Celebrating SILLIAC 50th Anniversary

As part of the momentous celebration of 50th anniversary of SILLIAC - one of the first computers built in Australia, I attended the Computing the Future Symposium at the University of Sydney yesterday.

It was an inspiring event, hearing from the various business, technology and research leaders from our country.

The words of wisdom from Dave Murray (former CEO of Commonwealth Bank) particularly echoed well with me... he presented on 'Information and Value Creation', and his key message was that: given Australia has a fixed cost (due to commitments to social welfare), and a variable revenue (since we're a price taker in the global market), to truly create value in this high volatility environment, we need to invest in basic and long term research and focus on creating value from the generation of ideas.

Another interesting experience he shared was based on his past as the CEO of Commbank - to improve the business process efficiency, often organisations will call in a 3rd party consulting firm to help. However, what you get from the consulting firm is what they would also deliver to other organisations (including your competitors). Therefore, you do not end up with any competitive edge over your competitors. Instead, Dave Murray has found that through fruitful interactions with the scientists and engineers, and internally build up the capabilty to manage and assess your ownorganisation processes, you will have a much better chance to improve process and end up with a strong competitive edge against others in the same market. He gave an example of where CommBank has worked with CSIRO mathamaticians to build and calculate risk models, which is a core capability to the financial business, and is seeing great success.

I happen to have worked with this group of CSIRO mathematicians a few years ago, and hearing this success story from Dave Murray made me very proud to have the CSIRO heritage!