AUSTRALIAN accounting software provider Reckon has joined forces with the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA), to launch a member first cloud accounting solution.

The partnership is aiming to accelerate businesses’ migration to the cloud and, in particular, boost small to medium sized enterprises (SME) productivity, according to IPA chief executive officer Andrew Conway. 

Mr Conway said the first-of-its-kind industry partnership would empower to deliver a greater customer experience by leveraging the cloud to bolster productivity and fuel growth. 

Launched as a result of in-depth feedback from IPA members, the strategic move will see the introduction of IPA Books+, a white labelled version of Reckon’s flagship cloud accounting solution Reckon One. Mr Conway said more than 35,000 members of IPA – who are mostly either servicing SMEs or small businesses in their own right – will now have access to simple and affordable online accounting software to make running their business easier.

 “Moving to the cloud is a key focus for many of our members and their clients over the coming year, as they look to tackle the next phase of business growth,” Mr Conway said.

“The partnership with Reckon is an exciting one. It will enable a myriad of benefits including remote working and the ability to access real-time business-critical data such as cash flow at anytime, anywhere.

“As recent reports from the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has revealed, a staggering 45 percent of small businesses are yet to adopt online accounting solutions.  With the advent of Single Touch Payroll, the time has come for IPA Books+, a single, reliable, comprehensive solution,” Mr Conway said.

Reckon CEO Sam Allert said the he cloud accounting partnership was “an exciting industry first, as we align our business’ strategic priorities and continue to better support SMEs across Australia”.

“By taking the powerful technology of ReckonOne and partnering with a leading member focused organisation, we are delivering a unique solution that goes beyond technology to include training, development, events and support,” Mr Allert said.

“The transition to the cloud will enable IPA members to automate a great deal of administrative work. This frees them up to focus on higher value tasks such as advisory services, which will no doubt open new revenue streams and growth opportunities.”

Mr Allert said, as with all Reckon products, IPA Books+ was also enabled for the Australian Taxation Office’s Single Touch Payroll reporting requirement.

Mr Allert said with more than 600,000 small businesses with 19 or less employees looking to get compliant by July 1, 2019, this presented “a massive opportunity for both organisations”.

www.reckon.com

www.publicaccountants.org.au

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AUSTRALIAN businesses are struggling to retain top information technology (IT) talent at a time when it is paramount that they understand how to integrate new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain.

According to new research by enterprise cloud computing specialists Nutanix, almost two-thirds of Australian businesses surveyed were struggling to retain IT staff to keep up with the new digital technologies.

Even so, most Australian organisations surveyed said the experience of AI so far was having a positive effect on their businesses and, while gains were being made from gravitating to the public ‘cloud’, controlling costs is a major issue.

Nutanix’s first annual Enterprise Cloud Index showed 63 percent of Australian respondents have trouble retaining IT.  The research carried out among IT decision makers in medium-to-large enterprises in Australia by Vanson Bourne, revealed that almost 90 percent of Australian respondents were racing to reskill IT teams to keep pace with emerging technologies, and that AI and machine learning was the top skill IT departments were currently lacking, followed closely by blockchain. 

The survey also found that, despite widespread concern over AI’s impact on jobs – recently highlighted by a Frost & Sullivan report that indicated 40 percent of high-routine and low-skilled tasks would be replaced by 2025-2030 – respondents welcomed the technology with almost three quarters reporting it was having a positive impact on their organisations. Only 4 percent reported a negative impact.

“The positive reaction towards the likes of AI and blockchain is testament to Australia’s propensity to react well to emerging technologies,” Nutanix vice president for Australia, New Zealand, ASEAN  and India said.

“But the skills gap in successfully using these technologies is a major concern and could prevent Australia from capitalising on the boom markets they will bring. AI and automation alone are tipped to be worth potential trillions of dollars to the Australian economy over the next 15 years.

“While initiatives such as the Federal Government’s Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM measures show promise to normalise coding and digital skills among the workforce, they will take time to reap rewards, so the fact that organisations are embracing these technologies and training their workforce to get up to speed is reassuring,” Mr Vincent said.

PUBLIC CLOUD GROWTH

The Nutanix survey also revealed that Australian organisations were behind global peers in terms of cloud adoption but were moving faster in that direction.

In the next two years, more than 80 percent public cloud adoption is expected, compared with just over 50 percent now.

Satisfaction among public cloud users is high, with expectations either fully or partially being met among all respondents, with performance, data security and compliance the top benefits. However, Nutanix drew the conclusion that almost 30 percent of organisations using cloud were breaking their budgets to get these benefits.

“All the signs point towards continued public cloud adoption among Australian enterprises, with other research predicting it will hit $5.6 billion by 2019,” Mr Vincent said. “But there is a danger in costs spinning out of control.

“Australian organisations are already paying a lot to enjoy the benefits of public cloud, and we can see from other regions ahead in the cloud race that this problem tends to worsen. With the Internet of Things (IoT), smart cities, and a host of other IT-intensive, cloud-reliant digital innovation underway, organisations need to watch their step and not take a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to cloud investment” Mr Vincent said.

The research highlighted that while public cloud was the current trend, businesses would actually favour hybrid cloud. This is a system which describes the combined use of at least one private cloud and at least one public cloud service, with some degree of integration between the two cloud environments.

Nutanix is well versed to comment on this trend as its Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software is used to bring organisations one-click application management and mobility across public, private and distributed edge clouds, allowing them to run any application at any scale with a dramatically lower total cost of ownership.

Flexibility in choosing the right cloud for each application and the consolidation of cloud management and operations were the main reasons for Australian companies’ moves to hybrid cloud operations.

“This supports what we’re seeing in Australia and around the world,” Mr Vincent said.

“Local enterprises know hybrid cloud is the best mix, but while there is a gap in linking public and private cloud, organisations are favouring public and willing to pay over the odds for it.

“The research shows that a lack of IT skills will continue to be an issue for Australian organisations, and so the underlying infrastructure needs to be kept simple to reduce that pressure and enable the businesses to be able to benefit from new technologies.

“The IT industry needs to make sure true hybrid cloud is available for businesses to maximise these benefits,” Mr Vincent said.

www.nutanix.com

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THE UK’s world-leading group of science museums, The Science Museum Group (SMG) which attracts five million visitors a year, selected Australia’s largest enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) company TechnologyOne to modernise and transform its existing financial business system.

“The Science Museum Group stands among several new world-leading customers that have chosen TechnologyOne’s SaaS offering to transform their business,” TechnologyOne chief operating officer, Stuart MacDonald said.

“The Science Museum Group’s new SaaS solution from TechnologyOne has now gone live, empowering the group to streamline their financial operations to support their growth,” he said. 

The Science Museum Group transacts an average of five million visitors each year. With around 1,000 employees and over 500 volunteers, Mr MacDonald said the group required a robust and intuitive solution that would enable the finance team and other users, to access real-time information quickly and efficiently anywhere – on any device.

Science Museum Group corporate services director, Jane Ellis said, “As an organisation in the cultural sector we recognise the importance of actively responding to the challenges that lie ahead.

“With an increased requirement to generate income and make more efficient use of resources, we felt that our existing finance system no longer met our needs. We knew that multiple workarounds were being used in order to deliver financial outputs and all too often these were manual and time-consuming processes. 

“Furthermore, we wanted a user-friendly system, accessible from any device, with real-time reporting for our end users,” Ms Ellis said.

The new solution has gone live and provides the Science Museum Group with an intuitive system, that allows both finance and non-finance users to easily interrogate real-time data, quickly produce reports and efficiently make strategic decisions.

“TechnologyOne demonstrated their ability to meet all of our requirements and provide a solution on time and to budget which delivers against our long-term goals of innovation and transformation,” Ms Ellis said.

“The new solution goes some way to enabling the group to realise its digital first vision, as well as being adaptable and complying with current legislation.”

Anwen Robinson, TechnologyOne’s UK operating officer said, “The public sector is an increasingly challenging environment to operate in so implementing the right SaaS technologies that are both flexible and enable the organisation to future-proof is vital.

“As the most significant group of science and innovation museums worldwide, it stands to reason that the Science Museum Group is embracing financial transformation to ensure it inspires interactive science for decades to come.”

www.technologyonecorp.com

www.group.sciencemuseum.org.uk

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MACQUARIE Government, part of the ASX-listed Macquarie Telecom Group, has announced an exclusive partnership with Mesosphere, Inc. -- the US-based multi-cloud automation platform company -- that will make industry-leading cloud management technologies available to the Australian Government.

Macquarie Government will provide and run Mesosphere’s DC/OS, which provides a big data platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and next generation application development (containers/microservices), on its federally accredited cloud services.

Mesosphere is regarded as the most flexible platform for containerised, data-intensive applications that allows experimentation and choice of IT environment. Mesosphere was founded in 2013 by the architects of hyperscale infrastructures at Airbnb and Twitter and the co-creator of Apache Mesos. 

This new Macquarie Government framework is aimed at helping government agencies drive and leverage big data investments, reduce spending on public cloud by up to 30 percent, cut project application development lifecycles by almost half, and accelerate time to value for new digital initiatives.

Government agencies in Australia are embracing cloud as a way to reduce spending and increase productivity, but many are uncertain on implementations. Macquarie, in its work with various agencies, identified a need to help its customers deploy a hybrid IT model without locking them in to a single public cloud. To solve this challenge, Macquarie Government is working with Mesosphere to deliver better, hybrid solutions for its customers.

"Macquarie Government is committed to delivering innovations that create a performance and security benefit for our government customers and steer their agencies toward a more efficient digital future," Macquarie Government managing director Aidan Tudehope.

Mr Tudehope said the Macquarie Government and Mesosphere partnership would enable customers to modernise their IT environment for increased agility, flexibility, management, and security.

Mesosphere chief operating officer, William Freiberg said, "The partnership with Macquarie Government is exciting, as it will expand the data services and frameworks offered on the DC/OS Service Catalogue."

"We look forward to working with the Macquarie Government team to assist federal and state governments to break the shackles of proprietary cloud lock-in and deliver an accelerated time-to-market with the infrastructure and services needed to deploy machine learning and IoT applications at scale.

“Their combination of owned and operated, carrier, co-location, cyber and cloud services with all the requisite government certifications is unique in the Australian market. Their focus on cloud security and cyber security made them a natural partner for our DC/OS platform.”

Macquarie Government has provided Mesosphere a test facility and has completed proof-of-concept projects in Macquarie Government’s local data centres. This is now available to demonstrate the value of Mesosphere DC/OS in enabling customers with data agility, for their data lakes, application development projects and adoption of hybrid cloud.

With accredited data centres in Canberra and Sydney, Macquarie Government’s cloud is certified by the Australian Signals Directorate for classified protected workloads and has over 100 Australian Government cleared NV1 engineers and architects.

Mesosphere has offices in New York, Hamburg and Sydney, and the company's investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Microsoft.

www.mesosphere.com

www.macquariegovernment.com

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CHARLES STURT University (CSU) is using the Dell Boomi integration platform to enhance student and staff experiences and to help refresh of the university’s core applications as part of a five-year information technology (IT) transformation.

Dell Boomi is acting as an integration platform to improve CSU’s business capability and underpin a strategic renewal of core systems in a process that should support strategic decision making, according to CSU’s IT Division executive director, Tim Mannes.

“We developed our enterprise systems renewal program in order to speed up the delivery of new resources for our stakeholders,” Mr Mannes said.

“To successfully execute on our objectives, however, we seriously needed a reliable, seamless and highly-integrated flow of information across our new enterprise environment. That’s the strategic background to our implementation of the Boomi platform.” 

CSU is a regional university with more than 40,000 students enrolled across 10 campuses and online. In 2017, it initiated an IT modernisation project with the aim of improving its business agility and to develop and roll out student and staff services efficiently.

Mr Mannes said the ‘cloud native’ Boomi integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) served as the linking mechanism between all of CSU’s renewed operational systems. This included customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR), finance, research, student management system (SMS), data warehouse and identity management platforms, as well any bespoke applications to be incorporated in the future.

Mr Mannes said by underpinning those applications, Boomi facilitated a central data repository that makes it possible for CSU to capture consistent and reliable information that can be analysed for better business insights. These insights would help the university make strategic decisions to overcome prominent industry challenges.

In particular, he said, the data consolidated through Boomi would help CSU combat attrition by proactively identifying priority students – those who may be struggling in their courses – in order to engage them early and guide them to improved outcomes during their learning journey.

Boomi is also being used to strip away complexity from CSU’s IT environment, being built on a ‘low-code’ design.

Mr Mannes said this should make it quick and easy for CSU to create and manage integrations controlling the need for dedicated specialised coding experts. It also reduced the need for the heavy maintenance that is inherent in legacy, on-premises integration technologies.

“The move to Boomi’s iPaaS has given us a high-reliability environment for business continuity,” CSU IT Division integration manager, Shane Jeffries said.

“While we have been using integration for a decade, our old integration platform made upgrades difficult, and required a lot of resources to maintain – combined, it demanded a serious amount of effort that impeded our focus on what’s most important: the experiences of students and staff.”

CSU’s decision to deploy the Boomi integration platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) over other providers followed a market evaluation and discussions with fellow Australian universities, including Deakin University and Flinders University.

“The higher education space is hotly-contested in Australia, with universities under constant pressure to differentiate themselves to existing and prospective students by demonstrating innovative services,” Boomi Asia-Pacific and Japan managing director Michael Evans said.

“By connecting systems and operations with Boomi’s platform, CSU is in a better position to understand its students than ever before.

“As a connected university with digital services, processes and insights, the organisation can optimise its investments in the resources that students need most, ultimately providing students a better learning experience that will enhance their suitability in the workforce of tomorrow.”

www.boomi.com

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ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, has published a special report to help Australian businesses integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into their development plans.

“Our message today to Australian business is to get in now, or risk missing out on the largest business opportunity since the internet,” ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said. 

ACS’s publication of Artificial Intelligence: A Starter Guide to the Future of Business was officially released at the ACS Innovation Hub in Barangaroo, Sydney on December 6. The guide is an easy-to-read introduction to AI for businesses – what it is, what it can do – and how to get started with AI in your own organisation.

“Artificial intelligence promises to revolutionise the way we do business, optimising business processes and creating entirely new revenue streams,” Mr Ramasundara said.

“Many business leaders think AI may be too hard, and don’t consider it as a solution to the issues they face today. If Australia is to remain a competitive leader in technology, we must both inspire the current and future entrepreneurs, and encourage adoption and experimentation with existing AI solutions.”

The report was launched with the support of Australian leaders in AI, with CEOs and founders from Sortal, Gameface and Hyper Anna demonstrating their capabilities.

Sortal CEO Majella Edwards said, “When we speak with enterprises about artificial intelligence, too often we find that business leaders focus on what the technology will achieve in the future.

“While there is an enormous amount of potential as the field develops, we can already do incredible things with AI in the here and now – and by investing in AI now, businesses can set themselves up to thrive rather than play catch up later on.

“We welcome this initiative from ACS to help educate Australian businesses about what can be done, and the opportunity to showcase Australian innovation in this space.”

Mr Ramasundara said more must be done in this space in order to keep Australian AI talent from going overseas.

“The government has committed to invest $29.9 million over four years to pump up Australia’s AI and machine learning capabilities in fields such as cybersecurity, health and energy,” Mr Ramasundara said. “This is a very small step in the right direction and if we are genuinely committed to harnessing the power of AI a more demonstrably significant investment will be required.

“AI experts in the US and China, for example, can demand salaries as high as US$300,000 (A$400,000). We also know there is a gap when it comes to the adoption of AI solutions in the Australian enterprise. Our report today aims to bring knowledge of what is possible to business decision makers.”

Gameface has developed an AI that “truly knows sports” through a combination of computer vision and machine learning models. The Gameface platform breaks down live sporting match footage for key match events and player performance data in real time, with no human involvement, no wearables, and no additional camera infrastructure. Gameface recently announced a groundbreaking partnership that will see Cricket Australia implement Gameface’s industry-leading machine learning technology for the 2018-2019 JLT One Day Cup and the National U17 Championships, tracking every player, action, and object in real time.

Sortal intuitively helps businesses and individuals manage thousands of digital images. In the workplace, Sortal retains corporate knowledge and keeps track of versioning, usage and copyright. It manages your image assets and provides a collaboration space for image related workflows.

Sortal can also be used by individuals and families to help organise digital images, like a personal assistant with enhanced memory. Sortal can navigate through the ‘digital junk’ to find what is important and valuable.

Hyper Anna is an AI powered data analyst. Users ‘interact with her as you would with another person’. Anna does all the tedious and technical work of writing code, analysing data, producing charts and more importantly insights – all things that come along with data analytics. Hyper Anna is backed by Sequoia and Australian leading venture capitalists and is currently helping some of the largest organisations in the Asia-Pacific region.

To read the full report visit https://www.acs.org.au/content/dam/acs/acs-publications/ACS%20Artificial%20Intelligence%20Starter%20Guide.pdf

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SWINBURNE University of Technology is developing a ‘hybrid cloud’ aimed at eliminating time-consuming and administrative tasks for its IT team and final year students. 

Swinburne is using Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software to provide an efficient, self-service experience to its technology students for their final year projects.

Melbourne-based Swinburne University of Technology is well regarded globally for its commitment to providing an education to sections of society otherwise denied further education, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

The Swinburne curriculum focuses heavily on technology and its IT team was looking for a way to deliver easy-to-use services to students through infrastructure that enabled the university to scale and automate those services.  

Swinburne deployed the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software to provide an efficient, self-service experience to the technology students for their final year projects.

The self-service portal works like an application store, where students can browse, choose and deploy the IT solution they need for their final year projects with a single click, including complex mobile application development programs.

The students are also able to take advantage of other automated services, such as quickly procuring more storage when they need it. Behind the scenes, the Swinburne IT team uses Nutanix Calm to automate these processes and also migrate workloads and apps between cloud environments.

Prior to this latest deployment, building the infrastructure needed to support student requests could take weeks and months, according to Swinburne IT director of infrastructure and operations, Simon Naughton.

He said the process had previously created extra work for the IT team and the students had to wait a long time before they could start their programming projects. In addition, keeping up with IT requests from students required the manual and time-consuming task of setting up infrastructure in response to their needs, he said.

“We selected Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software because it supports our hybrid cloud strategy of migrating workloads back and forth between public cloud and on-premises without having to think about it,” Mr Naughton said.

“However, the real benefit is for the students. Nutanix and our IT partner, Thomas Duryea Logicalis, help us keep Swinburne students focused on researching and developing the applications they are building, which ultimately provides them with a better education.” 

The experience so far has been that, using Nutanix, Swinburne spends less time on provisioning services and the students themselves are more satisfied with IT support and more productive in their studies.

“Universities across Australia, and particularly technology universities, are growing fast, and students expect the right digital resources to be in place to support their education,” Nutanix senor vice president and head of the Asia-Pacific region, Matt Young said.

“Swinburne understands this trend and has found a simple, modern way to use the hybrid cloud and ensure their students’ attention is focused on their education, not technology requests.

“With the Nutanix software, all the key elements for success are fully integrated into one simple solution.”

www.nutanix.com

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