Australian developer wins sale to British Government

Recently-listed software developer Objective has made a breakthrough into the European market with the sale of a full suite of its knowledge management software to the British Government's Local Enterprise Development Unit (LEDU) in Belfast. Tony Walls, Objective's CEO for the Asia/Pacific region, said the LEDU, which is the small business agency for Northern Ireland, had bought a full suite of Objective's software, including document and records management, workflow and the Objective Knowledge Portal. The contract was a "breakthrough" for the company in Europe, Walls added. "LEDU is an innovative and progressive organisation and this implementation will be a showcase for our technology," he explained. "Naturally this is enormously encouraging for our expansion in Europe and confirms our belief that we have a very bright future there," he added.

On its home turf Objective has secured contracts worth more than $A15 million from the Australian Government departments and agencies, including sales to the Attorney General's Department, ATSIC, the Department of Transport and Regional Services, and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Intellect makes further European inroadsAustralian smart card specialist Intellect has continued its roll through Europe with a $A4 million sale of wireless terminals in Germany and a $A2.5 million order for payment terminals in Belgium.

The German contract, which was the result of an alliance with German company EL-ME AG, is for the delivery of 3000 of Intellect's Sapphire wireless terminals to be used in mobile payment applications. "The use of electronic debit and credit payment is increasing because ordering goods and services from home is on the rise, creating a need for on-the-spot payment. At delivery, a mobile terminal like Intellect's Sapphire enables an instantaneous transaction or credit card authorisation," explained Francis De Vrieze, Intellect's chief marketing officer. "Just as we saw the phenomenal uptake of mobile phones and other wireless products, mobile payment systems have a huge future".

In Belgium, Intellect won a contract from Banksys to equip 500 service stations with smart card-enabled outdoor payment terminals. De Vrieze noted that since Intellect has an exclusive agreement with Banksys, which is the only supplier of outdoor terminals to Belgian services stations, the contract could increase to 5000 service stations. Intellect's terminals allow motorists to pay for petrol without having to go inside the service station. The systems accept debit, credit, fleet and stored value cards.

ERG wins Kiwi transport system

ERG, another Australian smart card specialist on a roll, has won a contract to provide a smart card ticketing system in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. The system, managed with a central clearing house facility, will provide ticketing services to the regional council, and the four bus companies and one ferry operator that service the city.

A spokesman explained that initially 20,000 dual interface smart cards will be issued and used to provide tickets for all operators. Two-hundred ticketing machines will be installed on the buses to deduct appropriate fares and to enable passengers to reload value on to their cards. Details of each operator's transactions will be captured, transferred to the clearing house and reconciled daily.

A spokesman for Environment Canterbury said the system will make travelling on public transport more attractive. "Our transport operators currently handle 35,000 passenger trips each day," he explained. "As part of our passenger transport strategy we hope to double patronage within 10 years with the aim of avoiding increased traffic congestion. This new system is one of our key strategies for meeting this objective".

Technology One streamlines Amdel's businessAdelaide scientific and testing company Amdel is implementing Technology One's Finance One software to streamline business procedures at its 12 sites in Australia and NZ. Sandra Hajszan, Amdel's information systems manager, said the software will allow the company to reduce its business processes from 76 to 48, which would lead to immediate improvements in areas such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, procurement, labour management and general reporting.

"We wanted to deliver information to our laboratory sites over our WAN, but wanted to look at the thin client option," Hajszan said. "We were going to go with Citrix but we believe that Finance One's new version can deliver thin client bandwidth over the Web."

She explained that as well as improving productivity and real time access to data, the software will also provide a platform for electronic business over the Internet with inbuilt features to handle e-procurement and e-reporting.

Amdel will implement the latest version of the software in five stages.

Keycorp drives into Europe thanks to NABThe National Australia Bank has taken a second licence for Keycorp's Nobil Internet payment gateway for use by its European operations, which include Clydesdale Bank, Yorkshire Bank, Northern Bank and National Irish Bank. The gateway facilitates real time transaction authorisation, processing and reporting, explained Peter Thomas, general manager of global payments at NAB.

"The Nobil technology facilitates real time transaction authorisation, processing and reporting. Merchants and their customers do not require special software and/or hardware to use the service, thus establishment time frames are minimal and the cost of operating the service is significantly reduced," Thomas added.

Keycorp has entered a partnership with online security specialist Baltimore Technologies through which Keycorp's PKI MULTOS cards and Baltimore PKI systems will become fully compatible. The two companies will also work together to provide PKI solutions worldwide.

Court system includes digital signaturesInternet Solutions Australia (ISA) has created a Web-based system for the lodgement of Federal Court documents using digital signatures for security. The system, known as CourtLodgement, is undergoing a trial involving six law firms and the Family Court. "The Family Court is pioneering the electronic lodgement of court documents in Australia and will be among the first to realise the substantial benefits on offer," claimed Steven Thomas, managing director of ISA.

"The Family Court estimates that over one million documents are lodged Australia-wide every year. This online service will improve work efficiency and allow faster processing of documents while reducing costs for both courts and solicitors," Thomas added.

ISA owns the technology on which CourtLodgement is based and intends to market it "extensively" through the Australian legal system.

Fahey promises outsourcing disclosure

John Fahey, Minister for Finance and Administration, has announced the terms of reference for the review of the government's IT outsourcing procedures and has promised that the report of the reviewer will be disclosed in full by the government.

The reviewer, Richard Humphrey of the Australian Stock Exchange, will be required to report on the outsourcing so far carried out; identify sources of implementation risk; and evaluate how the risks are managed. Humphrey will also be required to review the Group 1 and Group 11 processes, which are out to tender. His report is to be delivered to Fahey by the end of the year.

Labor's Senator Kate Lundy expressed concerns about the minister's remarks and the terms of reference. "His further concession - full disclosure of the IT review - does not mean that this process is transparent. It is still a coalition in-house exercise" she claimed. "It is still not clear whether or not submissions will be invited from all stakeholders, including industry and individual public servants, and whether these submissions will be placed on the public record."

Lundy added that Labor will move to establish the Senate Finance and Public Sector Administration References Committee to undertake a broad inquiry into the outsourcing program when Parliament resumes late this month, and called for work to cease on future outsourcing contracts until that inquiry can be completed.

News briefs

Sources close to Intel are expecting the chip manufacturer to release its Pentium 4 processor next Monday. The new chip is built on the NetBurst micro architecture, which is the first significant redesign of Intel's desktop chips since the Pentium Pro in 1995. It is believed the first Pentium 4s will run at close to 1.5GHz and will be used in high end desktop PCs and workstations. New features of the chip will include a rapid execution engine that executes basic mathematical instructions at twice the speed of the rest of the processor. The chip has a 400MHz system bus, which is more than twice as fast as the Pentium III's average 133MHz bus, as well as an advanced 256K-byte transfer cache and additional streaming audio and video technology.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has begun offering online access to statistical information via the new AusStats service. The service provides access to all ABS publications from 1998 as well as an expanded range of data in spreadsheet format and the SuperTABLE application.

Senator Alston is this week promoting Australia's information and communications industries in the UK, where he is also signing a memorandum of understanding concerning e-commerce. Alston pointed out that the UK is the largest foreign investor in Australia, our sixth largest trading partner, and our eighth largest export market.

Australia has thrown its weight behind APEC's plan to implement paperless trading throughout its member countries. Trade Minister Mark Vaile committed Australia to funding participation by developing economies in an e-commerce and paperless trading symposium to be held in Beijing in February 2001. "The symposium will allow Australia to showcase our leadership in the new economy in both the public and private sectors. It will also ensure that a new range of trade barriers are not build into the electronic trade administration systems currently under development," he claimed.

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