by Rebecca Merrett

CIO year in review

Dec 18, 201410 mins
MobileSmall and Medium Business

2014 was an eventful year for CIOs, with many starting new initiatives in mobility, wearables, machine learning and tapping into open data. Many CIOs also decided to change jobs and move to greener pastures.

CIO Australia has put together some highlights of 2014:

Innovation in industry sectors

It’s been a busy year for the banking and finance sector. St George Bank jumped on the wearable consumer market mid-year and rolled out its banking app to the Sony Smartwatch 2.

Customers can check account balances, look up nearest ATMs and branches, and receive SMS or email alerts when money has been deposited or withdrawn from their accounts.

The bank also turned its attention to context-aware technology or the bank’s mobile app for self-services such as reporting lost or stolen cards, and notifying the bank when planning on travelling overseas.

CIO Dhiren Kulkarni said St George’s ambition is to lead the financial industry on mobile. “The world is moving with the mobile now,” he said.

The ASX’s CIO, Tim Thurman, has also been busy this year, with several innovative technology projects in the works including a real-time risk margining system, client-to-client OTC clearing and a new trading platforms gateway.

Innovation hubs were popular with banks, as Westpac Group launched a $4 million innovation centre in Kogarah, Sydney in September, and Commonwealth Bank opened its innovation lab at its Sydney headquarters in October.

Google Glass made its way into the health, property and telecommunications sectors. In October, HBF Fitness trainers started testing how Google Glass will help improve the training experience for up to 15,000 of its members across 20 locations in Western Australia.

Properties management services firm DTZ created an app for Glass where work orders can be created verbally without having to type in any information. The app shoots a video, uploads it to a server, figures out who you are, where you are, what the issue was, transcribes the work order to text, and logs it in a JD Edwards application.

Telstra started using Glass in May for staff with vision and hearing problems to receive audio descriptions of objects in front of them. It incorporates recognition technology from Silicon Valley called ‘Tap Tap See’.

In education, many university CIOs are tapping into the MOOCs (massive open online courses) movement, with maker spaces and gamification taking off in primary and high schools. St Columba Anglican School, for example, has students in its maker space developing first-person shooter games for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and designing electronic controllers for games.

Macquarie University is developing a simulation game, ‘New Worlds’, for postgraduate students studying biodiversity. Students feel like they are sitting in a pod with a computer screen or monitor that moves around and collects data on species, rainfall, temperature and so on. An instrument panel will be attached to the pod for students to conduct different surveying and sampling activities.

In health, UnitingCare Health rolled out Australia’s first fully integrated digital hospital in October, with NSW Health Pathology rolling out point-of-care devices in its rural and remote emergency departments. Hunter New England Health and Silver Chain rolled out tablets and videoconferencing to ensure more patients’ health get regularly checked.

The Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) was also recommended to switch to an opt-out model. “Individuals would not make the effort to opt-in, so opt-out will create a critical mass very quickly,” said the CIO of Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, Bill Vargas.

eHealth NSW CIO Michael Walsh and chief clinical information officer John Lambert gave an update in August on the clinical portal HealtheNet, an enterprise image repository, incident management system, StaffLink HR system, videoconferencing, and how the organisation is increasing bandwidth.

Finding value in machine learning, connected things

Organisations are starting to come on board machine learning and connected things to go about their business in much smarter ways. Fire and Rescue NSW announced in May that it is working on a system dubbed ‘Miinder’, which allows the organisation to pre-emptively deploy resources.

Miinder assesses every single property in the state in conjunction with the weather forecast and predictive data feeds to develop a model that shows where resources are likely to be needed in order to deal with an emergency.

National ICT Australia (NICTA) collected real-time data from trains and shipping containers in Port Botany’s rail freight operation to then create a model to see if investing in expensive new infrastructure could be held off for 10 or 20 years.

The NICTA team also discovered that the rail infrastructure did not appear to be the main bottleneck, and looked at optimising the layout, the operational rules, and goods coming in and out.

NICTA is also doing machine learning and predictive analytics in addition to conventional simulation planning for a new light rail in George Street, Sydney. The team looked at historical data to build a model that can predict how the traffic will behave under certain conditions, and build future action plans based on that data.

Transport for NSW is tapping into connected vehicles to prevent crashes on the road. The idea is to have sensors on the wheels that detect a sharp bump in the road or a when the wheels start to get slippery so that information can be relayed to other connected vehicles behind and warn the drivers to slow down.

The NSW Centre for Road Safety is trialling a Cooperative Intelligent Transport Initiative (CITI) where trucks are fitted with anti-collision devices. Information such as the truck’s position and speed is sent from the truck to roadside devices. The devices then send alerts, such as warnings about potential crashes, back to truck drivers.

The NICTA team did an analysis on how fast they could get all people residing in Sydney safely evacuated during a flood. The team looked at which Sydney regions they would evacuate first, which modes of transport should be used first and where. The analysis found that the current algorithms would not get 40 per cent of the population out in time, whereas the new model showed it can get everyone out safely.

The lt;igt;Smart Grid, Smart Citylt;/igt; project trial, led by the Australian government and Ausgrid, completed this year. The data generated through smart grids can be combined with data coming from the weather forecast, TV networks, city cultural event planners and so on as they all affect the electricity networks.

Smart appliances will also be able to connect with the smart grid to schedule power-consuming tasks during off peak periods of the day and save on energy.

NICTA is using machine learning and predictive modelling to anticipate when a water pipe in Sydney is about to break. Water utility companies can only afford to inspect about 1 per cent of their pipes, and there is 20,000 kilometres of underground pipes in Sydney alone. Busted water pipes overall cost the Australian economy more than $1 billion a year.

The organisation compared its analysis with that of water utility companies and found it could predict twice the amount of pipe breakages using the same maintenance budget.

GE, being a leader in connected things, also made a forecast earlier in the year that the ‘Industrial Internet’ could be applicable to $82 trillion of output by 2025. Its jet engines use low cost sensors to capture data for improving the performance of the engines, which produce about 5,000 data points a second.

GE is also equipping its wind turbines with sensors to determine the strength and flow of a breeze so that it can change position if it’s too strong and avoid getting damaged.

Next page: CIO churn, Open government and hackathons

Page Break

CIO churn

It seemed like a year of mass exodus with many CIOs moving onto new jobs or ventures. Qantas saw Robert Marcolina be appointed group executive strategy, transformation and IT.

This came after the airline announced earlier in the year that 5000 jobs will go over the next three years. A Qantas spokesman said at the time that it “can’t rule out” changes to the IT department.

Coles Group’s general manager of IT, Conrad Harvey, left in September following a restructure of its store support centre in Melbourne, with 438 positions gone.

David Whiteing became Commonwealth Banks’ new CIO in July, after Michael Harte left in May to join Barclays Bank in London as its chief operations and technology officer.

Anne Weatherston left ANZ Bank in April, and the former consumer CIO at Citgroup in the US, Scott Collary, took on the role in November.

Early in the year, Clive Whincup left Westpac for Woolworths CIO role, and was replaced with former Commonwealth Bank tech leader, Dave Curran, in July.

Suncorp Life CIO Fiona Floyd quit her post as CIO in July as the organisation embarked on an internal restructure. Former Suncorp Business Services CEO Jeff Smith was appointed as IBM’s global CIO, based in the United States.

Patrick Eltridge quit his role as CIO at Telstra to explore international opportunities. Andrew Wiles left Vodafone as CIO in October after one year and eight months in the role.

In April, Michelle Beveridge moved from Open Universities, where she was CIO, to Peak Adventure Travel Group and Peter Nikoletatos departed from Australian National University as CIO.

Former Australian Government CIO, Glenn Archer, was also appointed as research VP for Gartner’s public sector research group in April.

Westfield’s director of information technology, Peter Bourke quit his post and will leave the shopping centre organisation on December 31.

Some CIOs got promoted. Suncorp Group’s former CIO Matt Pancino moved into the CEO role of business services. Paul Russell, former CIO for Salmat Digital CIO and Fairfax Digital, took on new role as managing director of off-shore software development provider SoftwareSeni.

Open government and hackathons

The cost and privacy challenges of open government were addressed this year at the Australia 3.0 government forum in Melbourne. The role of the ICT community to step in and propose cost effective ways of anonymising and continuously updating datasets and the need for clear security steps for agencies to follow to help build their confidence to release more data were discussed.

The NSW government also called on the private sector to suggest new ways to reuse or reinterpret data held by its agencies under a newly established crowdsourcing initiative.

The Queensland government plans to introduce legislation next year that will cement open data for the long term.

Many hackathons were held in relation to the open data movements being pushed in government.

Transport for NSW, in partnership with Deloitte, held its Codeworks hackathon in September, which resulted in eight worthy projects to be further developed. The customer-facing apps are for mostly road drivers to get them to and from their destinations faster, easier and more comfortably.

NICTA held its InfraHack hackathon in August to tackle some of the biggest infrastructure-related problems such as traffic congestion, safety issues and pollution. The projects were about making Melbourne a smart city when it comes to its use of infrastructure.