KAZ sniffs sweet success in regional deal

Australian outsourcing company KAZ has been awarded a three-year outsourcing contract covering the provision of IT services throughout the Asia/Pacific region for fragrance and flavour manufacturer Givaudan, which has its regional headquarters in Singapore. The deal involves the provision of facilities management, disaster recovery and IT help desk services for 700 users in an area that extends from India to Tokyo and beyond to Auckland, a spokesman explained. Givaudan runs IBM AS/400 systems, and so forms a good fit for KAZ's primary service offerings.

"As a business we have chosen to outsource a number of operational activities where we do not add sufficient value," explained John Weatherburn, regional finance director for Givaudan. "Our production systems will sit in the KAZ Singapore data centre where multilingual KAZ help desk staff will support our users throughout the region."

Weatherburn added that he did not regard cost savings as the prime motivation for outsourcing. "What we have is management time freed up to add value to the business," he explained. "Answering IT support telephone calls and discussing the next hardware upgrade is just not our business or our main concern.

"The arrangement has already provided us with greater security, given us more time to concentrate on the business and minimised the problems we were experiencing."

Hansen picks up British billing order

Hansen Technologies, an ASX-listed supplier of billing solutions to the telecommunications and utilities industries, has won an order from the UK for its Hub unified energy billing system. A statement released by the company said a letter of intent had been entered into by Hansen's subsidiary in England and "the UK subsidiary of an international energy company with over $US21 billion in sales".

The statement said Hansen expects final agreement to be reached within two months, and the billing system will be expected to go live early in 2001.

"This transaction validates our strategy of developing an integrated billing solution for the energy market," claimed Andrew Hansen, the managing director of Hansen Technologies. "In terms of deregulation and competition the UK market is one of the most advanced in the world and we are proud that an Australian company's technology is viewed as a best-of-breed solution in the market. We anticipate demand for integrated and cost-effective billing solutions will continue to be strong."

In the telecommunications arena Hansen's clients include Telstra, WorldCom and British Telecom.

Tubemakers puts distribution online

Steel products manufacturer Tubemakers has launched its Business Partner Access e-commerce system for the sale and distribution of its products in Australia. The Web-based system provides 24-hour access to a catalogue of more than 15,000 products and allows potential buyers to browse through product specs using a number of search critieria, request quotes, buy goods and amend delivery instructions.

Alan Dean, Tubemakers' vice president of marketing, noted there are benefits to both buyers and to Tubemakers. "Customers trialling the software have indicated that the 24/7 access is a huge advantage, freeing them from the inconvenient and inflexible business hours of traditional suppliers," he explained. Dean added that customers' procurement costs could be reduced by as much as 15 per cent when administrative functions associated with the buying process are eliminated. "Couple these to the faster reaction times that B2B offers and one can see the true benefits this form of trading can offer Tubemakers' customers," he said.

Dean added that the benefits to Tubemakers include reduced transaction costs, fewer errors and less waste as the lines of communication are reduced, the opportunity to quit surplus or damaged material, and an ability to gain a better understanding of a customer's real needs.

NSW wants to build giant online hub

The NSW Government has called for expressions of interest for the development of an electronic marketplace for government procurement. Morris Iemma, Minister for Public Works and Services, whose department (DPWS) is in charge of the tender process, said the government now spends more than $A4 billion on buying goods and services. "The electronic marketplace presents government with the opportunity for substantial efficiency gains and savings," he noted.

The new marketplace will aim to bring together suppliers and customers, and will allow buyers to browse, order and pay online for common goods and services, Iemma added. Government agencies will also be able to tailor the marketplace to meet their own purchasing guidelines and requirements.

Following an evaluation of the expressions of interest, the DPWS will issue a restricted request for tender before the end of this year. "DPWS will be seeking innovative and forward-thinking solutions from respondents with the view to forming strategic alliances with the private sector to achieve the best outcomes for NSW," Iemma concluded.

Expressions of interest will be received by the department until October 26. Details from http://tenders.dpws.nsw.gov.au.

Defence turns to IBA's health system

The Australian Department of Defence has awarded a contract for the provision of health information software for the Australian Defence Force to IBA Technologies. The $A2 million contract covers the provision of the MaxCare clinical care software worldwide.

"The ADF contract for outpatient health information systems and electronic health records will provide Defence with everything it needs to operate clinics in all its Australian and overseas locations via the ADF secure network," explained Gary Cohen, executive chairman of IBA.

He added that the MaxCare suite is fully portable and will be constantly available wherever Australian troops are stationed. The software will initially be deployed at three Victorian ADF sites belonging to the Army, Navy and Airforce, before being replicated throughout all ADF sites in Australia and overseas.

The software is also being used by the Singapore Defence Forces to provide clinical management and outpatient records systems, Cohen said.

Microsoft case comes to push and shove

Now that the US Supreme Court has ruled that Microsoft's appeal against the antitrust finding against it must be heard in the Court of Appeals, the two parties to the dispute are jostling to try and decide when the hearing should take place.

Microsoft has asked for 60 days to file its appeal briefs plus another 30 days to file a response to the government's arguments. It claimed it needs plenty of time to work out its appeal so that it is able to detail the errors it believes coloured Judge Thomas Penfold Jackson's earlier findings.

The Department of Justice doesn't want to have a bar of any delays. It claims Microsoft has already had plenty of time to prepare for its appeal and argues that the process should be expedited, not slowed. Judge Jackson entered his final order on June 7.

The DoJ also complained about the length of Microsoft's appeal briefs, which are claimed to be "four times the length" allowed by Federal law. "This is an appeal, not a retrial," the DoJ noted.

Briefs from the news desk

Bullant, the Sydney company that has developed Zero Friction scalable client/server technology, which is claimed to overcome problems with Internet servers that grind to a halt when hit by a sudden surge of users, has been invited to demonstrate its technology at the eXCHANGE conference hosted by Intel in the US. In June Bullant received a $A3.7 million Australian Government commercialisation loan to help with its software development efforts.

A Centre for Quantum Computer Technology has been opened at the University of NSW for use by researchers from UNSW, as well as the Universities of Melbourne and Queensland. The facility will also have links to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US. Professor Robert Clark, director of the centre, said the Australian researchers had developed a process breakthrough a few months ago and have moved to patent it in order to "protect the valuable intellectual property for Australia".

The alliance between Internet directory specialist LookSmart and British Telecom has won results in Europe, where BT LookSmart has Expanded an agreement with Excite to provide directories for eight countries;Agreed to provide search services to British fashion and lifestyle e-tailer Zoom.co.uk; andBeen signed up as the primary directory service provider for meta-search-engine supplier Surfboard Holdings.

The US Navy's huge intranet outsourcing deal has come unstuck. Navy officials had planned to award the $US12 billion Navy/Marine Corps Intranet project by the end of September (Insider Edition section of The Rust Report, Sep 22), but have been thwarted by several members of Congress whose districts are home to Navy supply depots and ship yards. The delays could have serious consequences and lead to a shortening of the test phase of the project "by one day for each day of delay".

Nortel has won the job of managing a voice-over-IP backbone network in Europe and North America for Cable & Wireless. The deal is expected to be worth at least $US1.5 billion over the next 10 years.

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