30 Oct 2018 How cloud technology is helping three of Australia’s key industries make a tech comeback

Scaling digital transformation (DX) initiatives is a pressing challenge for many Australian organisations, and cloud technologies play a key role in achieving this. Cloud technologies, alone represent a significant opportunity for many businesses to unlock future growth potential. This is particularly so in key industries such as farming, healthcare and construction – industries that are often challenged when it comes to digital advancements.

According to a recent IDC report, Breaking the Digital Deadlock to Thrive in the Australian Market, the majority of Australian organisations have yet to fully leverage cloud, however it is said that this year (2018) is the year of the multi-cloud. More than 60 percent of Australian enterprise IT organisations will commit to multi-cloud architecture before the year’s end, driving up the rate and pace of change in their ICT architectures. The cloud conversation has evolved from “whether or not to cloud” to “how many clouds”. And 66 percent of Australian enterprises see cloud technology as a tool to drive competitive advantage, a critical component of their DX journey.

Cloud is undoubtedly a very important piece of the digital transformation puzzle and a key enabler for some of our most traditional sectors that can now make a tech comeback using cloud technology. Here we explore how cloud technology is enabling three key sectors to digitally transform.

Cloud transforming Australian farms

The agricultural industry is one of Australia’s most important sectors. It contributes 3% to Australia’s total GDP and the gross value of Australian farm production in 2016-17 was $60 billion.

Historically, technology has helped boost efficiency on Australian farms, with machinery and other breakthroughs helping to revolutionise the sector. However, farmers have been slow to adopt cloud technology. In fact, ABS figures revealed the take up of cloud technology in the agricultural sector was fewer than any other industry. That is, until recently where the tide is turning and farmers are realising that utilising technology is critical to their business success and competitiveness. Additionally, with more reliable broadband and increased access, farmers can achieve more with technology.

Today, cloud technology is being used throughout the supply chain creating visibility and a seamless process, where agricultural goods are tracked and paid for all the way from paddock to plate. Further, cloud computing is being used in combination with other technologies to boost efficiency on farms. For example, by integrating digital equipment such as environmental sensors and GPS with data analytics, farmers have access to better quality data which enables a boost in productivity, environmental sustainability, safety and workflow.

The financial side of agriculture is complex. Cloud-based accounting software enables farmers as well as their multiple stakeholders (bankers, accountants etc.) to have up to date access to crucial financial information for timely decision-making. Cloud based infrastructure is also used to store inventory information, manage livestock effectively, track markets to reduce volatility and enhance return on investment.

Cloud heats up in Healthcare

The healthcare industry is plagued with cumbersome, legacy systems. This, combined with the amount of highly sensitive, personalised information, makes it one of the most challenging sectors to transform. Yet it is also the sector that demands digital transformation as doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals strive to deliver quality cost-effective services to their patients.

Historically, healthcare organisations have kept centralised records, and therefore had to acquire and maintain all the required hardware, software, and relevant staff (regardless of whether or not these resources were used at full capacity). This is where the power of cloud comes in – by providing a more efficient, decentralised approach, and improving patient experience, at significantly lower costs.

By using cloud services, healthcare organisation only pay for what they use, for example storage, applications, and infrastructure service. Additionally, cloud technology provides flexibility so users can scale resources up or down as needed.

However, for the cloud to truly deliver in this sector, the underlying network infrastructure must be secure and fit-for-purpose. You only have to look at the current debate over My Health Record to understand the importance of having a secure, up-to-date network infrastructure underpinning the technology.

Cloud builds a future in construction

Despite its size, or perhaps due to its size, construction is another industry that has been slow to innovate. However, digitisation is coming fast and the industry is on the verge of widespread adoption of a range of new technologies.

More and more construction firms are looking for digital solutions and technological additions that help improve existing businesses and provide them with a competitive advantage. Cloud technology prioritises user experience, offers flexible payment options, promotes collaboration and integrates with other software. It can also help contractors manage their workforce, assets and equipment, safety, quality and compliance, and supply chain.

While there is palpable excitement around cloud technology and digital transformation in the sector, construction firms using legacy systems wanting to embrace change will recognise that a digital strategy is integral to the overall business plan.

While these more traditional industries are only starting to realise the benefits of cloud technology, the financial sector has already adopted cloud-based platforms and is reaping the benefits of agility, improved efficiency and cost savings.

As always, with great power comes great responsibility and all sectors, traditional or otherwise must address security and compliance as part of their digital transformation strategy. If this is done properly, the opportunities for growth and change are endless.

For more information on how TAS can help with your cloud requirements, visit www.tas.business/services/cloud.

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06 Sep 2018 Featured Interview: Stuart Stoyan, Former Chair, FinTech Australia

As the founder and CEO of marketplace lending platform MoneyPlace, Stuart has a strong grasp on the fundamentals driving FinTech’s dominance in Australia. Stuart is a member of the Federal Treasurer’s FinTech Advisory Group and was appointed as FinTech Australia’s new chair in January 2018. A passionate FinTech entrepreneur, Stuart has helped shape National FinTech and innovation policies. FinTech Australia is a not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services and programs that assist the FinTech community.

What do you predict will be some of the key issues/challenges facing the FinTech sector in Australia in the next 24 months?

Open banking is a big ‘make or break’ issue for the Australian FinTech community over the next 24 months. Open banking will free up the data from existing financial institutions that FinTechs need to drive innovation and their businesses. It was highlighted as a major issue in our EY FinTech Australia Census, where 85 per cent of respondents highlighted it as a policy priority (the equal second highest out of all priorities). The banks are pushing back hard against the reform, requesting delays and wanting to reduce the data sets which are in scope for the first phase (they want to exclude mortgages and credit cards). Feedback via our Census also showed that improved FinTech access to the New Payments Platform (NPP) is a very big deal, at this time we are not convinced it is the innovation platform that we hoped it might be. Other key issues outlined in the Census include:

  • Improving the research and development initiative (87% support)
  • Capital gains tax relief (85%)
  • Reduced payroll and other taxes (83%)

The Australian government has been vocal in its support of Australia’s FinTech sector as it works to capitalize on the country’s competitive advantage. However, a lot of tech leaders suggest more can be done to further advance Australia’s FinTech sector to put it on the global map. What are your thoughts around this?

Our recent submission to the Productivity Commission outlines some of the changes we would like to see to grow our FinTech industry. In this submission, we say a new Australian FinTech industry development strategy is required, to define the regulatory and other steps which are required to grow our industry. We expect this strategy to include new ideas about how to increase competition in, and reduced barriers of entry to, the financial services industry, along with how we can better and promote the FinTech sector. We conclude that government and industry should work together to drive this strategy, but the development of the strategy does require specific government support. We believe consideration needs to be given to the creation of a new ‘super regulator’, which drives competition in financial services, but also helps guide innovation and industry promotion. We also say that the Reserve Bank of Australia should favourably consider the introduction of a formal access regime to the NPP, and other improvements should be made to the NPP so it becomes an improved platform for innovation. This includes the NPP making changes to its shareholding processes to encourage new FinTech participants, establishing an Innovation Hub, creating a data access model and delivering a credible arm’s length appeal mechanism for onboarding refusals. Finally, we say Australia’s FinTech regulatory sandbox needs to be expanded in its scope and also contain more extensive ASIC oversight.

What are the advantages of a start-up FinTech operating in Australia when compared to FinTech’s operating in nearby SE Asia, especially the FinTech hub of Singapore?

We think there are several differences between the Singapore and Australian FinTech environments. For starters, in Australia, we have the benefit of an active, involved and vocal FinTech community – via FinTech Australia which has a policy development role – along with a national government which is highly receptive to listening to the views of this community. We call this Australia as being ‘FinTech friendly by design’. Unlike Singapore, we also have the benefit of a range of highly liveable, friendly and multicultural State capital cities which are all home to FinTech industry hubs. Singapore is a single hub. This means FinTechs coming into our market have a choice of locations. Additionally, Australia has a relatively unique advantage of being a perfect test market for new products, thanks to the population size and diversity and a thirst for early technology adoption. Finally, the fact that Australia’s has the largest pool of managed funds in Asia – thanks to our superannuation reforms – presents a massive FinTech opportunity and a unique value proposition for Australia.

These insights are drawn from the TAS Banking Industry Report 2018. Read the full report here.

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