by Byron Connolly

2016: The year that was

Dec 19, 2016
Technology Industry

2016 was a year of transformation and continual change in the CIO sector. In January, Gartner said that this year, CIOs would influence, acquire and reshape capabilities beyond their core IT agenda and were expected to behave like more ambitious change leaders. Many IT chiefs certainly did just that.

In this month-by-month review, we take a look at the some of the highlights of this year.


The first month of 2016 was a big one for CIO movements with Barry Simpson, the former group CIO of Coca-Cola Amatil moving into a global role at The Coca-Cola Company. Simpson left Sydney to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta in the United States to undertake the role.

The University of Sydney hired Mike Day as CIO, replacing Bruce Meikle, who moved into the role of director, enabling technologies at the university.

Meanwhile, Brett Wilson also became CIO at home designs and building company, McDonald Jones, and ASX-listed Super Retail Group appointed John Lewis’ former head of IT delivery, Paul Hayes as its new CIO.

Also during the month, eHealth Queensland’s CIO and chief executive, Colin McCririck, was being investigated by the state’s Crime and Corruption Commission following complaints of nepotism. He was stood down along with department deputy secretary, Susan Middleditch. But the investigation found nothing and McCririck returned to work in April.

The Australian Securities Exchange spent $14.9 million to acquire a 5 per cent stake in Digital Asset in January. Digital Asset develops distributed ledger technology similar to the Bitcoin blockchain. The investment funded the second phase of a post-trade solution at the ASX, replacing the CHESS system used for clearing and settlement with Digital Asset’s technology.

At the end of January, PwC also said it was partnering with Blockstream to help organisations deploy blockchain technology.


Sydney Water appointed George Hunt as CIO, replacing the retiring Stephen Wilson. At the time, Wilson also announced that the organisation was replacing a 30-year old billing system that is responsible for processing 1.7 million customer bills every quarter. The bespoke system was written on an IBM mainframe in the 1980s.

In the government sector, the Western Australian Department of Transport announced it would trial an autonomous shuttle bus, while Transport for NSW announced it would launch a program where technologists could pitch their ideas to government around improving the state’s transport system.

The University of Adelaide switched on Phoenix, a high performance computing (HPC) system that provides more than 4,300 of its researchers with the computing power they need to crunch large data sets. The University of Western Australia launched a high performance computing cluster to support researchers studying gravitational waves.

National Australia Bank begin rolling out its ‘personal banking origination platform” in its biggest technology overhaul ever. ANZ launched its mobile payments app, allowing customers with an Android smartphone to make contactless payments.

A report by the Queensland Audit Office also found that Queensland government departments were not paying enough attention to securitywhen implementing and adopting cloud computing.


Google Australia and New Zealand’s managing director, Maile Carnegie quitand joined ANZ Bank in the newly-created position of group executive, digital banking. The NSW Electoral Commission’s director of information technology and CIO, Ian Brightwell, also quit his position, which he held since 2005.

Mark Sheppard moved into the role of digital lead for Asia-Pacific at GE – responsible for commercialisation of software across the region. The Benevolent Society’s CIO, Andy Hurst resigned after 18 months in the role, and Suncorp Group’s CIO, Matt Pancino, quit just one month after moving back into the role.

A failed rollout of an infringement management and enforcement system at Victoria’s Department of Justice Regulation – costing taxpayers $60 million – was one of six technology projects across the state to come under scrutiny. The Victorian Auditor-General’s Office analysed technology projects worth a combined $200 million with the Department of Justice Regulation’s rollout being terminated in early 2015, six years after the expected completion date.

The federal government also announced the first stage of a new online digital marketplace that enables startups to access its $5 billion annual spend on ICT projects.


One of Australia’s biggest technology users, Tabcorp, told CIO Australia that it was using a development centre in Krakow, Poland to access application developers with skillsneeded by the multi-billion dollar organisation to build its digital capabilities. The organisation signed an agreement with Grand Parade, a London-based digital agency, to increase the amount of developers it uses from the firm’s Poland office to around 50. Tabcorp CIO Kim Wenn also said at the time said the organisation would go ‘all in cloud’ within three years.

Also during April, Westpac CIO, David Curran, predicted that more partnerships between big banks and smaller fintech startups will help to drive a new innovative working model.

Apple co-founder and PC revolutionary, Steve “the Woz” Wozniak said there may be no need to own a car in future, thanks to developments in self-driving vehicles and Uber.

St Vincent’s Hospital’s Sydney IT chief, David Roffe, left is long-term post to join Macquarie Health as its new general manager of IT. Roffe headed up IT for St Vincent’s since 1997 – almost 20 years – overseeing many IT initiatives with a focus on electronic medical records (EMR) and healthcare informatics.

ASX-listed video streaming and DVD rental company, Quickflix appointed Ferrier Hodgson as voluntary administrators. Quickflix made the move after failing to lock down a deal with Stan Entertainment, owned by Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media.

ANZ started offering the Apple Pay contactless payment solution to its five million customers in Australia – and was the first bank in the country to do so at the time.


The federal government announced it would create an operational taskforce of more than 1,000 specialist staff at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to prosecute companies, multinationals and high wealth individuals who are not paying enough tax.

IBM recruited eight US universities to help train Watson for Cyber Security, a new cloud-based version of its cognitive technology. Watson is learning the nuances of security research findings, and discovering patterns and evidence of hidden cyber threats that could otherwise be missed.

Meanwhile, Fintech specialists claimed that banks of the future would be technology companieswith a banking licence, and traditional finance options may give way to more digitally advanced methods and platforms.

The Victorian government unveiled a new IT strategy to update and consolidate outdated and complex and costly systemsincluding hundreds of phone hotlines and 538 different service websites.

Former Sydney University ICT manager, Jason Meeth, was found corrupt, following an investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. ICAC found that Meeth engaged in serious corrupt conduct by improperly exercising his functions as a university official. While in the role, he gave preferential treatment to Canberra Solutions in selecting the company’s candidates to work at the university as ICT contractors.

The Australian Federal Police raided two addresses in Melbourne as part of an investigation into NBN leaks. Search warrants were conducted in the Treasury Place office of former Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy. The second property is reported to the Brunswick home of a staffer of Labor MP Jason Clare, Andy Byrne.

The raids related to complaints from NBN, the company rolling out the national broadband network, following alleged leaks of internal documents to the media.


Sydney Water announced it needed an implementation partner to design, build and run new ERP, billing and CRM systems in a ‘once in a generation investment’ to drive a new customer-focused mobile and integrated business.

Pizza retailer and technology leader, Domino’s started using customer GPS and mode of travel data to calculate the optimum time to start making an order.

WA’s exasperated auditor general considered naming and shaming government agencies with IT system weaknesses to force them into action. In his annual Information Systems Audit Report, auditor general Colin Murphy assessed 45 agencies against six control categories: IT operations, management of IT risks, information security, business continuity, change control and physical security. More than half had no defined controls in three or more categories, according to the report tabled in Parliament.

Westpac Group tech chief, Dave Curran, said remaining agile was one of the biggest challenges facing CIOs today. He described the bank as a 200-year old startup needed to both work with Agile methodologies while leveraging legacy processes.

Meanwhile, Woolworths’ CIO Clive Whincup quitafter just over two years in the role. Whincup joined the retailer in April 2014 after almost five years as a senior IT executive at Westpac.

Claudine Ogilvie was appointed as Jetstar’s new CIO, replacing Grainne Kearns who departed in August after helping restructure the low cost airline’s IT team.

Education services provider, Navitas, appointed former Ramsay Health Care IT chief Mick Campbell as its CIO. Campbell moved across from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Also during the month, prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull promised that the rollout and management of an updated Medicare payments system will not be outsourced to the private sector. He said on the QA program that there had been consideration of revising the platform, which is 30 years out of date.

IBM’s global CIO and former IT chief at Telstra, Jeff Smith, told CIO Australia, spoke about how he rolled out Agile methodologies at Big Blue.

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Qantas’ CIO, Luc Hennekens quit his postand left the airline at the end of September to move closer to his family and pursue a new role at an organisation in France. Under Hennekens’ guidance, the airline introduced a new service centre, continued to move digital apps to the cloud, and improved service performance and project delivery.

Andrew Clowes, head of IT at global real estate firm, JLL, discussed how technology has moved agents out of the data dark ages.

ANZ announced that its customers could use a mobile payments platform to make contactless in-store purchases using a Visa debit or credit card or ANZ American Express card.

Former CUA CIO, David Gee, moved across to Metlife Insurance in Japan as its new statutory executive officer, senior VP, and CIO. Gee is based at the US$70 billion global insurance provider’s Tokyo office.

Former UXC Group IT chief, Craig Wishart, joined professional services firm KPMG as its Australian CIO. He replaced Anthony Stevens, who leads the firm’s digital services team in the newly-created role of chief digital officer.

Vodafone’s chief technology officer, Benoit Hanssen announced he was leaving to join the Hutchison group. Hanssen, who has been CTO at the telco for the past three years, led the transformation of Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s (VHA) network, company CEO. He was replaced this month by Kevin Millroy.

Also in July, Ian Brightwell, the former NSW Electoral Commission CIO, discussed his experience with e-voting during the 2015 state election and what can be changed at a federal level.

‘Intimidation and harassment’ had become part of the cultureat the Queensland Building Services Authority, but tech has transformed its replacement, the QBCC.


Canadian-born GIS specialist Mel VanderWal told us how a prototype application he created to run on 360 degree video cameras would eventually become Google Street View.

The Department of Human Services announced it wasseeking systems integrators for its $1 billion, seven-year Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation (WPIT) program. Heritage Bank, Australia’s largest mutual bank, appointed former Billabong CIO, Wayne Marchantto a newly created chief information officer role.

Medibank Private appointed John Goodall to fill its vacant CIO role. He was the former general manager enterprise technology at Sportsbet. Former Westfield director of IT, Peter Bourke, was appointed head of group information systems at Hong Kong-based conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings Limited.

Telstra’s CIO, Erez Yarkoni announced he was leaving the telco to move back to the United States. Erez’s wife, Charlotte Yarkoni, also left her position as president of Telstra Software Group.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) blamed denial of service attacks originating from overseas for the outage which hit the census website as millions of Australians tried to log on to fill out the census. At the time, small business minister, Michael McCormack said that it wasn’t an attack nor was it a hack, but rather “an attempt to frustrate the collection of ABS census data”.

Meanwhile, pizza retailer, Domino’s announced that it would start delivering food using drones.New Zealand was chosen as a launch market for what eventually was the first commercial drone delivery service in the world.

Boeing’s CIO, Ted Colbert, exclusively told CIO Australiahow he is leading a technology transformation that would prepare the $96 billion aviation giant for its second century of operation.


The prime minister’s special cyber security advisor, Alistair MacGibbon, said the shut down of the census website would have a “lasting impact” on the public trust in the government to deliver digital services.

NSW Treasury’s CIO said the state government must leverage its size to attract talent and get better value from vendors. “If we’re to compete with the financial incentives on offer in the private sector, we need to find other ways to attract inspire and retain ICT talent,” said Ashton, formerly general manager of solution delivery for Coca-Cola Amatil.

Toll Group’s former interim CIO, Carl Duckinson, became the new IT chief at the Melbourne office of global engineering and advisory company, Aurecon. Duckinson replaced Sean Elwick who left the company in July after almost four years in the role.


IAG’s group executive, digital and technology, Claire Rawlins left the company after a year and a half.Rawlins, held CIO and digital transformation roles at NBN Co, Woolworths and Air New Zealand, was appointed head of IAG’s Digital Labs in December last year as part of a restructure.

Tourism Australia’s CIO, Dave Rumsey moved on from the organisation after five years in the role. Rumsey drove significant transformation across the organisation.

A hardware failure in the main databaseused by the Australian Securities Exchange’s equities trading system, ASX Trade, was blamed for a late open and early end to trading one day in October.

The ASX produced a post-mortem report on the failure, in the main database used by its equities trading system, ASX Trade, as ‘complex and unprecedented’ which took time to investigate and involved input from third party vendors.

Thermal imaging scanners and software could be used to identify travellers who become agitated on the approach to airport customs, Department of Immigration and Border Protection CIO Randall Brugeaud said.

RBA CIO Sarv Girn described how operational resilience helped the organisation survive a siege.


Mike Schuman moved on from his role as transformation business advisor at oil and gas giant, Woodside Energy. The former WA Police CIO as hired to spearhead change at the organisation. His departure coincided with the removal in September of the chief information officer role at Woodside. This role was previously held by Sara Braund who is now VP of Woodside’s HQ Technology Project.

ANZ appointed Gerard Florian as group executive technology as part of its technology and operations management shake-up. The appointment meant CIO, Scott Collary left the bank.

The Australian government’s chief digital officer, Paul Shetler resigned, less than two months after moving into the role from his position as chief executive officer at the government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), which he held since July last year.

CIO Australia announced its inaugural CIO50, a list that recognises IT chiefs who have driven transformative change across their organisations.


Former Telstra CEO David Thodey shared the story of how he was publicly shamed in front of an arena crowd by world-renowned diversity trainer Jane Elliott in what he calls “one of the most significant moments of my career.”

The federal government hired Atlassian’s former director of security, Craig Davies, as chief executive officer at its new Cyber Security Growth Centre. Peter Mahler was appointed as Swinburne University of Technology’s new chief information officer, replacing Lachlan Cameron who departed in October after just over two years in the role.

Kelvin McGrath quit as CIO at large freight and logistics organisation, Asciano after more than six years in the role. McGrath to focus on building his startup, MeetingQuality.

Meanwhile, the Australian Tax Office’s annual corporate tax transparency report revealed that several big multinational technology companies paid no tax in Australia during the 2014-15 financial year. Notable technology firms that had zero tax payable in Australia included Acer, ASG, Atlassian Australia, Citrix, Dicker Data, Dimension Data, HP South Pacific, IBM, Ingram Micro, NEC and Vodafone.