By Chris Willcocks >>

MORE THAN ANY singular event in modern history, the coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the vulnerabilities supply chains are prone to.

To strengthen the links connecting global commerce, businesses need to broaden visibility across not only their own operations but those of their trading partners to meet the common goal of reducing risk and instilling resilience.

To achieve this level of transparency, businesses are turning to digital networks to capture the widest possible view of their buyers, suppliers and partners. Meanwhile, these digital business networks – previously discrete according to function – are beginning to converge through cloud-based technologies, unlocking value in the process. 

As these technologies take hold, digital applications have given rise to unified, collaborative, intelligent business networks of buyers and suppliers. These networks set business-to-business commerce in motion, extending visibility across both organisational and geographic boundaries.

The widespread disruption associated with COVID-19 is only the latest reminder of the acute need for visibility across supply chains. Yet even that level of transparency can prove insufficient in times of uncertainty. Visibility via multiple networks goes a long way.


Take Australian Paper, a manufacturer of pulp, paper, envelopes, and stationery, as an example. The business needed a source-to-contract solution to manage contracts and provide increased visibility on sourcing spend.

In less than six months after implementing SAP Ariba solutions, Australian Paper averaged 18 percent savings on sourcing projects and increased efficiency by reducing sourcing cycle times from more than 15 hours to less than five.

It isn’t just businesses however, public sector organisations including the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) are also reaping the benefits of greater visibility into spend and supplier performance by using SAP Fieldglass solutions.

By standardising and automating its contractor engagement processes, staff now have access to real-time analytics on its contingent labour workforce, improved cost-savings and stronger industry engagement and supplier relationships.


Cloud-based networks bring cohesion, clarity and connectedness – the Three Cs – to otherwise separate sets of information that businesses rely on to maintain continuity, manage risk and maximise competitive advantage.

That advantage rests on data: its quality, breadth and timeliness.

By consolidating all the operational points, businesses can unlock newfound efficiencies from collaborative product development, shared data and workflows, flexible workforce management solutions, real-time communication across organisational and geographic boundaries, efforts toward achieving common environmental and social objectives, and network-wide intelligence to ultimately guide decision-making.


The goal of a ‘network of networks’ – long a dream in the enterprise software business – is rapidly becoming a reality.

In fact, business networks stand poised to become a category of their own, driving differentiation not only in the technology sector but across industries.

As businesses differentiate themselves in the marketplace, they’ll increasingly need to share data with buyers, suppliers and other trusted partners on whom they rely to create mutual value.

To set themselves apart in the marketplace, they must simultaneously embrace transparency and collaboration with trading partners.

Therein lies the irony, but also the immense promise, held by cloud-based networks to propel businesses forward, even in anxious times.


Someday, hopefully soon, quarantines and lockdowns will fade into a distant memory. Yet even as illness recedes and businesses take steps toward recovery, the next disruption is never far behind.

Though it rarely grips the world all at once, as has COVID-19, it can be just as unpredictable, from trade wars and natural disasters to public health emergencies and even armed conflict.

Any of these events can throw off global supply chains, resulting in shortages or stockouts for customers in need, as we saw in March of last year with the empty shelf phenomenon facing most grocery stores across Australia’s major cities.

For businesses, operational resilience involves taking all such contingencies into account. It requires connecting an organisation’s critical partners through unified networks and breaking down siloed systems to widen visibility and invite collaboration.

By connecting all trading partners via digital business networks, all participants benefit from enhanced intelligence, greater efficiencies and improved resilience.

Business networks also overcome the challenges associated with disconnected, enterprise-centric systems and fragmented operational processes, driving scalability and speed throughout global supply chains.


Chris Willcocks is vice president and head of Intelligent Spend Management for SAP Australia and New Zealand.



NEXON is calling for greater cyber security investment across Australia businesses, calling the recent cyber-attacks across Australian hospitals and aged care facilities “a wake-up call”.

Australian businesses have never been at a higher risk of having their operations disrupted and data stolen by criminals or ‘state-sponsored actors’ according to Nexon.

Nexon Asia Pacific (Nexon) network and security practice lead, Garth Sperring said the threats to Australia’s businesses are on the rise, yet most don’t have a cyber security strategy or resilience to recover quickly from a cyber-attack.

This has left businesses extremely vulnerable. 

According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, the ACSC responded to 2,266 cyber security incidents and received 59,806 cyber-crime reports.

While fraud is the most common category, the ACSC has acknowledged that ransomware attacks on both large and small businesses remain the highest threat.

“Cyber-attacks and security breaches are no longer only targeting big businesses and government departments or utilities – every business is fair game,” Mr Sperring said.

Businesses that do have dedicated IT security teams are most at risk of being exploited or held to ransom, according to Mr Sperring.

This was following recent comments by Assistant Minister for Defence Andrew Hastie who said, “We need to start thinking about cyber as a battlefield”.

Mr Sperring said, “Australian businesses are more aware now of their vulnerabilities and they're looking to protect themselves, but the truth is most are not doing enough when it comes to protecting themselves from the growing number of threats and intrusions.

“A strong cyber security strategy is essential, and the building blocks for this are planning ahead and having a response plan in place should the worst happen. It’s encouraging to see that large healthcare providers have the necessary plans in place to engage external technical and forensic advisors as soon as they became aware of the incident.”

Businesses have been advised to review their existing policies and processes for when something happens, as well as knowing who their response team is in the event of a breach and how to contact them can help mitigate these threats and ensure business continuity.

Nexon has invested in the people, processes and technology to help organisations successful combat cyber actors by deploying pre-empt, prevent, detect and respond measures, Mr Sperring said.

Nexon has seen a large increase in the number of  clients leveraging their cyber security training, including phishing and awareness training, highlighting an organisational shift in focus to pre-emptive measures compared to previous years.

“Most businesses rely on an IT service provider for backups, endpoint protection, cloud security, network security, detection and response and troubleshooting when anything goes wrong,” Mr Sperring said.

“Some businesses don’t have the budget for in-house security specialist and aren’t able to provide a comprehensive security monitoring solution. In many cases they would not even know if they were hacked or have the security experience to deal with the situation if the worst happens.”

He said all businesses should have a cyber insurance policy, as part of an overall risk management strategy, to help recover from any cyber-attacks.

Closing vulnerabilities and identifying the specific security controls required to protect against known attack methods is a great starting point – security is a continuous process and cannot be solved in a once off project.

“Businesses need to remain eternally vigilant to detect and prevent threats, reduce vulnerabilities and maintain visibility and control of their operational environment and data,” Mr Sperring said.


By Lee Thompson >>

WHILE THE PANDEMIC has had a profound impact on Australia’s banking and financial services sector, with firms accelerating digitisation strategies to retain and engage customers in lockdown, the most transformative development flew comparatively under the radar.

Open Banking – also known as the Consumer Data Right (CDR) – was officially launched in July last year and is poised to disrupt the industry well beyond the impacts of the pandemic. CDR is designed to give Australian consumers far more control over their data and how it is used, while also unlocking immense innovation potential in the financial services industry (FSI).

Australia’s Open Banking regime took a large step forward when customers of the big four banks were given the ability to share data from selected accounts with accredited data recipients. These could include comparison sites, budgeting apps, or competing financial institutions and fintechs.

Not only can this transaction data be analysed to gain a better understanding of the customer journey, hyper-personalised offers and rates can be tailored to each customer’s specific circumstances, while myriad other use cases are being developed to take the pain out of banking and switching banks. 

In July this year, the CDR will take another important leap when transaction data from Australia’s non-major deposit-taking institutions will also be shareable using the government’s automated, API-driven (application programming interface) data sharing framework.

Though historically slow to embrace new technologies, the sector has been at the forefront of digital transformation as it sought to adapt to the impacts of the pandemic. The continuing rollout of the CDR will supercharge these efforts as financial services players seek ways to rapidly innovate, develop new digital products, and draw insight from the consumer data shared with them through the Open Banking framework.

In order to achieve these goals, many FSI firms will turn to hybrid cloud to drive innovation at the pace – and with the security – required.

Hybrid cloud – innovation’s engine room

Hybrid cloud adoption is growing across all industries but the regulatory and security requirements specific to financial services make it especially attractive in this environment: while the public cloud offers flexibility and agility, the private cloud offers high levels of control and security.

This is particularly true in the era of Open Banking as privacy concerns around personal data  leads to a desire to keep systems of record ‘close to home’ in a private cloud, while the agility and elasticity of public cloud is used to power the systems of engagement and insight.

Hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds as it enables the frictionless interplay between these two environments.

The recent Nutanix Financial Services Enterprise Cloud Index Report found 86 percent of financial services organisations considered hybrid cloud their ideal operating model.

Further, the events of last year led most companies in the sector (78 percent) to view IT more strategically.

As part of this recognition, more than half (54 percent) are increasing investment in hybrid cloud services and many are putting in place a hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to make cloud technology easier to implement and scale.

HCI is a critical element in any enterprise hybrid cloud strategy. According to recent IDC research, HCI is the ‘fastest way to enable a hybrid cloud architecture’ as it can seamlessly integrate all cloud and non-cloud data centre infrastructure.

HCI being employed by innovators now

As FSI enterprises gear up for the expansion of the Open Banking regime, it will provide organisations with common data services and API-driven functionality.

This is borne out in the Nutanix research which found that FSI organisations are aggressively deploying HCI, with almost half (49 percent) of respondents having either fully deployed or begun the process of doing so, while another 38 percent expect to begin deploying HCI within the next two years.

The survey participants saw the resulting modern IT infrastructure as a way to accelerate innovation within their organisations.

The most common anticipated benefits FSI organisations reported were gaining more control over IT resource usage (59 percent), increasing the speed (58 percent) and flexibility (55 percent) to meet business requirements.

In one example, Queensland’s RACQ recently deployed HCI and radically simplified and transformed its IT operations.

The benefits include expected savings of $500,000, a platform ready for emerging technologies including AI and robotics, and the ability to develop a common API so workloads can be provisioned on any cloud – public or private – according to each application’s specific needs.

While Australia’s Open Banking regime continues to roll out, many in the FSI sector are upgrading their IT infrastructures in parallel to capitalise on the opportunities it will bring.

This newfound focus on technology points to an appetite for innovation that will extend long into the future and reshape the face of banking as we know it.

Lee Thompson is Nutanix managing director for  Australia and New Zealand.



THE Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) has called for a greater focus on the digital economy in its Western Australia pre-election policy statement, making eight recommendations and identifying several key areas of focus in the lead up to the March State Election.

With Western Australia ranking fourth on Australia’s digital inclusion index, there is capacity for WA to move ahead of third place NSW in the next 12 months, according to AIIA CEO, Ron Gauci .

“The COVID pandemic has demonstrated that digital technologies are core to effective public policy, citizen engagement and productivity," Mr Gauci said. "We are now routinely seeing innovative technology driving investments across Australia in areas such as health, mining, defence and education.

“We only need to look at how effective the WA Safe app has proven itself to be in the continuing fight against Covid-19 in WA.

“Government needs to continue to be an exemplar in the digital space, working with the digital industries sector to continue to grow jobs and to open new opportunities within regional communities,” Mr Gauci said. 

The Western Australian AIIA Council chair, Sharon Brown reiterated this view.

“Our strategy aims to target opportunities for the digital industries sector to be one of the pillars of continued economic recovery in 2021 and beyond," Ms Brown said.

"We would like to see major spending initiatives, such as the massive MetroNet transport project, include a commitment towards digital capability development,” she said.

A further recommendation was for the government to provide a more competitive platform for the delivery of 'cloud' based services to government agencies.

“The current restricted ICT panel arrangements limit the WA Government’s ability to deliver for the people of WA and we propose a more competitive approach to working with a wider range of providers," Mr Gauci said. "This will boost the industry and aid WA."

AIIA's eight key recommendations are:

  1. That the WA Government make the cabinet-level appointment of a Digital Industry Minister with a mandate to consult with industry to develop an integrated strategy over the coming 12 months that drives the modernisation of digital services throughout WA.
  2. That the WA Government continue to drive the development of online service portals for the delivery of both essential and non-essential government services. This includes an ambitious target wherein all WA state government agencies mandate the delivery, across the next two years, of key services to the public via a digital platform.
  3. The introduction of an open procurement process for government, which allows all public cloud providers, including local WA companies to compete equally. WA will have an environment of competitive marketing for public cloud services and a local platform for public cloud providers within 12 months to generate competition on price and quality of service.
  4. As part of recovery roadmap government looks at the opportunities presented by digital technology, both in new projects and integrated within existing project commitments.
  5. That in 2021/22 the WA Government ensures that major spending initiatives include a commitment towards digital capability. The inclusion of a digital taskforce for the MetroNet project is an example of this approach.
  6. That the government review the state payroll taxation framework, acknowledging both the positives and negatives of our taxation system, with the goal of securing a system that works to foster an enabling environment for local businesses.
  7. The WA Government makes it a priority in 2021/22 to work with the AIIA on an industry engagement program designed to create a pipeline of digital industry initiatives in support of regional growth and economic diversification within WA. A focus of this program can be the roll out of digital Skills Hubs to drive workforce participation in regional communities.
  8. In response to the forecast growth in the workforce, AIIA is keen to build on the existing positive relationships in terms of ensuring that training support has the appropriate focus on digital technology, cyber security, and data science.

The AIIA recently released a white paper titled Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World, which emphasised the need to look beyond traditional infrastructure investment by government with more focus on technology infrastructure.




By Leon Gettler >>

THE GOVERNMENT watered down its media bargaining code in its desperation to get a deal with Facebook, which will have big impact on small and medium publishers and entrenches the monopoly of Google and Facebook.

So says Matt Nguyen, policy lead at Reset Australia which has been instrumental in its work to get the code up.

“They wanted to push it through as quickly as possible and not have to think about that again,” Mr Nguyen told Talking Business.

“We’re worried about the broader implications of acquiescing to Google and Facebook’s demands so easily, but the proof will be in the pudding in (a few) months when they do a review.”

He said Google and Facebook are two of the most powerful companies in the 21st century and their influence extends far beyond Australia. What was needed, he said, was legislation. 

“Only through legislation, co-ordinated legislation, not just in Australia but in Canada, the UK, the US and the EU, might we be able to dismantle some of their influence and some of the harms that have been engendered by their business model,” Mr Nguyen said.

“So looking specifically at the news code that has just gone through and what a collective bargaining agreement might have looked like, or (how) a pigeon-holed tax might have looked to ensure a robust and sustainable news media sector … That could have worked and might have helped the market failure that is journalism at the moment.

“But from our perspective, a broader view is that it has to be about legislation to rein in the harms of these big tech platforms,” he said.

“Only through legislation, co-ordinated legislation, might we be able to unpack this.”


Mr Nguyen said the process had “left a bad taste in a lot of Australians’ mouths”.

He said the ACCC had a whole suite of recommendations, which included funding the ABC, which were not taken and the news media code was seen as a ‘Murdoch prop-up’.

Mr Nguyen said Reset Australia wanted to a pragmatic approach and, just because it might not have been the most optimum solution forward, it didn’t mean it couldn’t be made to work for as many Australians as possible,

“Where it’s ended now is disappointing for us and we think there could have been a suite of measures through this code and looking beyond this code to ensure that journalism is sustainable,” Mr Nguyen said.

“We need to ensure that small and medium journalistic companies are funded properly.”

Mr Nguyen said the eligibility requirement for small publishers to get into the code in the first place should have been decreased and the platforms needed to be more transparent about how they serve journalistic content.

“I guess where we’re most disappointed is that we saw the intention of this legislation to deconstruct the monopolistic dominance of Google and Facebook,” Mr Nguyen said.

“Where it has become watered down to has strayed away from that intention.”

Mr Nguyen said Reset Australia wanted to set up guard rails and regulations similar to what the EU has done around ensuring the digital platforms worked in the public interest.

“It’s about having an undercurrent of a rights based framework over our own data,” he said.

“These companies hoover up data on all of us creating these profiles that they use to actively manipulate us, whether that’s by serving ads or whether that’s by engendering hate speech, or whether that’s by promoting polarisation.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

THE Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the peak representative body for Australia’s information and communication technology (ICT) industry, has announced a new 2021 board of directors composition featuring diverse and influential executive leaders within the ICT sector. 

Continuing AIIA chairman, and senior Deloitte partner, Robert Hillard said the AIIA board oversees all AIIA operations, develops the AIIA National Business Plan, and sets the strategic direction of the association. Mr Hillard continues as AIIA chairman, having served on the AIIA’s board for two years following an earlier three-year term.

“The AIIA’s new board of directors bring to the table a truly impressive and diverse range of specialisations, skills, perspectives and a wealth of experiences,” Mr Hillard said. “I’m proud to welcome the newest members to the AIIA board and thank the ongoing support of our continuing and outgoing board members.

“We have a range of highly experienced individuals joining the board who I’m sure will make a strong impact. Together, our aim is to stimulate and grow the digital ecosystem in Australia.”  

Senior executive company leaders within the technology industry, Dell’s Angela Fox and Information Professionals’ Mark Nicholls were successful in the national election and are reappointed as deputy chairs.

ICT industry specialist and CEO Stuart Althaus, of SME Gateway, now joins the AIIA board as treasurer. Existing board member Matt Codrington, managing director at Lenovo, has also been re-appointed to the board.

Additionally, Mr Hillard said, the AIIA board “proudly reflects the association’s commitment to improving gender diversity in the tech industry” with a third of the seats now held by leading women in the industry.

Katrina Troughton, IBM’s first female managing director, joins the board alongside Elizabeth Whitelock, CEO of human-centred AI company, Houston We Have.

Bringing her deep technology, business and operational expertise Lynette Clunies-Ross, CEO at SAS, joins the board as well. 

“As we look to re-shape our economy post COVID-19, Australia’s tech industry is in a great position to play a leading role,” Mr. Hillard said. “The AIIA will continue to champion our members’ needs and support innovative technology to lead Australia’s economic growth.

“The AIIA has had an incredible year of growth in 2020 with significant spikes in member numbers, superb entries for our annual iAwards and leading discussions on Australia’s ICT industry needs with all levels of government. The AIIA looks forward to building on these strong foundations and continuing to extend our strong relationships with industry and government,” Mr Hillard said. 

The AIIA’s full board of directors for 2021 are:

  • Stuart Althaus (Chief Executive Officer, SME Gateway)
  • Craig Baty (Principal, Data Driven)
  • Ken Boal (Vice President, Cisco)
  • Lynette Clunies-Ross (Region Vice President and Managing Director, SAS Australia and New Zealand)
  • Matt Codrington (Managing Director, Lenovo Australia and NZ)
  • Angela Fox (Managing Director, Dell Australia and NZ)
  • Rob Hillard (Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Deloitte)
  • John Ieraci (Chief Customer Officer, Telstra Enterprise)
  • Megan James (Director, Public Sector ANZ  at Dataminr)
  • Sharryn Napier (Vice President and Regional Director Australia and NZ, Qlik)
  • Mark Nicholls (Managing Director, Information Professionals Pty Ltd)
  • John Paitaridis (Chief Executive Officer CyberCX and CEO Technology Portfolio, BGH Capital)
  • Vito Rinaldi (Managing Director, Blue Crystal Solutions)
  • Karl Sice (Business Leader ANZ, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise)
  • Rupert Taylor-Price (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Vault Cloud)
  • Katrina Troughton (Managing Director of IBM Australia and New Zealand)
  • Elizabeth Whitelock (CEO & Managing Director at Houston We Have)

AIIA State Council Chairs for 2021:

NSW Council - Bridget Tracy, IBM Australia Ltd

Victorian Council - Warren Hill, Data#3 Ltd 

Queensland Council - Mark Nicholls, Information Professionals Pty Ltd.

ACT Council - Greg Boorer, CDC Data Centres Pty Ltd

Western Australia Council - Sharon Brown, Sharon Brown & Associates

South Australian/Northern Territory Council - Tim Chopping, SRA Information Technology Pty Ltd.

* The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through technology innovation. 


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