March 15, 2018

5 Innovative Australian Companies You Should Know About

March 15, 2018

5 Innovative Australian Companies You Should Know About

Innovation, Business Growth, Business Strategy

Many organisations today are under pressure in the relentless race of being ahead of the curve.

Whether it’s needing to enter new markets, achieve a sales breakthrough, expand margins, or deliver high-quality and low-cost products, businesses need to have an innovation imperative if they want to get ahead and stay relevant.

And to refuse to innovate means to risk losing your market share to other entrants, losing your best talent, and ultimately losing your business.

Innovation powers curiosity, entrepreneurship, and lean thinking. But true innovation is not just a process. If you want your business to be revolutionary, embedding innovation in your culture is the key.

For this article, we interviewed some of the innovative companies in Australia in which we can all take inspiration from.

 

1. Codan

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Codan is an international company that develops rugged and reliable electronics solutions for government, corporate, NGO, and consumer markets across the globe.

  • How was this company started?

We started with just three engineers from Adelaide University who created an electronics repair business in the backyard of one of the founders’ father’s home.

  • How did the process of building your software/technology work?

Initially, we created the tech in response to a tender from the Royal Flying Doctor Service for a High Frequency (HF) radio. This grew into supplying international aid and humanitarian organisations. We invest around 10% of net sales in product development and have an “innovate or die” mindset.

  • What do your customers see the most value in your software/technology?

Our clients view our products as “bulletproof”, which has a proven track record of performing well in rugged, remote environments.

  • What are your priorities this year, and why?

To scale Minetec, a business we acquired that has been in startup mode for five years. We will reach the inflection point to scale during 2018. We also need to complete the Cascade LMR product solution to drive higher-value sales and become more relevant to our customers.

  • What other innovative companies do you admire?

We keep a close watch on companies like Cochlear, who have successfully built a leading international technology and marketing business.  

 

2. Cashflow Manager

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Cashflow Manager is an accounting software for small businesses. They offer a range of easy-to-use desktop, mobile, and cloud accounting solutions so businesses can take control of their bookkeeping.

  • How was this company started?

Our company was founded upon the desire to prevent small businesses from failing. The founder saw that small businesses that should have thrived fail time and time again. In almost every case, it was because business owners either didn’t understand or have the time for keeping accurate records of their accounts. To help address this, we developed a simple step-by-step system to help them keep better records.

The Cashflow Manager system helps business owners keep accurate and thorough records that can withstand even the most stringent tax audit.

Small businesses began to take up the system at a rapid pace, and within a few short years, over 3,500 Australian accountants were recommending it to their small-business clients.

Cashflow Manager launched in North America and the United Kingdom with similar success. Today, more than 400,000 Cashflow Manager systems have been sold in Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

  • How did the process of building your software/technology work?

Cashflow Manager continues to stay dedicated to seeing small businesses manage their business financials well. The company has grown and evolved since the ’90s with consumer demands and technology changes.

Starting as a printed book over two decades ago, our first software application was built with the goal of being as simple as pen and paper. We now offer both Cloud and downloadable desktop solutions — as well as our original books!

As times change, we will continue to work with our customers and the demands of the changing world to deliver our brand promise of a simple booking solution to small businesses all around the world.

  • What do your customers see the most value in your software/technology?

Customers continually provide feedback on the simplicity and ease of using Cashflow Manager software.

  • What are your priorities this year, and why?

Our priority as an organisation this year is to deliver more convenience and better products to our customers through a subscription model, as we review the customer journey to deliver an enhanced experience and trusted relationship.

  • What other innovative companies do you admire?

Bayer is a true global contributor to quality of life through innovation. They live their brand purpose of contributing to finding solutions to some of the major challenges of our time.

From the digitisation of farming to help farmers get the best out of their fields with minimal environmental impact to improving the taste and convenience of vegetables, to extending cancer patients’ expected lifespan, Bayer is truly changing the world and a leader in innovation.

Netflix, Airbnb, Uber, and Facebook all continue to meet unknown needs of everyday people and somehow seamlessly become part of your life, so you can’t live without them. They bring joy, convenience, and communication to live life comfortably.

 

3. Envirosuite

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Envirosuite is a powerful scalable SaaS platform that brings speed, efficiency and cost savings to environmental compliance, investigations, and operational planning.

  • How was this company started?

We started out as a consultancy that began to develop environmental management software called AirXpert, over 10 years ago. In 2011, this became what we now know as Envirosuite, and the product continued to evolve as we got more feedback from the market.

We have grown the software business over the past few years and last year divested our consulting arm to focus on being a SaaS business. We currently have around 50 Environmental Engineers, Meteorologists, Business Development Managers, Analysts, Software Developers, Designers, Finance Professionals, and Marketers.

Our team combines recognised innovators in environmental science with vision and passion, and a technology development team that has put us at the forefront of what is possible today. This passion for innovation, excellence, and client satisfaction is what makes Envirosuite such an exciting company.

  • How did the process of building your software/technology work?

Since day one, our purpose has always been to create deceptively simple solutions to complex environmental challenges. Behind an intuitive interface is a powerful set of models and algorithms that run on demand to give deep insights in real time.

The algorithms we use today were developed by experienced environmental engineers and meteorologists. The software development process was stepped up a few years ago to upgrade to a scalable cloud-based system and accelerate market readiness. Our development team has been very successful in keeping to budget and schedule while producing a world-leading product. We have a technology roadmap that looks to continuous enhancement and improvements in Envirosuite.

Our secure data platform runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google, protecting clients from data loss while in-use, in-motion, and at-rest. Our data security protocols ensure that confidential and proprietary client data is protected physically and virtually, accessible only by authorised users. 

  • What do your customers see the most value in your software/technology?

Traditionally, environmental management is seen as a cost and a chore for many businesses. Tracking and acting on environmental impact has always been a slow and complex process. Envirosuite’s value is in its ability to translate environmental data into easy-to-understand actions in real-time, reducing cost while improving functionality and regulatory compliance. 

We provide value to large operations that are close to communities or in urban areas who want to stay ahead of regulation, be good neighbours, and make best use of their environmental data to drive operational efficiencies. 

We’re also helping government regulators who manage community health and wellbeing. We provide them with a solution that monitors impacts and quickly helps locate where environmental breaches or data spikes might be coming from. This allows them to act faster and make a difference to the communities they serve.

  • What are your priorities this year, and why?

Our main priority this year is to boost sales across all regions. We also want to continue building relationships with some of the world’s biggest and most reputable operations in the markets we serve, especially wastewater, mining, ports, and environmental regulators.

We want to keep showing everyone that Envirosuite is the most comprehensive and intuitive real-time monitoring, investigative and predictive environmental management software in the world. 

To this day, every time we show someone Envirosuite’s capabilities, they are blown away. We want to keep turning heads at a rapid pace!  

  • What other innovative companies do you admire?

We take inspiration from companies with the same passion as us, those who create deceptively simple solutions to complex challenges by making it look like magic. 

Companies such as Google have literally revolutionised the digital world. They are turning incredibly complex data into a simple and accessible tool for everyone to access and understand. We believe Envirosuite achieves exactly the same outcome for anyone working in environmental management. 

We also take a lot of inspiration from the innovation of leading government organisations such as NASA and United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California EPA and air districts.

Their dedication to developing policy based in science not only helps the environment but also provides a company like ours the tools that we have embedded into Envirosuite. They are committed to pushing the boundaries in the name of science to benefit humankind, which is something we deeply believe in. 

 

4. iCetana

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iCetana is a software company that addresses the problem of large live-monitoring video surveillance networks by intelligently displaying abnormal events to security operators.

  • How was this company started?

iCetana Pty Ltd commercialised patented innovative technology for “anomaly detection in large data sets” developed by Prof. Svetha Venkatesh and her team at Curtin University in Western Australia.

  • How did the process of building your software/technology work?

iCetana’s AI-assisted video monitoring analyses what normal is across the whole scene, looks for the abnormal, then alerts operators before it’s too late. It uses a rolling baseline to learn and adapt daily, establishing “new norms” to identify any unpredictable activity over time.

  • What do your customers see the most value in your software/technology?

Our customers report a rise from 0 to 10+ reportable events per 300 cameras every 24 hours. With iCetana, the operational flow of their security teams have enhanced and there has been a reduction of manned guarding budget by 10%. Our customers feel better equipped to meet evolving security and operational challenges. It’s transformed their approach to surveillance.

  • What are your priorities this year, and why?

Our focus this year is on finishing the development of our Gen2 solution, finalising large enterprise agreements that we have been working on, launching our partner program, and strengthening our partner network around the globe.

  • What other innovative companies do you admire?

We admire Google, Amazon, Tesla, and Microsoft. These companies know the importance of innovation and dedicated resources and made investments in R&D.

In Australia, HealthEngine and Atlassian are paving the way for innovation. HealthEngine has developed an advanced approach to accessing healthcare, and Atlassian’s collaboration tools are game-changers.

 

5. Vitality Works

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Vitality Works is a Sanitarium company, and they are passionate about health at work. They are a provider of workplace health services across Australia and New Zealand. They offer health assessments and engaging wellbeing programs be it in the corporate office or in the mining site.

  • How was this company started?

The owners of the well-known food company Sanitarium created an exciting health and wellbeing enterprise, Vitality Works. Since 2002, Vitality Works has been delivering innovative and transformational health outcomes across Australian and New Zealand workplaces.

In 2013, Vitality Works merged industry-leading service providers to offer an end-to-end health service for businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Now integrated together, Vitality Works is positioned to make a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of people and organisations.

  • How did the process of building your software/technology work?

Vitality Works has a dedicated Innovation team led by one of Vitality Works’ founders, Dr Louise Schofield. Our creative team is customer-focused, and they work closely with our in-house developers, architects, and UX designers in an agile approach to develop class-leading solutions that answer our customer needs. 

The entire Vitality Works team spend a half-day every month conducting client interviews. Listening to our clients’ needs and understanding their previous behaviours all help to inform what we focus on.

  • What do your customers see the most value in your software/technology?

Here are some of what our clients say about our offering:

“It allows me to offer everyone both on- and off-site the same wellbeing services, rather than have remote works be left out.” (Group HR Manager, Insurance)

“It gives me the ability to measure wellbeing via a comprehensive and robust tool rather than depend on traditional old-school metrics.” (Group HR Manager, Insurance)

“The highly tailored solution presented to us is why we choose to partner with Vitality Works” (Procurement Manager, Global Pharmaceutical Company)

“The Launchpad provides the one-stop shop engagement location for our widespread employee base.” (Procurement Manager, Global Pharmaceutical Company)

“We trust the Launchpad’s content. It’s evidence-based content, and I don’t even need to check.” (Strategic Health and Wellbeing Manager, International Airline)

  • What are your priorities this year, and why?

Vitality Works has a vision of transforming the way we do business to create more value for our clients. One key way we will achieve greater value generation is through an ongoing digitalisation of all of our services. We have two quests that will help us achieve this transformation.

1. Customer focus. Understanding our customer’s needs and providing enhanced insights, experiences, or outcomes (integrated solutions) rather than just products and services.

2. Nimbleness. Accelerating processes or simplifying how work gets done to become more strategically, operationally, and culturally agile.

  • What other innovative companies do you admire?

SpaceX, Tesla, and Rocketlab are great examples of innovative companies.

 

Over to You

Being an innovative business does not just mean being laser-focused on developing dramatically big changes. It also means making small meaningful changes in your organisation that are bound to impact people’s lives.

Remember, innovation is not a process. Real innovation is embedded in cultures to keep them alive. 

And there you have it, the five innovative Australian companies we can all take inspiration from.

Its your turn now — what innovations have you embedded in your organisation? Inspire us and the readers through the Comments section below.

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