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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Deliver Quality

Ken Duncan is old enough to remember when he did everything by hand. He is smart enough to look for and purchase the technology he needed to deliver quality over and over and over without having to do anything by hand after he had snapped the picture.  This is just one of his best-selling books.     More...

Key Question:


Add technology to as many steps in your process as you can afford.

What comes to mind when you hear the word "technology"? For most of us, it's computers first, followed closely by the Internet. But technology's role in the small business is just as important as marketing and finance. Technology is the ultimate enabler. You can do more in your business and you can do it faster with less error if you incorporate technology in your everyday business operations.

Q: How does a small business use technology in the business?

A: There's lots of ways and many of them were only available to big businesses up until a short time ago. But new products and plummeting costs have positioned all of us to be more competitive in our respective market places with a minimum investment. We can analyze our inventory and learn what sells and what doesn't, in what quantities, to whom, with what seasonality, at what margin, and just about anything else we might want to know.

We can codify the intellectual capital of our organization, protect it, keep it organized and up-to-date, and easily search and retrieve what we need. It's all about the learning continuum, turning data into information and information into knowledge, then using that knowledge as the basis of the decisions we make in operating our businesses. Hence the term: knowledge management.

Our challenge as business owners is to figure out what data to store, in what vehicle (data warehousing) and how to access it in such a way that it provides meaningful information that is of real value to us in our business (data mining). We've used a lot of buzz words here; let's look at knowledge management, how it actually works, within a small business. There are a number of things that even the smallest business can do to capture, organize, and make available the intellectual capital of the organization. We'll focus on three here.

Establishing a Common Operating Environment (COE). Before you had computers at your office you kept documents in folders in file cabinets. Different people had access to those documents because they needed them to do their work. Sometimes people forgot to return the documents when they were through, and you would scout around the office until you found them. Sometimes two people needed the document at the same time and they would work something out, or make another copy of the document. The point is that every business generates important information, has processes that includes forms and templates, and shares these among a number of employees.

Now that you have computers, you still generate documents, you still keep them in folders, folders are kept within folders, and various people have access to them. Electronic filing systems can be vastly superior to paper filing systems if we remember to follow the business practices we used in a paper environment. Do you have documents on your computer or network server that are not in folders? How many? How does that compare to the number of documents you would have tossed into a file cabinet without filing?

The good news is that at least (a) the documents are listed alphabetically wherever they are stored and (b) we can always "search" for them if we remember the name, or the software application, or when they were last modified. Hmmm. There must be a better way. You're right! And it's called a common operating environment or COE. In a business with a network environment, where a number of employees have access to a central data depository, you:

  1. Establish document naming conventions. As new documents are created, they are named in accordance with organizational policy. People looking for a document would have a good idea of the document name, even if someone else created it.
  2. Determine the file structure. Folders within folders within folders. Organizing your information so that documents are easily located.
  3. Grant access as appropriate. Security levels and edit rights, determining who can have access to what or not, when to permit "read-only" access, and who is authorized to make changes.Safeguard information.   Back-up systems, on and offsite, disaster recovery plans.
  4. If you do all of the above, provide training on the implementation, you will have established a COE. The benefits are enormous and immediate.

Using Databases to Work and Mine Data
Most of us couldn't imagine functioning without word processing software and spreadsheet software in our businesses. We all use e-mail and a lot of us can use presentation software, some more rudimentary than others. Yet, for some reason, the database software frequently goes unused in the small business.

Digitize, Digitize, Digitize
Maintaining our information in electronic form is critical to both the establishment of a COE and mining our data on an ongoing basis. Virtually all software applications allow for exporting data and importing data. So as long as you maintain your data electronically, you can take advantage of new software development in your industry without having to re-enter the information. Electronic files are easier to navigate and cheaper to maintain. Additional computers and memory are just less expensive than rent, file cabinets, and storage facilities.

Think about it

How far has your business moved along the learning continuum? Are you taking advantage of the latest technologies to codify the intellectual capital of your business? If you arrived at your office, and all your information OR all your money was gone, what would be more devastating to you?

Clip from: Ken Duncan Photography

Siesta Beach, Florida, a picture from America Wide: In God We Trust

Sydney, Australia:   Meet a man whose goal in life is to capture perfect moments and translate them into some of the most beautiful photography you'll ever see.

He carved out a niche by automating his art. Meet Ken Duncan; he truly sees the magnificence of all of creation around us and he would like us all to stop  and take it in.  Art is life, and art has staying power.  Perhaps if we do, we might also make our business as a work of art as well.

If you want to create a great business, focus on perfecting the products and services. In the struggle to make the processes just a little better, you will be creating something of even greater value. You can do it. Yes, you can.  And, as you do, you'll make our world a better place.   Ken should inspire you on your way.

Ken Duncan Galleries

Ken Duncan, Founder

Shop 14, Hunter Valley Gardens Village
Broke Rd

61 2 4367 7744

Visit our web site:

Office: 61 2 4367 7744

Business Classification:
Photography, retail

Year Founded: 1988

Deliver Quality

HATTIE (Voiceover): Why is that transparency worth $200,000?
KEN: Well, a limited-edition print, which has, say, got 300 prints at an average price of $1,000; there's $300,000 just alone without any other usages. So now she's going to take it from there, and that's the mounting area. And we take it over to the high-end drum scanner. Now this spins at a very high speed, and this reads all the information. It scans it.

So I still use film to capture the images because I still love the beauty of film. But with digital, it makes it -- you can really control what you're getting. You can really control the color and the sharpness and also the repeatability, because when people see a print, they want to get the exact same thing again. Also making sure that the colors are right. Now when they come in, sometimes they can come in a bit flat, the scans.

But what we're trying to do is we're trying to get it in as clean as possible and then adjust the color in Photoshop later on to get it back to where we need the color. And this is where often we'll talk a lot and we'll say, `Yeah, that's right,' or, `No, you know, that's not right, because I was there.' So...

HATTIE: So you think this is the color of the sunflowers that you saw, Ken?

KEN: Well, they're looking bright. That's pretty well as it is. Actually, when you see the print, it'll be even more like that, I think, because you can control every pixel, the color, the saturation. It just gives you phenomenal control and which gives you much more a real print. Wow, that's a big sheet of paper we got there, mate.

You've got to do it the best possible use, the best mediums, because you need that wow factor in a print. It's the wow factor that sells things. And when people see these prints that are just really colorful and really real, they just go--when you show them, they go, `Wow!' And, you know, once they go wow, you know they're pretty well on the way to wanting to have one on their wall. So whereas a lot of other people have tried to do it on lesser quality--and if you add enough of those lesser qualities together, when they open their print and I open my print, you know, the one they're going to buy is the one we show them.

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