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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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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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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CO-OPERATELY owned digital platforms will receive a ‘leg-up’ against the technology giants from a new approach by the Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals (BCCM), supported by a US$1 million Google grant.

The Google grant is devoted to creating open-source platform technology for worker-owners and BCCM is partnering with global Platform Co-op Consortia to help enable Australian workers to participate fairly in the digitally-enabled economy.

“This new Platform Co-op Development Kit will mean aspiring groups like care workers can access software templates and best legal practices to create their own sharing economies instead of settling for exploitation on the existing options,” BCCM CEO Melina Morrison said. 

Ms Morrison said it was an economic anomaly that while platforms such as Uber, Deliveroo, Freelancer and Foodora do not own what they sell, they keep the profits of the exchange between supplier and user “because they own the rights to the technology underpinning the exchange”.

According to Ms Morrison, platform co-operatives are owned by the workers or producers, “so the profits of their labour return to them”.

Google.org and Harvard University are providing key technical expertise via open source work for the new Platform Co-op Development Kit so that platform co-ops can create their own platform exchanges.

“Co-operatively owned platforms are needed urgently to address the power imbalance between the people who do the work on platforms and the owners of the platforms,” Ms Morrison said.

“Employee ownership and community ownership gives workers and communities the chance to harness technological changes to the local economy as players, not passive participants.”

BCCM member and carer co-operative This Cooperative Life is a pilot case in the Platform Co-op Development Kit program.

“In areas like social care, platform co-ops deliver agency and empowerment for workers and high quality and consistent services for consumers of disability and aged care,” Ms Morrison said.

“But their potential use is much more varied and wide.”

This initiative is a big win for the cooperative movement “and for platform co-op pioneers all over the world,” said associate professor Trebor Scholz, a platform co-operative expert and founder of the Platform Cooperative Consortia.

“The Kit will make it easier to start and run platform co-ops,” Prof. Scholz said. “It will also provide an interactive map of the co-op ecosystem and essential community-edited resources.”

Developers will begin the first stage of the platform development kit in July and the partnership will then look to build out-data services, job training, legal templates and consultancy services for emerging platform co-ops.

“By embedding the traditional co-operative principles of fairness and community in digital technology, the Platform Co-op Development Kit will seriously challenge the established players in the sharing economy,” Ms Morrison said. “It will make it easier instead for Australian workers to become our newest entrepreneurs and start their own labour-sharing platforms.

“The Australian co-operative sector, which counts 2000 businesses and eight-in-10 Australians as members, is proud to be a part of this important initiative through our support for the Platform Cooperative Consortium.”

www.bccm.coop

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By Jim Poole >>        

THE DEMAND is there. The hype is there. But is Australia really ready for 5G?

In one sense, the answer is, "Absolutely.”

The fifth-generation of wireless broadband technology will bring an exponential increase in data speeds that will change how people interact with the internet. For example, download time for a high-definition (HD) movie could go from an hour to a few seconds. 5G can also power up remote surgery.

And some say truly autonomous vehicles aren’t possible without it. So 5G will connect a higher density of devices, people and things in smaller areas –  faster and with lower latency than ever. It promises to inspire an astounding array of innovations and new services.

Who wouldn’t want that? 

However, many of these applications depend on ultra-low latency and a level of throughput that today’s networks aren’t built to consistently deliver. To best prepare for 5G, Australian businesses need to move IT to the edge of the network, close to the users who are actually consuming these services.

That’s going to require a shift in mindset that puts the edge, and interconnection, at the centre of network design.

THE NEXT REVOLUTION

The move to 4G was a big leap itself, as it enabled the richer mobile video content we currently enjoy, as well as the proliferation of anytime, anywhere, any device connectivity. But 5G will take it to another level:

Speed. 10x over 4G is a common estimate, with variables such as whether a carrier prioritises range over speed affecting just how much quicker 5G will be.

Latency. 5G latency can dip to 1 millisecond, when the end user and target platform are pretty close – within 4-6 miles of each other. 4G latency is variable, but the best of 5G is 60 to 120 times better than average 4G latencies.

Bandwidth. 5G standards allow for exponentially wider bands than 4G and major increases in bandwidth.

McKinsey focuses on several use cases 5G will enable – provided they’re preceded by serious network upgrades. The use cases include the enhanced mobile broadband that has people downloading huge video files in seconds and which supports significant advances in virtual reality.

5G networks will also be able to better keep pace with the explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and all its current and yet-to-be discovered applications, as 5G enables up to one million connections per kilometre at very low power.

And 5G makes mission-critical control possible with 1 millisecond latency, opening the door for new applications that demand absolute reliability, such as in healthcare, utilities or autonomous driving.

McKinsey says all these use cases will require network performance to increase 10-fold over current levels across all network parameters, including latency, throughput, reliability and scale. That means heavy investment is ahead in all network domains.

McKinsey estimates infrastructure spending will continue to increase at the high end at its historic range of 20-50 percent annually, while Moor Insights & Strategy predicts 5G will drive IT hardware spending to $326 billion by 2025. And much of this spending will be aimed at moving IT services to the edge.

The answer: high-density deployments at the edge.

EDGE TOWARDS ANSWERS

In a 5G world, a traditional, centralised network architecture that backhauls traffic from users to a distant corporate data centre isn’t just prohibitively costly, it’s a non-starter. There’s too much data, and latency tolerance for many 5G apps is too low.

Take the example of remote surgery, during which a surgeon using virtual reality goggles and haptic gloves (which let users feel and touch in virtual reality), can operate on a patient half a world away via a robot. This can’t happen over a 4G network.

Latency isn’t the primary issue, though the high variability of latency on a 4G network ultimately would make it too risky if there weren’t bigger problems. The real reason is that remote surgery requires a level of throughput 4G can’t handle.

Of course, latency isn’t just a problem in serious situations such as surgery. It can cause the lag that ruins a 5G-fueled multi-player virtual reality (VR) video game, as well.

Reducing distance between these types of applications and users is the only way to ensure low latency. For 5G applications to work as they should, network operators will need to massively deploy small cell technology in extremely high densities at the edge, where their users are consuming services.

In a typical city neighborhood, for instance, dozens of shoebox-sized small cells might be mounted on public infrastructure, like telephone poles and street lights. In less populated areas, operators will need to significantly increase the density of existing networks by building macro cell sites along the way.

NEW TECH FOR 5G

This need for high-density IT deployments isn’t just about a data influx or the need for proximity. Many 5G network operators say they plan to maximise data speed by using millimetre wave – extremely high frequency spectrums.

But millimetre wave also has limited range and can be disrupted by conditions as common as humidity and rain. Heavy concentrations of small-cell technologies are needed to offset that.

Establishing these high-density deployments at the edge can be easier on an interconnection platform that spans the top global markets everywhere.

Interconnection – the private data exchange between businesses – is the fastest, most secure, lowest-latency connectivity there is, and it will be a critical part of the 5G revolution. Companies need the flexibility to expand as the edge evolves. They also need access to their clouds, networks, data and partners, so they can directly connect to whatever they need, wherever they need it.

A global interconnection platform that’s always growing and always welcoming new industry ecosystems and ecosystem partners can be a place that helps companies handle whatever 5G has coming.  

Not everyone is ready for 5G yet because not everyone is committed to networks designed around the edge.

But a global interconnection platform that gets companies to edge with speed, safety and cost-efficiency can get a lot of people a lot closer to 5G than they’ve ever been.

www.equinix.com.au

  • Jim Poole is the vice president of business development for Equinix, the global company providing interconnection solutions to power digital business.

TECHNOLOGYONE has announced its new Single Touch Payroll functionality, to meet new Australian Tax Office (ATO) requirements in reporting employees payroll information.

Single Touch Payroll (STP) was introduced by the Australian Government for organisations with 20 or more employees, with effect from July 1, 2018.

With the support of the ATO, TechnologyOne has adopted a controlled rollout for customers, enabling them to integrate STP into their businesses between  July 1, 2018, and April 30, 2019. 

TechnologyOne CEO Edward Chung said this approach would minimise disruption on customers’ day-to-day operations, by extending the STP compliance deadline away from the end-of-year time frame.

“STP signifies a marked shift, requiring employers to report employee year-to-date payroll data to the ATO, directly from their payroll solution, each time they pay their employees,” Mr Chung said.

“Our STP functionality is an integrated part of our enterprise solution, meaning customers don’t need to worry about expensive middleware or gateway providers, and complex integrations.

“Payroll information will be delivered directly from our software to the ATO via our secure SaaS platform, so customers – both on premise and SaaS – will benefit from the superior security we build at every level of our leading-edge SaaS solution.”

Mr Chung said TechnologyOne worked in partnership with the ATO to roll out STP functionality “in a considered, safe and secure manner, to reduce risk for customers”.

“We’ve taken this approach to provide a smooth upgrade path for customers and minimise the operational impact on their organisations,” he said.

“TechnologyOne’s solution has been built on the latest ATO specifications. By working in close collaboration with the ATO, our Human Resource and Payroll software is now recognised as a government-approved solution, providing customers with a secure and compliant system to meet the ATO’s legislative changes.

“In keeping with our ‘Power of One’ promise, we’ve taken responsibility for both delivering the solution and ensuring a successful implementation, making us completely invested in our customers’ STP compliance.”

www.technologyonecorp.com

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By Jeff Smith >>

DIGITALISATION is changing everything, ushering in new business models, new economic realities, and a whirlwind pace of innovation that makes even quarterly planning cycles seem slow-footed.

Some enterprises have responded to this maelstrom of competition by going all-in on public cloud, lured by such features as pay-per-use, high resiliency, and self-service.

Many chief financial officers (CFOs) soon experienced cloud sticker shock, however, with cloud computing expenditures consuming close to a third of the company’s IT budget. 

The majority of enterprises still use on-premises infrastructure, preferring to stick with traditional three-tier infrastructures – such as Storage Area Networks (SAN) with dedicated ‘storage, compute and network' – due to concerns about control, data privacy, service level agreements, and, above all, risk.

However, the moment that gave rise to three-tier infrastructures has passed. In this new era of digital transformation, legacy infrastructure optimised for legacy applications actually increases risk – competitive, budgetary, and financial.
A true enterprise cloud – hyper-converged, on-premises, and hybrid – not only offers security, reliability, and flexibility, it accelerates innovation while significantly reducing risk.

COMPETITIVE RISKS

The speed and magnitude of digital disruption is occurring at an unprecedented scale, making rapid time-to-market and agility in the face of changing market conditions more urgent than ever.

Examples abound of well-established companies undone, seemingly out of nowhere, by insurgent upstarts employing digital technologies to redefine the rules of engagement, both for customers and competitors.

But even as digital disruption introduces new levels of volatility, it also enables first and early movers to quickly dominate their markets, putting relatively slow movers at a striking disadvantage.

“Wait and see,” once a prudent risk-management approach to innovation, now risks making companies irrelevant.

Many companies now speed up innovation by experimenting with a portfolio of product options: fail-fast, learn, and then, like venture capitalists, direct more resources toward getting the winners to market while de-funding the losers.

This process demands an agile infrastructure, one that deploys resources in minutes, rather than days, and that offers deployment optionality, enabling developers to choose the right hardware, hyper-visor, runtime, or cloud for the application at that moment. And, when conditions inevitably change, they need an infrastructure that lets them seamlessly move the applications to the new optimal location.

BUDGETARY RISKS

The procurement process for traditional infrastructures thwarts optionality, and competitiveness, by requiring companies to make a big, risky investment up front, based on forecasting demand and requirements from three to five years in advance, across a very diverse set of components.

Once the company has made this investment, it is effectively tethered to a specific vendor. Getting some return on the sunk cost of the investment takes precedence over using the most optimal deployment and configuration options, which help you grow your business.

Business cycles are shorter and less predictable, and competitors are more nimble.

Enterprise clouds, such as those from Nutanix, Dell EMC, Lenovo, and IBM, provide bite-size consumption and incremental investment, as little as a server at a time, enabling companies to change direction on demand and make purchasing decisions in a fraction of the time.

FINANCIAL RISKS

One of the key objectives of digital transformation is removing complexity from all points in the value chain, as complexity invariably increases risk.

Traditional infrastructures are highly complex, with one system layered upon the next, and each adding to the cumulative risk of service failure and cascading business costs from lost revenue, lower productivity, and damaged reputation.

Complexity permeates routine maintenance as well, such as upgrades and security patches, which devolve into costly, weeks-long ordeals, involving multiple teams, weekends, and pulling systems offline.

Many mission-critical systems can never go offline, which is why some companies choose to go years without ever upgrading or installing security patches. The needless complexity of legacy infrastructures thus locks companies into the myriad shortcomings, inefficiencies, and risks of outdated applications.

True enterprise clouds mirror the imperatives of digitalisation, eliminating complexity and risk by design.

Software-defined and self-healing, they suffer 97 percent fewer outages and enable features such as one-click rolling upgrades that can take place in the middle of a workday, without interruption to your service or your business.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN YOU DECREASE RISK?

One of our customers, a large insurance provider in Japan, now launches its new insurance offerings in one-third of the time at one-third of the cost incurred with their previous infrastructure.

Their enterprise cloud has helped the company become both more agile and innovative.

Another customer, a large New Zealand university, illustrates how enterprise cloud reduces budgetary and financial risk.

The university needed to modernise its student management system, but had no precise estimate of the amount of resources they would need over time.

So they started with a small deployment, and as the project expanded, they simply added servers, including mixing different configurations and generations of appliances, keeping up with demand from the development team and the load on the system.

As the deployment grew, they also retired some of the older appliances. The management simplicity and stability of their cloud allowed them to remove these systems during business hours while the student management system was in use.

Their enterprise cloud eliminated both the risk of making a massive IT investment based on guesswork and the risk and expense of system downtime.

While traditional infrastructures may appear less risky, their familiarity masks a whole host of risks, from disabling technical debts, to stymied innovation, to reduced competitiveness.

My advice is to make sure that your enterprise has an infrastructure designed for the digital era.

Be the disruptor, not the disrupted.

www.nutanix.com

Jeff Smith is a senior director of systems engineering across the Asia-Pacific region for enterprise cloud services company Nutanix. He helps businesses to answer the key question: How should we rethink risk and infrastructure in the era of digital disruption?

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