Australian tech star helps global businesses to cope with COVID


As the coronavirus shut down businesses around the world, Australian tech company SafetyCulture stepped up. The company’s easy-to-use app, iAuditor, enables shops, schools and factories to quickly introduce new safety protocols and stay compliant with rapidly changing regulations. Today, SafetyCulture is helping thousands of organisations to get back to business during COVID.

Founded in Townsville in 2004, SafetyCulture is a global tech success. With 26,000 commercial customers – 80 per cent outside Australia – its web-based operations and safety applications are hugely popular. And with a market valuation currently in excess of $1.3 billion, it is one of Australia’s fastest-growing tech companies of the past decade.

‘Our customers use the SafetyCulture platform to help them improve their business while enforcing safety and quality protocols,’ says Alistair Venn, Chief Operating Officer, SafetyCulture. ‘Customers download iAuditor from app libraries then employees use them on their smartphones to manage operations. This includes using the app to check off safety-compliance prompts and upload photos that relate to workplace issues.’

Originally designed for the mining industry, the software’s unique selling proposition is that it is highly configurable and very easy to use. This minimises barriers to uptake. Initial trials are free, but the business has prospered because customers with large distributed teams want access to premium versions. The formula has worked. Today, SafetyCulture has paying customers in 80 countries.

A tech first-responder

When the pandemic struck, many organisations faced two new safety challenges: how to implement new safety regulations; and how to ensure that regulations could be continually updated. Compliance was critical. To minimise risk, employees, managers, customers and government departments needed evidence that regulations are enforced.

‘To help customers respond to the pandemic, we digitised the guidance templates that customers use to conduct site audits,’ says Venn. ‘This made it even easier for major customers to quickly implement new safety and compliance regimes.

‘For example, we worked directly with one of Australia’s major retail stores to help them enforce new coronavirus safety-compliance protocols. Within three weeks, they were using our iAuditor tool to manage safety at over two hundred stores. That’s exceptionally fast for an IT implementation.’

Knowing its products could have a direct impact on the wider community, SafetyCulture also rose to the occasion in terms of corporate citizenship. The company began offering its premium safety audit tool for free for six months to frontline organisations. This included healthcare units, education establishments and non-profit organisations.

Helping US schools to reopen their doors

With offices in Kansas, Manchester and Manila, Safety Culture is working with Austrade overseas to find new opportunities to help businesses. And when lockdowns began to ease in North America, this global collaboration helped SafetyCulture to make a difference.

‘A Washington-based Austrade advisor helped us find new prospects by connecting us with industry associations in the US,’ says Venn. ‘Currently, Austrade advisors are helping us to make contacts in the education sector and ‘C-level’ contacts at large US enterprises.’

In mid-2019, SafetyCulture contacted the Fontana Unified Schools District in San Bernadino, near Los Angeles. With 44 schools and approximately 40,000 students, the schools district needed new compliance tools to implement their ‘Safely Back to School’ initiative.

‘We are working with Fontana to digitise the safety guidance procedures so that everyone can work from a web app,’ says Venn. ‘This means that teachers can follow app-based checklists on their smartphones. They can ensure that all those things that need to be cleaned every day are cleaned every day – from desks to door handles. This will enable schools to re-open.’

Agility unlocks growth

As part of a new wave of highly agile tech companies, SafetyCulture is also creating new digital tools at phenomenal speed. This includes integrating temperature and humidity sensors into a new suite of monitoring apps.

‘We were already working with the global foods-delivery business, Marley Spoon, to help them ensure that each delivery contains the right stock,’ says Venn. ‘The company has experienced huge growth, and each production day the company has $200-300,000 of stock. For them, temperature control is vital or they lose stock. This was our compliance opportunity.’

SafetyCulture’s Sensors help businesses know when temperatures rise beyond prescribed thresholds because the app sends alerts to employees. This allows employees to take preventative measures.

‘Today, we are helping Marley Spoon reduce risk to their stock, and this shows how fast our tech services have progressed,’ says Venn. ‘As a company we began by helping companies manage extreme risk on mine sites. Now we can bring that rigour to the food-service industry.’

About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) is the Australian Government’s international trade promotion and investment attraction agency.

We deliver quality trade and investment services to businesses to grow Australia’s prosperity. We do this by generating and providing market information and insights, promoting Australian capability, and facilitating connections through our extensive global network.

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