7 / March / 2017

Champion for Change: Moreton Bay Region local named QLD’s first Small Business Champion


Posted 7 March 2017

In a bid to strengthen connections across government and promote opportunities for business, the State Government has announced a Moreton Bay Region resident as Queensland’s first Small Business Champion.

Ms Maree Adshead, founding CEO of the Open Data Institute (ODI) of Queensland, will play an active role in voicing the needs of small businesses, ensuring they have the best chance to start, grow and employ.

Adshead, who first began her career in the legal profession as partner of a tier one national firm, co-founded a successful start-up which received multiple awards for excellence in innovation.

In 2012 Adshead received the prestigious Women in Technology ICT Outstanding Achievement Award, which recognises the achievements of outstanding women in Queensland’s ICT industries and was the 2015 Patron of ‘TechGirls are Superheroes’.

She has a number of key industry roles under her belt, including establishing and chairing the Technology Council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), and Chair of the Queensland branch of the Australian Information Industry Association.

She is also part of a national working group responsible for drafting Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan, presented to the global Open Government Partnership committee by Minister for Finance, Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann in December last year.

The appointment as Queensland Small Business Champion was made in late 2016 by Small Business Minister Leeanne Enoch as part of the State Government’s commitment to small business under the ‘Advancing Small Business Queensland Strategy 2016-20’.

According to Government, the Champion will ensure the views of small businesses are heard by government and will represent Queensland on the national stage, allowing for input in Australia’s small business agenda.

This will also involve advocating for small business as a Member of the Queensland Small Business Advisory Council, and providing advice to the Queensland Government on red tape issues concerning small business as Chair of the Better Regulation Taskforce.

Open Data: The Engine Room of Innovation

Adshead, who spoke at the recent Moreton Technology Alliance meeting at North Lakes alongside Jock Fairweather of creative hub Little Tokyo Two, sees good alignment between her two roles, and an opportunity to help small business better understand the benefits of ‘open data'.

So, what exactly is open data? And how can your business use it?

According to Adshead, businesses have the ability to better understand their customers, market and internal business processes, among other things, by using freely available data.

“The concept of open data is not as complex as it may sound.”

“Every one of us, in our everyday work and in our everyday lives generate vast amounts of data – even when we are unaware of it.”

In a business context, this means analysing facts and figures for a purpose.

For example, when considering the location for a future business site, it would be advantageous to consider population growth, demographic background, proximity to public transport and highways, and nearby development approvals.

Making such public data freely available to anyone empowers small businesses and individuals to draw insights that have previously been unavailable, explains Adshead.

“Access to new insights enables better and more informed decision-making.

“Smarter business decisions fuels growth and prosperity.”

A real-life example of open data being used creatively comes from the Transport for London Authority, which published 61 data sets about its transport network in 2010.

By 2012 over 5,000 developers were using those data sets and had created 362 different consumer apps designed to help commuters use the service more efficiently.”

As a flow-on effect, those apps were soon reaching an estimated four million people, with an overall economic impact of $30 - $100 million thanks to saved travel time, increased productivity and other social benefits, like more time spent with family.

Impact on the Moreton Bay Region

Unlocking the potential of open data has been, and will continue to be, an important focus of Adshead’s work.

She says businesses in the Moreton Bay area are fortunate in that Council is already recognising the positive impact it can have on business growth.

The Moreton Bay Regional Council publishes data via the open data portal, offering data across a range of themes, including: town planning, waste, projects, parks and recreation, and sporting facilities.

ODI Queensland is now embarking on a project with the Queensland Government to better understand how small businesses in particular would like to learn how to use data, and improve their skills to inform their decision making.

The project will ultimately result in a data-driven, decision-making training course directed at SMEs, which is expected to kick off in early 2017.

Business Resources and More Information

For more information on ODI Queensland, visit: queensland.theodi.org/.

For more information on the Queensland Small Business Champion, visit: dtesb.qld.gov.au/small-business/small-business-champion

To access the Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Open Data Portal, visit: data.moretonbay.qld.gov.au/