NEC's $4.38m SA cybersecurity centre key to business, services diversification, COO says

Centralising security skills in 50-strong Adelaide facility to support managed-services full press

NEC's investment in a South Australian cybersecurity centre will provide a global centre of gravity for the company's expanding roster of cybersecurity skills and services capabilities, the company's state manager has said in the wake of the company's newly announced $4.38m funding commitment.

To be housed within NEC Australia's Adelaide CBD offices, the new Global Security Intel Centre (GSIC) will bring together expertise that the company has built up over the years through government contracts such as a recent $52m win to provide biometric identification services to nationwide crime authority CrimTrac.

That contract builds on other projects in areas such as surveillance, biometrics and large-scale government service provision: NEC Australia's recent wins include whole-of-government IT service deals across South Australia and the Northern Territory as well as with agencies such as the Department of Parliamentary Services and, more recently, the Department of Education and Training.

The formation of the GSIC will complement similar facilities in Japan and Singapore and add 50 security specialists to the company's 300-strong SA workforce, NEC Australia chief operating officer Mike Barber told CSO Australia, supporting a global effort to build out the company's security competencies and leverage it into a stronger position in the burgeoning market for IT-security services.

“We have a good customer base in Australia and we really want to broaden the horizons of what we do towards services and away from products,” Barber explained. “We have really changed that model over the last 2 to 3 years, and the cybersecurity area is really complementing those other initiatives that we have in place.”

One of those initiatives, an R&D-focused memorandum of understanding with the University of Adelaide’s Smart City initiative, will be directly tied with the GSIC's areas of interest, particularly around areas such as securing the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT). Nearly $1m in South Australian government funding offered additional incentive for the location of the site, which Barber said “we could have put anywhere.”

“We've had these sorts of functions spread out across the country, with pockets of security that you do in some of these managed services deals,” he continued. “But congregating that expertise into one area makes sense: it's a perfect way to complement the other things we're doing in Adelaide.”

As the GSIC is progressively established within the company's Australian operations, a growing roster of security specialists – filled out both from the private sector and, in the longer term, through partnerships with universities – will help address lingering concerns about the availability of cybersecurity skills in Australia.

“We've got a whole new business plan over the next 3 to 5 years and we will gradually grow that,” Barber said. “Our end game is to be managing IT and helping customers through their day-to-day battles, to achieve the outcomes they're trying to achieve.”

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