Posted:

Sue Broughton runs Casa Di Natura, a day spa in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The remote location of her business meant she couldn’t rely on drop-in traffic, so Sue turned to online marketing - and is now booked out weeks in advance.

With a steady stream of customers, Sue Broughton can relax (almost) as much as her guests 

Not every small business owner is as digitally savvy as Sue - and they are missing out. We teamed up with PwC to understand more, and their Small Business, Digital Growth report found that Australian small businesses stand to generate $49.2 billion of economic value over the next ten years, simply by making better use of existing internet and mobile technologies. That’s enough money to build a second Sydney airport twenty times over.

Every dollar matters to small businesses. And virtually every small business in Australia—from day spas to night spots—can find new customers and drive efficiencies by better use of the web. Online marketing lets small businesses reach new customers, while the combination of smartphones and cloud computing allows business owners to create invoices, manage staff schedules and perform other tasks on the go.

The report found that slightly over half (53%) of the $50 billion potential benefit would be created outside inner city areas. Queensland stands to gain the most—if Sunshine State small businesses made the most of the web, for example by having a mobile-friendly website and making use of cloud-based services, they could generate an additional $11.3 billion for the Queensland economy over ten years.

Some sectors have especially big opportunities. For instance, small businesses in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector could create 17% more economic value, simply by making better use of existing technology. And many other sectors could do even better.

Small business is too big a part of our economy not be cranking. So we’ve gone on the road to help small businesses all over Australia get online and make the most of the web (our next stop is Darwin on 3 September). In the meantime, here are three things every small business owner should be doing:
  1. Be found. Make sure you show up when people search for you online. You don’t need a website to start off - there are free and easy tools like Google My Business
  2. Go mobile. 95% of Aussies say they turn to their phones for information, ideas and advice. Make sure your web presence is mobile-friendly when they do, using these tips
  3. Get in the cloud. Using cloud-based software and storage like Google for Work can save you heaps of money, and means less downtime. It’s a no-brainer for small business owners.
The full report shows the digital potential of Australia’s small businesses by state and industry. If that feels a bit too much like hard work, you can always explore Sue’s spa, and hear the story in her own words, below.


Posted:
The Google PhD Fellowship program supports PhD students in computer science and related fields, and is part of our commitment to building strong relationships with the global academic community. In our most recent round three Australians have been recognised for their outstanding efforts.

Bahar Salehi, Google Australia Fellowship in Natural Language Processing (University of Melbourne, Computing and Information Systems) 
Research Proposal Title: Flexible Language-Independent Multiword Expression Analysis. 

  • Bahar owes her interest in computer science to early exposure to games programmed in BASIC by her father. While still in primary school, with the encouragement of her dad, she taught herself to code, and wrote her first program to compose music by the age of 14. Now completing her PhD at Melbourne University she is focusing on Natural Language Processing and Multi Word Expressions to solve challenges of language and expression between computers and humans. 

Siqi Liu, Google Australia Fellowship in Computational Neuroscience (University of Sydney, School of Information Technologies) 
Research Proposal Title: Neuropsychiatric Prediction with Longitudinal Multi-Modal Neuroimaging

  • A love for philosophy combined with an understanding of the digital revolution let Siqi into computer science as a career. Siqi’s research in computational neuroscience is at the intersection of medicine, biology, applied mathematics and physics. The modelling work Siqi is developing will not only help with medical diagnosis and care, but also help to progress research in Artificial Intelligence. 

Qian Ge, Google Australia Fellowship in Systems (University of New South Wales, School of Computer Science & Engineering) 
Research Proposal Title: Low Overhead Operating System Mechanisms for Eliminating Microarchitectural Timing Side Channels 

  •  Qian’s research in Systems is focused on operating system design, hardware resource partitioning, and information security. She hopes her research will lead to the creation of more trustworthy operating systems for security-critical systems, ranging from cloud computing platforms to military-style cross-domain devices. 
By supporting these three Australian Fellows we recognise their significant academic achievements and hope that they will go on to be leaders in their respective fields. We look forward to building even stronger links between industry and academia to help push important research forward in Australia.

Posted by Sally-Ann Williams, Google Engineering Community & Outreach Manager

Posted:
It’s early Wednesday morning. You’re desperately looking for a way to get motivated as you crawl out from under your doona to catch the early train to Flinders Street Station.

How about some music to ease into the day? Or maybe you’d rather just go back to bed? Starting today, it’s easier to find the right music for every moment of your day with new curated playlists based on what you’re doing.

If you’re a Google Play Music subscriber in Australia, next time you open the app you’ll be prompted to play music for a particular mood or activity. Each station has been handcrafted — song by song — by our team of music experts (a mix of of DJs, musicians, music critics and ethnomusicologists) to give you the exact right song for the moment.

You’ll also find new playlists unique to Aussie culture, with everything from pump-up music on the way to the footy to chilled music around the campfire.
You can also download these music stations to listen to when you’re offline, see what song is up next, and add, remove or re-order them to suit your taste. Or you can start a new station based on any song in the mix. You can also search for a particular station you want or activity you want to find music for.
With more than 30 million songs to choose from on Google Play, it can be hard to figure out what to listen to. Whether you’re a keen surfer weathering the winter waves, “singing” in the shower, or teeing up a beer and a barbie with mates after work, you’re sure to find a playlist to suit your situation with the updated Google Play Music app in Australia.

Posted by Brandon Bilinski and Elias Roman, Google Play Music product managers

Posted:
When we talk with successful people working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, we often hear a similar story: that one special moment, program or person that inspired them along the way. These are the kind of moments that stir curiosity, feed a long-held thirst for knowledge, or ignite some unknown passion.

For students, it could be a classroom visit from a software engineer, an after-school program on robotics, or an excursion to laboratory or science museum that opens up young minds to the diverse career opportunities offered by science and tech.

We think these moments are too important to be left to chance.

Australia is not keeping up with demand when it comes to graduates in fields like computer science, and when we look at girls, Indigenous Australians, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, that picture is even worse. 

That’s why we will work with three Australian not-for-profits to introduce and inspire 10,000 underrepresented students to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. These landmark partnerships will put to use $1 million in cash grants from Google.org to deliver hands-on training and career programs that will reach these underrepresented groups.

(Talia Rose, science and engineering student at the University of Queensland and Engineers Without Borders Australia volunteer)

Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience will develop STEM content into their Year 7 and 8 curriculum for Indigenous students, making the subjects relevant through experience-based learning. The program will increase the digital skillset of 4,000 Indigenous students by 2018.

FIRST Robotics Australia will take its FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics program into 150 new schools, providing a robotics set, teacher mentoring and support to student groups across Australia. FIRST will reach more than 1500 students in low-SES areas and regional schools, building teamwork and inspiring young Australians in the fields of engineering and computer science. To sign up, visit firstaustralia.org/new-grant

Engineers Without Borders Australia will expand its “Regioneering Roadshow”, which will give hands-on, STEM and computer science focused training to 5,000 young people, with a particular focus on young women. The Google grant will double the existing program’s geographic reach and connect young professional engineers to community, youth and school groups across regional Australia. 

Australia’s jobs of the future will require new skills, and it’s critical that students from all walks of life are introduced to this field and have the opportunity to shape it and benefit from it. We hope that these three organisations will create more moments that will inspire our kids.

For more STEM resources visit www.google.com.au/startwithcode 

Posted by Maile Carnegie, Managing Director, and Alan Noble, Engineering Director of Google Australia.

Posted:
(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the Google Research Blog)

Over the last few years, successful marketing campaigns such as Hour of Code and Made with Code have helped K12 students become increasingly aware of the power and relevance of computer programming across all fields. In addition, there has been growth in developer bootcamps, online “learn to code” programs (code.org, CS First, Khan Academy, Codecademy, Blockly Games, etc.), and non-profits focused specifically on girls and underrepresented minorities (Technovation, Girls who Code, Black Girls Code, #YesWeCode, etc.).

This is good news, as we need many more computing professionals than are currently graduating from Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT) programs. There is evidence that students are starting to respond positively too, given undergraduate departments are experiencing capacity issues in accommodating all the students who want to study CS.

Most educators agree that basic application and internet skills (typing, word processing, spreadsheets, web literacy and safety, etc.) are fundamental, and thus, “digital literacy” is a part of K12 curriculum. But is coding now a fundamental literacy, like reading or writing, that all K12 students need to learn as well?

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the devices and applications they use everyday, it’s important for all students to try coding. In doing so, this also has the positive effect of inspiring more potential future programmers. Furthermore, there are a set of relevant skills, often consolidated as “computational thinking”, that are becoming more important for all students, given the growth in the use of computers, algorithms and data in many fields. These include:
  • Abstraction, which is the replacement of a complex real-world situation with a simple model within which we can solve problems. CS is the science of abstraction: creating the right model for a problem, representing it in a computer, and then devising appropriate automated techniques to solve the problem within the model. A spreadsheet is an abstraction of an accountant’s worksheet; a word processor is an abstraction of a typewriter; a game like Civilization is an abstraction of history. 
  • An algorithm is a procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps that can involve repetition of operations, or branching to one set of operations or another based on a condition. Being able to represent a problem-solving process as an algorithm is becoming increasingly important in any field that uses computing as a primary tool (business, economics, statistics, medicine, engineering, etc.). Success in these fields requires algorithm design skills. 
  • As computers become essential in a particular field, more domain-specific data is collected, analysed and used to make decisions. Students need to understand how to find the data; how to collect it appropriately and with respect to privacy considerations; how much data is needed for a particular problem; how to remove noise from data; what techniques are most appropriate for analysis; how to use an analysis to make a decision; etc. Such data skills are already required in many fields. 
These computational thinking skills are becoming more important as computers, algorithms and data become ubiquitous. Coding will also become more common, particularly with the growth in the use of visual programming languages, like Blockly, that remove the need to learn programming language syntax, and via custom blocks, can be used as an abstraction for many different applications.

One way to represent these different skill sets and the students who need them is as follows: All students need digital literacy, many need computational thinking depending on their career choice, and some will actually do the software development in high-tech companies, IT departments, or other specialized areas.


I don’t believe all kids should learn to code seriously, but all kids should try it via programs like code.org, CS First or Khan Academy. This gives students a good introduction to computational thinking and coding, and provides them with a basis for making an informed decision on whether CS or IT is something they wish to pursue as a career.

Posted:
Cross-posted from the Google for Work blog.

 Every day, thousands of companies switch off their on-premise servers and move to the cloud. And more than five million businesses around the world have taken that shift to the cloud by moving to Google Apps, including Woolworths, BBVA, Roche and PwC. But one big question remains unanswered: what’s going to happen to all those dark, windowless little server rooms?

We teamed up with PDM International, an interior design consultancy, to come up with few ideas for how those rooms could be used today. This is what they proposed.

Karaoke at lunch anyone? 

The salad bar just got real

Play ALL the games! 

The servers are gone. It’s time to reclaim the office.

Posted by Kevin Ackhurst, Managing Director, Google for Work APAC

Posted:
Technology doesn’t stand stand still. Neither do careers, or the skills that we need for the job of tomorrow. Just as careers like knocker uppers (yep it was a real job) were replaced by alarm clocks, ice cutters by refrigeration, and lamp lighters by electricity, so too are we seeing a transformation in the types of jobs we’ll need and want as a future society.

And the pace of change is incredible. As few as eight years ago there were no Android or iOS developers - because there were no smartphones! Self-driving cars were just a dream. And 3-D printing of prosthetics wasn’t even imaginable. Yet today, all those these sectors are thriving and likely to supply many of tomorrow’s jobs.

Last year we helped to publish the Careers with Code guide, which showed in one place the wide variety of careers that computer science can lead to - everything from art and music to medicine and agriculture. In Australia alone, demand for skilled computer scientists is growing rapidly.

However, if we look at enrolment numbers at our universities, you’ll see a more worrying trend. Dr Rebecca Vivian from CSER Group did a recent analysis here, and you can see that enrolments in IT degrees are essentially stagnant, and they are also much lower for women.

Male and Female enrolments ENG and IT
Author: Dr Rebecca Vivian, CSER Group. Data source: http://highereducationstatistics.education.gov.au

There’s no other way to say it: these numbers are disappointingly low. But there are things we can do to address them. Research shows that career perception, social encouragement, and early academic exposure can have a strong impact on the engagement of women in computer science and technology related studies.

These are the areas we’ve chosen to focus on in Australia, and we work with some great partners to try to turn this around. There are a few key programs we see making a real difference:

  • Promoting a diversity of careers and profiling women in the Careers with Code Guide, and supporting events like Power of Engineering 
  • Supporting the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum with teacher professional development through our CS4HS programs and online courses from Adelaide University 
  • Resources like CS First and the FIRST robotics program which help to inspire the students of today with the possibilities of tomorrow. 

With a cross-industry approach, we’re hoping to paint a compelling picture of what tomorrow’s jobs might be like - and along the way change these enrolment patterns so that all young Australians, regardless of gender, are considering careers with code.