Top 5 tech products for optimising your workflow

| Tuesday July 2

Small Biz Matters – a half hour program each week where you can work ON your business rather than IN it.
with Alexi Boyd from Boyd Office Management Services
Date: 2 July 2019

What better way to kick off the new financial year than to feel super organised and efficient with the latest tech products! There are lots of shiny gadgets out there to help you be more time efficient, streamline work, organise your staff... and with EOFY having just passed you may have bought a new toy for you and your staff and like a kid in a toyshop, be ready to play.

But some may NOT be the best fit for you and your business; don’t forget about the time it takes to implement change in your own processes and procedures; time is often one of the aspects we don’t quantify on our Balance Sheet but needs to be carefully considered.

Here with us today is an expert who lives and breathes these products and can help to navigate the myriad of options - the good, the bad and the ugly - to help us small businesses to find the best fit. Carl Robertson from Rocketbook Australia is a technology professional with over 10 years experience in telecommunications and consumer electronics across product development, sales and marketing.

Welcome to the show Carl.

  • What are the top 5 Tech Products you should be aware of to improve efficiency, productivity and save time working on your business?
    • There are so many fantastic tech products available to business owners and you could literally update this list on a daily basis. Previously larger organisations with slow product development cycles dictated the products available to consumers to buy. But crowd funding, venture capital investment along with the online marketplace have made it easy for great ideas to be commercialised. But I thought we would start with something that almost all Australians have - which is our mobile phone.
    • Product 1 - The Mobile phone - for many of us our mobile phone is the single most important asset for our business - enabling us to conduct business from anywhere. It has revolutionised the way that we communicate but whilst they are certainly one of the most popular tech products I also think that they are one of the most misunderstood.
      • We are seeing the introduction of 5G into selected cities which is the buzzword of the year yet many won’t realistically get to enjoy the benefits for the next year or two. (Telstra are advising they have achieved 1.2GB - 1200MPS per second during testing vs 20-50MBPS on 4G 10x faster, 3GB ps on the Gold Coast using MM Wave - introduced from 2021)
      • Many of the major phone manufacturers run these asirational marketing campaigns promoting aesthetically beautiful mobile phones but as business owners I think we need to step back and ask ourselves - do I need what they are selling me? I draw comparisons to a tradesmen and their tools - you wouldn’t see a tradie showing up to a job site in a sportscar with his tools hanging out the window - they have a vehicle that is fit for purpose. The same goes for mobile phones - business owners should be looking at mobile devices that match their requirements.
      • If you are indoors and work in an office then you are likely to consider the typical consumer devices, but if you work in a outdoor environment, onsite or have an active lifestlye then you may want to consider a rugged device.
      • Google have done a great job over the last few years in making the Android platform less clunky and much more user friendly. They have taken significant strides forward to reducing the gap in terms of ease of use vs Apple’s iOS. The main benefit of an Android device is that you can choose from a wider range of different products across multiple brands where as with Apple you are limited to their annual iPhone range. If you need to take beautiful photos for your job and want to do so using a mobile phone then you may want to look at the flagship devices from the likes of Samsung with their Galaxy range or iPhones but you aren’t going to get much change from $1500. The Pixel is $1200 and takes an amazing photo. If you are looking for a value for money device then the Samsung A series  is at a great price point. They have a very good camera with many of the features you see in the Galaxy at a third of the price. For most office-based business owners this is going to give you all of the functionality you need in a device. If you work in an outdoor environment or on job sites then I can’t recommend the Cat S41 highly enough. It is drop proof from 1.8 metres and the screen has a 24 month warranty providing you with complete peace of mind. Its $700. You may note that my recommendations didn’t include some of the second tier smartphone brands who have some nice products available. However I would recommend holding off on these until there is clarity on the trade discussions between the USA and China before looking at these.
    • Product 2 - Asset Tracking
      • The Internet of Things is yet another buzzword that gets us tech types excited. It relates to anything that is connected to the internet and in the next few years that’s going to be pretty much everything. The big telcos are rolling out specially built IOT networks which use low power to enable assets to be connected to their networks for long periods of time without drawing too much power. For mine the idea of everything being connected is the most exciting direction that technology is heading towards.
      • Whilst a connected fridge or kettle probably isn’t a game changer at the moment, if we look ahead a few years when you are getting a self-driving Uber car home from the office and the temperature on the air conditioning adjusts to be just right for your arrival, the front door unlocks as you approach it, the home delivered pizza is delivered just as you arrive home this will be the new norm. Its a combination of location based tracking and artificial intelligence.
      • So how does this apply to business? Well there are a number of asset tracking solutions available that enable us to ensure that we do not lose or have important business assets stolen. For items that are always on you such as the office keys or wallet with business credit cards, Tile is a fantastic solution. It is a Bluetooth based solution so it is limited by a range of around 30 metres. One of my favorite uses of Tile is when I travel with a checked bag. By putting the Tile into your bag you can check that your bag made it onto the plane and when you arrive you will be notified when its coming around the carousel as it comes into range. One of the other great features of the Tile is that it utilises other Tile app users to find Tiles when you are out of range.
      • In the next year or two we will see more devices launched that utilise the telcos networks. At the moment the solutions available are quite limited. I would recommend that business owners get familiar with the Tile in preparation for the trackers and connected products to follow.
    • Product 3 - changes pace a little as this is a not a physical product but is just as important as some of the hardware we have discussed, and that is online software. For almost every business task there is amazing software available online at either a low cost or even free.
      • I’m sure that many listeners would be familiar with Quickbooks or Xero accounting software, and there are now thousands of online software tools available to business owners to implement in your business. I’d like to take you through a few that your users can implement very quickly to promote your business.
      • Canva is one of Australia’s latest unicorns - which recently had investment from venture capital which resulted in a $1 billion valuation. It is a drag and drop graphic design tool and is free to use. When you combine it with a free stock photo website like Pexels or Pixabay you can create content very easily at zero cost for use on digital assets like websites, social media or even for flyers, vouchers or print ads. It is absolutely brilliant.
      • Once Canva has got you started and you have built a database of customers, you can start a regular newsletter. You can design it using Designmodo and send it via Mailchimp. Embrace online software - it will revolutionise your business.
    • Product 4 - Accepting Payments
      • There are a few point of sale solutions now available for accepting instant payment. By implementing this into the business service businesses can avoid the old “cheques in the mail” excuse, and product based businesses can transact almost anywhere. These connect to smartphone apps to process the transaction.
      • The two most popular solutions in Australia are the Paypal Here reader and Square. Both are brilliant and if you are already using Paypal to accept online payments you may want to utilise their device, however the Square Reader at $59 for mine is the best solution. It has a lower commission rate than the PayPal reader at 1.9% and less buttons which means less room for error! The brains is in the app which drives it and you enables tax invoices to be sent to the customer at the point of sale.
    • Product 5 - Note taking solution
      • Most roles require note taking. Tablets such as the iPad and Microsoft Surface have provided a brilliant alternative to pen and paper but for many of us you just can’t beat a pen and paper. A few years ago the Rocketbook Wave was launched which is a reusable pen and paper notebook. The way that the Wave works is you write your notes in the notebook as you usually would and at the bottom of the page are 7 icons which when you scan the page with the free smartphone app will arrange for your notes to be instantly sent to your favourite cloud service or email. Once you scan your notes you then stick the Wave in the microwave with a mug of water and in 1-2 minutes you have a blank notebook ready to use again.
      • So the Wave was a huge success, and the guys from Rocketbook USA then backed it up with the Rocketbook Everlast which became the largest crowd funded office or school product of all time raising over $2 million. The Everlast has the same cloud connectivity but instead of clearing the whole book you can wipe individual pages clear with a damp cloth.
      • A few months ago email transcription was added, so you can write your notes, and if you send them to an email address your notes are transcribed from handwriting into typed text - as you can imagine this has proven to be a game changer.
    • Backup 6 - Whiteboard
      • There is nothing like a white board for brainstorming in the office or keeping track of important items. Rocketbook recently partnered with Think Board to release the Think Board X - which utilises the Rocketbook app to send scans straight from the whiteboard to cloud destinations or email. Think Boards connect to any surface so are great for start ups or businesses that are leasing space, or just dont want to drill a whiteboard into the wall.
    • Implementation of the product into your business and lifestyle
      • How do you test a product without buying it?


        • Testimonials from relatable & reliable websites (Google Reviews, Facebook reviews, Canstar, Choice).
        • Network - learn from others in your industry that may have implemented the technology solution
        • Don’t buy it the minute it’s released / software updates
          • Technology products can have some teething issues when they are launched - no amount of testing in a lab can exactly replicate the way you use a product, so sometimes you are better off not being the first in line to buy that new product. If you wait a month or two often there will be software upgrades to fix the issues that the public have raised and you may even see some improvement in price.
        • Do’s and Dont’s of introducing a product into your business.
          • Do embrace technology - It will make your life easier. Artificial intelligence is helping to reduce repetitive tasks.
          • Before you make a decision to introduce a certain technology do your research. What you think may be a low cost decision may end up costing you more in the long run. The perfect example is printers - printer ink will cost you more to buy than a printer because you are locked into that ecosystem. Most tech products are exactly the same.
          • Don’t buy based purely on price - make sure you are buying the right solution for your business. The right option may be the cheapest but you need to ensure you are valuing your time when making a technology purchase - is one product easier to use and therefore more efficient?
          • Dont forget about security. Cyber attacks cost our economy over $1 billion per year. Cyber criminals are constantly evolving the way they attack small businesses. Protect your business with security software, don’t share passwords and listen to the Governments advice.
        • Section 3
        • Why is it important when implementing technology in your business to still have the ability to extract yourself from the product so that it doesn’t become another addiction?
          • Switching off from technology is very important. As we discussed earlier technology has revolutionised the way that we communicate - where as previous generations may have been able to leave the office at 5pm and not have any business related activity until 9am the next day, our connected lifestyle has eliminated the ability to switch off.
          • This can increase stress and fuel anxiety.
          • Its certainly something I believe is very important - being present and having tech free time.
        • Top websites to research the latest tech with your industry in mind
          • Choice
          • EFTM - Trevor Long
          • Canstar
          • YouTube
          • Be careful as some reviewing sites do have a commercial interest
          • Facebook
        • Keep security top of mind
          • Is the software reliable? Can it be updated easily?
          • Does it adhere to Australian & International cybersecurity standards?
          • Is it being shipped from Australia or from an overseas country?
          • Does their website have a privacy policy?

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