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How Industry Is Harnessing Digital Technologies

Digital technologies continue to transform the way we conduct business, encompassing an ever-evolving suite of tools that can be harnessed to enhance and optimise operations, and the arboriculture sector is no exception.

For business owners, it is important to keep up to speed with the latest technology developments, and as digital technologies continue to progress and become increasingly prevalent, businesses that are able to adapt will have an advantage over less flexible competitors.

From mobile technologies to the IoT (Internet of Things), the following is a look at some of the technologies that are fundamentally changing the way we work.

Mobile Technology: Keeping Connected And Informed

The now ubiquitous smartphone is a logical starting point in this list of technologies, with touchscreen mobile devices having become a critical component of business operations across a range of sectors, from the office through to the field, keeping us connected and informed.

From communicating with clients, employees and co-workers, to both accessing and sharing information online, to taking photos and filming video, smartphones have become a hub for an ever-evolving range of functions. Meanwhile, smartphones are being harnessed to deliver increasingly business-specific applications – take, for example, Adelaide-based equipment supplier Tree Care Machinery’s (TCM) efforts to develop an app providing insight into machine operations and a range of safety benefits.

As outlined in the previous issue of AA, this has led to TCM becoming involved in the federal government’s Small Business Digital Champions Project, with TCM Managing Director Shane Cavanagh observing that “businesses that choose to ignore digital technologies will not survive”.

 

Cloud Computing: Keeping Up To Date While On The Go

Cloud computing goes hand-in-hand with mobile technology, providing for on-the-go access to a range of online services, from simple storage of information to interactive software designed to manage and streamline workflows.

Software applications are no longer bound by the limitations of local computing infrastructure, and in the arboriculture industry, with workers potentially spread far and wide across different projects, the benefits can be multifold.

For businesses that are seeking to keep track of multiple jobs, it may be possible to catalogue each job or project, maintaining a historical account of work previously undertaken, regularly updating and detailing the work that is being undertaken, and scheduling future work.

Of course, with all of this information accessible via smartphone, workers can potentially access and update project details while in the field in real time, if required.

IoT: Keeping Tabs On Machine Performance And Operations

The IoT comprises an ever-expanding network of connected devices that collect and share data, providing enhanced insight into different aspects of machine performance and allowing for remote monitoring of operations.

Putting the scale of the IoT into context, the International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast last year that there will be 41.6 billion connected IoT devices, generating 79.4 ZB of data, in 2025, with this bringing into play a range of opportunities for industry.

In the industrial and automotive category, the IDC expects that, along with an increasing number of connected “things”, more advanced sensors will be deployed, providing further insight into machine functions.

In the arboriculture industry, IoT applications can potentially be utilised across a range of functions, including pinpointing the location of equipment, and monitoring machine health and efficiency, helping to improve productivity and determine when maintenance needs to be undertaken.

May 18, 2020 / by / in ,
Ongoing Training And Development Benefits

Skilled staff – encouraging learning and professional development.

Ongoing training and development is important for both employers and employees, helping to improve and grow the range of services a business offers, and laying the foundation for individual development and career progression.

Of course, in the arboriculture industry the scope for learning is vast, from being able to diagnose and treat issues across various plant and tree species, to operating machinery, from chainsaws and pole saws to stump grinders and wood chippers, to climbing and working at heights.

Highly skilled arborists with a broad knowledge are a valuable commodity, especially so amid an ongoing trend of labour market shortages – and industry, encompassing businesses of all sizes, can collectively benefit from facilitating a culture of training and development.

The Employer’s Perspective

From the employer’s perspective, it is, of course, important to have staff who conduct themselves professionally, who are able not only to work independently but also efficiently across a range of tasks.

Internally, overseeing an environment that is encouraging of learning and professional development can provide a range of benefits, and it is worthwhile utilising the different resources at a business’ disposal, including encouraging mentoring, in case the expertise is available.

Externally, engaging training providers can help employees to further develop their knowledge and acquire specialised skills, which can then be put to use across specific operations.

Government Funding

It is also well worth looking into whether a business is eligible for government funding, and researching the range of programs available that could be of benefit to both employers and employees.

For instance, employers may be eligible for government financial assistance under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program, including the Additional Identified Skills Shortage payment (arborists are one of 10 occupations listed as experiencing national skills shortages), with further information available at the Australian Apprenticeships website.

Among the benefits of training and development for employers are:

  • Being able to identify and address areas of a business that are in need of bolstering, improving employee performance and potentially providing an opportunity to develop new services
  • Promoting staff morale, helping employees progress in their careers and creating an environment that is conducive to providing a sense of purpose and achievement
  • Given the hazardous nature of many activities in the arboriculture industry, it is additionally important to ensure staff are adequately prepared.

The Employee’s Perspective

From the employee’s perspective, building knowledge and a range of qualifications can open up opportunities and provide a clear pathway to career progression.

In this respect, it is important to recognise and embrace opportunities to learn, and to maintain an open dialogue with an employer, both regarding potential training and development and future career trajectory.

Apprentices may be eligible for government financial assistance designed to help with the costs of undertaking an apprenticeship, with further information available at the Australian Apprenticeships website.

Training And Development Benefits For Employees Include:

  • Development of new skills, which in turn can help with career progression and ultimately bolster earning capacity
  • Cutting down the copy a bit. Replace with: Greater job satisfaction and being equipped to tacklea range of tasks
  • Help to confirm career goals and provide greater certainty about the path forward.
March 10, 2020 / by / in ,
How To Be A Digital Champion

The benefits of seeking assistance.

For small businesses looking to utilise new digital technologies and improve digital literacy across different aspects of operations, it may well be worthwhile seeking out assistance and exploring some of the state and federal government programs on offer.

From the Queensland government’s Small Business Digital Grants Program through to the federal government’s Small Business Digital Champions Project, a number of different programs have been implemented in recent times, designed to assist businesses and enhance digital technology uptake. it may well be worthwhile seeking out assistance and exploring some of the state and federal government programs on offer.

From the Queensland government’s Small Business Digital Grants Program through to the federal government’s Small Business Digital Champions Project, a number of different programs have been implemented in recent times, designed to assist businesses and enhance digital technology uptake.

Adelaide-based equipment supplier Tree Care Machinery (TCM) is one such company that has been proactive in embracing digital opportunities, which has ultimately led to it becoming involved in the Digital Champions project.

Launched last year, the Digital Champions project has seen 100 small businesses around Australia selected to receive a digital transformation, provided with both funding and expert assistance.

Exploring Digital Possibilities

TCM Managing Director Shane Cavanagh told AA he had identified a need to provide customers with accessible equipment information shortly after starting the Tree Care Hire division of TCM’s business, which hires out trucks, wood chippers, stump grinders and elevated work platforms.

“I soon realised that even those people who have been in the industry for many years did not have a solid understanding of how to operate this type of machinery safely,” he explained.

“So I began to think of ways to provide easy-to-use instructions, available while using a machine in the field.

“A phone App was clearly the answer, but I had no idea how or where to start or who to approach, so I didn’t take the idea any further.”

Opportunity, however, presented itself when Shane received a government email inviting him to apply for a spot in the Digital Champions project.

In applying to take part, TCM outlined the benefits of adding a digital product to its machines, with an app linked on the operator’s phone, providing insight into machine operations as well as a range of safety benefits.

Shane described the Digital Champions project as having been “sensational”, stating that, in addition to financial assistance, it has provided TCM with a range of benefits, including connecting it with professional services company Deloitte, which has provided guidance and put it in touch with experts to help develop its ideas.

“Having a digital audit done to identify the areas of the business that would benefit most from new technologies was a game changer,” he commented. “It became clear that there were several areas of the business that would benefit from digital technologies that we did not know even existed.”

Digital Technology: Embrace It Or Be Left Behind

Shane told AA that TCM’s operations have evolved dramatically since he bought the company in 2006, with TCM having its first computer system installed that year.

“Among the other technologies the company has adopted is an automatic gate controlled via app, allowing customers to pick up and drop off hire equipment when it suits them.”

In the years since, TCM has embraced a range of digital technologies, including: a new website and online store, social media, and business management software that is pivotal in consolidating and speeding up the company’s operations.

Among the other technologies the company has adopted is an automatic gate controlled via app, allowing customers to pick up and drop off hire equipment when it suits them, along with CCTV cameras accessible via app.

“We have invested an enormous amount of time and money into digital technologies to improve productivity, make life easier for staff and, most importantly, enrich the experience our customers have when engaging with us,” Shane explained.

“Businesses that choose to ignore digital technologies will not survive – 85 per cent of the world’s adult population now have a mobile phone, and younger generations have embraced digital technologies to a point where it is the only way they purchase goods and communicate.”

March 5, 2020 / by / in ,
Digital Momentum

Technologies Transforming Business Operations

New technologies when effectively harnessed have the capacity to transform business operations, and in this new series we will provide a rundown of topical technologies and trends.

Digital technologies have in short time become indispensable for businesses of all types, having both a direct and indirect impact on operations, and businesses that don’t keep pace are at a very real risk of being left behind.

From using a smartphone to stay connected while on the go, to maintaining an online presence via a website or social media, to more industry-specific, tailored applications, the reach of digital technologies is encompassing.

Businesses that effectively employ these technologies, from an administrative level through to operations in the field, can reap a range of benefits, helping to cut costs and improve efficiency and productivity.

It is certainly worthwhile assessing how different technologies may benefit your business, and to consider how they may be effectively integrated across different operations.

Internet Growth And Digital Technologies

The rapid growth of the internet has occurred in concert with the emergence of an ever-evolving suite of digital technologies, delivering increasingly sophisticated services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Internet Activity Report provides an overview of the scale and manner in which Australians are accessing the internet.

The Report (for the period ending December 31, 2018) Shows:

  • The total number of retail services in operation reached 39.9 million as at the end of last year
  • Of these connections, the clear majority were mobile handsets at 61 per cent, followed by wireless broadband (21 per cent) and fixed-line/ wired broadband (18 per cent)
  • However, fixed-line/wired technologies were responsible for 91 per cent of the total volume of data downloaded, followed by mobile handsets (6 per cent) and wireless broadband (3 per cent)

Anywhere and anytime connectivity is changing the way Australians live and work, and it is important for businesses to recognise this and adapt when necessary, with businesses that are able to effectively harness digital tools at a significant advantage.

Digital Technologies And Their Applications

A number of new digital technologies have emerged in recent years, and it is worthwhile keeping an eye on how they may be potentially deployed in the short and long term.

Among These Technologies Are:

  • Cloud – cloud computing sees a range of services provided online, from basic data storage to more advanced applications.
  • For instance, a business could maintain a work schedule online, which workers in both the office and field could update and amend as tasks are carried out
  • IoT – the IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of connected devices that gather and share data. For instance, IoT devices integrated into a machine could provide real-time insight into its location, its fuel use and the nature of the operations it is undertaking
  • 5G – 5G mobile wireless technology is set to deliver significantly faster data download, upload and latency speeds over the current 4G offerings, paving the way for a range of new mobile services and applications
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) – AI technologies, being developed to undertake increasingly complex tasks, are being integrated with a range of other technologies. Digital assistants, capable of carrying out a variety of tasks, are an example of AI-powered technology.

We will look at how internet-based technologies can drive business growth in the next instalment in this series, including the steps businesses can take to tap into their potential.

November 11, 2019 / by / in , ,