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Driven to distraction

Driven to distraction

Although the hot technologies change over the years, and the names of the companies selling them, the people pulling the strings have a tendency to reappear. Peter Kazacos is definitely one of those people. Three years ago, he sold the Kaz Group to Telstra for the tidy sum of $333 million and gradually left the industry. Whatever he walked away with from that deal, you have to imagine he probably didn't need to find a new job.

But despite that, it's far from surprising to see him back at the helm of a new business venture. I have always thought it something of a catch-22 that the drive enabling people to be so successful is the same force that won t let them rest. They are not content to spend their days driving a cart around the manicured fairways of an exclusive golf club in a tasteless pair of tweed trousers. While most of us dream of sipping cold alcoholic drinks on a boat off the coast of North Queensland and never coming back, they would be unlikely to switch off for more than an afternoon.

Within a few months and four cheques of returning to the IT fold, Kazacos has built what he claims is the largest provider of IT services in the local SME market. Buying businesses in regional areas like North Queensland and Tasmania has seen PKBA quickly establish a national presence and the acquisition of Invizage, ironically from a Telstra subsidiary, looks particularly shrewd.

Having tried his arm at competing with the multinationals for major services contracts with Kaz, PKBA will see Kazacos trying to create a recipe for successful IT services delivery in the fragmented world of SME. It will certainly be a different if no less difficult challenge.

If it was surprising to hear Kazacos give such an outspoken opinion when asked about the current situation at Kaz, his air of disappointment was more predictable. When he sold the business, there was a feeling that it was something of a natural progression; that Kaz had gone as far as it could as an Aussie battler and needed some serious financial clout if it was to progress into the upper echelons of IT services.

At the time analysts were concerned that Kaz wouldn't be a good fit within Telstra and, although it has won some major contracts along the way, those doubts look increasingly justified. It is still a leading player in the local IT services market but Kaz represents a tiny percentage of Telstra's business and it looks like the telco might be getting bored with its tech toy. It remains to be seen if there will be many takers.

Finally for this week, a big thank you to everybody that made a nomination for the inaugural ARN IT Industry Awards.

The response was fantastic and, after much deliberation, shortlists have now been drawn up for each category. The outcome rests with our panel of industry judges so good luck to all of our finalists. With more than 300 tickets already sold for the Celebration Dinner on September 26, it is shaping up to be a memorable night.


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