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Dr Peter Lawrence, CIO, Department of Defence

Byron Connolly | Feb. 7, 2013
Dr Peter Lawrence, the newly appointed CIO at the Department of Defence, admits he has "one of the larger and more complex CIO roles in Australia at the moment."

"Within the broader single information environment, standardising that and some of the products and layers that sit on top of it will allow us to manage things more simply."

"So we can scale out our document repository system objective, which will allow us to handle the data volumes. A slightly longer-term challenge for Defence is how [we] use information in a better way," he says.

Defence recently embarked on a software refresh project, to replace thousands of legacy applications with new database and middleware products to reduce duplication of applications and effort required to manage them.

"We took a PeopleSoft system and to a large extent, we customised it beyond belief," says Dr Lawrence.

"The project we are on at the moment is all about bringing a number of [PeopleSoft HR] systems onto one off-the-shelf version of PeopleSoft with minimal, if any customisation.

"That will allow us to consolidate the number of Oracle databases we have around the place in the PeopleSoft space, let alone other opportunities that come along after that."

Mobile technology on the battlefield

Although Defence has completed a successful pilot to equip soldiers with smartphones, this initiative was "very much in the predictive stage" and there are no plans to deploy these devices on the battlefield, says Dr Lawrence.

"The whole issue of smartphones in Defence is one of those where there is certainly growing demand but we haven't resolved how we are going to do it yet.

"While our push is to provide more mobile capability both to the serving part of Defence and to the rest of Defence -- we have some ways of doing that now -- if you look over the next few years, that demand will increase and it's one of those problems we are going to have to solve.

"As with most organisations, we have done really small-scale pilots, but it's by no mean anything you would comprehensively call a BYOD [bring-your-own-device] policy -- it's not at that stage.

"We know we can do certain things, meet some of our security requirements for some of the devices, but in no way does it need to be large-scale yet. Just by the nature of some of what [information] that we'd be transmitting, we've got to be sure that it's very secure and can't be intercepted."

In part two of this interview, to be published Tuesday, Dr Lawrence outlines his views on the how the modern CIO's role is changing and the effect of trends such as social media.


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