The year of mobile and accessing Gen Y’s secret weapon: Telstra exec on how start-ups can make the most of 2014

This year is one of opportunity for start-ups and tech enabled small businesses able to navigate and exploit the rapid shift to mobile, says Will Irving, group managing director of Telstra Business.


Irving says the move to mobile is a trend Telstra is well aware of, as they’ve been investing in their mobile capacity such as developing their 4G networks significantly over the last few years. In 2013, they invested an additional $1.2 billion in mobile capacity.


“Businesses will start to see the benefit of investing in mobile technology, from professional services side and even in retail, being able to do valuable work anywhere will be a big productivity gain,” Irving says. “If you run a small business you are the business. So if you’re not here the business isn’t working.”


Not only do mobile technology and the cloud boost productivity for business owners, mobile is also increasingly how consumers search and interact with brands, so businesses need to invest in mobile-ready websites.


“The pace of investment in mobile across the board is incredible,” Irving says, adding the biggest uptake of tablet devices are among those over 45. “The demand is just so big and growing.”


Irving says a big opportunity for start-ups and small businesses to boost their sales in 2014 is in mobile-enabled sites and social media.


“Social media is a very cheap and effective way to tap into the mobile trend and reach your most loyal customers on it. It’s no longer just teenagers hanging out together,” Irving says, adding that this latter group is actually the smartest way to access the potential of social media promotion.


“Gen Ys are incredibly powerful employees to spread messages and brands because they’re so well connected to each other and so comfortable online,” Irving says.


The power of social media is especially exciting for start-ups, who tend to favour more organic approaches to marketing and recruitment.


“Who you hire in small business is much more a function of someone who knows somebody than it used to be. This is true for vendor relationships and eventually customers too. Today, word of mouth could almost be called word of Facebook or Instagram,” Irving says.


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