Fujitsu's Perpetual windfall

Perpetual's cost cutting pains are Fujitsu's gain while Woolworths goes gaga over mobility and Google. Elsewhere, as the dust settles on Apple-Samsung’s US trial get ready for some major product launches.

Wealth manager Perpetual has seen better days and with 2012 net profit slumping 57 per cent it would seem that a necessary restructure – which was first flagged in June - is still painfully working its way through the systems.  

Perpetual’s quest to achieve $50 million in annual cost savings has already seen over 500 jobs go at the firm and we can now add another 100 to that list now that it has sealed a $68 million IT outsourcing deal with Fujitsu Australia.

Under the terms of the five-year deal, Fujitsu will take on the responsibility of modernising Perpetual’s IT infrastructure and applications, essentially picking up the IT baton for the wealth manager as it pursues its business-wide Transformation 2015 Strategy.

The standard infrastructure and applications management services will also include overview of operations and equipment within the datacentre as well as desktop management. Migration of infrastructure and applications to Fujitsu is to set to occur by the middle of 2013, with final transition and handover completed by the fourth quarter of that year.

The deal represents a second key milestone for Perpetual, as far as IT is concerned. In October last year the company announced its plans to outsource the platform administration services for Private Wealth advisory clients to Macquarie Investment Management. The imperative again was not just simply about saving money bit also fundamentally change the way Perpetual hopes to do business in the future.

Presumably, Fujitsu will put its expertise to good use in ensuring that the migration on to Macquarie’s systems is a smooth one.

And this will be just one of the many jobs that Fujitsu will have to take on as Perpetual wisely opts to build a comprehensive relationship with a single service supplier.

According to Ovum analyst Jens Butler, Perpetual couldn’t have made a better choice in going with Fujitsu.

“Fujitsu’s local reputation for solid infrastructure and applications management capabilities evidently resonates with this increasing requirement for the reliable delivery of multiple services,” Butler says.

Fujitsu has been leveraging this experience to win a fair bit of work off late. The company was picked up by law firm Freehills to provide hosted services in its Australian data centres for the firm’s business-critical e-discovery applications, in August. Under the terms of the deal, Fujitsu will provide hosted Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) for Freehills’ e-discovery application out of a local Fujitsu data centre.

However, the Perpetual gig is obviously worth a lot more dollars and carries a lot more weight. It will also requires a lot of work. While, Perpetual has been slowly cleaning up its house with regards to IT the enormity of the task awaiting Fujitsu must not be underestimated.

Big organisations like Perpetual carry a substantial amount of baggage with regards to legacy systems, but Fujitsu NSW general manager of sales Martin Clarke says that the company has what it takes to get the job done.

“We will approach it across the board; we will use our methodology and do what we need to do. We are not singling out any specific area,” Clarke says.

“They have a 24/7 operation so we need to ensure that we move everything from its current state into a much more effective operation over time, and bring that technology to bear. At the same time we have to keep the whole thing going.” 

While about a 100 jobs at Perpetual's IT team have been earmarked for termination, Clarke told Technology Spectator that there is a chance that some existing staffers will be asked to join Fujitsu.

"Perpetual has indicated to us a number of key resources that they would like us to use anfd we will be making this people offers."

Woolworth's handy mobile deployment

Moving to the retail sector, Woolworths has equipped its 890 supermarket store managers with iPads as the retailer gets serious about mobility. This mobility message has been further reinforced with a push to integrate Google Apps into the business with each manager getting a Gmail account

That’s not all, Woolworths has also introduced a custom-made application, Tap for Support, which is built on Google App Engine and allows staff to log a support ticket with Woolworths HQ.

According to Woolworths head of Run IT Damon Rees, picking something that was totally easy was a key consideration.

“It was very important that we picked something that was totally easy to use and most people are familiar with the intuitive nature of Google from their personal lives,” Rees wrote in a blog post.

“As Google is cloud-based and device agnostic, it enables us to work the system across our existing and future IT infrastructure.”

While the potential of technology to make a tangible, positive difference for retailers has never been in doubt, here is an example of a methodical deployment which could well set the stage for how things will be done in the future.

Not only does it provide the flexibility that allows managers to stay on the shop floor while attending to administrative tasks, the use of the customised app is a positive illustration of how the retailer intends to further streamline its back office operations.   

Samsung, Apple and the devices bandwagon 

As the dust settles on Apple-Samsung’s US trial the focus is now shifting to the mega launches in the pipeline. Nokia, Amazon and Apple are all set to lift the lid on their latest devices and there’s the requisite amount of intrigue associated with each launch. 

Starting with Nokia, the Finnish phone maker was presumably looking forward to unveil the first Windows 8 phone, i.e. until Samsung decided to steal its thunder.  By the way, Motorola also has a product launch in mind and it’s on the same day as the Nokia launch.  Both Nokia and Microsoft have a lot riding on a successful launch and Samsung’s pre-emptive Windows 8 has apparently bent a few noses out of joint at both companies.

Meanwhile, Amazon has decided to spice things up by dumping Google Maps from the next Kindle Fire, which is apparently set to see the light of day on September 6.  With the Kindle Fire selling out in the US Amazon is hoping to cement its place in the tablet business, especially in the 7-inch form factor. However, one gets the sense that Amazon wasn’t perhaps over the moon when Google decided to make its foray into the hardware space with the Nexus 7 and dropping Google Maps is all about sending a message, Of course things are only going to get more interesting once the iPad ‘Mini’ comes out to play.

Finally, just to highlight how pointless the patent fight between Samsung and Apple is becoming, the Korean giant is reportedly threatening to sue Apple if it releases any devices with advanced long-term evolution (LTE) mobile technology.  Well, that’s exactly what’s in store in the iPhone 5 and let’s not forget that the iPad 3 already has LTE capability.

So does Samsung really have a case here or is this just another ploy to use litigation to stop a product from hitting the market?

Benchmark's NBN deal, Westpac digs NFC, and Annitel's Tasmanian connection

In other local news, NSW-based estimating software services provider, Benchmark Estimating, has been chosen by NBN Co, to provide estimating software and services for projects undertaken throughout the duration of the rollout. Benchmark Estimating will provide the software that will be used by NBN Co to estimate the complex, long term projects undertaken by businesses in the Information and Communication Technologies industry. The contract includes the supply of software licences, development and consulting services as well as training for users throughout Australia.

Meanwhile, Westpac Banking Group has selected France’s Oberthur Technologies to provide the platform for its new pilot Android Mobile Near Field Communication “NFC” Payment application.

The bank will utilise Oberthur’s Trusted Service Manager (TSM) solution, which will allow debit cards to be securely pre-personalised into android handsets fully-equipped with a secure element embedded in the SIM card. Once the users’ virtual Debit card has been personalised on the phone, participants will be able to pay for goods simply by tapping their phone onto contactless payment readers at the checkout.

Sticking with NFC, Sydney-based Starr Partners real estate has launched a service that allows buyers to tap a for sale sign outside a property to access a 360 degree walk-through of its interior. The innovation utilises ‘tap it’ technology. When a consumer waves a smartphone at an NFC enabled for sale board, it will instantaneously take them to the relevant Starr Partners created web page providing the all-access interior view.

Elsewhere, Anittel Group has signed an agreement to provide managed voice services to the Tasmanian Government. The services will be provisioned through Anittel’s Hosted Cisco Unified Communication (UC) infrastructure. The five- year contract has a minimum value of approximately $7 million with 3 x 3 year options to renew. The value of the contract is expected to increase to a maximum of $17 million over the initial term as the current Telstra provided Spectrum endpoints are replaced. If the full contract extension options are undertaken the value of the contract would be in the order of $45 million.  

Finally, Digital Post Australia has welcomed a new global partner into the mix with Fujifilm Holdings Corporation replacing Salmat as a JV partner. Salmat’s investment and interest in Digital Post Australia has transferred to Fujifilm following Salmat’s sale of its Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) division.

Web content management and website specialist, Squiz, has announced that it will expand its Melbourne presence with the expansion of its existing Cloud Hosting Service to Melbourne in November 2012.  The Cloud Service will also provide replication and disaster recovery services in conjunction with the company's Sydney cloud platform and backup facility based in Canberra. 

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