InnovaBuzz Episode #47 – Peter Moriarty: itGenius

Peter Moriarty, itGenius

Peter Moriarty: itGenius

In this episode number 47, Peter Moriarty talks to us about cloud computing and how it is transforming the IT industry as well as enabling small business to be more effective, efficient and agile.  Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Listen to the Podcast

if you want to compete with the more established incumbents in your industry, your greatest advantage is the ability to be agile and the ability to use software that is agile as well.

Peter Moriarty

Show Highlights

Some of the highlights of this episode include:

  • Technology is a tool that can be used for leverage – it’s always about how do we serve small business owners, how do we get them to take advantage of technology, but get tech on their side.
  • Setup a unique secure password for each online account and use a password manager to store them in encrypted files and have them easily accessible.
  • Security best practice for Cloud accounts is to have 2-factor authentication setup.
  • By educating clients online, through blogs and social media, itGenius have not had to advertise for the past few years and the business is booming.
  • Investing time and energy in educating prospects online, through blogs and social media, replaced itGenius’ advertising spend at the same time, they have grown their business rapidly.

70% of our leads proceed to engage our services. That sounds like a ridiculously high number, but it’s because we’ve invested all of our energy in educating our prospects and giving as much as we can possibly give up front

Peter Moriarty

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Peter’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round.

  • #1 thing to be more innovative – Be yourself – bring your personal flair and energy to the business.
  • Best thing for new ideas – Learn from more mature markets and from other industries.
  • Favourite tool for innovation – Combine idea generation with strategic planning and be selective in what ideas to pursue.
  • Keep project / client on track – Follow up, follow up, follow up – and getting the right mix of personalities on your team.
  • Differentiate – Same as 1.

To Be a Leader

Educate yourself. Outlearn everybody else!

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Peter at the itGenius website , on Twitter @petermoriarty , or on Facebook

Suggested Guest

In addition to James Schramko who has been a guest on a previous podcast, but who we’d love to have back sometime, Peter suggested I interview one of the leaders at Google in Sydney to talk about some of the exciting changes happening in Chrome on a future InnovaBuzz podcast.  I’m looking forward to those introductions and sending an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Peter Moriarty.

Links

Full Transcript

Click to Read…
Intro:
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 46 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation become even more innovative.

In this episode, my guest is Peter Moriarty of itGenius.  Peter talks to us about cloud computing and how it is transforming the IT industry as well as enabling small business to be more effective, efficient and agile.  He shares some great advice on security and password management for cloud services, so this is well worth listening closely.

This is high paced interview, full of valuable advice, so strap yourself in, let’s head into the Hive and get the Buzz from Peter Moriarty.

Interview

Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz, and I’m really pleased to have here with me on this episode of the Innovabuzz Podcast from Sydney, in Australia, Peter Moriarty of itGenius. Now Peter is regarded as an expert in small business cloud computing, and he’s been ranked in the past as one of, maybe now, as one of Australia’s top 10 entrepreneurs under 30 by the SmartCompany and Australian Anthill productions. So, welcome, Peter. It’s a privilege to have you on the Innovabuzz Podcast.

Peter:
Thank you so much for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

Jürgen:
Now, Christie Hamilton of Benelds suggested that we interview you, so a big shout out and hello to Christie.

Peter:
Awesome. Yeah, Christie’s a good friend of mine, and I’ve actually got a hiking trip coming up with Christie in the next couple of weeks.

Jürgen:
Oh, okay. Well, have fun on that, and have fun, Christie! So, before we start talking about IT and technology and the cloud and innovation and all kinds of geeky stuff, let’s find out some more about you as a person. So, when you were a young child, and it sounds like that wasn’t all that long ago, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Peter:
Oh, interesting. I actually started in a Steiner school. So, I started most of my childhood without many computers, without a Game Boy, without a PlayStation, without any kind of tech stuff. And my parents actually split up, and my stepdad had a computer. So, when I was about nine, ten years old, I was drawn to this new thing that I hadn’t experienced much of before. And it kind of snowballed out of control from there, I guess. So, I went through school, I really got into the tech stuff. I’ve got quite a technical and quite a logical systems kind of brain, and what that allowed me to do is eventually get into technology. I started a business as a kidpreneur in high school, helping people with their computers and that kind of stuff. And once I got into my 20s, I decided that I wanted to start a company, I wanted to start a business, and I wanted to do it around the area of technology because that’s what interested me. And eight years ago, in its current form, we started itGenius, and it’s going absolutely great guns at the moment.

Jürgen:
I think you’re probably going back to the late 90s or early 2000s, there was a huge opportunity for that, wasn’t there? Because I remember when I first started with PCs, which was back in, I’m giving my age away here, that was back in the mid 1980s, and I got one of the very first home PCs. And I remember a nephew of mine was really interested in that. He was fascinated, because he stayed with us for a little while and played with that and went home and told his parents, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, that he wanted to get one of these things, and they said, Ah that’s a waste of money; it’s ridiculous. And then when I told them I thought was probably a good idea to let him have a play with those, they actually got him one. And he ended up going on a very similar course to you, but he ultimately became a consultant with Mckinsey.

Peter:
There you go.

Jürgen:
Interesting journey. That’s a great opportunity to get involved in IT these days, isn’t it. So, when did you first discover the cloud then, and realized that it wasn’t just about the box in front of you?

Peter:
Well, about eight years ago, we started as a traditional kind of managed service business. And we’ve always serviced small businesses, so organizations typically up to 100 to 200 staff at the max. We really love the small business market because my dad, being a builder, family business owner, small business owner, he was part of the generation, he’s a baby boomer that didn’t grow up with technology. When he was in high school, he had a bit of chalk and some slate; he didn’t have iPads or Chromebooks or anything like that. And I guess my passion has been, well, how can I help that generation to not feel like technology is a fear or something that they’re scared of or a black box sitting in the corner that they’ve got to throw cash at that they don’t really understand. We’re really passionate about how can we get business owners to see technology as a tool that can be used for leverage. So, that’s really the big why that drives what we do. About five years ago, we started getting really serious, oh probably six now, started getting really serious about cloud stuff. We started working with Google and the Google Apps suite, and we’re now Google’s #1 partner for small businesses across Australia and New Zealand, which is pretty cool. And yeah, we started seeing how things were changing. All of a sudden, we found that, hey, if I can put a customer’s emails on Google, then they’re not going to have the down time when their server goes offline in the office, or if their crappy ADSL internet connection, which most small businesses have, goes down, well then there’s not going to be down time for their staff. And if someone can use a cloud-based tool, like an online accounting system like Xero, well then their staff aren’t going to need to use remote desktop or VPNs to dial in to the clunky old server humming away under a desk anymore. And that really inspired us because a lot of the small business IT consulting industry were really fearful about the cloud because they thought that they would stop being able to sell servers. And for a long time and still sadly, some of those consultants are very anti-cloud because it’s eating into their revenue and their ability to make money selling boxes to people. But we decided, well, if the industry is going to go one way, if they’re going to yin, we’re going to yang, we’ll go the other way. And we went right deep, deep, deep into Google. We’ve now, over the last couple of years, stopped doing any Microsoft services, so we’re exclusively a Google consultancy. And our focus has just been on how can we liberate businesses and business owners to work from anywhere, to work from any device, and to have flexibility in how they grow their teams and shape their business. So, that cloud thing is now in our DNA. We’re now getting into Chromebooks and devices and cloud-based VOIP systems, and all that fun stuff. But at the core, it’s always about how do we serve small business owners, how do we get them to take advantage of technology, but get tech on their side.

Jürgen:
The idea of serving small businesses is really good, and a lot of my guests that I have on are very much in that mindset of serving the client, which I really appreciate that you’re in that category as well. But with the benefits of the cloud, as you put them, for the small business owner, it’s just enormous, isn’t it. And having access to your files, your data, and even software wherever you are is just magic.

Peter:
Absolutely. The big changes that we see is that previous software you install it on your machine, your Microsoft Office, your Outlook, and your MySQL, whatever you’re using. Even though you might think, well I only have to set it up once and then it kind of works, when you start to grow and scale a team, that’s when the hidden costs start to show up. You know, if you’ve got a team of 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 employees, over time, Sally who is sitting in the corner’s Outlook is going to drop out every now and again, and you’ll need to re-input a password and mess around with things. And then maybe Bob, who is sitting in the other corner, well, Microsoft Word isn’t quite working today; he’s got to do a reinstall. And that might lose half a day of productivity here, a couple of hours there. But the other costs are, well, you’ve got to call the IT guy again, and it’s another $200 an hour. And you just kind of get the bills at the end of the month and you pay it, and you’re not quite sure why, but you just do. Then there’s the server costs. It’s like, okay, well, we’ve got to maintain it and back it up, and do all of the other bits and pieces, and spend another $20,000 every three to five years on more capital infrastructure. The big change there is when you move to something that’s fully cloud-based and fully browser-based and Google, in particular, are born in the cloud, they’re born in the browser, just like the Xero versus MYOB conversation. When Google are born in the browser, it means that they just don’t have any legacy apps holding them back from innovating themselves. So Google are able to swiftly and quickly deliver updates to their platform, which is instantly rolled out to the now one billion people using Gmail, across the consumer and the business versions. And what that means is that they’re not trying to manage ten different versions of this software that have to work with ten different operating systems and ten different teams to manage all of that. They just have one platform to make use of. And it’s just like if Xero want to roll out a feature to their customers, they roll it out, and boom, all of a sudden, it goes across their hundreds of thousands of customers. I think Xero are nearly up to a million customers on their platform now. So, that’s really the reason, I guess, why we chose to work with Google and why we see it as so innovative and such a strong choice for small businesses; for all businesses, really, large businesses run it as well.

Jürgen:
That’s right. And I think they have enterprise plans.

Peter:
Of course. Well, a lot of large companies run it. Dick Smith, probably not so much anymore. We’ve done a little bit of work with those guys. But PWC are now a Google Apps partner. Woolworth’s are one of the largest Google Apps partners in the world. New South Wales Department of Education and Training have all students, faculty members, and staff, you know, teachers running on it. Over a million mailboxes in that account, which is crazy. They get it for free, lucky them. But there’s certainly plenty of large organizations that are now running Google Apps.

Jürgen:
And you touched on this, but the updating of the software, that was one thing that used to annoy me quite a bit, particularly with the accounting software. As a small business, you do your accounting software on a PC package, send the file to your accountant at the end of the financial year. They do the reconciliation and whatever adjustments that they need to do before submitting the taxation stuff. Then they’d send you back the file, the adjusted file, which you had to install on your PC, and that ended up being in the new version of the software. So then you had to pay to update your software so that you could read your data again. So, having it on the cloud, as you say, they just run out the updates and you put your accountant in as a … basically you can add them as your adviser, so they have access to the live data and any changes that they make to reconcile and so on. And also you can bring your bookkeeper in so everybody’s working off the same data. So it’s the same with the team thing.

Peter:
Absolutely.

Jürgen:
And the other thing that used to annoy the hell out of me when I started off the business, I was on Outlook. Actually, before, in the corporate world, I was on Lotus Notes, believe it or not, so you’ll all appreciate how painful that was. Although we did have some really neat apps in Lotus Notes. But as a mail client, it was painful. So, I was really excited to get onto Outlook. And within a short space of time, that database became bloated, and I was getting duplications because it was always replicating mail from the server, downloading it, and then uploading it back up. And so within probably about six months of that I decided, no, I’ve had enough of this, and I went to Google Apps, and I haven’t looked back since.

Peter:
Well, you’ve touched on a couple of important points there. There’s about three things that have changed. One is there’s just no need to attach large files to emails back and forward, send them back and forward anymore, because when you have an application that allows multiple people to work concurrently, then you just completely remove that whole process of sending stuff back and forward. And if you remember, as soon as your data file got too big for your accounting platform, you’d have to put it on a USB or hard drive and ship it. It got too messy. Next is there’s just no need to do that silly thing of inserting the CD and updating the software every couple of months because … or twice a year to get the new tax tables or whatever. It could automatically be rolled out and be updated because we’ve moved to a subscription model of software rather than a purchase and maintain model. Yeah, there’s a very different way of working now. And one of the best examples is without the need to download everything to your actual computer, that really changes the game, particularly with email. And the biggest shift that we see for businesses who are moving away from Outlook and over to the business version of Gmail, and I should note that you can bring your own domain name, you know, when you sign into Google Apps, you’re not using peter.moriarty_sexyhoney69@gmail.com, you know, I’ve actually got my business email address, my @itgenius.com email address is on Gmail. But once I’ve got that and once I’ve got my data in Google, if you think about the typical small business owner, they receive 200 to 300 emails per day, on any one day, 200 to 300 emails. But the challenge for a business owner is that we don’t really want to delete any of those emails because if a client emails us and says, “Hey, you know what, I want the same price as last year,” or “Hey, I want to sue you for something you did three years ago,” you’ve got to have those emails there. We’ve got to retain them. And the sad thing is for us, as the business owner, we don’t get to change jobs every three years and get a fresh inbox, we’ve got to keep five, ten, maybe fifteen years of emails with us. And the problem with that is with … even though Microsoft have done their very best to … you know, with Microsoft Exchange and with caching, and with Outlook and syncing and archiving and all those kind of band-aid solutions that they’ve put together, when you’ve got a mailbox of five or ten gigabytes worth of data and you do a search for an email from four years ago, it starts to fall over. It’s got to re-index the search, it starts to have challenges. Try and search for something older than 30 days on your phone, you’ve got no hope of that happening. Yes, when you use Gmail, and I open up a search for an email in 2011, bang, it comes up instantly because the only thing my computer is doing or the only thing the app on my phone is doing is displaying the results of Google’s super computer is doing all the hard work. And that, across any cloud platform, is the beauty of working on the cloud is that, yes, we need to have an internet connection; yes, we need to be connected. That presents its own challenges in some scenarios. But for the most part, as long as we’ve got that connectivity, well, then we’re able to instantly get access to the information that we need, and we are not relying on our local machine doing the heavy lifting. And for many people, they still haven’t migrated away from doing email the old way; they’re still downloading it from a POP server or from Exchange, and it’s living on their computer. And they’re wondering, well, when I search for that email that’s four years old, why am I getting a poor result. And then people put stuff into folders and it just … this whole ineffective, inefficient way of dealing with email, which hasn’t really changed in 20 years. So, we’re out to change that. That’s the problem we’re out to change.

Jürgen:
Yeah, and of course, you touched on the search within Google. I mean, Google’s pretty good at search, right. It works in their favor for the email as well. I remember the other thing I did when I first started using Outlook was build this folder structure, file structure, because I was very anal about that to file things away and be able to find things very easy. So, what I found was I would get an email, I would read it, I would say “yep, that’s one that no action necessary; I’ll file that away. I want to keep that.” So, I would take a minute or two to determine where should that be filed. I would then file it away. And then a couple of days later I’d think now, I should go back and refer to that email, because there was something that came up that I needed to refer back to it. And then it would take me about ten minutes to figure out where I actually filed it. And then I would do a search, and the search, as you say, with Microsoft isn’t really good or wasn’t in those days. And so I realized, hang on a minute, I’ve sort of spent 15 minutes for one email figuring out where to file it and then I still can’t find it. So, that was the other thing. Now I don’t … I have a few folders, but they’re kind of the day-to-day management things. But most of the things, I just … once I’ve dealt with it, I just go archive, bang, and I know it’s going to be easy to find.

Peter:
Yeah. Look, it certainly changes the game.

Jürgen:
Now, what about the elephant in the room and the people that say that Google or whoever it might be having all this data and all this power?

Peter:
Well, Google approached consumer accounts and business accounts very differently. When you participate in a free service like Gmail, Google are going to use your data. They will advertise to you. They will go through your emails. They will look through whatever they can to serve you ads because that’s their source of revenue. They’re now an $80 billion a year company, and I’d say, I think, still about 90% maybe even 95% of that still comes from advertising revenue. They’re working very hard to build out other businesses in home automation and auto and Google Apps, the enterprise business, and cloud is … you know, areas that they’re looking to build new businesses. But if you’re using a consumer service for free, there’s a bit of a quid pro quo. You’ve got to give up something, and that’s allowing Google to advertise to you. Now the business accounts are very different. They don’t advertise to you, they don’t read your emails, the only thing that Google uses your data for when you’re using a business account, so you pay your $5 a month for your Google Apps account, for each person in your business, and you say, alright okay Google, I don’t want you to advertise to me. And what that means is that Google keeps their nose out of things. Now they are going to use the aggregated analytics of all their users on their platform to gain insights about the products and what you’re using and what you’re clicking on so they can improve them, but they’re being independently audited and verified by many independent organizations to say that we do not use this data for advertising and also that they do not have any ownership over your data; they do not claim to own any of your intellectual property. And we get that question a lot. We gets lots of business owners saying, “Oh, well, Google owns all my data and subclause ABFD.2 in Google’s terms and conditions sounds like they want to take ownership of my data,” and the reality with that is that Google don’t really give a crap about your P&L sitting in Google sheets; they don’t actually care. Yes, they’ve got to look at your data, and they’ve got to be able to display your data to you and to share it with your team members as well, but they don’t really care about what data is actually in there. What they care about is well, how can they improve the products and all of the data is actually encrypted on all of Google’s servers. Between you and Google, it’s all encrypted. There’s lots of different ways to up the security of your account, like switching on two-factor authentication, which is free for all Google accounts. So, your data is very, very, very well protected. And in my opinion, much safer than sitting on a server or a box sitting in your office because for many, many, many businesses the administrative password for the server is sticky taped to the top of it or someone …

Jürgen:
Pass01

Peter:
Yeah, password1 or someone’s dog name then 123, you know, Rexy123 or something like that. And so that illusion of security where my data is safer because it’s within my office, I think it’s crazy. I’m scared about what data sits on my devices because if someone takes my laptop. Anyone who has physical access to a machine can break a password in a couple of minutes. You can run one command and reset a Windows password, reset a Mac password, and unless you’ve encrypted every file on the hard disk, it’s quite easy for someone to get into a local machine if they actually have physical access to that machine. So, that’s a bit of a myth that, well, my data is safer if it’s sitting in my actual office.

Jürgen:
Yeah, you raise a couple of really good points there, and I’ll ask you: What’s your recommendation for dealing with passwords because that’s something today, particular as we go on the cloud, and I mean there’s a whole range of different cloud services we could use, but we’ve talked about the Google Apps and you probably have a few different passwords for that. But the accounting software, so what’s your recommendation for managing passwords?

Peter:
Look, there are two things that are absolutely essential. There’s a pipe dream touted by IT guys that and tech blogs that you must have a unique and different password for every single website that you use. And for so long that has just been completely unattainable because even to remember 50 or 100 different passwords would be impossible. People then started coming up with a code or a system to have a unique password for each account, but there was a system to help them remember it, and by definition that is flawed because if someone works out your system, then they can just apply that to any one of the websites; that’s a bit silly. But you absolutely must use a password manager, a password vault like lastpass.com is my recommendation or Dashlane is another one. So, using either LastPass or Dashlane, they allow you to generate that unique password for every website that you access. You wouldn’t know what the password was to any of the sites because they’ll all be scrambled and jumbled, but with one master password that effectively unlocks it and allows you to access all of those sites. Now an important second step, and this is factor #2. Factor #2 is two-step verification, and that’s really the killer because two-step verification works in the same way in the digital world as it does in the physical world; if you’ve got a business bank account and the bank has given you a little key fob and it generates a little six-digit code, every minute it gives you a new code, there’s the same thing available for most critical business websites. So, you can set it up for Google, for Facebook, for Xero.com, for your Dropbox account, for any of your online services or for your Amazon account. Any service that’s online, you will typically be able to set up a second factor of authentication, and you can have them either send you a text message, most of them will allow you to do that, but the best way to do it is to use a little app. Google authenticator is a great app that works for all services, not just Google services. So you download the Google authenticator app for either your android device or your Apple device and use that as your second authenticating device. It generates the tokens for you. Now what that means is even if somebody got my user name and password for my Google Apps account, which is the keys to the house, it’s got everything, even if someone was able to guess my master password for the vault on LastPass, if someone was able to get my Xero user name and password, without physical access to my phone, which sits in my pocket, without that access to that device, there’s no way they’re getting into that account because it is locked down by that second factor. So, if you do those two things, if you scramble your password using a password manager, if you then use two-factor authentication for your high-profile sites, that is the best way that you can protect yourself. There is no full 100% guaranteed protection, but that’s ten times better than what most people have.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. I love LastPass. It’s really great because obviously with websites and with a heap of client passwords as well, clients kind of ask us to set up accounts for them in their websites and then they forget the password, so we set that up and share it with them.

Peter:
Oh, the sharing feature is great; absolutely brilliant.

Jürgen:
And it means that we don’t have to remember passwords either or where we’ve stored them. And it’s just brilliant.

Peter:
And to explain that to the listener, if you’ve got a virtual assistant or someone else in your business that you’d like to share the ability to log into a website but not actually share the password, if you both have LastPass accounts, you can effectively delegate access to one of your shared passwords and grant someone the ability to log into a site, it might be a WordPress blog, it might be your Xero account, whatever. You can give them access to log into the site without revealing the password to them. So, it means for the most part they can access the site but not have any control over it.

Jürgen:
That’s right. And you can turn that off with the click of a mouse if you need to. So, yeah, that’s really great advice around the password. I just thought I’d touch on that because you raised it there in terms of the security. Alright, so in terms of your own business, where do you get most of your business from? I guess a lot of it is through Google then or through the Google partnership.

Peter:
Look, we have many business partners. To be honest, most of our business comes from curious business owners. We specifically target what we call progressive and innovative business owners. We target business owners that have ambition who want to be leaders in their fields. Google is a little bit of a quirky one. We’re a bit different, and moving an organization from something like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook that, in many cases, has been entrenched for a number of years, if it’s an established business, it’s a big jump, it’s a big culture shift, and that does need to come from the top, it needs to come from the leader in the business. Now we need to seek out business owners and business leaders that are willing to do things a little bit differently. We’re yin-ing while everyone else is yang-ing. So business owners who are product aware, who understand, hey, I’ve heard about this Google thing. I’ve heard it can save people up to 70% on their costs because it’s all self-manageable and it never breaks and all that kind of stuff, those who know about the product will probably search something like Google Apps expert and find us. But for many business owners, we need to educate them on, okay, well what is Google Apps and why is it great for business. And so a lot of what we do is education. We teach business owners about the cloud, we teach business owners about working differently, we teach them the reality of what business technology looks like these days and not just what their IT consultant is feeding them. And that’s the key driver for me. That’s …. I guess my key role in the business is focusing on how we can educate and help liberate as many business owners as possible that technology can be used as a tool.

Jürgen:
Okay. And then how do you approach that education process?

Peter:
Primarily online. A lot of speaking, webinars, digital content. I guess the fancy term for it now is content marketing, content syndication. And so a lot of blogs, you know, blogs online, online information, social media. We haven’t done much paid advertising in the last couple of years; we’re about to start that up again, just because we’ve had a lot of customers find us and our biggest challenge has been scaling our sales team to be able to handle the amount of customers that find us because there’s a lot of people … particularly Google even sends us some of their leads, you know, businesses who have questions who need a little bit of hand holding with the process of going Google. So, yeah, there our main focus is with marketing side of things.

Jürgen:
Alright. Yeah. So, it’s interesting you mention people call it content marketing. Actually, I’ve started talking more about education because content … you talk content to people building websites, you need content, that’s gets intimidating and usually it falls over at that point because people are intimidated by having to do the content. And I’ve had …. Last week we published the interview with Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion, so he’s all about content marketing. But the message there was very clearly around education. Now tomorrow we’re going to publish the interview with Chris Marr from the Content Marketing Academy in the UK, and again it’s very much around education and serving the client. So, the message really about educating your client, about what you do, and the benefits of … in this case, going cloud computing, is really the key to marketing these days, isn’t it?

Peter:
Yeah, the fundamentals for us are to align business owners, to align for us what business owners’ goals are with the things that they need to learn and how they can actually implement them. Our goal is really to empower our customers. I think that’s the most important thing for us; when we can show someone hey if you switch from Outlook to Gmail and you can save 30 minutes a day in your inbox because you’re going to be a whole lot more productive, and hey if you switch your file storage to Google Drive, which works just like Dropbox does but it’s all integrated with the rest of the Google system, you know, if you switch your stuff to Google Drive, then you can get rid of the server and you can save all of this money. And by the way, if you’re using the Google App system, you can manage all your own IT, you can reset your own passwords, you can add and remove staff, you can have control of it and you can kind of delete the IT guy from the picture. Empowering business owners with that information, just giving them that education, showing them okay well this is what the future could look like, for many it’s no question that it’s the right thing for those business owners to move forward for us. So, the business owners that do get in touch with us and start a conversation around Google Apps, 70% of those proceed to engage our services to get set up on the Google platform. And that sounds like a ridiculously high number, but it’s because we’ve invested all of our energy in educating our prospects and giving as much as we can possibly give up front. We don’t hide anything, we put prices publicly, we put absolutely everything out there, and then those business owners that say yes, it’s the right time for me to work with itGenius, they get in touch, they engage with us, and then we get started helping them out.

Jürgen:
Yeah, well, there’s a lot of good messages in that: openness, transparency, educating your client… that really

Peter:
I just believe it’s critical …

Jürgen:
… connects with people.

Peter:
I think in the world that we’re in now, and our customers aren’t Gen Y, they’re not. They’re, our customers are 35 to 55 years old, they’re probably Gen X or baby boomer and they’ve been running their business for a number of years. They’re not particularly going to be the most tech savvy people in the world. They’re going to be savvy, but they’re not going to be tech experts; that’s why they’re coming to a tech expert. But the way that our consumers are buying things, and this includes business consumers as well, is changing because we’re used to the world of being able to go to Xero.com, punching in your credit card, pay your $50 a month, and hey presto, I’ve got an accounting system. I don’t have to buy it off the shelf, put the CD in, install it, all that kind of stuff. I can go and do that in 90 seconds and have a fully functioning online accounting system just by punching in my credit cards. And business owners and business consumers are taking that approach to everything. They don’t want to wait around. If it’s Saturday afternoon and they’re sitting on the couch with their iPad and they see a Facebook ad, they don’t want to wait until Monday to speak to one of your BDMs, they don’t want to put an email form in with an inquiry and wait for someone to call them back. They want an answer now, and they want to take action now as well. So, if that’s how your customers are consuming, what you do, if that’s how your customers are consuming their consumer content, well you can be sure that they’re going to respond to being able to consume in the same way in businesses as well. And if you’re not thinking along those terms, then your competitors will be.

Jürgen:
Yes. And that’s a great message; great thing to remember. And I think we had that message from Marcus a couple of weeks ago, and the same message is coming through the interview with Chris Marr that we’ll publish tomorrow. Well, I’m talking tomorrow, but by the time this is live for our audience, of course, it will have been published. Alright, this has been great, Peter. I really appreciate your taking the time with us. I think we should move on because we’ve spent quite a bit of time already. It’s time to move on to the innovation round, which is designed to help our audience, and they’re primarily innovators and leaders in their field as well, so it’s very consistent with your target avatar, and give them some tips from your experience in business. So, I’m going to ask you a series of five questions, and hopefully you’ll give us some really insightful answers.

Peter:
I haven’t prepared for these, so I’m going to give it to you raw. Hopefully they’re useful.

Jürgen:
Okay. Well, I think raw typically works best because successful people have usually got this front of mind. So, what’s the #1 thing anyone needs to do to be more innovative?

Peter:
To be more innovative …. I think that innovation, particularly from a business leader, comes from within. And I think the key to bringing that out from within is to be true to yourself. When you think about successful entrepreneurs like the Steve Jobs and the Bransons and the Gary V’s of the world, they are 100% happy to be themselves and bring their own personal flare to their business. For example, myself, you know, I love 4-wheel driving and part of what we show and what our business is about is being able to work flexibly. And so I’ll post silly photos on Facebook of me sitting on the roof of my 4-wheel drive on the top of a mountain, shot from a drone, with my laptop. Or answering a phone call, something like. You know, what you can do to lead your business is to really don’t be afraid to be you and to bring that personal flair to the business, because that energy and that culture …. The business doesn’t have to be about you, but bringing that energy and that flair to the business will direct something special that may allow you to really stand out compared to your competitors.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. I did a Facebook Live broadcast on the weekend in my cycling lycra. Does that count?

Peter:
Oh, wonderful. Yeah, it does. It does. Well, as long as you link it back to business somehow.

Jürgen:
Well, it was about business. Alright, what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas?

Peter:
I think for us, particularly in our industry, is to look to … Two things. Number 1 is to look to other markets that are more mature than our market. We work primarily across Australia and New Zealand. And with the IT technology space, we find that the U.S. is typically around two to three years ahead of us, although the gap is certainly closing. The UK are pretty similar as well. So looking to those markets to direct how we work has been a real big one for us over the years. Number 2 would be to look into other industries and don’t base our strategies on what our competitors are doing, first base our strategies on primarily other business models, other industries, other completely different areas of business, and try and work out how we can adapt them to our business, and don’t start on the drawing board of mimicking someone else in your industry. Start on the drawing board with something completely new and completely different. An example of that is that our business …. you know, we started as a traditional IT consultancy, and we looked to other IT consultancies on how they structured their businesses, and we hired all Australian staff, and we tried to build a managed service practice. And it worked, but it was always less than 5% net profit per month. Like it was just a typical IT services business, and we had the same challenges that all of our competitors had. And it was the moment that we started saying okay, well, what if we had some offshore staff helping to manage the delivery in our team, even though none of our competitors were doing that because it just wasn’t the way things were done. What if we started using online marketing campaigns and landing pages and automated webinars, which none of our competitors were doing because no one else was doing it in our industry; could that work? And as soon as we started taking ideas, radically, radically different ideas from completely different industries and just trying them in our business because we had nothing to lose, well, that’s when we started to really, really succeed. And we’ve continued to do that. It is now a strategy that anytime we find ourselves doing something just because the rest of the industry is doing it, we’ve got to stop ourselves and go wait, hold on, let’s have a think about this. Is there … What is the actual best way to do this if we were to start from scratch?

Jürgen:
That’s fantastic advice. And I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts in the last couple of weeks because we’ve got another idea I’m developing with another business partner, and I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts that are completely unrelated to this, but looking at what is the strategy behind their success. And it’s amazing, when you take that approach, how many ideas you can actually generate from that. So, it’s really good advice. Alright, well maybe we know the answer to this. What’s your favorite tool or system for improving productivity and allowing you to be more innovative?

Peter:
Oh, I’m going to go against the grain on what you’re probably guessing. I think what’s most important to me when I think about innovation and actually executing innovation is that many entrepreneurs … well, I find this myself, I’m sure other entrepreneurs find this as well, is that we’re great at coming up with ideas, particularly if you’re the founder / visionary kind of entrepreneur who comes up with ideas and comes up with crazy things. The most important thing for me is actually not my ideas. The most important thing for me is the ideas that I say no to. And I have forced myself, I have beat myself into a pulp to become a planner and become a more strategic and diligent business operator rather than just being that crazy ideas guy. And I think the most important thing for us to be successful in our idea generation and product launches and productivity for us is actually the planning side and saying no to lots of things. It’s setting three-year targets and one-year targets and quarterly targets and then saying we will not deviate from this plan because we’ve got so many ideas, these are the ones that we’re going to put into place this quarter, and trying super, super, super, super hard not to actually launch any new products, not to launch any new services. Now sometimes some will come along and we’re just compelled to do it because they are just so compelling that we absolutely have to. But the most important thing for me is actually what we say no to, and that’s having also my team around me to be involved in the decision-making process on whether or not we actually execute ideas. Anytime I’ve got an idea, I now have to run it past the rest of the team, which is probably the best thing because we try and squash at least two out of three ideas to make sure that we’re actually kept in check on what our strategic goals are for the business.

Jürgen:
That’s actually really, really good advice because I think the shiny new object syndrome is a term that comes up in a lot of groups that I’m in, and I think that’s exactly that, that we have these new ideas and the new thing, the variety is such a compelling driver that we tend to jump from one thing to the other. So, how do you … Do you have a system for going about that, or is it what you said, that basically you run it by the rest of the team?

Peter:
Well, we’re a big fan in terms of structuring the business and the goals. We’re a big fan of the Rockefeller Habits, which was initially a book by Verne Harnish of that title, but the revised book is called Scaling Up. That’s our planning process. That has nothing to do with idea generation or innovation; that has to do with how you plan the business and how you execute goals and align your team towards achieving those goals. I think adhering to that management structure and the discipline of business growth and working towards business goals using those methodologies … I think that really aids us, that when we do do idea generation, well we don’t think let’s go and implement this tomorrow and give it a go or try and do it over the weekend. We actually take it to the management team and we say hey guys, look, I know that we’ve got all these things on our quarterly priorities; here’s something that’s come up. Is this important enough for us to deviate from our plan? And just asking that question, that is the best qualifying question for any idea that comes up because it’s got to be pretty good for us to put aside the six or the eight or the ten things that we’ve said we’re going to focus on this quarter. You know, it’s got to be pretty good to push one of those aside or multiple of those aside to chase a new idea.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice. I think a lot of small businesses really don’t have good planning systems in place. And what you’ve described there is actually really good. And we tend to do a lot of planning and focusing on 90-day objectives and that, but we probably should be more disciplined in the way that you describe around ideas. So, something I’ve learned as well. Alright, so what’s the best way to keep a project or a client on track?

Peter:
Ohhhhh…. Look, it would have to be follow up, follow up, follow up. I think having the right team members with the right personalities on your team. And that is if you’re a visionary idea generation entrepreneur, that is probably not you. It means studying DISC profiling and understanding how people work and understanding the different work-type personalities and putting the right people in the right seats on the bus, as they say, on the team. I think that’s it; you’ve got to have the right person who cares about having things done right and having projects run well actually running your projects. Because when you find that person who really cares about that and has their personal goals aligned with achieving that business objective, then they’ll be able to do that. That’s my approach to it, being the entrepreneur that is better at the idea generation. I am certainly someone who has to be responsible for execution in the business, but I’m not the strongest follow-up and keep-to-plan-type personality, and that’s why I have those people on the team who excel at it.

Jürgen:
That’s great advice, having the right people in the right roles and following up, and having somebody that owns that follow-up is really good. Okay, so what’s the #1 thing anyone can do to differentiate themselves?

Peter:
Oh wow. Differentiate yourself. I think I’ll bring that back to being you and not being afraid to bring your personal flair to the business. Think about the most iconic brands, the most iconic leaders that you can think about. They really bring their personality into what they do, and it doesn’t necessarily mean …. You know, I can’t really bring here’s why four-wheel driving is great for IT, but I can …. You know, we don’t put that in our EDMs or anything like that, in our marketing that goes out. But in the right space, for example, on social, it might be appropriate for that. So, I think find a way to bring that personal flair, either through the culture in the business and through the innovations that you drive through the business. You know, because that’s going to … the more that you allow yourself to light up and for you to bring your best to what you do in your role in leading the business, well, the more that that’s going to flow through the rest of the organization as well. And you doing that gives your team permission to do the same as well. You bringing that personal flair to the business gives your team permission to do the same, and you’re going to get much better results from everybody as a company.

Jürgen:
And clearly, being yourself and having that personal flair that … nobody else has that, right, so we differentiate …

Peter:
No one can mimic you. Someone could copy your staff, your systems, your processes, your strategy, your quarterly goals, they could copy all of that, but they can’t copy you.

Jürgen:
Exactly. Alright, so what’s the future then for you and for itGenius?

Peter:
Oh, wow. We feel like we’re about 10% or 20% complete on our vision. And our goal for the last five years has been to be the #1 Google Apps consultancy and small business technology consultancy in Asia Pacific, and we’ve reached that #1 partner spot with Google, which is really awesome. For us, though, we still believe that there are so many businesses that we are yet to help, and so that’s what we’re looking to do is to continue that mission and that vision to liberate and to empower small business owners, help them get technology on their side. And until I get bored with that, I don’t know, I reckon I’ve got at least another five or ten years in me in this business. We’ll see where we go from there.

Jürgen:
And where do you see the industry headed in terms of cloud computing?

Peter:
Oh look, I think small businesses, small businesses that have launched in the last five years, we call them cloud natives because they launched in the days where they already had Xero, they’re already using cloud-based task management systems, they’re using maybe a cloud-based ticketing system like ZenDesk or a cloud-based time management billing system like Harvest. They’re using these systems and they don’t have the legacy hardware anywhere in their business. It just doesn’t exist. So these cloud natives are now in every industry, and to the listener, they are in your industry as well. So, if you’re a bit of a lagger, that’s okay, wherever you are right now. But be mindful that this business that is outsourcing, that is not spending any money on IT, well, they’re spending a little bit but they don’t have the massive overheads and the clunkiness of legacy IT. These are the guys that are innovating in your industry and that will be competing with you. So, I think that’s the greatest opportunity for businesses that want to compete with … You know, if you’re an early-stage business, if you want to compete with the more established incumbents in your industry, well that is your greatest advantage – the ability to be agile, the ability to use software that is agile as well. And for those businesses that are still doing IT a little bit of the old way, that’s absolutely fine, I don’t want to make you feel bad. But this is also an opportunity for you to move first before your competitors. And going cloud doesn’t mean spending another $1,000 or $2,000 a month with your IT guy to put your server into a data center. That’s not cloud. We call that faux cloud because it’s a fake cloud. What it means is actually looking at your business processes, the way you do things, your business systems, and looking at them and going okay how can we get rid of the server, how can we get rid of the remote desktop, how can we work in radically different ways, and what productivity would that actually open up for us. Because I see, as Matt Barrie from Freelancer.com says, every single industry is being overtaken by software rapidly, and that can either be a threat to you or it can be an opportunity. It’s completely your choice.

Jürgen:
And I think … I’m sure you agree that the opportunities far outweigh the threats.

Peter:
I hope so. I hope most people see it like. That’s how I see it.

Jürgen:
Looking through your website and some of the products you have there, just thinking that you can have this little box that’s the size of maybe two cigarette packs that essentially replaces the big desktop computer because you don’t need a big hard disk, you don’t need a huge processor on there, you don’t need all the rest of the stuff. Basically, it just plugs into a monitor somewhere, which you don’t have to bring monitors around, so you just have this little box and plug into the internet, plug into some monitors, and you’re away.

Peter:
Yeah, it’s a new world. And to the listener, we’re talking about a Chromebox, which is a little bit like a Chromebook, but it’s the desktop version. And it’s a small computer, as you said, the size of a couple of cigarette boxes, something tiny. And what it does is it only runs a Chrome browser, it’s effectively Google’s Chrome operating system, so there’s no viruses, absolutely no security holes in the system, no maintenance required; it’s all self- and automatically updating. You bring your own keyboard, mouse, and computer screen, and you plug an internet cable and whatnot. But this little device, which is around $500, replaced the desktop PC. And when you think that you would normally spend $1,000 or $1,500 on each PC package that you purchase for the office, plus the software, plus all of the other bits and pieces, this is a radical change. And you can use these for fully fledged desktop working machines. I use one of them myself in the office, and it allows me to get everything done that I need to. So, lots of really big changes happening in devices that’s only really available for cloud natives. So, businesses that have gone 100% cloud because you need to do everything in the browser on those machines. But very, very exciting stuff.

Jürgen:
Yeah. And that’s probably going to be my next machine. I’ve still got one or two legacy PC things that I’m running, but more to do with my photography hobby that I’m looking to see how I can move off those as well. So, alright then …. What’s the #1 piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in innovation and productivity?

Peter:
Oh wow. I think educating yourself. I think listening to this podcast is a great start. Listening to any podcast as … was it … no it wasn’t Seth Godin, it was the guy who wrote Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell said that to succeed you don’t need to outwork everybody else, you just need to outlearn. And I think that’s really important is the more that you can educate yourself, the more you’re going to be able to execute at a high level.

Jürgen:
Yeah, love it. Outlearn everybody else. Excellent. Well, Peter, thank you. This has really been fascinating. Great discussion, and a lot of value to our audience. Hopefully it hasn’t been too geeky or technical. But I think the message about that things are moving to the cloud, that there’s huge benefit to business to be in the cloud, and also around innovation and education has come through really strongly today. So, thank you for that. Now, where can people reach out to you and say thank you for all that you’ve shared with us?

Peter:
Oh, thanks very much, Jürgen. If you’re interested in getting in touch with myself or the team, itGenius.com is the best place to interact with us. We’ve got heaps of education there about Google, about apps, about cloud stuff, there’s a blog and plenty of information there. But if you’d like to say hello personally, if you search Twitter for Peter Moriarty, you’ll find me. To be honest, I’m not on there much. You’d be better to go to Facebook, so if you search for my name, Peter Moriarty on Facebook, then you will find me there. And I look forward to chatting, saying hello, and we can probably link to those in the show notes as well.

Jürgen:
Yeah, we’ll definitely do that; we’ll link to all of that in the show notes. So, finally then, who would you like me to interview on a future InnovaBuzz Podcast and why?

Peter:
Oh wow. That’s a great one. Maybe we could hook up some of the leaders at Google who will be very happy to talk about how devices are changing in the enterprise. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in Chrome. But look, you know, I reckon any celebrities that you can bring on board, that’s always great. Any business owners that allow your audience to think differently. One of my mentors, James Schramko, who is a online marketer, internet marketer and business guru as well, is an absolute master with content, with online information, with online marketing. And interestingly, I said earlier that we’ve taken a lot of lessons from the internet marketing and online marketing community and applied them to what is, I guess, a more traditional business, an IT technology consultancy, and a lot of that came through the mentorship of James. So, I reckon if you could get James Schramko on here, that would be awesome.

Jürgen:
Well, we have actually had James on here on an earlier episode, and it was awesome. So, maybe we’ll have him on again. But certainly, I’d love to have some Google leaders on here. In fact, I was thinking of getting my son on this podcast because he actually works for Google over in the U.S. But he may, it may be a bit of an issue for him. But if we could get somebody, some of your contacts on that would be happy to speak to us …

Peter:
Google has a thriving office here in Sydney, and we can make some introductions for you.

Jürgen:
Excellent. Would love that. Thanks, Peter. So, again, thanks very much for sharing your time and your insights with us today on the podcast. You’ve been so generous, and I’ve really enjoyed this and learned a lot. I’ve made pages of notes here as well. So, I wish you all the best for the future of itGenius and that vision of becoming #1 in Asia Pacific for the Google partner. And let’s keep in touch, and we’ll let you know when we publish this podcast.

Peter:
Jürgen, thank you so much for having me on the show. I appreciate it.

Jürgen:
Thanks.
Wrap Up:

I hope you enjoyed meeting Peter as much as I enjoyed this interview and there was something for you to learn in this episode as well.

All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/itgenius, that is I-T-G-E-N-I-U-S, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/itgenius, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .

In addition to James Schramko who has been a guest on a previous podcast, but who we’d love to have back sometime, Peter suggested I interview one of the leaders at Google in Sydney to talk about some of the exciting changes happening in Chrome on a future InnovaBuzz podcast.  I’m looking forward to those introductions and sending an invitation from me, for the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Peter Moriarty.

Thank you for listening.  Pop over to iTunes or Stitcher or Pocket Casts and subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.  While you’re there, you might leave us a review, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve.  If there is anything you’d like us to cover, guests you’d like us to interview, or questions you want answered on a future podcast, please send them to us.

Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!

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Jürgen

Jürgen is the chief innovator and founder of Innovabiz who partner with innovative, exceptional business coaches to enable you to acquire more leads and more business by reaching your ideal target prospects with your message, so that you will achieve growth and be able to make a difference to more ideal clients. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, as well as on Innovabiz' Twitter, Facebook and Google+ Pages.

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