iTWire - iTWire - Deals iTWire - Technology news, trends, reviews, jobs Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:48:07 +1100 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb MuleSoft’s platform the jewel in the crown for Michael Hill’s-platform-the-jewel-in-the-crown-for-michael-hill’s-platform-the-jewel-in-the-crown-for-michael-hill MuleSoft’s platform the jewel in the crown for Michael Hill

Australian-based international retail jewellery chain Michael Hill has deployed MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform across its business to improve IT flexibility and responsiveness to changing business and market requirements.

The MuleSoft integration platform will automate connectivity between Michael Hill's best-of-breed applications, including its customer relationship management (CRM), mobile and point of sale systems in 289 stores across New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Adrian Wallace, Software Development Manager at Michael Hill said the company had set aggressive growth targets for 2014 including the opening of 20 new stores around the globe, an increase in e-commerce sales and the move towards implementing a customer-focused omni-channel model.

“One of the challenges of a best of breed philosophy is the need to connect discrete systems and remove independent silos. As we have grown, the scale of integration challenges has also grown. We needed a way to automate this connectivity because if our architecture were to continue to grow without a change in approach, we’d be in danger of looking like typical messaging spaghetti.

{loadposition peter}“We see a service bus-driven architecture as a way to avoid that and at the same time, it gives us a capability to become more responsive to changing business demands on the IT department.  MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform provides a natural path for integration and offers a massive improvement to our productivity.”

MuleSoft said the first integration project using Anypoint Platform will support the targets set by Michael Hill by integrating CRM data from six different touch points to create a single view of the customer. This will enable seven key areas across the business including in-store, online, customer care, customer engagement, marketing and mobile to drive a more intimate consumer experience by ensuring coordinated, consistent communication with customers.  

According to MuleSoft, major factors leading to the selection of its platform included the ability to cope with the varied environment of in-house and on-premise applications at Michael Hill, as well as peer and analyst recommendations.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:18:53 +1100
UXC Eclipse partners with Beyond Bank to deploy Microsoft CRM UXC Eclipse partners with Beyond Bank to deploy Microsoft CRM

IT solutions vendor UXC Eclipse has partnered with South Australia’s mutual bank, Beyond Bank, to deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM across the bank’s entire network.

The deployment follows the recent announcement by Microsoft that it has begun hosting CRM Online data in Australian data centres, rather than offshore centres.

Prior to this, Australian local government agencies and financial institutions have not been able to use the Microsoft solution in most circumstances because the data was stored in off-shore data centres, breaching Australian privacy legislation.

Bradley Stroop, CEO UXC Eclipse said the announcement that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will now be hosted in Australia “means that even more organisations will be able to implement this solution”.

{loadposition peter}UXC Eclipse is a Gold Microsoft Partner.

Stroop said Beyond Bank – a customer-owned financial institution - conducted a rigorous review process that included products from 12 vendors over the course of one year before choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

He said it was more than just a software deployment, with Beyond Bank aiming to achieve organisational transformation through its use of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, using the solution to achieve improved productivity and business performance throughout the organisation.

Robert Aitken, CIO, Beyond Bank said, “We recently worked with UXC Eclipse to complete a proof of concept with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was very successful. As a result of the success of that project we are planning an extended rollout of the solution across the organisation.

“The Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementation is a business transformation project in which UXE Eclipse has played a vital role. The choice of implementation partner was critical to the success of the project and it was essential that we engage a partner that we could trust implicitly to understand our business and our requirements, and deliver the results we anticipated.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Tue, 09 Dec 2014 15:39:28 +1100
NEC snares $55 million NT Government contract$57-million-nt-government-contract$57-million-nt-government-contract NEC snares $55 million NT Government contract

NEC has secured a multi-year, multi-million dollar computing contract with the Northern Territory Government to provide on-site and remote support for 20,000 desktop, laptop and mobile device end users across the territory.

The whole-of-government end user contract, valued at $55 million over three years, will see NEC support agencies in all government offices except for schools, which are supported by NEC Australia in a separate contract with the NT Department of Education.

In addition to support for desktops, laptops and mobile devices, NEC will support government file and print services, email services, desktop application management and asset management.

The contract provides for an option to extend for a further two years.

{loadposition peter}NEC Northern Territory manager Trevor Oliver said the company’s integrated team of more than 220 employees in the Northern Territory “makes NEC Australia the best positioned ICT services provider in Australia to help the NT Government overcome its unique ICT challenges.”

Oliver said NEC Australia’s capabilities are enhanced by a growing number of strategic partnerships with NT-based ICT businesses that ensure government offices receive “world class services and support across its large geographical footprint -- services which include fly-in and locally provisioned on-site support for offices in remote communities”.

NEC’s key partners for the end-user computing contract include Vertical Technology Group, a Territory-based ICT provider with its own fleet of aircraft to deliver remote community services, staging services and technical courier services, Red Centre Technology Partners for on-site service delivery in Alice Springs, NT Technology to deliver services in Nhulunbuy and Leading Edge to service Tennant Creek.

Oliver said NEC’s multi-source approach ensures that the benefits of its contract flow directly back into the local economy through utilising local knowledge and expertise. “Under this contract, approximately a third of its value will be transferred to local partners, in addition to providing new employment opportunities.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:15:05 +1100
SmartTrans secures China agreement to build travel App, platform SmartTrans secures China agreement to build travel App, platform

Australian-listed mobile and online payments platform and logistics software provider SmartTrans has sealed an agreement with China's oldest and largest travel services provider, China International Travel Service (CITS) to build and distribute an App and integrated online platform that will enable Chinese and Australian consumers to book and pay for travel services between the two countries.

The agreement between SmartTrans (ASX:SMA) and CITS was signed at an event in Beijing over the weekend which showcased the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Australia and China. The agreement was cited by Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, who attended the event, as a great example of the success of the recently revised FTA.

The event was also attended by China International Travel Service Head Office President, Madam Yu Ningning.

CITS is a state-owned enterprise that was established in 1954, and is now the largest of its kind in China, with 122 agencies across the country and numerous subsidiaries in key regions globally, including Australia.

{loadposition peter}SmartTrans will now collaborate with CITS to develop an App and integrated online platform that uses SMA’s mobile billing platform and distribution channels to allow travellers from China and Australia to book and pay for CITS’ travel packages, visa services, flights and hotel bookings, all from their mobile telephone via SmartTrans’ mobile application.

SmartTrans Chairman, Dr Geoff Raby, a former Australian ambassador to China, says the App will have SmartTrans’ “unique mobile platform embedded”, consolidating the wide range of billing and payment licences and agreements the company has with its long established partners in China.

Dr Raby said SmartTrans is expecting that this latest agreement will provide access to another solid and sustainable revenue stream for the company, especially with increasing numbers of outbound tourists from China and growing numbers of inbound tourists from Australia with some 720,000 people visiting China in 2013.

“This partnership with CITS, a highly regarded state-owned enterprise, is a great mark of respect for our company, our credibility and our technology.

“SmartTrans will now work closely with CITS to develop this App and online platform, utilising our mobile payments platform to enable travellers between China and Australia to book and pay for their travel services.

“We see this partnership, along with the unique consolidation of our multiple payment providers on to one platform as further examples of why our technology provides such a compelling turnkey solution to third parties wanting to do business in China, as well as Chinese businesses who wish to access global markets.

“We are currently in negotiations with a number of such parties wanting to use our proprietary platform for these reasons and we look forward to updating shareholders on our progress in this regard in the near future.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Sun, 07 Dec 2014 19:37:12 +1100
Media moguls back Aussie online finance venture Media moguls back Aussie online finance venture

James Packer, Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp are leading investors in Australian P2P lending startup SocietyOne.

eBay matches buyers and sellers. RSVP and eHarmomy match boys and girls. Now Australian startup SocietyOne aims to match up lenders and borrowers online.

Individual investors put money in, would-be borrowers get online and answer questions about their credit worthiness, lender is anonymously matched to a borrower, and SocietyOne takes a fee for organising the process and arbitraging the interest rate differentials.

Sounds great, but like all good online ideas it needs critical mass – and credibility. It now has that in spades, announcing a major investment from a consortium of the Big Three Australian media moguls Kerry Packer, Kerry Stokes and Rupert Murdoch, who between them will invest $20 million in the platform.

Packer and Stokes will invest through their private investment companies, and Murdoch through his publicly listed News Corp. The money will be used for marketing and developing partnerships, and to develop new products.

“SocietyOne is a whole new way to borrow and invest,” says its website. “SocietyOne is a completely new and more efficient way to think about borrowing and investing. We connect quality borrowers with savvy investors using a financial platform that is secure and easy to use. And best of all, everyone gets a better deal.”

SocietyOne is a peer-to-peer (P2P) lender that “connects investors with creditworthy borrowers, anonymously, in a secure online platform.” Its proprietary ClearMatchP2P lending platform was launched in August 2012, and allows people to borrow up the 30,000 unsecured, at a current interest rate of 9.95%.

It was co-founded by CEO Matt Symons and Greg Symons (who are not related). They got the idea from similar startups in the US and the UK. “Online marketplaces have transformed a range of traditional industries including consumer retail, travel, media and entertainment by empowering consumers and lowering transaction costs,” says Matt Symons.

{loadposition graeme}

“With the emergence of innovative platform technologies and more streamlined online credit assessment services, P2P lenders around the world are seeing considerable success building up high quality portfolios and award-winning reputations for great customer service.

“Our goal at SocietyOne is to bring this revolutionary potential to Australia, where banks still dominate the consumer credit market. We want to shake up the consumer finance industry by giving borrowers better rates to match their credit histories whilst providing investors with the opportunity to invest in a profitable asset class.”

The Series B capital raising is with a consortium comprising Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, News Corp Australia and Stokes’ Australian Capital Equity. Symons said: “This investment marks a new and exciting chapter for SocietyOne and for the acceleration of P2P lending in Australia.”

He said P2P is the future of banking. “It is growing rapidly worldwide, with considerable success in markets such as the US and Europe. Investors have been particularly excited by the significantly increased returns from removing the intermediary from the lending markets.”

He said the largest P2P lender in the US, Lending Club, is now originating over US$1 billion in personal loans per quarter and is expected to float in the next month.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium of investors, James Packer said: “We have seen first-hand the power of technology in reshaping the media industry and I am excited about the potential of technology, led by the team at SocietyOne, to help reshape the financial services industry in Australia.

“We see enormous potential in delivering significant savings to borrowers as well as providing new innovative products that will also be attractive to the investor market. P2P lending is one of the global forces leading the transformation of banking by putting people, not intermediaries, at the centre of the borrowing and lending experience.”

The Westpac-backed venture capital fund Reinventure has also agreed to participate in the latest capital raising following its initial investment in February 2014. “We continue to be impressed by the growth of the model and the execution of this team,” said Simon Cant, co-founder and managing director of Reinventure.

“This new round of investment brings together the best group of strategic investors in the country. This is consistent with our approach of backing experienced entrepreneurs, proven models and driving value to ensure they win their market.”

Symons said SocietyOne uses a risk-based pricing approach to offer creditworthy borrowers a better deal and investors direct access to an attractive new fixed income investment option. “Borrowers with good credit histories benefit from personalised rates that are generally much lower than standard credit cards and up to 5% lower than personal loans from the major banks.”

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Deals Fri, 05 Dec 2014 04:24:57 +1100
Fire service using Polycom video collaboration Fire service using Polycom video collaboration

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has deployed the Polycom RealPresence One video collaboration solution to enable real-time communication between its 900 staff and volunteer members across the state.

An existing Polycom customer, the RFS previously used traditional, hardware-based video solutions to communicate and collaborate across the state and to further enhance these solutions, the decision was made totake advantage of the flexibility and scalability of the virtualised Polycom RealPresence One solution.

Paul Newell, Vice President, Polycom Australia & New Zealand said the subscription-based video solution provides uninterrupted communication in life-critical situations, enabling the NSW RFS to make faster decisions in planning and emergency situations and drive increased preparedness around disaster recovery.

According to Newell, the deployment had also brought significant reductions in travel time and cost, helping the volunteer organisation save tens of thousands of dollars in transport allowances and accommodation.

{loadposition peter}Newell said the introduction of Polycom’s virtual solution has meant more members of the NSW RFS can have access to video solutions, significantly reducing travel time and boosting efficiency. RealPresence One has also enabled the NSW RFS to extend its video capabilities to mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, significantly increasing the organisation’s ability to offer video to its entire member base.

Ashley Van Amstel, Manager, Infrastructure Technology at the NSW RFS said the RFS was attracted to the Polycom RealPresence One solution because of its scalability, high availability and redundancy.

“Given the highly critical nature of our organisation and what we do, we need to have 100% uptime, 24/7. If the system goes down, people could be stranded and lives could be at risk.

“The virtual nature of the solution increases agility and resilience, providing us with better disaster recovery and easier backups for business continuity in the instance something was to go wrong. This provides us with the assurance that we will always have real-time visual communications between our teams, no matter what emergency situation that we face.”

The availability of Polycom RealPresence One ‘bursting packages’ allows the NSW RFS to easily scale up their number of licences as required, particularly during emergency situations when more people require video capability.

“Polycom RealPresence One enables us to enjoy the full benefits of the solution on an annual subscription fee. This means we can upgrade our package based on demand, reducing total cost of ownership, which is always important for volunteer organisations like ours,” Van Amstel said.

The NSW RFS is the world’s largest volunteer fire service, responsible for 95% of the 800,000 square kilometres of the state’s fire and emergency services.

According to Newell, Polycom is increasingly seeing more emergency departments “utilise the power of video to defy distance, be better prepared and respond quicker during time critical situations”.

“Virtualised solutions are highly attractive to such organisations due to the ability to provide 100 per cent uptime as well as flexibility in scale.We are pleased to see the NSW RFS utilising the full capabilities our solutions have to offer, and we look forward to continuing our partnership with the NSW RFS in the coming years.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:32:39 +1100
National Voice + Data moving into Equinix ME1 National Voice + Data moving into Equinix ME1

Equinix has signed a new tenant for its ME1 data centre: cloud and communications services provider National Voice + Data.

Equinix announced its ME1 Melbourne data centre (illustrated above) in January, saying it would be opened in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The project appears to be on track, as Equinix says the first phase - accommodating 375 cabinets - is still scheduled for completion this year. The Port Melbourne facility will have a capacity of 1,500 cabinets when completed.

National Voice + Data has been operating from Equinix's SY3 Sydney data centre since 2009, and has announced it will expand into ME1.

{loadposition stephen08}National Voice + Data group CEO Eric Constantinidis said "This expansion in Equinix allows us consistency with our suppliers, flexibility to expand with customer demand, and interconnectivity at high speed for our customers.

"Equinix’s global footprint and interconnection services give us a competitive edge to build and deliver the best cloud solutions for our customers.

"Once deployment is complete in ME1, every customer that uses the National Voice + Data network from an Equinix data centre, will inherit the benefits of performance, agility, and an amazing cloud experience we always look to deliver."

Equinix provides direct access to more than 1,000 network providers and interconnection with more than 4,500 companies and providers, officials stated.

]]> (Stephen Withers) Deals Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:38:26 +1100
Bigcommerce raises another $50 million$50-million$50-million Bigcommerce raises another $50 million

Telstra and Japanese telco giant SoftBank are amongst investors who have put an extra $50 million of equity funding into Australian e-commerce player Bigcommerce.

Bigcommerce has just got a whole lot bigger. The fast growing Australian e-commerce platform has announced it has raised $50 million in Series D equity funding.

The company says will use the funds to invest in product development, “aggressively grow sales and marketing,” and expand its business to new markets.

The financing was led by SoftBank Capital, a venture capital firm that is part of Japan’s SoftBank Group, and included Telstra Ventures and American Express, as well as existing investors General Catalyst and Revolution Growth

Steve Murray, a partner at SoftBank Capital, will join the Bigcommerce board. “Bigcommerce’s cloud-based platform allows businesses of all sizes to rapidly build and deploy full-service ecommerce and m-commerce tools to grow revenues,” said Murray, pointing to internal company research that predicts that e-commerce as a segment of the total retail market is growing at 30% per year and is expected to reach $2 trillion in sales worldwide in 2015.

Bigcommerce says it has seen significant year-over-year revenue growth and is approaching $5 billion in total online sales across merchants. It claims clients on the Bigcommerce platform experience 24 % higher gross merchandise volume over competitive platforms.

{loadposition graeme}

Over the past year, Bigcommerce has signed several new e-commerce deals:

  • A major partnership with China’s Alibaba, which recently floated on the New York stock exchange in the biggest IPO ever. SoftBank is a one-third owner of Alibaba,
  • An mPOS (mobile point-of-sale) platform, with Lightspeed POS and NCR Silver joining as launch partners to provide merchants with omni-channel solutions for businesses selling both online and in-store.
  • A launch as a founding developer partner with Poynt —“the world’s first smart payment terminal targeting the 16 million merchants.
  • In July, Magento, an eBay Enterprise company, selected Bigcommerce as a SaaS ecommerce migration provider for its ProStores and Magento Go platform discontinuation.
  • Earlier this year, Bigcommerce partnered with Endurance International Group's Homestead brand to re-launch 6,700 of their merchants' online stores.

Bigcommerce recently added several new features, including Bigcommere Analytics,; the Single Click App Store, which enables merchants to integrate their store with the other software they use to run their business, one-click payments setup, and a new theme store.

“American Express is committed to helping small merchants, and our investment in Bigcommerce is one of the many ways we are working to equip these businesses with resources that can enable them to grow,” said Tyler Vaughey, vice president of US small merchants at American Express. “With the convergence of online and offline, many small merchants are looking for ways to strengthen customer engagement, and Bigcommerce has created a platform that enables merchants to address this key business objective.

Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce, said: “Partnering with SoftBank gives us access to the growing Asian market and opportunities within SoftBank Group companies, including Alibaba, while American Express and Telstra share our passion for helping businesses in the US and Australia respectively

“With this new round of funding, we will continue to level the commerce playing field so that every merchant has the opportunity to build a compelling brand and scalable business to effectively compete with the largest players in their industry.”

]]> (Graeme Philipson) Deals Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:09:05 +1100
NEC wins deal to boost Solomon Islands mobile, broadband services NEC wins deal to boost Solomon Islands mobile, broadband services

Mobile and fixed-line broadband capacity in the Solomon Islands is set to be boosted with the deployment of NEC Australia’s radio technology in three of the largest provinces of the country.

The initial deployment in the three largest provinces will be followed by future expansion to other provinces, including remote parts of the country. The NEC microwave backhaul systems will boost capacity to base stations in Malaita Province, one of the largest regions in the territory; Honiara Province, the Solomon Islands’ capital on Guadalcanal Island, and Western Province, which encompasses several islands.

The planned deployment follows the selection of NEC’s iPasolink IP microwave transmission technology by the Solomon Islands major full service carrier Solomon Telekom under its Our Telekom brand.

The microwave transmission technology will sit at the core of a major network upgrade by Solomon Telekom to support over 100 base stations in the territory and extend the reach of domestic fixed network services.

{loadposition peter}In Malaita, NEC will supply and install backhaul links with an initial 500 Mbps capacity that is upgradable to 1Gbps with software license, and a large number of last mile links that will initially deliver 50-100Mbps and connect to its existing and new base stations.

NEC says the microwave backhaul deployment will significantly improve fixed line and mobile broadband speeds across three key provinces.

NEC was selected after a competitive tender, and as part of the deal the company will provide ongoing training and design services to Our Telekom engineers.  

Our Telekom Chief Operating Officer Keir Preedy says the carrier is committed to connecting and delivering better fixed line and mobile broadband services to consumers, schools and businesses throughout the Solomon Islands, “no matter how remote they are".

"This project is a key investment to grow the reach of broadband services and allow greater participation in the dramatic speed and latency benefits that will come with the future submarine cable. NEC Australia demonstrated that the network could be deployed within a tight schedule and budget.

“Further to proposing the best technical solution with highest transmit power hence the smallest antenna size to meet our unique weather and tower loading conditions, we valued NEC's high level of competence in providing network design and training for our engineers that will ensure we have the skills to maintain the network in future.”

“NEC is a leader in microwave systems and we’re proud our technology will be at the heart of fixed line and mobile services in the Solomon Islands,” said Dave Cooke, NEC Australia Group Manager, Social Infrastructure, David Cooke.

“We believe our proposal, supported by NEC’s class leading high capacity iPASOLINK microwave radios, offers Our Telekom the best opportunity to achieve a cost-effective and rapid deployment.”

Cooke said NEC’s microwave solutions will be central to Our Telekom’s operations over the next 10 years and will provide terrestrial fixed network capacity to carry low latency IP services for future submarine or satellite systems connecting the Solomon Islands to the rest of the world.

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:40:09 +1100
StayinFront gives Heat Group a cosmetic makeover StayinFront gives Heat Group a cosmetic makeover

Australian cosmetics company The Heat Group has selected StayinFront EdgeCG to automate and mobilise its field sales operations using the latest Windows 8 tablets powered by TouchCG.

The new system will be rolled out nationally to Heat’s 25 dedicated pharmacy territory managers who manage the company’s distribution business covering pharmacy, department stores, grocery and other sales channels.

Kerrie-Anne Turner, StayinFront’s APAC Vice President and Managing Director Australia, Gillian Franklin, said Heat sought a solution that would streamline operations and could easily adapt to its evolving requirements and expanding product ranges.  

Turner said Heat’s selection of StayinFront’s on-demand sales force automation solution will simplify its operations by using a highly scalable, easily configurable platform, seamlessly integrated with its ERP/warehouse system.

{loadposition peter}“The Heat Group’s subscription to our services builds on our credentials within Australia’s beauty market as it joins recent StayinFront wins at L’Oreal and Schwarzkopf. By being able to simply configure the software to their needs, they each have a flexible platform from which to leverage competitive advantage. They can focus on streamlining operations and looking after their customers.”

StayinFront says the new system will contribute towards increased sales and improved productivity, with In-built dashboards, KPIs, reporting and analytics giving management clear visibility into team performance.

Heat represents cosmetic bands including Cover Girl, Max Factor, Essence, Boujois, Ulta3 and Billie Goat Soap, and Gillian Franklin, Founder and Managing Director said the new sales tool will "help build on excellent customer service, with a highly efficient and effective sales team.”

]]> (Peter Dinham) Deals Thu, 13 Nov 2014 10:23:40 +1100