Mark Unwin

Mark Unwin

Mark Unwin is an IBRS advisor specialising in the areas of commercial contract negotiation and vendor management. Mark has a career spanning 25 years across Government, Defence, ICT, Telecommunications and Infrastructure, and in this time has developed innovative solutions to transition and transformation ICT contracts, including project management, effective negotiation and relationship management. Mark is adept at aligning ICT service providers using the ITIL service delivery model in particular encompassing service desk implementation, asset management, unified communications and collaboration, end-user computing, ERP systems design and implementation, and software deployment and licensing. Mark has negotiated software audits and licensing agreements for Microsoft, Adobe, Veritas, SAP and Oracle. Mark is CPA qualified and has supported CIOs and CFOs to justify ICT investment programs throughout his career.

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Conclusion:

The complexity and scale of Cloud operations is beyond the capability of traditional financial management processes. Today, organisations use Cloud service providers to increase agility, flexibility, and efficiency. Efficiency in this context means the speed of delivery coupled with a reduction in both capital and operational costs. However, that is not the only benefit to be derived. Operating cost reduction is a challenge to organisations that are new to the Cloud and even with those who achieved a certain maturity level. Dealing with operational cost needs in-depth Cloud financial management (CFM).

With this in mind, there are three things to consider with Cloud cost optimisation. First, assess your organisation needs and its level of maturity in using the Cloud. Second, if you lack the skills, then collaborate with a Cloud-Certified Partner (CCP). Lastly, set a collective governance system (guidelines and guardrails) to ensure the services are continuously cost-optimised.


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Conclusion

Whilst many enterprises have successfully implemented a bring your own device (BYOD) mobile policy, many have put this in the too-hard basket fearing a human resources (HR) backlash.

Revisiting the workplace mobile policy can reduce operating costs associated with device loss, breakages, and unwarranted device allocation. IT service delivery operating costs have been increasing annually as more sophisticated and expensive handsets hit the market. Meanwhile, mobile applications are creating increased security concerns which add to asset management and monitoring costs.

Now is the time to take stock and transform the organisation’s mobility space by creating a shared responsibility with staff. Mobile phone allowances are fast becoming the norm with a multitude of different models now being adopted. Choose the one that delivers cost savings across the board as there are both direct and indirect costs associated with each option.


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Conclusion

DevOps, business intelligence (BI) and data, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are all driving rapid change within IT departments. The challenge will be finding Cloud certified people to meet the rising demand.

Leaders have two main choices. Upskill their existing teams, or embark on a recruitment campaign that brings in Cloud certified professionals to manage Cloud migration and provide the ongoing support and optimisation needed to bring the full value of Cloud to IT operations.

For organisations who suddenly realise how far they are behind on the Cloud value curve, pressure will mount to deliver results quickly. Make sure staff are certified and ready to address your hybrid or multi-Cloud environments.


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Conclusion:

Fear of missing out (FOMO) drives information and communication technology (ICT) leaders to look at new ICT applications with the promise of greater benefits. Many organisations then fail to maximise the value of their existing applications and Power BI is no exception. Hidden under a Microsoft enterprise agreement, organisations and staff are often unaware of Power BIs full capabilities.

Excel still remains a default position for most data analytics. The main reason is familiarity and flexibility to construct, but it has limited access to data warehouses making it less efficient as a business intelligence (BI) tool. Complex problems require multiple spreadsheets to capture and analyse data from multiple sources. Changes are often tedious and time-consuming.

To generate meaningful business insights, ICT leaders need to initiate the use cases and upskill staff with BI tools such as Power BI which are capable of agility and real-time value add.


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Conclusion:

For enterprises and small to medium businesses (SMBs), Artificial Intelligence (AI) opportunities are widespread and industry-specific. Each industry will grapple with conversations to understand how AI can:

  1. Create competitive advantage.
  2. Complement existing business.
  3. Disrupt, or even destroy the business model that exists today.

What businesses need to plan for is that AI engineering and AI ops are destined to be the essential umbrella to govern AI in the coming decade. Hyper-automation (HA) of business processes will see some business models fail whilst others thrive into the 2030s.


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Conclusion: Agility to respond to change has become essential. Compared with previous years, CIOs are expected to produce results over longer periods of time, now expectations have become much higher. Stakeholders are expecting results as soon as possible. With the trend geared towards an increase in technology dependence, the pressure of delivering results has therefore increased for CIOs and IT leaders.

Part of this new set of expectations is improved efficiency and productivity, which in most cases requires a thorough evaluation of business processes to garner potential inefficiencies. One of the primary tools organisations have at their disposal is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Eventually, it all boils down to whether or not the migration to S/4 HANA can be justified in terms of value-add-services. Implementation effort and run costs are only a part of the business case, not the whole.


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Conclusion: Organisations using Microsoft Server licences should consider leveraging the full potential of recent developments in the AWS licence suite. For more than a decade, AWS Cloud services have provided different organisations reliable data servicing and fewer downtime hours. AWS suggests that it offers clients more instances and twice the performance rate on SQL servers compared to other Cloud providers. Clients will need to have a performance rating in mind to validate these services for their own use.

Over the past decade, AWS has sought to innovate its processes and features following customer feedback. For example, the AWS License Manager was developed after customer feedback as a one-stop solution that manages usage limits and enables IT licensing optimisation across a variety of software vendors and across hybrid environments. It is important for customers to compare this licence management solution with other Cloud providers to validate the additional benefits.


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Conclusion: SAP ECC on-premise versions required ownership of ERP infrastructure and multi-year licensing. The business cases for such investments considered ERP systems essential to remain competitive in IT service industries, logistics and resource-intensive sectors.

The next stage of the SAP journey recognises that Cloud infrastructure associated with S/4HANA can remove the large capital investment and reduce operating costs. Even with this infrastructure saving, the data migration risk remained with CIOs looking to identify a reliable data migration method. Any data migration considered to be high risk should be avoided in the current environment. Many are unfamiliar with the best method to migrate from on-premise SAP solutions to SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud.

SAP and its partners are now making this data migration journey not only more transparent but achievable in a timeframe that is measured in months not years. This is being achieved through Cloud platforms that can interrogate and integrate legacy data, then present migration paths in real time whilst retaining the data integrity before, during and after the migration.


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Conclusion: As-a-Service solutions offer organisations agility, flexibility and scalability but the graveyard of unused software piling up should ring alarm bells. Neglected software utilisation and compliance will be factors that should drive a new Software Asset Management (SAM) investment. The impact of an unmanaged Cloud SaaS or IaaS solution will be quickly revealed during audits. At a time when management is a focus, this should be an easy win.

Organisations will need to quickly identify if they are running single or multi-tenanted instances and whether production and non-production environments are being managed efficiently for the purposes of SAM product selection.

Selecting a SAM tool should be proportionate to the cost of non-compliance. Unmitigated software licence costs can be eye-watering. Consider these factors when selecting your SAM product for Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM):

  1. Data points
  2. Software overspend
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Compliance

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Conclusion: Increasingly, organisations are looking to improve customer experiences through effective business processes. A ready portfolio of electronic services is expected by the market which offers services using online processes. SAP is often at the core of these ecosystems due to its scalability and interconnection with other specialised applications. This type of interconnection of systems has become the new norm.

Data collection, processing, security and privacy are but some of the concerns of customers. Systematic collection of data including seamless integration and extension of processes across multiple applications are part of the customer’s expectations, albeit unseen.

Once SAP forms the core of the ICT ecosystem, the ROI concerns will not stop once SAP integration is complete. Instead, organisations carrying a large SAP licensing investment would naturally dwell on maximising the ROI. Let us explore the risks associated with achieving this ROI now SAP has shifted the definition of user licensing.


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Conclusion: Choosing to simplify the SAP migration project by removing irrelevant KPIs could increase adoption. This is the common thread for organisations that have successfully undertaken the SAP migration from on-premise to the Cloud.

Choosing an SAP certified practitioner with S/4HANA migration expertise helps reduce migration risk and enables a simpler migration strategy. SAP design for the S/4HANA suite replaces the extensive tables structures of the ECC series with a new digital core, in memory processing and reduces data storage costs.

Project risk can be minimised by considering these during the planning stage:

  1. An experienced SAP S/4HANA project team.
  2. Fully engaged executive sponsors and users.
  3. Early user engagement and user training.
  4. Allow testing to increase user confidence and reduce fear of data loss.
  5. Not underestimating the impact organisational issues will have on the project timeline.

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Conclusion: Finding technologies that meet print demand across differing personas is challenging. CIOs are being asked to replace printed documents with digital workflows but many formal documents are still printed for boards, corporate stakeholders, consumers and management. The answer can be to reduce the cost of printing and provide greater flexibility rather than simply removing printing. Remote print solutions in the Cloud should be investigated as a viable alternative to on-premise printing.

Remote worker definition is becoming broader as organisations look to reduce their footprint across leased buildings. Workers are looking at flexibility to perform their roles wherever work can be completed. The solution can be remote printing that is secure, easy to use and reliable.

Organisations need to consider print software that is operating system agnostic and allows the workforce to print from any location securely. This could eliminate the need to own or lease print hardware in your business.


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Conclusion: If your organisation has not entered a phase 1 managed print services providers (MPSP) agreement then having a clear understanding of your network connectivity, print assets and security requirements is essential before progressing to a tender. The business case needs to deliver at least 20 % savings on the current arrangements before considering value-add services to justify the request for proposal (RFP) process.

Enterprises entering phase 2 agreements with MPSPs should examine the value-add services and determine how they will contribute to further savings. Vendors will be offering automated workflows, data analytics, security and consulting services to increase the contract value.

If use case benefits are unclear, run a request for information (RFI) to enable comparative analysis of vendor capabilities.

Prior to developing the RFP, consider use cases that look at B2B or B2C workflow efficiency such as:

  1. Integration of print activities with other delivery processes
  2. Reducing resources to deliver improved outcome
  3. Accelerate the shift to digital transformation.

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Conclusion: Identifying weaknesses in vendor management will be more effective for organisations that continuously examine their processes and manage vendor performance through an optimised vendor governance framework (VGF). An effective VGF must contain overarching guidelines which are applicable for all ICT vendor categories. Examples could include delivering increased value, promoting and providing cost reductions and recommending improvement to service levels. Mature organisations plan for vendors to provide value-added solutions and/or costs reductions in the range of 10 %+ p. a.1
To ensure the VGF continues to be relevant, organisations must firstly consider their latest ICT strategy then complete gap analysis of current vendors needed to deliver the strategy. The framework needs to be flexible to meet the changing dynamics of an organisation’s various operations whilst avoiding the vendor supply chain adversely impacting service delivery.

IBRS advises assessing and developing an organisation’s vendor governance framework using the IBRS Vendor Governance Maturity Model.


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