Paul Wallbank

Paul Wallbank is a speaker and writer charting how technology is changing society and business. Paul has four regular technology advice radio programs on ABC, a weekly column on the website and has published seven books.

Jul 262016

“We’ve been completely blown away,” says Quberider founder Solange Cunin about the interest in the startup that looks to put science experiments into space.

The company that was established by Cunin, a fifth year aeronautical engineering student, and her co-founder Sebastian Chaoui in early 2015 to provide school students with the opportunity to conduct experiments in space.

“Quebrider is a company that focuses on teaching core STEM skills that the current curriculum doesn’t focus on,” Cunin explained about the company. “Things like coding, data analysis and problem solving – all of those things industry needs. We do that in the context of students building their own space mission.”

The Quberider package starts starts at a cost of $5000 and includes a type of nanosatellite called a cubesat – a cube the size of a large coffee mug that contains ten sensors – along with teaching resources and a slot on one of the International space station launches. The program runs for three terms and integrates into the New South Wales high school science curriculum.

“Students end up creating their own software experiments and they sent it up on their own space mission,” explains Cunin. “They get that big bang and their own awesome feeling of being on something big and hopefully that gets them motivated to be involved in science a tech.”

In all, forty NSW high schools have prepared 60 projects ranging from one using the gathered information to create ‘space music’ through to an experiment measuring Einstein’s theory of relativity and time dilation to on the initial launch scheduled for the end of the month.

“Because it’s space it captures their imagination,” Cunin says of the program designed for years 9 and 10 students (14 and 15 year olds) but they have participants ranging from year 5 up to undergraduate level.

“We’re solving such an important pain point for many different people – getting students involved is a big problem for teachers and education and skills are a big problem for industry,” Cunin says.

The project developed out of Cunin and Chaoui’s joint passion for space projects and they came together when working as interns at another space startup.

While they are looking at a small amount of seed funding later this year, most of the startup’s capital has come from program fees and the support of the University of New South Wales where Cunin is a student and the University of Technology Sydney where Chaou studies. Quebrider is also part of Telstra’s Muru-D startup incubator program.

“We’re quite aware we have a lot to learn,” says Cunin about the Muru-D program. “Signing up to this with a good mentor program is important. The big value for us is the mentorship, we meet our advisory board once a fortnight and they’ve become part of the family.”

Ultimately Solange Cunin would like to see their program spread across the country. “What I’d really love to see is nationwide every single student that goes through year nine or ten has a space mission. They get to be part of something bigger and that inspires them and shows that science isn’t something nerdy and is cool.”

As the price of loading payloads onto satellites falls, it’s almost certain these experiments will become more accessible for schools and students.

Jul 212016
speaking about cloud computing, social media, the web and online business change

How is your business or community adapting to radically changing marketplaces and society?

Speaker, writer and broadcaster Paul Wallbank has been at the forefront of helping businesses and communities find opportunities in this rapidly changing era for twenty years.

Paul’s presentations are lively, interactive and designed to both entertain and challenge audiences looking at how their companies, industries and communities are going to prosper in the connected century.

Some of the areas Paul covers are the workplace of the future, employment in the age of robots, how the internet of machines is changing markets and what technologies like cloud computing, social media and Big Data mean to your business.

All keynotes, presentations and workshops can be customised to suit your unique needs. Topics include;

Future Proofing your business
Decoding the new economy
Leadership in a digital era
Tools for the new economy
Why Broadband Matters
The Future of Business

You can view many of Paul’s presentations at his Slideshare site.

Previous presentations have included;

The future office. What will the office of the future look like?
Web 4 Free. Doing business on the web with a shoestring budget.
The elder guru; exploding the myths of the digital divide.
The top ten solutions for getting the most from small business IT
What does it all mean? cutting through computer jargon.

All presentations are available as keynotes or workshops and Paul will tailor the content to suit your organisation’s or industry’s unique characteristics.

Paul connects the dots to show how your industry, business and family are being affected by changing trends in technology, economics and global demographics.

In explaining trends and technologies such as the internet of everything, cloud computing, social networking and broadband technologies, Paul deciphers the jargon and helps audiences identify opportunities and understand the risks in the new economy.

If you’d like to find how your business or community group can get more from their technology contact Paul for more information.

Jul 202016
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

This Thursday night join Tony Delroy and myself on ABC Nightlife to discuss Pokemon Go, how tech is changing the workforce and the future of Australia’s technology industry following the Federal election.

It’s taken a while but we finally have a video game that gets people off the couch and onto the streets. For the last two weeks we’ve been hearing stories of how hundreds of people are dodging cars, invading police stations and stampeding across parks as they try to catch virtual reality animals in the Pokemon Go game.

What is Pokemon Go and is this the future of augmented reality are two of the questions Tony and I will be discussing. We’re also looking at what the Federal election means for the government’s much lauded Innovation Statement along with the Moonhack record of the greatest number of kids programming at one time.

Some of the questions we cover include;

  • What is Pokemon Go?
  • Isn’t Pokemon somewhat old school?
  • Why did it take off?
  • So we’ve heard a bit about augmented reality. Is this what it’s really about?
  • Beyond games, are there any useful purposes for AR?
  • Are we all going to have strange headsets strapped to our heads?
  • Can we expected Australia to provide many of these AR applications?
  • What sort of support is the government giving these developers?
  • Apart from what was already announced what did the Federal election mean to the Aussie tech sector?
  • After all the noise late last year, tech and innovation wasn’t really much of an issue during the election?
  • Does all this talk of tech really matter to the average Australian worker?

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to @paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.

Jul 142016

“A lot of companies are trying to figure digital disruption out,” says the Chief Operating Office of Infor, Pam Murphy. “For many companies they are seeing all this stuff and thinking ‘oh my god, what on earth do I do?’. They know they need to evolve and they know they have to evolve.”

Murphy, who joined Infor in 2011 after over a decade at Oracle, has seen a lot of that change. Infor itself embraced the cloud and in the company’s has been on an acquisitions spree as it seeks to expand its product offerings.

Having dealt with so many acquisitions – eight since Murphy joined five years ago – the company has become adept at absorbing new businesses. “It does require a lot of thinking that you’re going to be respectful of that,” she says. “A lot of stuff is easy to standardise but culture is difficult.”

Another area that Murphy doesn’t see as being standardised is in developing talent. “You have to be open minded,” she says in answer to my question about encouraging women into senior roles and increasing the diversity of senior management.

Murphy’s main advice to business leaders is not to shy from the business world’s shifts, “embrace the change.” She says, “don’t think of it as being something that’s scary and threatening, get ahead of it. Embrace the fact we’re in a completely different era.”

Jul 122016
Big data takes our online, shopping and social media use it is the business challenge for our time

“We want to be the Wayze of enterprise software” is the line being repeated by executives at the Inforum2016 conference in New York today.

This is an interesting strategy for Infor, who provides a range of enterprise software tools to help companies track what is going on in their business, as Wayze is built upon aggregating user data to identify traffic problems to improve commuting times. It’s no surprise that Google bought the company a few years ago.

Infor position though is slightly different as it’s aggregating individual clients’ data for them. In a world where organisations are struggling not to be overwhelmed by information, Informa are in a good position, even if their executives do overdo it on the buzzwords.

Which leads us to another buzzphrase – design thinking – which has been drifting in and out of fashion over recent years. During the opening keynotes one of the comments was about the rise of  “network thinking.”

“Eighty percent of what most companies do deals with data from outside of their organisation,” says Kurt Cavano, Infor’s General Manager of their commerce cloud division. “We’ve seen in the power of networks with sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Wayze.”

“Nobody wants to be on a network but everyone’s on a network. It takes a long time to build but once you have one it’s magical. That’s what we’re thinking for business, they need to evolve.”

In one respect this is another take on the ecosystem idea, that one vital corporate asset in the connected world is an ecosystem of partners, suppliers and users, however the Infor view articulated by Cavano is much more about the flow of data rather than the goodwill of a community.

So we may well be entering a world of ‘networked thinking’ where thinking about the effects of data flows and being able to understand them – if not manage them – becomes a key executive skill.

Paul travelled to New York as a guest of Infor

Jul 112016

For a moment Yiying Lu seems a bit sheepish about her title of ‘Unicorn Whisperer’ at 500 startups. “It was Dave’s idea,” she smiles referring to the tech accelerator’s founder, Dave McClure.

Yiying – whose more conventional title at 500 Startups is Creative Director and says her name translates to ‘happy creative’ in English – doesn’t do bashful very well, particularly when discussing the importance of design.

“If content is king, engagement is queen.” Yiving says when we interviewed her at 500 Startup’s San Francisco office in May, “if you look at the Bay Area community they look at the content rather than the design.”

Getting magic

“When you put them together that’s when you get magic,” says the designer who’s best known for creating Twitter’s Fail Whale and now counts companies ranging from Disney and Microsoft through to Mashable and a range of startups as clients for her design practice.

Captivating people with good design is the key to successful business, Yiying believes. “At the end of the day, it’s the engagement,” she says. “If you remember Google Wave, it was a great concept but it failed and look today – it’s Slack! Google Wave failed because there was no engagement. They didn’t really look at what the user wants.”

As someone who now spends most of her time in the Bay Area having shifted from her Sydney base several years ago, Yiying laughs while describing her belief that the entire region has been gripped by a mania. “98 percent of startups won’t survive, but everyone in the Bay Area wants to do it. They’re collectively insane,” she says. “Everybody is giving it their best shot.”

Seizing the collective insanity

When she arrived in the city, Yiying embraced that collective madness, “When I first came to San Francisco, I immediately thought I was home” and cites the city’s small size but dense community of talented, committed people as the main reason for the region’s success.

For areas wanting to copy the Bay Area’s success the key lies in getting all of the industry’s players improving their game. “If you want an awesome ecosystem then anyone should work. It shouldn’t be just one part of the ecosystem working,” she states. “Investors should get better as well.”

One of the many things Yiying is passionate about is not focusing on money and her advice to those intending to make the move is to look beyond the cash, “A dollar exchange is a narrow view,” she states. “We have a lot of real smart people coming here to TechCrunch Disrupt and South by South West thinking about finding investors. That’s not the way to to it.”

Looking beyond money

“Don’t think about finding investors, that’s a fear based model.” Is Yiying’s advice, “look at putting things into the community. You can only become really successful if you’re prepared to let other people be successful.”

For Yiying herself her priorities are a long way from cash. “When I make people happy, that’s more important than money,” she explains. “You can only become really successful if you’re willing to let others be happy and successful.”

Having made the jump to the Bay Area, she’s philosophical about where home is, having been born in Shanghai and spending much of her life in Sydney, Australia. “Home is where your heart is, but if your heart is big enough you can live anywhere.”

Seize the opportunity is Yiying’s advice to those looking at making the move, “a lot of things are in your head and things are more difficult if you let them worry you so it’s best to just do it,” she says. “Make it happen. Do stuff. There is no time to hesitate.”

For the creative worker, it seems ignoring the money and not hesitating is the way to stay happy. For tech business, getting engagement in a noisy world is everything.

Jul 102016

It’s remarkable how the reworking of a 1990s video game is proving to be the first big augmented reality success.

As I’m writing this in the Sydney Airport departures lounge, thousands of people are getting ready to trawl the city’s streets for Pokemon as the company’s servers struggle with the load.

For Nintendo, a company that’s struggled to remain relevant in recent years, Pokemon Go’s success revitalises them while for Niantic, the augmented reality and mapping service spun off from Google, this validates their business.

Niantic’s success after being spun off from Google probably indicates the future for many of Alphabet’s many companies. Freed from the constraints of Google’s sprawling bureaucracy, companies like Niantic are far more likely to be able to execute on their technologies.

We can expect to see plenty of companies looking at replicating Pokemon Go’s success with their products and many millions of bits will created as the marketing industry ponders how it can make money from augmented reality games and applications. Most will fail.

The big winner though from Pokemon Go’s success are those in the artificial and virtual reality communities, the great success of the product will have caught the imagination of many executives and entrepreneurs – particularly in the tech sector where the search for the next big is becoming a little frantic as investors and consumers become jaded with smartphones and social media.

Pokemon Go marks the start of the augmented reality gold rush, who profits from it remains to be seen. It also gives Alphabet a strong indicator of how to monetize the companies under the Google umbrella.