Comms tech pulls down Australia’s digital competitiveness ranking

Australia’s communications technology profile has been flagged as a key contributing factor to the country’s slide in the latest international digital competitiveness rankings collated by Switzerland’s IMD World Competitiveness Center.

Australia slipped one place to 14 in the 2019 IMD World Digital Competitiveness ranking, which assesses the digital competitiveness of 63 nations. Australia’s ranking in 2018 came in at 13, while in 2015, the country was ranked ninth overall.

Key weaknesses contributing to Australia’s ranking fall included business agility, technology skills and communications technology, according to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), which is the Australian partner of the IMD World Competitive Center.

The ranking system rates national performance in three areas: knowledge, technology and future readiness, with further sub-factors considered under each of these elements, including communications technology and internet bandwidth speed.

CEDA CEO Melinda Cilento said that in the technology area, Australia’s communications technology subcategory ranking remained poor, at 54. Australia’s internet bandwidth speed subcategory ranking in the latest report, meanwhile, was 38.

Cilento suggested the results showed Australia had more work to do if it is to keep pace with other economies.

“The results highlight that we need a broader national community discussion around the importance of R&D, investment in technology, and tech skills and how the benefits of these flow back to the community,” she said.

By contrast, New Zealand’s communications technology subcategory ranking came in at 27, although the country’s overall digital competitiveness ranking was 18, one up from the previous year’s ranking, but four places lower than its ranking in 2017. In terms of internet bandwidth speed, New Zealand outstripped Australia, coming in at number 20.

According to Cilento, another area of concern for Australia is the development of tech skills.

“While the Australian community has an appetite for new technology with a high uptake of smartphones and tablets, ranking ninth and third respectively, we don’t rank well in terms of higher technical skills,” Cilento said. “Australia ranked 44 on digital/technological skills and employee training, and 53 on graduates in sciences.”

There were some bright spots for Australia too, according to Cilento, who highlighted factors such as flow of international students, country credit rating, tablet possession and e-government – all areas where Australia was ranked among the top five countries globally.

Globally, the top five ranking countries in the 2019 IMD World Digital Competitiveness ranking were United States, in the number one spot, followed by Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland. These remained unchanged from the previous year’s ranking.

Equinix boosts Oracle play with multi-region cloud connectivity expansion

Equinix has ramped up its collaboration with Oracle, expanding its private and secure connectivity to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in dozens of metropolitan areas around the world, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong.

According to the interconnection and data centre provider, its recent expansions in Sydney, São Paulo, Tokyo, Toronto and Zurich now offer customers in those regions private connectivity to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure FastConnect via Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX) Fabric.

An on-demand, software defined network (SDN)-enabled interconnection service, ECX Fabric is designed to help customers connect to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure FastConnect, and other clouds and network providers located around the world.

“Our expansion in Sydney demonstrates our commitment to helping businesses in Australia further their digital transformation journeys and we are thrilled to offer our customers with a presence in our local facilities access to the Oracle Cloud via our ECX Fabric,” said Glenn Uidam, senior director of operations at Equinix Australia.

Equinix claims that the recent expansions now sees it offer more private connections to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure FastConnect than any other data centre player in the market, with connectivity via ECX Fabric available in 34 metro areas globally.

These include seven metro areas in the Asia Pacific region, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Hong Kong, Osaka, Singapore and Tokyo; 14 areas in North America; and 13 across Europe.

For Robert Blackburn, global managing director, Oracle strategic alliance, Equinix, this expansion of the long-running partnership between Oracle and Equinix meets a growing need in the market.

“As companies around the world are prioritising digital transformation as a way to gain a competitive advantage, we’re seeing increased customer demand to migrate Oracle workloads to Oracle Cloud,” Blackburn said. “The reality is that companies that are adopting digital transformation are thriving, and those that are not are being left behind.

“With this direct access, our mutual customers can create a high-speed, low-latency connection that allows them to fully realise the benefits of their Oracle deployment. We are excited to deepen our collaboration with Oracle and offer this service in these new metros across the globe,” he said.

Reef fishing net transformed from ‘dangerous’ to ‘desirable’ ReefCycle sunglasses 

A new joint social venture is underway to turn a commercial gill net, a danger to threatened marine creatures, into something useful – sustainable sunglasses.

The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia and eyewear company VisionDirect are teaming up to “upcycle” the plastic net.

In 2018, thousands of supporter donations helped WWF-Australia buy and retire the licence for the last commercial gill net operating full-time in the northern Great Barrier Reef.

WWF-Australia took this action to protect dugongs and other endangered marine creatures which can be accidentally caught as bycatch and quickly drown. 

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But when the fisher handed over his 600-metre-long net, WWF-Australia was faced with a dilemma:  what to do with the net because WWF did not intend to fish with it.

WWF-Australia and VisionDirect share the ambition to make a difference in ocean plastics and these discussions led to the concept of “ReefCycle sunglasses”.  

A target has been set to presell 1,000 pairs. That would signal enough demand to make it viable for WWF-Australia and VisionDirect to continue to turn harmful plastic fishing nets into sunglasses.

“What a story behind these sunglasses – plastic once used to kill marine life becomes a product to protect your eyes. They are ideal for people who value saving wildlife, sustainability and creative reuse,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

Mr O’Gorman said eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in our oceans every year, including nets which drift in the open sea drowning endangered marine life.

“If unwanted nets are upcycled, instead of dumped, we can reduce the pollution choking our wildlife,” Mr O’Gorman said.

VisionDirect CEO David Menning said upcycling old nets is another way to give back to the community, following on from the company’s program to donate eyeglasses in less fortunate nations.

“We’re benefiting the environment by taking discarded materials that damage wildlife and creating something sustainable and worthwhile,” Mr Menning said.

“This is unlocking a circular economy in eyewear by minimising waste and making the most of an unwanted resource,” he said.

The WWF & Arise Collective ReefCycle sunglasses go on sale on July 4 at (websites). They will cost $89 for regular, $139 for polarized, and a prescription option will be available.

The first 1,000 pairs sold are a limited edition – embossed with a marine animal whose future depends on a Net Free North.

People purchasing ReefCycle sunglasses will help protect local marine life with 50% of the proceeds going back to WWF for conservation work like advocacy for a #NetFreeNorth.

WWF-Australia is urging the Queensland Government to establish a Net Free North by banning gill nets from just north of Cooktown through to the Torres Strait.

This would create an 85,000 km2 safe haven for threatened species including dugongs, turtles, dolphins, hammerhead sharks, and sawfish which are regularly killed in gill nets.

ReefCycle sunglasses come in two different lens colours and can be polarised or non-polarised. They will cost $89 for regular, $139 for polarised, and a prescription option will be available.

As an exclusive pre-sale offer, the first 1,000 pairs will be personalised with a marine animal of your choice (dugong, turtle, dolphin, hammerhead, and swordfish).

Remember: the more sunglasses sold the more plastic that can be removed from the ocean.

Pre-order your pair here.

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Nokia appoints Gabriela Styf Sjöman as Chief Strategy Officer

Nokia has named Gabriela Styf Sjöman as Chief Strategy Officer and member of the firm’s Group Leadership team, effective December 1, 2019.

Sjöman succeeds Kathrin Buvac, who will continue in the role of President of Nokia Enterprise and will remain a member of the Group Leadership Team.

Sjöman – who will be will be based in Espoo, Finland and will report to President and CEO Rajeev Suri – joins Nokia from Telia Company in Sweden, where she has held positions including Deputy Head of Global Services and Operations and Head of Group Networks, and most recently Vice President and Head of Group Network Services and Operations.

In that role she was responsible for technology strategy, architecture, design, delivery and operations for Fixed and Mobile Networks, as well as strategy execution for 5G Readiness for Telia Company Nordics and Baltics.

“We are delighted to welcome Gabriela to Nokia at a pivotal moment in our 5G journey. She brings a wealth of international knowledge and a deep understanding of our industry, its customers and technologies,” said Rajeev Suri, President and CEO of Nokia. “Her insight will be critical in refining our strategy for the future. I also want to thank Kathrin, who has continued to lead our strategy organization in addition to her role as President of Nokia Enterprise since January this year.”

Before joining Telia Company in 2017, Gabriela spent two years with Telecom Italia in Rome as Vice President, Engineering and Telecom Italia Group Labs, following more than a decade at Ericsson in a range of senior roles in China, Germany and the US.

With this appointment, Nokia’s Group Leadership Team will consist of the following members: Rajeev Suri, Nassib Abou-Khalil, Basil Alwan, Hans-Juergen Bill, Kathrin Buvac, Ricky Corker, Joerg Erlemeier, Barry French, Sanjay Goel, Bhaskar Gorti, Federico Guillén, Jenni Lukander, Sandra Motley, Kristian Pullola, Sri Reddy, Gabriela Styf Sjöman, Tommi Uitto and Marcus Weldon.