Posts Tagged ‘Small Business’

Growing and Scaling your Business

March 25, 2010

Asia-Pacific region winners of the Dell Small Business Excellence Award were privileged to spend two days with Dell in New Delhi, India.  The theme of the two days was on ways to grow and scale your business from small to large. The award winners in attendance were:

   

Shown Left to Right: A. Long (QSR International), J. Owen (QSR International), M. Dell (Dell), K. Thomas (QSR International)

Michael Dell (founder, chairman and CEO of Dell) met with the winners and fielded questions from the winners.  Michael covered many topics, including environmental accountability, forming partnerships, taking risks, future of technology, and utilizing social media.

Michael was asked if he had this time over again, and was to start-up and grow Dell again, what would he do differently.  Michael said he would focus more on developing talent; that it is important to recognize the capabilities of your people and develop them accordingly, as well as hire people with the right capabilities.  If there was one single piece of advice for a small business – it was talent management.

On risk taking, Michael stated that “failure is an opportunity to learn”.  He would rather start 10 projects and have 7 of them be successful, than to start 5 projects and have 5 of them be successful.

On the future of technology, Michael believes that television viewing will fundamentally shift, that people will watch what they want, when they want.  That people are looking for data convergence, not device convergence.  That the future will be about different devices (personal computers, mobiles, televisions, etc.) that have their data synced in the cloud.  Furthermore, there will be new innovations and new business models, which usually come from new players.

Amit Midha (President and Corporate VP – APJ SMB, Dell), Satya Narayanan (Founder, Career Launcher), and Rajan Anandan (Managing Director, Microsoft India) talked about managing growth and the challenges of scaling up.  Rajan Anandan who is also an angel investor stated that he gets worried when companies tell him they have more than 10% of the market.  He believes that companies in this position need to redefine their market by thinking about how to adapt their product or service to new markets.  In a similar fashion, Satya Narayanan stated that a business needs to reinvent itself every three to five years to sustain growth.

Michael Buck (Director Global SMB Online, Dell), Sridhar Seshadri (Country Head – Online Sales and Operations, Google India), and Neeraj Roy (CEO, Hungama Mobile) talked about best practices for websites and social media.  Michael Buck spoke about the importance of experimenting with changes to your website and measuring the outcomes, as well as the effectiveness of various forms of online advertising.

Other sessions over the two days covered financing, branding, and technology.  In summary, I found that I gained fresh insights and inspiration to grow and scale my business.  The next 2-3 years will be very interesting for QSR International, and likewise I imagine for the other companies that attended.

Afterwards, Nicole Gemmell (Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Dell) visited our Melbourne office and produced the following video.

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Winning The Age/D&B Business Awards

December 1, 2009

On the 8 November 2009, QSR International was announced in The Age as the winner of The Age/D&B Business Award for Information Technology and Business Services.  The award recognizes excellence in business performance and financial management.  The award is unique in that it operates on an invitation only basis, with invitations based on the strength of the companies financial profile within the D&B database.

On the 27 November 2009, category winners (from Manufacturing, Country & Rural, Building & Allied Industries, Retail, IT & Business Services, Exporter & Wholesaler, New Company) of The Age/D&B Business Awards were recognized at a ceremony held at Champions within Federation Square.  The exciting news was QSR International was awarded The Age/D&B Victorian Business of the Year Award.  The following day the details were published in The Age.

Shown Left to Right: W. Fitzsimmons, S. Soubra, A. Long, J. Owen, D. Gage, J. Chang, M. Sketchley, H. Horak, K. Thomas, N. Choi

It is great to be recognized as an outstanding Information Technology business, and even more so as a standout business amongst diverse categories of businesses.  QSR International’s success can be attributed to its dedicated staff, business partners, resellers, and trainers who work diligently to better serve our customers.

To finish I quote Mario Andretti (1940-), American automobile racing driver  

Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.

Innovative Use of Technology

September 22, 2009

Today, QSR International was announced the Australian winner of the 2009 Dell Small Business Excellence Award.  There were more than 150 entries for the award and 10 highly innovative finalists.  The award recognizes innovative use of information technology to better serve customers, improve the customer experience, better manage business operations, improve the success of the business, and create a competitive advantage.

Shown: D. Harrigan (Dell), A. Long (QSR International), J. Owen (QSR International), G. Newey (Excom)

Shown Left to Right: D. Harrigan (Dell), A. Long (QSR International), J. Owen (QSR International), G. Newey (EXCOM)

Finalists were invited to submit a 3 minute video for the judges, which can be viewed below.

QSR International develops the world’s leading qualitative data analysis software (NVivo) and uses the software to better understand our customers.  Using NVivo to analyze our customer needs has resulted in direct improvements to our software and how we interact with our customers.  NVivo enables analysis to be undertaken on a range of data types; including rich text, audio, video, and pictures.  This allowed for evidence to be collected, and decisions to be made based on qualitative data (such as interviews, focus groups, and open-ended surveys), rather than relying solely on more traditional quantitative data (such as multi-choice surveys) and personal bias.  I outline below some of the ways we use information technology to better serve our customers.

In 2007, we ran a beta test program for NVivo 8 involving beta testers located in 20 different countries.  The discussions were managed using online discussion forums and interactive webcasts, and the forum threads and digital recordings from the webcasts were analyzed using the beta version of NVivo 8, which provided an evidence based approach to understand and prioritize changes needed within the software prior to release, and ensured our customers were delighted with the final release.  For example, the granularity of audio or video that could be analyzed was reduced from one second to a tenth of a second to facilitate delineation of speech; the format of transcripts that could be imported was made to be more flexible to support other software; and the default view for photos was changed to match customer preference.

In 2008, we conducted an online survey with our existing and potential customers to better understand our market and their perceptions about NVivo 8.  Again, the survey results (predominately open-ended text responses) were analyzed using NVivo 8.  Analysis of the 2008 customer survey revealed that seven of our top 10 customer concerns were not about specific software features, but rather concerns such as increasing the availability of training, extending customer support hours, providing additional user resources, and localizing the software into new languages.  These findings identified business opportunities that were quickly implemented, and greatly assisted in prioritizing the scope for the next major software release.  The customer survey also revealed why our customers enjoy using NVivo; namely the ability to organize, query, and analyze their data; as well as the familiar user interface and flexibility of the software.

In addition, our online discussion forums facilitate regular dialogue between customers, and between us and our customers.  Sub-forums allow interactions amongst specialist groups such as authorized trainers of our software.  Interactive webcasts are also used to facilitate software demonstrations to potential customers across the globe, delivery of comprehensive online training, and personalized live technical support.

The benefit of having our own staff use our software to analyze customer feedback was that they were able to identify feature gaps and usability issues within the software because they were using it in a manner similar to our customers.  Our people were in the best position to ensure that feature gaps and usability issues were addressed by personally advocating their resolution.  For example, staff found transcription of audio or video within the software was frustrating because there was no automatic skip-back option when playing after pausing, or that the software’s auto-save feature would unintentionally disrupt the transcription process and result in the transcriber ‘losing their place’.  These issues were subsequently rectified as part of a service pack release.

The ability to collaborate with customers is paramount to ensure we explore innovative possibilities that result in outstanding software and services.  We’ve accomplished this by interacting with our global customer base through online technologies (forums and webcasts) and using our own software to analyze customer feedback.  This has enabled us to prioritize future software development to address customer desires and expectations.  It does not end here, but rather begins here.

To finish, I quote Michael Dell, Dell Chairman and CEO

Almost 25 years ago, as a small business, we introduced the direct model with a singular focus on listening to customers and working hard to get them exactly what they need. Listening and delivering on behalf of customers has been instrumental in our growth. Our partnerships give us an opportunity to highlight the successes of today’s small businesses around the world.