The power of a Google search

Vodafone’s Australia’s image took a beating earlier in this year when a class action was lodged by it’s customers over dropped calls, reception issues and poor data performance. Furious customers then took to social media and sites like, forcing the telco to admit to some remaining issues.

Vodafone Australia also came under attack this year for a leak of potentially millions of Australian customer records. Investigations into this incident led to what the company believe was access by an employee or dealer via a password secured web portal.

Apparently the company has put in place measures to improve customer service, including a greater social media presence as well as the launch of its own online forum so the company is more in touch with customer’s needs.

Whilst Vodafone may be working overtime to repair its battered image, it seems like some things will never be forgotten. Google isn’t letting the telco forget its darkest days, in which it lost nearly 100,000 customers a month.

If you type the word “complain” followed by a space into the search engine, Google’s autocomplete feature offers “complaint Vodafone” as an option. Typing “cancelling”, “end contract” or “telecommunications ombudsman” also brings up Vodafone references in Google’s top five suggestions.

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The Australian Economy: role of business

In Australia there are many types of businesses: small, medium and large. In Australia, large businesses account for approximately 3 per cent of all business enterprises. The Australian Bureau of Statistics refers to large businesses as ‘those employing 200 or more people’. More than 80 per cent of all people currently in work are employed in large businesses. The largest employer being Woolworths Ltd with 94 408 employees.

Businesses do not operate in isolation to the economy and economic changes can have a major impact on the business environment. The current state of the economy can have a major impact on the business environment. Economic conditions impacting on business can be measured by indicators such as:

  • the inflation rate as indicated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • the level of unemployment
  • consumer confidence and consumer spending
  • interest rates and the level of borrowings
  • wage rates and awards
  • business investment and business confidence
  • foreign exchange rates and the value of the Australian dollar

Fluctuations in these indicators can have a major impact on business. The global economic crisis of 2008-09 had a major impact on business confidence. Many businesses had to lay of staff or scale back operations because of uncertain economic conditions.

Contribution of business to the economy

Large businesses make a significant contribution to the Australian economy. Because of their size, large businesses are efficient producers of goods and services. In fact, according to recent statistics, large businesses contribute 56 percent of total revenues in Australia. Large businesses  also play the following important roles:

Provision of employment

Large business requires significant numbers of employees, and employ around 33% of the Australian workforce. Australia’s largest employers (Woolworths and Coles) each employ more than 94,000 employees. Employment levels such as this help to create and maintain jobs in economy. Consequently this means less unemployment and more income for the economy; demand for goods and services goes up; and spending is increased, resulting in more employment in the production of goods and services.

Economies of scale and high levels of production

Large businesses are able to produce significant quantities of goods at reduced cost. Economies of scale are achieved; large organisations incurr lower costs per unit of output because they operate on a large scale. Consequently, lower costs in production should result in lower prices for the consumer.

Economies of scale also lead to higher and more efficient levels of production. In fact, large-scale account for about 70 per cent of all the goods and services produced by the private sector. This level of production makes up a considerable part of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP). GDP is a measure of all the goods and services produced in the economy in one year. On average, large-scale organisations contributed over 55 per cent of Australia’s GDP.

Improvements to Australia’s industrial base

Large businesses help provide a solid industrial base in Australia by stimulating the growth of capital infrastructure. Large businesses, particularly transnational corporations, are large investors in equipment, machinery and state-of-the-art technology. Most large businesses are also concerned about developing world’s best practice in their particular industry. This means that they are continuously trying to improve what they do so that they can be a world leader in their particular industry.

Research, development and innovation

In the competitive search for better products and to develop world’s best practice, large-scale organisations invest in research and development (R&D). Investment in R&D will not only help to develop better products and improved methods of production, it will have flow-on effects throughout industry and society. For example R&D by Telstra into communications technology could lead to improved communication systems for society in general.

Innovation means doing things in new and better ways, developing novel and clever solutions to problems, using the skills and technologies of the future and overcoming barriers to improvement. Innovation is an important ingredient for success in all types and sizes of business. It is needed to take advantage of business opportunities and to solve problems. For example, in the communications industry 3G networks have allowed customers to access the Internet on a mobile phone handset.

Export earnings

Australia has traditionally been a large exporter of primary products and has had to rely on imported goods. However, in more recent times the Australian government has encouraged Australian industries to develop their own export markets. Australian exports help to earn foreign income for Australian businesses. The export of Australian manufactured goods has increased in recent years. This is important for Australia’s future because it helps retain employment in Australia, while earning valuable foreign income at the same time.

AFL Clubs Revenue

The following is an interesting article from The Age on 5 May, on revenue analysis between the 16 AFL clubs in 2010.

As you read the article consider:

  1. What are the key points in the article?
  2. What do you think about those points?
  3. What do they make you wonder?

THE revenue gap between the AFL’s richest and poorest clubs reached $21 million last year, with Port Adelaide and North Melbourne earning approximately that amount less than financial powerhouses Collingwood and West Coast.

Figures obtained by The Age show that the top-two earning clubs, Collingwood and the Eagles, each had football revenue of $45.6 million, compared to North Melbourne’s $24.7 million and Port Adelaide’s $24.6 million, the latter pair having the least football income of any of 2010’s 16 clubs.

The difference between top and bottom clubs for revenue is for what the AFL terms ”club-sourced football revenue” which includes membership, gate-takings, sponsorship, merchandise, corporate hospitality and all distributions from the AFL, counting the annual special distribution (ASD), the extra funding given to clubs that have smaller supporter bases or poor stadium deals.

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'Freeconomics' the future model for doing business

‘Freeconomics’ is being lauded as the way of the future for business. Based on the paradox of the more you give away, the more money you can make, for consumers, ‘freeconomics’ delivers something for nothing. Last week the music industry became the latest to join in with the launch of Qtrax, the first 100% free and legal music download service.

It adds to a growing stock of products and services being given away. Newspapers, telephones, flights, drinks and divorces are on offer free of charge. Games, bicycles, books and cars, WiFi, financial help and travel guides are also priced to go at absolutely nothing. No matter what you are looking for, there are few limits to what is being ‘freed’. Increasingly, money will become no object at all, changing the way we live, do business and play.

Continue reading this article from The Sunday Age, 22 June, 2008.

What’s Free and Easy?

Newspapers and Magazines: Free publications are now offered in 52 countries. MX which is distributed at Melbourne railway stations in the afternoon is one example.

Telecommunications: Skype is an established player. Blyk is a European free mobile phone service funded by ads. Pumbby in Belgian pays cash to users for recieving up to 10 ads a day on their phones. SMSPup in Australia offers free SMS in exchange for reading emailed ads.

Travel: Lauda-Motion lets German and Austrian customers rent an ad-plastered Smart car for less than $2 a day. In Australia, the same service is priced at $5 a day. European airline Ryanair now gives free fares to a quarter of its customers.

Food and Drink: A Japanese vending company gives free drinks in exchange for watching a 30 second advertisement.

Textbooks: US Publishers offer free PDF textbooks to college students who complete an online survey. In Europe students can get free textbooks with ads every four pages.

Wireless Internet: Several US cities have signed up to host ad-supported free wireless internet. Trials like this have also recently been carried out in Geelong in Victoria.

Navigation: Boomerang GPS, recently launched in the US, is an ad-supported system targeted at hotels, airlines and car rental agencies.

Paper: A US company offers free notepaper branded with horizontal ads to students.

Finance: A US company gives users free summaries of spending activities, along with warnings about low bank balances and upcoming bills.

Games: Electronic Arts will soon release a free online version of its Battlefield series, supported by ads.

Bicycles: Copenhagen, Paris and Lyon are among the cities boasting racks of bicycles for free or for as little as $1.50 a day.

Music: QTrax the world’s first 100% free legal download service. Other services such as We7 offer free songs tagged with 10 second ads.

Borders take over by Angus & Robertson

Borders has said that it expects to soon complete the sale of its Australasian operations to Angus & Robertson (A&R Whitcoulls) after more than a year of talks with the owner of Angus & Robertson, Australia’s oldest bookstore chain.

A&R Whitcoulls is owned by Pacific Equity Partners, the Australasian private equity firm whose stable includes cinema chain Hoyts Group, industrial services as well as Sizzler and KFC franchises in Australia.

Borders will receive about $95 million immediately for the assets and could get up to $15 million more depending on whether it meets performance targets.

The purchase brings A&R Whitcoulls’ 30 Borders bookstores in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore and also exclusive rights to use the Borders trademark in those three countries.

Continue reading the rest of this article from the Herald-Sun on 7 June, 2008.

Woolworths to offer paid maternity leave





The ongoing push for universal paid maternity leave has received another boost with one of Australia’s largest employers of women offering paid leave for the first time.

The decision by Woolworths, which has 85,000 female staff nationally, has been described as “very significant” by the retail union and welcomed by others who saw it as a step towards a universal government-mandated scheme.

There could be further moves afoot after another large employer, Coles, also said it would “be carefully watching developments as they unfold”. However, it said there was no current plan for a paid maternity leave scheme.

Read the full article from The Age on 6 June, 2008.

Can you own the colour Purple?

Cadbury says it will appeal a recent court decision to allow rival Darrell Lea to use the colour purple. The Federal Court dismissed an application by Cadbury Schweppes that the use of purple by Darrell Lea amounted to misleading and deceptive conduct. Justice Peter Heerey said he was not persuaded that Darrell Lea in using purple had passed off its business or products as those of Cadbury or had contravened the Trade Practices Act. Cadbury had claimed customers linked purple with their products and mistook Darrell Lea’s goods for Cadbury’s, and vice versa. But Darrell Lea said Cadbury’s knowledge was limited to inspection of goods on display and physical surroundings, and did not involve any observation of consumer behaviour. Cadbury Schweppes said it would appeal the decision. Read the full story in The Herald Sun, 0n 12 April, 2008. Consider the following questions:
  1. Do you think Cadbury were justified in bring this action in the Federal Court?
  2. If Cadbury had been successful with their case, what would the implications be for other similar cases?
  3. Why is the outcome of this case important for Australian small businesses?