Starting From Scratch

Starting From Scratch

Backed by a veritable who's who of the corporate world after the largest private equity deal in recent Australian history, COMindico has been building the new IP network to service Australia's evolving communications needs. At the time of writing, the last of 66 points of presence dotted across Australia was nearing completion.

The vision is for COMindico to deliver a comprehensive range of services to retail and business customers around Australia via a smart network. The company believes that by allowing organisations to totally outsource their communications solutions it can help them to build a closer relationship with their client base. As a national IP-based wholesale provider in Australia, COMindico's goal is for its network to deliver quality, cost-effective voice and data via an expansive market presence in Australia, and deliver new and established technologies designed to help customers to carry their business into the global economy.

COMindico has committed more than $200 million in creating its world-leading network, backed by investors including JP Morgan, AGL, AMP Henderson Global Investors, Queensland Press, Consolidated Press Holdings Group, and Wayne Passlow. With its switch network running on data routers built and installed by Cisco Systems, Cisco is also providing substantial vendor finance. COMindico is also partnering with eServ in the delivery and integration of its BSS (Business Support System). eServ will work together with COMindico and its other business partners to provide the BSS, drawing on eServ's expertise and background in delivering similar solutions to telephony carriers and service providers around the world.

"The selection of strategic technology partners is key to COMindico's business model," technology director Alec Cameron says. "Of critical consideration was the innovation offered by our partners in assisting us to develop management systems that complement our IP network and support the provision of our intelligent network services."

Dockerty says that since the executive team started coming on board last June, the company has been building a corporate culture under CEO Steve Demetriou's guidance. He was previously chief executive officer for Telstra Europe, based in London, where he spearheaded Telstra's international expansion into Europe and the UK. Demetriou is an enthusiastic advocate of measures to facilitate a self-empowered workforce, and the creation of an e-enabled environment to support employees' need to access applications and information from wherever they might be.

"Our corporate culture is one very much of innovation, encouraging individuals to be innovative and team [building]. Teaming is very important for us. These values are inherent in our HR policies from a recruitment perspective right through to our performance review policies," Dockerty says.

Part of Chandler's role was to implement technologies to support and foster that culture. Initially, he says, with no applications other than Office, his focus was predominantly internal and his role that of a traditional corporate IT manager. Apart from looking after the PCs and applications, most of his time was spent planning and building an architecture. However, with the business continuing to ramp up, there was clearly a need for an enterprise solution to meet the new business's requirements into the future.

True to that philosophy, COMindico in November announced it had become the first Australian customer to purchase PeopleSoft 8 Financials to underpin its rapidly expanding operation, and would also implement Purchasing and Billing for PeopleSoft 8. It is also moving ahead with PeopleSoft CRM 8 and is currently conducting workshops to ensure its readiness to take on the CRM implementation.

According to Chandler, the applications' Internet architecture [no code resides on the client was a deciding factor. "We wanted to be consistent in our approach by implementing Web-enabled management systems."

Chandler says COMindico partnered with consultants from PeopleSoft and IBM GSA to implement the Financials solution, combining professionals with complementary expertise in communications sector implementation projects, product functionality, project management methodologies and workflow. The combined project team began rolling out the software in September 2000 with a go live deadline of January 1, 2001. To minimise the time and expense associated with the implementation, COMindico opted for a highly vanilla configuration that it saw as allowing it to take advantage of the best practice incorporated in the solution.

"We are totally Web-enabled, we are an IP network," Chandler says. "One of the things that we wish to ensure is that the systems we deploy need to be operated from anywhere, any time, with that sort of access, integrated between the systems that you're providing. The reason why we've waited for CRM 8 is its ability to stack. I'll be actually placing the PeopleSoft applications ERP, CRM, HR, Payroll, all on the same hardware platforms. So that they all sit above each other and they all communicate with each other with interfaces that are inbuilt."

He says the system will be used internally and also supplied to customers. COMindico plans to provide a portal service which will provide customers with access to systems so they can see their use of network services and be able to log in to CRM through COMindico.

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