May 11, 2011

What would we do with the NBN?

Optical FibreArguments about the NBN continue to rage in political circles and, to a lesser extent, among the rest of us who might be expected to use it. Two themes continue to dominate: “Can it be built on budget?”and “Is it worth building – i.e. what are we going to do with this high-speed network?” Tony Abbot's recent remarks say that Labor cannot be trusted with money due to their incompetence – so cost seems to be the issue. Malcolm Turnbull, on the other hand, questions its value. His statements at a discussion with Mark Pesce were pretty forceful. He said "'s nuts that even a notorious, self-proclaimed futurist like Pesce isn't able to name the applications that the NBN would fuel in the future. Speed in and of itself is an abstraction. It doesn't do anything for you, unless you have applications you can use." (see the full report from Zdnet here)

True enough. And this has been the main argument of the naysayers for a while. But that's another way of saying that Australians don't have the imagination or creativity to develop innovative, valuable applications, given decent infrastructure. That's all it is, by the way. Decent infrastructure, not best-in-the-world or cutting-edge. Australia will just be catching up with many developed countries (see earlier blog entry).

Fortunately Australian companies have already proven themselves more than capable of high levels of creativity and innovation, in ICT and elsewhere.

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August 05, 2010

Wikis, Blogs and Collaboration

RaviThere's been a fair bit said about the potential of Web 2.0 based collaboration, on this blog and on a whole range of other forums. Now we are beginning to see some real data showing the business impact that successful adopters of these technologies have experienced, and the results are impressive.

The most recent McKinsey Quarterly article on: "..Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch" contains not only the views of some heavy hitters in industry and academia, but also some quantitative data from US and Global companies and even public sector agencies. Trend No 3, for example, which is called "Collaboration at Scale" describes initiatives that are especially interesting in the context of some of the earlier articles on this blog.

As "knowledge work" outpaces the growth of production or transaction oriented growth, many organisations are experimenting with video and web conferencing, which, the article states, is expected to grow by 20% annually over the next few years. One company that actually deployed video-conferencing and shared electronic work spaces in efforts to reduce travel for its sales staff, recorded a saving in travel budget equal to four times its investment in technology and 45% more customer contacts per staff.

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July 14, 2010

Creating a learning environment

Colin LonerganMost organisations strive to develop and maintain a culture that leads to a focus on continuous improvement. Link Asea's experience in working with clients is that a key determinate of whether an organisation can continuously improve its work quality and outputs is the extent to which it values learning.

A lot of traditional staff learning takes place in local coffee shops, pubs or at social functions. Management usually does not have the opportunity to contribute to these informal discussions and not all that is discussed is based on accurate information. The other common way of learning within an organisation is via formal in-house training sessions. These training sessions are of varied quality, but if professionally conducted and inclusive, are highly valuable.

In addition to the traditional tools new approaches to learning are increasingly being used in corporate and government America.

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July 02, 2010

Broadband - the challenge facing Australia

Fibre optocsOn July 1, Finland became the first country in the world to make broadband (at least 1 Mbps) a legal right of every citizen (BBC News). And they have committed to provide a minimum 100Mbps by 2015. In the UK, government has made it policy to provide 2MBps Broadband to all homes by 2012. Here, in suburban Melbourne just 17km from the CBD, the best "broadband" service available is 1.5MBps/256Kbps (yes, 256kbps!)

The federal government's NBN website places Australia somewhere between 27th and 16th on various measures such as broadband uptake, digital content and network readiness, as classified by the World Economic Forum, behind Japan, South Korea, the US and Canada, most of Europe and way behind the Scandinavian countries who are ranked highest (sources: WEF, Internet Evolution). Neither Finland or the UK are ranked at the top, though they are both ahead of Australia. China and India are, of course, ranked well behind the OECD countries, but if the penetration of mobile phone services is included, they are also making huge gains in terms of personal access to the internet.

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