Archive March 2016
We’re all familiar with the sight of a giant green Bunnings warehouse – a sausage sizzle out the front and a car park teeming with would-be tradies.
But following the demise of its major competitor, Woolworths-owned Masters, Australia’s largest hardware operator is increasing its dominance by rolling out a growing number of smaller format stores.
The store, expected to cost $8 million and span 3000 square metres, is due to open mid-year at the Toombul Shopping Centre in Brisbane, sparking speculation that Bunnings is making a concerted foray into the shopping centre market.
Many shoppers may be unfamiliar with the number of smaller format Bunnings stores already in existence – there are 69 across Australia and New Zealand. But a Bunnings spokesperson said as the rollout continues “the smaller stores are part of our DNA”.
However, the demise of the Masters chain is undeniably opening up new opportunities for hardware giant Bunnings, which turned over $9.5 billion in the 2015 financial year.
According to an IBISWorld report released in March, Bunnings took 38.4 per cent of total revenue in hardware and building supplies. And statistics released by the National Retail Association predict that Australians’ passion for property will be a key factor behind strong growth in hardware, building and garden supplies sales.
Bunnings will open a downsized site in Toombul Shopping Centre in Brisbane.
Its figures suggest sales will increase 6.9 per cent this financial year – up from the long-term average rise of 4.7 per cent.
Scott Wiseman, CEO of national industry body Hardware Australia, said the word is that Bunnings are expanding into smaller format stores, mostly in more regional areas.
“It’s quite an interesting model. They’re sort of shifting focus or shifting tactic to try to capture what the independent hardware retailers have got, in terms of that personal service, that expertise or knowledge.”
He said while many independent retailers remain, it is difficult for them to compete with the mammoth marketing budgets of players such as Bunnings. However, he said more of the smaller players are changing tack and offering price matching to try to compete.
“The reality is there’s not much of a price difference between the big boys and the little guys,” Mr Wiseman said.
Hardware consultant Geoff Dart of DGC Advisory said it would make sense for Bunnings to increase its focus on smaller stores.
Other stores like David Jones and Myer are also looking to establish smaller sites.
“If you look around, Kmart, Target and Big W don’t sell anything that’s reasonable. They’ve got token tools, but there’s no paint or wallpaper or anything,” he said.
Mr Dart said products such as paint, hinges, picture hooks or lightweight tools would be obvious areas of demand for smaller stores, where people are prepared to pay for convenience.
Business futurist Morris Miselowski said many retailers around the globe are mixing it up when it comes to size.
“Many large box retailers across the planet are experimenting or moving to a small box size. It’s not instead of – it’s generally as well as,” he said.
He cited the example of Woolworths’ ‘Metro’ format stores.
Under the ‘small box’ model, a retailer would generally take 20 to 25 per cent of its top-selling products, and place them in a convenient, smaller-sized store, he said.
Meanwhile, in February, Bunnings completed its buy-out of Homebase, the second-largest home improvement and garden business operating in the UK and Ireland and concerned British hardware group Kingfisher has sent “spies” to Bunnings stores to see what sort of competition it is likely to face when the Aussie brand hits the UK.
We routinely crowdsource ideas, products and opinions. The Indian government amassed 3 million comments over the past 18 months from its citizens through its portal – MyGov.In and social media seems to be constantly driving and spreading the political agenda.
With both a Queensland and Australian election imminent, ABC Far North’s Kier Shorey and I explored the notion of e-voting and digital political engagement.
Finland, France, Norway, Estonia, Spain and Australia have all trialed e-voting either allowing you to vote from wherever you are, or requiring you to go to a fixed polling booth to use a digital voting kiosk, but no country has adopted online voting exclusively, yet.
Some of the issues cited for this lack of adoption are security of votes from hackers, lack of apparent audit or scrutiny trails, privacy issues, lack of political desire to change and lack of voter desire, which are the traditional reasons for not wanting to change anything.
It seems obvious that in the next few decades we will all vote on-line and romantically reminisce of the good old pencil and paper days.
This year in Australia upwards of 80% of all Census forms will be completed online, a notion a decade ago that would have seemed almost impossible.
With the political wind blowing over Australia this year and the growing digital everything world we live in, this is a timely debate and one that eventually we will need to tackle and resolve.
Have a listen now (11 minutes 29 seconds) and then cast your vote for e-voting….
Every day there seems to be a new Robot doing something that we used to do ourselves, so this week Austereo’s Anthony Tilli and I chatted about the reality of what robots can and might do for us.
Aged care is a really great place to start and most of these are coming out of Japan, which has a growing elderly population, decreasing numbers of human aged care workers and a long time love affair with technology, which gives us robots that can wash hair, robots that monitor dementia patients and exoskeletons that human carers can wear to give them super strength and the ability to easily pick up and move patients around.
Police, army and rescue services have also picked up the pace with sniffer bomb robots and drones that can be sent into hazardous spaces and conditions amongst many other new pieces of tech and are also beginning to explore the use of artificial intelligence to predict issues and deploy people and resources accordingly.
As always a great chat, have a listen now (3 minutes 49 seconds) and then share the robot you’d most like to see invented.
1% of the worlds population owns and has more than the remaining 99%, is only 1 of the many findings in a recently released report exposing the growing face of world poverty.
HK3’s Phil Whelan and I used our weekly on-air chat to work through the why’s and what might be’s of some of the regions and countries exploring their current standing and hypothesising on the likelihood of it changing and the catalysts that may bring it about.
My end of the argument starts and ends with people, but it relies heavily on technology being an enabler allowing people across the planet to access to a digital world and marketplace and is based on 48% of the world’s population currently having access to the internet rising to 80% by 2020.
This digital world has already begun to alter what it means to be human, to have, to consume and to be aware of and has moved possibility beyond geography to allow those not in close proximity with each other to interact and engage.
This growing transparency and contentedness also brings it with the obligation to shine a light on poverty poor, to bring the need for equity to the attention of those on behalf of those that can not yet speak for themselves.
In this same space small business, entrepreneurs, solopreneuers, brilliant ideas, remote workers, underutilised assets are all connected to marketplaces, thinking, resources and each other, and although this will not in itself stop poverty it will help to remove the physical geographic borders and the lack of access to goods, services, advice and information that has historically hindered growth.
This led Phil to ask whether one of the ways to even-up global wealth distribution may be for us all to adopt a start-up mindset that allows us to take the best of who we are, the best of where we are, question all the old paradigms and assumptions and seek out new ways to twist and bend the physical and digital worlds together to better serve our future needs.
I’m fairly sure this on-air chat hasn’t solved world poverty, but I am confident that the more of these discussions we all have; the more we continue to speak for those that can’t yet; the more we demand an end to poverty and insist on equity and access for all, the sooner we can change the colour on the poverty maps above from blood red to neon green.
A fascinating chat, listen now (14 minutes 50 seconds), share it around and add your voice to this challenge.
HK3’s Phil Whelan was feeling a bit nostalgic this week as we looked back on the gold old days of wearing watches to tell the time and maybe the direction you’re heading in and how over the last decade or so its become “uncool”, until he recently noticed a growing band of tech wearables back on people’s wrist.
We chatted about Fitbit’s and similar wearables that were all the rage, how many early adopters seem to disillusioned with them as they find no real on going purpose in them and my belief that these devices will have a resurrection very soon as we begin to find more purposeful things to do with them.
This led us on to the incredible medical interventions and insights these devices have already brought about and will bring about, how through constantly on tech we are for the first-time getting real-time digital insights into our body and its working and the shift towards wellness that this is bringing about.
We then moved on to explore medical tech, remote medical robots, artificial intelligence diagnosis and the rise of health technology to explore a medical world that is just emerging in which we can live to 120 years of age and beyond in relatively good health using a combination of technology and human desire.
Have a listen now (16 minutes 51 seconds)…
Our supermarkets and wholesalers throw out food that is still edible, as use by dates reach their expiry and fruit becomes blemished, but in Sweden WeFood has opened a new supermarket that collects these foods and sells them at a 30-50% discount.
Volunteers collect produce from traditional supermarkets, importers, butchers, bakers and growers and sell them to both low-income shoppers and to anyone who is concerned about food waste.
A great solution to a food shortage problem that is rarely about food availability, but rather about a lack of sharing and access.
In these weeks on air segments, I also chatted with Austereo’s Anthony Tilli and ABC Far North’s Kier Shorey about the Dr Google app that lets you complain to you mobile phone about your ailments and symptoms, and just like a digital mother / Doctor it will tell you what’s wrong with you and what to do about it.
This will definetly be a must have for all Cyebrchondriacs, those that are constantly Googling to find out what’s wrong with them, but before you write if off, the innards of this app is the same Artificial Intelligence “secret sauce” being used in by Doctors in Hospitals around the world for the exact same thing.
Have a listen now for these stories, Facebook Live‘s launch and why it might be important to the Future of Communication and Oculus Rift’s latest gizmo Social Trivia, that lets’ you put on a Virtual Reality headset and meet your mates inside the screen.
Austereo – Anthony Tilli – 4 minutes 51 seconds
ABC Far North – Kier Shorey – 11 minutes 53 seconds
What does the workplace future hold for today’s preschoolers?
Our kids will have 14 jobs in six careers, and 60 percent of the tasks they’ll do in 2020 have not been invented yet, according to Melbourne-based futurist Morris Miselowski (businessfuturist.com).
Where will those jobs be, and what will they be like?
When Morris told parents years ago their children would be gaming for a job, they were horrified.
Gamification is going to be where a lot of the jobs are, with $80,000 starting salaries. Virtual realities can be used to trial new habits, teach people to do things or for online learning, and doctors and psychologists already use gamification to learn about how the mind works. “It’s not just about designing games,” says Morris.
Will our kids be worse or better off? It won’t necessarily be either, just different, says Morris. Rather than the nine to five, our kids will have a portfolio of tasks. Their central income will be less certain, and likely supplemented by casualised activities such as selling on Etsy or renting out a room on AirBnB. “They’ll work until they’re 90, live until they’re 120 or beyond,” says Morris.
The ‘gig economy’ will grow through online talent platforms like upwork.com and freelancer.com, which already connect workers with hirers around the world.
The downside is these sites are pushing pay-rates down, as freelancers outbid one another in a race to the bottom.
While incomes might fall, our kids will focus on experiences rather than ownership. “They’ll drive the car for a weekend rather than own the car,” says Morris. On-demand 3D printing is about to transform our ability to produce our own stuff at next to no cost and will open up as yet undreamt of jobs. “You’ll buy a template for a pair of Size 9 shoes and tailor their look to suit you. I believe tomorrow’s billionaire sits inside that industry.”
The simple jobs, such as driving taxis, will be performed by robots, says forecaster BIS Shrapnel’s Chief Economist, Frank Gelber. Employment in those areas will fall, but the offset is that our income will buy more and there’ll be fewer jobs required to produce a product or service. The ageing population means a lower proportion of people in the workforce, so there’ll be plenty of jobs for those who want them – and most will still require human input.
Frank advises kids to train for what they’d like to do, but with much more of an eye to the end product and the use of technology. An example is architectural technology replacing the need for draughtsmen. “We still need the architects, but the way they do their job has changed.”
To prepare for a digital world, girls at Sydney’s Roseville College are learning to ‘code with purpose’.
This skill is much more than learning to write in ‘computer language’, says the school’s Teaching and Learning Innovation Executive, Abi Woldhuis. Rather, it develops skills the future demands, such as advanced problem solving and the ability to identify and break problems into manageable chunks. “It also requires communication and collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.”
At last year’s NSW SAP Young ICT Explorers competition, Roseville Year 5 and 6 students took first, second and third place for real-world coding solutions: a sensor to spot food on a sushi train past its use-by date; a device to locate a lost cochlear implant; and a remote monitor to check on a non-tech savvy loved one’s welfare.
“Future employees will need to know more than how to use a computer,” says Abi. “They will need to understand how computers work, what makes software and apps operate, how to troubleshoot and how technology integrates with business operations. This will no longer be the sole domain of dedicated programmers.”
Our kids will have a lifelong education, and not necessarily a formal one, says Morris. ‘Nano-degrees’ will break down learning into relevant and bite-sized certifications for workers.
The future is not all high-tech, though. Handmade items will go head to head with mass-produced brands on sites like notonthehighstreet.com “Our kids will nhave the opportunity to be an artisan, to truly be a craftsperson,” Morris said.
Passports at the Ready
Our kids will encounter not just techno-change, but geo-change. It’ll be far more common to move overseas for assignments, says Peter Noblet, Senior Regional Director of Hays recruitment agency. Multinational organisations will move their talent between international offices to their most dynamic and skillsdeprived markets.
That means today’s preschoolers will need language skills, a sensitivity to what works in different geographies, flexibility to lean into the changes of a digital world, and adaptability so they can quickly settle into a new environment, says Peter.
To the Future – and Beyond!
Don’t fret, Morris Miselowski tells parents. Opportunity looms.
Instead of smothering our kids with love and telling them how they should act, we need to allow them space to evolve. “To us, it seems like science fiction, but to our kids, it’s normal. We parents crave linear, but the future will be messy. Our kids will be creating jobs, not getting jobs. Anything is possible.”
reprinted from CHILD Magazine, written by Natalie Ritchie
A picture paints a thousand words, a video a million and perhaps that explains why Mark Zuckerberg is so adamant to make Facebook Live the must have in live streaming and also why its News Feed was recently tweaked to bring these live broadcasts to the top of content displayed.
Facebook has been trialing this service for a couple of months allowing celebs to connect directly with their fans and in this short time they’ve had 246,000 live streams and 5.67 billion views and to kick-start what will hopefully be lots of interesting content Facebook is approaching influencers, celebs, TMZ and the American NFL offering 6 figure payments to those that can command an audience and keep them watching.
This new service takes on competitors Vine and Periscope and comes just as Meerkat, the originator of this relatively new genre, concedes defeat and reworks its audience and seems to fit in with the rising trend that we will experience information instead of reading it. This would also put Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift, the Virtual Reality headset, into perspective as a tool that will allow us to feel and 360 degree see what our community is doing, seeing and saying.
Radio HK3’s Phil Whelan is looking hard at this new tech as broadcasters around him begin trialing live broadcasting from their studio’s.
We also took a look at a recent HK report that showed that 50% of parents thought their children would do something on-line to embarrass the family and 17% of Hong Kong parents know their children have experienced on-line bullying. Phil thought this had something to do with how much homework children in Hong Kong are required to do, which puts them online at all hours and leaves them open to online concerns.
I checked the OECD’s average number of hours kids do homework around the world and found the Hong Kong and Australian Year 9 students do an average of 6 hours per week, with Shanghai China coming in at the top with 13.8 hours per week. This started an avalanche of caller comments, all adamant that their child does 6 hours per night, not per week, and citing recent local newspaper coverage of teenagers committing suicide reportedly driven by excess homework.
We also marked the recent sad passing of Ray Tomlinson email’s inventor and the person that bought the @ symbol out of an obscure bookkeeping life turning it into one of the most used characters on any keyboard.
As always a great chat, so have a listen now (17 minutes 21 seconds) and let me know if you have anything to add.
Society’s rules and etiquette’s have been framed by millions of years of physically regionalized human interactions.
These unique geographical places imparted their distinctive values, language, morays and norms to those that lived within its boundaries and taught us what was considered locally right from wrong.
These native rules were passed down orally from one generation to the next, reinforced over time by the education system and culture at large and then enshrined and enforced by local laws.
Our overriding universal culture has historically been dictated by the dominant power of our time – The Roman Empire (circa 100 AD), Song Dynasty China circa 1200 AD, Mughal Empire India circa 1700, and British Empire circa 1870.
Since the 1950’s our dominant culture has been America-centric and with the increase reach of broadcast media in this time, the world has been fed a steady diet of American culture leaving many in both developed and developing nations to measure themselves against American success standards.
With the growth in internet usage, currently 3.4 billion users worldwide or 40% of world population, rising to 5.5 billion by 2020, this single dominant geographic dominance is dwindling and being replaced by a growing diversity of people, languages, cultures, morays, expectations and views blending together from 196 countries, 2,500 languages and endless combinations of cultures all competing for relevancy and longevity.
In a global digital world geographic boundaries and limitations don’t exist, localised norms don’t exist, and culture, language, morays, laws, etiquette, expectations, values and time zones all collide in a new uncharted and ever evolving totally connected borderless fluid digital world.
In this new and evolving digital world we have irrevocably changed what it means to be human, to work, to learn, to love, to play and to belong, leaving us to ponder in the near future whose cultural values will we follow? Will these values be binding on all our behaviours and actions, or is culture instead becoming an issue of circumstance and not place.
All of these innovations and changes are ahead, each in their own way will alter our values, expectations and increasingly evolve what it means to be human.
To work through these and incorporate them into our future lives as meaningful and purposeful; to teach us how, where and when to use these technologies and how to share them evenly and inclusively, are all part of an evolving culture and it is imperative in a world where “new” and “different” are ordinary and mundane that we look to culture as our first unofficial guide to what is acceptable and what is not.
Listeners then took us in all directions with Jill wanting to talk about the impact Virtual Reality may have on Dentistry; John extending the chat into human longevity, genomics and wellness; Russell wanting to explore the impact driverless cars may have by the year 2050 and Bill rounding up the callers with his comments on the notion of digital divide and nano technology.
Have a listen to these podcasts and then add your thoughts on the future digital multiculturalism.
ABC Local – Nightlife with Tony Delroy – 2nd March 2016 (45 minutes 57 seconds) – complete with talkback callers
ABC Far North- Phil Staley – 1st March 2016 (13 minutes 49 seconds)