Positive signs for remote banking deal

Western Australian facilities management company Positive Technologies has won a contract to support the Office Banking Services (OBS) function of the Bank of Western Australia. OBS is described as a PC-based software application that provides a direct link to the bank and allows users to manage their accounts, transfer funds and undertake account reconciliation in real time, a spokesman explained.

Under the terms of the contract Positive will be responsible for the installation of OBS software and hardware at the BankWest client sites throughout Western Australia, and will deliver onsite and help desk training for OBS users. That work was previously carried out by one of the bank's business units.

Positive has also been asset manager of BankWest's rapidly expanding network of about 700 EFTPOS terminals since 1998. Positive listed on the ASX in May after raising $A6 million through its IPO.

Minister strikes out at fear-mongerers

A campaign to spread false claims and "sow the seeds of fear" in the staff of CSIRO and other science agencies was attacked with a vengeance this week by John Fahey, Minister for Finance and Administration. In taking a swing at "some members of the CSIRO Staff Association" who had been scathing in their criticism of the government's Group 9 outsourcing plans Fahey claimed there had been a "concerted campaign directed at establishing that outsourcing will compromise CSIRO's capacity for scientific research".

Scientists from CSIRO and other agencies plan to hold protests later this month to coincide with the opening of the Discovery education centre by the Prime Minister. The scientists claimed the outsourcing will stifle their creativity and remove their control over research IT systems.

Fahey, however, claimed that research capacity will not be impaired by the outsourcing because only "off-the-shelf IT infrastructure" will be involved. "Outsourcing will not involve the transfer of responsibility for specialist research systems to the outsourcer", Fahey claimed. "It is worth highlighting that the overriding objective of the IT Infrastructure Initiative is that the integrity of the agencies' IT systems is maintained," he added.

"The IT Infrastructure Initiative will allow our world class scientists to concentrate on their particular fields of endeavour instead of being distracted by having to undertake basic IT infrastructure tasks".

Raytheon ready to run Naval training

The Royal Australian Navy will enter negotiations with Raytheon Systems Company Australia for the provision of electronic warfare training services. Raytheon won the 10 year contract, which is expected to be worth about $A60 million, ahead of four other bidders.

A spokesman said the contract is for the provision of an updated electronic warfare training capability. Raytheon must also provide, on a privately financed basis, the platform, equipment and resources needed to deliver the full training services throughout Australia and to units deployed in South-East Asia.

Aristocrat adopts Aust call centre smartsAristocrat Technologies Australia plans to adopt an Australian-developed call centre system in its operations around the world. The system was based on Remedy front office help desk software and was implemented by Planwell Technology in partnership with CTI Communications, which listed on the ASX in June.

The system will in the future be extended by the implementation of additional technologies to increase its capabilities, including CTI's Apropos Interaction Management Solution, which provides computer-telephony integration with a variety of media, including the Internet, e-mail, fax and voice.

Ian Williams, Aristocrat's manager for client services, said the Remedy implementation is the first step in a complete international standardisation of Aristocrat's help desk and customer relationship strategy. Williams added that Aristocrat had been running disparate systems throughout its international offices and is now streamlining operations to provide compatibility between all systems in all countries. Aristocrat has offices in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa, New Zealand and the Asia/Pacific region.

SPL wins $A3 million utility order

SPL WorldGroup has won a contract worth about $A3 million to replace an asset management system and a geographical information system for gas supplier Envestra. A spokeswoman said Envestra owns about 17,000 km of distribution networks around Australia and some 1200 km of transmission pipelines delivering natural gas to more than 85,000 customers.

SPL will implement the PSDI Maximo asset management package and a spatial solution from Smallworld. GeoData will provide GIS integration expertise, with SPL taking overall responsibility for project management and systems integration.

Peg picks up healthy POS order

Listed company Peg Technology has completed a pilot POS and inventory management project for the Australian operations of US vitamin and nutrition supplement supplier General Nutrition Centres. A spokesman said GNC has more than 4000 company and franchised stores around the world, but has only recently set up in Australia after acquiring local vitamin manufacturer DFC Thompson.

With the successful pilot behind it, Peg will provide a total POS and inventory system for GNC. "Peg Technology is encouraged by GNC's expansion to date and expects the roll out of GNC stores in Australia to be at a high rate as the company has stated it intends to continue to grow as the world's largest company of its kind," a spokesman claimed.

Nextgen to string a fibre round AustraliaNextgen Networks, a business venture backed by Leighton Contractors and Macquarie Bank, plans to create an 8400 km optic fibre network linking Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. The project, valued at about $A850 million, will include technology and services from Lucent Technologies.

A spokesman said the network will be capable of providing data transmission speeds from 155M-bits/sec to 10G-bits/sec, with an initial network capacity of 400G-bits/sec. It will offer cost-competitive, high quality bandwidth services to domestic and international carriers, ISPs, major corporations and government users. The spokesman added that the network is also expected to provide many regional centres with access to a range of high bandwidth services that were previously unavailable to them.

Nextgen expects to be awarded a telecommunications carrier licence within weeksNews briefsWestpac and Telstra have joined forces to provide a WAP Internet banking service which is claimed to be "the first working model in the Australian marketplace". The service will allow users of WAP-enabled mobile phones to view their accounts, check balances and transfer funds. "With 82 per cent of our Internet customer base telling us they are interested in using the WAP service for Internet banking, we are looking forward to fulfilling the pent-up demand," a spokesman claimed.

The Federal Government's Office of Asset Sales and IT Outsourcing is developing a database of companies capable of delivering corporate services to the Commonwealth public sector. A spokeswoman said the database may be provided to government departments and agencies to help their market testing processes. Details at www.oasito.gov.au or inquiries to winnie.kwok@oasito.gov.auInternet technology developer MultiEmedia has entered a million dollar licensing agreement for its Zone Studio product with Greek company E-on Integration, which will market the product in Greece, Cyprus, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania and Yugoslavia. Zone Studio software enables people without any knowledge of HTML to create and maintain Web sites and has been incorporated into the ANZ bank's Web site as a value-added service for its SME base.

ISIS Communications has launched its EdgeNet product which allows organisations to develop a virtual private TV network featuring tailored on-demand information and using existing networks. The product is based on the Self Organising Distributed Architecture from US company SightPath, which was recently acquired by Cisco Systems. A spokesman said the first market for EdgeNet will be in the online learning services arena.

Briefs from abroad

Microsoft received some unwanted news from Europe last week when the European Commission charged the company with abusing its position in the PC operating systems market to gain an advantage over competitors in the server software market. The commission claimed that Microsoft had breached European Union rules by engaging in discriminatory licensing and by refusing to give some of its competitors sufficient information about Windows interfaces.

EDS has led its Affinity consortium to success in the UK Government's ACCORD outsourcing contract for the Department of Social Security. The work covers the development and operation of DSS IT systems, which currently consume a budget of $US300 million a year, and the transfer of about 1500 IT services staff.

The US Government has relaxed restrictions on the export of high-performance computers by doubling the performance level of computers that may be sold to the so-called tier 3 countries, which include India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. The new regulations have also dropped the distinction between military and civilian customers.

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