Unlocking the Power of Connections in Tech with Phil Dickman

Posted on July 1, 2024 in AI

Ever wondered what it takes to become a go-to person in the tech world? Don’t miss out on an interactive and thought-provoking discussion led by our hosts Jackson Barnes and Nigel Heyn together with their guest, Phil Dickman! Listen to the newest episode of Redd’s Business and Technology podcast as we explore Phil’s journey through Queensland’s tech scene and beyond. Phil isn’t just about tech; he’s a value connector who believes in the power of genuine connections.

From discussing cybersecurity trends to the evolving workplace culture, Phil dives deep into the heart of technology and its human side. He emphasises that true networking isn’t about collecting contacts but being genuinely curious about people and their stories. Phil’s approach? Always make time for a coffee and a chat—because every connection can lead to new opportunities.

Whether you’re starting out in tech or looking to enhance your network, Phil’s insights on building meaningful relationships resonate. Tune in to this episode to discover how curiosity and genuine interest can transform your career journey!

#TechInsights #Networking #Cybersecurity #WorkplaceCulture #QueenslandTech

00:00 – Start
00:27 – Guest Introduction
00:48 – Phil’s Background
03:30 – Value and Communication in Business
05:14 – Leadership and Advisory Roles
10:11 – The Evolution of the Tech Industry
11:02 – The Importance of Connectivity and Security
14:48 – Comparing AI to the Industrial Revolution
17:48 – Value Proposition of Managed Services Providers
20:49 – The Value of Managed Services Providers
25:13 – Challenges and Shifts in IT Outsourcing
27:52 – The Importance of Embracing Technology in Leadership
29:55 – Misconceptions About Technology Spending
32:09 – Cybersecurity Challenges in the Current Landscape
35:53 – Workplace Culture in the Technology Industry
41:17 – Becoming a Connector in the Tech Industry


If you would like to discuss any of the topics discussed in this episode further with a REDD expert or if you would like to be a guest on the show, please get in touch either via our website, [email protected], or through any of the links below. https://redd.com.au




Hello and welcome to Redd’s Business and Technology podcast. I’m your host, Jackson Barnes, and I’m your co-host Nigel Heyn. Today we’re sitting down with Phil Dickman, who’s got over 20 years experience in the technology industry in primarily Queensland, but in the enterprise space. Phil, thanks for coming in.


Yeah, no dramas. Happy to be here.


Hi mate. Let’s set the scene for the audience maybe on your background of what you’re doing. Obviously you didn’t start straight into enterprise technology sales and so on. Where did you start? Yeah,


Well it was funny. I started out in technology really in high school. I just liked computers, so it wasn’t complex or anything more than that, and I was never into the hardware side of things, so I wasn’t into building computers or tearing them down, but I liked working with ’em and using the software that was on ’em. So I went to uni and I just wanted to do a degree that would get me a job. So I did computer engineering and software engineering, and so I started as a programmer back in the mid nineties and I quickly realised that while I loved coding, I liked talking a lot more than I liked sitting behind a computer coding. So I didn’t stay in the programming side for long. I got into more of the product management side of things and working in the business as opposed to cutting the code and sort of went from there. So I’ve had a very varied career from that point onwards. I started with a really good company that supported me in financial services technology, software technology, which was a great grounding. So yeah, it was an interesting intro from programming into general business if you like, and then I sort of went from there.


Why did you like the talking business side more than sitting in a basement doing codes? Oh,


I think I’m a people person, I think, and I also just enjoyed the engagement that you got from talking to people and trying to uncover what they were doing. What I mean by that is businesses are all about creating value and passing that value on, whether it’s to clients or to shareholders or to the owners in a private organisation. So I just found that appealing and engaging as opposed to sitting behind a computer screen. So I think I’m a raging extrovert, I think, and so that’s where I found energy. So it was about getting out there and talking to people and that sort of has stayed true. I’ve had lots of different roles, but I think if there’s a theme that has run through all of them, the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most and had some measure of success in have been where I’ve engaged with people.


Do you like the communicating and problem solving side more


And looking for value? So the idea of being able to sit down together and look at the value that you can potentially create is always interesting. Always has been. For me, it started off by writing software. So even in that you would take nothing and you would write some software and you could potentially make value happen for a client


Maybe before you get the rest of what you did, lemme unpack your description of value. What is value?


So value for me is something that can be measured, but then at a very fundamental level is going to make the world a better place. And that sounds really cheesy, but if you look at that definition value, you inject value into a situation and it goes from being a certain way to hopefully something better and that can then cross the personal paradigm, can cross the business paradigm can be whatever you like. So it’s not about a dollar figure, but it’s about something starting somewhere and getting better. So that’s value.


Okay. So listens back to the rest of your journey. So you went to PR management for a few years, then where did you


Go? Yeah, so I went out of the coding space and product management at the organisation I was working with was really owning the p and l of the software platform and getting clients to use it. So that was when I started selling without selling because the company I worked for GBST didn’t have salespeople, but in the product management role it was up to us to go and engage with clients and help them to understand the value of what we had and how they could use it to improve their business. So it was selling without selling and I never felt like I was actually doing sales because I was helping the clients to uncover that value and in doing that they would pay us money to use our software.


So I mean that is selling, trying to find a current situation, what problems they have and what value can rev provide or problems you can solve, therefore values. And you sounds like you kind of learn sales fundamentals in that product management role. Yeah. When did you actually make the jump from that into tech sales?


It was years later, right? Yeah, because I spent a bit of time at GBST, then I went actually into banking and did product management inside Suncorp Bank. So I ran the personal loans portfolio and the margin lending portfolio in Suncor Bank back in the early two thousands. What does that look like? It’s basically, again, it’s basically being responsible for the design of the product. So it wasn’t technology at all. It was sitting in the bank and so being responsible for literally setting interest rates, designing the fee structures for the product, working with the distribution channel inside the bank to sell personal loans, clients building campaigns around that, and then the same in the margin lending space. So the bank at the time had a big network of financial advisors and we would design the product and work with the financial advisors to actually get our margin lending product out to clients. So I ran that for about two and a half years and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of


Fun. Then did you go into the tech space after that?


Well, then I went back actually to GBST. Again, I was in a leadership role by then I was running the back office portfolio and I was also doing a lot of m and a. That’s a different kind of business development if you not so much traditional selling. So I did that for a number of years and then some different other roles. I didn’t really enter into a direct selling role until I went to Data three in 2014. So I went to be an enterprise account director in the Queensland market at Data three. So that I’d been 16 or 17 years in my career by then about 16 actually before I was actually in a role that had what you would call a direct selling capacity. Yeah,


Interesting. But you were kind of something along the way as well. Part of what you do, you were chairperson for Dell Technologies for APAC for the


Partner Advisory Board? Partner advisory. Yeah. So I was really fortunate when I was at Data three to move from being a individual salesperson to start leading some sales teams at Data three, and one of our big partners was Dell Technologies. So they have these groups as part of their partner programme called the Partner Advisory Boards, and they have their big partners and Data three was a very significant titanium tier partner for Dell amongst other vendors, and they did it really well. All the big vendors do it well. Dell was right up there. They take advice and feedback and input from their partners through the advisory board and then they actually implement those changes to try and make their partner programme better. So some people thought it was a token thing just to keep big partners happy, but my experience of all of them, Dell included, it was anything but it was serious.


They took the feedback on, they altered and changed their business because of it. I was really fortunate to sit on that partner advisory board for a number of years. I actually changed organisations and in doing that, that’s when they invited me to become the chair of the partner advisory board for a couple of years, which was mostly just a facilitation role in terms of helping them bring that feedback together and take it on board. There wasn’t a lot of direct, it sounds really, really fancy and senior chair of partner advisory board, but it was basically just really they needed a chair of the board to help bring it together. And so it was a shared different individuals who’d been on the advisory board for a number of years. It basically rotated around like a rotating chair. So I was fortunate enough to do that for a couple of years and it was really good. I got so many great experiences. I got to meet a lot of really awesome people and I think as a board we helped take the partner programme at Dell Technologies and make it better. So that was pretty cool.


Would’ve been a good experience. So I want to unpack a bit about your experience in the technology industry over these years, but before I do nij, where did you want to take the conversation first?


Well look, I’ve got to give you credit, Phil. When I reached out to you cold on LinkedIn, you remind me of that fact just talking before the show. You responded very, very quickly and that was early days when I started Red and we’re starting to explore Dell and I jokingly say to people now if I’ve got anything that I’m not sure about Dell, I always call Phil, there’s a photo of Michael Dell and then when it’s in Australia it’s Phil Dickens. No,


That’s terrible. There are a lot of people who know a lot more about Dell than me, but I take it


You cover a lot, mate. So hats off to you. Look, you’ve got a lot long varied experience, especially in enterprise and especially in technology. What is your take on the industry right now? There’s a lot of change happening. AI’s becoming that buzzword. We’ve gone through that cloud consolidation industry. We were talking before about there’s a bit of change in terms of the job market and things like that given there’s a saying in life, the history of the past predicts the future. You’ve seen a lot of where the world has come from and you are very deep with technology, but you are unique. You are that human connector. You bring people together. Even if I look at my calendar this week, I think there’s about five meetings I’ve got, which are all people that you’ve introduced in your network over many, many years. So super generous with your time, but where do you crystal ball and see the next, maybe not let’s say 10 years, but next couple of years?


Yeah, it’s interesting, isn’t it? This industry is so in its infancy still. You think about the technology industry and really what made it, it’s probably had two big phases. The first phase was just the invention of silicon. So you go back to the first computers and silicon then democratised it and we had PCs. So up until the internet, that was sort of the first phase of our industry and then along came the internet in the mid nineties and that global platform for interaction has just changed everything. So I find that fascinating. One of the things you talked about just then was connecting. I think that element of our industry is a little underplayed, just how powerful the technology industry has been at connecting everything in the world. Literally everything. We’ve seen the fat of iot and we’ve seen cloud and we’ve seen how our industry has again and again and again in 20 years since the internet, maybe 30 years since the internet really started to cut through, it’s changed the game again and again and again.


So where do I see it going? I think what’s different now is that it did all of that change in a period of pretty good global stability. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the internet really took off in the nineties when we really had a period globally of great stability. It was post fall of the Soviet Union. Everyone thought capitalism had won. You know what I mean? And then the world changed again. So what’s going to happen in our industry I think will mirror the broader world and the instability in the world. So I think technology is going to get ever more complex and different. So I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t forecast where it’s going. So what my take on it is at the moment is the basics are never going to be more important. So really good connectivity is now probably the single most important thing if you are trying to build a technology strategy because you can have everything super safe and secure in the cloud, but if you can’t connect to it, you’re stuffed.


So I’d be doubling down on connectivity. Security goes without saying everything has to be really, really secure. So those two things, I think connectivity and security are only going to be more and more important. If you’re building a strategy as a business leader at the moment around technology, you need to have those two things at the top of your list. Connectivity and security, the rest of it, the compute, the storage, that stuff, that’s all been taken care of. That’s just table stakes, that’s done and dusted. It’s a commodity that can be purchased at the lowest unit cost, but the difficulty is going to be in connectivity and security. You mentioned the greatest buzzword in our current industry at the moment. You mentioned ai, right? I think that’s a really interesting paradigm that’s got a lot of time yet to play out in what it’s going to actually mean. I don’t think anyone knows exactly what AI’s going to do for our industry at the moment. All the buzz is around things like larger language models and chat, GPT and all that. I’m a programmer from way back. All they are is giant high compute pattern matching engines. There’s nothing intelligent in that. With all due respect to the buzzer that’s going on in ai, these are just giant pattern matching engines fed with the world’s largest database in the internet.




That’s all they’re doing.


It’s true. And it’s quite funny when all the marketing companies of these big tech companies that as soon as the shift change to everyone talking about ai, they’re all put AI based cybersecurity or AI based. This on everything.


Everything. You buy a washing machine now it’s got ai,


Fridge, ai,


Ice. Now it’s a buzzword to drive the branding, but will it mean something eventually? I think so, but I think everyone glosses over the first word of those two words. So everyone focuses on the intelligence piece and forgets that the first word is actually artificial, which means it’s fake, which means it’s not intelligence. Those actual, if you look at the definition of artificial, it means not real and yet we’re treating it like it is real intelligence. I find that fascinating. So I think we’re a long way from AI equals a thinking computer. We’re a long way from that. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to find it. I’m not a sceptic, but I think we’re a long way from that. It’s a massive answer at the moment that I think is still looking for a question.


I think the dialogue hasn’t really changed it. I remember even 10 years ago I was doing document management technology and people were like, oh, but that’s going to replace some over an accounts payable and we don’t want to put them out on the street. That was just putting in a document management system where now it’s just evolved into ai, generally speaking is going to carve out employees that won’t change. And five years ago when it was all digital transformation was a buzz and now it’s just the AI side.


I think it’s interesting though. I do think that we’re at the start of, you talked about history, Nigel and what we could learn from history we’re definitely at the start of the same period that was Britain in the 17 hundreds with the industrial revolution. So the industrial revolution changed the game because it took steam powered mechanics and took away the people power that was required to do so many tasks and that changed the game. AI will do that because this next level of giant pattern matching engines can actually replace a lot of functions that used to be done by people. Now that’s not a scary thing, it’s just something we need to absorb just like we absorbed the industrial revolution and it did great things for us as a planet, this will do the same, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be painful if you’re caught up in the middle of it. So I think that will be real over the next five years. What the end game is just like I reckon no one predicted the end game of the industrial revolution. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I can predict what’s going to happen out this AI revolution.


If you could predict you want to be sitting here exactly. Well into the retired I’d be on a


Beach in The Bahamas, right? Yeah.


So you touched on before value. One thing we always challenge about get challenged as a managed service provider is that technology is becoming more ubiquitous, it’s becoming more complex. There’s more attack surfaces. How do you dispel? You work on both sides of the equation. You are working with vendors that actually dictating the world we live in and you also work with governments and enterprise and big businesses that need to actually build the environments and safe haven their data from an MSP point of view, that value pitch, right? Yeah. Can you elaborate a bit on your


Thoughts? Yeah, it’s an interesting one. I think people come as the owner of a business, and this is shifting, but I think once upon a time the owner of a business thought they would have to spend a fixed amount of technology of money on technology and then that would they’d be sorted. They would’ve spent the money they needed on technology. Clearly now the world is so digitally enabled and technology is the backbone of everything. It’s the oxygen for business, it’s the backbone of everything. The ship has sailed. We can’t go back to an analogue world. That’s just not going to happen. So it means that technology is an ongoing spend, it’s an operational cost. Yeah, you’re not going to have a point in time where you’ve won the battle of technology and then it’s the same with the cyber and the connectivity I was talking about earlier.


You’re just going to have to always spend money on it. So I think where that then comes down to working with partners and working with say a managed services provider is you’re not going to go and spend the money with a managed services provider to get what you could do yourself. So there’s got to be something different and that’s that value concept. What a managed services provider can bring is specialised value and understanding at scale to a client that they can’t afford to do themselves. But that key word there afford is a really important one. You can get really good value from a managed services provider, but I don’t think you can call it a cost saving measure. That is a really bad mindset and I’ve sat on both sides of the fence. So I do understand that people are always looking to do more with less money, but the reality is that you have to understand what your priorities with technology and then if you really are looking to get the best value out of your technology spend, it would make sense to go and spend it with someone who specialises in doing that technology for you.


So there’s a cost equation that’s always going to come up there, but particularly if you’re a small to medium business, I guarantee you you’re going to get better bang for buck by finding the right managed services provider. And I’m not saying that because I’m sitting in red office, but it’s true. You won’t be able to do that in-house yourself.


Yeah, I mean what I talked to is, which is implying what you said is that it used to be 20 years ago you’d have an IT generalist, that’d be your cyber guy. If CM had problems, you’d almost go to your generalist IT guy, therefore getting an internal IT team, A guy or two wasn’t that much of an expense. But now the technology is so broad networking specialists and cloud security infrastructure applications and system admins and network operation centres and all this kind of stuff. It’s a broad that actually internalising that from what I see is getting harder and harder. What are your thoughts on that, but also what are your thoughts on the value that an outsource IT or a manager IT service provider value brings to the table now compared to 10 years ago?


Oh, it’s definitely staying across everything that’s going on. You can’t two or three people. So if you think about 150 person business, so you probably wouldn’t have more than three or four people in an IT department to support 150 person business if you were doing that in-house. Those four people can’t stay across the complexity of the modern IT landscape. They just can’t. That’s physically impossible. You’re going to run them ragged, they won’t be able to do it. So that’s where if you think about say the full-time equivalent cost of having four people and you look at going and starting to spend that with a managed services provider, that’s a really good rule of thumb to say, am I going to get more value out of that spend with someone who is a specialist, has expertise, has the skill and the scale? You probably are. So that’s what I think has shifted even 10 years probably that shift was starting 10, 15 years ago.


You could probably manage, you could probably manage, you’d have a guy in your business who was the Windows guy. You’d have a guy who was your networks guy and then you’d have a guy who’s your application desktop support guy and then someone to manage them. You could probably get away with that. You didn’t worry. Let’s face it, 15 years ago you probably didn’t worry about security too much, but you can’t do that these days. Staying across these things just requires complexity. I would argue too that in the last 15 years, the value that you get out of the technology that you use inside your business has multiplied. So you probably should be spending ironically more money on technology now than you were 15 years ago, not less. So I think there’s this really interesting set of forces in industry at the moment, whether you are a small business or a big large enterprise like the ones I work with, they’re all looking to spend less on technology. There’s something wrong with that equation in my view. And again, I’m not saying it because in sales in the technology industry, but if you look at it’s always about value. If you look at the amount of value that businesses are extracting from technology now when everything is digitised, you’d think they’d probably be spending more money on it, not less


So. Something we’re seeing is a huge increase in that kind of co-manage where you’ve got a hybrid team like a CIO or infrastructure manager and maybe a guy who builds laptops internally. But you outsource components, infrastructure network help desk or escalation help desk for example. Is that what you are seeing in the industry


As well? Yeah, definitely. I think that is the model of the future and the future now. So you probably want to have a blend because the one thing you get better from having an internal team is that face of user experience. And it depends on the industry, but every single organisation, whether they’re big or is still going to have those tricky problems where someone very senior in the organisation can’t get their laptop to do the thing they want it to do right then and there. Now that experience for that person is going to be better if there’s someone who can walk up to their desk or if they’re working from home, get on the phone with ’em or maybe even go to their house, and I’ve heard of this too and solve the problem. So that really high touch user experience, that goes a long way to helping people, but you can’t necessarily get that from a managed services provider. So what you described there necessarily without paying a lot for it, what you described there where you have components, you might outsource some components or look to a partner for some components and then do others. I think that is the model that we will see as if it’s not already the industry standard. I also think the really big players, the enterprise businesses, that’s what they do. They have big internal IT teams and they also have really big outsource contracts. So they do both.


So I want to pivot to the cyber industry a little bit in a second, but maybe just before we get off that outsource it, managed IT support side, what do you think it’s going to look like in 10 years time or 15 years time if now the IT industry is getting more light on for small businesses and there’s more hybrid co-managed IT operations where you’ve got some internal, some external, it’s kind of happening now. What are you seeing in 10, 15 years?


Yeah, I think it’s interesting, right? I’m not a good crystal ball guy. If I was, as Nigel said, I’d be on The Bahamas right now. But I do think that we talked about AI previously. I do think we will see more and more of those basic tasks getting taken care of by automation, robotic type automation in a technology sense. So things like infrastructure as code and software defined everything that is really going to make a huge difference. So where I think that goes is that the smart managed service providers, the good outsourcers will invest less in people over time. IE, they won’t build contracts based on how many FTE they need to support a client. They’ll build a contract based on how much value they can deliver and then they’ll try and take care of most of those tasks through automation and software defined capabilities and infrastructure as code, those types of things. They’ll go up the stack basically. So that is where I think it will go. Now, how that plays out in practise, we’ll have to see how out travels. But I think the days of, and I’ll use the example that is really quite prevalent. I think the days of these giant outsourcers who perhaps are based in countries with a lower cost base, just throwing people at contracts. I think those days if not gone are about to go.




And that’ll be a seismic shift across our industry, particularly in the big end of town because that has been the way they’ve won big contracts for the last decade or so and some giant companies have been built off the back of that. Yeah, we’ll give you 10 people. Yeah, absolutely right. But I don’t think that business model is sustainable because I don’t think, one, I don’t it’s necessarily delivered the experience that clients were looking for, but I also think those individuals in those countries are going to say, I’m not interested in just being a number on a balance sheet somewhere delivering an FTE task that’s boring, repetitive, grunt work. And as these countries expand and become more prosperous themselves, those people aren’t going to just do those jobs anymore. So I think that if it comes to fruition could be really interesting.


Phil, before Jackson goes into cyber questions, something you touched on earlier about the organisations you work with, especially enterprise, are asking for things to be done with less budget. What questions do you see the boards that you are presenting to talking to, because you are literally at the top end of town. What’s the common theme apart from cost cutting? Are they doing r and d, spin ups on AI and things like that? What’s the common trend there? I’m


Going to be slightly controversial here for a second, but there is research that would back me up by people like Deloitte, et cetera. If you look at the top 50 to a hundred, and I’ll use the listed companies on the Australian Stock Exchange as an example, and you look at their boards, I would argue that the level of understanding of what digital and technology means to an organisation like that level of understanding at a board level just ain’t there. So I would suggest Nigel that most of those boards aren’t having the conversation about technology enough. I really reckon they’re not, right? I think they focus on risk. I think they focus on people. I think all good things. I think they focus on their operations, their production, all of those elements. I think they talk about technology when it comes to being scared about cybersecurity and ransomware. I think they potentially turn to whoever the CIO reports to because often the CIO doesn’t talk too much to the board. And there’s some exceptions, like financial services is a massive exception. They’ve embraced digital, but they had to because the world is built on digital money, not real money, digital money, but most of them I don’t think talk about technology enough.


Yeah, it’s very cool. Even today in the paper there was an article about Australia’s productivity being so low. So this huge upside and huge opportunity for Australian leaders, but embracing technology, what we all eat, breathe and sleep.


I just don’t think they look at it enough. So they talk about cyber. It’s a nice segue to what you wanted to ask about Jackson. I think they talk about that, but probably they don’t understand it. And again, we have to cut them some slack. Most of them are in a certain age bracket that grew up and cut their teeth before technology existed.


So if they don’t understand it and productivity numbers are really low, why do you think that boards generally speaking here are trying to reduce their tech spend, just the estate of the economy?


Oh, they just see it as a cost. So go back to the comments we made earlier about isn’t it just buying a stack of computers that’s a one-off spend and then we don’t have to worry about it for four years. And again, I’m being purposely overstating the example to make the point, but the people on most of these boards, again, they grew up when technology spend was buying a computer. And that is totally not what technology spend. We know it’s about data and applications right now. There’s always going to be the exceptions. But if I would argue that if you find a board that is actually super tech savvy and is making powerful decisions based on understanding what technology can do for their business, you’ll also find the most successful companies in the world. Those two things will go together and they


Just happen to be 10 companies, most of them.


Well, that would make sense, but I think you look at, you can pick a metric, market capitalization, ebitda, whatever. I think you could probably find a correlation on any one of those factors with a company that is embracing and understanding what technology can do for them. There’s a lot of ’em in financial services had to, no one’s moving gold bars around in waggons anymore. The world of finance is digitised. So they’ve had to embrace that.


Probably some other examples like legal industry and stuff, so wanted people a little bit to is the cybersecurity industry obviously, which we’re in a fair amount and there’s been a lot of noise around the cyber industry used to be separate kind of companies doing managed sea and so on. And now MSPs are kind of skilling up a little bit in that cybersecurity space. But still the gap between what companies are spending on technology and how much money they’re losing to data criminals is not keeping up and it’s in a pretty bad state. And even in Australia, pretty horrible. And more specifically, unfortunately Queensland, I think like 27% of breaches in the last six months of last year were in Queensland. No way.


I didn’t actually


Know that. You didn’t know. Yeah. This is from the notifiable data breach scheme, and that’s an alarming stat for Queensland because the amount of businesses in Sydney and Melbourne compared to Brisbane is way off the charts. So the stats are not great for Queensland for whatever reason, but more generally around the cybersecurity industry. What are you seeing in that enterprise tech space around cyber?


Yeah, I mean that’s a huge topic. We could spend hours talking about it. I think maybe something interesting that you guys are probably aware of to start with that I think is a good sign that government is finally getting serious about holding companies to account on this. And you would’ve seen maybe, I think it’s the Office of Information security, federal government statutory authority has taken Medibank private to court in the federal court. You might’ve seen this one for breaches of the privacy act relating to that hack. Now the main case that they’re making is under the Privacy Act and saying they failed to protect people’s information in a secure fashion, but the penalties that the court could award are up to 2.2 million per person per breach. So that’s like 1.3 trillion of fines. Now that’s not going to happen because put Medibank private out of business.


But why I think that’s a really good sign is it shows that governments are waking up to the fact that companies perhaps haven’t been taking cybersecurity seriously enough and that they should be doing more. So to answer your question, what are the big enterprises that I am around doing about it? They do take it very seriously. What I think they are doing that people could learn from is while they’re spending money on the technology part of it, which is really important, so they’re implementing the right pieces of technology to drive security well, the things that you would expect. So they’ve got threat detection in place, they’ve got the right microsegmentation within their data centres and within their cloud platforms they’ve got MFA on everything. They’re also spending on people and process because as you guys know, working in this space, it’s actually not so much the technology.


It’s actually mostly about the people and the process that you wrap around the technology. So this is where an MSP who specialises in this space can be really helpful. They can take care of some of that people process stuff and do it well, but that’s where they’re doing a lot of good activity in that people process space. And that’s where I think other businesses could probably learn a bit more from that. It’s not just about putting in the technology. I think the other thing that they’re trying to do, which is again really important and instructive, is it’s a really saturated market. Cybersecurity and the technology tools available in that market, there are a lot, having lots of tools does not help you become more secure. In fact, I would argue that it’s the opposite of getting really secure because complexity makes it more difficult to manage, difficult to manage situations and environments actually open up more threat vectors to the bad actor. So I think the good organisations are picking a couple of really good solutions and they’re implementing them, they’re implementing them well, and they’re wrapping it with good people, process, discipline, and that’s the ones that are succeeding. And success in this current environment isn’t about preventing breaches. That’s impossible. It’s about doing much as you can to prevent, but then also having the right process and technology in place to recover. You’ve got to have both sides of the equation.


We can talk to Phil for hours on technology. We must still do a part two in a series, but an time. Phil, one question. I’m keen to pick your brains and you’ve worked in all of these organisations, talk about culture in the technology space.


It’s a funny one, isn’t it? Because we’ve got this really interesting dynamic at the moment in our industry, I think more than most where we’re having this battle about working in the office versus working from home. Yeah, I was reading this again, we’ll talk about Dell. It’s public news, so I’m not talking out of school here. I think it’s really interesting. Dell was one of the first tech companies in the world to embrace proper work from home work from anywhere policies. They’d been doing it, I think, don’t quote me on this, I think 2011 they started really having a lot of remote workers. I believe that recently they’ve tried super hard to get workers to come back into the office. I think I


Saw a newsletter super


Hard. It


Was like basically you got to come in if you want to keep your job kind of thing over in the us.


I think they were slightly less vicious than that, but I do think it was if you decide to nominate as a fully remote worker, you are basically signing away your right to promotion. Wow. Yeah. So again, I think that’s pretty verifiable. So anyone listening can Google search and check this out, but that’s a huge swing for a company like that who had embraced it so successfully. I mean they embraced it really successfully. Why is that? I think topical at the moment. To your point about culture, I think organisations in general, our industry specifically, everyone’s trying to understand what workplace culture now looks like. No one actually really gets what workplace culture looks like anymore. We used to have this clear definition on workplace culture because it was built around an office or a series of offices. So we could get a bunch of people into a controlled, semi controlled space.


We could help them feel secure and safe and be part of that. Covid turned that whole paradigm on its head. People found working from home really useful. People found remote work meant they weren’t commuting for three hours. They liked that productivity on any measure, sometimes went up, sometimes went down. I would argue that someone who’s productive in the office will be productive working from home. Someone who’s unproductive in the office will probably be unproductive working from home. I used to think there’s a misnomer there. Good people will work hard and deliver whether they’re in an office or whether they’re at home. So that argument I think about who’s going to be productive has got nothing to do with whether they’re in an office or at home. Right.


One counter that though is it depends how collaborative your role is. I would


Say Totally. Yeah, totally. But I think there is enough technology out there to allow good people to collaborate. Whether they’re sitting in front of a desk at home or sitting in front of a desk in an office. Now I’ll put my cards on the table. I would prefer to work from an office. I like the discipline of that. But then I grew up before you could work from home. So that could just be my bias coming in a creature of habit. So there’s all of these factors in. So to go back to your question, what’s happening in culture in tech firms and workplaces more generally? I think it’s totally being reinvented. So I think we’re in this really interesting world where no one can really define it. I definitely can’t. And so I think anyone who reckons they can is probably either a guru and they’ll be right and make a lot of money or they’ll just be wrong.


I think we’re still trying to figure this out. I don’t think there’s any simple answers. And it’s a really hard question because some people love to interact and talk and be part of an office, but their productivity in that sense is probably then going to go down, spending all that time talking and chatting, but then they might spark an idea by doing that. To your point about collaboration, that could change the game for that organisation. So you just can’t tell. I will share a little anecdote though. Some of these organisations that are trying to get people back into the office and doing it through either incentives or mandates or both. Most people though work these days in a multi city, perhaps multinational company. Most organisations don’t just have one office.


We had Michael Reed in from Megaport, and he was saying that the culture in the US is mostly remote anyway because you can’t just travel around all these states.


So my point is, if you’re going to go into an office to just sit on a Zoom call or a series of Zoom calls, you may as well do that from home. True. So it’s going to be so interesting to see how this plays out. Yeah, state of flux. It is very, very hard to predict it. Right. Because the other thing I think, to be honest, just to finish that point off completely, I think the other reason that is driving so many of these mandates to get people back into offices is management have to justify to their boards these massive leases and this massive spend that it’s not their fault that they’ve gotten. But you don’t lease these big office blocks. You don’t lease them on a two year rolling in lease. They’re 10 year leases. So until we see that shake down, it’s going to be really hard to predict what’s actually driving culture. And the biggest issue in culture right now is got to be hybrid work. Absolutely.


Good feedback. One more question. I know we were running a little bit late, but you’ve kind of become, as NI just said before, the go-to guy in tech and your superpower being that kind of connection piece. How do you become that go-to guy in technology?


It’s very flattering to be called that. I don’t actually think I am that much of a go-to guy in tech in Queensland.


He’s a value connector.


It’s very complimentary. But what I have always tried to do and the example of how we met Nigel is a really good one. I haven’t always been able to do this right and time is an enemy of doing this, but I have always tried over the years if someone reaches out to say, can we catch up for a coffee to try and do it? And I haven’t always been able to do it, and there will be people out there that could listen to this, like the three people that might listen to this on it, someone will say, yeah, I reached out to Phil, he never responded, right? I get that. But I have always tried to because I’m interested in people. So you ask, how do you become someone who has connections or has a network? I’ve often had that question over the years from people starting out in sales or starting out in their business career saying, how do you build a network?


And I think you build a network, you build connections simply by being genuinely interested in people. Because if you’re genuinely interested in people, you want to hear their story. And so if they reach out and ask to grab a coffee or to have a meeting or to have a chat, try and say yes, try and find the time to say yes. Everything is always going to be busy, everything is always going to be important. There are some things that really are important. There are other things that perhaps we think are important that aren’t so important, but if you’re genuinely interested in people and you genuinely value other people, then taking the time to just have a chat, you never know where it might lead. Lead, and that’s how you build a network. You’ve got to be curious. So that to me is how that happens and that’s how you end up building connections. Some would also say that maybe I just like lunching and drinking coffee too much and it’s a great excuse to do that, but


Awesome filth that’s coming in. We’ve gone a little bit over time, but mate, you’ve shared a lot of insights and I really, really


Appreciate it. No, always good to have a chat. Thanks


Guys. Phil, thank you so much. I’ve all got to say him publicly. You’ve been a big friend, a big supporter, huge mentor, and you’ve looked to your credit. Red is a lot of the things that reached out many, many years ago. And you said, oh, go and talk to this person. Go and talk with this person. So yeah, definitely. He says he is not the connector, but he’s the ultimate connector as far as I’m concerned. So happy to


Help. Yeah, thanks guys.

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Nigel Heyn
Nigel Heyn
Founder & Executive Director
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Nigel Heyn is a passionate, business and technology centric entrepreneur. With a natural instinct drawn towards technology, Nigel, under the guidance of his father, successfully built his first desktop computer at the age of 8. This started a journey of research, innovation and technology exploration that continues today. Nigel has successfully built several companies, all underpinned by the desire to leverage technology smarts in order to positively influence business models and realise stakeholder dreams. Leveraging a vast network of global contacts established over many years, Nigel thrives on learning what best practices exist in order to provide digital excellence for his clients'​ successes. In order to achieve true success, Nigel understands the importance of building a team of the best talent available and thus welcomes the opportunity for those sharing similar dreams to reach out and be a part of the vision. In the words of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it”!
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