Sue Johnston

Sue Johnston

Sue Johnston was an IBRS advisor between 2012 - 2021 who focused on strategy and governance of private and public enterprise ICT. She is an accomplished and innovative strategist with more than 25 years’ IT and business experience across the public and private sectors. Sue has held a number of senior executive positions with IT vendors and major management consulting companies and provides coaching to IT teams looking to change the conversation with their customers, their executive and each other. As a CIO, she has led the ICT function through significant transformation for organisations such as Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Auscript Australasia and TriCare Limited. Sue has also run a successful software development company and transitioned the company through an acquisition process. Sue chaired Innovation Committee in State Government which was responsible for generating, developing and funding innovative ideas and improving the skills and capabilities of public sector staff in pitching ideas and successfully executing innovation projects.

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Conclusion: Progressing digital transformation strategies requires a much more holistic view of service delivery and extends beyond existing business process review and business systems improvement. Designing services that support digital transformation objectives need to look at the end to end service including customer experience. Traditional business analysis activities that captured the requirements of the business process owner and are used to implement business systems will not be adequate.


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In June 2015, the then Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, introduced a report based on CEDA research titled ‘Australia’s future workforce’. The report examined the impact of the next wave of digital disruption on business activity, how automation will eliminate many of today’s current work roles and the impact of digital disruption on existing business practices.

Based on the previous industrial revolution, workers moved to metropolitan areas to gain employment. This model meant that physical proximity to a workplace was the key defining factor to both the worker seeking employment and the organisation seeking skilled and unskilled workers.

However, the CEDA report highlights that many of the current roles undertaken today — up to five million of them — will either disappear or be changed significantly by 2020. Significant automation will replace many manual and predictable activities, including accounting and even roles in the health sector. To date there has been action to adapt to the coming change in technology organisations and private companies; however, there is still significant lag in the public sector

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Conclusion: To progress digital transformation strategies there are a number of new competencies (such as problem finding and problem framing) that organisations need to recognise and master or partner with specialists to ensure that investments and efforts are aimed at solving the right problems. CIOs and business executives will need to assess the problem finding capabilities within their organisations or risk implementing a better digital solution to a problem that is no longer relevant.


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Conclusion: Australian Organisations are actively developing and refining digital transformation strategies in recognition of the changing business and government operational environment. Innovation is generously mentioned in most strategies and there has been an increase in the number of Chief Digital Officer roles being offered and filled to assist organisations to achieve the transformation they are striving for. However, organisations need to actively develop innovation and entrepreneurial skills and capabilities across their organisations to ensure that they have broad skills to contribute to transformation and innovation programs and an entrepreneurial culture to support ongoing experimentation and change.


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Conclusion: It has been well established in recent reports that future workplaces will be significantly different from today and the workers of tomorrow will demand to work differently. Technology has enabled organisations to provide greater freedom to their workers with a new, greater understanding of the strength and weaknesses of flexible working. In addition, organisations will gradually casualise their workforce for greater flexibility. Organisations that fully harness the potential of providing highly flexible or flexible and creative workplaces early will be able to attract and retain the best talent for their workforce. Other organisations will be forced to adapt as work roles and practices disappear or change radically.


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Conclusion: While benefits management is considered highly relevant to project challenges facing organisations, benefits management has proven difficult to fit into the way that the organisation undertakes projects. The potential of effective benefits management is understood, but the ability of organisations to apply it continues to lag.

Implementing a pragmatic approach which considers the culture and relative maturity of the organisation will assist in improving this key area of IT investment governance.


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Conclusion: Nearly all organisations recognise that the world, their industry, and their customers are changing. Evidence of that realisation can be seen in company restructures, strategy and vision documents, and the discourse used by executive management. Change vocabulary such as transformation, innovation, anything Cloud, as-a-service or mobile is widely used. However, history shows that even highly successful companies find change and transformation difficult, with icons such as Novell and Netscape either failing completely or being relegated to market followers.

Review of these and similar organisations shows that being overly committed to a previously winning formula, misreading the market and competition dynamics or responding to market changes too slowly were common missteps.


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Conclusion: organisations have invested considerable resources over the past decade in an effort to improve their procurement capability. ICT investments were often large, complicated, and undertaken over long periods. Companies expressed concerns that they felt vulnerable when dealing with technology vendors, and their relationships often reflected protectionist behaviour. Cloud based services and other consumerisation of ICT procurement places pressure on technology companies to perform, as their customers can theoretically switch quickly and relatively painlessly if they are unhappy with products and/or services. However, organisations will need to be smart buyers to optimise the benefits of the new services on offer, but also be good customers.


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Conclusion: all organisations implement some form of ICT governance to determine how IT will operate: they manage demand, reduce waste and overheads, identify and deliver demand, and address risks.

The scope of ICT Governance is broad and the maturity and capability within organisations to manage ICT Governance differs significantly. ICT Governance activities commonly focus on the compliance aspects of the function and miss opportunities to use them more proactively and to develop significantly better partnerships with business areas.


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Conclusion: innovation is top of mind for many CEOs across Australia. In fact, more than 86 % recognise that they need to invest more in R&D and innovation as part of the company strategy. However, there is a significant gap between the aspirations of organisations and the reality of innovation within these companies and entities. Knowing what behaviours should be demonstrated and having a plan will improve the alignment between goals and achievements. Most CIOs are being asked to drive innovation for the business, yet innovation is still more rhetoric than substance.


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Conclusion: Project Health Checks and Gateway Reviews are an excellent way of assessing the progress of a significant project, identifying issues and taking a corrective action approach that is in the best interests of the organisation. One of the obvious and highest risk periods for projects to go off the rails is the period between when a contract has been signed with a supplier and go-live day. Organisations can ensure that they have all the other elements for a successful project in place such as aligning with the strategic goals of the organisation, a rigorous options assessment resulting in a robust business case, a good governance framework and solid project team, and still have major challenges. There are some softer signs to watch, so that if is action is taken quickly, project failure can be averted.


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Conclusion: Organisations globally and across Australia increasingly understand the importance of providing products and services with a great user experience. Global companies and brands such as Google, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Kindle from Amazon have proven that user experience is an important differentiator even when something is not first to market. User experience (UX) is often confused with User Interface (UI) and organisations wanting to improve the customer experience of the products and services need to understand the difference. Organisations may increase their capabilities or engage an experienced partner to assist them to improve their user experience (UX) and it is important to understand the UX and UI roles and then apply them both in the appropriate manner so that they are not producing the wrong thing in a beautiful wrapper.


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Conclusion: Organisations across Australia are talking about innovation. Having a structured approach for idea management within organisations is critical as is receiving executive support and appropriate funding for new ideas. However, thinking differently about problems and opportunities will be a key competency in the drive for innovation. One approach such as design thinking is being utilised to great effect in other countries. There are some local occurrences but Australia is lagging and needs to take action to catch up.


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Conclusion: Virtual teams continue to be an accepted organisation mode as a means of grouping specialist and project resources together to achieve high quality outcomes. Recent research1 identifies that more than 40% or Fortune 500 companies currently utilise virtual teaming. Smaller organisations have found that technology tools provide the mechanisms to collaborative cost effectively. A key activity of virtual teams is collaborating on research, projects and reports. Understanding the purpose of the collaborative authoring activity, the personality preferences of the authors and the relationship of the authors can enable organisations to increase the quality of the output with less effort and in less elapsed time.


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