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AUSTRALIAN IT, TECH PLAYERS RESPOND TO FEDERAL BUDGET

Decision makers representing some key Australian IT and technology companies have responded to the Federal Government’s budget, which was presented yesterday.

Andy Berry, Managing Director, Ricoh Australia
“The government has made some significant investments in IT and research in its annual budget delivery. Indeed, the pace of evolution in technology has never been more rapid. Digital disruption is sweeping through every facet of business and rewriting many traditional rules. However, when it comes to selecting the technologies that underpin business activity, It’s difficult to know where investments should be made that will deliver the best returns over time. Should you shift everything to a cloud platform? How can you improve collaboration between staff? What platform should you use to digitise internal workflows?

“Indeed, the right digital platform can help to streamline many of the processes already in place within a business as well as support the new lines of collaboration that will be necessary. It can allow workflows to be standardised and the automation of many manual processes. This, in turn, can free up the senior managers to focus on more value-added activities.

“The government’s focus on investment in technology is to be commended but businesses will individually need to consider the human factor. After all, failure to engage employees in an age of digital disruption will delay achievement of business goals and may jettison them altogether.”

Michael Warnock, Australia Country Manager, Aura Information Security
“We see last night’s announcement of continuing investment in cybersecurity as a positive step forward for businesses, and the country as a whole. By placing a focus on security the Government acknowledges that the risk of cyber-attacks is very real and we believe this serves as timely reminder that it’s no longer viable for businesses to take a laissez-faire approach to security.

“The reality is, the number of cyber-attacks targeting Australian businesses are increasing at a rapid rate. This is supported by the constant examples of high-profile security breaches that have dominated news headlines recently.

“What is most alarming, however, is that when it comes to basic security hygiene, too many businesses are still failing. What’s needed now is a coordinated effort from the wider business community to ensure they are holding up their end of the bargain. Risk versus gain needs to be seriously considered in all IT deployments and there needs to be constant dialogue around what we can, or should, be doing better. However, it’s not just larger businesses that need to be vigilant – smaller businesses are also well and truly in the firing line for cybercriminals. We hope that the coming year will see the introduction of new initiatives to help make them more aware of this fact.”

Mark Perry, Asia Pacific Chief Technology Officer, Ping Identity
“Ping Identity is excited by the Australian Government’s announcement to inject $65 million into the local IT industry to encourage formalise a modern, secure and user-centric data industry. On the back of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Data Availability and Use, and the funding of an Australian Open Banking initiative in the 2018 Budget, Ping is encouraged that the identity security concepts and open standards we have been championing will help to deliver these initiatives in Australia.

“Based on Ping’s experience as a technology supplier for the UK Open Banking programme, operational since February this year, we will continue to take a leadership position the Australian industry to assist in the design and delivery of an Open Data regime that puts the consumer first, ensuring security and privacy, while enabling a raft of innovation for companies and application developers.

“The Australian Government is to be congratulated for encouraging this initiative and Ping looks forward to the next stage of this programme.”

Mark Sinclair, ANZ Regional Director, WatchGuard Technologies
“It is great to see the Federal Government continuing with its commitment to shoring up the country’s cybersecurity defence. The investment announced last night also reinforces last year’s budget commitment in its Cyber Security Small Business Program to provide $2100 co-funding for small businesses to have their cyber security tested. However, what’s really needed is for this specific program to actually get kicked off.

Given that most Australians today work in small businesses, the government should also take it a step further and assist small businesses with the cost of making their networks more secure. Testing is one thing, but remediation of any security vulnerabilities will often cost a lot more. Given the growing complexity and distribution of networks, small businesses often can’t afford the complete and appropriate security solutions that large enterprises are investing in today.”

Phil Kernick, CEO, CQR Consulting
“The Federal Government has taken the right course of action by continuing to fund cyber security programs in the annual budget. However, as cyber security becomes an increasingly important issue for Australian businesses, many are finding themselves hamstrung by a lack of qualified staff. Skilled security experts are providing hard to find and the rising salary expectations resulting from this scarcity can put them out of reach for small and mid-sized business where the majority of Australian work.

“For universities and TAFEs to make the investments needed to establish courses of this type, they must be convinced that there is demand from both students and prospective employers. This is where the Federal Government can play a role, by bringing all parties together and creating an understanding of the benefits that will result from such an initiative. The Federal Government also needs to work more broadly to drive understanding of the situation and the best strategies and frameworks for fixing it.”

Scott Robertson, Vice President Asia Pacific and Japan, Zscaler
“What is really needed is a new approach to address the mounting security issues Australian business and Govt face each day. Today’s threats are more complex and attack the user when they’re at their weakest – outside the network. At the same time we don’t work the same way we used to – we work remotely, access data and applications that reside off premise and to achieve this security architecture must change.”

Simon Howe, APAC Sales Director, LogRhythm
“As Australia continues to push forward in its digital ambitions, cybersecurity and data protection are key issues that need to be addressed. While the Federal Government boosts its investments in cyber security, continual efforts and investments in these areas are pertinent.

“As future cyberwarfare will be waged between machines, it is critical to invest in technologies such as AI. It is also important to nurture an environment where the best talents and ideas can be developed. As can be seen from recent incidents, data protection should also be top of mind and clear guidelines are needed for the public agencies not within the purview of the Mandatory Breach Disclosure regulations.”

Ken Pang, Chief Technology Officer, Content Security
“This budget is a good start and great to see the parliament taking leadership in security operations. Other government departments should follow suit as we know foreign states are targeting our federal departments using hacking to exert their influence.”

Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific Region, 8×8
The focus on IT investment in support of ongoing digital transformation and STEM skills development by the Federal Government in last night’s budget is certainly encouraging and comes at a time when the world is becoming increasingly digitally connected often through cloud-based communications platforms which provide the levels of service, scalability and cost effectiveness required by growing businesses.

Indeed, the cloud has become a catalyst for small business growth, allowing organisations to innovate freely, carve out new markets, and disrupt the status quo. Industry sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing, and urban planning have been reimagined and redefined by the cloud. In order to continue to reap these opportunities, today’s enterprises must not only develop new cloud-ready tools, but also put digital at the centre of their businesses. While it’s good to see the government take notice of digital disruption, Australian businesses will increasingly need to compete based on technology-enabled value.”

Jamie Davidson, ANZ Country Manager, JAMF
“It is very encouraging to see the Federal Government continue with its investment path in cyber security in the year ahead. This news comes at a time when organisations and individuals are increasingly focused on their digital identities and have a heightened quest for robust privacy. At the same time, businesses are now operating in an increasingly regulated environment with the new mandatory data breach notification laws in place.

Money alone won’t keep data safe but the government investment should encourage businesses to ensure that cyber risk becomes part of their overall risk management strategy. With many organisations embracing a modern mobile workplace ethos, cyber security frameworks and strategies should be put in place to ensure that downtime is minimised and potential risks averted from network to infrastructure to endpoint.”

Peter O’Connor, Vice President of Sales Asia Pacific Snowflake Computing
“The government’s investment in digital services will benefit public sector agencies to realise operational cost savings and gain efficiencies by reaping the benefits that cloud services provision now provides. However, organisational structure, departmental interactions, workflows and delivery channels must all be reviewed. Many will also need to be re-engineered or even replaced. Simply throwing money at digital service provision, streamlining or automating current public sector services or supporting outmoded work practices will achieve nothing.

Indeed, just as in private enterprises, the government will need to constantly examine systems and workflows to ensure that they remain appropriate and effective as external conditions evolve. Gone are the days where a public sector agency could design and build systems based on clear, five-year plans. Faced with constantly changing citizen demands, an organisation’s technology infrastructure must be able to change just as quickly. We all look forward to seeing the positive impact that this latest injection of government funding will have on citizen service delivery.”

Jacqui Nelson, Managing Director, Dekko Secure
The government’s continued support of Australian tech companies focussing on cyber security solutions and taking our tech to the global market was seen at the recent Austrade and AustCyber mission to the US. As we see it though, better education and understanding about the complexity and the real risk companies face daily around data breaches is not fully comprehended. There is still a large level of complacency amongst Australian companies and this is because there isn’t a comprehensive understanding of how catastrophic a data breach can be for them, especially among companies in the SMB sector.

“A recent report from Gemalto shows that one of the greatest risks to companies experiencing a breach is human error. Alarmingly, there was a 580 percent increase reported this year, with 1.9 billion records exposed due to accidental loss or human carelessness. Security is absolutely a human issue and so better education for companies and their staff is essential if we are to ensure companies employ best practice and do the simple things correctly. Securely sharing and storing their customers’ personal and sensitive data is no longer an option – it is a must.”

Nigel Mendonca, Country Manager, Australia & New Zealand, Tableau
“It’s very encouraging to see the Federal Government making further announcements with regard to technology investment in this year’s budget as they recognise how emerging and new technologies are changing the way people live, work and play. The core of any transformation in today’s digital era requires being nimble and making quick decisions. The vast amounts of data available today coupled with rapid advances in analytics solutions and machine learning, means that many businesses are already realising value from their data through better-informed decisions.

However, the challenge in Australia for the past few years has been the shortage of sufficiently skilled workers who can understand the business benefits that a data strategy can deliver. This is where empowering everyone with data and initiatives such as the funding programs to upskill the workforce introduced by the Australian Government becomes imperative so that businesses are still able to harness the value of data. For this to be effective, it takes a strong collaboration within the ecosystem in Australia; the government, private sector, as well as educators, to enable the workforce of today and tomorrow.”

Giovanni Polizzi, Energy Solutions Manager, Indra
“With an ever raising price for energy supply to homes and business, we would have expected a much higher commitment to increasing the penetration of renewables for households and for commercial and industrial customers. Keeping an eye on promoting investments in technology for power networks would have also been desirable, as these organisations should avoid costly network infrastructure augmentation by digitising their operations and so harness the opportunities offered by demand response and distributed renewable generation. Encouraging a potentially costless energy such as renewable, is in our opinion the way to go for a stable energy price containment.”

Peter Croft, Asia Pacific Managing Director, Tribal Group
“Tribal welcomes the increase in research funding for the higher sector, specifically Melbourne University’s Synchrotron and the Marine Observing system at the Unit of Tasmania under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. We also welcome the focus on regional programs to support regional universities and the continuation of funding for research block grants and the commitment by the Federal Government to improving the systems to ensure compliance with the VET Student Loans program

“However, we are disappointed that there has been no new commitment of funding for the VET sector, although we recognise the continuation of the Skilling Australians Fund arrangements. We encourage the Federal and State governments to do more to work collaboratively to make the National Partnership Program work. So far, none of the A$1.5 billion commitment has been taken up, though it is a good sign that the Federal government has committed an additional A$50 million for any state which signs on to the program by June 7.”

 

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