NBN on 4Corners

It’s been a tough month for the Government with the highly public exposure of NBN Co.’s failure to manage the rollout of our nation-building digital infrastructure at the top of the list. And that’s not to mention cyber security challenges (see below).

As far as the NBN goes, ABC’s devastating 4Corners report didn’t really dig up anything that most in the industry were not already aware of but it did drag the debacle deep into the public domain. It also served to demonstrate that consecutive governments are/were ill-equipped to manage large projects.

Cynics might cry “conspiracy theory” but Fairfax columnist, John Birmingham doesn’t wear a tin-foil hat and he was prepared to surmise that the NBN was engineered from the start to fail.

If you are looking for a motive for such a play, former prime minister, Kevin Rudd stepped a little further out on the same limb. He claimed the coalition government has deliberately sabotaged the project; doing the bidding of wealthy donors such as News Corp which has legacy media assets such as Foxtel at risk if the population has ubiquitous access to high speed internet.

“News Limited did not want the National Broadband Network,” Rudd said on ABC’s 7:30 Report. “News did not want fibre to the premises and the reason they didn’t want that is because it would provide direct competition to the Foxtel cable network in this country,” he added.

NBN Co.’s first CEO, Mike Quigley, also featured in the 4Corners report, is adamant that the NBN was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity killed off by politics. Meanwhile, current CEO, Bill Morrow also concedes that the NBN will probably never make money.

Of, course as we have come to expect, there were also plenty of other reasons for the NBN fiasco to make the news such as 80484 problems, the doubling of complaints to NBN, long overdue changes to wholesale prices and the fact that almost half of new connections have problems

In a world of infinite change, it is good that some things remain the same.


What is Robotic Process Automation?

As if there weren’t enough technology developments applying pressure to the sustainability of existing employment roles and tasks, get used to the concept of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

An independent, self-appointed gatekeeper of the acronym, the Institute of Robotic Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence (IRPAAI) defines RPA as: “the application of technology that allows employees in a company to configure computer software or a ‘robot’ to capture and interpret existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems.”

Not everyone is convinced that it is anything new or revolutionary but rather just a rebadging of existing automation tools but start-ups focusing on the concept are starting to attract some venture capital support.

There are other industry thought leaders that see RPA is perhaps more of a rules engine than it is genuine artificial intelligence but it is already having a transformative impact on the shared services environment and that may spell doom for some entry level IT jobs. 

Not all bad new though as there is also great potential for the adoption of RPA to have a positive impact on the delivery of Government services.

If you want to know more about how and where RPA is being used in A/NZ, Computerworld recently published a free white paper on its website based on “independent’ research conducted by Telsyte covering “300 ICT decision makers” in the region.


Cyber security

As the international hacking efforts of Russia continue to be laid bare, it is no wonder that cyber security persists as one of the biggest issues in the IT industry and indeed for national security. Even every Wi-Fi network is at risk.

Don’t for a minute think that Australia is immune from coming under attack. One defence contractor engaged by the Commonwealth recently had its systems hacked losing data on fighter jets, armoury and ships while some of our largest government departments continue fail basic cyber security testing.

Of course, the fact that we are coming to realise the gravity of the threat, there is career opportunity for IT professionals because of the current skills shortages. But if you have some experience in the field and an entrepreneurial streak, maybe you could start your own cyber security firm.

An interesting aside; as the Internet of Things continues to expand, there is a growing urgency for international standardisation of security protocols and ratings that should apply to connected devices.

Much like other areas of government, there has been lots of chatter and bureaucratic jostling about getting the national response to cyber security right but with such a massive task ahead of us, now is the time for positive action according to one cyber security specialist.