GEAR UP and strap yourselves in – that’s the advice from a chief technology officer in the Australian pharmacy services sector – because the ‘touch commerce’ revolution is set for take-off this year.

Smart-device and mobile consumer purchases are predicted to spiral upwards of 150 percent worldwide this year, in countries such as Australia, financial services firm Deloitte predicted in its annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) report. 

But turning to smart devices in 2016 will be for more than just browsing a purchase.

With the report and current data tilting heavy on the ‘how’ of purchasing, managers still need to focus on the trending ‘what’ is being purchased – according to chief technology developer at PharmaData, Adam Gilmore – to prevent stalling and to make sure business growth has a smooth take-off for 2016.

“Managers want and need to be on top of overall seasonal trends for their community to make sure they cater to a diverse range of needs and meet store goals,” Mr Gilmore said.

“But being able to specifically identify the changes down to a particular product line can help lead strategies that respond to your consumers’ wants and needs throughout the day as well as the rest of the year.” 

He said since January 1 this year, the Australian pharmaceutical industry and consumers have experienced turbulence from the government initiative of the $1 co-payment discount within the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and de-listing of high demand medications such as codeine.

“The pharmacy owners and managers are weathering their own consumer trend storms, however unlike other industries, when they turn to their web browsers or smartphone for trend updates there needs to be an added level of patient care at all times,” Mr Gilmore said.

The high-level integrity of the data intelligence involved in the industry allows visualisations to identify and monitor local health trends by setting goals and adapting to change as it happens, Mr Gilmore said. In doing so, the interface helps managers train staff to understand consumer behaviour and increase their individual and interpersonal skills.

These refined operating systems, with positive user experience results from managers, could lead to all staff providing a more value-added experience for the consumer, he predicted.

Dell’s TMT predicts 50 million more regular users will become part of the touch commerce phenomenon in 2016, where consumers are already choosing to research and purchase items before leaving the comfort of their own home.

“The positive, value-added impression you leave on your consumers with specific insights into community trends, as well as the overall knowledge of ‘how’ they are purchasing, is sure to set you up for a smooth take-off into 2016,” Mr Gilmore said.

www.pharmadata.net.au

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AUSTRALIAN businesses are mixing and matching internal and external information technology (IT) services to create optimum solutions, a new report from CenturyLink has found.

So-called ‘hybrid IT’ is the architecture of choice for Australian organisations, according to the Australian Hybrid IT Adoption Index research by CenturyLink – and one of the major focuses for decision making is security. In fact, for 29 percent of companies not going to a hybrid system, they are holding back because of online security concerns. 

The research found 66 percent of respondents were already using managed services, while more than one-fifth of those remaining planned to used managed services in the next 12 months.
A hybrid IT blend of in-house and third-party IT services – such as colocation, managed hosting, managed services, network solutions and/or cloud – can provide powerful and highly responsive infrastructure capabilities, according to CenturyLink regional director for Australia and New Zealand, Stuart Mills.

“Successful hybrid IT planning needs to begin with a clear understanding of the organisation’s existing IT capabilities, business objectives and workloads,” Mr Mills said. “The key is to identify which areas are not performing optimally and decide whether the organisation needs to supplement those in-house capabilities with external expertise.”

According to the CenturyLink report, the most popular types of applications being run on outsourced infrastructure are online applications such as websites and e-commerce (48 percent), applications used for back-office services such as finance and enterprise resource planning (43 percent) and disaster recovery/business continuity planning solutions (31 percent).

Security is the main concern for 78 percent of organisations when looking for data centre colocation and outsourcing due to the increasing number, variety and sophistication of cyber-attacks. A perceived lack of security is also cited as the main barrier to moving infrastructure into a hybrid IT model for 29 percent of companies.

Mr Mills said companies considering a hybrid IT approach were looking for providers that could deliver a full spectrum of security products and services that fit their business and technology needs. This includes outsourced experts to act as an internal security team, and the ability to deliver comprehensive protection inside the company’s offices, the data centre (on-premise, outsourced, or third-party) or in the cloud.

The Australian report underscores findings in a recent IDG Research study in the United States, which found that companies across the globe had plans to engage outside technology and planning expertise within the next few years.

The IDG Managed IT Services report, sponsored by CenturyLink, found that IT decision makers are increasingly exploring hybrid IT solutions and evaluating service providers that offer a breadth of services. 

The Australian report also supports the hybrid IT balance enabled by CenturyLink’s portfolio of IT services, consulting, network services and data centres, which organisations can optimise to meet their current and evolving needs. 

The Australian Hybrid IT Adoption Index surveyed 150 decision makers in a variety of industries during August and September 2015.

www.centurylink.com.au

The full report can be downloaded from http://www.centurylink.com.au/assets/australian-hybrid-it-adoption-index-2015.html.

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AUSTRALIA has become a testing ground for Israeli-founded Perfecto’s cloud-based ‘test lab’ for app performance under real user conditions.

One of the problems facing all companies delivering app services through mobile devices is performance over varied mobile device conditions – and this is an area Perfecto has driven into with its Continuous Quality Lab service. 

According to the IAB Australia and Nielsen Mobile Ratings Report 2015, more than 15 million Australians own a smartphone and almost 12 million a tablet device. The variability of Australia’s communications infrastructure challenges app performance, yet customer expectations are high – which is why Perfecto has pushed early into the market as part of its strategic international growth.

Perfecto Mobile, following a new capital raising round of $49 million, has chosen Australia as one of its first international markets, appointing former RSA Security senior executive Gary Mitchell as director for Asia Pacific and Japan, based out of Sydney. Perfecto has also hired two sales representatives and a sales engineer.

Perfecto’s Continuous Quality Lab allows development teams to automate functional testing, performance testing and monitoring to increase the speed of release cycles and improve quality.

With local customers already using the test lab, Perfecto is set to announce its Australian data centre partner in the next few weeks, as the company targets the telecommunications, retail and financial services sectors.

“Today’s consumers expect and depend on high-quality digital experiences when interacting with brands via the web, mobile apps and IoT devices,” said Perfector CEO Eran Yaniv.

“To ensure that quality, Perfecto has developed solutions that help brands deliver those experiences, such as Continuous Quality Lab.

“I’m excited about our launch in Australia and look forward to working with our APAC team to grow Perfecto’s presence there and up in Asia, as we continue to expand our quality offerings and position the company for continued growth and innovation.”

Mr Mitchell said, “In today’s connected mobile world, a digital engagement strategy is now critical to enterprise business success. In simple terms, that means there is no room for mobile apps to fail and as the pressure to meet customer expectations rise, so does ensuring the quality of each digital experience, especially across mobile channels.”

Perfecto, founded in 2006, completed its recent $49 million investment round from new investor Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV). Existing investors include FTV Capital, Carmel Ventures, Globespan Capital Partners and Vertex Ventures.

This latest round completes more than $128 million raised since 2007. Perfecto currently employs more than 250 people based in Boston, Tel Aviv and in its new markets.

Perfecto’s customer base has rapidly grown in the past year to include leading brands Discover, Weather.com and Sky. The company is now working with nine of the 10 world’s most valuable brands, as listed in the 2015 BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands compiled by WPP and Millward Brown.

www.perfectomobile.com

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PEPPERMINT  Innovation Ltd, an Australian-developed mobile banking technology platform, is aiming to offer access to banking services for millions of people not currently linked to traditional banks.

Working with a network of about 70,000 agents to promote and introduce its platform into the Philippines, Peppermint is believed to be poised for rapid expansion over the next few years. Australian investors have shown strong early support for the business. 

Following a successful $3.87 million capital raise in October, and subject to meeting the Australian Securites Exchange’s (ASX)  other pre-quotation conditions for listing, Peppermint Innovation Ltd will look to list on the ASX via a reverse takeover of Chrysalis Resources Limited (ASX:CYS).

The listing will give investors access to Peppermint’s innovative platform and an opportunity to be part of the mobile banking payment ‘revolution’ according to Peppermint Innovation’s managing director, Chris Kain.

Peppermint is based in Perth. It operates an established proprietary mobile banking, payments and remittance technology, which aims to eventually provide secure mobile financial services to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Mr Kain said the aim was to drive financial inclusion – opening up banking services, including payment services, to those without access to a traditional bank.

Currently, the Peppermint Platform is deployed in the Philippines as part of the company’s focus on transactions in the developing world.

The Philippines is an emerging market with a population of approximately 100 million people. Filipino economic migrants who move to major centres or overseas looking for work rely on remittance services to send money to their dependents.

Peppermint research shows up to 75 percent of the population are ‘unbanked’, and with almost 114 million mobile phones in use, the Peppermint platform capitalises on this large market opportunity.

Peppermint’s technology is employed commercially by three of the top Filipino commercial banks, generating around one million transactions every month. Revenue is derived through commission on each user transaction and fees for the development and maintenance of the Peppermint platform for commercial clients.

“We are delighted with the strong support we've received from existing shareholders and the response of new investors to our public offer.,” Mr Kain said.

“We are confident that the Peppermint platform will have a strong uptake beyond existing customers in the Philippines, providing a wide range of financial services via a mobile phone to unbanked populations there.

“It is estimated that about 2.5 billion adults worldwide lack access to basic formal financial services and our platform will help promote financial inclusion to a large part of the global unbanked population.

“We see this as a significant opportunity to add value and retain growth potential for the company.”

He said Peppermint’s commercial growth had been largely de-risked by the work done with existing clients and a well-established customer base in the Philippines where US$9.5 million has been spent developing the technology.

The key members of the development team, who are now incentivised members of Peppermint Innovation, were previously instrumental in the development of the Globe Telecoms’ GCash mobile remittance platform.

Peppermint has also partnered with MyWeps/1BRO Global Inc. in the Philippines to develop a mobile remittance service ‘Powered by Peppermint’ to capture transactional flow currently outside of the traditional banking system.

As part of this partnership, Peppermint will also be provide the functionality for MyWeps/1BRO Global to address other domestic payment services in the greater domestic person-to-person market, which comprises domestic remittances, paying bills and loan payments.

A study commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation from Bankable Frontier Associates in 2010 estimated this market to be valued at US$3.2 billion per month from 45 million transactions conducted per month in 2010.

While there are already other players in the sector, the market is large enough to support additional platforms as there are still large numbers of remittances transferred via more expensive methods, Mr Kain said.

1BRO Global Inc. has about 70,000 agents and 40 business centres spread out over the country, which will help drive adoption of the Peppermint mobile remittance platform.

The funds raised from the public offer will be used to accelerate the roll out of the ‘Peppermint Platform’ and expand its reach throughout Asia, Europe and the rest of the world.

Peppermint offered 193,465,000 shares at an issue price of $0.02 per share to raise the funds. The public offer was managed by lead manager, DJ Carmichael and was made under a prospectus dated October 16, 2015. All offers under the Prospectus are now closed.

www.pepltd.com.au

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ONE of the great dilemmas for business leaders is figuring out what level of support is needed to keep your information technology (IT) systems secure and up to speed.

This is an area of business that is often handed over to IT ‘experts’ because it is an area that is beyond most companies’ levels of experience. IT management is often ‘entrusted’ to people that are ‘trusted’ to do what they say they can do. 

However it is very difficult for business owners and leaders to ascertain whether they are actually receiving the services promised by an IT company, according to SuretyIT technology director Geoff Stewart, who has seen some disturbing examples in recent years.

“We have recently taken over support for a business that has been having some trouble around their IT systems and support,” Mr Stewart said. “Their current servers are hosted with a third party provider and they pay a considerable amount to this company each month. 

“One of the services they pay for is ‘Hot Disaster Recovery’ which is supposed to allow for recovery from anything from a catastrophic failure in their whole server infrastructure down to a single server failure.  They are a 24/7 business and have huge reliance on their IT systems and their continued reliability. 

“It appears though that they were paying for a service that they weren’t actually receiving,” he said. 

Mr Stewart discovered that in April his client company had a significant failure on its Exchange (email) server “which could not be recovered from”.

The third party company was called and asked to invoke the disaster recovery or image recovery for that server.

“To which the reply came, ‘We don’t provide that service for you’.  When we told the business what the third party hosting provider had said, they were astonished as clearly stated on their contract was Hot Disaster Recovery and ‘image backup’,” Mr Stewart said.

“I think the scariest aspect of this issue was that our customer had signed the contract 18 months previously, had put their trust in this provider to deliver the service they had signed up for and yet the fact was they were not receiving some of the absolutely critical services they had signed up for. 

“Needless to say the customer has asked us to look for an alternative hosting provider who they can trust and who they know will deliver the service they are paying for.

“What this made me question, was how many other businesses are putting their complete trust in their IT provider, assuming they are getting the service they are paying for but are actually not?”

Mr Stewart advised business leaders to always ask IT service providers the tough questions, “to get them to prove to you that you are getting the service you are paying for”. 

Mr Stewart said SuretyIT had developed a standard set of practices to help businesses guard against such problems:

Make sure you are provided with a meaningful monthly report that details the health of your systems.

If your IT service provider is responsible for checking your backups, make sure they perform test restores as well and get you involved in the process.

If they provide you with a disaster recovery service make sure that there is a test performed at least on an annual basis, you are involved in it and are asked to sign off on it.

If you have had a significant systems issue, make sure that your IT service provider provides you with a post mortem report that details what happened, how it was fixed and what is being put in place to prevent it from happening again.

If your IT provider is not performing, not providing you with the information or services you need or blinding you with technical jargon – change to another one.  It may be daunting, but there are plenty of good ones out there that can make a real difference to the success of your business and make the transition straight forward. 

SuretyIT is an Industry Expert member of the Queensland Leaders, Victorian Leaders and NSW Leaders organisations that are mentoring and developing the next generation of leading Australian companies.  SuretyIT offers what it calls a Technology Performance Health-check to help provide management with an overview of what they are paying for and what they are getting for their IT spend.

www.suretyIT.com.au

www.vicleaders.com.au

 

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BRISBANE-based satellite and broadband communications systems specialists EM Solutions has developed a new series of its Ka-multiband unit that has virtually doubled the capabilities within its smallest-ever model.

According to EM Solutions chief executive Rowan Gilmore, the KA-multiband Diamond Series is the only product in the market, worldwide, that offers up to 3GHz of bandwidth in a single unit.

He said the series offered “unprecedented bandwidth across the Ka-band frequency range in the smallest and lightest packages commercially available”. 

The Diamond Series is a game changer in the industry, he said, offering almost 50 percent lower use of direct current (DC) power than the previous generation, 50 percent lower weight and up to 50 percent less “dimensional volume”.

“Recognising room for improvement in previous generation L- to Ka- band BUCs (block upconverters, used in the transmission of satellite signals) our team set to find a better solution,” Dr Gilmore said. “Previously, almost all satcom BUCs used direct up-conversion architecture with narrowband RF (radio frequency) filters, and could convert only to a single and pre-selected frequency span within the broader Ka-band spectrum.

“Our new nanoBUC HUB converts any modem signal to anywhere within the 28-31 GHz frequency spectrum, and its linearizer can be programmed to compensate for the distortion introduced by many types of power amplifiers that follow in the transmitter chain.

“Our Ka-band Gallium Nitride (GaN) nano-BUC power amplifier products are smaller, lighter and more power efficient in their respective output power classes and depending on the requirements, can cover the complete Ka-band frequency range in a single unit,” Dr Gilmore said.

“GaN based MMICs intrinsically offer more linear power across a wider operating bandwidth with a greater efficiency, compared with previous GaAs technology.”

EM Solutions is also an alumni member of Queensland Leaders and Dr Gilmore is a former chief executive of the Australian Institute for Commercialisation.

www.emsolutions.com.au

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WOOLWORTHS Australia is using the TradeStone platform to build a leading product development community, linking all its retail divisions and more than 6000 suppliers.

Initial advantages come from replacing multiple legacy systems and spreadsheets with a central source that assists product quality and compliance. But it is the connected nature of the network that is expected to deliver real economies and drive innovation.

TradeStone’s Merchandise Lifecycle Management (MLM) platform encompasses product design, product lifecycle management (PLM), sourcing, supplier management, order management, finance, logistics, and B2B sales management.

Woolworths has more than 3,200 stores across Australia and New Zealand spanning food, liquor, petrol, fashion, general merchandise, and home improvement, is rolling out US-developed TradeStone as its PLM system to facilitate, manage and standardize its end-to-end new product development process.

Ultimately, the system will have more than 20,000 users creating a world-class community on a single collaborative platform. Woolworths’ PLM system supports supplier management, factory compliance, product quality, local as well as international sourcing and costing.

“We are working collaboratively across all divisions within Woolworths to get to a single product development system,” Woolworths group commercial director, Carl Hargrave said.

“We are excited about the efficiencies, ease-of-use and consistency that the TradeStone platform, with its integrated partner technology, will bring to Woolworths.”

TradeStone president Brian Marsden said, “Increasingly, retailers must manage complex global supplier communities whilst simultaneously expanding product offerings and brand banners to achieve customer growth.

“Woolworths has taken a world-class approach by enabling a single platform across all divisions and product categories and they are a leader when it comes to managing local and international sourcing.”

www.woolworths.com.au

www.tradestonesoftware.com

 

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