Tuesday, 11 May 2021 22:33

MEGA UPDATED: Australian IT industry responds to 2021 Federal Budget Featured

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MEGA UPDATED: More than FIFTY top IT companies in Australia have provided IT industry commentary on Australia’s 2021 Federal Budget, focusing on the digital economy, cyber security, business and more.

The ACS, nimbus, Max Kelsen, BlackLine, ActiveCampaign, Cohesity, Talend, Attivo Networks, Barracuda, ExtraHop, 8x8, Forbury, MaxContact, Nintex, Peak Insight, Tecala, Ping Identity, Snowflake, Zscaler, Pega, CardieX, Envestnet | Yodlee, Nexion Networks, Cyara, Tenable, Uniphore, Optus Business, Darktrace, Blackmagic Design, Tellis Data, Mimecast, Alteryx, KnowBe4, Elastic, Rackspace Technologies, Secure Code Warrior, F5, Cloudflare, Pluralsight, Smart WFH, BlackBerry, Swoop, EFEX, Rubrik, Nutanix, D2L, Intelicare, Verizon, McAfee, Congnizant, METS Ignited, Avaya, archTIS, Contino, Qlik, Commvault, The Adecco Group, Modis Australia, Coupa and the AIIA have all had something to say about Australia’s 2021 Budget.

Here we go:

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ACS:

ACS, the professional association for Australia's technology sector, tonight welcomed the Federal Government’s 2021 Budget, observing the ICT sector will be essential to achieving the Treasurer’s aim to drive unemployment below 5%.

Rupert Grayston, ACS Chief Executive Officer, says:

“Despite last year’s COVID disruptions, the ICT sector managed to deliver 33,000 new jobs, showing the importance of technology in keeping the Australian economy moving.

“We were very encouraged by the Treasurer’s statement that digital infrastructure and digital skills will be critical for the competitiveness of our economy.”

This year’s ACS Digital Pulse report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics highlighted the need to boost Australia's digital skills base to meet the challenges of the next five years in its snapshot of the state of the nation’s ICT sector.

“A key finding to the report was Australia’s need to fill 60,000 technology roles every year for the next five years,’ continued Mr Grayston. “So, ACS supports last week’s announcement of the Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology graduate program along with the Digital Skills Cadetship trial.”

“One important boost for the technology sector and the broader economy would be to boost female participation in the ICT sector. Digital Pulse found if Australia addresses the tech industry’s gender imbalance, the economy could see 5,000 more jobs and a boost of $1.8bn per year.”

“Further reforms to the R&D Tax Incentive and depreciation regime will also boost technology jobs while the aim of attracting more leading technology companies will also drive the sector."

The budget’s $50 million investment in cyber security services in government, data centres and telecommunications networks was also well received by ACS along with the new national network of Artificial Intelligence Centres and the expansion of the cyber security innovation fund, however the organisation flagged more needs to done to ensure agencies are hardened from online threats.

Nimbus:

Grant Custance, CEO and founder of Australian workforce management software company, nimbus, says:

The Budget’s focus on IT led innovation is welcome news for Australian export growth in leading edge technology and patents.

nimbus has a worldwide patent application in place for its workforce management software. The telephony control patent ensures employees, including work from home staff, comply with workplace regulations and don’t trigger fines or other penalties by working beyond their allocated shifts.

He says Australia needs to take a more strategic approach than those measures announced in the Budget, to drive long term economic growth and skills in innovation, and that the Budget should be the start of a journey, including learning from countries like Israel, where the government partners with start-ups and helps take them global.

Max Kelsen:

Nick Therkelsen-Terry, CEO and co-founder of Brisbane based Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning company, Max Kelsen says:

This year’s Federal budget is the most important for supporting Australian AI innovation for five years.

He notes the importance of further investment from governments and a strategic, vertical industry approach for deploying AI and ML into key sectors of the economy – from agriculture, to healthcare, resources and government services.

He also says an ecosystem approach is urgently required to fill the rapidly growing skills gap in AI and ML, given the absence of skilled migration during COVID-19.

BlackLine:

Claudia Pirko, ANZ Regional Director, BlackLine says:

As digitisation continues to transform the Australian economy and we face an era in which both finance and accounting staff remain in short supply, this budget will support finance teams to invest in solutions which automate many of today’s day-to-day manual processes. 

With borders closed, staff shortages and ongoing automation, we’ll now likely see and absolutely require the emergence of the ultra-mobile finance professional able to certify balances, approve journal entries, run reports and make key decisions from their hybrid workplace, all via their mobile phone. 

Perhaps, we’ll also finally say farewell to the spreadsheet replaced by visually rich dashboards that are intuitively accessible and easy to use. 

The combination of the boost in digital connectivity, investment in AI and an emphasis on deployment of e-invoicing in this budget provides a winning opportunity combination for company boards to arm finance teams with the tools and technologies to do things smarter, faster, better and remotely, if need be.”

ActiveCampaign:

Will Drysdale, APAC Sales Manager, ActiveCampaign says:

It’s great to see the initiative around tech growth and investment and the budget presents a robust start on a longer term need to support the development and adoption of technology within the Australian business landscape. Funding and tax breaks for SMB’s will be a key driver in the recovery of the economy in Australia, post-COVID.

We see this as an excellent opportunity for Australian SMB’s to evolve in the technology that they use so that they may engage on a more personal level with their customers providing better consumer experiences.  We’ve seen the benefits that AI has been able to bring to business so it’s refreshing to see investment in not just solutions to problems that exist today but more effective planning for the future.

The $100 million earmarked for investment into cyber skills and digital cadetship will allow the long term fostering of talent to grow Australia into a sustainable digital development hub.  This is really exciting in that it will enable the sourcing and development of more locally based talent.

Cohesity:

Brad Newton, ANZ Managing Director, Cohesity says:


It’s pleasing to see the published Digital Economy Strategy.  It has been a top priority for some time, but it needs funding and resource, which it appears it will now receive. 

Unless more established enterprises can create a digital business to compete with emergent ‘born-in-the-cloud’ players, to optimise their processes and use of data, they will create a “significant issue” with productivity at a national level, not just for themselves.

Digitisation is incredibly powerful at providing greater experiences and engagement, but it’s something that has to go right through the business or government department. We have seen the issues fragmented data causes businesses, and even those operating with a cloud-first mentality are not escaping it entirely either. Just having a mobile app bolted on as the public face to an antiquated and siloed organisation does nothing but frustrate its users, so the investment into healthcare IT is welcomed too.

The tech industry needs to be more vocal about what IT can do here and how it can help improve productivity for Australia and work with the Government, which can help promote best practices from which other departments or organisations can learn. We must all work together - this is the successful model that other countries going through a digitisation process have adopted, and I think it can work for us here in Australia too.

Public and private organisation’s CIOs have to strike a balance between providing the necessary elements of business IT, and providing the dynamic, agile and innovative ingredients that deliver the competitiveness they need to compete and survive in the digital era. If we don’t get digital sorted out, Australia will have significant problems sustaining productivity and competitiveness.

Talend:

Mark Fazackerley, Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand, Talend says:

Recently I hosted a roundtable discussion group of chief information officers and senior data officers from the public sector, and one of the clear issues all were struggling with is a lack of high level sponsorship to support their initiatives, all of which had been successful, but result was that they could not keep up with the demand. 

I feel the budget needs to support organisations, particularly in the public sector, in their push to digital transformation with development funding models or tax breaks to assist in building capabilities that can in turn be directly linked to improved stakeholder and citizen outcomes. Initiatives like the NSW Government’s investment in the Data Analytics Centre have demonstrated their value and a significant return, but the contest for IT budget is a tough one at best.

Alongside of this we need to do more to support our local start-up community, provide better assistance in their push to develop and commercialise solutions that can in turn improve Australia’s standing in the international community. With success stories like Canva, Atlassian and Afterpay already originating from our shores, support for our innovators in Australia is of paramount importance in these days of a digital economy.

Attivo Networks:

Jim Cook, ANZ Regional Director, Attivo Networks says:

There is much work to do in Australia in terms of budgeting for cybersecurity.  The world is changing, borders are strengthening and nation states are using the internet to gain access to secrets. 

The US recently pointed the finger at some Russian organisations for the devastating SolarWinds attacks. We will no doubt see more of this in the years to come and the Australian government is prudent in its budget decision to continue investing in cybersecurity defences, although interesting that there is more budget available to promote electronic billing than there is for Cyber.  

However, it would be great to see better assistance for businesses of all sizes to protect their employees, customers and assets.

Budget funding, awareness and technology solutions are sorely needed today to support Australian business cybersecurity. It’s unrealistic to expect small businesses owners to stay on top of the cyber threat so making it easy and cost effective to access commercial organisations who can manage their security for them is critical. 

More tax incentives would certainly lift the priority in business owners’ minds and it’s important to remember that small organisations often service larger ones – and have direct connections into them. 

This can be seen as a weak link in supply chain security and so SMBs should be considered to be as vulnerable and critical as larger organisations. 

For larger organisations, the continued focus on holding the board accountable for loss of customer data and providing a framework of controls against which the organisation can be audited has proven to promote a better level of behaviour and investment. 

At the same time, demand for cyber security skills needs to be satisfied with new talent entering the ranks of the industry. Funding is sorely needed to remove the “hoodie” wearing image of cyber, attract those already in IT to consider a move across to cybersecurity as well as encourage more women and those living in remote communities to consider a career in this exciting sector. 

As Australians, we can’t rely on importing overseas talent to fill the demand so we must invest in our own or risk being vulnerable to attack.

Barracuda:

Mark Lukie, APAC Sales Engineer Manager, Barracuda says:

We welcome the government investments in AI technologies to help protect Australian businesses and government online services. With more and more attacks targeting digital assets such as web applications it is imperative businesses can protect themselves against evolving threats.

We would like to see security being taught at a grass roots level with cybersecurity and awareness training becoming part of curriculums to educate students and prepare them to enter the workforce whilst protecting their online presence.

Investments in connectivity in regional areas will allow smaller business access to corporate environments in a more resilient and secure way by employing SD-WAN technologies and combining security at the branch.    

ExtraHop:

Glen Maloney, ANZ Regional Sales Manager, ExtraHop says:

In the wake of the recent attacks on the healthcare sector as well as the ongoing threat of nation-state attacks, it’s promising to see the budget continuing to highlight cybersecurity as a sector for investment.

However, the Federal Government needs to accelerate its collaboration with the technology industry to increase cyber awareness, share timely and relevant threat information, and partner with the private sector as well as industry associations to create a strong pipeline of future cyber talent.

A Federal Government-funded campaign that focuses on educating Australian business in cyber threats should also be put in place to ensure business leaders and employees are informed of the imminent risks of cyber attacks and the potential impacts to their operations. Moreover, as cybersecurity can never take a day off, we must be constantly vigilant to ensure that what our students are taught in higher education is ultimately effective in real-world cyber security. 

The Federal Government could take steps to collaborate with the sector and provide additional higher education funding to fill this void through industry placements.

8x8:

Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific, 8x8 says:

It is extremely encouraging to see the Government investing in the adoption of digital technology as a catalyst for driving employment, wages and productivity growth. The Australian workplace is changing dramatically, and the announced investments, particularly into developing digital skills as well as supporting small business' adoption of digital technologies, is paving the way for a leading-edge economy.

Forbury:

Ashley Lane, APAC Sales Manager, Forbury says:

Rapid changes within the Australian business environment have left many companies reeling. Until recently, most were preparing plans to cope with business reduction. Now, they need to boost their workforce as the economy rapidly recovers from last year’s shutdowns and international borders remain firmly shut. 

This budget will support companies to continue to transition to the digital economy and support potential investment in new skills and talent.  Ultimately, however, enhancing workplace productivity will need to become a key focus for many organisations as the talent shortage continues to bite. 

Businesses will need a way to match employee resources to ever-changing workloads while automation of legacy, manual IT systems will need to be reviewed so that precious staff talent can be allocated to value-added projects.  

Automation is a journey that begins with a hard look at the status quo to identify where bottlenecks exist and where efficiencies could be created. 

Migrating as many on-premises applications as possible to the cloud during this time should help to improve visibility across the enterprise and provide business leaders with a bird’s eye view of their company’s position, at any given moment in time.

MaxContact:

Daniel Harding, Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact says:

It is great to see the government investing in rural areas using the Regional Connectivity Program. These regional areas of the country are seeing increases in population as the general public and companies realise that people can work from home, but only if the connectivity is there.

For Australian contact centres, and those looking to onshore, this really opens up the landscape for them in terms of hiring skilled staff across  Australia. The knock-on effect will also boost local economies in these regions because as the connectivity increases, so does the population, and of course the cash spent in these areas.  

Government funded cadetships in regionally located contact centres could also work as a great building block for employing young people, whilst also allowing companies to offer more places if they are funded correctly.

It's important to note that companies who take advantage of this perhaps through the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme will need to invest the time, effort and resources to make it a worthwhile project but it is certainly a great start.”

Nintex:

Christian Lucarelli, Vice President Sales Asia Pacific, Nintex says:

Right now, certain policies inhibit organisations’ ability to digitally transform, so we should look beyond spending and investigate policies related to what the government is doing to strengthen Australia’s commitment to digital business.

For example, regulated industries like financial services need support in their efforts to reduce paper-based forms and signatures. Paper still plays a significant role in these organisations’ processes, hindering them from providing customers with world-class service and a modernised experience.  

Indeed, when it comes to spending to strengthen Australia’s commitment to digital business, I’m a big believer in building from the ground up. We should invest in the education sector to promote digital skills within all levels of education from primary school to tertiary education to create a solid foundation for driving talent to technology-related industries in Australia. 

Australians have plenty of innovative ideas, not restricted to the technology and software we put out to market, that could turn our country into a full powerhouse. We need to nurture our culture of innovation and empower companies to grow and succeed with local support and investment from our government and the Australian private sector. 

I believe 100% that the Federal Government should invest in developing local IT skills and talent and the government should help to build these initiatives from scratch, support industry-based internships, invest in education, and partner with big tech companies.

With the borders shut, Australian companies across all industries have the opportunity to focus on upskilling and updating their business practices to include digital transformation initiatives, in line with what our counterparts around the globe are doing. If we are to compete against the best in the world, now is not the time for Australia to lag behind. 

Peak Insight:

Sam Deckert, Founder and Principal Consultant, Peak Insight says:

The billions of dollars to be allocated to aged care in the next few years will support the sector’s acceleration towards greater digitisation. It will provide a spur for innovative providers to invest in IT solutions which can deliver a high quality of care and a first class business operation with more efficient decision making and a greater ability to successfully plan current and future services.

While aged care providers can expect to be constantly challenged regarding the cost of their services as well as the quality and value they deliver, this budget provides a major opportunity for the industry to take advantage of current workplace trends in remote working, automation in areas such as e-invoicing and telehealth, as well as fast evolving communications and video collaboration technology to underpin a gold standard service befitting for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Tecala:

Pieter DeGunst, Managing Director, Tecala says:

The government investment in Australia’s digital economy in the 2021-2022 budget will support enterprises of all sizes to emerge stronger in the post-COVID economy and encourage both growth and investment. 

However, as Australian organisations grapple with remaining competitive in a testing global economic climate, many are pondering how to gain the optimal mix of skills within their workforces. 

Operating in a tight jobs market, increasingly armed with a digital-first thinking mindset and with no sign of the international borders openin, IT management teams may increasingly need to call upon the skills of external third-party service companies to fulfil the void in smart talent required to support their ongoing transformation in the years ahead. 

Ultimately, Australia will need to have a hard think about what type of economy it wants to shape in the years ahead, what industries it will develop and support through annual government budget cycles ahead and where the skills and talent are going to come from if the economy is to reach its potential.”

Ping Identity:

Ashley Diffey, Head of APAC and Japan, Ping Identity says:

We applaud the government’s investment in supporting the Consumer Data Right in the financial services, utilities and telecommunications markets which should assist organisations in these industries to deploy technologies which balance consumer demands for access to services with protecting those same customer’ identities and data from harm. 

Indeed, the optimal solutions will see identity and access management playing a key role, allowing customers to prove their authority to access services and protect their privacy while preventing malicious actors from nefarious behaviour.

At the same time, we strongly encourage the government to continue investing in cybersecurity awareness among both businesses and citizens.

As the international border is likely closed for many more months yet, the government would be wise within this budget to direct investment at scale towards upskilling cybersecurity skills and encouraging careers in IT security among indigenous communities and among women who are still vastly underrepresented in the industry.

Finally, in Australia, we take it for granted that children are taught to swim at an early age as the risk of drowning is a real one with such a vast percentage of the population living within easy reach of bodies of water. 

If we consider that all children today are exposed to technology in the same way, teaching younger generations how to work with technology and manage cyber risk is akin to being able to swim.

We need to do all we can to ensure that Federal Government funding for educating our youth on STEM skills is maximised to the very last dollar so that every child knows how to use technology wisely as soon as possible and that our youth can truly benefit from living in an inclusive, digital, global community.

Snowflake:

Peter O’Connor, Vice President Asia Pacific, Snowflake says:

The decision to extend the CDR and invest $16.5 million in a pilot program, to ensure government data assets are more accessible and discoverable, is a step in the right direction for ensuring that data currently siloed in different government agencies can be united, discovered, securely shared, and enable agencies to ultimately execute diverse analytic workloads across multiple clouds.

Indeed, the Australian government should direct the investment in its Digital Economy Strategy to accelerate cloud adoption and consolidate multiple copies of data into a single, secure, and well governed data platform accessible by all departments and all Australians.

New services and greater efficiencies will result through enhanced collaboration and real-time inter-departmental data sharing.

In addition, although it’s great to see the government investing in digital skills, subsidising technology skills development initiatives in areas such as data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data will reduce the need to hire from abroad or outsource to overseas service providers.

Opportunities to build a globally recognised leadership position in this sector don’t come around every day. Helping develop a world class AI ecosystem as outlined in the creation of a National Artificial Intelligence Centre is within reach if the government continues to recognise the need for ongoing investment in the years ahead. Companies such as Quantium, Servian, and others are testament to what is possible in Australia.



There is an opportunity for Australia to reset and build learning programs for a wider Australian audience. Much needed local skill development needs to be subsidised by the government not just in this budget but in the years ahead so Australia can continue to innovate in order to fulfil this country's unbelievable tech potential.

Zscaler:

Budd Ilic, Regional Director – Government, Zscaler says:

The Australian Federal Government has announced a modest investment of $50 million to boost government and data centre cyber security defences. 

While this is significant, there still needs to be further investment particularly because of the escalating frequency of cyber attacks on not only government entities such as the two high profile attacks on the Department of Parliamentary Services but also among organisations that provide critical infrastructure in Australia. 

At the same time, there also needs to be an ongoing review of how effective the spending on cybersecurity has been in recent years.

We now live in an agile, flexible and highly mobile world in which the applications and the users have "left the building".

While The Federal Government in this budget has announced an upgrade of digital service delivery, the government needs to focus on provisioning the kind of secure and trusted connectivity to business information that is as comfortable and effective for mobile users connecting to information in the cloud as was the case when everyone was office bound and all applications and data lived in a government datacentre. 

While the nature of connectedness has changed, so must the design and delivery of strategies and tools that bring both new flexibility as well as all of the security and confidence that people and organisations, especially governments, need and expect.   

We would encourage the government  to focus on best of breed cloud-based cybersecurity strategies in order to deliver on an improved security posture for a more mobile workforce and a better digital platform. This will ultimately deliver service improvement across the public sector whilst ensuring a higher level of security.

At the same time, the Federal Government should definitely continue to invest in developing local cyber skills and talent. This is one area of IT where there is a significant shortage of highly skilled people.

The way that it can be done is by investing in cybersecurity education in schools and universities as well as incentives for organisations to encourage employees to obtain new skills.  Ultimately, Australia should have strong ambitions and a plan of becoming a global centre of excellence for cybersecurity skills and expertise – and budget accordingly!

Pega:

Luke McCormack, vice president and managing director, APAC at Pega says:

To see the government commit to investing over $500 million to enhancing government services is truly exciting news for Australian citizens. It shows the government is prioritising the right areas as Australians seek improved digital experiences when engaging government services. 

Looking ahead, it’s important for this to be a starting point and not the finish line in enhancing government services. The best experience has to be the standard across the public sector, with Australians expecting consistency, convenience and a seamless experience, every time they engage with a government agency or department.

CardieX:

Craig Cooper, CEO of Australian wearable technology CardieX, based in the United States says:

As an Australian listed company with a global presence and outlook, we welcome the Australian government’s new updates related to the research and development sector in the federal budget allocation for 2021.

Currently, our finance and R&D base is in Sydney, whilst our CEO, sales, business development and digital development teams are in the USA, and our manufacturing is in Australia and the USA. Our new devices are planned to be manufactured in Asia, and our sales are forecast to be 95% outside of Australia with the majority in the USA.

Incentivising Australian companies to diversify their manufacturing base to decrease reliance on Asia would be beneficial, given the experience of the last 24 months where Australia has seen all too well the downside of centralised market reliance. We are glad to see $1.2 billion being invested to expand manufacturing activity.

Tenable:

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable says:

“We’ve been talking about the cyber skills gap for years yet, the need for these professionals continues to skyrocket in Australia. We know that cyber technology skills play an integral role in our continued economic growth, and it’s positive to see this finally recognised in this year’s Budget. In addition to the $26.5 million grants program launched earlier this year, the $43.8 million investment to expand the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund is a great step forward to ensuring Australia has the skills it needs to stay secure and support reducing unemployment.

While creating entry-level cybersecurity roles is a step in the right direction, immediate action can be taken by reskilling existing staff and making this a priority across both the government and private sectors. Ultimately, you cannot defend your organisation without cybersecurity professionals who are skilled in tackling the relentless cyber threats lingering in front of us.

In addition, the government's focus on this Budget to increase women’s participation in the workforce is fantastic to see. Across all industries, diversity of thought and experience is vital, and this is no less the case within cybersecurity. A lack of diversity is a threat to our collective success. By encouraging a more diverse workforce within the cybersecurity industry, we have a better chance of thinking outside the box and staying ahead of cyberattackers.”

SANS Institute:

Steven Armitage, Director APAC of SANS Institute, says: 

With over $100 million of the budget allocated to digital skills support and upskilling the Australian workforce, it’s great to see the Australian Government emphasise the importance of digital skills in the modern workforce, and the rapidly growing cyber workforce. 

As Australia and the globe continue to move toward an increasingly digital world, the importance of cybersecurity skills cannot be underestimated to ensure organisational cyber resilience as well as fill cybersecurity roles. As the government looks to reduce the unemployment rate across Australia, reskilling and upskilling in digital is critical to filling positions that so many organisations are in need of, which has clearly been recognised by the government. 

Optus Business:

Libby Roy, Managing Director of Optus Business says:

“The announcement of the $1.2 billion expansion of the digital economy strategy shows that the government is dedicated to supporting Australia’s economic recovery. In addition to the concessions and grants that are anticipated as part of this year’s Federal Budget, the government also needs to invest as a nation in business owners by offering them access to ongoing training and education. It is these initiatives that are encouraging optimism in business owners, with many believing their business will perform better in the coming financial year,” explained Libby.
 
At the helm of Optus Business and with 20 years of leadership experience across major consumer brands such as PayPal and American Express, Libby understands the challenges that Australians face in their business whether they be a sole trader or have 200-300 employees.

Optus Business provides services and products to over 400,000 Australian small and medium businesses. It has over 200 small business zones in Optus retail stores across the country to support small and medium businesses to learn more about how they can leverage their technology to be more effective and productive, and how they can run their businesses from anywhere, anytime.

Darktrace:

Hayley Turner, Director of Industrial Security, APAC, Darktrace says:

Following the news earlier this year of a disruptive cyber-attack on both Channel Nine and Parliament, we welcome the Government’s renewed investment in cyber security. 

As attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure grow at an alarming rate, it is clear that we have entered a new era of cyber-attacks that have the power to disrupt, cause systems to shut down and threaten the public’s safety.  

It is encouraging to see the Government recognising the requirement to invest in cyber security at the same time as supporting widespread digital transformation. 

The reality is that there is significant cyber vulnerability as a result of the hyperconnected world we live in, and no organisation or institution is immune. Cyber security is no longer a human scale problem and so government must focus its investment on adopting cutting-edge technologies capable of fighting back against subtle and stealthy attacks that humans can’t spot.

Many organisations across the country have already turned to AI to detect and thwart attacks that manage to get inside – before the damage is done. This is the only solution to defend our most critical strategic assets in the age of widespread digital transformation.

NEXION Networks:

Paul Glass, CEO of cloud computing company NEXION Networks says:

“It’s important that cybersecurity, safety and trust are highlighted as keystone principles of the government’s digital economy and the investments planned in this area. As the world moves to a higher degree of integrated digital forums, the safety and security of this access are more and more important,” said Paul Glass, NEXION Networks CEO.

“We as digital consumers use applications on multiple devices as part of our every day lives, and the common mistake is the perception that as the applications are available and widely used, it must be safe. There have been multiple large-scale illustrations of security failures in some of the most common apps we use every day. The government has a responsibility to not only hold global application providers to stringent security audits and compliance but to invest in country-wide controls for the adoption of new technology by consumers. The risk curve will always increase as internet bandwidth and availability increases, all providers and corporations have a duty of care to work with the government on underlying security risk mitigation.”

Pure Storage:

Michael Alp, vice president, ANZ, Pure Storage says:

"It is great to see the commitment from the Australian government to spur developments in emerging technologies. Australia has lost some of its impetus as an early adopter of technology and this hopefully gets us back on track. Cloud computing, artificial intelligence, 5G, fibre to the home, and containerised applications are all areas that Australian enterprises should be leading the world in. The pandemic has been a big wake up call about staying ahead of the technology curve and one we should all heed."

Uniphore:

Ravi Saraogi, co-founder and president of Uniphore says:

“Uniphore is pleased to see the Australian government acknowledge the significant role AI plays in growing the country’s economy and improving the citizens quality of life. As Australians shifted to remote work models, enterprises had to rethink their business strategy and the way they have been engaging with consumers since. Organisations transitioned rapidly to digital initiatives and adopted new technologies to assist in this transition and to maintain business continuity.

We are optimistic that the allocation of funds set out in the Budget will incentivise further adoption of artificial intelligence across Australia. It will allow economic wide benefits by elevating the country’s competitive capabilities and allowing more businesses to leverage and upgrade their existing technology. This will in turn also unlock jobs and support industries alike”

Cyara:

Alok Kulkarni, CEO of Cyara, an Australian Automated Customer Experience Assurance Platform provider says:

"The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent and increasing need for digitisation in Australia. Embracing new technologies to scale communications en masse especially during uncertain times will help us get ahead of the game. Moving to the cloud, digital engagement, contact centres-on-demand, and new ways of working hold the key to future innovation and stamping Australia's global leadership.

The Federal Government’s commitment of funds to improving the myGov and My Health Record technology platforms is the first of many steps in this direction.

As we embark on our digital journeys, Australian organisations should be cognisant of empathy and the need for the human touch. As demonstrated during the pandemic last year, human-to-human interaction is paramount for building empathy, despite the plethora of digital engagement platforms available in the market.

There is also more to Australia’s future growth and prosperity. We need to consider ourselves as a creator as well as an adopter of technology. The Federal Government’s $77.1 million investment into digital skills is a welcome start but more needs to be done to support the startup ecosystem in Australia."

Envestnet | Yodlee:

Tim Poskitt, Country Manager - ANZ at Envestnet | Yodlee says:

Open banking has the potential to completely revolutionise the future of finance and how consumers engage with banks and financial service providers. It has the power to help Aussies make more informed decisions on their finances, and give FinTechs and finance companies the ability to innovate faster with the use of accurate, user-permissioned financial data.

There is, however, a long way to go until the use of open banking is ubiquitous – and investment into its deployment is of paramount importance. As such, I am delighted that the government has committed significant funding into expanding the rollout of the Consumer Data Right, which we recently became an accredited member of.

This will help in the overall goal of accelerating open banking in Australia, which will put Australian consumers in greater control of their financial standing, and further enhance the nation’s burgeoning finance sector.

Blackmagic Design:

Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design says:

Re Skills and Training:

The skills and training announcement is very exciting because the only way to transition to a digital economy is to have hundreds of thousands of qualified young people who can launch the next generation of startup companies. 

I think this is exactly where the funding needs to go, to give people the same opportunities I had starting out, not matter their background. 

Based on the taxes that Blackmagic Design pays each year, it would only take a few dozen successful startups to pay for this spending. What an exciting initiative. It could transform Australia.

Re Digital infrastructure:

The digital infrastructure funding is an important initiative. I believe that the world is in an intellectual property war and so far, Australia has been badly losing, or not even aware intellectual property exists. strengthening the cyber security technology will be an important step to protecting the hard work of thousands of engineers and artists in Australia. 

I think the Artificial Intelligence Centres is a very good idea and I expect it could revolutionise education in Australia. Blackmagic Design is already heavily involved in using AI for image processing in our products and we have experience in this area. Back in the 1970's Dartmouth College developed the BASIC programming language and it became the standard language used on all early 1980's personal computers. Those students went on to change the world and the US dominated personal computing. Now, these Artificial Intelligence Centers could do the same for Australia. It’s hard to know what the future innovations could be, but having this technology available to "play" with is the first step in discovering that future.

Re Talent Visa:

The Talent Visa changes are very important to Blackmagic Design and impact the technology sector heavily as a whole. A few years ago, visas for engineers and scientists became extremely hard to get. The worst part was there was only as limited time that engineers and scientists could work for us before they had to leave the country. As a result, we could not hire anyone because they would be forced to leave and take our knowledge and technology with them without seeing projects through to completion. The end result, was that it only boosted overseas companies at the expense of Australian companies and was very damaging to us.

It’s exciting to see these changes being addressed as we need specific kinds of engineering specialists and this is very important when we want to develop a new technology or product. We need access to bring this talent into Australia. So, we are exciting by the talent visa changes and we think the government has understood the need to get important specialists into Australia so we can develop leading positions in new technology.

Re Manufacturing:

We are cautiously optimistic about the focus on brining manufacturing back to Australia. We think there is so many problems with manufacturing in Australia and the whole landscape is a disaster. While this is a good start, we think there should be a much bigger approach to manufacturing in Australia, and the approach should include education, quality, legal, unions, business and many other areas that need to all come together in a massive effort. It should be a program similar to what NASA did to the US economy in the 1960's. If a country cannot become a world leader in manufacturing, it becomes a country that cannot think and just depends on a property bubble and inflation to simulate growth

Mimecast:

Nick Lennon, Country Manager ANZ for Mimecast says:

70% of Australian organisations expect an email-borne attack will damage their business in the next 12 months. Pair this statistic with the critical infrastructure attack on a major oil and gas pipeline in the US this week, and the need for the federal government to ‘harden’ Australia’s cybersecurity posture becomes critical. With that in mind, the establishment of the Office of Supply Chain Resilience is as step in the right direction.

In the same vein, it’s encouraging to see acknowledgement of challenges posed by the pace of technological change in the government’s ASIO focus.

With new rules pertaining to the Critical Infrastructure Bill due to roll out across industries over the coming 12 months, we welcome the government’s investment in the cybersecurity posture of its own agencies, and its commitment to a higher standard through the National Data Security Action Plan. This leadership by example is important when regulating cybersecurity obligations.

That said, the government and industry more broadly must double down to ensure the $1.67B investment announced last year is being deployed effectively and funding cybersecurity skills. The creation of jobs in areas including AI, privacy and cloud – all of which need security embedded into their design to be truly beneficial – will boost Australia’s international competitiveness and help attract investment from foreign companies.

Throughout COVID in particular, Australian citizens have demonstrated they expect security and privacy to be a cornerstone of Digital Economy initiatives. We are pleased to see the government embedding programs that will drive citizens’ trust in online and emerging services, which in turn will create further opportunities for the cybersecurity industry.

Our research shows that 76% of companies have been hurt by their lack of cyber preparedness. We also know that human error is involved in the majority of cyber incidents – so investment in a broad public awareness and education strategy, much like the hugely successful ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ sunscreen campaign of the 80s, is essential.

Australia has a significant gap in the right kind of cybersecurity awareness, compounded by a wave of evolving threats. A three-pronged approach of technology, regulation and awareness is needed to meet this wave head-on.

Tellis Data:

CEO and Co-Founder of Tellis Data, Michael Gately says:

It’s fantastic to see the Federal Budget include $1.2 billion for a Digital Economy Strategy, with $50 million dedicated to a National Artificial Intelligence Centre within CSIRO.

Government funding is integral to the growth of our artificial intelligence sector, particularly as we know that Australia is currently lagging behind other key markets such as Asia, Europe and North America in both the development and adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

With the right government support from both Federal and State level, we will be better placed to compete on the global stage as we move towards a digital future. This new funding announcement is a clear step in the right direction, and will encourage more exciting technology innovation from the Australian technology industry.

Alteryx:

JJ Phillips, A/NZ Country Manager at Alteryx says:

“It was encouraging to see the Australian Government outline a range of reforms and investments for digital infrastructure and digital skills as part of its national economic recovery agenda.

The significant new funding initiatives announced in the Digital Economy Strategy, including a work-based digital skills cadetship program and funding for projects aimed at extracting value from government data assets, have the potential to improve service delivery, upskill the modern workforce and drive a more sustainable private sector recovery.

Over the next 12 months, it’s evident that the tech skills shortage will remain a key challenge for businesses, with stalled skilled migration from extended border closures until mid-2022. With accelerated business digitisation, we could see a growing mismatch between those looking for work and the types of workers that employers need.

It’s a critical imperative for fiscal policy to embed a longer-term strategy that addresses structural changes in the labour market and encourages businesses to grow their own talent and create new jobs.

KnowBe4:

Jacqueline Jayne, Security Awareness Advocate APAC at KnowBe4:

As expected, yesterday's Budget, delivered little remotely actionable and useful when it comes to keeping Australian safe online. Cybersecurity was only mentioned nine times and often as a passing reference.

Looking for the actionable steps or deliverable outcomes in relation to lifting the knowledge, skills and abilities of Australians to stay safe online should be the primary focus. The rhetoric is predictable year on year when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting our citizens, businesses and all organisations in our great country.

Delivering the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy has come and gone but where are the measurable deliverables and outcomes? It would have been a delightful surprise to see an announcement and implementation of a National Cyber Awareness Education Campaign for everyone. Cybersecurity is after all everyone’s responsibility and we are far from being in a position where we are making better decisions when it comes to staying safe online.

The numbers speak for themselves. Researchers from Stanford University and a top cybersecurity organisation found that approximately 88% of all data breaches are caused by an employee mistake. Human error is still very much the driving force behind an overwhelming majority of cybersecurity problems. My question is if 88% of all data breaches are caused by human error, shouldn’t 88% of the cybersecurity budget be allocated to upskilling the humans?

Elastic:

Matthew Day, Vice President of APJ at Elastic says:

“It is very encouraging to see the government announce its $1.2 billion funding into the digital economy. According to NAB’s Quarterly Business Results Survey, the Australian economy is bouncing back from the pandemic, and the continued investment in tech, security, and innovation is a necessity to ensure Australian businesses can prosper in the global economy.”

“$100 million will be devoted to the development of digital skills, which our recent study with Forrester shows is a number one priority for CIOs working to accelerate the digitisation of their organizations."

“Possibly the most significant area for investment is the nation’s cybersecurity. Alongside the government’s push to develop more secure technologies, let’s not overlook the human factor that is a dominant issue in malicious or criminal attacks. The shift to remote working due to the pandemic has weakened the perimeter security for many organizations. Between July and December 2020 alone, the Office of the Australian Information Commission reported a 20% hike in breaches caused by human error. Building trust and confidence in the digital economy will also require organizations to invest in safeguarding their data and systems with more advanced endpoint security and employee education on secure information handling practices."

Rackspace Technology on the Patent Box Tax:

Angela Logan-Bell, Director Strategic Partnerships and Alliances APJ at Rackspace Technology says:

The Federal Government has pledged a ‘patent box’ tax incentive scheme, designed to encourage investment in medical and biotech innovation. In an effort to boost commercialisation and retain IP in Australia, this is a great win for local R&D activities. We want to see more innovation commercialised in Australia however, this commitment doesn’t go far enough.

There’s no doubt of the importance medical and biotech innovation contribute to our society, but what we need is economical support from the ground up for all tech start-ups – including a policy review to allow tech start-ups to be able to break through government red tape. Fostering this level of innovation will bring about growth in the tech industry and reduce the length of development. With patents already taking up to seven years or so to be approved, it's inhibiting our tech start-ups now.

To effectively scale and be on the world stage, we should be offering tax incentives beyond one industry. Australia has every opportunity to become an incubation for development and lead the way and work as a growth region for tech jobs and digital transformation.

In the US, it’s a badge of honour for universities, businesses and local governments to be associated with successful start-ups. In Australia we only hear about start-ups once they reach success overseas. For the likes of Afterpay or Canva, it wasn’t till they grew internationally that we embraced them. We need to back our tech start-ups – and that starts from the top.

We also need change the perspective of where tech stands and could stand in regards to business growth in Australia. We’re always focus on mining, banking and construction as job creators but there are immense opportunities in the tech industry. We need to see a focus on tech in order to change the perspective in the eyes of investment.

Ultimately, our tech start-ups should not be sidelined. We need to see more noise around success in tech and celebrate our own tech start-ups that are shaping our future.

Secure Code Warrior on CyberSecurity:

Pieter Danhieux, Co-Founder and CEO of Secure Code Warrior says:

It’s unfortunate to see the Federal Government did not announce further investment in cybersecurity services in government, data centres and telecommunications networks.

It was my hope that they would use funding to help prevent incidents such as costly and damaging supply-chain attacks, not unlike those that happened in Service NSW or RBZ. We must assess and validate the suppliers we use and the software these suppliers write for the Australian Government, and companies across Australia. These actions may be seen as the “extra mile”, but they should be inherent to a gold standard of cybersecurity best practices.

What we need is something similar to US President Joe Biden's recent multi-billion-dollar cybersecurity support plan, as well as appointment of key members of the cabinet to cybersecurity and cyber defence; it would be a huge win for our online safety, as well as support the local cybersecurity industry, and is a clear signal that it is a serious consideration as we move forward as a future-focused nation.

Therefore, it is troubling that we still don’t have a dedicated cabinet role for cybersecurity in Australia, and as such, even with funding, it is easy to be “out of sight, out of mind”. In the wake of nation-state cyberattacks and unprecedented access to our sensitive information if a data breach is successful, this is a lax approach that maintains a status quo that has been ineffective to date.”

F5 on Cyber Security:

Jason Baden, Regional Vice President, ANZ at F5 says:

The future of cyber isn’t resolved

Cybersecurity has been a precarious topic this year, and following a major state-based attack on the Australian public sector earlier this year, the Budget has delivered positive steps forward—but more needs to be done. We’ve seen a $42.4 million investment to improve security arrangements for critical infrastructure, and to assist critical infrastructure owners and operators respond to significant cyberattacks. Right now, however, public sector agencies need to take a proactive approach to security, leaning into talent, automation, AI, and machine learning to deliver adaptable, high-performing and secure applications that are a bedrock of today’s remote workforce.

The digitally-led landscape, will without a doubt, emphasise the need for security and visibility, especially in the Telco sector. In fact, our recent F5 State of Application Strategy Telecoms report found that 60 percent of organisations believe applying consistent security policies across all applications is the most challenging part of managing applications in a multi-cloud environment. It’s positive to see a $31.7 million investment over four years to enhance the security of Australia's mobile networks. However, it merely paves the way for organisations to double down on exploiting the benefits of 5G, and soon Edge computing, and invest in the right technology to ensure full visibility of their network.

Cloudflare on Cyber Security:

Raymond Maisano, Head of ANZ at Cloudflare says:

In one of the biggest spending Budgets we’ve seen in almost a decade, the overall investment in cybersecurity is pretty disappointing. The bolstering of Defence budgets and investments in education are great to see, but the Budget really doesn’t address what the Government said was such an immediate need.

On June 18, 2020, we heard Scott Morrison raise the alarm bells of Australia being attacked by a ‘sophisticated, state-based cyber-actor’. Yet here we are, nearly 12 months on, and no new funding has been allocated to help improve the cybersecurity resilience or posture of our nation.

The high-profile attacks of the last 12 months on the likes of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, Nine Entertainment Co., Bluescope Steel, UnitingCare, and even the Australian Parliament have not been enough to even solicit tax relief for businesses investing in cyber resilience.

Australia is a small portion of the world’s population, yet we are being hit by a relatively bigger share of cyber attacks. Government efforts to control cyber attacks can help to decrease the number of attacks—we’ve seen this in recent years with the likes of the Obama administration. With cyber attacks ramping up across the globe, maybe we need to wait for even more breaches to happen before a stronger investment in cybersecurity is made.

Investing in education through the cybersecurity innovation fund is exactly where the Government needed to start to address Australia’s growing cybersecurity skill gap. However, the technology industry won’t start to see the benefits of this for 5 to 15 years, so it’s on the industry to step up and take ownership of bringing in new talent to foster the new generation of cybersecurity experts. I, for one, welcome this; we’re happy to put our hand up to welcome new interns into our Australian offices.

F5 on AI:

Jason Baden, Regional Vice President, ANZ at F5:

It is encouraging to see the government investing $1.2 billion into the Digital Economy Strategy which includes a focus on the creation of the National Artificial Intelligence Centre to drive business adoption of AI technologies by coordinating Australia's AI expertise and capabilities.

Australian business stands to gain significantly from the adoption of new technologies including AI as, not only is AI efficient in app security, but without the right technology businesses struggle to unlock the full value of application insights to inform the critical decision-making necessary to adapt to rising customer expectations.

In the recently released 2021 State of Application Strategy report, F5 found that nearly three-quarters of survey respondents intend to leverage on AI to better utilise telemetry data, and more than half are looking toward AI to help their organisations transition to applications that can automatically adapt to better defend themselves and respond to changing threat conditions.”

Pluralsight on Digital Skills:

Mike Featherstone, Managing Director, APAC & ANZ at Pluralsight says:

Government has not provided the necessary support to grow digital skills in Australia

Digital transformation continues to drive change around the world with markets betting big on the digital economy and driving investment into upskilling workers. While there are some very encouraging signs in the 2021-22 Budget announcement including a $1.2 billion investment in the Digital Economy Strategy, a significant gap remains in the form of a clear pathway to technology skills development. Few things in business are predictable—as we’ve witnessed firsthand in the past year—but one thing is for certain: your tech strategy is your business strategy—and you can’t have a winning tech strategy without a mature skills strategy.

Neglecting the development of digital skills within Australia leaves the country reliant on attracting global talent that is both in high demand in every market, and unrealistic in our current climate bound by COVID’s restrictions on travel. While some investment has been made, much more will be required if Australia hopes to become a leading digital economy by 2030.

Rackspace Technology on Child Care Subsidy and STEM:

Emma Pudney, Chief Technology Officer APJ at Rackspace Technology says:

The Treasurer announced it's making a targeted investment in childcare to increase the affordability of childcare for low‑ and middle‑income families. With childcare an important driver of higher workforce participation and women’s economic security, this is a promising commitment. It’s going to give more parents – especially women, not only the choice to take on extra work but to continue to be “working mum"..

Women are faced with so many barriers when returning to work, including their own sense of guilt, the challenge of having the right skillset and competing in largely male dominated environments. Taking the cost of childcare out of the equation makes it one step easier for women to return to the workforce and establish successful careers.

It’s also encouraging to see a record investment in skills and training. Organisations also need to be incentivised to implement tangible programs that encourage women to return to the workforce after having children, and help cross-skill women into more technical roles. There are businesses out there that consult and can help companies develop strategies and programs to do this. Organisations should be rewarded for demonstrating tangible results in this space.

These changes strengthen our economy and provide greater choice to women.”

Smart WFM:

Jarrod McGrath, Author of The Digital Workforce and CEO of Smart WFM says:

The Federal Budget has committed unprecedented investment into the digital economy, manufacturing, infrastructure, aged care and skills. All eyes now turn to how it can deliver it in a meaningful way, and workforce management (WFM), which maximises performance levels and competency, will be a telling factor.

One of the key issues we see in the delivery of new technological services, in government organisations and enterprises, is failure to align those services with people and processes. This has created a range of issues including underpayment and industrial relations (IR) reform, issues which continue today.

Take for example the Government’s mandate to provide a minimum three hours and 20 minutes of care per day for person in residential care. Beyond the financial cost of delivering that, it will require an overhaul of enterprise bargaining agreements (EBA) for aged care staff, digital foundation skills training, new digital systems to track how care time is spent. Many providers still use paper-based systems to manage their workforce – that can’t happen anymore.

The building blocks are in place, but we can’t underestimate how important it is to apply modern WFM practice to the Government’s sectoral investment, ;skills training and digital economy. Doing so will ensure we don’t repeat past mistakes and create people-first digital transformation in Australia.

BlackBerry:

On critical infrastructure, Marjorie Dickman, BlackBerry's first Chief Government Affairs and Public Officer says:

With the government providing $42.4 million over two years from 2021-22 to improve security arrangements for critical infrastructure assets, it’s clear that critical infrastructure is a national security vulnerability for all nations, including Australia. Following the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and previous SolarWinds hack this year, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a gas pipeline or life-saving medical devices, securing critical embedded systems presents unique and complex challenges. Utility companies are more often investing in information technology to drive greater levels of efficiency, which means security can come second.

On top of this, cybersecurity attacks have ramped up in volume and ferocity since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago. These attacks should be a wakeup call for securing critical embedded systems. The Australian government is taking the right steps to keep the enemy out and ensure the country has good cyberhygiene practices in place, but unfortunately that’s not enough. There also needs to be cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions that can detect, protect and deter these sort of attacks in the future.

On healthcare, David Nicol, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, BlackBerry says:

With the government allocating half-a-billion dollars in spending on big-ticket digital delivery projects, including $200 million over two years for the myGov redevelopment and funding the Australian Digital Health Agency – we must ensure focus on the included cyber security initiatives and programs is maintained. We know cybercriminals are increasingly focussed on the healthcare sector, which is highly dependent on IT to run life-critical operations and also house some of the most sensitive data in existence.

Cybercriminal groups have discovered, particularly in this time of high pandemic related pressure, that healthcare providers around the world are very profitable ransomware targets for their financially motivated criminal activity. The healthcare sector is in need of comprehensive government support and programs to uplift cyber security skills and posture, in order to protect critical organisations, sensitive patient data, and ensure uninterrupted service delivery to patients.

On AI & cybersecurity, David Nicol adds:

With $53.8 million over four years from 2021-22 to drive and support SMEs to adopt and use transformative artificial intelligence technologies, and a focus on attracting and training AI specialists through national scholarships, we urge the government to include a focus on building high-value cyber security skills, particularly in areas such as threat hunting and using AI technology.

As part of the $1.2 billion investment in the digital economy, the government committed to expanding the cyber security innovation fund to train the next generation of cybersecurity experts. We urgently need to equip our cybersecurity experts with next generation tools and skills, leveraging AI to ensure that systems are effective and not labour intensive, in order to meet the cyber threat level that will only continue to grow.”

On secure comms, Nicol concludes:

Australia is currently lagging in recognising the significant risk in mobile communications. The announced $31.7m over four years announced is a great step. Government has the opportunity to lead the way by enabling public sector employees with already available sovereign and secure communications capabilities.

Swoop:

Alex West, CEO at Swoop on the Regional Mobile Blackspot Partnership:

Swoop welcomes the investment in regional Australia, but it would be great to see The Regional Mobile Blackspot Partnership extended to include more technologies, such as broadband, and not just mobile. As the population grows in regional Australia, so does the demand for reliable data services. It’s about building competition rather than helping larger carriers extend their network.

Furthermore, with 32% of the Australian population living outside of metro cities, high quality Internet is needed in order to help small businesses in mid-size regional locations service the population and compete on the same level playing field as those in metro cities.

EFEX:

Nick Sheehan, CEO at EFEX:

“It will be interesting to see if the support regarding the 170,000 new apprentices or trainees as part of the COVID-19 economic recovery plan pertains to technology and small businesses in regional Australia.”

“We need to be teaching young adults skills such as writing code, networking and IT infrastructure capability, cloud computing and cyber security, all of which are essential to help grow and support small businesses.”

"We have a plethora of talent in regional Australia, yet it’s being underutilised. We need to decentralise skills so that anyone in Australia, irrespective of where they live and their access to metropolitan cities, can explore the possibility of a career in technology.”

Rubrik:

Jamie Humphrey, Managing Director, Rubrik A/NZ says:

The Treasurer’s first words tonight were ‘Australia is coming back’. While many of the Budget’s commitments, including the $1.2 billion Digital Economy strategy, seek to accelerate the nation’s comeback, the increasing sophistication, proliferation, and brazenness of ransomware attackers could stop local businesses in their tracks. Recent ransomware attacks have shown just how critical data is to the operations of any enterprise – Channel Nine, Uniting Care Queensland, and Toll have all fallen victim and been taken offline.

Canberra’s announced National Data Security Action Plan is welcome, but it is critical that it does not focus purely on preventative controls. The truth is, there is no silver bullet to stop 100 per cent of all cyber-attacks – the Action Plan must look beyond perimeter defences and prioritise remediation to ensure critical services can be rapidly restored following an attack. While the post-pandemic recovery is under way, a data strategy that priorities rapid remediation will ensure Australia’s comeback can’t be derailed by international ransomware groups.

Nutanix:

Lee Thompson, Managing Director at Nutanix A/NZ says:

Supporting and encouraging young Australians to develop digital skills will be absolutely fundamental to Australia’s post-recession recovery and long-term economic success. The events of 2020 saw businesses across Australia embrace digital and multi-cloud operating models, but the skillsets needed to gain the most out of these investments are in incredibly short supply. While Government’s $58 million investment in the Digital Skills Cadetship Trials ($10.7 million) and Next Generation Graduates Programs ($47.3 million) are a welcome start, it will be some time until these bear fruit.

In the meantime, Australian enterprises face the immediate challenge of transforming and future-proofing their businesses. Automating low-level IT tasks can help in the interim, allowing businesses to gain the most out of their current resources – both human and digital – while also ensuring Australia’s future engineers enter a workforce that values and nurtures high-level skills, rather than just their ability to keep the lights on.

D2L:

Tony Maguire, Regional Director at D2L A/NZ says:

"The last 14 months have demonstrated the need to deconstruct, then reconstruct skilling and on-the-job training for Australian workers and workplaces. The Federal Budget’s $6.4 billion investment in creating jobs and uplifting skills, while welcome, is a critical starting point, not the end destination. The $216m over three years targeting skills in aged care and focussed on nursing scholarships is particularly welcome – we need to recognise the challenge in attracting and retaining skilled workers in this sector.

Many skills learned on the job are portable to dozens of others, and the attainment of these needs to be recognised through a national framework of skills-based micro-credentials developed in collaboration with the private, higher education, and vocational training sectors. This is particularly critical to achieve the Budget’s ambition to boost trades and apprentices, small business, and other skilled positions. Not for profit (NFP) providers like group training and employment organisations, with support, could be well placed to play a significant role in coalface initiatives."

InteliCare:

Jason Waller, CEO of AI-powered home monitoring solution for elderly Australians, InteliCare says:

"While the federal government announced some promising inclusions for aged care in the 2021 budget, we feel there is still a missed opportunity to do more

80,000 new home care packages to those who need it is an excellent step in the right direction, and so is the additional $10.8 million to design and plan a new support in home care program, but there are still gaps in the deployment and speed of which these initiatives are rolled out.

We welcome the targeted growth of assistive technology, however, these changes will take time. Specifically regarding the Multi-Purposes Services program, unfortunately the opportunities for rural and regional areas have been missed and the government could have done a lot more with technology that is available right now."

McAfee:

Sahba Idelkhani, Director of Systems Engineering, McAfee A/NZ:

The Budget highlights a healthy investment of $43.8 million over three years to expand the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation fund in effort to improve the number of high-skilled cybersecurity professionals in Australia. Any help provided to bolster the state of cyber skills right now is positive, but the Budget has fallen short to provide enough support needed for those wanting to enter the cyber workforce. The small pool of people allowed to apply for the proposed Next Generation Emerging Technologies Graduates Program isn’t nearly enough to solve today’s critical need for talent in the backdrop of a highly volatile threat environment accelerated by COVID-19.

We must also do our part to fill the skills shortage by looking beyond years of experience or qualifications in cyber to fill a role. Aptitude and soft skills are more important than specific experience, which can be taught, so it’s an organisations duty to change the way they hire, and do their part to address the cyber skills shortage. This is particular important today, given the recruitment of skilled migrants is halted—so we must focus on tapping into existing talent onshore.

Cognizant:

Jane Livesey, CEO of ANZ, Cognizant says:

Where the Budget falls short is in addressing the immediate shortage of digital skills, specifically in the areas of cloud engineering, data science and management, and front-end development. The demand for these skills is outstripping supply, and the salaries for such niche expertise has increased in excess of 30 per cent over the past six months.

Australia has relied on global talent to provide many of the critical technology skills, yet the need for local talent is increasing with borders being closed. It is positive to see the longer-term plans for building future digital skills, however, there is an immediate need to provide program to support young, technology literate Australians into digital apprenticeships. This combination of work and study provides the opportunity to grow the national pool of talent available to execute on the critical digital and cyber programs being undertaken in both the public and private sector.

On cyber security, Livesey says:

It is good to see the Budget build upon last year’s focus on improving the cybersecurity and digitisation of Government services. Recent media commentary has highlighted concerns relating to stability in Asia, and the threat posed to Australia from nation-states has heightened concerns for national security.

The spending plan acknowledges that one of the biggest threats to Australia’s national security is indeed cybersecurity. Fortunately, the Government has committed significant funding to programs to secure networks, systems, and most importantly, data. The private sector needs to equally take this as a clear signal to sufficiently prepare and budget for cybersecurity planning and protection. Many Australian organisations are under-prepared and lack the required knowledge and skills to build and executive the necessary programs. 

METS Ignited:

Adrian Beer, CEO, METS Ignited says:

Australia can realise enormous economic potential by shifting our focus from funding research that delivers individual outcomes to creating commercial solutions that provide industry-wide value. While tax concessions for patent developments, particularly in the clean energy sector, will play an important part of the opportunity, technology over tax will be the key support to rebuild our local technology vendor ecosystem.

By supporting our local vendors as the vehicle to convert research into economic value, we encourage further investment in our local research capability. This will provide access and attract the already very active VC community waiting in the wings, who strive to invest in products and services here in our local market.

Establishing Australia’s technology sector as a sustainable economic engine will shift our future dependency from the raw materials we produce, to the capabilities we have developed, supporting this large and complex industry that dominates our local economy. By productising and commercialising this innovation, Australia will realise the return on investment from the capabilities that have been created within our research sector.

Ivanti: 

On cyber security, Matthew Lowe, Area Vice President, ANZ at Ivanti says: 

The 2021-22 Australian Federal Budget demonstrates a commitment to securing our borders and our future. Unfortunately, while our physical borders are closed, we have left the country exposed to escalating cyber-attacks. The focus on cyber defence we saw in the Budget last year has not materialised so we continue to fall behind as a nation.

As the world becomes an increasingly dangerous place, we cannot afford to take a band aid approach to cyber security. Instead, government needs to invest in ensuring that our cyber defences continue to evolve and grow. According to recent research from Gartner, Australian organisations are expected to spend just over $4.9 billion on enterprise information security and risk management products and services this year, up 8 percent from 2020. COVID has caused many changes to the way we work over the last 12 months, remote working is here to stay and, as a country, we must be ready for the new complexities this introduces to cyber security.”

Avaya:

Simon Vatcher, MD Avaya A/NZ says:

The Federal Budget’s $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy, including initiatives like the digital skills cadetships and increases to job opportunities, will play a key role in padding the long-term impact of the pandemic and border closures, as well as existing skills restrictions that are now being addressed.

However to effectively plug skills shortages and tailor the Australian workforce to the needs of our economic recovery, we need to expand our focus. As well as targeting areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity, education and training need to be enabled to address fields like computer science and distributed education from the early stages – in schools via improved IT curricula – through to professional roles.

Meanwhile, Australian organisations are increasing investments in adapting to the digital economy; strategies are focused on simplifying technology estates and modernising daily operations through automation, AI and advanced technologies. The digital-aligned budget, underscored by infrastructure and skills, will support those ambitions, and contribute to a broader transformation of the economy.

Verizon Business Group:

Robert Le Busque, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific Verizon Business Group says:

On digital infrastructure:

Investing $1.2 billion in digital infrastructure is welcome, but there is more to do. With this $1.2 billion allocation on digital infrastructure, focused investment on the tech skills that will fuel the digital economy is also important. There is an opportunity to be more focused in areas of budget allocation.

On economic recovery:

The Australian government will provide $1.2 billion over five years from 2020-21 to improve Australia's capability to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters. Technology plays a critical role in supporting the broader economic recovery effort. In both response and recovery.

There is an urgent need for Australia to direct technology investment towards automation, new wireless connectivity solutions (like 5G) and industry and government collaboration to apply technology more directly to areas such as smart manufacturing, large scale automation and better security for cloud based applications and technologies.

These technologies have a vital role to play in transforming industries that will fuel economic recovery and growth – from manufacturing all the way to fintech

On mobile network & connectivity:

While the federal budget includes $31.7 million over four years from 2021-22 to enhance the security of Australia's mobile networks, there is a broader requirement to continue to invest in building stronger cyber security capability and protections across consumer, business and government sectors. As network density and connections increase with the new and emerging technologies, the attack surface for cyber threats also expands.

The budget mandate to future proof Australia's current and future connectivity is vital to ensuring a robust economy, but there is more that can be done to invest in and build cyber security capability and resiliency.

ArchTIS:  

Daniel Lai, ArchTIS CEO says:

The $42.4 million allocation on infrastructure spend to the Department of Home Affairs in the event of a cyber-attack is a fantastic first step in recognising the serious and real threat of a data breach, but its reactive, and falls short of addressing the critical proactive steps to stop a cyber-attack in the first place,” Mr Lai said.

What I think industry would like to see is allocating budget towards preventing a cyber-attack in the first instance, once a breach has occurred, it’s really too late. This could be in the form of rebates or other tax breaks to incentivise Industry to address this critical national issue that was most recently highlighted by the cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline in the US this week.

Contino:

Denham Pinder, Director of Customer Success, Contino says:

It’s encouraging to see that the Australian Government is putting in the necessary frameworks at the highest level to bring together an overarching and comprehensive digital economy strategy which includes building the necessary foundations, the infrastructure, skills, regulations and compliance. The plan brings together a number of data strategies for example Digital Atlas that will play a foundation piece and the consumer data right (CDR) as an example of the digital framework, in addition to a digital identity system and the upskilling 15,000 new digital cadets.

CDR or open banking has transformed how banks offer products and services across the world. By democratising data through information sharing, the CDR has levelled the playing field for competitors and new digital-first banks are entering the market. Now, customers can access information that enables better decision-making when purchasing products and services, allowing them to easily switch between service providers.

We have been working with the banking industry to implement their open banking strategies and are now discussions with some large players in the energy sector around open energy, so it's great to see the Government aligned. This strategy is a great stake in the ground to work towards, and will set Australia up for the future. 

In addition, the acceleration of funding of startups is a positive move to encourage more innovation and disruption. We want to create localised competition which brings high velocity and a level of urgency to legacy players who are forced to take notice.

Commvault:

David Rajkovic, Area Vice President of Sales for Australia and New Zealand, Commvault:

The 2021-22 Federal Budget announcement demonstrated a strong commitment to unlocking the full potential of the digital economy. The Government’s Digital Economy Strategy sets out how Australia will strengthen its future as a leading digital economy and society over the years leading to 2030.

The Strategy recognises the Government’s enabling role in growing the digital economy to deliver better outcomes for all and drive broader transformation through investment in digital infrastructure, skills, digital trade agreements, cyber security and world class systems and regulations. There are also investments to build capability in emerging technologies and digital growth priorities for the economy.

The 2020 Budget included a significant commitment to ensuring the country’s cyber security. It is not clear from last night’s announcements whether these commitments will be maintained or bolstered. Maintaining this commitment and deploying the right technology to protect data assets is critical to ensure that Australia maintains its position as a leading global market for international business.

Qlik:

Paul Leahy, Country Manager, ANZ at Qlik:

The Australian government’s commitment to accelerating the rollout of the Consumer Data Right is a significant step forward for Australian consumers and businesses. Consumers will benefit from having greater access and control over their data, in addition to it becoming easier for them to switch between service and utility providers

Businesses will be able to create a more competitive market for consumers, and the significant investment into the Consumer Data Right will also drive innovation by supporting Australian businesses in their global expansion efforts.

The move to launch a pilot program to make the Australian Government’s data assets discoverable and support whole-of-economy reuse is another positive development. Recent Qlik research revealed that 40 percent of public sector Chief Data Officers across Australia plan to prioritise publishing open data sets in 2021.

Opening up data is not only critical for providing an improved range of services to citizens, but as Australia’s pandemic response has demonstrated, open sharing of data can improve health outcomes and make it easier for governments to make critical decisions based on the most accurate data in real-time.

Airwallex:

Craig Rees, VP, Global Head of Platform at Airwallex:

The future of business is digital-first, with organisations now unlocking new revenue streams and capitalising on the global economy. The government’s digital economy strategy affirms how essential new technologies are in driving efficient, profitable and sustainable business operations, for the private sector and government alike.

It’s critical this momentum is maintained. Innovative technology solutions developed by fintechs and the wider startup community not only kept Australian businesses alive and afloat during the pandemic, but allowed new industries to flourish.

In the 1800s gold rush, it wasn’t the gold miners who made a fortune. It was those selling the picks and shovels; the enablers. COVID has introduced a new raft of enabler businesses which are bridging operational gaps - payments infrastructure for example - allowing businesses to transition online which would have otherwise collapsed.

Policy support for emerging startups must continue to shore up economic growth and recovery post-COVID and beyond.

The Adecco Group and Modis Australia:

Preeti Bajaj, Regional Managing Director A/NZ, The Adecco Group and Modis Australia:

The recently announced Digital Economy Strategy is a welcome step in the right direction. As mentioned by the Government, every business in Australia must now think of itself as a digital business in order to survive and thrive. Currently, Australia ranks 13th on the Global Innovation Index and we need this investment to not only grow but keep pace with the global landscape.

Over the next five years, it is estimated that we will need 6.5 million extra digital workers in Australia. If we don’t use this time to change the education system in a diverse and equitable fashion, we fall behind and miss out on billions in economic growth.

The accelerated digital transformation that will come from this investment has the potential to help us rethink our industry, create greater value, and will eventually lead to higher participation of the workforce and in turn a high-value economy.

Historically we have considered education as an expense, but we need to move the conversation to agility and micro-credentialing to create jobs that will support the economy of the future. The $100 million to support digital skills as part of this program will help enable this shift and new models such as General Assembly will support this evolution.

Long has Australia been known as an exporter economy, we need to pivot and do the hard work to become a knowledge intensive exporting economy and I do believe this Strategy will help us get there.

We understand that the nature of the investment into initiatives to build and drive the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have the potential to impact on the capabilities of Australian businesses to drive positive outcomes for our communities.

The power of AI will enable new capabilities that will drive tangible results, not possible by legacy systems. At Modis, we have partnered with the biggest hyperscale cloud providers and leading automation solution vendors to apply practical automation and AI technology to support communities and business outcomes.

The Digital Economy Strategy as a whole will also spur the start of the people led technology infused economy where we will finally begin preparing for the new world of work.

Coupa:

Stuart O'Neill, APAC MD:

Procurement and supply chain management solution provider Coupa says the Budget’s Office of Supply Chain Resilience announcement falls short, and that it “needs teeth and details on application of advanced tech.” The commentary is a bit too long to add to this story, which is already super long, so you can see the details of what O'Neill said here.

AIIA:

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) CEO Ron Gauci says:

We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the technology at the core of the Australian health system. We are pleased that the Morrison Government has taken our recommendation to implement a patent box, ensuring that business is able to receive tax incentives to ensure that IP is developed locally. It’s understandable that MedTech and BioTech are the first beneficiaries, we will work to ensure that these incentives are extended to other areas of the ICT industry.

The AIIA recognises the Federal Government’s $100 million allocation towards the development of digital skills in the workforce, including the creation of cadetships. We represent the technology employers of Australia so we look forward to working with the Government to deliver its Digital Cadetship policy to ensure that people can embark on their digital careers and build skills and capability.

With long held skills shortages in Australia’s ICT sector, the AIIA’s Skills Hub is one measure to help improve the supply of skilled Australian workers as well as mapping employee skills to career pathways and relevant training courses. The AIIA Skills Hub is in active discussions with an additional 15 universities and TAFEs as well as industry courses from leading technology companies. Once these are onboarded, the AIIA Skills Hub will exceed 5,000 courses available to members by the end of 2021.
 


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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