E-consulting company Theandb is an example of globalisation at work and how the use of technology can compete with much larger companies - and even compete overseas. The business is based in Sydney, NSW, although its two principals, Agnes Ponthus and Bjoern Schliebitz, are respectively French and German.
The company was conceived in Europe - Ponthus and Schliebitz moved it to Australia in early 2006 - and many of its key clients are in Europe.
Schliebitz says Theandb would be unable to operate globally and compete with larger businesses without state of the art technologies.
"A mix of internet technologies gives us the ability to operate as we do," he says.
A web-based videoconferencing and e-meeting facility is one of Theandb's key tools.
"We could not have successfully moved the business to Australia and kept some of our longstanding, former clients without this technology," Ponthus says.
Theandb relies on the facility to consult with businesses across Europe and Australasia, helping them develop online strategies and implement web projects.
Theandb's work involves regular meetings to ensure everyone involved knows the stage a project has reached and what their responsibilities are.
"Videoconferencing means we are able to meet with our clients as if it was face-to-face," Ponthus says.
Using the system, Schliebitz and Ponthus can work on projects in real time. An online whiteboard, which is a feature of the system, also allows users to make changes to documents at the same time.
"The best thing about using this system is that there's no disagreement at the end of a meeting about what everyone needs to do for follow-up and what was said during the meeting because the project manager writes the notes directly into a whiteboard that everyone sees," Schliebitz says.
One project for which Theandb has used videoconferencing extensively is the development of transLucid's web capabilities.
transLucid is a publishing system for users of knowledge management desktop applications.
The tool allows Theandb to co-ordinate a core project team of eight people living in Belgium, Germany, Australia and Vietnam.
"We would not have been able to co-ordinate the changes to the design prototypes for a new editing mode of the publishing system without the whiteboard feature.
"Being able to draw on someone else's file, an Adobe PDF file for example, is also very valuable," Schliebitz says.
According to Richard Beswick of First Wave, a leading information technology company: "E-meeting facilities are particularly suitable for small and medium-sized businesses."
"This is because there's no requirement for in-house technical staff to set it up.
"There's also no need for the business to buy expensive video camera equipment or build in-house production facilities.
"Using teleconferencing is really as simple as having a webcam and installing a piece of software," Beswick says.
For a business such as Theandb, based in the Sydney beachside suburb of Narrabeen, it means the ability to work in a truly global sense, something that would not have been possible for a small business only a few years ago.
Australian Financial Review
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