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Technology boss blasts 'mining town mentality' he says is holding Qld back

Business

One of Brisbane’s biggest information technology companies says it can take on the world’s biggest corporate giants – but it can’t win over the State Government.

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Technology One chief executive Ed Chung is on a mission to change the minds of the Government’s bureaucrats, who make the decisions about IT, to buy local and he thinks the pandemic and questions over Australia’s inability to source some overseas products may help.

TechOne recently achieved a security rating known as IRAP and Chung said they were now held one of the highest security ratings of any software as a service (Saas) companies in the world.

“We are developing product here in Brisbane against SAP and Oracle, the world’s largest ERP (enterprise resource planning) providers and we are beating them, we are smashing them,’’ Chung told InQueensland.

“How can that be? How can a company founded out of a (tannery) here in Brisbane take on the world’s biggest and win? It’s the combination of a number of things. It’s the creativity and innovation of the staff we hire.

“I think with the Federal Government it is picking up traction. What I am seeing is that out of the COVID they are saying we have to make our own luck and they have always been a big supporter of TechOne and I think COVID will help build the buy local (campaign).

“The State Government says “buy local’’ but we are yet to see the words and actions being equal.

“The feds are a lot more open to it and creating action and we are thankful for that. The State Government not so much. There’s a lot of words around it but not much action.

“About 18 months ago I was at a lunch with Queensland Government bureaucrats and chief executives, they were all from listed companies.

“I asked if the Government was interested in investing in the IT community, particularly the start-up community and I was pretty quickly shut down and told “we are a mining town’’.

“This was one of the most senior bureaucrats in Government. He said we invest in tech but it’s gas tech. I was blown away.

“That is what we face.’’

Chung said Brisbane was changing, as was Australia, and technology was now a major business sector.

“There has been a lot of investment in schools and universities. There is a good university base and good talent. There are a lot of start-ups doing fantastic things. It’s really vibrant. “We should be doing more for the start-up community.

“Now, more than ever, it’s in the nation’s best interests to not only invest in, but also adopt our own, secure and reliable Australian-led technology solutions and industry as well.

“When TechnologyOne was founded in 1987, the phrase ‘no-one ever got fired for buying IBM’ was a truism in business technology circles. The implication was the imported product was inherently better and investing in the products of local businesses was a risk,” he said.

“But Australia is now light years ahead of where it was. We now have a healthy and booming tech industry, well-paid jobs and great career paths for our best and brightest tech experts and innovators. In the last decade STEM has become high profile and technology stocks make up a significant proportion of our listed companies.

“Yet as a nation we are still highly dependent on the products and services of foreign multinationals – particularly when it comes to software. This dependency is unnecessary but it may be risky too, ” Mr Chung said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy said there was a buy local policy and it was about prioritising businesses with a Queensland presence that employed Queenslanders.

The Government’s procurement strategy ensured that informed decisions were made about how government funds were used to prioritise Queensland businesses, support local jobs in regional Queensland and achieve more positive outcomes on behalf of taxpayers.

“Queensland Government contracts can bring great rewards for ICT businesses and the state through the creation of jobs where they matter most, right here in Queensland,’’ the department spokesperson said.

A local benefits test is used to evaluate benefits a business brings to local areas if awarded work for the Queensland Government.

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