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Amazon Web Services - digitech

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Amazon Australia has a workforce of more than 4,000 people across all major cities.

Amazon ramps up local operations, backing Australia’s ambition to be a leading digital economy

International tech company Amazon Web Services (AWS) is expanding its Australian footprint. It is powering digital transformation in Australian startups, companies and the public sector.

In this case study, AWS explains why Australia is fertile ground for new and emerging technologies:

  • Cloud uptake is growing rapidly; businesses are looking for more dynamic ways of working.
  • COVID-19 has expedited digital transformation.
  • The opportunity to tackle a global technology skills shortage through education.

Helping customers transform through technology

In the past 10 years, Amazon has invested A$3 billion in local infrastructure and jobs in Australia. Amazon Australia now has a workforce of more than 4,000 people across all major cities. In the last year alone, 1,000 staff have joined the company.

AWS has a large and dynamic community, with millions of active customers every month. It has more than 100,000 partners from over 150 countries. Since its Australian launch in 2012, AWS has built a portfolio of high-profile, homegrown clients. These include Kmart Group, Telstra, CSIRO, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and breakthrough startups Canva and Atlassian.

‘AWS works with hundreds of thousands of local customers in Australia to accelerate their digital transformation,’ says the company. ‘We work with many Australian organisations as they move forward and go global. Our Australian customers have built and developed some incredible products and services.’

New cloud infrastructure hub for Victoria

AWS has plans to open its second Australian infrastructure region – AWS Asia Pacific (Melbourne) Region – soon.

The new Region consists of 3 Availability Zones, each containing one or more data centres. AWS has 81 Availability Zones within 25 AWS Regions in operation today. There are 24 more Availability Zones and 8 more regions underway.

‘The opening of the Melbourne Region shows the long-term potential for Australia to be a leader in the digital economy,’ says AWS. ‘We are committed to seeing Australia and New Zealand become world-leading innovation hubs.

‘The Melbourne Region will give our customers the ability to build applications with lower latency. These applications will have even greater fault tolerance and resiliency for critical cloud workloads.’

The investment is expected to generate a host of jobs. These include data centre operators, technical engineers, and cloud architects and administrators.

‘We’re passionate about improving the skills of local developers and students,’ says AWS. ‘We are committed to supporting the next generation of IT leaders in Australia.’

Building skills in cloud computing

AWS has released the research study Unlocking APAC's Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches (accessed 15 March 2022), published by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta. The report found Australia needs an additional 6.5 million newly skilled and reskilled digital workers by 2025. This is 79% more than exists today.

AWS is on the case. Together with Swinburne University of Technology, AWS created Australia’s first cloud degree in 2020. It also has programs to help Australians reskill and build expertise in advanced technologies. These include:

  • AWS re/Start: prepares unemployed or under-employed people for careers in cloud computing
  • AWS Academy: a free, ready-to-teach cloud computing curriculum for higher education institutions
  • AWS Educate: provides training and resources to students and educators to build skills in cloud technology.
  • AWS Skill Builder: a digital learning experience available in more than 200 countries and territories, which provides free skills training to millions of people around the world.

COVID-19 spurs high-speed digital transformation

It is estimated that in just a few months in 2020, a decade’s worth of digital transformation occurred. Consumer behaviour and business operations globally changed abruptly (Source: CSIRO, Global Trade and Investment Megatrends, September 2020). In Australia, cloud usage increased from 42% to 55% (Source: ABS, Characteristics of Australian Business, released 4 June 2021).

‘COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation beyond anything anyone could have imagined,’ says AWS. It pushed the company to support its customers differently, stressing the need for flexibility and resilience.

‘We have worked hard with our customers on their digital transformation,’ says the company. ‘Our partner network worked closely with many Australian-owned small businesses and public sector customers. We delivered cloud solutions to help cope with increased demand and remote workforces. Digital transformation is critical to increasing productivity.’

Pandemic pivots: doing things differently

‘Queensland telematics organisation Bigmate pivoted its business,’ says AWS. ‘It created a new system called Thermy. Thermy easily detects if a person has an elevated body temperature – one of several possible symptoms of infection. Bigmate had been working on Thermy’s underlying technology for some time. With the rapid onset of COVID-19, it put additional resources behind Thermy’s development. It had it ready for customers in just 2 weeks.’

AWS helped contactless food ordering app HungryHungry switch to a new online delivery model. When restaurants locked down, HungryHungry enabled them to sell meals directly to diners.

As COVID-19 test rates soared, AWS began working with New South Wales Pathology to deliver test results faster. It reduced waiting time from 7 or 8 days to 24 hours. 

AWS also worked with the World Health Organization, supplying it with resources and compute capacity to help track and solve problems.

Government backing a modern digital economy

A strong digital economy is vital to Australia’s economic future. The Australian Government is championing cloud and encouraging its agencies to embrace cloud services. It is investing in incentives and infrastructure. The Digital Economy Strategy targets a range of initiatives, including:

  • building digital skills through education and training
  • investment in emerging technologies
  • encouraging business investment through tax incentives
  • enhancing government service delivery.

Australian states are bolstering investment in Australia’s technology and innovation ecosystem. Global Victoria estimates Melbourne has more cloud-specific companies and listed technology companies than any other Australian city. Amazon has committed to growing its footprint there. It is the anchor tenant of a new A$1.5 billion office precinct in Collins Street, Melbourne.

Working with Austrade and Invest Victoria to target prime contacts

AWS reached out to Austrade and Invest Victoria while looking at investment opportunities in Victoria. Austrade provided information on regulatory bodies, identified contacts and arranged introductions.

‘The know-how of officials in Austrade and Invest Victoria enabled us to connect with the right people,’ says AWS. ‘It enabled us to fulfil all the necessary processes to fast-track our investments.’

Powering future operations with renewable energy

Amazon is committed to achieving a zero-carbon output by 2040. It aims to meet all its energy needs with renewable resources by 2030. It is on a path to achieving this by 2025.

Australia is helping the company reach that target. AWS is a major investor in three Australian renewable energy projects:

  • Hawkesdale Wind Farm, Victoria
  • Gunnedah Solar Farm, NSW
  • Suntop Solar Farm, NSW.

‘Combined, these projects will generate 717,000 MWh of renewable energy every year,’ says AWS. ‘This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of almost 115,000 average Australian homes. We look forward to making continued investments in Australian renewable energy projects.’

Published: 5 April 2022

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