Ex-polly Hewson joins IT industry

Software development to be kept local and rural

Former leader of the federal Liberal Party, and contender for the Prime Minister's office, Dr John Hewson has entered the IT industry by being appointed chairman of IT services firm Pisces Group.

The Pisces Group is a provider of transaction platforms for the mortgage industry and IT services across industries and turned over some $15 million in the 2007 financial year with some 75 staff.

General manager of strategy and marketing Des Papac said Hewson has a lot of opinions about technology, but because the company's key markets are in financial services and government he is a good source of information on both.

"John is close to both sectors and is well connected on the government side and he is already offering advice on how to provide services to government," Papac said.

Pisces' mortgage transaction platform is developed locally with some external input, but Papac is keen to keep it on shore.

"We found out the hard way the management cost of managing resources in India is quite high," he said. "There isn't the same gap between cost of Indian resources and local resources, and it is beginning to narrow."

An acquisition has resulted in Pisces having a small development and support office in Coffs Harbour on the NSW North coast, but Papac is looking to gain more resources from regional areas around Australia.

"The software is all developed locally and we are in the process of redeveloping the platform and extending the scope of the technology to reach a greater number of parties," he said. "We are setting ourselves up to go global. We came across an opportunity in India, but the platform is being built so it can be deployed globally."

The existing platform is developed with a mixture of Visual Basic, Java and other technologies, which Papac believes has limited its scalability.

The next generation will be built on the .Net platform and the first components are due for release in three months with the others to follow next year.

Pisces services arm focuses on niche systems integration capability around Microsoft infrastructure, security, and virtualization.

Pisces Group managing director Jega Rajan said the IT industry is rapidly changing and to have someone on the board with John's experience "across the corporate, academic, journalistic and political spectrums can only be positive".

"The Pisces Group approached John several months ago, and what impressed directors and senior management was how he took his time to fully understand our business model and the market space in which we operate," he said, adding Hewson will also help attract other talent to the board.

On his appointment, Hewson said: "There's no doubt the time has come for a significant mortgage platform. In light of the changes that are taking place in the market, especially the shake-out in the mortgage finance sector, including the broking fraternity, the opportunity for a company such as the Pisces Group that offers a platform that significantly reduces the cost of doing a mortgage transaction is enhanced."

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