by Divina Paredes

Futurist Tim Longhurst: Focus on core operations and ‘edge thinking’

Feb 12, 20145 mins
CareersCloud ComputingCollaboration Software

Focus on your core operations, but take time to do “edge thinking”, is futurist Tim Longhurst’s message for today’s businesses buffeted by change.

Longhurst describes how he applied this principle in his own business.

He says as an SMB owner, with a team of three, there was always a way too much for him to do.

Over year ago, he invited a group of friends to lunch. He asked them to write the things he should be doing for his business.

In one whole afternoon, they wrote hundreds of ideas on Post-it notes and tacked these on the wall.

“Is this what it looks like inside your head?” they asked him. When he said yes, they said his mind “must be a pretty scary place”.

“It is,” said Longhurst.

Longhurst, who shared these insights at the MYOB 2014 Roadshow in Auckland, says the group held an ‘ideas funeral’ and identified the few things he needed to do in his business that would make the biggest difference.

Next page: Find your ‘personal futurist’

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In the process, he adopted the term “flawesome”. This came from a realisation that he may be doing “awesome” work, but there will “always be a bit of flaws”.

“The to-do list will never be complete,” he notes. “Embracing ’flawesome’ has given me a sense of joy in my work.

“Be flawesome, there is so much to learn.”

Related: CIOs need to end ‘monopoly’ thinking

Cyborgs in our midst

Longhurst also online outlines trends that are impacting people’s lives.

These are the rise of ‘cyborgs’ – part human, part machine – as mobile devices become part of our lives; websearch (exemplified by Google), and social media. The latter, he explains, is not just Facebook or Twitter but the part of the Internet that allows users to contribute or participate.

The intersection of these three trends is transforming people’s lives today. “The Web is allowing us to collaborate than ever before,” he says “In 2014, we feel informed and supported 24×7 – that changes everything.”

He says one of the ways businesses can manage and benefit from these trends is to “find your edge, and an edge advisor”.

Find your “personal futurist”, he says. “Meet for coffee once a month or every quarter and talk about challenges.”

Changing market dynamics

At the roadshow, MYOB announced a raft of products it says will solidify its market leading position in a rapidly evolving market and make life even easier for clients and partners.

MYOB chief executive Tim Reed says, “The transformations planned for 2014 will expand our cloud offerings to all businesses, from micro to mid-sized. We will make cloud accounting easy for every business: easy for those just starting out, easy for those running on desktop software that want to move to the cloud, and easy for our partners who are increasingly requiring cloud offerings to evolve their businesses.

In 2014, he says, MYOB’s cloud accounting products will cater to the smallest business who wants their accountant to do the accounting for them through to a mid-sized business looking for an online ERP system.

Among the products they will launch this quarter are MYOB Accountants Office OnTheGo and MYOB Accountants Enterprise OnTheGo. This is a browser-based interface that allows accountants to access their practice management data from any Web browser, including from mobile devices.

In early April, MYOB will launch the Essentials range that consists of Cashbook – an online solution available through MYOB partners; and Accounting, an advanced version of the browser-based accounting solution MYOB LiveAccounts.

In the second half of the year, MYOB will launch a mobile payments solution called MYOB PayDirect. It is a free mobile app that allows business owners to take payments, send receipts and manage their invoicing and contacts.

“Our latest moves reflect our ongoing commitment to making this choice even easier, whether the client manages their accounts via a tablet at a caf?, a mobile phone while on the road, or a PC in their office,” says Reed.

“Making changes to our line-up will further cement our category leadership and increase our profile as the cloud accounting leader.”

“Cloud is not new but it is really making a difference,” adds Reed. “The cloud is enabling mobile, with 60 percent of New Zealand accessing the internet through smartphones,” he says. Nearly half – 46 per cent of SMEs are using one or more smartphones for business.

He says for organisations using the cloud, 43 per cent are more likely to expect revenue growth in the next year; with 57 per cent more likely to say their revenue grew rapidly than those who don’t use the technology.

He says the percentage of new clients taking a cloud platform as opposed to desktop software is over 50 per cent both in New Zealand and Australia. I would not be surprised if this will be 75 to 80 per cent next year, he says.

“We are all part of cyborg now,” he states, echoing the points made by futurist Tim Longhurst.

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Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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