Everyday Challenges – Tea Uglow on ‘Modernising Business’

Nick Schiavuzzi

Presented by St.George Kick Start. We’ve teamed up with our partner St George to share new ideas from our alumni speakers, helping you to overcome the key business challenges that you face every day.

Don’t you sometimes wish you had a magic wand? You could simply wave it, and immediately have all the information you require at hand. For a business owner, this is the dream. 

Well, Creative Director Tea Uglow and the team at the Google Creative Lab in Sydney are working on it. But we’ll come to that.

Far from mere gimmicks or fads, the ability for technology to provide simple solutions is fast becoming the future of business. Your business.

For Uglow, the challenge of modernising a business is a case of finding a way to take advantage of new technologies but doing so in a way that connects with the human elements of your business – your employees and your customers.

And this is ultimately at the heart of how technology can modernise your business. Uglow says that while the advances in technology provide huge challenges and opportunities simultaneously, at the end of the day, connecting on a human level is how businesses can set themselves apart.

She says, “Projects in the Lab are [based on] how we draw lines of access between the world around us (or the store around us) and the rich layers of information that often are so compelling they mean we spend more time looking down rather than up.”

And for your business, looking up is key.

“Reality”, says Uglow, “is richer than the digital world. Our happy place is inherently organic.”

As such, Uglow sees the coexistence of the digital and natural worlds as maybe the defining feature of how business can best utilise new technologies into the future.

“I think the marriage of the digital world with the world around us, allowing us to forget that there is a digital world is a business challenge, but a different one at SMB level.”

That difference currently is founded in business owners using digital technology to find solutions today for customers. Which is what you should be doing. But those same technology solutions today, says Uglow are the beginnings of tomorrow’s answers.

“Humans love natural solutions, humans love information, humans need simple tools. These principles should inform how we design for the future, not just the Internet.”

This is where the magic wand comes in. Information at the flick of your wrist. Or your team’s wrist. Or your customer’s.

“For a hint of what might be likely to come, my team, which tends to work on slightly more unusual projects, is currently obsessed with letting normal people use their own phones like a magic wand to learn about the object…they are looking at.” That’s right. You literally wave your phone at something, and almost instantaneously, information about that object is at your fingertips, on that phone.. Think of it as a visual version of Siri. Cool, right?

While the digital tech elements of this idea may be complex, it’s a concept that is being developed to operate without downloads or expensive infrastructure. In other words, the idea is that it works the way people work – intuitively.

Not everyone has the benefit of the Google Lab, though. For business owners, Uglow says that this is no reason to not embrace modernising your business using digital technology. There are still very accessible strategies that can be applied in order to find the best digital solutions for your business. A lot of them are inherent in your personal life.

She says, “Digital creativity is lots and lots of things; more magic potion than magic bullet…Maybe you share photos, or jokes, or interesting news, or you share videos of you or your friends enjoying themselves. Same goes for your business. That seems simple, but it is simple. Good digital marketing, especially at SMB level, is not about building a robotic arm or an interactive VR feature, it’s about understanding how your customers use the web and giving them something of value, in a place where they can use it.”

But there is value in being directed and circumspect when best defining what technology solutions best fit your business. Uglow says that always, trial and error is fundamental to finding what best suits your business in addressing your needs and those of your customers.

“There are lots and lots of tools out there. Don’t try and use them all at once. Do one at a time. Try something, see how you go, review and iterate. In other words, don’t wear yourself out with one giant online blitz, try and pace yourself and test and learn with everything you try”, she says.

The challenge for businesses moving into the future is therefore to find that place where the real world and the digital world intersect and exist together, complementing each other – a type of ‘happy place’. Happy not for its own sake, but rather because once you get there, it will mean you would have considered, tried, tested, reviewed, tested again, and ultimately found the technological solutions that are the best fit for your business, your brand, and your customers.


This content is proudly brought to you by St.George Business Bank.

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