Govt agency dumps SAP for home-grown solution

Queensland's Corporate Administration Agency (CAA) has asked for - and been granted - permission to replace government-mandated SAP financial systems with an alternative developed by ASX-listed company Technology One. The incentive to drop SAP financials in favour of the Finance One product was forecast savings of up to $A2.5 million over the next five years, and the decision to change was made as the agency faced the need to undertake a costly upgrade of the SAP software.

"With the amount we would have had to outlay for the upgrade we couldn't see any return on investment for our clients," explained Mike Burnheim, director of CAA. "We did a comprehensive comparison study with figures from Technology One which demonstrated we could achieve a positive return by migrating to Finance One."

The CAA comes within the Arts portfolio and provides a range of corporate services to several statutory bodies and agencies in Queensland. Finance One is now being implemented throughout the CAA and its eight agencies - including the State Library of Queensland, the Criminal Justice Commission and the Queensland Board of Secondary Schools - in order to go live in November. The software has already been operating in some sections of the Department of Communication, Information, Local Government, Planning and Sport since July 1 under a fast track installation needed to meet GST reporting requirements.

Burnheim noted that SAP's software was more appropriate to large organisations than to the CAA's operations. "It was very much a horses for courses argument where we acknowledged that a large and complex system like SAP may be fine for the bigger end of government, but for the midrange and smaller government agencies of between 150 to 50 users it is like using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut," Burnheim explained.

"We're only a small fish in a big pond, but we're demonstrating how you can do things a little smarter," he concluded.

Oakton backs Unisys at NSW Police

Recently listed developer Oakton Computing has joined forces with Unisys Australia to build a Complaints and Administration Management System for the NSW Police. The system will provide an Internet-enabled method of handling police complaints, and will provide a database to facilitate the recording, management and reporting of complaints against police. The system is expected to be under development for 16 months and to be worth more than $A5 million.

Oakton had earlier built the e@gle.i Internet-enabled investigation management system, including workflow management, for NSW Police, and the two systems are expected to be able to interact. "There are excellent synergies between CAMS and e@gle.i.

Together these systems will achieve much better efficiencies," explained Paul Holyoake, a joint managing director of Oakton.

Keystone signs up big law firm

Aggressive Kiwi company Keystone, which has its shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, has chalked up a big name ally in its battle against local practice management player Solution 6. A spokesman claimed that Allen Allen & Hemsley and its 400-odd lawyers have gone live with the Keystone Professional package "on time and on budget after an aggressive six month implementation". The project is believed to be valued at about $A7 million.

The spokesman added that the firm wanted to put a set of "thinking tools" in the hands of its fee earners, eliminate duplication of work between offices, improve conflict management, and manage marketing information. "The need for leading-edge technology was driven by the pace of change in the ways clients wanted services delivered plus universal demands for more information and requirements for managing projects of increasing complexity," he said.

Allen Allen & Hemsley is running Keystone Professional on a Sun platform using an Oracle database. It also runs Microsoft desktop applications on Windows NT.

Kiwi developer wins US toy giant

Just as New Zealand e-commerce group Genie Systems was launching its operation in Australia it picked up a contract to supply its OrderWare supply chain management system to US toy retailer Toys ‘R' Us. Genie will work with the retailer's Babies ‘R' Us division, which operates 136 stores in the US.

"Toys ‘R' Us are currently restructuring their retail strategy and they were looking for an application that was Web-based, that could be implemented in a tight time frame and was instrumental in helping them achieve a more efficient delivery service," explained Mike Hendry, Genie's US-based CEO.

He added that the OrderWare application will be used within the Babies ‘R' Us Guest Fulfilment Systems to enable the handling of special order types and complex procurement activities.

US observers believe the sale will give Genie considerable kudos in the US, where it is perceived to come up against big hitters like Ariba and CommerceOne, although Hendry said it is aiming a smaller market that those players cannot easily service.

Intellect chalks up fourth US order

Australian smart card specialist Intellect has won a fourth order for its mobile payment system in just eight months through its US partnership and distribution agreement with CSI/Linkpoint. The latest order brings total shipments to CSI/Linkpoint to more than 6000 units with a value of more than $A7.5 million.

"This has proved to be a very successful partnership, giving Intellect and LinkPoint a leadership position in the delivery of portable payment terminals into the US marketplace," explained David Campoy, Intellect's sales manager for Canada, Americas and southern Europe.

Linkpoint has a strategic alliance with First Data Corp (FDC), which provides card issuing and merchant transaction processing services for 1.7 million merchants and 1400 financial institutions and is proving a valuable customer.

"Intellect's wireless payment terminal enables companies such as FDC to drive more traffic across their networks, capturing more transactions because of its ability to be used anywhere, any time and with any card service," Campoy said.

Drop the case, Microsoft tells Supreme Court When it was Microsoft's turn to address the US Supreme Court about the progress of its antitrust case this week, the giant developer predictably argued against a direct hearing by the Supreme Court on the grounds that there is no legal precedent or pressing need to expedite the case. Microsoft had been known to favour a hearing by the US Court of Appeals, which is expected to be more sympathetic to its claims.

Microsoft argued this week that there is no need to accelerate the case through the courts and that the Supreme Court would benefit from an initial review by the Court of Appeals because of the complex nature of Microsoft's appeal. The company then denied claims by the Department of Justice that it wanted to prolong the case. "No-one is more anxious that Microsoft to see this case brought to a prompt conclusion," the company's submission claimed. "But the benefits of comprehensive review by the Court of Appeals far outweigh whatever time, if any, might be saved by direct review in this court."

The Supreme Court is expected to decide by mid-September whether it will hear the case.

Watchdog questions readiness of ADSL providersThe Australian Competition and Consumer Commission claims it is investigating "closely" how Telstra is offering competitors services that would allow them to provide high-speed Internet services over Telstra's copper network. But it is also concerned that those same competitors are dragging the chain while blaming Telstra for their own tardiness.

The ACC has been receiving weekly reports from Telstra and may take action if they indicate the carrier is trying to gain an anticompetitive advantage, noted Professor Allan Fels, chairman of the ACCC. Fels was not entirely critical of Telstra, however, and noted that some competitors had been slow to lodge orders for access or had not properly prepared their own networks for these services. "This is a case of the whole industry needing to improve its performance," he said.

"Telstra's ubiquitous copper network is an important platform for e-commerce, education and entertainment services into the next decade, so it is essential that consumers benefit now from competition in the provision of these services," Fels noted.

News briefs

At an Intel technical conference in the US this week the chip manufacturer took the wraps off a prototype Pentium 4 processor that ran at 2GHz, and warned IT managers to get their heads around peer-to-peer computing. CEO Craig Barrett said in an address to the conference that just as Napster worked among 200 servers online to transport MP3 music files, so IT managers will have to begin using the idle processing power of PCs and servers within their organisations to handle data-intensive applications.

Gateway has made a late admission that PCs are indeed difficult to use and will use its latest advertising campaign to asset its new philosophy that "people rule" and that technology is beneficial only if it helps people in their daily activities. An introductory TV ad shows a PC sitting idle in a home while the family members go about their daily lives around it. The campaign will be backed by free weekly PC and Internet classes in the company's 290 Gateway Country stores in the US and other initiatives at the retail level.

The US Department of Energy has given Compaq a contract to build the world's largest supercomputer. The $US200 million machine will be built on 12,000 Alpha processors capable of running at 30,000 billion operations per second. The machine will take up 2100 square metres - the size of five basketball courts - and will be used to test the reliability of nuclear weapons without the need for underground testing.

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