AUSTRALIAN Australian organisations big and small -- and a flotilla of individual entrepreneurs -- are applying 'apps' at world-leading levels, according to research by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation (CCI) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

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It may be as American as Apple pie, but Aussie organisations and entrepreneurs are taking a lead in 'apps'.

In what is already a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide -- 'apps' is a phrase coined by Apple Inc to describe mobile 'applications' -- designing for the mobile and tablet applications industry has enjoyed a spectacular take-up in Australia.

From broadcast media to start-up companies, the nation is taking advantage of the booming apps market, helping to create more jobs and attracting businesses worth millions of dollars, according to Dr Ben Goldsmith of the CCI.

“The IBISWorld Survey shows that there are 364 apps companies in Australia,” Dr Goldsmith said. “The report reveals that the industry employs 1,500 people, generates $295 million every year and has an annual growth of 177 percent.”

Dr Goldsmith has found these companies create apps in all areas including games, finance, books, education, health and maps, and around 200 of the apps companies are in Sydney.

“The apps industry is spawning a range of business opportunities because it’s something that both companies and individuals can do,” he said. “You don’t have to build a large development studio to be in the business.

“There isn’t a ‘typical’ apps entrepreneur – they come from different backgrounds, such as software development, marketing, design, investment and venture capital. Some are just very gifted kids.”

Dr Goldsmith said the industry was not just about designing and developing applications for mobile phones and tablets – companies have begun to specialise in areas such as mobile marketing, advertising, security, testing users’ experience and developing templates for others to build their own apps.

Using Westpac as an example, Dr Goldsmith said the bank currently has 70 people in their internal apps development team, which isn’t a huge part of their workforce of 36,000. However, they also subcontract a lot of work to outside firms in different stages of the development, including those that specialise in mobile security.

“There are also services that nobody imagined we needed before apps became such an important part of our lives,” Dr Goldsmith said.

“For instance, Apple just bought an Australian developed search engine for apps called ‘Chomp’, and has incorporated the search service into their online store.

“These are examples of how the apps market has created new job opportunities in existing companies, but also for consultants that provide related services.”

MEDIA GETS CREATIVE

At the same time, broadcast media is boosting its chances of survival in the digital age by jumping into the growing apps industry, Dr Goldsmith said.

“Traditional broadcast media are beginning to recognise that the apps industry isn’t competition, but a way of expanding their businesses,” he said.

“As an example, ABC iview started as an internet service for people to watch ABC programs on their computers.

“But they’ve since developed an app so people can watch the programs on wireless devices, and they found out that more people watch the programs on mobile phones or tablets than on computers.”

Foxtel has also expanded into the mobile space very quickly, Dr Goldsmith said.

Their London 2012 Olympics app as well as their new Foxtel Go app that allow subscribers to watch live programs on the move have met with great success.

“Networks have developed ‘companion apps’ that prompt viewers to fill in surveys, answer questions or access extra content while the program is running,” he said.

“So creating apps that cater to the viewers’ needs isn’t just a way to survive – it also encourages conversations between consumers and companies.”

Dr Goldsmith said Sydney is emerging as the centre of the Australian industry with a vibrant start-up culture.

The software company Atlassian, started by two Sydney friends in an apartment, now sells $100 million worth of software a year worldwide and is worth $1 billion.

Another Sydney based company, Gruden, has also expanded internationally and has helped build the app store for China Mobile, he said.

“With the growth of the mobile and tablet market, the apps industry is a diverse and rapidly growing area," Dr Goldsmith said. "So there’s immense potential for Australian companies and I’m optimistic that we’ll rise up to the challenge.”

www.cci.edu.au

 

*The ARC Centre for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation is helping to build a creative Australia through cutting-edge research spanning the creative industries, media and communications, arts, cultural studies, law, information technology, education and business. It is funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC) and is based at QUT, Brisbane.

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IT MAY NOT have received much mainstream publicity, but this is International Green IT Awareness Week and significant announcements have been made - especially the news that environmental power certification has been established for data centres.

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Mark Winter, Foundation for IT Sustainability CEO.

 

It is the work of Australia-based Foundation for IT Sustainability (FFITS.org), a non-profit organisation known primarily for developing the first Green IT training and certification labelling program. 

Data centres are major consumers of electricity, mainly for cooling ever-more-powerful server systems. The Foundation for IT Sustainability, to mark Green IT Week, has launched Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) Certification for data centres and its validation system was developed and tested in Queensland.

"Although the identity of the data centre must remain confidential for commercial reasons, we are grateful to a member organisation for ‘donating' the use of their data centre to validate the entire testing and validation process," said FFITS.org board member, William Ehmcke.

FFITS.org is launching the standardised PUE Balanced Scorecard program to provide "an apples to apples comparison" of data centres, Mr Ehmcke said. He said the PUE Certification can provide the initial first step for Australian companies considering undertaking the new NABERS for Data Centres accreditation.

"The FFITS.org PUE Certification provides data centre operators with an independent verification of their PUE claims," said Mark Winter, founder and CEO of FFITS.org.

"With the rapid rollout of cloud computing services the demand has never been greater for data centre real estate; and as organisations evaluate these providers they are looking for more than just available space."

Mr Winter said in today's data centre marketplace ‘green' or environmental issues are increasingly at the forefront of purchasers' minds and the distinctive PUE Certification Label provides data centre operators with a competitive differentiator, enabling them to stand out in the industry.

"Many data centre providers have flagged that PUE is being used out of context by data centre providers seeking to promote their ‘green' credentials," Mr Winter said. "By offering a third party and independent certification service, FFITS.org is able to level the playing field and provide an immediately recognisable validation of efforts toward energy efficiencies.

"The FFITS.org PUE certification will assist our industry in cleaning up our act as well as provide confidence around problematic PUE claims in the marketplace."

FFITS.org is based on the Gold Coast and operates as a global, non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote the sustainable use of technology.

Australian IT companies have been a leader in the field for some time, through data centres such as Ecohost in Brisbane and Macquarie Telecom in Sydney.

FFITS.org has an online eLearning training platform, promoting and encouraging the implementation of IT sustainability best practices and recognition and certification of organisations that are doing their part to reduce their power consumption and in turn reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.

Mr Winter said all profits from certification, training, donations, sponsorships and activities fund collaborative IT sustainability education programs at local, regional and international levels.

http://www.ffits.org/

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ACCOUNTING professionals in Australia are facing up to the uncomfortable realisation that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may be ditching their services in favour of cheaper ‘cloud’ based accounting systems.

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Accounting for SMEs is blurred by opportunities in 'cloud' services.

The realisation has come out of national research by software developer CCH in alliance with Brisbane-based coaching, content and technology firm, Proactive Accountants Network.

The research found that almost two thirds (64 %) of SMEs would consider replacing some of the roles that their accountant currently performs with a cloud-based accounting system.

Already 14 percent of SMEs use cloud-based software to manage their accounts, the survey found. Online programs such as XERO, SAASU, MYOB and the soon to be released CCH iBizz are making it easier for SMEs to bypass their accountants, and lodge their Business Activity Statements (BAS) through lower priced avenues.

CCH has teamed up with Proactive Accountants Network to educate accountants on the move towards cloud based accounting.

The firms are conducting a tour – titled Remaining Relevant and claimed to be the biggest accounting event ever staged in Australia – to 13 Australian cities and likely to be attended by 2,000 accountants.

Proactive Accountants Network CEO Rob Nixon said accounting firms were an intermediary that process and compile data and they were in the firing line of being drastically disrupted by the internet.

“It’s not years away – it is happening right now,” Mr Nixon said. “I already know of accounting firms who have had ‘ethical clearance’ letters from Asian accounting firms doing the work directly for their clients.

“They can do this because the accounting data is ‘light’ (a login) and not ‘heavy’ (a USB stick or disk.) When the data is light it is more transportable. “Compliance is being commoditised with these tools. You can go to accountant websites right now and see ‘packaged’ compliance services advertised at set fees per month.”

Mr Nixon said the situation was “not all bad”.

For those accountants who are embracing the technology, he said, 62 percent believe the biggest benefit of using a cloud-based system was that it could be accessed from multiple locations. He said 32 percent felt cloud accounting technology meant they did not need to worry about maintenance or purchasing hardware or accounting software.

Mr Nixon and the CEO of CCH Wolters Kluwer Asia Pacific, Russell Evans, want to stem the tide of SMEs doing it on their own because research found that SME businesses failed, in part, due to failures in seeking professional advice (about 26% in the report) and receiving poor professional advice (21%).

“It is in the best interest of accountants to maintain leadership in cloud solutions so they can better service their SME clients,” Mr Evans said.

www.remainingrelevant.com.au

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LOCAL councils are seeking new ways to operate more efficiently and connect with their citizens through location-aware smartphone applications (apps), according to a new Australian technology study. Image

Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI) and geographic information system (GIS) technology leaders Esri Australia recently conducted the 2013 GIS in Local Government Benchmark Study, surveying 150 councils on their use of mapping technology.

The survey discovered 58 percent of respondents expected to release location-based smartphone apps within the next two years.

Of the councils surveyed, a majority believed further development of mobile technology was a key priority for them over the next five years.

The research indicated smartphone apps could play a crucial role in information gathering during emergency situations, and as a means to share council data with the community.

Speaking at last week's SSSI annual conference in Canberra, where the study was launched, Esri Australia principal consultant Gary Johnson said the research showed councils see GIS - an advanced data mapping technology - as the key to better communication with the public.

"Ninety-nine percent of respondents believe GIS technology can improve the way councils communicate with citizens," Mr Johnson said. 

"That might be through the development of a location-aware smartphone app, or user-friendly online maps.

"This statistic is given further weight when we consider 83 percent of respondents believe information sourced from the public is important to emergency response activities.

"It is no surprise councils are planning to act on these understandings and connect with the community through location-based smartphone apps.

"Many respondents indicated this was also being driven by the community, which now expects greater access to council information in the easy-to-use, visual format of digital maps."

The study also revealed councils see GIS technology as integral to emergency management internally, with around half of respondents declaring it strengthened decision-making (53 percent) and resource allocation (47 percent), and heightened situational awareness (48 percent) during a crisis.

SSSI president Gary Maguire said the aim of the report was to raise understanding and awareness of the role of the GIS professional in Australia's local government sector.

"The survey serves as an important piece of industry research because it provides an outline of how councils across the country are currently using GIS," Mr Maguire said.

"It also highlights how they plan to use it in years to come, providing an indicator of areas of growth for the sector and new trends.

"Most importantly, it provides our councils the opportunity to share with each other knowledge and insights that will impact future technology strategies and potentially facilitate collaboration in areas such as open data or emergency response."

Mr Johnson said the study showed councils continued to be national innovators in the use of GIS technology.

"Local governments are the largest user of GIS technology in Australia," Mr Johnson said.

"They have consistently been early adopters of GIS advancements, and as a result drive much of the innovation in how the technology is used.

"This is evident in the way local government have used GIS technology during emergencies to verify crowdsourced data, and to develop a two-way conversation with the community via smartphones apps."
Mr Johnson said the study was proof that the use of GIS technology within local government was becoming widespread.

"Sixty-eight percent of respondents believe their organisations have a strong understanding of the value of GIS technology," Mr Johnson said.

"Given the study showed 85 percent of councils already provide all of their departments with access to GIS capabilities it is clear we are seeing an expansion of the technologies within our councils - which can only mean better services and more open communication with their residents."

www.esriaustralia.com

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Fujitsu has announced a special trial program for its Cloud offering at vForum 2011 in Sydney that offers free access to independent software vendors (ISVs) and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

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Fujitsu is offering SMEs a free trial of its cloud computing system.

 

 

Over the next three months, organisations can access Fujitsu's Cloud Platform, which includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) hosted in Fujitsu's Australian data centres, as part of a free two-month trial.

This permits organisations to try before they buy and to experience the breadth of the solutions on offer at no charge or risk.

 

As the world's third-largest IT services provider, Fujitsu is well positioned to provide enterprise class, secure and highly available compute, storage, and network capacity via a web-based, self-service portal.

 

Craig Baty, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand executive general manager and chief technology officer, said, "Since we went live with our Cloud in September 2010 we have had a high level of interest from enterprise and government customers.

"We have introduced this trial offer as an added incentive that will appeal to smaller organisations such as ISVs and SMEs to drive the development and use of Australian applications. It will also allow organisations of all sizes to test the suitability of the Cloud locally.

 

"ISVs will benefit from the ability to sell their software 'as a service' to a global market place. Our Cloud platform will help them to address increasing pressure to deliver on demand, customise quickly and take new releases and functionality to market rapidly.

 

"SMEs will benefit from the flexibility and scalability of our Cloud platform, which will allow them to provision ICT infrastructure and services to match the peaks and troughs of demand. They will only pay for the service they need at any time which will reduce the need to have dedicated infrastructure installed that is under-utilised."

 

Mr Baty said Fujitsu's Global Cloud Platform is built on open standards with published APIs and includes 24/7 global support for the infrastructure platform. The Australian and New Zealand service is delivered from Fujitsu's sustainable data centres, which are located across Australia.

 

He said the Fujitsu Cloud Platform incorporates multi-tier security for a true enterprise-grade environment. Its browser interface makes it simple to build, provision and manage secure environments for even relatively complex three-tier workloads. Provisioning is highly flexible via a self-service portal and availability is guaranteed to be at least 99.95 percent.

 

"We are offering this free trial as a demonstration of our commitment to the Australian businesses. We are confident that the platform will deliver excellent value to our customers in adopting it as a Cloud platform to enable business growth," Mr Baty said.

 

The free trial offer is available until January 31, 2012.

 

Organisations interested in registering for the free two-month trial of the Fujitsu cloud services can do so by visiting the Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand website.

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Vodafone is recovering lost ground by taking a lead in connecting mobile, high speed broadband and internet-based FetchTV customers in tune with the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out.

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Vodafone goes to air through NBN fibre.

 

Vodafone this week connected its first customers to the NBN site at Armidale, NSW, giving them access to mobile phone services, internet pay TV and high speed broadband services.

"We are pleased to have connected our first NBN customers and delighted to be providing them with some of the innovation that's possible with the latest generation of mobile, fixed broadband and TV services," Vodafone Hutchison Australia CEO Nigel Dews said.

Vodafone is trialling innovative TV services with new entrant FetchTV, including high definition (HD) movies on demand and is also the first operator to trial femtocell technology with the Vodafone Expand product through the NBN.

Vodafone Expand boosts indoor signal strength for Vodafone 3G mobile devices, providing better call quality and mobile internet access.

The trial is underway in Armidale, NSW, and Vodafone is planning similar trials in the other NBN trial sites Kiama, NSW, and Brunswick, Victoria this year.

www.vodafone.com.au

OUTSTANDING and innovative women in technological fields were recognised last week at the Women in Technology (WiT) awards in Brisbane.

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Tammy Halter's Absolute Data Group (ADG) again made finalist ranks in the WiT Awards.

 

Always made at a themed awards dinner - this year a ‘Green with Envy' Gala Dinner - the leading women in bio-science and technology were acclaimed by the WiT Awards judging panels.

This year saw finalists in nine award categories from career start to outstanding achievers, and introduced for the first time an award to recognise women making contributions to regional and rural Australia.

WIT interim president Jane Fitzpatrick said, "As always the WiT Awards Gala evening gives us the opportunity to showcase the talented women in the technology sectors and use them as examples to attract and retain women in these industries."

Special guests included Shadow Minister for ICT, Roz Bate, and Karen Struthers, the Queensland Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women.

Both women spoke about the need for women to be encouraged in their professional endeavours, highlighting the strong growth of women entering technological careers through the efforts of groups like WiT.

The 2011 WiT Awards presented winners and finalists in nine categories.

The Life Sciences Queensland Biotechnology Outstanding Achievement Award winner was Jenny Martin of the University of Queensland (UQ). Finalist was Kymberley Vickery of SCIP Consulting.

Bond University Infotech Outstanding Achievement Award winner Jane Hunter is also from UQ. Finalists in the category were Tammy Halter of Absolute Data Group and Marie Phillips of Icon Software.

The Department of Communities, Office for Women Employer of Choice Award was GBST Holdings Ltd. Finalists were Absolute Data Group and Hynes Lawyers.

University of Queensland Biotechnology Research Award winner was Tara Martin of CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences. Finalists were Norelle Daly  and Annette Dexter, both of UQ.

The UQ School of Information Technology and Engineering's Information Technology Research Award winner was Janet Wiles of UQ. Finalists were Denis Bauer of UQ and Sandra Mau of NICTA.

WiT Professional Award winner was Helen Murray of Queensland Health. Finalists were  Sonia Poothia of Mondial and Virginia Wilson of Suncorp.

Griffith University PHD Career Start Award winner was Kelly Brooks of UQ and finalists were Laura Bray of QUT and Alexandra Depelsenaire and Jana McCaskill, both of UQ.

WIT Regional Development Award winner was Kirsten Heimann of James Cook University, Townsville. Finalists were Yvette Adams of the Creative Collective and Janine Garrett of Charm Health.

QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Rising Star Award winner was Olivia Wright of UQ. Finalists were Jyotsna Batra, Daniela Loessner, and Inga Mertens-Walker, all of QUT, and Celia Webby of Uniquest.

Women in Technology is one of Queensland's most respected and active technology industry associations and a peak body for women in the technology industry in Queensland developing a sustainable and growing network of members, sponsors, supporters.

WiT aims to promote the achievements of women in the technology industries via relevant events, programs, awards and networks that also provide opportunities for WiT members to grow and develop their skills.

WiT recognised in the 1990s that there were many women who went unrecognised for their talent and impact in technological fields and so created the awards program to recognise these outstanding women. The programs have been running since 1997 with three awards to the current nine categories this year, with a  growing number of sponsors.

In its lifetime, in excess of 90 awards have been made with the winners sharing in over $500,000 in prizes.

The association has now grown to a membership of over 350 women and men and over 1200 affiliates. In 2002 the association changed its name to Women in Technology, recognizing the relationship between IT and emerging technology fields such as science and engineering.

http://www.wit.org.au/

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