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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Conclusion: With the recent announcement regarding availability of Microsoft Windows 8, desktop managers are once again finding themselves with the challenge of building a business case for a desktop refresh. However, IBRS proposes that operating system upgrades should no longer be the centrepiece of the desktop refresh process. It is time to radically change how desktop refresh decisions are made. Instead, organisations should be creating an applications deployment strategy that looks not at devices and operating systems, but at ways in which to get the right applications in the right hands, no matter the device or OS.


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This month Microsoft unveiled aspects of its new Windows 8 operating system at the Build developers’ conference. A significant change in the new OS is the use of the “Metro” style user interface, which will be familiar to anyone who has used Windows Phone 7. Metro involves extensive use of multi-touch and “tiles” that represent both applications and live data, instead of icons and menus. The Metro user interface metaphor is arguably one of the most creative and context aware on the market, and is well suited for mobile devices and tablets. However, will Microsoft be able to bring this new User Interface to the traditional desktop space? To answer this question, we need examine three issues.


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Conclusion: Mature Unified Communications (MUC) is more than a blending of messaging, voice, and presence information. The coming wave of unified communications will be executed as part of a larger ’worker mobility’ strategy and be more closely coupled with business processes. This type of unified communications allows significant organisational structural change. Thus, planning for MUC begins with an examination of organisational processes and discovery of where knowledge is located within the organisation, and then evolves into a discussion regarding how to restructure teams to gain a competitive advantage.


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Conclusion: Market and technological forces are minimising the value of the Microsoft Office client, and pushing the true value proposition for productivity services to backend services. Microsoft’s evolving product, marketing and licensing strategies to support this trend. Understanding Microsoft’s strategy is important when planning future desktop deployments, as well as collaboration and mobility strategies.


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Conclusion: Google’s recent announcement that it was depreciating its Translation APIs (application program interfaces) with minimal notice sent shock waves through the world of translation services and developers of mobile, consumer and even enterprise software. After the initial announcement, Google changed its position and stated API services would be offered on a pay-per-use basis. Google’s moves highlights risks associated with public APIs that are provided under ‘terms of use’ rather than firm contractual agreements. As cloud services evolve, the use of free API services allow vendors to effectively hold enterprises and developers to ransom. Organisations must consider carefully the risks of free APIs, and create risk mitigation strategies while still reaping the considerable benefits these services deliver.


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Conclusion: IBRS has identified three broad approaches to Microsoft Office upgrades. In this research, we examine the benefits and challenges of each approach, and key considerations for planning. Organisations with more than 750 seats should avoid ad hoc Office deployments and take time to get their migration strategy in place, or risk creating a “demand feedback loop” that will result in higher costs and dissatisfaction with the IT department.


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Conclusion:  Moving from Office 2003 or earlier, to Office 2007/2010 should not be viewed as a software upgrade. It should be viewed as a migration to a new solution architecture entirely, and planned accordingly. If an organisation treats the move to Office 2007/2010 as a simple software upgrade, not only will there be no tangible return on investment for the upgrade initiative, but it is possible that productivity may be negatively affected.


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Conclusion: Analysis of Microsoft’ recently announced licensing model for education suggests that up to 60% savings are possible for K-6 schools, with 30% savings for 7-12 education. Furthermore, Microsoft’s new cloud-based offerings provide similar opportunities for licensing rationalisation. Educational organisations planning desktop migration must carefully assess these new licensing and deployment options in order to gain the most advantage of Microsoft’s new licensing models. The licensing costs involved also raise questions regarding the pedagogical value of take-home netbooks.


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Conclusion: Organisations migrating from GroupWise or Notes should consider side-stepping on-premises email and calendaring solutions such as Microsoft Exchange, and look instead to cloud-based solutions such as Google Apps for Enterprise, BPOS / Office 365 (Exchange) or Zimbra. Doing so can deliver benefits in terms of total cost of provisioning and agility. However, this does mean that organisations with on-premises Exchange infrastructure will benefit from a move to the cloud at this time.


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Over the past two years, IBRS has come to the conclusion that many IT departments are at war with consumer mobile device trends. We have been inundated with enquiries regarding mobility and mobile devices. Questions range from how best to support secure email on iPhones, or how to manage a fleet of iPads, to how to plan for Android application deployment.

These enquiries have one thing in common: they all focus on the device.


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Conclusion: Microsoft Office 365 represents the biggest change in Microsoft since the departure of Bill Gates. While Microsoft’s evolution of its Business Productivity Online Suite to Office 365 is interesting from a technology perspective, the most important aspect of this announcement is Office 365’s licensing: Microsoft will finally offer its Office suite on a per-user basis. We now have an entirely new Microsoft licensing landscape to work with. The new licensing and deployment possibilities provided by Office 365 should be examined as part of new SOE (Standard Operating Environment) initiatives.


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Conclusion: Over the past two decades, management of the Student Information Systems (SIS) was generally in the domain of each school’s Administration. However, recent investments from the Digital Education Revolution, coupled with increasing State and Federal demands for ‘accountability’ in education, have promoted the SIS to centre stage. Essential SIS functionality now goes well beyond basic student records as it contains comparable functionality to that found in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution, along with the complexities and extent of customisations required.


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Conclusion: IBRS will be delivering research series covering the ramifications of new mobility and "consumerisation" of technology. In this first note, we provide an overview of current trends and make predictions on the shape of things to come.

While the introduction of the iPhone represented a milestone in consumer devices impacting IT decision-making within organisations, many strategic planners have been struggling to predict where trends in consumer technology will take us. Recent market shifts in Europe, the USA and even in Australia now provide a clear path as to how, where and why consumer devices will drive change in organisational IT. The ramifications for how enterprise solutions are developed and deployed are profound and should be top of mind for any CIO… and the COO, CFO and CEO.


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Conclusion: Organisations planning a migration from earlier versions of Office to Office 2007 or Office 2010 need to conduct an 'Office Readiness Assessment' prior to the migration - or risk significant business disruption. Rather than developing in-house assessments skills , a short term engagement with consultants experienced in Office file scanning tools and migration technologies is likely to be the most cost-effective, timely and lowest risk approach to safeguarding business continuity during Office migrations.


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