Creating Darwin’s Future: insights into a unique city


I recently gave the after-dinner speech at the annual dinner of the Urban Development Institute of Australia in Darwin.

I had never been to Darwin before, and I found my brief visit as well as my research preparing for my talk fascinating in getting a feel for the city.

In my speech I brought together some entertaining perspectives with more serious views of the global macro environment and the opportunities I see for Darwin. Among other topics I compared Northern Territory’s demographic profile with that of Australia and adjacent economies such as Indonesia and China. Many of Darwin’s challenges and opportunities are expressed in this data. The charts are created from the Australian Bureau of Statistic B Series (middle path) forecasts for Australian population.

Here are just a few insights and perspectives on Darwin I gained in preparing for my speech and during my visit:
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Research: The acceleration of Australian banks’ use of social media


Financial services is one of the most industries in which the use of social media is the most relevant, not least because customer service is a critical differentiator between highly commoditized offerings. While financial services and banking were traditionally highly relationship-based, the shift to online has significantly eroded those relationships. Social media, used well, provides an opportunity to build relationships in a world in which most financial services are executed online.

In a global context, Australian banks were fairly slow to adopt the use of social media, however more recently a number have become a lot more active as they recognize its fundamental importance to their future.

Vindaya Senadheera, Prof. Matthew Warren, and Dr. Shona Leitch from Deakin University have done some interesting research in their paper A study on how Australian banks use social media.

To analyze the banks’ activity they use the Honeycomb framework of social media which was presented by Kietzmann et al in their paper Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media, which points to the key elements of social media engagement as Identity, Groups, Relationships, Presence, Sharing, Conversations, and Reputation.

Here are a few key points from the research


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Keynote slides on The Transformation of Government


Tomorrow morning I am giving the opening keynote at the annual conference of Institute of Public Affairs New South Wales, on the topic of The Transformation of Government.

Originally I was scheduled to follow the recently elected NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, but he has had to travel to Beijing, so he will present at the conference after the morning break via Telepresence.

It is actually quite significant for an outsider like myself to be invited to speak at the event, let alone on a big picture view of a rapidly changing world. The title of the conference is The Future Course of Modern Government, mirroring an excellent policy paper of the same name created by IPAA a few months ago. I blogged about the 11 recommendations in the report, which are well worth a read if you don’t have the opportunity to read the entire paper.

The conference is intended to be a landmark event, several months since the NSW government changed after 16 years of Labor incumbency, and anticipating potentially dramatic change in how the state government functions in the years ahead. The themes of the conference – Technology, Innovation, Services Reform, Collaboration – are now squarely on the government’s agenda, and the reason I was invited to give the keynote.

Below is my Prezi presentation to support my keynote. I will shortly release the underlying framework as a pdf.

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The dilemma for professionals: How do you respond to anonymous leaks and slander?


Today’s Australian Financial Review has an interesting article titled “Watch out for the spook in the navy blue suit” which looks at how professionals can respond to anonymous slander, quoting me and a few others.

It looks at FirmSpy, which is a site that provides gossip about Australian professional firms, notably law firms and the local arms of the Big 4 accounting firms. FirmSpy provides insights into internal issues such as bullying, sexual harassment, and staff satisfaction and turnover, resulting in Australian Financial Review calling it “Australia’s own Wikileaks for lawyers and accountants”.

For those accused of wrongdoing, there are limited possibilities for response. The article says:
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‘Aussie mafia’ sets up the “biggest startup hub in Silicon Valley”


News just in that Elias Bizannes of Startup Bus fame is helping setting up Startup House, a 36,000 square foot space in San Francisco’s hopping SoMa district where entrepreneurs will live as well as run startups. There will be 150 desks in the lower floor, with upper levels including offices of the StartUp Bus and a number of international government agencies that want local launch pads for startups coming into the US. The intention is to run hackathons, startup weekends, and anything else that will support the local startup community.

TheNextWeb says that a group of the “Aussie mafia” (the Australian tech entrepreneur network in Silicon Valley) has bought the building and will take 6 months to transform it into this space. It notes that Plug and Play in Sunnyvale and Redwood City down the valley is bigger space-wise, but StartupHouse will probably be the biggest in San Francisco, and perhaps the biggest in the valley in a single building.

Here is a video from TheNextWeb being taken on a tour of the building – it’s an impressive space.

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Marc Newson at Sydney Design Excellence Forum: the design process is always the same


I’m at Sydney Town Hall, where iconic Australian designer Marc Newson is speaking at the City of Sydney’s Design Excellence Forum.

Marc has had a powerful impact on many facets of design. His 1986 Lockheed lounge (one of which most recently sold for $2.1 million) and the 1988 Embryo chair were early landmarks in his career. Initially working in furniture, he has now designed cars, boats, bicycles, cookware, Nike shoes, executive jets, and across many, many other domains. He is Royal Designer for Industry in the UK.

Image: Lockheed lounge, image from Dezeen
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Seeking talent in Sydney: Amazing Content and Web Project Managers – Part-time


We have just placed an ad on Seek for Amazing Content and Web Project Managers – Part-time.

Here is the ad below. At this point, we are looking for people who will be part of our local team in Sydney. A bit later we will extend our search for similar talent globally. We’d love to hear from you if you think it’s a fit, or please pass it on if you think there are others who would be interested – thanks!

Amazing Content and Web Project Managers – Part-time

* Drive cutting-edge content projects with global visibility
* Looking for skills in high-value reports, web publishing and communities, web apps, iPad apps, events and more
* Apply your talents within exciting new business models
* Part-time/ flexible hours – work in Surry Hills and remotely

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Awesome 3D visual mapping on Sydney Opera House


Last Friday I was at the opening party for the Vivid Sydney festival, on East Circular Quay directly opposite the Opera House. The opening speeches concluded by triggering an absolutely awesome light show on the Opera House, called Lighting the Sails. The Opera House has been lit up for the last two festival, but this far transcends those. It was absolutely stunning. The projections will continue over the next two weeks of the festival.

A while ago I blogged about how amazing new 3D video projection can bring buildings to life, including some videos of great examples – well worth a look. In essence, the technologies used draw on a detailed 3D mapping of the building’s surface, enabling projections to take full advantage of the contours of the building.

The group selected to use the extraordinary canvas of the Opera House was French group SuperBien. It’s hard to imagine any video could do justice to the show. However here are few samplers. The first video is a teaser created by SuperBien before the event.

Teaser Vivid Festival 2011 à Sydney from SUPERBIEN on Vimeo.

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Launch of Digital Sydney: Ideas, energy, success stories, and massive potential


I am at the launch of Digital Sydney, part of the Vivid Sydney and Creative Sydney festivals.

The reality is that for much of the last decade and more, the New South Wales government has been among the least supportive of the Australia states for the digital and creative industries, with in contrast Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania in particular having considerably better developed initiatives to support these industries.
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Scoop: Corporate directors understand change and embrace governance for transformation


I gave my keynote on How Technology is Transforming Business for Australian Institute of Company Directors this morning here in Beijing.

Based on the responses of the 500+ company directors in the audience, they absolutely understand the need for change. Here are their answers on audience response units to questions I posed during my presentation.

One of my key messages was that social and technological change are inextricable – they drive each other and cannot be understood separately. What is interesting is that directors felt that social drivers are more important than technology drivers. Certainly I believe that social change is moving at least as fast as technological change, and responding to this is fundamental to the success of organizations.
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