Starting From Scratch

Starting From Scratch

A blank technology slate, a fistful of dollars and a culture that thrives on innovation sees COMindico's CIO creating his own lasting legacy.

When Roy Chandler joined the nascent COMindico Australia as CIO in March last year, the entire company consisted of 12 people - mostly technical staff - crammed together into a little office in North Sydney.

For a brand-new company with ambitious plans to become Australia's premier wholesale provider of innovative convergent communications services, technology at hand was primitive. With Microsoft Office running on Intel PCs pretty much the sum total of tools available to get the job done, general manager, corporate marketing Annette Dockerty recalls pulling together purchase orders in Microsoft Word.

What united the team, Chandler says, was a shared enthusiasm and passion for the vision of founding shareholder and entrepreneur Wayne Passlow, the CEO of Open Telecommunications, who in November 1999 formed IPtel to build Australia's first National Internet Protocol (IP) Network. IPtel became COMindico - Australia's first convergent communications service provider - in May 2000. Passlow's vision required the new organisation to become one of Australia's leading users of state-of-the-art enterprise technology in terms of pure Internet solutions as it built its independent, convergent telecommunications network (voice, data, audio and video) spanning the continent. Technologically speaking, Chandler was the man on the spot.

Over subsequent months Chandler has helped COMindico build an infrastructure and applications designed to secure speed to market and attract new investors. He has also had the joy of doing so unhampered by legacy systems or entrenched ideas. "One of the sayings I put around is: ‘I'm creating the legacy systems of the future'," Chandler says.

For a CIO, it's a vision full of promise and scope. Not many CIOs get the chance to build a company's IT systems from scratch, he says. Chandler is relishing the opportunity and says the new organisation's deep dive into rapid implementation has been a positive experience.

"It's not often that you have the opportunity like this. I came from Vodafone where I was for five and a half years. One of the real attracting factors of coming into a company like Iptel, as it was then, and COMindico, as it is now, is the freshness of the organisation and the ability to, in effect, not have to work with legacy [systems] - to map out and architect a future network not based on, shall we say, models which may have met their use-by date."

Yet despite such advantages, there remains a real element of risk, Chandler says, especially since COMindico is a consistently early adopter and remains at the leading edge.

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