Speaking to more than 80 attendees at the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce – Digital Transformation Forum, he said there’s no doubt digital disruption has impacted Sensis and its customers.
“Our core business had to simplify, transform and innovate in order to grow and compete in the digital age. Today more than half of Sensis's business is digital media helping SMEs market themselves.
“Despite us now being a predominantly digital business, with more than half of our revenue from digital products and services, there’s a lot more to do.”
While Sensis has a 120-year heritage in print directories, it is rapidly transforming into a digitally-savvy company that is at the forefront of offering marketing services to Australian small businesses.
He told the audience of MCC members that the company’s two-year transformation program was no small feat. “There’s been significant changes to systems and processes, capabilities of our employees, cultural change and rebranding.”
With a legacy in print directory phone books, he said it’s been crucial that Sensis respond quickly to the rapidly-changing online landscape because consumers are now more selective in the purchasing decisions they make.
Allan says the rebrand was also important to inform customers about the change from being a purely print directories business to being more nimble and agile in the world of digital.
“We have our online directory businesses including Yellow Pages, White Pages, TrueLocal and Whereis, but we’re also the largest SEM reseller in the country in terms of client revenue,” he said. “We have a large SEO business, and we’re a large provider of websites, both building and hosting.”
Additional speakers at the event provided an insight into their organisation’s digital transformation, highlighting the challenges and opportunities they have encountered.
Speakers included Head of Digital Operations at ABC International, David Hua; Head of Sales and Operations at Hills Health Solutions, Tom Sykes; Chief Technology Officer at Huawei, Peter Rossi; Head of Strategy at Dentsu Aegis Network, Dave Hearn and Managing Director from Justice & Health, Serco Paul Mahoney.
Hua from ABC International spoke about the importance of mobile platforms and understanding social media “People now think if a message is important enough, it will reach them – they won't have to search for it.”
Observations from other speakers included:
- Encourage your business to think like a start-up and take risks. Educate staff to support innovation and accept that nothing to do with innovation will stack up in a traditional business case/financial sense.
- Get those at the top to be advocates for digital and social media, even if they don’t use it themselves. You don’t need to like digital, but you must understand it.
- ‘Fail early, fail often’ to create real innovation and commercialisation. Recognise failure, learn from it, and move on quickly.
- Reaching people through media is becoming increasingly difficult; strategy needs to be segmented and multi-channel.
- Regional areas are only 30% engaged in digital versus 70% in urban areas.
As part of Sensis’ digital journey, John Allan talked about the company’s program know internally as Sensis Digital Foundation (SDF) to drive simplification and foster rapid innovation using technology.
Allan said innovation is a key plank of the company’s transformative agenda and the launch of its Skip app is also a prime example of this.
The service allows consumers to order a coffee and food and pay for these in advance using their credit card, skipping queues when they go to collect them.
Allan added this innovative thinking is as much about the technology as it is about the people. “For us to be successful in our digitally focused business, it’s all about having the right type of people so we can help Australian businesses.”