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2017: The year that was

2017: The year that was

A month-by-month look back at who and what made news in 2017


The world was hit by the WannaCry virus. The global ransomware attack made its way to Australia, claiming 12 victims across the country - and the numbers kept steadily rising.

Budget fever also consumed the news cycle. The government laid out its investment plan for a whole-of-government Cyber Security Advisory Office (CSAO). The CSAO sits within the Digital Transformation Agency, funded by $10.7 million over four years from 2017-18.

Under measures announced in the budget, companies hiring workers from overseas on the new temporary skills shortage visa and certain permanent skilled visas will be slugged with a levy that will go into the government’s new ‘Skilling Australians Fund.’ The new skilled migration levy could see some organisations forced to pay an annual charge of up to $5000 for some workers.

In other big news this month, the NSW government unveiled a new digital strategy requiring agencies to report their performance against the reform program every six months to government chief information and digital officer, Damon Rees.

In announcing the strategy. NSW minister for finance, services and property, Victor Dominello, said the new reporting requirement ensured that the government was connected, customer-focused and outcomes-driven.

On the people front, William Hill’s IT boss Rob James quit his post and joined Qantas as the airline’s new chief technology officer.

Intel’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Kate Burleigh quit as the top dog, after working at the chip maker for 20 years. Burleigh began her career at Intel in 1996. She became marketing director in late 2005 and was the local boss since 2012.

Meanwhile, Boral appointed Kathleen Mackay to the new role of head of digital delivery following a reshuffle of its IT group led by CIO, William Payne. Mackay was formerly GM, IT project delivery and had a ‘small stint’ as CIO before Payne joined in January. Payne has replaced former CIO David Oxnam, who is due to leave the organisation next month.

Capgemini ANZ appointed former Origin Energy CIO Olaf Pietschner to the new role of chief operating officer.Prior to Origin, Pietschner was group director of technology at News Corp and has previously worked for Capgemini in Europe.


Big news on the security front. The Australian Defence Force launched a new ‘Information Warfare Division’ responsible for ‘electronic warfare.’

The unit will be responsible for “military cyber operations, military intelligence, joint electronic warfare, information operations and space operations,” according to the minister assisting the prime minister for cyber security, Dan Tehan.

Cybersecurity continued to capture the news headlines with the Federal Government saying it planed to push “thwarting the encryption of terrorist messaging” at a meeting of the Five Eyes nations in Canada.

Attorney-General George Brandis and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the need for cooperation from service providers regarding encryption would be raised as a “priority issue” in the security talks between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In other government news, the Northern Territory government selected InterSystems to replace four obsolete clinical IT systems with a single platform across NT’s entire public health system.

Under the $259 million, five-year Core Clinical Renewal Program (CCSRP), InterSystems, through its local integrated partner Dialog Information Technology, had been asked to create a unified healthcare information system through the territory.

On the people front, ANZ Group appointed former eBay Europe’s chief operating officer finance to serve under Maile Carnegie in a newly created role. Jennifer Scott began work at the bank as general manager digital transformation and performance and reported to Carnegie, group executive digital banking.

Westpac, meanwhile, suffered a series of systems failure, including a major outage to its online and mobile banking services, as well as its EFTPOS, ATMs and card transactions.

And at long last the ‘three zone’ Google Cloud Platform region in finally landed in Sydney, giving Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure some beefy competition.

Google had been working hard to convince enterprises to move their core systems to its cloud platform. In March, the Silicon Valley giant wheeled out the likes of international bank HSBC, Colgate Palmolive, eBay, Home Depot, and Disney to provide snapshots of their implementations.


This month, the fight between TechnologyOne and Brisbane City Council continued to heat up. TechnologyOne has received a claim for damages in excess of $50 million from Brisbane City Council (BCC). The software vendor said it strongly disputed and would vigorously defend what it referred to as an ‘ambit claim’.

The claim followed an announcement by BCC that it would be terminating its 2015 contract for TechnologyOne to replace 13 of the council’s core IT systems. TechnologyOne had said it be making a counterclaim for an amount in excess of $50 million for wrongful termination.

Over at the CSIRO, the agency began using its new $4m Dell EMC supercomputer, which aims to help to bring vision to the blind through the use of multi-layered neural networks. The system expands the CSIRO’s deep learning capability, and will open up new areas of research the organisation said. The machine is expected to clock speeds in excess of one petaflop.

In telco news, NBN Co announced the rollout of the national broadband network had officially passed the halfway point with one in two Australians now able connect to the service. The company said more than 5.7 million homes and businesses can now order a service from their retailer, claiming it is adding an average of 100,000 new properties each week.

In banking news, ANZ added Samsung Pay to its offering, leading the Big Four banks in its coverage of the major contactless mobile payments options.

Meanwhile, blockchain was back in the news as an association which aims to grow and support the local blockchain community was launched in Australia. The Blockchain Association of Australia – registered as a not for profit incorporated association last month – met for the first time at RMIT in Melbourne.

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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