The Intelligent Workplace

Education Series

Where to from here? Taking a positive approach to business in the new world.

Getting the chance to interview my CEO, Karl Redenbach, has been something that has been on my wish list for a while. When Karl enters a room, or jumps onto a meeting, all eyes and ears are on him. He has a certain charisma about him, an energy, and you never quite know what little gems of knowledge he is going to share.
 
With the world starting to awaken from a Covid-imposed slumber, many businesses are making plans for “business unusual”, as Karl refers to it. Karl discusses some of the major challenges businesses will face post-covid and his excitement for what is to come. Ever the optimist, Karl shares his enthusiasm for the remote working revolution. He believes LiveTiles is well placed to support remote workers now and into the future. This is just a few examples of the insights Karl shares in this inteview.
 
Strap yourselves in for this chat, Karl covers a lot of ground, as I expected he would.
 

Episode Links:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Listen to the episode

Or…

Watch the episode

Chris:                    Well, good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us this morning. I’ve got something really special for you today. It’s something I’ve been really looking for to doing for quite a while. I’m getting to interview my CEO, Karl Redenbach. So welcome aboard for this this morning. I think this is going to be a lot of fun. I’ll bring up the next slide and just give you a bit of a background about us here at LiveTiles. We’re a global company specialising in employee collaboration and communication software, services, and AI for the workplace. We’re located in all of those countries you can see on the screen there, and as you can see behind me, we are all working from home right now.

Chris:                    Move on and I’ll get to the introduction. So as I’ve said, I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while. Initially, I thought it would make a great episode for The Intelligent Workplace Podcast, a little bit of a plug there, available on all of your favorite podcast services. But look, we just didn’t really have the time to get together to do it and I wanted to make sure that I was doing it in such a way that you, the listener or the viewer this morning, could really get some benefit from Karl’s perspective on things, because if you’ve ever heard him speak you know that he exudes a lot of energy. He covers a lot of ground, and he offers up some really great insights. So without any further ado, Mr. Karl Redenbach.

Karl:                      Great. Thanks, Chris. Great to be joining you this morning. I know you’re down in Hobart, on that little island. For those of you who don’t where Tasmania is in Australia, which is a pretty safe place to be right now. But thanks for joining and I look forward to giving my perspective of what’s going on in the world. There’s no doubt it’s been a crazy time whichever way you cut it, for everyone. And really, what we think is that there’s now a good opportunity to look at the positives of what can you do as not only a business, but as a leader in your organisation to really make a difference, and use this as a catalyst to change. And so to us, despite the fact there’s been some tough times, there’s some great opportunities right now, we think to go forward.

Chris:                    Absolutely. Now look, lately we’ve tried to run these [inaudible 00:02:02] series webinars a little differently to other webinars. There’s less PowerPoint, more discussion, more insights, and throwing around some ideas has been the way that we like to run them, and today’s going to be no exception. There’s actually going to be no slides today, just a couple of very good looking talking heads that you can see here on the screen. And it’ll be a one-on-one interview. So hopefully if I press this button here, you’ll just see our heads here on the screen. If you don’t see that, if you could maybe just put a message through to the chat just to let me know. But hopefully you’ve got the two of us here on screen and we can get into this interview.

Chris:                    So Karl, there’ll be some people on here who are quite familiar with LiveTiles but there’ll be many that don’t know the back story. So could you give us the back story of how LiveTiles began?

Karl:                      Yeah look, it’s interesting. I’ve been in the tech space for nearly 20 years, and there’s no doubt that has changed dramatically. Things like the internet and the cloud have come along, which we think has been dramatic changes. And it’s fascinating because the time we’re living through right now, it’s probably there’s going to be more accelerated changes that we ever thought. But LiveTiles in short, now we called it an intelligent workplace. We’re really making what typically is from a systems and a use of all applications that exist in your organisation, that sort of chaos that exists in a lot of businesses, we’re controlling that chaos and we’re really simplifying it. I like to sometimes call it bringing that Apple experience into the workplace, like using your mobile phone and your device, that user experience, the love you have for that. We’re bringing that same type of love into your [inaudible 00:03:34].

Karl:                      To us that’s really exciting right now in this environment because it’s more important than ever to make it easy to use these systems.

Chris:                    I remember when I first joined LiveTiles and I did the barbecue pitch, and I wasn’t really sure what to say. When you go to a barbecue these days, how do you pitch LiveTiles to the everyday person?

Karl:                      Well look, it’s interesting. We help the employees communicate and collaborate. That’s essentially what we do. We work with medium to large organisations, so we work with everyone from the US marines, to Pepsi, to very small companies that are trying to just help their employees. And right now, by the way, where you’ve got people working from home remotely it is more important than ever. And that’s things like basic communications. It’s sharing documents and information. It’s having that one simple place to go to, particularly if you can’t get together face to face or in a meeting room, to actually share information and documents. And so, that’s ultimately helping employees.

Karl:                      And really our vision and where we see everything going is we want to allow people to do the best work they can in their business. And that’s what excites us. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning going, we’re actually changing the world for a better way. We’re making people to be able to do their very best work, and that’s what really excites me.

Chris:                    It’s interesting. It actually sounds that your pre and post-COVID barbecue pitches is pretty similar, because I think for some companies out there, things would have really changed in the way they describe themselves lately.

Karl:                      Look, there’s no doubt. Every business, including ours has had to change. I mean, typically we sell to medium and large companies and you’d go and have face to face meetings. I’m actually in Melbourne right now, but I’ve spent the last nine years living in New York City. And part of that is I’ve had to go through being on an airplane about 50% of my time. Last year I did six trips from New York to Melbourne, and that’s about 15 to 20 days actually on an airplane.

Chris:                    Oh, wow.

Karl:                      It’s about 25 hours each way. You then start to think to yourself, is this right? Is this the way we should be doing business? I’ve got four young kids, and unfortunately you might hear a few of them in the background all being home schooled downstairs, 12 down to five year olds downstairs. And I think what you’re going to see is that maybe there might be an opportunity to spend a bit more time with the family. Maybe there’s a great opportunity here for people to use this type of technology to share and communicate versus spending all that time on an airplane. Is it really worth your time? And certainly the last four weeks, I don’t think I’ve ever been this productive because I’m not sitting on an airplane or sitting in an airport lounge waiting for my flight, that’s usually delayed.

Karl:                      So it’s one of those things where I think a lot of those things are changing rapidly, and to me this is a great change. But it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, it’s changing. And I think unfortunately, particularly if you look at the media you’ll see a lot of the negatives about it. You’ll see that yes, there’s job losses and yes, there’s businesses that can’t operate. But I don’t look at it in that way. I think this is a great opportunity for any business to just re-evaluate what they do. How do they become more digital? How can they actually support employees in a different way?

Karl:                      And to us, whilst there’s no doubt it’s a challenging time, there’s also great opportunities that can be taken. And so from our perspective, that’s what excites me about the current situation despite all the craziness that’s going on.

Chris:                    As I said everybody, he gets very excited. I love this. But let’s acknowledge the fact that it has been a pretty tough couple of months for the company, hasn’t it?

Karl:                      Yeah. Look, it’s been super tough for us. One of the challenges for us, we’ve been a hyper growth business. We’re actually Australia’s fastest growing technology company on the Australian Financial Review list just about six weeks ago. And that’s fantastic, and we’re extremely proud of that achievement. But the challenge with that is that we’ve gone through something very few companies at our age go through, only four and a bit years old where we’ve through hyper growth. So we were in a situation where we were burning a lot of cash to chase that growth. We operate in 39 countries. We did a few acquisitions which have been fantastic for us. However, we’ve come to the realisation that in this market there are a lot of uncertainties. And we were told very directly by the market that we needed to do something in relation to our cash flow.

Karl:                      So we had to consolidate our teams, which is super tough, and bring those teams together. We had to do that much faster than we’d ever dreamed of doing. Do something we probably had planned honestly for two years to think we’ll work out how to merge by product and marketing and things like that, but do it in two weeks. So there was no doubt that was a huge challenge. But on the positive side of that, and the other side of that we’re building, I think a business that’s going to be stronger and incredible after COVID-19. And we feel like there’s a huge opportunity there as soon as we… You hear my five year old screaming the background at his mummy. She’s the teacher downstairs.

Karl:                      But from our perspective you get these huge opportunities as we get through this period [inaudible 00:08:38]. There’s a challenge, but the opportunity in our opinion allays as we cycle through what I call a storm right now.

Chris:                    Yeah. Other than home schooling a five year old, what do you think has been the most challenging element for you personally?

Karl:                      Look, there’s no doubt the personal and family element is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing. We run a niche in business. We’ve got operations in the US, and we’ve got operations in [inaudible 00:09:08] and so I’ll be up at five or six a.m., in the morning and don’t really stop until 10 or 11 at night in this environment. Super productive, because I get to do about 12-15 meetings which I normally haven’t done. However, I actually do now put an hour block in my calendar for dinner. Now, I never did that. I never, ever thought I’d even have to ever do that. But if I don’t, I actually don’t even have time to sit down with the family for dinner.

Chris:                    Wow.

Karl:                      Because it’s just so crazy. And look, I think part of the challenge and this applies to every employee, is that when you’re doing really complicated stuff in a really short amount of time, things like restructures. Things like trying to get teams working in different parts of the world. There’s no doubt it’s super challenging when every single person cannot get in a meeting room.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      It’s a different way of doing business. It really is. And I think we’ve learnt a lot ourselves, despite the fact I’d say we’re probably the best equipped company just about on the globe to do this sort of working. And we’ve been doing this. You’ve been in Hobart. You’ve been over in New York and worked over there. You’ve been all around the world in our offices, Chris. I think the reality is it’s still, no matter how big or small, what type of business you are, it’s still challenging to learn how to do business and work this way.

Chris:                    Yeah, for sure. Now look, of course we’d be nothing without our network of partners and customers. There’s a really great network we’re forming over the last four or five years. Our customers and partners are experiencing their own share of tough times as well. What are you hearing from them?

Karl:                      Yeah, look. Depending on the type of business, things like traditional professional services where you build relationships and you sell an hourly rate, I think what we saw in March and April was just companies were in shock, is the best way I can-

Chris:                    Yes.

Karl:                      It was a combination I think of shock on one hand, and panic on the other. And it was a bit of both.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And essentially those two forces really led to a lot of companies just not making decisions. And we felt sorry for a lot of our systems [inaudible 00:11:05] where they’re typically billing out on a weekly basis. So a lot of those projects that they had were just sort of stalled. And so, we’ve been working with a bunch of our partners to say, “Alright. You can’t go on and sell your traditional services. What are the sort of things you can do?” And even for us as a product company, a lot of our very large deals you just can get signed off when people are just being shoved to work at home overnight, which is what happened eight weeks ago.

Karl:                      Now, the good news is that’s subsiding. I think the panic is subsiding. I think the shock is subsiding. And the word I would use right now, we have hope. And to me this is a great time to relaunch yourself. But there was no doubt a number of our partners… We have 220 partners in our network who basically work all across the globe helping our customers out. And there’s no doubt that a good portion of those partners have been affected. And what we’re trying to do is just really support them. We’re in a fortunate situation. We have a large cash balance. We’ve got a great set of customers who will annualise recurring revenue, which means that they stay with us as we go along, where as some of those companies were just not as fortunate as us to have that sort of business model.

Karl:                      So our view is we just have to be persistent and patient through this time and not panic.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      And try to absorb shock as much as possible. And I think for the partners that we’re working with super close in the last few weeks, is that we’re seeing that they’re really doing that. And they’re looking at new ways of doing business, which I think is pretty cool and I think ultimately will be great for their businesses in the long run.

Chris:                    Yeah. I mean, ourselves included. We’ve been having to look at new ways of doing business, moving from the product to helping to assist our customers as their lives change as well, haven’t we?

Karl:                      Yeah, well that’s it. So we’re working on a bunch of COVID-19 related projects in the last six weeks.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      For example down in Tassie, down there with Tas Health, 14,000 health workers that we needed to get onto these Microsoft teams, and video conferencing. And how do you go and support a care worker who would typically go and look after a person in their home, or look after a child that may need protective type services, which are pretty serious. But how do you do that when you can’t go and see them, right?

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And so, really challenging. So we jumped in straight away onto a couple of key customers doing that. We’ve jumped onto a big firm in New Jersey, a health network who put out one of our AI Bots that could answer a lot of these questions really fast, versus call centers that literally got bombarded overnight. Within three hours we had one of our AI Bots that could answer any question [inaudible 00:13:41] which is pretty cool.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      We’ve worked with organisations like Flinders Uni and Microsoft, where we’re helping them bring all their data and their dashboards together to actually not only track what’s going on with the virus, but actually look at ways to get vaccines. And all that sort of stuff we’ve had to do literally overnight, all hands on deck in our business to do that and really help customers. And so I think launching ourselves, some of those things we were doing at no cost and just doing whatever we can to help. And I think from that perspective we’re building a lot of trust and loyalty with customers. And that’s what we’re saying with our partners, that you may not be able to get sign off on some of these buying decisions, and that’s fair enough. But how do you help and support your customers in the short term so you build that long term relationship and that trust.

Chris:                    Mate, personally how difficult has been for you? I mean, you’re a man with a lot of energy. You’ve had this amazing vision for where you want to take the company, and then COVID comes along and says, “Hold on a second, mate. Just take a seat on the bench. I’m going to be here for a while.”

Karl:                      Well, it’s fascinating. I’ve honestly never felt this energised in my life.

Chris:                    Wow.

Karl:                      That sounds crazy business-like, and I say that in all honesty. It’s just been an incredible experience. As crazy and as scary, and as amazing as this whole thing is, and the word amazing is not meant to be in a positive sense. It’s been positive and negative. But it’s just incredible. Sometimes you wake up and you go, is this actually happening? Are we in some sort of dream here? Are my four kids actually at school everyday? And you go, hang on, I think it is. And it’s like any normal situation, if you were going through something like this you’d meet with someone, you’d have a coffee, you’d have a beer and you’d talk it through, and you’d have that social connection. You just don’t have that. And so, I’ve honestly never felt this energised, and the reason why I feel energised is that I feel like there really are going to be big changes that are going to happen in society now.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And whether we like it or not, I do genuinely believe a lot of those changes will end up being for the good. There’s some super negative side of it, but there’s a lot of [inaudible 00:15:52] things. And particularly in what we do, which you’ve experienced yourself, Chris, we have three core values and one of those is how do we create unforgettable experiences. And a big part of that is providing flexibility of work arrangements where you can work in Hobart, or you can work in New York, wherever you want to work in our business, or normally from a café. Although that’s been quite massively restricted. But wherever you want to work, as long as you’re good at doing your job and you can provide that flexibility, and you get the results done, or in our instance we get shit done. I’m not sure if I can swear on this channel, but that’s one of our babies.

Chris:                    [crosstalk 00:16:31]

Karl:                      Literally, it’s a [inaudible 00:16:32]. I don’t think you can blip that out now, but it’s too late. But it’s literally a core value that we have written on our walls in New York. We’ve got it written in there and in Hobart, as you’ve seen. On all of our office walls you see those three core values. And to me that’s what’s exciting about what’s going on. We have a real opportunity to make a change. This is my big piece of advice to any company or organisation. We’re talking to the top universities in the world that are having to make massive changes in the way that they bring in international students, the way they’re even going to educate in classrooms. But use this as a great opportunity to set your stuff up that may have taken you 10 years. We’ll do it in a few months.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And the tech is there. All the stuff is there. It’s just a matter of now taking advantage of it.

Chris:                    That’s the advice you’re giving to your peers in the industry right now? Just cease the moment?

Karl:                      Cease the moment. And it’s fascinating because the great news is of all of the business leaders that we’re speaking to, I would say 90% have seen this as a real catalyst for change, and to do what they’ve always wanted to do but have been either one, too scared, or maybe there’s just been not enough buy in from the business users. The reality is it’s so easy just to stay with the status quo, for people to say, “Let’s just keep doing this the way we’ve been doing it,” like with banks we work with and things. They’ve been doing this for literally hundreds of years. A guy with a suit has walked into a cubicle and sat in that cubicle.

Karl:                      I started my life in corporate insurance, and some of the people that had been working in that corporate insurance had literally been working there for 50 years. Like they’d started when they were 15, 16 and were still going to that same freaking cubicle. And I just don’t think that’s a great thing for your life. I think it’s important you get there sometimes, but if you’re doing it every day, day in day out, 50 years.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      Irrespective of how productive you may be, I’d question how creative are they? Are they seeing the world? Are they understanding what’s going on? And can they actually take their business to the next level, or their job to the next level? And I think if you’re doing the same thing every day at the same spot, it’s really hard to do that. So providing that flexibility, providing a big of open-mindedness and allowing workers to [inaudible 00:18:44] open-minded flexible way. This is to me, the number one exciting opportunity that’s going on right now. And the good news is 90% of the business leaders we’re talking to are embracing that and going, “We’re ready to do this now.”

Chris:                    I was going to say to you, there’s a lot of chatter about this remote working. Is it here to stay as we are right now? Do we go back to what we had before with some bricks and mortar? Or is there a hybrid model? I’ll tell you, everybody seems to be leaning towards that may be this hybrid model of a bit of each. A bit from both pies.

Karl:                      Correct. And it’s not everyday you want to be having obviously your kids downstairs, screaming, working from home or whatever. However, there is no doubt there is some efficiencies you can get where you allow people to do certain things in flexible ways, and that might be they batch going to the post office and do whatever they need to do on a certain day, but then they may work different hours that they traditionally don’t work. And so, we’ve been a big advocate of saying this. There used to be this talk of a work/life balance. We don’t believe that’s the case. We think when you’re at work you’re actually living, whether you like it or not. You’re hopefully not dead, because if you weren’t living in that period, literally almost a third of your life is being not living.

Karl:                      So I’d argue a third of your life you want to live while you still work. And so to do that, you need to think a little bit outside the box. And you need to think, well what are the things we can do, and how can we be creative and support? And really, what we’re trying to do as a business generally is not just allow people to work from home and get communications, but it’s really about being creative and doing tasks and things that are really high value versus doing the mundane stuff, sitting in a cubicle just filling in a form, or whatever. Certainly AI and what we’re doing around artificial intelligence we think will change that, whether people like it or not.

Karl:                      So now it’s an opportunity to be creative, and we think the hybrid model of work from home, work in the office, work from a café because it doesn’t have to be the home either. It can be other places. From my perspective, that is going to dramatically change in the next little while.

Chris:                    Yeah, absolutely. Look, in line with that we’ve seen a massive increase in people using Microsoft Teams. And I think the most recent stats was something around 75 million daily users. So it’s really facilitating this remote working thing. Teams does a bit of everything. So as an intranet software provider, which we are, is that going to see the end of the intranet as we know it, or what’s going on there?

Karl:                      Well, it’s a fascinating time for us. We’ve been working with the Microsoft Teams team… There’s such a team, there is, in Redmond in Seattle for about four years actually pre-beta and pre-alpha on a couple of things. And what’s really exciting for us is that this tech is now being used and it’s dropped it extremely fast. And so, whilst we don’t think the intranet is going to go anywhere, there’s always going to be some type of intranet, what we’re doing is quite different. We’re allowing people to work in these type of technologies, but bring the intranet to you, and bring applications to wherever your experience is. So we do think a lot of people will be using Teams as a way to chat like you would maybe on WhatsApp or these other chat tools. And it’s a fantastic tool to do not just video conference, but share documents and things.

Karl:                      And so, we are [inaudible 00:22:02] we have a LiveTiles everywhere product that is really exciting which just follows you wherever you go. In fact, it doesn’t even need to follow you in Teams. It can follow you in Slack. It can follow you in whichever solution you’re using and bring up really key important information. And that could be apps, it could be a document, it could be an expense form, whatever it is. And so again, I think when you are going to be working from home there’s no doubt you are going to be using these types of what I would call collaboration technologies-

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      Much more than you ever have. In fact, I would doubt anyone if you’re an information… The fact you’re actually on this right now is a good example of using these types of digital collaboration tools. And so, that trend’s going to continue. In fact, we’ve been calling this out for years, literally years. We called them the remote worker. So you’ll often hear the term work from home. We actually call it the remote worker. The reason is because they might be working at a café or restaurant, or somewhere else, which again is not necessarily the case right now. But we think it will in the future, so it’s providing flexibility of work not in an office. And so-

Chris:                    Yeah, for sure.

Karl:                      Certainly I sat on stage training up 4,500 Microsoft sales reps last year in Las Vegas on what’s the value of Teams. And the value of Teams is huge. It’s much more than just chat and video. There’s so much power to it that can be utilised, especially if you think about all the different systems you have in your company and bringing those into one spot. And that’s what really LiveTiles is doubling down on.

Chris:                    Yeah, nice. Microsoft has always been a very strong supporter of LiveTiles. How’s their support been during this time for you?

Karl:                      Look, it’s been incredible. In fact, out of the gate we talk about helping governments and parts of the world straight away. So we launched for example in Australia using our AI Bots product for all the education, how to find out whether schools are open and things like that. And we were able to do that on scale and en masse with Microsoft. We pushed that out for free just to get this going and helping the community. And so, Microsoft in our opinion, have really stood up. There’s no doubt they are the largest company I the world. There’s no doubt that they’ve had a huge important role to play. Even you see a lot of their products they’ve given away for free in this time, which I think is really incredible.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And from our perspective, our relationship has never been closer despite the fact we don’t actually see anyone, which is weird but it literally is. We’re meeting with them probably two or three times a day across about 70 or 80 people. So there’s a lot of contact and a lot of information.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      I know for example you’ve had a lot of great interviews on your podcast.

Chris:                    Yes, they’ve been great.

Karl:                      Not that I’m trying to plug your podcast series, but your podcast with Microsoft. And I feel like you’ll see their level of support certainly in this partner work and what we’re doing even grow further. And again, look at Teams. I mean, what they did, what they forecasted in two years happened in two months.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      That’s the sort of growth development they’ve had, and it was just unpredictable. For us working with these partners like Microsoft it could never more important right now.

Chris:                    And what about LiveTiles? We’re close to the end of the financial year. It’s a chance to draw a line in the sand and look towards the future, a very different future to what you might’ve envisioned six months, maybe three months ago. What are you seeing it looks like at LiveTiles?

Karl:                      Look, it’s been an exciting and challenging time over the last two months. Probably the biggest thing we did is we consolidated our product teams and our marketing teams into what we call LiveTiles one. So we had 19 offices pump people doing a bunch of different things, I would argue in [inaudible 00:25:53] ways. We’ve now brought all that together into one group where we’re focused on a group set of products. We have a set of data and AI products. We have a set of intranet products, and then we also have a set of what these new experiences which we’re calling LiveTiles [inaudible 00:26:08] which is about bringing your intranet, bringing your applications and data wherever you are. Slack, Teams, Salesforce, doesn’t matter. It follows you. It’s omnipresent. We think it’s a revolutionary way.

Karl:                      So it really gave us an opportunity I think, and this is what we’re encouraging everybody. Every business that we’re speaking to, don’t just do things in the normal way. Don’t do business as normal. In fact, the word I’ve been using is business unusual.

Chris:                    Yeah. I like that.

Karl:                      Not business as usual, business unusual. And so, I think if you listen to that term it’s that you need to do things in different ways. And so the way that we’re going to market, the way that we’re selling, even just some of the product stuff that we’re building, it’s completely changed honestly in the last six to eight weeks because we thought this is a great opportunity to do some things different and try some new stuff. And that’s why I say to you, I’ve never felt honestly this invigorated, I would say in 20 years of business because it really gave us great opportunities to buy people up, get working in a different way. And there’s no doubt that we’re seeing already the success out of it, just a few weeks into some big changes that we’ve made.

Chris:                    You’re a unique human being, mate. Many people seem worried about the future, but here you are. And that’s probably pretty natural, but here you are sounding completely optimistic and excited.

Karl:                      Yeah, well it’s interesting. Again, I think the media can super focus on the negatives. And there’s no doubt there’s job losses et cetera, however I do think it will bounce back pretty fast and hard. And this is a great time for any business and any company to re-change how they go to market, et cetera. So I think that’s going to happen, and I feel like that’s going to ultimately lead to better businesses, firstly.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      I think ultimately for those businesses that are prepared to go through what I call intelligent transformation, so you would have heard the term digital transformation, which I think is quite an old term. What we’re doing with customers is bringing AI, bringing data as a key basis for how the users feel. Now we’ve got this incredible LiveTiles Vibe product which is going really well, which measures the pulse of the organisation, the pulse of individuals particularly at home. They can literally just click on a smiley emoji or a sad emoji and as silly as that is, you’re getting some instant feedback from people. But if you’re able to do things like this, which is really intelligently changing your business, business will come out better. And most importantly, number one is employees will be happier.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      And they will come out of this thinking this is a great way. I got stuck in my office. I was that person at my previous insurance that I worked with a 50 year old, well actually she was 55. But 50 years in the same place. I can get out of that. I can break out of that cubicle and I can go and do some more creative things that are probably much, much higher value to the organisation, and much more rewarding to that person as well. So I feel like if you embrace those two things, you’re going to be talking about some fundamental changes with employee psychology. And then work goes to not work, it just becomes a part of your life. And to us, that’s the exciting bit. And this really is the entire catalyst for this change, this thing we’re living through now.

Chris:                    Do you feel that mental health angle is one of the biggest watch outs for companies in the next 12 months?

Karl:                      Look it is. It’s certainly with our company one of our biggest concerns. We have a lot of developers that are isolated. We have people that are working from home without being able to have that coffee that they’d typically be able to have.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And so, one of the things that we’ve worked on, in fact we’ve worked on this to launch this initiative last year with Microsoft, something called LiveSmiles, and that’s really a movement. We’re giving away our tech for free, and that’s really trying to help organisations understand that mental health issues exist in your company. In fact it was often swept under the carpet. That guy or that lady, they’re just a bit crazy or whatever, however that’s not the case. In fact one out of four people suffer from some type of mental health issue. And so therefore, there are a lot of employees that have that. And so really what LiveSmiles is about is providing the tools. It provides a framework to help companies navigate themselves through where employees have mental health issues. Everything from you can just book a coffee with a random person. Now, we’re actually changing that to you can’t book a coffee, so why don’t you book an online meeting.

Chris:                    [crosstalk 00:30:39]

Karl:                      A one-on-one online meeting. And that sounds so simple but it genuinely works. If you have somebody, just speak to somebody else and say, “We’re not going to talk about work. I just want to chat with you about what’s going on in my life, and just the world.”

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And so to us, that’s critical. The LiveTiles Vibe stuff is really interesting. Again, that’s a free product we put to market and just our newest product, and that’s really trying to understand how do people feel? Are they well and healthy? And then the other relevant thing, are they productive? Because what you’ll find is certain employees will feel in this new world that they’re not. And you may not know about it. They may not pull it out. So this is some surveys just trying to get that engagement going, and keep both mental wellness and productivity as high as possible through this period. There’s no doubt this is the biggest probably challenge in corporate history, what we’re going through right now.

Chris:                    The thing I like about that LiveTiles Vibe thing is it’s right now in the moment. You’re not filling out a long survey about the culture. It’s like, how are you right now?

Karl:                      Correct.

Chris:                    So you might just catch it before it’s a problem. Yeah, absolutely. Now mate, before we started the webinar we actually asked a couple of poll questions of the attendees. First one we asked was where do you need help right now? And the most popular answer was the ability to communicate to specific people or teams. Does that surprise you, or is that what you’re thinking?

Karl:                      Well look, it’s the number one issue. In fact, we worked this out on day one of this crisis, where we thought basic communication and how do I speak to people? It’s been critical. So we have been helping companies all across the globe on Teams, in fact we have a Teams tips and tricks for those that don’t know Microsoft Teams. It’s a fantastic video conference and chat collaboration product. It does a bunch of other things that we’re involved with, but ultimately we put those out because people didn’t know how to do basics like record a meeting, or you can blur your background if you want to, so your kids aren’t running around in the back, or someone walking half naked. That sort of stuff, we’re helping people out. And so, there’s no doubt that is the most important thing.

Karl:                      And so the other thing that we’ve been helping customers with in this, which is quite interesting, is actually not even really the use of technology. It’s actually what are the things you can do when you can’t meet face to face, when you can’t have a physical meeting. I’ll give you an example. After this we’ve in our company something called a hangout. So just for 30 minutes people can join on and just have a coffee. It’s actually designed not to be a work call. It’s not a meeting to talk about a specific topic. It’s a meeting literally just to hangout. We’ve been asking our senior leaders to do what we call daily stand ups. Just quick 10, 15 minute, “Hi, everybody.” It’s a check in. “How are you feeling?” And as simple as that sounds, it would typically happen organically when you’re walking around an office floor, where you don’t have that luxury now. So what do you do instead? So a simple check in.

Karl:                      And then for those that are more social, and I’ve joined this a couple of times at LiveTiles, we’ve have drinks on a Friday night. And people jump on, they have a drinks session and it’s a way to communicate and collaborate. So some of these concepts aren’t the typical let’s just have a meeting, and let’s just jump on a call. For the sake of this particular work product, it’s about other things. And there’s a lot of things we’re doing to help customers there as well.

Chris:                    Yeah. I’m sorry you missed my ukulele playing yesterday morning too, but anyway. Now I promise you, I have not rigged the results on this next question. So the question was, your dream scenario as a leader in your business right now would be to? And overwhelmingly the answer was, provide people focused and productive digital workplaces. And I have not rigged that.

Karl:                      All right. I think it’s pretty interesting because that’s essentially what our whole business does.

Chris:                    Exactly.

Karl:                      And obviously people probably understand that’s us. There’s no doubt. We think there’s going to be big [inaudible 00:34:44] after this COVID-19 settles down. We think it’s already starting to settle down. We think that people have gone through that shock, and that fear and the panic, to now focused on we’ve got to get on with life and we’ve got to get on with business. And whilst there’s been some obvious businesses that have been affected, things like restaurants and cafes, and football stadiums and things like that. They’re obvious ones. However, a vast majority of the businesses, you’re insurance, you’re in law, you can still do business. There’s nothing stopping you do your business. And in fact, in some ways like for me, I can actually be more productive because I’m not spending half my time on an airplane. I can actually do a lot of these calls. I’ve been on a bunch of calls this morning already with the US, and I don’t have to be on a plane to do those.

Karl:                      So I think from our perspective what we’re going to see more and more are companies wanting to have this digital workplace. We call it the intelligent workplace. As we’ve said, the digital workplace we think is an older term, however it is the most common term which describes bringing applications and things together in a central hub, or central environment, is the one way to explain that. And so, my piece of advice is there is no time like the present to start this. And in fact from our perspective, we’ve never been busier when it comes to talking to companies of all shapes and sizes that are basically saying we need to get something up and we need something quite quick, because what they’ve had is old. Some of these digital workplaces and intranets have been literally 1990s, early 2000s. And the tech has changed so much.

Chris:                    Yeah.

Karl:                      And it’s just a shame that to be honest with you, we’ve been banging on about this message for the last five years, or I’d argue 20 years, but certainly the last five years. And I think it’s only until now when people understand how important the cloud is, how important it is to be connected with employees. And we have some interesting organisations. We have organisations that are in the airline and hotel industries that are essentially not working. They’ve had to stand down tens of thousands of staff.

Chris:                    Yep.

Karl:                      But you know what? The people will return at some point. You need to create that connection. You still need to be connected with those people. And so, unless you’ve got some type of digital workplace, they will not be. They’ll be just out there by themselves. Email is not good enough anymore. You need someplace where you can share internal videos that can’t go on the websites, that can’t be external. You need some of this internal stuff that is quite relevant particularly, and maybe is too sensitive to send outside that even stood down workers can see. So from our perspective, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in, literally what business or what area. This should be one of the top priorities for your organisation in the next six to 12 months.

Chris:                    Yeah, absolutely. Mate, I think we should wrap this up so you can get to your hangout in a couple of minutes. You mentioned earlier that LiveTiles has been assisting customers both new and old in many different ways in recent months, so what are you offering up along those lines for the foreseeable future?

Karl:                      Yeah. Look I mentioned, I suppose out of the gate we’ve got a free product called LiveTiles Vibe that allows you track employees. I’d encourage those to look at that and are happy to get that set up. It doesn’t cost anything. And then [crosstalk 00:37:51]

Chris:                    We’ll share the link for everybody in the notes.

Karl:                      Yeah. And I think ultimately that’s a good start because it at least gives you some sort of feedback, and it’s instant feedback. It’s not a long survey. In fact, it’s literally just a button press and that’s it. So I think there’s no doubt there’s that. I think ultimately those organisations that want to look at digital workplace, how do we simplify our experiences? I mean, one of the questions you might want to ask is how hard is it to get to your applications while you’re at home? Is it confusing? And I think you’ll find a lot of organisations, the majority answer is yes. And so, what we do better than anyone on the globe, is that we help simplify the chaos and bring everything to one screen, and really personalise it to individuals and teams.

Karl:                      And then last, is that I think use this as a great opportunity. And we’re happy to come in at no cost, give you some advise on where you might want to start. And it could be a department, it could be a certain news case or a certain area. There’s probably some obvious ones in your business where you want to actually get started to essentially do two things, better help team collaboration and communication, and build a digital workplace. Those two answers, not that [inaudible 00:39:04]. But they’re the three things you want to do, and are going to be more important than ever in the new world and this world today we live in.

Karl:                      And I think whether you like it or not, the world has changed and it’s going to change. And unless you’re prepared to embrace that change, I feel like you might be left behind if you don’t start doing some of this stuff too. So a great opportunity, no time like the present to get things going.

Chris:                    Well mate, as they say, good things come to those that wait. And today has certainly been that for me. It’s been fantastic chatting with you about all this stuff. As I said before, the energy that you bring and the insights that you share with us, they’re just awesome. And I hope everybody has gotten something out of that today. We do need to wrap it up but I’ll just do a quick nod to next week. We’re talking about reinvention in the post-COVID age. It’ll follow on nicely from the chat here with you today, Karl. Mate, thank you very much for talking with us today. I hope all is well with your home schooling, and you have a great day.

Karl:                      Great. Thanks, Chris. Have a great day there too. Thanks, mate.

Chris:                    Cheers. Thanks a lot. Thanks everybody.

 

More Episodes

Reinventing your business in the Post-Covid age.

Aas the business world gets ready to face the reality of a post-COVID world, it’s clear there will be many new challenges to face.

Is reinvention a requirement? What are the key drivers for success in the new world? What are the new opportunities for businesses, and what are the key issues to watch out for?

View Episode

Remote working the right way: best practices.

Communicating with a remote workforce has its challenges, but what if remote working is here to stay? Have you set your remote workforce up for success?

On this episode Ryan Thomas, CEO of Timlin Enterprises, offers advice on how to set up your remote workforce. Ryan has been operating a remote workforce for many years and has also helped many clients to set up their own.

In this episode, he shares strategies for working together, when you are apart. How avoiding meetings for meetings’ sake will make you more productive. Why understanding and respecting new work patterns is so important, and how you should prioritise fun for the sake of your mental health.

View Episode

Time to check in on your employees well-being.

As a result of Covid-19, companies the world over have adopted remote working models for their employees. Anecdotally, results have been mixed. Some employees love the flexibility, others crave human interaction. Companies are being forced to “let go” some of their controls with he new model. But, some are reporting that employee productivity levels remain high, and in some cases have even increased.

How are your employees faring? When was the last time you checked in on them?

We are hearing rumblings of a wave of mental health issues that may cause greater harm than the pandemic itself, but time will tell. In this episode, mindfulness expert, Nina Purewal and founder of the LiveSmiles movement, Peter Nguyen-Brown join me. We discuss the potential mental health issues that are on the horizon, what we can do to support employees through them, and what part technology has to play in the solution.

View Episode