Stories by Darren Pauli

Oz telcos dispute National Broadband Network regulation

The Australian telecommunications industry remains split over the need for structural separation in the National Broadband Network (NBN), after submissions to government from ISPs and consumer advocacy groups failed to agree on a suitable regulatory framework.

Australian gov't spends $251M to make SMEs IT savvy

Australia's small enterprises are set for an IT facelift through a A$251 million splurge to bolster the nation's innovation and competitiveness. The Enterprise Connect network comprises of 10 innovation and manufacturing centers which will train SMEs on how to improve business operations through deploying new technology and using existing infrastructure more efficiently. Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Kim Carr said $10 million will be spent to place experts in businesses to improve innovation. "Our message to SMEs is that you don't have to do it all on your own. Given the urgency and complexity of the challenges we face, you probably couldn't if you tried," Carr said. "Enterprise Connect is a mixture of new ideas developed in response to local conditions, and proven ideas drawn from our study of initiatives elsewhere. "We are increasing the investment from $35 million a year (under the former Australian Industry Productivity Centre plan) to $51 million a year, plus extra funds over the next two years to meet establishment costs." A series of councils will be created to push the innovation message to SMEs and develop long-term strategies. The manufacturing centers will be set up in NSW, Victoria, WA, Tasmania and SA and will benchmark business processes against best practice. Classifying 'best practice' will be left to QMI solutions CEO Jim Walker and a committee of 15 other members from government, education and private industry. QMI, formerly the Queensland Manufacturing Institute, was created in 1993 as a joint venture between the then Queensland Department of State Development, CSIRO, Department of Education and Training and Queensland University of Technology. The centers will provide business with 'links' to prototyping and testing facilities and cut red tape to crack open government program funding. Five innovation centers will be opened across the country, including a mining technology center in Queensland, remote enterprise in the Northern Territory, innovation regions in Victoria, and two others dedicated to creative industries and clean energy. The plan was based off the Manufacturing Extension Partnership in the United States and the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the United Kingdom.

Australian local CA jobs survive chopping block

Up to 600 Australian jobs have been saved from the chopping block in the immediate term as CA completes a massive retructure that inolved axing 1700 stafff across the globe. Australia has managed to avoid the restructure which has swept through the United States and Europe consolidating stand-alone sites into regional offices as part of CA's strategy to achieve $US200 million in annualized savings by 2009. A local CA spokesperson says there are no immediate plans to cut Australian jobs or bring the restructure Down Under despite the company's global CFO Nancy Cooper warning less efficient parts of CA will be targetted to improve worldwide operations. "At this time there are no plans to restructure or make cuts to the Australian business, however CA is continually reviewing, refining, and improving its operations," the spokesperson says. "CA Australia is one of the company's strongest performing global businesses." According to Cooper, the company is systematically trying to go through the business to find inefficiencies, noting that CA has been moving its European operations from running on a per-country basis to a regional level. Despite the huge staff cuts, CA expects to continue restructuring its operations, which is likely to result in further reductions in its headcount. "We do anticipate some additional restructuring in fiscal 2008," Cooper said during a conference call with analysts to discuss the company's financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007. During the quarter, which ended March 31, 2007, CA completed the cutting of 1,700 jobs first outlined in August. On its website, CA puts its total workforce as of March 31, 2006, at around 16,000. CA plans to work in general terms on improving its international business, according to John Swainson, the company's president and CEO. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, while total North American revenue rose 6 percent, revenue from CA's international operations fell by around 2 percent. Swainson reiterated his oft-repeated belief that transformation at CA is "a multiyear process," but he added that the company has made progress on several fronts over the past two years, notably in boosting the productivity of its salesforce to win more software and services business. "There's clear evidence that customers and partners are seeing CA as a different company and someone they want to partner with," he says. Swainson expects the vendor's business service optimisation and enterprise systems management software operations to continue to perform strongly and for both its security and storage software businesses to rebound and begin to grow again.

CRM still lacking in contact centres

The lack of a consolidated desktop and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) application is the most glaring hole in the contact centre industry, according to observers.