Australian tech companies react to the 2021 Budget

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Australian tech companies react to the 2021 Budget
B2B tech companies react to the budget...
Photo by Michael on Unsplash

Comment and responses as they come in...

Tony Maguire, Regional Director at D2L A/NZ

"The last 14 months have demonstrated the need to deconstruct, then reconstruct skilling and on-the-job training for Australian workers and workplaces. The Federal Budget’s $6.4 billion investment in creating jobs and uplifting skills, while welcome, is a critical starting point, not the end destination. The $216m over three years targeting skills in aged care and focussed on nursing scholarships is particularly welcome – we need to recognise the challenge in attracting and retaining skilled workers in this sector.

Many skills learned on the job are portable to dozens of others, and the attainment of these needs to be recognised through a national framework of skills-based micro-credentials developed in collaboration with the private, higher education, and vocational training sectors. This is particularly critical to achieve the Budget’s ambition to boost trades and apprentices, small business, and other skilled positions. Not for profit (NFP) providers like group training and employment organisations, with support, could be well placed to play a significant role in coalface initiatives."

Paul Leahy, Country Manager, ANZ at Qlik 

"The Australian government’s commitment to accelerating the rollout of the Consumer Data Right is a significant step forward for Australian consumers and businesses.  Consumers will benefit from having greater access and control over their data, in addition to it becoming easier for them to switch between service and utility providers.  Businesses will be able to create a more competitive market for consumers, and the significant investment into the Consumer Data Right will also drive innovation by supporting Australian businesses in their global expansion efforts.  

The move to launch a pilot program to make the Australian Government’s data assets discoverable and support whole-of-economy reuse is another positive development.  Recent Qlik research revealed that 40 percent of public sector Chief Data Officers across Australia plan to prioritise publishing open data sets in 2021.   Opening up data is not only critical for providing an improved range of services to citizens, but as Australia’s pandemic response has demonstrated, open sharing of data can improve health outcomes and make it easier for governments to make critical decisions based on the most accurate data in real-time."

Amy Foo, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Zendesk 

“We are pleased to see the government’s focus on -- and support for -- Australia’s technology and innovation ecosystem in the 2021 Federal Budget that was handed down by the Treasurer last night.

The Digital Economy strategy will help lay the foundations by building out the infrastructure and advancing our nation’s capabilities in emerging fields. Artificial intelligence has been earmarked as an area of focus, and one in which Zendesk is continuing to invest through our dedicated regional tech hub in Melbourne. These measures will help progress Australia’s digital transformation, allowing for more businesses to digitise their processes and more importantly, accelerate Australia’s economic recovery.

At Zendesk, we know there is still work to be done in representing women in tech. We welcome the government’s incentives to help more women enter non-traditional industries through industry-focused STEM scholarships. These initiatives signal the significance of continued private-public collaboration that is needed to make real progress on diversity and inclusion, and boost economic opportunities for women.”

Matthew Day, Vice President of APJ at Elastic

“It is very encouraging to see the government announce its $1.2 billion funding into the digital economy. According to NAB’s Quarterly Business Results Survey, the Australian economy is bouncing back from the pandemic, and the continued investment in tech, security, and innovation is a necessity to ensure Australian businesses can prosper in the global economy.

$100 million will be devoted to the development of digital skills, which our recent study with Forrester shows is a number one priority for CIOs working to accelerate the digitisation of their organizations.

Possibly the most significant area for investment is the nation’s cybersecurity. Alongside the government’s push to develop more secure technologies, let’s not overlook the human factor that is a dominant issue in malicious or criminal attacks. The shift to remote working due to the pandemic has weakened the perimeter security for many organizations. Between July and December 2020 alone, the Office of the Australian Information Commission reported a 20% hike in breaches caused by human error. Building trust and confidence in the digital economy will also require organizations to invest in safeguarding their data and systems with more advanced endpoint security and employee education on secure information handling practices.”

Michael Boyle, Managing Director, HP Australia and New Zealand

“Australia has been extremely fortunate to have life mostly return to normal, but there are individuals, businesses and industries that are still feeling the strain of the pandemic.

The 2021-22 Federal Budget highlighted the ongoing uncertainty ahead of us, despite Australia being in a solid position in dealing with the pandemic. Whilst there is widespread spending in a number of key areas which will improve our wellbeing and boost our economy, the budget falls short in several areas.

There’s no doubt that our international borders remaining closed until mid-2022 puts a strain on all sectors. The tech industry – like many others – relies on skilled professionals to support ongoing innovation, and often, these skills come from international student and immigrant channels. Tertiary education and graduate skills are areas that require further support, with the lack of investment in education likely to accelerate the skills gap we face.

As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pointed out, the role technology will play in helping Australia reach net-zero is critical. But the technology industry cannot solve this problem alone. New budget policy is needed to incentivise businesses to push for local net-zero targets.  It is important we address climate change together.

As we face another year of uncertainty, government, industry and community will need to work together to prioritise our vaccine roll out, with the loosening of restrictions and opening of borders key to securing Australia’s economic position and ensuring we protect the physical and mental health of all Australians.”

Simon Vatcher, managing director Australia/NZ at communications and contact centre tech company Avaya

"The Federal Budget’s $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy, including initiatives like the digital skills cadetships and increases to job opportunities, will play a key role in padding the long-term impact of the pandemic and border closures, as well as existing skills restrictions that are now being addressed.

  • However to effectively plug skills shortages and tailor the Australian workforce to the needs of our economic recovery, we need to expand our focus. As well as targeting areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity, education and training need to be enabled to address fields like computer science and distributed education from the early stages – in schools via improved IT curricula – through to professional roles.
  • Meanwhile, Australian organisations are increasing investments in adapting to the digital economy; strategies are focused on simplifying technology estates and modernising daily operations through automation, AI and advanced technologies. The digital-aligned budget, underscored by infrastructure and skills, will support those ambitions, and contribute to a broader transformation of the economy."

Claudia Pirko, ANZ Regional Director, BlackLine

"As digitisation continues to transform the Australian economy and we face an era in which both finance and accounting staff remain in short supply, this budget will support finance teams to invest in solutions which automate many of today’s day-to-day manual processes.  With borders closed, staff shortages and ongoing automation, we’ll now likely see and absolutely require the emergence of the ultra-mobile finance professional able to certify balances, approve journal entries, run reports and make key decisions from their hybrid workplace, all via their mobile phone.  Perhaps, we’ll also finally say farewell to the spreadsheet replaced by visually rich dashboards that are intuitively accessible and easy to use.  The combination of the boost in digital connectivity, investment in AI and an emphasis on deployment of e-invoicing in this budget provides a winning opportunity combination for company boards to arm finance teams with the tools and technologies to do things smarter, faster, better and remotely, if need be."

Brendan Maree, Vice President Asia Pacific, 8x8  

"It is extremely encouraging to see the Government investing in the adoption of digital technology as a catalyst for driving employment, wages and productivity growth. The Australian workplace is changing dramatically, and the announced investments, particularly into developing digital skills as well as supporting small business' adoption of digital technologies, is paving the way for a leading-edge economy."  

Will Drysdale, APAC Sales Manager, ActiveCampaign

"It’s great to see the initiative around tech growth and investment and the budget presents a robust start on a longer term need to support the development and adoption of technology within the Australian business landscape. Funding and tax breaks for SMB’s will be a key driver in the recovery of the economy in Australia, post-COVID.

We see this as an excellent opportunity for Australian SMB’s to evolve in the technology that they use so that they may engage on a more personal level with their customers providing better consumer experiences.  We’ve seen the benefits that AI has been able to bring to business so it’s refreshing to see investment in not just solutions to problems that exist today but more effective planning for the future.

The $100 million earmarked for investment into cyber skills and digital cadetship will allow the long term fostering of talent to grow Australia into a sustainable digital development hub.  This is really exciting in that it will enable the sourcing and development of more locally based talent."

Brad Newton, ANZ Managing Director, Cohesity

"It’s pleasing to see the published Digital Economy Strategy.  It has been a top priority for some time, but it needs funding and resource, which it appears it will now receive. 

Unless more established enterprises can create a digital business to compete with emergent ‘born-in-the-cloud’ players, to optimise their processes and use of data, they will create a “significant issue” with productivity at a national level, not just for themselves.

Digitisation is incredibly powerful at providing greater experiences and engagement, but it’s something that has to go right through the business or government department. We have seen the issues fragmented data causes businesses, and even those operating with a cloud-first mentality are not escaping it entirely either. Just having a mobile app bolted on as the public face to an antiquated and siloed organisation does nothing but frustrate its users, so the investment into healthcare IT is welcomed too.

The tech industry needs to be more vocal about what IT can do here and how it can help improve productivity for Australia and work with the Government, which can help promote best practices from which other departments or organisations can learn. We must all work together - this is the successful model that other countries going through a digitisation process have adopted, and I think it can work for us here in Australia too.

Public and private organisation’s CIOs have to strike a balance between providing the necessary elements of business IT, and providing the dynamic, agile and innovative ingredients that deliver the competitiveness they need to compete and survive in the digital era. If we don’t get digital sorted out, Australia will have significant problems sustaining productivity and competitiveness."

Mark Fazackerley, Regional Vice President Australia and New Zealand, Talend

"Recently I hosted a roundtable discussion group of chief information officers and senior data officers from the public sector, and one of the clear issues all were struggling with is a lack of high level sponsorship to support their initiatives, all of which had been successful, but result was that they could not keep up with the demand.  I feel the budget needs to support organisations, particularly in the public sector, in their push to digital transformation with development funding models or tax breaks to assist in building capabilities that can in turn be directly linked to improved stakeholder and citizen outcomes. Initiatives like the NSW Government’s investment in the Data Analytics Centre have demonstrated their value and a significant return, but the contest for IT budget is a tough one at best. Alongside of this we need to do more to support our local start-up community, provide better assistance in their push to develop and commercialise solutions that can in turn improve Australia’s standing in the international community. With success stories like Canva, Atlassian and Afterpay already originating from our shores, support for our innovators in Australia is of paramount importance in these days of a digital economy."

Jim Cook, ANZ Regional Director, Attivo Networks

"There is much work to do in Australia in terms of budgeting for cybersecurity.  The world is changing, borders are strengthening and nation states are using the internet to gain access to secrets.  The US recently pointed the finger at some Russian organisations for the devastating SolarWinds attacks.  We will no doubt see more of this in the years to come and the Australian government is prudent in its budget decision to continue investing in cybersecurity defences, although interesting that there is more budget available to promote electronic billing than there is for Cyber  However, it would be great to see better assistance for businesses of all sizes to protect their employees, customers and assets.

Budget funding, awareness and technology solutions are sorely needed today to support Australian business cybersecurity.  It’s unrealistic to expect small businesses owners to stay on top of the cyber threat so making it easy and cost effective to access commercial organisations who can manage their security for them is critical.  More tax incentives would certainly lift the priority in business owners’ minds and it’s important to remember that small organisations often service larger ones – and have direct connections into them.  This can be seen as a weak link in supply chain security and so SMBs should be considered to be as vulnerable and critical as larger organisations.  For larger organisations, the continued focus on holding the board accountable for loss of customer data and providing a framework of controls against which the organisation can be audited has proven to promote a better level of behaviour and investment. 

At the same time, demand for cyber security skills needs to be satisfied with new talent entering the ranks of the industry.  Funding is sorely needed to remove the “hoodie” wearing image of cyber, attract those already in IT to consider a move across to cybersecurity as well as encourage more women and those living in remote communities to consider a career in this exciting sector.  As Australians, we can’t rely on importing overseas talent to fill the demand so we must invest in our own or risk being vulnerable to attack."

Mark Lukie, APAC Sales Engineer Manager, Barracuda

"We welcome the government investments in AI technologies to help protect Australian businesses and government online services. With more and more attacks targeting digital assets such as web applications it is imperative businesses can protect themselves against evolving threats. We would like to see security being taught at a grass roots level with cybersecurity and awareness training becoming part of curriculums to educate students and prepare them to enter the workforce whilst protecting their online presence. Investments in connectivity in regional areas will allow smaller business access to corporate environments in a more resilient and secure way by employing SD-WAN technologies and combining security at the branch."

Glen Maloney, ANZ Regional Sales Manager, ExtraHop

"In the wake of the recent attacks on the healthcare sector as well as the ongoing threat of nation-state attacks, it’s promising to see the budget continuing to highlight cybersecurity as a sector for investment. However, the Federal Government needs to accelerate its collaboration with the technology industry to increase cyber awareness, share timely and relevant threat information, and partner with the private sector as well as industry associations to create a strong pipeline of future cyber talent. A Federal Government-funded campaign that focuses on educating Australian business in cyber threats should also be put in place to ensure business leaders and employees are informed of the imminent risks of cyber attacks and the potential impacts to their operations. Moreover, as cybersecurity can never take a day off, we must be constantly vigilant to ensure that what our students are taught in higher education is ultimately effective in real-world cyber security.  The Federal Government could take steps to collaborate with the sector and provide additional higher education funding to fill this void through industry placements."

Ashley Lane, APAC Sales Manager, Forbury

"Rapid changes within the Australian business environment have left many companies reeling. Until recently, most were preparing plans to cope with business reduction.  Now, they need to boost their workforce as the economy rapidly recovers from last year’s shutdowns and international borders remain firmly shut.  This budget will support companies to continue to transition to the digital economy and support potential investment in new skills and talent.  Ultimately, however, enhancing workplace productivity will need to become a key focus for many organisations as the talent shortage continues to bite.  Businesses will need a way to match employee resources to ever-changing workloads while automation of legacy, manual IT systems will need to be reviewed so that precious staff talent can be allocated to value-added projects.

Automation is a journey that begins with a hard look at the status quo to identify where bottlenecks exist and where efficiencies could be created.  Migrating as many on-premises applications as possible to the cloud during this time should help to improve visibility across the enterprise and provide business leaders with a bird’s eye view of their company’s position, at any given moment in time."

Daniel Harding, Director – Australia Operations, MaxContact

"It is great to see the government investing in rural areas using the Regional Connectivity Program. These regional areas of the country are seeing increases in population as the general public and companies realise that people can work from home, but only if the connectivity is there. For Australian contact centres, and those looking to onshore, this really opens up the landscape for them in terms of hiring skilled staff across  Australia. The knock-on effect will also boost local economies in these regions because as the connectivity increases, so does the population, and of course the cash spent in these areas.  Government funded cadetships in regionally located contact centres could also work as a great building block for employing young people, whilst also allowing companies to offer more places if they are funded correctly. It's important to note that companies who take advantage of this perhaps through the JobMaker Hiring Credit scheme will need to invest the time, effort and resources to make it a worthwhile project but it is certainly a great start.”

Christian Lucarelli, Vice President Sales Asia Pacific, Nintex

"Right now, certain policies inhibit organisations’ ability to digitally transform, so we should look beyond spending and investigate policies related to what the government is doing to strengthen Australia’s commitment to digital business. For example, regulated industries like financial services need support in their efforts to reduce paper-based forms and signatures. Paper still plays a significant role in these organisations’ processes, hindering them from providing customers with world-class service and a modernised experience.   Indeed, when it comes to spending to strengthen Australia’s commitment to digital business, I’m a big believer in building from the ground up. We should invest in the education sector to promote digital skills within all levels of education from primary school to tertiary education to create a solid foundation for driving talent to technology-related industries in Australia. 

Australians have plenty of innovative ideas, not restricted to the technology and software we put out to market, that could turn our country into a full powerhouse. We need to nurture our culture of innovation and empower companies to grow and succeed with local support and investment from our government and the Australian private sector.  I believe 100% that the Federal Government should invest in developing local IT skills and talent and the government should help to build these initiatives from scratch, support industry-based internships, invest in education, and partner with big tech companies.

With the borders shut, Australian companies across all industries have the opportunity to focus on upskilling and updating their business practices to include digital transformation initiatives, in line with what our counterparts around the globe are doing. If we are to compete against the best in the world, now is not the time for Australia to lag behind."

Sam Deckert, Founder and Principal Consultant, Peak Insight

"The billions of dollars to be allocated to aged care in the next few years will support the sector’s acceleration towards greater digitisation. It will provide a spur for innovative providers to invest in IT solutions which can deliver a high quality of care and a first class business operation with more efficient decision making and a greater ability to successfully plan current and future services.

While aged care providers can expect to be constantly challenged regarding the cost of their services as well as the quality and value they deliver, this budget provides a major opportunity for the industry to take advantage of current workplace trends in remote working, automation in areas such as e-invoicing and telehealth, as well as fast evolving communications and video collaboration technology to underpin a gold standard service befitting for the most vulnerable in our society.”

Pieter DeGunst, Managing Director, Tecala

"The government investment in Australia’s digital economy in the 2021-2022 budget will support enterprises of all sizes to emerge stronger in the post-COVID economy and encourage both growth and investment.  However, as Australian organisations grapple with remaining competitive in a testing global economic climate, many are pondering how to gain the optimal mix of skills within their workforces.  Operating in a tight jobs market, increasingly armed with a digital-first thinking mindset and with no sign of the international borders opening , IT management teams may increasingly need to call upon the skills of external third-party service companies to fulfil the void in smart talent required to support their ongoing transformation in the years ahead.  Ultimately, Australia will need to have a hard think about what type of economy it wants to shape in the years ahead, what industries it will develop and support through annual government budget cycles ahead and where the skills and talent are going to come from if the economy is to reach its potential.”

Ashley Diffey, Head of APAC and Japan, Ping Identity

"We applaud the government’s investment in supporting the Consumer Data Right in the financial services, utilities and telecommunications markets which should assist organisations in these industries to deploy technologies which balance consumer demands for access to services with protecting those same customer’ identities and data from harm.  Indeed, the optimal solutions will see identity and access management playing a key role, allowing customers to prove their authority to access services and protect their privacy while preventing malicious actors from nefarious behaviour.

At the same time, we strongly encourage the government to continue investing in cybersecurity awareness among both businesses and citizens.  As the international border is likely closed for many more months yet, the government would be wise within this budget to direct investment at scale towards upskilling cybersecurity skills and encouraging careers in IT security among indigenous communities and among women who are still vastly underrepresented in the industry.

Finally, in Australia, we take it for granted that children are taught to swim at an early age as the risk of drowning is a real one with such a vast percentage of the population living within easy reach of bodies of water.  If we consider that all children today are exposed to technology in the same way, teaching younger generations how to work with technology and manage cyber risk is akin to being able to swim. We need to do all we can to ensure that Federal Government funding for educating our youth on STEM skills is maximised to the very last dollar so that every child knows how to use technology wisely as soon as possible and that our youth can truly benefit from living in an inclusive, digital, global community."

Peter O’Connor, Vice President Asia Pacific, Snowflake

"The decision to extend the CDR and invest $16.5 million in a pilot program, to ensure government data assets are more accessible and discoverable, is a step in the right direction for ensuring that data currently siloed in different government agencies can be united, discovered, securely shared, and enable agencies to ultimately execute diverse analytic workloads across multiple clouds.

Indeed, the Australian government should direct the investment in its Digital Economy Strategy to accelerate cloud adoption and consolidate multiple copies of data into a single, secure, and well governed data platform accessible by all departments and all Australians. New services and greater efficiencies will result through enhanced collaboration and real-time inter-departmental data sharing.

In addition, although it’s great to see the government investing in digital skills, subsidising technology skills development initiatives in areas such as data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data will reduce the need to hire from abroad or outsource to overseas service providers. Opportunities to build a globally recognised leadership position in this sector don’t come around every day. Helping develop a world class AI ecosystem as outlined in the creation of a National Artificial Intelligence Centre is within reach if the government continues to recognise the need for ongoing investment in the years ahead. Companies such as Quantium, Servian, and others are testament to what is possible in Australia.

There is an opportunity for Australia to reset and build learning programs for a wider Australian audience. Much needed local skill development needs to be subsidised by the government not just in this budget but in the years ahead so Australia can continue to innovate in order to fulfil this country's unbelievable tech potential."

Budd Ilic, Regional Director – Government, Zscaler

"The Australian Federal Government has announced a modest investment of $50 million to boost government and data centre cyber security defences.  While this is significant, there still needs to be further investment particularly because of the escalating frequency of cyber attacks on not only government entities such as the two high profile attacks on the Department of Parliamentary Services but also among organisations that provide critical infrastructure in Australia.  At the same time, there also needs to be an ongoing review of how effective the spending on cybersecurity has been in recent years.

We now live in an agile, flexible and highly mobile world in which the applications and the users have "left the building".   While The Federal Government in this budget has announced an upgrade of digital service delivery, the government needs to focus on provisioning the kind of secure and trusted connectivity to business information that is as comfortable and effective for mobile users connecting to information in the cloud as was the case when everyone was office bound and all applications and data lived in a government datacentre. 

While the nature of connectedness has changed, so must the design and delivery of strategies and tools that bring both new flexibility as well as all of the security and confidence that people and organisations, especially governments, need and expect.   We would encourage the government  to focus on best of breed cloud-based cybersecurity strategies in order to deliver on an improved security posture for a more mobile workforce and a better digital platform. This will ultimately deliver service improvement across the public sector whilst ensuring a higher level of security.

At the same time, the Federal Government should definitely continue to invest in developing local cyber skills and talent. This is one area of IT where there is a significant shortage of highly skilled people. The way that it can be done is by investing in cybersecurity education in schools and universities as well as incentives for organisations to encourage employees to obtain new skills.  Ultimately, Australia should have strong ambitions and a plan of becoming a global centre of excellence for cybersecurity skills and expertise – and budget accordingly!"

Macquarie Telecom Group has welcomed the Budget as a timely infrastructure, cyber and skills boost to the Australian economy. In particular:

  • The instant asset-write-off extension, which will encourage more investment into data centres, each of which can deliver up to $1bn to the economy.
  • The $33.5M from Home Affairs to accelerate sovereign network and data security, foreshadowing a ‘push to prioritise the protection of Australia’s digital sovereignty’.
  • The $43.8M to expand the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund; $22.6M for Next Generation Emerging Tech Graduates Program; and $10.7M for the Digital Skills Cadetship; which will uplift cyber capability in Australia.
  • ‘Government should engage as much as possible with local industry to set appropriate targets for its involvement to deliver the Digital Economy Strategy, and lead by example as the largest collective buyer of ICT services’, said CEO David Tudehope.

Lars Leber, VP and Country Manager of Intuit Quickbooks Australia

"Small business owners saw the government set a course for post-pandemic recovery when Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down his Budget last night. This included a continuation and acceleration of the deregulation agenda, reducing the compliance burden by modelling corporate returns on normal business processes. Government’s always hold some announcements back for the Treasurer’s speech, so last night we saw more practical steps in the Budget encouraging small businesses to accelerate their move to digital enablement. We’ve seen during the pandemic that those already committed to digital were better equipped to come through the crisis. That’s been one of the most important learnings and we must capitalise on it.

Small business operators should feel encouraged from the outcome of the Treasurer’s budget commentary. One of the main priorities is moving closer to full employment as they are the nation’s biggest employers. Fueling investment in technology will position accountants, builders, café owners and many other small businesses to support wider economic recovery.” Lars Leber, Vice President, Intuit Quickbooks Australia.

Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia and Asia

“The Treasurer had a task to deliver a budget to secure Australia’s road to recovery. The nation’s two million small businesses, in particular, were looking to the government for announcements that give them confidence to hire and invest. 

It was pleasing to see the extension of the expanded instant asset write-off scheme and loss carry-back provisions. 

At Xero, we welcome the 2021 Federal Budget’s major focus on Australia’s technology and innovation ecosystem. The Digital Economy Strategy and the deregulation budget measures propose a foundation for increased economic participation, innovation and growth – led by the private sector. 

The $1.2 billion Digital Economy Strategy policy package illustrates a clear appreciation of major trends in this complex environment. Investment in digital infrastructure will need to more closely mirror the significant investment seen in traditional infrastructure. 

In practice, components of the strategy like a focus on e-invoicing will ultimately lead to faster payments and more efficient invoice processing for businesses. This increases productive capital available to businesses, leading to increased output and headcount.            

As a business that deploys artificial intelligence to make life easier for our small business customers, we welcome the investment in AI capability and skills and will seek opportunities to engage with the government to accelerate the application of the technology.     

The Government’s commitment to reducing red tape and recognition of regulation technology is pleasing. The Government’s explicit acknowledgement of the benefits of digitising processes and optimising regulation send a strong signal to the business community. 

For the business community, the deregulation commitment is one of the most important inclusions in the 2021 Budget.” 

Craig Cooper, CEO of Australian wearable technology company based in the United States, CardieX

"As an Australian listed company with a global presence and outlook, we welcome the Australian government’s new updates related to the research and development sector in the federal budget allocation for 2021.

Currently, our finance and R&D base is in Sydney, whilst our CEO, sales, business development and digital development teams are in the USA, and our manufacturing is in Australia and the USA. Our new devices are planned to be manufactured in Asia, and our sales are forecast to be 95% outside of Australia with the majority in the USA.

Incentivising Australian companies to diversify their manufacturing base to decrease reliance on Asia would be beneficial, given the experience of the last 24 months where Australia has seen all too well the downside of centralised market reliance. We are glad to see $1.2 billion being invested to expand manufacturing activity."

Jamie Humphrey, Managing Director, Rubrik A/NZ

"The Treasurer’s first words tonight were ‘Australia is coming back’. While many of the Budget’s commitments, including the $1.2 billion Digital Economy strategy, seek to accelerate the nation’s comeback, the increasing sophistication, proliferation, and brazenness of ransomware attackers could stop local businesses in their tracks. Recent ransomware attacks have shown just how critical data is to the operations of any enterprise – Channel Nine, Uniting Care Queensland, and Toll have all fallen victim and been taken offline.

“Canberra’s announced National Data Security Action Plan is welcome, but it is critical that it does not focus purely on preventative controls. The truth is, there is no silver bullet to stop 100 per cent of all cyber-attacks – the Action Plan must look beyond perimeter defences and prioritise remediation to ensure critical services can be rapidly restored following an attack. While the post-pandemic recovery is under way, a data strategy that priorities rapid remediation will ensure Australia’s comeback can’t be derailed by international ransomware groups.”

Lee Thompson, Managing Director at Nutanix A/NZ

“Supporting and encouraging young Australians to develop digital skills will be absolutely fundamental to Australia’s post-recession recovery and long-term economic success. The events of 2020 saw businesses across Australia embrace digital and multi-cloud operating models, but the skillsets needed to gain the most out of these investments are in incredibly short supply. While Government’s $58 million investment in the Digital Skills Cadetship Trials ($10.7 million) and Next Generation Graduates Programs ($47.3 million) are a welcome start, it will be some time until these bear fruit.

In the meantime, Australian enterprises face the immediate challenge of transforming and future-proofing their businesses. Automating low-level IT tasks can help in the interim, allowing businesses to gain the most out of their current resources – both human and digital – while also ensuring Australia’s future engineers enter a workforce that values and nurtures high-level skills, rather than just their ability to keep the lights on.”

With $124 million of the Australian federal budget announced to go toward AI research and grants, Scott Morrison’s government has made clear their intention to use AI and automation to “grow the economy, support industry competitiveness, create jobs, and improve lives” across the country.

As Australia continues to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, this budget allocation will help ensure business continuity as organisations rapidly transition to a digital landscape. It will also improve the adoption of automation technologies to further ramp up the productivity of Australian businesses and subsequently, enhance Australia’s economy.

Ravi Saraogi, co-founder and president of Uniphore 

“Uniphore is pleased to see the Australian government acknowledge the significant role AI plays in growing the country’s economy and improving the citizens quality of life. As Australians shifted to remote work models, enterprises had to rethink their business strategy and the way they have been engaging with consumers since. Organisations transitioned rapidly to digital initiatives and adopted new technologies to assist in this transition and to maintain business continuity.  

We are optimistic that the allocation of funds set out in the Budget will incentivise further adoption of artificial intelligence across Australia. It will allow economic wide benefits by elevating the country’s competitive capabilities and allowing more businesses to leverage and upgrade their existing technology. This will in turn also unlock jobs and support industries alike”

Jarrod McGrath, Author of The Digital Workforce and CEO of Smart WFM

  • “The Federal Budget has committed unprecedented investment into the digital economy, manufacturing, infrastructure, aged care and skills. All eyes now turn to how it can deliver it in a meaningful way, and workforce management (WFM), which maximises performance levels and competency, will be a telling factor.
  • “One of the key issues we see in the delivery of new technological services, in government organisations and enterprises, is failure to align those services with people and processes. This has created a range of issues including underpayment and industrial relations (IR) reform, issues which continue today.
  • “Take for example the Government’s mandate to provide a minimum three hours and 20 minutes of care per day for person in residential care. Beyond the financial cost of delivering that, it will require an overhaul of enterprise bargaining agreements (EBA) for aged care staff, digital foundation skills training, new digital systems to track how care time is spent. Many providers still use paper-based systems to manage their workforce – that can’t happen anymore.
  • “The building blocks are in place, but we can’t underestimate how important it is to apply modern WFM practice to the Government’s sectoral investment, skills training and digital economy. Doing so will ensure we don’t repeat past mistakes and create people-first digital transformation in Australia.”

Christopher Rodrigues, Head of Marketing, APAC, SailPoint

“It is encouraging to see the government investing in the foundations of Australia’s digital economy.  If this strategy is to have the desired impact, a collaborative approach to sharing information between government and businesses is vital.  

An effective digital economy will be one in which all applications and data will be available online.  For this vision to succeed, the government must ensure that the correct frameworks are in place to help businesses realise the benefits of the investment.

Businesses of all sizes understand the severe impact that cyberattacks can have, so it is essential that the government also works in partnership with the private sector to build stronger cyber defences through the adoption of technologies such as identity security.”

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager at Tenable

“We’ve been talking about the cyber skills gap for years yet the need for these professionals continues to skyrocket in Australia. We know that cyber technology skills play an integral role in our continued economic growth, and it’s positive to see this finally recognised in this year’s Budget. In addition to the $26.5 million grants program launched earlier this year, the $43.8 million investment to expand the Cyber Security Skills Partnership Innovation Fund is a great step forward to ensuring Australia has the skills it needs to stay secure and support reducing unemployment.

"While creating entry-level cybersecurity roles is a step in the right direction, immediate action can be taken by reskilling existing staff and making this a priority across both the government and private sectors. Ultimately, you cannot defend your organisation without cybersecurity professionals who are skilled in tackling the relentless cyber threats lingering in front of us. 

"In addition, the government's focus on this Budget to increase women’s participation in the workforce is fantastic to see. Across all industries, diversity of thought and experience is vital, and this is no less the case within cybersecurity. A lack of diversity is a threat to our collective success. By encouraging a more diverse workforce within the cybersecurity industry, we have a better chance of thinking outside the box and staying ahead of cyberattackers.”

Paul Soong, Regional Director at BluJay Solutions.

"The 2021 budget highlights a move towards decentralising infrastructure that strengthens the interconnectivity of the country, with a $4 billion investment into infrastructure projects that will develop resilient domestic supply chains. This infrastructure package will focus on a variety of efforts from enhancing Melbourne’s freight warehousing to building New South Wales’ longest road tunnel from Medlow Bath to Little Hartley. Regardless of the remit of these projects, Australian supply chains will need to be front and centre to support the realisation of these efforts to avoid lengthy delays and over-reliance on overseas involvement."

Steven Armitage, Director APAC of SANS Institute

"With over $100 million of the budget allocated to digital skills support and upskilling the Australian workforce, it’s great to see the Australian Government emphasise the importance of digital skills in the modern workforce, and the rapidly growing cyber workforce. 

As Australia and the globe continue to move toward an increasingly digital world, the importance of cybersecurity skills cannot be underestimated to ensure organisational cyber resilience as well as fill cybersecurity roles. As the government looks to reduce the unemployment rate across Australia, reskilling and upskilling in digital is critical to filling positions that so many organisations are in need of, which has clearly been recognised by the government."

Denham Pinder, Director of Customer Success from Contino, an enterprise DevOps and cloud transformation consultancy.

“It’s encouraging to see that the Australian Government is putting in the necessary frameworks at the highest level to bring together an overarching and comprehensive digital economy strategy which includes building the necessary foundations, the infrastructure, skills, regulations and compliance. The plan brings together a number of data strategies for example Digital Atlas that will play a foundation piece and the consumer data right (CDR) as an example of the digital framework, in addition to a digital identity system and the upskilling 15,000 new digital cadets.

CDR or open banking has transformed how banks offer products and services across the world. By democratising data through information sharing, the CDR has levelled the playing field for competitors and new digital-first banks are entering the market. Now, customers can access information that enables better decision-making when purchasing products and services, allowing them to easily switch between service providers. We have been working with the banking industry to implement their open banking strategies and are now discussions with some large players in the energy sector around open energy, so it's great to see the Government aligned. This strategy is a great stake in the ground to work towards, and will set Australia up for the future. 

In addition, the acceleration of funding of startups is a positive move to encourage more innovation and disruption. We want to create localised competition which brings high velocity and a level of urgency to legacy players who are forced to take notice.” 

Tax assistance and digitisation will attract investment and grow our economy, while major childcare and aged care reforms will give families the support they need.

PwC Chief Executive, Tom Seymour

PwC Chief Executive Tom Seymour has tonight congratulated the Federal Government for delivering a budget that supports the next phase of Australia’s business-led economic recovery and positions business at the centrepoint of Australia’s return to growth.

“This is a Budget that puts business squarely in the engine room of our economic repair and recovery. Tax measures and deregulation initiatives mean businesses have the confidence they need to take risks, grow, employ more Australians and lead through innovation,” Seymour said.

“We are pleased the Federal Government has heeded calls for reforms to grow our startup and innovation industries with changes to employee share ownership rules and the introduction of a ‘patent box’ to incentivise investment in the medical and biotechnology industries.

“We know that in order to return to a consistent position of economic growth, we need to back the sectors that best drive our future economy. That’s why we’re delighted to see support for our burgeoning innovation sector and targeted incentives to attract international talent which has the potential to propel our growth to new heights.

“We are pleased to see a continued focus on deregulation as the Federal Government continues with its agenda. While regulation is important, the settings badly need a refresh so that it strikes the right balance between providing the consumer protections our nation needs, but not at an unnecessary impediment to productivity and growth.

“COVID-19 has prompted the world to fit a decade’s worth of digitisation in a few short months. Our handling of the pandemic puts us at an advantage over many parts of the world, but we can’t protect those hard-won gains without fully embracing the digital transformation. The Budget helps businesses embrace digital opportunities through a $1.2 billion package that includes upskilling, artificial intelligence capabilities, enhanced government services and through unlocking the value of data to the economy.”

Budget helps chart a course towards a business-led recovery

“This is a Budget that helps propel the nation from a state of economic rescue to a position of economic growth. We know that it’s the businesses across the nation that are critical to ensuring Australia maintains its advantage over the rest of the world to achieve this growth - and this is a Budget that helps them do just that,” said Seymour.

“2020 saw unprecedented measures designed to protect and preserve livelihoods and shield as many businesses as possible from the brunt of the pandemic, but this time around, the Federal Budget is a blueprint for sustainable and achievable economic growth - all while improving the nation’s fiscal position.

“The Budget helps address the challenge of how we progress the litany of projects in our infrastructure pipeline, and ensures we can take a longer-term and bigger picture approach to building Australia’s future. Rather than waiting to see how COVID-19 dictates our new normal, we have an opportunity to shape it.

“Perhaps most importantly of all, the Budget recognises the challenges working parents face every day juggling their dual roles. We know that what’s good for parents is invariably going to be good for our economy, thanks to increased productivity, workforce participation and household income - it makes so much sense.

“Funding to deliver aged care reforms will give Australian families a system they can count on. We believe these are essential reforms that will give more families, older Australians and their loved ones the flexibility, support and confidence they need.”

Sustainable tax measures to drive down compliance costs, maintain economic growth and ensure sensible fiscal management

Tax measures announced by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in the Federal Budget will further drive our recovery and return Australia to sustained economic growth - encouraging those businesses ready to take the next step in their recovery, and supporting those who are not.

“As we recover from the pandemic and find our new normal, Australia’s great strengths as a leader in research and development, innovation and technology will become more important than ever before. We have the talent here in Australia to make big inroads in this sector, and now, we have the support needed from the tax system to grow that innovation here - and keep it here.

“The full expensing mechanism from last year’s Budget has and will continue to help Australian businesses grow themselves out of economic difficulty - it is the very hallmark of a business-led recovery. We have long called for this initiative to be extended. We’re equally pleased to see a further extension to the temporary loss carry back regime - another tool to help businesses recover.

“We know that there is enormous potential for economic growth in our financial services sector. Our competitiveness with our neighbours is critical when it comes to attracting investment in Australia. The Budget helps incentivise this investment.”

But according to PwC Australia, while now is not the time for wholesale tax reform, a broader and more substantial overhaul of Australia’s tax legislation is ultimately required to address the over-reliance on personal and corporate taxes, intergenerational inequities, a reliance on unsustainable tax bases, the misalignment between revenues and responsibilities, and tax avoidance through the cash economy.

“While it’s reasonable to hold off on wholesale tax reform while we recover from the COVID-19 economic crisis, these are conversations that have to be had,” said Seymour.

“Now is the time for our leaders to be planning these major reforms. Tax reform will become all the more important as the Government seeks to find new ways to support expenditure, improve equity and promote economic growth.”

Luke McCormack, vice president and managing director, APAC at Pega

“To see the government commit to investing over $500 million to enhancing government services is truly exciting news for Australian citizens. It shows the government is prioritising the right areas as Australians seek improved digital experiences when engaging government services. 

Looking ahead, it’s important for this to be a starting point and not the finish line in enhancing government services. The best experience has to be the standard across the public sector, with Australians expecting consistency, convenience and a seamless experience, every time they engage with a government agency or department.”

Lindsay Brown, Vice President of APAC at LogMeIn:

Navigating the recovery phase, it’s great to see that the government is helping build Australia’s future in a digital world. 

A recent study of ours found that 26% of the workforce plan to shift from in-office work to a remote or hybrid work style within the next two years. With the government helping small and medium businesses build their digital capacity, it will help organisations lay the foundation for a successful ‘anywhere work’ program.

Flexible work can only be as successful as the technology supporting it allows, tied in with a substantial level of digital literacy. It’s encouraging that the government is investing the digital skills of Australians to build literacy as well as investments in cyber security.

John Donovan, Managing Director of ANZ at Sophos:

It’s pleasing to see the federal government’s continued acknowledgement of the importance of cybersecurity with a $50 million allocation in the budget. As we have seen with the prominence of cyberattacks in recent months, there is a need for Australia to focus on cybersecurity moving forward as cybercriminals increase the frequency and potency of their attacks. A $50 million investment is a good starting point; however, we must continue to move forward from here to address this issue as a nation. 

As Sophos’ recent research into cybersecurity across Asia Pacific and Japan revealed, 52 per cent of Australian organisations fell victim to a successful cyberattack in the last 12 months (up 39% from 2019). In addition, 63 per cent of Australian organisations are reportedly struggling to recruit candidates with the necessary cyber skills. As these figures show, Australia is in need of continued investment in the cybersecurity industry to protect businesses and the economy.

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