After operating a joint venture in China for more than seven years SecureNet has begun reaping the benefits in the form of multimillion dollar orders for hardware and software components of its e-commerce trust platform. A contract worth $A8 million that was signed late last year has now been eclipsed by a further contract thought to be worth more than $A9 million.
Geoffrey Ross, managing director of SecureNet, said the latest contract was an indication of the potential of the Chinese IT market, which is being stimulated by rapid growth in the use of the Internet, the country's admission to the World Trade Organisation and "vigorous modernisation and globalisation" of the Chinese economy.
"It is projected that Internet use in China will equal that of USA and Europe by 2010," Ross said. "This will be accompanied by an explosion of Internet-based services established by government, banks, and equities trading organisations, creating a huge market for Internet security solutions."
SecureNet now has two joint ventures in China and is undertaking a number of projects in partnership with some of the major pan-Asian banking, IT&T and Internet organisations, Ross said. The company already generates almost half its revenue from the region.
MXL pushes into Chinese colleges
Listed developer MXL has also made inroads into the Chinese market by selling its College Management Software to a college associated with Shandong University.
"The Chinese market is massive and the sector CMS targets is expanding rapidly," noted Richard Carey, founder of CMS. "Shandong is our first foot in the door and there is no other management product to support this booming industry.
"This year's CMS budget is fairly challenging and while we were optimistic about reaching our target by focusing on the UK and Canada, the China opportunity is a bonus," Carey added.
The company is now working on multilingual versions of CMS to cater for Mandarin and Hindi speakers.
Optus signs up for Objective ASP servicesCable & Wireless Optus has become a customer of the managed ASP service offered by recently listed company Objective Corporation. Under the terms of the $A1 million deal, the professional services group of Optus will use the Objective service to manage information on major outsourcing contracts. A spokesman said the service will allow Optus to share project knowledge with its customers by providing them with authorised access to the system.
The spokesman added that the managed ASP service enables corporate customers to use Objective's Enterprise Knowledge Management software as an operating rather than a capital expense.
Goodman Fielder turns to renamed ComputronAustralian food company Goodman Fielder has adopted the AXSPoint Fusion management information system from Computron Software, which has just changed its name to AXS-One. The product was initially used to consolidate sales results from three totally disparate systems, enabling a single view of customers, showing average sales by product groupings and allowing distribution of reports to users around the country.
Goodman Fielder is now also using the software's TCR2000 module for taxation reporting to the Australian Tax Office. "Not only does TCR2000 automate this entire process, but it gives us the security of providing the necessary checks and balances, and of course provides an audit train to substantiate our figures," explained John Richardson, GST project manager for Goodman Fielder.
The company also intends to begin using the software for statistical reporting to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. "We estimate that automating this entire process will free up at least two man-weeks each month," Richardson said.
ANCA takes up IP telephony
Australian industrial equipment exporter ANCA has switched to an IP communications system, including telephony, from Cisco Systems. The system includes some 100 IP phone handsets and Cisco's Call Manager 3.0 server-side product for managing phone calls over IP networks. ANCA expects the switch to IP to provide cost reductions and to offer other efficiencies.
"Reducing our telecommunications costs will increase our international competitiveness and make our location in Australia even less of an obstacle to doing business around the world," claimed Pat Boland, ANCA's managing director.
He explained that the system was installed when the company moved into a new building that had no wiring in place and was slightly too far from other premises to work with the existing PABX system. Had a new PABX system been installed the company would have incurred the cost of a local call each time a call was made between buildings.
"The solution was IP," Boland explained. "By placing fibre optic cable between the new and old buildings and installing Cisco Call Manager we could run all the phones in the new building off the existing PABX. At around $A100,000, including all the IP phone handsets, the solution was already cheaper than a single new PABX."
ANCA has also moved its international data network to Internet carrier UUNet and uses spare capacity on that network for international phone calls. "Our international call costs will basically go down to zero since we're already paying for the data network," noted Stuart Richards, ANCA's IT manager.
Construction companies plan online exchangeAndersen Consulting and Deutsche Bank are working with 10 Australian construction companies on the development of an e-commerce exchange for the building and construction industry.
"By world standards the Australian construction industry is relatively small, so to capitalise on the potential benefits it is imperative that we co-operate and ensure that the exchange is accessible to the whole industry," explained Bill West, chairman of a steering committee that has been set up to implement the exchange. "The service we envisage is a one-stop shop that will provide all companies with the opportunity to procure goods and services, manage their projects, and access a range of other services relevant to the industry.
"The goal is to create an open neutral exchange adding value for all participants in the industry, including owners, architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers and subcontractors via a Web-enabled re-engineering of the project delivery process," West added.
The committee is now conducting a feasibility study to consider the final business model to be adopted by the venture. It will also make decisions about the technology or platform that will support the exchange.
Companies involved in the venture are Barclay Mowlem, Baulderstone Hornibrook, Clough, Henry Walker Eltin, John Holland, Leighton Contractors, Leighton Holdings, Theiss, Transfield Group and Walter Construction.
Sausage wraps up Spicers deal
Spicers Paper has agreed to use the ePronto application from Sausage Software as the basis for a range of e-commerce systems, including real time online customer transactions. Implementation of the additional systems is expected to take place over three months.
A spokesman for Spicers said the additional systems will expand customer options for interactive business-to-business activities, including improvements to the placing, processing and tracking of customer orders.
Govt forges IT links with India
Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Government covering co-operation between the information industries of the two countries. One of the outcomes of the MOU will be the formation of the Australia India Information Industries Business Network, convened by Neville Roach, chairman of Fujitsu Australia, to encourage business collaboration between Australian and Indian IT companies.
A spokesman for Vaile said Austrade has already received more than 60 expressions of interest from companies keen to join the network and will hold a series of meetings with them in November.
Vaile claimed the AIIIBN will provide a channel for direct communication between IT businesses in Australia and India, encourage new relationships as the two IT communities learn more about their respective strengths, and create reciprocal market opportunities.
Coincidentally, Fujitsu recently won a deal worth $US15 million to become the exclusive provider of Cobol software and associated video training to the Indian Computer Institute Association. The package will be made available to the ICIA's 2000 member colleges and universities from next year.
Appeals judges tackle techno-speak
The judges of the US Court of Appeals who will hear Microsoft's appeal against the antitrust ruling are planning a special hearing designed to give them a basic education on computers before they confront the technical issues raised in the case. The judges notified Microsoft and the Department of Justice that they want to call in Michael Hites, chief technology officer of the Illinois Institute of Technology to "conduct a review session on the fundamentals of automation".
A court spokesman said Hites will cover elementary computing terms and concepts. "RAM, hard drive, wide-area networks - basic, basic stuff". A date has not yet been set for the special hearing, which may be closed to the public.