Telstra News |

We’re evolving how we think about innovation

By Kim Krogh Andersen October 9, 2020

This year has been one of the biggest in technology and digitisation adoption for Australians and businesses, Telstra included. In a period of six months, we have seen the global response to COVID-19 accelerating change that otherwise would have taken years. Our response to these challenges, and both the risks and opportunities they bring, has driven a change in how we approach innovation.

While we have always been at the forefront of telecommunications innovation in Australia, we are seeing an increased need for a coordinated response from network operators, wider industry, academia, government and other technology partners to truly deliver the best products and services that Australians want.

We are investing heavily into 5G. 5G delivers an exponential leap in network speed and capacity in a period where the demand for data and a frictionless customer experience is exploding. The true power of 5G however is that it is arriving at the same time a number of other transformative technologies are maturing. They include IoT, cloud and edge computing, AI, SD-WAN, cyber security and many others. These technologies have far reaching implications for every industry. In many ways, we are entering the fourth industrial revolution as we enter the new decade.

This creates opportunities for businesses and governments to fundamentally transform their business systems and processes. These opportunities cover everything from monitoring logistics and supply chains, land and water use management, object recognition and video analytics, autonomous vehicles and drones, and enhanced medical and cancer research.

The potential applications of these technologies are too numerous to list, and too large for one organisation to develop on its own. Our innovation focus is on how we put these transformative technologies into the hands of the smartest people across different industries, provide them access to the resources they need to learn about them, and create the best environment in which to build and test their vision.

We have started this transformation journey already. We have had a long history in driving and investing in several incubation initiatives including Telstra Labs and muru-D. Here, we’ve developed industry-leading technologies like the Telstra Data Hub, Cellular Vehicle to Anything (C-V2X), Low Altitude Airspace Management (LAAM), etc. We have also helped startup founders take their early ventures and helped them grow across a range of industries.

This year, we developed a Telstra-wide Innovation Strategy that reflects our ambitions in the current economic climate and helps drive innovation fostering external partnerships. We also know we can’t do this alone, so we will continue to partner with technology leaders, industry bodies, educational institutes – to further educate our staff and also to help create a healthy talent pipeline – and work very closely with our enterprise customers and all levels of Government.

I have highlighted some of the transformation and change we are driving this year with many more exciting announcements to come.

Emerging technology at Telstra Labs

Telstra Labs’ goal is to explore and validate emerging deep technologies that have the potential to radically transform our economy and society; 5G, AI, IoT, xR, smart cities, autonomous machines, and wireless power are some of the things we are looking at. Recently, we have partnered with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to deliver the next stage of the Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot program that will see 500 vehicles being retrofitted with C-V2X to enable communication with the road network infrastructure systems, in order to alert the driver to potentially hazardous situations.

We also continue to advance drone technology. Our Low Altitude Aviation Management (LAAM) program trials have continued into 2020 and are testing technology to enable both manned and unmanned aircraft to fly in low altitude airspace by providing a system that manages the registration, identification, mission planning, mission approvals and declaration of location of recreational drones and commercial UAVs.

Commercialising technology innovation

Our most recently commercialised incubated product is the Telstra Data Hub, developed in partnership with Microsoft. It is designed to facilitate complex data sharing and permission scenarios, while alleviating the need to create multiple, bespoke point-to-point integrations required between systems. In less than a year, the product evolved from a project incubated inside Telstra Labs into an enterprise offering solving the specialised data needs of government and industry decision makers. Some of the projects underway include optimising rural water management with the Queensland government, developing digital farming solutions with Charles Sturt University, and Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute where we are collaborating on a data sharing and analytics ecosystem focused on understanding sudden cardiac death in young people.

muru-D

muru-D, our vehicle for engagement with the start-up ecosystem is also changing. Launched in 2013 and backed by Telstra, muru-D became one of the first and largest startup accelerators in Australia. The mission of muru-D was to support emerging entrepreneurial talent and businesses in Australia and Asia-Pacific, while helping provide pathways to success.

The local ecosystem has now greatly changed and there are now many start-up accelerators from venture capitalists, global accelerators, university and government partnerships to help early stage companies develop their initial product.

As part of Telstra’s annual innovation strategy review the decision was made this year to evolve muru-D and its structure and goals, to refocus on the current innovation environment.

We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs.

Moving forward, muru-D will become Telstra’s vehicle for partnering with start-up accelerators, universities and other participants in the Australian start-up ecosystem. We will use muru-D to provide start-ups with access to our core technologies and work selectively with more mature start-ups on partnerships with Telstra as either a supplier to us or as a go-to-market partner, including consuming and building new ecosystems around our network APIs. muru-D will no longer be taking applications for future accelerator programs. And to support managing the existing muru-D portfolio, we have engaged international firm Pinsent Masons to take over the day-to-day administration of our portfolio investments.

We now want to help scale the next innovation opportunity by working closely with the current ecosystem as well as our strategic partners and universities. We are very proud to see what muru-D has become, the network of founders and mentors we’ve had the privilege to work with, its successes along the way, and where we can take the initiative moving forward.

Melbourne Connect

We’re committed to playing our part in building a pipeline of technology talent in Australia. So, we’re partnering with a number of universities to equip graduates with the skills and adaptability they need to succeed in our rapidly changing global environment. Our latest partnership is a $5M investment in the Telstra Creator Space (fabrication lab) at University of Melbourne’s new Melbourne Connect technology and innovation precinct and 10 scholarships in STEM that focus on diversity and inclusion. We have initiated a number of student technology projects focused on 5G, Network Enablers and Power Systems, and we have built a joint pipeline of future R&D projects for 2021.

We have also begun a student placement program, with two female technologists receiving the Telstra Technology and Innovation Masters Scholarships for 2020 and joining Telstra in the summer on Network Engineering and Cybersecurity Internships.

Microsoft Strategic Alliance

Recently, we extended our long-standing partnership with Microsoft to:

  • harness IoT, Edge, AI and digital twin capability to develop important new industry solutions in areas such as asset tracking, supply chain management, telematics and smart spaces;
  • leverage Azure as preferred cloud for Telstra’s ongoing internal digital transformation;
  • explore and pursue technology and data-driven solutions to advance our sustainability and climate commitments; and
  • build ground-breaking, nationally important solutions that leverage the Telstra Data Hub.

Our combined goal is to deliver more innovative products for Australians that will increase customer experience and engagement, solve business challenges, and drive a new level of technology leadership. It is a great opportunity to drive further digital innovation to strengthen the Australian economy, and to build a sustainable, connected future so everyone can thrive

We anticipate that our relationships and engagements with our partners in government, industry and academia will continue to expand in scope as well as investment. Our ambition is to make Telstra a more open organisation, where the smartest minds can work with us to bring new technologies to life, in face-to-face and virtual environments, and even on a machine to machine basis.

The market is changing rapidly and we will continue to evolve to meet the demands of a changing environment. As Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau highlighted at the 2018 World Economic Forum, “The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.”

Tech and Innovation |

Innovation and technology are the foundation of Australia’s new normal

By Kim Krogh Andersen August 24, 2020

There’s no doubt technology has helped Australians address the changes that COVID-19 has brought on. From working, learning, socialising, shopping, eating, being informed and entertained, technology has been the foundation as we attempt to continue with our lives as much as possible. COVID-19 has swiftly forced the uptake of digitisation and changed our behaviour forever.

As a nation, we have collectively invested time and resources into learning how technology can help improve our lives in 2020, and we expect it to continue to play a vital role in the years to come.

Looking forward, COVID-19 will change the way we live and work forever. Just like other times of significant change and disruption, we need to learn the lessons, adapt to a new norm, and come out of it stronger. We cannot miss this chance to ensure the pandemic becomes a catalyst for innovation and growth in order of a better future.

In the home this year, we relied heavily on a stable and fast internet connection to support our working-and-learning from home environments during the day, while depending on it for seamless video streaming and gaming in the evenings. Furthermore, Australians have increasingly realised the benefits of shopping for goods and services online. Even when COVID-19 passes, we expect our newly-formed habits to remain, having a better appreciation of a fast, strong, and reliable internet and Wi-Fi connection.

Outside of the home, innovation was also being developed and deployed to keep us safe when we leave the front door.

The Government encouraged Australians to download and use the COVIDSafe app in order to provide an easier way to automate contact tracing to reduce further infections.

Telstra’s Track and Monitor asset-tracking platform was used by a healthcare industry customer as they swiftly deployed COVID-19 triage clinics across the east coast of Australia. This helped ensure there were no misplaced expensive and in-demand equipment, especially during a time of constant change.

We also saw the fragility and our dependency on delivery and supply chain systems, exposing the lack of end-to-end visibility. As an example, we are working with major suppliers to accelerate the development of Telstra’s Connected Supply Chain product and are also negotiating with transport companies to help increase supply chain visibility with domestic deliveries.

Quick, transparent and interactive communication was also very important. Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services needed technology to help ensure compliance to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for close contacts of COVID-19 and chose Whispir’s mass communication platform to perform this function with great success.

It is more imperative than ever to ensure the country does not encounter a second wave of nation-wide infections and the respective lockdown as a result. If it were to happen, the OECD has said the Australian economy could decline by 6.3 per cent this year, which would take us back to where it was in 2016.

The technology pioneered to help manage the pandemic will continue to help us live in the ‘new normal’.

Travellers passing through Canberra Airport may notice new Temperature Screening solutions at the security check-in. This allows the airport to increase its protection against COVID-19 and includes thermal cameras to detect travellers with high temperatures. The key goal is to help reassure passengers transiting through public spaces like airports. We may see more of this type of technology installed at other public spaces like train stations, shopping centres, and maybe even at some workplaces where thousands of people pass through daily.

Traditional offices will also evolve as a result of COVID-19. Employees will demand to be allowed to continue working from home after the forced experiment pressured companies to change their flexible-working mindset and accelerate the required digitisation. This also meant the need to evolve the cyber security, technology processes, and communication and collaboration tools to enable successful remote working. The pandemic has pushed CIOs and IT departments (no matter what size) to finally modernise various procedures and systems.

Telstra’s Smart Building product already measures people’s movement through infrared sensor data to deliver insights on desk usage, meeting room usage and general occupancy levels. The product is now being expanded to measure social distancing and hygiene compliance, and will be highly relevant to all industries, especially retail, transport, health, and commercial offices.

Elsewhere, video analytics will be deployed to assist critical industries with real-time thermal scanning to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and the public. AI will help deliver insights such as people flow and count, movement analysis, alerts, and more.

There is also set to be a widespread acceleration of automation (as robots can’t contract COVID-19) which has several drivers. One of the interesting opportunities I’ve seen is robots that can clean, disinfect, help detect fever symptoms, and monitor mask and social distancing compliance.

In the home, we’ll see faster internet enabling more advanced entertainment and educational technologies. I expect further innovation in television, gaming, smart home, and communication devices will be front and centre in consumer electronics R&D in the next 12-24 months.

I have no doubt these examples of technology and innovation will be scaled even further.

COVID-19 has reinforced how critical technology is for our daily lives, specifically dependable and fast connectivity. The swift need for network reliability and resiliency when we first moved to working from home, was an early indication of how vital connectivity will be in the future.

The world is slowly exploring ultra-reliable low latency use cases like autonomous driving, remote surgery, robotics, smart cities and smart homes. 5G, Edge Computing, IoT and AI are critical technologies for us to enable these advanced scenarios, but we can’t forget security, privacy, customer experience, and operational excellence are equally as important when we embark on this journey. Because it’s people that will give purpose to technology.

COVID-19 has meant new cultural and workforce transformation for the better. We strongly believe technology plays a central role in these shifting and accelerating trends and will be the foundation in what the new normal looks like for Australians – in the home, at the office, and anywhere in between.

Cyber security control room team, development and operations in the Digital Economy of the future
Tech and Innovation | Telstra News |

Growing Australia’s digital economy out of COVID-19

By Andrew Penn June 26, 2020

When COVID-19 made many of us shut our doors, something happened. Digital doors opened in their place. We embraced technology like never before to keep businesses running, people working, kids learning and ourselves entertained.

We now have a growing digital economy – something I recently highlighted as a significant opportunity we as a nation should seize. With businesses reopening and social restrictions relaxing, (albeit with some constraints given the risk of increased infections), we should stop thinking about post-COVID-19 as only a “recovery”, but as an opportunity to grow the economy in the long term and put us in a better global position.

From the Industrial Revolution to the Great Depression, profound disruption has brought opportunities to be bold, to re-think conventional wisdom, and seek out new economic and social opportunities to help build a stronger future for everyone.

COVID-19 has proved change can be made and embraced quickly. During the height of the pandemic we saw a huge acceleration in digitisation – from telehealth to online learning, remote working and e-commerce – and the fast-tracking of numerous policy and regulatory changes to break down long-standing digital roadblocks.

As a nation we have achieved in a few months what might have taken us years to progress, and it is important that we now do not lose that momentum.

However, a single company, a single organisation or a single government cannot achieve this on its own. Through coalitions across the public and private sectors, we can affect change by removing barriers and incentivising growth so it is faster and more pervasive.

Over the past few weeks I have been Chairing the Business Council of Australia (BCA) Digital Economy and Telecommunications working group, and this is exactly our aim: to map out tangible ways we can put Australia at the forefront of a digital future – paperless, cashless and virtual – so we can come out of this stronger as a nation, not just bounce back.

This requires reform in five key areas: 

  1. Digital transition 
  2. Infrastructure 
  3. Regulation 
  4. Cyber Security 
  5. Skills  

1. Digital transition

Australia’s local businesses and enterprises pivoted quickly to ensure they could keep running – from working from home, to medical practitioners delivering telehealth consultations, we even saw interactive online cheese tasting sessions!

Technology was at the core of many businesses that adapted well. That said, a range of recent studies found that Australia’s small-to-medium enterprise sector could be substantially enhanced by a greater investment in digitising their internal processes and developing an effective web presence. Xero’s September 2019 Small Business insights indicate that businesses that boost technology spending the most grow revenue three times faster than those with the weakest technology spend.

Some options we are exploring include potential incentives and assistance to help the small business sector access the benefits of greater digitisation of business processes and an improved online presence.

2. Infrastructure

Connectivity is what powered many workers and businesses during the crisis, ensuring they could continue running.

For Australians to effectively participate in the digital economy, they need access to affordable, fast and reliable telecommunications services.

Telstra announced $500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second half of FY21 would be brought forward into the calendar year 2020, to increase capacity in our network, accelerate our roll-out of 5G, power more people with connectivity as well as provide a much needed economic boost.

With the completion of the nbn rollout nearing, there is now an opportunity for the Australian Government to develop its future vision for Australia’s digital economy and the telecommunications industry for the next decade – a vision that is technology agnostic and provides an environment that is pro-investment and pro-innovation.

3. Regulation

Governments and regulators play a significant role in enabling a digital nation, as well as ensuring as many Australians as possible can take advantage of the opportunity.

They took significant steps forward during the pandemic, including measures to help provide better access to telehealth, virtual AGMs, electronic execution of documents, and national electronic pharmacy scripts.

In the spirit of those last two initiatives, the BCA will be recommending a systematic review of regulation from federal to state to local, to eliminate barriers to a virtual and paperless society and a cashless economy.

4. Cyber Security

Last week was a timely reminder about the importance of strong cyber security, with the Prime Minister highlighting major cyber-attacks that are putting pressure on critical infrastructure and public services.

Cyber security is a large and growing area of risk for the security of the nation, and COVID-19 has increased that risk with so many people working and studying from home, away from traditional security measures.

Separately, I have been working with the Government chairing its industry advisory panel on the development of the 2020 Cyber Security Strategy. This will contain a number of significant initiatives to strengthen our collective cyber defences.

5. Skills

It was inspiring to see the flexible and innovative mindset many businesses adopted during the pandemic. This mindset needs to be deeply ingrained in Australian culture and to do this we need to invest in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM) skills.

We have partnered with five Australian universities to jointly develop critical skills and capabilities in areas such as network and software engineering, cyber security and data analytics. But we also need more people entering technology courses, and particularly more diverse talent, including female and Indigenous students.

We are also working on a suite of proposed improvements to the way industry and the education system collaborate, to ensure Australia’s school leavers have the foundation skills needed to succeed in the modern digital economy.

Australia’s opportunity to lead

The economic downturn caused by COVID-19 has left many businesses and families doing it tough and we need to do everything we can to build a stronger economy in the longer term in response.

Australia has been a world leader when it comes to protecting the nation’s health and economy during COVID-19, and now we can lead again. It will be important in so doing that this includes success for all of our communities.

I recently posed the question What type of historical moment will this turn out to be?. As life slowly begins to return to some type of normal, we are approaching a sliding doors moment.

We can go back to the way things were, or we can build on the innovative, can-do mindset that drove so many positive changes during the most significant disruption to daily life in a generation.

Remote Operations Centre, based in Perth
Business and Enterprise | Tech and Innovation |

A new frontier of innovation with advanced remote operations

By Michael Ebeid AM October 4, 2019

I’m always impressed at our team’s ability to solve problems using our networks in the pursuit of a better future for our customers, and for their customers. Today we’re unveiling a new frontier in remote operations.

Through our ongoing partnership with leading geospatial specialist Fugro, we’ve developed the ROC, or Remote Operations Centre. Based in Perth at our International Telecommunications Centre, the ROC is helping to service Fugro’s maritime operations off the coast of Western Australia in a whole new way thanks to satellites, automation and innovation.

Using our satellite network, we are working with skilled Fugro engineers to operate a fleet of maritime submersible robots. These drones beam high-definition video to remote operators in Perth from an incredible depth. Paired with the range of our satellite network, Fugro could deploy this remote drone capability to anywhere on Earth – from the coasts of Africa through to the shores of the Americas.

These robots will operate up to 4000 metres below the surface of some of the roughest oceans in the world, with duties including the remote inspection, repair and maintenance of Fugro infrastructure.

Prior to the deployment of the ROC and its fleet of subsea satellite drones, Fugro would need to deploy a manned vessel into the area to control the monitoring equipment. This presented a challenge, as crews would need to contend with rough conditions and harsh environments.

This use of satellite technology means greater efficiency for partners like Fugro, but also means greater levels of workplace safety, as it reduces the need for crewed boats to visit subsea infrastructure. Fugro can now maintain its subsea assets off the coast of Western Australia, including oil and gas resources, telecommunications cables and more.

This incredible application of our networks to the cutting-edge sector of remote robotics holds incredible potential for other industries. We’re already investigating future opportunities for the ROC in the wider market.

Industries like mining, agriculture and even those in the space sector could benefit from remote monitoring and maintenance. Any industry contending with a harsh or remote environment could benefit from the capabilities and applications we’ve created at the ROC.

We’re excited to share the work of our partnership with Fugro with other customers and industries, including the potential of using our Remote Operations Centre as a hub for innovation that can support the development of joint government and industry automation initiatives.

We truly believe we’ve uncovered a rich vein of economic opportunity for jobs and growth in the Western Australian and national economies.

Telstra Business Technology Centre - Melbourne
Business and Enterprise | Small Business | T22 | Tech and Innovation |

Bringing our business technology expertise to more customers across Melbourne

By Michael Ackland August 28, 2019

The first Telstra Business Technology Centre to be rolled out in Victoria is now open – with our new Melbourne City centre providing expert information, personalised service and ongoing support to our small business customers from the iconic Rialto building on Collins Street.

I was proud to officially open the Telstra Business Technology Centre at Melbourne City today, and to meet the dedicated team of experts who will be available both for walk-ins and by appointment to offer a one-stop-shop for advice to our small and medium-sized business partners.

Our Business Technology Centres are designed with the needs of business owners and operators in mind – no matter how simple or how complex their operations are. The staff at our Centres are highly trained with expertise in our small business solutions, whether you need to set up a website or e-commerce store, if you want a cloud service for your digital operations, or if you have more traditional needs like fixed broadband or mobile services.

The Melbourne City store is one of the 28 Telstra Business Technology Centres that we are opening around the country this year, providing bespoke support and advice to our small and medium business customers on the technology their operations need to succeed.

There are over 9000 of our small and medium business customers in the area surrounding this new Business Technology Centre in Melbourne, so we know there is a strong demand for this kind of personalised support. We know that the needs of small and medium-sized businesses are constantly changing and evolving as technology evolves, and we know you want guidance on the best and most effective ways to grow their operations.

Telstra Business Technology Centre Melbourne

Our ongoing partnership with cloud technology provider Oreta means that our Melbourne City centre can address the increasingly complex technology needs of businesses, with experts on hand in cloud services, security and multi-site networks for larger operations. An experience centre inside our new offices will also showcase the latest technology and solutions from our partners, including products from Cisco, Microsoft and Google. Telstra and Oreta have grown their relationship over time. Now, as a full-service partner, Oreta is a trusted business advisor for Telstra’s customers bringing togethertechnology vendors and Telstra’s world-class connectivity to delivergenuine customer-centric solutionsto meet the unique needs of business customers.

We’ve also recently launched Account Management Support for all our small business customers, irrespective of their size or their spend with us. We hope this is a boon for time-poor business owners – by offering them personalised support from a specialised team with extended operating hours, we want to take the burden of managing Telstra services off the hands of business owners to give them more to run their business more effectively. We will continue to roll out our Telstra Business Technology Centres around Australia throughout this year and the next. We’ve made many changes to the way we work with small business as part of our T22 strategy, and we’re always listening to better understand the needs of customers now and in the future.

Telstra Business Technology Centre Melbourne