracle Australia – a provider of integrated cloud applications, platform services and engineered solutions.
  • George Parthimos, General Manager at Connexion Media – an ASX-listed Internet of Things (IoT) technology company specialising in smart car technology for the automotive industry.
  • Ross Dawson, futurist and Founding Chairman of the Advanced Human Technologies group of companies, which includes international consulting and ventures firm Advanced Human Technologies, think-tank Future Exploration Network and events company The Insight Exchange.
  • Chris Holmes, Managing Director of Single Cell – an Australian owned IT consulting company servicing large enterprises, State and Federal Government.

Here are eight insights and thoughts from the roundtable:

1. “We have to think global”

“The consensus ten years ago was that nothing good in technology comes out of Australia. That’s now changed. Look at what Atlassian has done overseas. Look at companies like Bigcommerce, which has offices in Sydney. They are helping to break down barriers of misunderstanding around what Australia can provide. We’ve gone through a transition of people not knowing Australian innovation to people understanding it and embracing it. The key advantage we have is our pricing is quite competitive compared to development in the US. The talent and capability of local resources is as good as what you’ll find overseas. We’re an innovative lot here in Australia because we have to think global.” – George Parthimos. 

2. Success is not guaranteed  

“The arrogant view that we’re always going to be successful doesn’t cut it anymore. We need to be disruptive, we need to change.  It’s not just us, our customers need to change too. There is a cultural issue organisations need to confront: how do organisations handle this different world going forward? How do organisations create low-cost – certainly, low upfront cost – services that will help individual parts of an organisation to function? – Tim Ebbeck.

3. Innovation through collaboration

“Innovation doesn’t come out of thin air, it comes from networks and connections. No organisation can have sufficient innovation within its own walls. The idea of collaboration and co-creation in innovation is fundamental, particularly in the supplier/client relationship. Large organisations working with small organisations or other large organisations – there must be innovation within that relationship. Many large organisations thought they had all their corporate capabilities, they had all they needed. Now they are realising they must collaborate, they must work with their clients. A lot of what we should see more of in Australia is this mentality of building value into your relationship with your clients, buyers and suppliers.” – Ross Dawson.

4. A global network of talent

“We must have global networks. There’s this idea of brain drain, where talented Australians go global. Another way of looking at this is the formation of global networks out of which innovation stems: Australians who are well-connected to talented Australians here and [abroad].” – Ross Dawson

5. Mentoring in all directions

“At Oracle, we have a very diverse workforce. There’s the ‘old and bolds’, the ‘young and vibrants’…and everything in between. One of the things that is happening is collaboration. What’s the benefit of mentoring? The duality. We have a lot of younger employees learning from some of the more experienced peers but there’s a lot of mentoring going back the other way in terms of thought process and approach.” – Tim Ebbeck

6. On-demand, cloud solutions

“It’s easier today to launch a startup up than it was even five years ago. Think about the cloud: it’s not just about the services you provide the customer, it’s also about the services you as a business consume. Ten years ago you had to have your own dedicated email server with someone to support it, and you needed back up tapes – all that sort of stuff. The transition from having in-house services for the business to on-demand or cloud solutions has been hugely positive.  Startups have been able to get going a lot quicker and a lot cheaper. Having said that, it creates a lot more competition. The [old] barrier of requiring a certain amount of capital to start has come right down, meaning there are more startups playing in the space.” – George Parthimos

7. Looking beyond STEM to design

“I think design is more important, certainly in the short term, than pure maths because at the end of the day, it’s about how people engage. There’s all this focus on STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics]but that’s generational. More importantly,  how do people engage. Leaving aside where Apple is heading as a company, they focused entirely on design for a long time, controlling the experience as distinct from building everything. There’s an important lesson in that. It’s about the experience that people have and the simplicity in design is, to me, more important than just the technology. We have a pedigree in design in Australia and that’s what I think we should be focusing on in the short-term”. – Tim Ebbeck

8. Niche solutions and agility

“There’s always going to be a role for the very big organisations because they genuinely represent a known quantity and stability…[but] we provide niche, specialized solutions that really give [larger companies] agility. As a small enterprise, our ability to be rapid and agile and react to new technology and new trends and plug that straight into Oracle and Microsoft is a really good place to be.” – Chris Holmes