Joseph Sweeney

Joseph Sweeney

Dr. Joseph Sweeney is an IBRS advisor specialising in the areas of workforce transformation and the future of work, including; workplace strategies, end-user computing, collaboration, workflow and low code development, data-driven strategies, policy, and organisational cultural change. He is the author of IBRS’s Digital Workspaces methodology. Dr Sweeney has a particular focus on Microsoft, Google, AWS, VMWare, and Citrix. He often assists organisations in rationalising their licensing spend while increasing workforce engagement. He is also deeply engaged in the education sector. Joseph was awarded the University of Newcastle Medal in 2007 for his studies in Education, and his doctorate, granted in 2015, was based on research into Australia’s educational ICT policies for student device deployments.

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The Latest

19 Nov 2020: During its annual summit, Snowflake announces a series of new capabilities: a development environment called Snowpark, support for unstructured media, row-level security for improved data governance and a data market.

Why it’s Important

Of Snowflake’s recent announcements, Snowpark clearly reveals the vendor’s strategy to leverage its Cloud analytics platform to enable the development of data-intensive applications. Snowpark allows developers to write applications in their preferred languages to access information in the Snowflake data platform.

This represents an inversion of how business intelligence / analytics teams have traditionally viewed the role of a data warehouse. The rise of data warehouses was driven by limitations in computing performance: heavy analytical workloads were shifted to a dedicated platform so that application performance would not be impacted by limits of database, storage and compute power. With Cloud-native data platform architectures that remove these limitations, it is now possible to leverage the data warehouse (or at least, the analogue of what the data warehouse has become) to service applications.

Who’s Impacted

Development teams
Business intelligence / analytics architects

What’s Next?

Snowflake's strategy is evidence of a seismic shift in data analytics architecture. Along with Domo, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and other Cloud-based data platforms that take advantage of highly scalable, federated architectures, Snowflake is empowering a flip in how data can be leveraged. To take advantage of this flip, organisations should rethink the structure and roles within BI / analytics teams. IBRS has noted that many organisations continue to invest heavily in building their BI / analytics architecture with individual best-of-breed solutions (storage, databases, warehouse, analytics tools, etc), while placing less focus on the data scientists and business domain experts. With access to elastic Cloud platforms, organisations can reverse this focus - putting the business specialists and data scientists in the lead. 

Related IBRS Advisory
Workforce transformation: The four operating models of business intelligence
Key lessons from the executive roundtable on data, analytics and business value

The Latest

To cater for organisations with requirements to keep data in-country, VMware has opened a Sydney based Point of Presence (PoP) for Carbon Black Cloud in the AWS Sydney data centre. Carbon Black Cloud offers end-point security, which provides behaviour based analysis of devices. 

Why it’s Important

The market for end-point security based on behavioural analytics is growing quickly. However, it relies upon hyper scale Cloud or Cloud-like resources. The paradox is that risk-averse organisations that can benefit from this type of endpoint protection are reticent to allow as-a-Service solutions not based domestically to have access to sensitive information about their staff activities. By opening a Sydney based PoP for Carbon Black Cloud, VMware removes a policy barrier to this type of end-point security. 

Who’s Impacted

  • Desktop / digital workplace leads
  • CISO / security teams

What’s Next?

Carbon Black Cloud is one of a growing list of technology offerings in end-point security that leverage Cloud computing and AI. This market will grow rapidly as remote and hybrid working environments become a permanent part of the economy. And rightly so. In principle, IBRS does not see that data geolocation (keeping data domestically) significantly improves an organisation’s security stance, though it may provide regulatory compliance. Latency issues, especially for high-volume services, are also a consideration.

In practice, many organisations still need to address legacy policy regarding information management, and so the trend towards vendors setting up local data processing operations will continue..  

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Embracing security evolution with zero trust networking
  2. What is the security agenda for 2019?
  3. When it comes to security, when is enough... enough?

Conclusion: Despite decades of investment in new technologies and the promise of 'digital transformation', workforce productivity has languished. The problem is that technological change does not equate to process nor practice change. Put simply, doing the same things with new tools will not deliver new outcomes.

The mass move to working from home has forced a wave of change to practices: people are finally shifting from a sequential approach to work to a genuinely collaborative approach. And this work approach will remain even as staff return to the office.

The emerging wave through 2020 and beyond is process change: continual and iterative digitisation of process. Practice and process changes will be two positive legacies of the pandemic.


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The Latest

13 Nov 2020: Google Cloud announced preview availability of a serverless Database Migration Service (DMS), which enables clients to migrate MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases to Cloud SQL from on-premises environments or other clouds. 

Why it's Important 

Refactoring applications to take advantage of Cloud-native databases is one of the fastest cost-optimisation opportunities for organisations migrating to Cloud services. Cloud-native databases offer cost-efficiencies in both technical terms (e.g. storage costs) and operational savings (e.g. auto-tuning and scaling). However, the cost of migrating can be a sticking point in the development of business cases, especially where specialised outside help is required. 

Google DMS addresses the above by simplifying and reducing the cost of database migration. It eliminates the need to provision migration-specific compute resources.

Azure and AWS have their own database migration approaches, and even though Google’s solution is in its infancy, it has a solid road map.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • Enterprise Architects
  • Cloud Migration / Strategic leads

What’s Next

Organisations with Cloud migration strategies should be comparing how to not only optimise the cost of running Cloud databases, but also the cost and agility of migration. This consideration should not rest upon one use case, but assume that an increasing number of databases will be migrated over time, both from on-premise and from other Cloud providers.  

Close ‘like-for-like’ calculations suggest that Google’s MySQL database services are lower than that of both Azure and AWS, though direction comparisons are difficult given the number of possible configurations. Therefore, while Google is not a major Cloud player in the ANZ region (compared to AWS and Azure) it can be considered as an option for cost-optimisation in a multi-Cloud setting.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

10 Nov 2020: Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Data Loss Prevention (DLP) services. The DLP services are being rolled out to Office 365 customers with E3 and E5 licensing (see details on licensing below). Microsoft also introduced additional features for its DLP service, including: 

  • Sensitivity labels for DLP policies
  • Dashboard within Microsoft 365 compliance center to manage DLP alerts 
  • New conditions and exceptions for mail flow rules

Why it’s Important

The rapid introduction of collaboration tools has opened new vectors for data leakage. This was a particular worry of participants in IBRS’s recent Teams Governance Peer Roundtable, with 67% of executives having data leakage concerns. The current approach to reducing data leakage from products such as Teams is to block sharing and collaboration with external parties. While this does limit data leakage, it also eliminates one of the key benefits of new collaboration tools: the ability to create borderless work environments. 

What’s covered

E3 licensing provides DLP for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive. However, organistions will need E5 licensing for access DLP for Teams Chat and Devices/ Endpoint.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 investments. 

  • Desktop / digital workplace lead
  • Office 365 deployment leads / administrators
  • Information management teams
  • CISO

What’s Next?

Microsoft’s general release of DLP, under existing E3 and E5 licensing levels, is a potent step to addressing collaboration’s woes. While Microsoft’s DLP is not as feature laden as dedicated competitive offerings, it requires no additional budget. Effectively, Microsoft is pushing DLP down into the broader market, to organisations that may not have previously considered such solutions. Along with Microsoft Information Protection (MIP),  Microsoft DLP should be investigated as a priority feature for Office 365 deployments, especially where Microsoft Teams is being deployed with guest access enabled.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest
9 Nov 2020: Adobe announced a commitment to purchase Workfront for USD1.5b. The deal will bring Workfront’s marketing workflow and collaboration solutions into Adobe’s portfolio of ecommerce, content creation and delivery solutions.

Why it's Important
Adobe is the leader in the marketing technology landscape, with a wide portfolio of solutions for content creation and delivery. In the last three years, Adobe has aggressively pursued design and ecommerce automation through AI and related technologies. The addition of Workfront to its portfolio brings collaboration and workflow into the mix. The likely result being AI powered decision-making into marketing workflows.

Who’s Impacted
Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • eCommerce / marketing technology leads

What’s Next
Workfront and Adobe have a history of collaboration and there are cultural synergies that will likely make the merger relatively seamless from a customer perspective. In the near term (2-3 years), Workfront clients will not see a significant shift in product direction nor licensing. However, as Adobe leverages its AI capabilities into Workfront, expect to see new capabilities that benefit Adobe Marketing Cloud, Experience Manager and other products in the Adobe suite. Longer term, Workforce clients (many of whom are already Adobe clients) should prepare for the more assertive licensing audit activities for which Adobe is known.

Related IBRS Advisory

IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.


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Conclusion: Growing use of SaaS-based, low-code application development platforms will accelerate digital process innovation. However, embracing citizen developers (non-IT people who create simple but significant forms-based applications and workflows) creates issues around governance: including security, process standardisation, data quality, financial controls, integration and potentially single points of failure. There is also a need for new app integrations and service features for its stakeholders that need to be addressed before the potential for citizen developers can be fully realised.

If governed properly, low-code platforms and citizen developers can accelerate digital transformation (or at least, digitisation of processes) and in turn alleviate the load on traditional in-house development teams.


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Conclusion: The coming global recession will see ICT budgets cut, or at least constrained, in the 2021 financial year through to 2023. CIOs are now inundated with advice that boils down to this singular direction for efficiency and mostly, for survival. Although sound, this advice does not take into consideration that many CIOs have long been practising cost-efficiency. Many IT shops are already cut to the bone.

IT projects will be on the chopping block. Hence, it is crucial to prioritise now – before the cuts are mandated – which IT projects can be shelved for a few years without unacceptable risks to the organisation. It is important to note here that postponing or cancelling projects is being framed as a business risk decision. The CIO’s role is to put forward the risks of delaying or killing off a project, not to be the sole arbitrator. 


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Conclusion: In August 2020, IBRS ran a roundtable on the issue of Microsoft Support service, and specifically options for obtaining services in the most effective manner. 

The replacement of Microsoft's traditional Premier Support programs for its Unified Support program is well underway. For many organisations, the new program is a strong fit, offering a wide range of services and unlimited reactive support inquiries for a fee that is directly proportional to their Microsoft software and platform investment.  

However, for others, the program is not an ideal or cost-effective fit. During the roundtable, 16 peers shared their stories of how they have approached Microsoft support in the new era and a set of practical recommendations was developed. 


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Conclusion: For the last two decades, the market for ruggedised computing has been led by emergency, policing and military needs. The advent of lower-cost wireless networking, 4G and now 5G has prompted a sharp rise in field workers using devices and mobile-ready solutions to streamline operations. Unfortunately, legacy thinking about the type of devices to be used has prevailed: either staff get consumer devices (iOS or Android) or military-spec ruggedised devices.

There is an opportunity to rethink this polarised view of devices. Rather than seeing devices as either consumer or rugged, it is better to view devices on a spectrum of needs, including ruggedness, based on the work contexts in which they will be used.


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Conclusion: The Digital Ready Workforce Maturity Model serves as a tool to help organisations measure the digital readiness of their workforce. It provides the baseline for organisations. This insight then informs strategic planning, policies and capability development priorities for organisations to guide and subsequently monitor maturity and capability.


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Conclusion: IBRS has identified five areas of governance overlooked in the rush to deploy Teams. Organisations now need to ‘back-fill’ these areas to ensure the organisation meets its compliance obligations and reaps the full benefits of the digital collaboration environment.


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IBRS advisor Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses why it falls to individuals to look at improving their work in a post-COVID world. Dr. Sweeney comments on the need to build a culture of innovation that empowers employees to understand where improvement is needed in their job.

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