Peter Blasina – Local Business
Peter Blasina has successfully established himself as the Gadget Guy, exploring the rising edges of technology and simplifying products and services for us along the way. We caught up with Peter while he was in town speaking to seniors groups about his favourite topic: technology.
How did you get into gadgets and technology?
Originally, I was a science and maths teacher – and just loved it. After a while, I began teaching teachers about camcorders while applying for a grant for a new science curriculum; so even back in the eighties I was quite good at explaining how simple gadgets worked. I followed this path for a while, then spent some time in retail helping Norman Ross about the time that VCRs were launched.
After that, I got into publishing magazines, which was not a good move, and about ten years ago David Koch called me and said, “Hey, we need someone on our show to explain new gadgets. We’ll call you the ‘gadget guy’, but wear something distinctive!” Hence the bright shirts!
I have this theory that there is a technology submarine trapping those over 50, while the younger ones sail away thriving and embracing tech changes …
I think you are right; the growth has been amazing, but Gen X and Y will have their work cut out for them, because the changes will only become more pronounced.
Would you agree that Gen X & Y have grown up with computers, but us poor Baby Boomers were born into a world of slide rulers and have had to somehow wade through the exponential growth?
If you look at the dominant technology in the Baby Boomer generation, it was television, which was iterative; whereas, for Gen X & Y, the dominant technology is computers, which are interactive. The internet is seen as a place you can go to like an enabler, where they choose between entertainment, work, social networking. Now over 80% don’t read newspapers, because they get the information from their computer or phone.
What is the implication for senior business owners / managers then, who want to keep working?
Australians are among the quickest adopters of innovation in the world and always have been, and as the internet will play an increasing role in business, so mature workers will need to keep an open mindset.
For example, the way regional businesses are using data on soil moisture or prices for the latest information is impressive. Secondly, mature age business people will need to improve their internet presence to maintain competitiveness.
You hear stories of workers and business people not being able to switch off, because they’re addicted to their smart phones and emails. Is it just a matter of personal discipline that we have trained bosses and clients to expect instant responses?
The key thing is mobility. Work used to stay at work, but not anymore; we can choose to take it home with us. However, the progressive companies are introducing values that say when you come to work on Monday morning, I want you to be fresh after a break, instead of rundown.
How will the 2030 office function?
Better than it does now!
Are you a PC guy, Apple guy or too diplomatic to comment?
Good question, but I use both, because they both have a role. It’s the same with phones; I have the chance to review them all, find out their good points and their weaknesses.
Your favourite gadget at the moment?
Some of the new Android phones that are coming onto the market have amazing ways to make our lives easier – especially with the pay phone technology that lets you use your credit card via a phone interface. Shopping will never be easier!
There is a conspiracy theory that among consumers that electronics (including computer equipment and peripherals) is produced by the same factory. Is this true?
No, it’s not true. Well … mostly not true! The facts are that 95% of consumer electronics are produced by a handful of huge factories in China and Korea, because most of the parts are standard equipment.
Take televisions, for example. The frame, the circuitry and the switches are standard items, but the remaining 5% is where the Intellectual Property kicks in. Each gadget generally has something unique about it that gives it some unique features e.g. not many know that some of the better known brands have a black box protecting the unique technology. If the box is tampered with, it self destructs!
What’s the best way to learn about the suitability of new equipment for business, so that we’re not confused and disappointed when we buy it?
It’s natural that we’re cautious about buying new things, for fear of disappointment, but you can learn anything from the web – given a little time. Lately, there’s this term around called ‘the cloud’, which means many businesses are outsourcing their hardware and software needs to experts. When you want something, you just get online and download it.
Now in your business is there a need for you to store great amounts of data, when another company can do it for you, eliminating the need for you to invest in storage? Also, why would you buy softwar,e when you can rent it for a small cost?
I have two questions about the NBN. Firstly, is $43B too much?
That’s a political question I’m not going to answer, but let me respond by asking you this: did they do a cost benefit analysis when they built the Harbour Bridge? No, because it was needed, and only the government could build it. Same with the NBN. The benefits might be hard for some to see now, but after it’s completed, it will be hailed as a great investment.
Secondly, the take up rates for the premium packages in Tasmania are reported at just 3% of homes.
Even if that figure is right, don’t worry about that. Smaller towns are unlikely to be early adopters, because they may not have the need for as much content as internet users in regional towns and cities.
For those who did not attend your Chamber of Commerce presentation, what are the top 3 emerging trends that will drive medium and small size business in the future?
The usage of tablets will skyrocket, driven by their use as a presentation, entertainment, computing or portable device. There will be a bewildering array of applications for consumers to use that will open up advertising and promotional opportunities. Secondly, as I mentioned before, cloud computing, where we’ll use virtual storage and programs.
The final and most significant trend is that businesses are starting to take the internet seriously, as they realise that customers won’t necessarily walk in the door of a retail premises until they have compared products, service, pricing and range on line. The implication for many retailers is that when a shopper arrives you can assume they have done their research and they’re ready to buy.
Thank you Peter.