Wissam Raffoul

Wissam Raffoul

Dr. Wissam Raffoul is an IBRS advisor who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, with particular expertise in IT Service Management (ITSM), process optimisation, outsourcing and Cloud strategies, enterprise systems management solutions and business-centric IT strategies. Prior to joining IBRS in August 2013, he was General Manager strategic consulting in Dimension Data advising clients on applying technology to improve business performance. Prior to joining Dimension Data, he was a Vice President in Gartner/META Group and issued various research publications covering service delivery processes, centre-of-excellence models, managing outsourcing vendors, benchmarks, maturity models, IT procurement evolution and supply/demand models. In previous positions, he headed HP ITSM consulting Practice in Australia. He also acted as an infrastructure manager, reporting to the CIO at a number of large organisations in government and in the financial and petrochemical industries.

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Conclusion: As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, many businesses’ income has been reduced, approximately 800,000 people have been made redundant and the IT budget has been significantly cut. IT organisations are left with no alternative but to improve their internal efficiency to continue meeting their committed service levels while facing a constant drop in headcount. To survive under these budget limitations during the next two years, IT must focus on efficiency quick wins that opt to reduce costs, automate highly manual activities and mitigate critical risk that may lead to service breakdowns, which in turn require significant human effort to rectify. The quick wins should be implemented within 18 months to realise the desired effect. An efficiency improvement task force should be established to make it all happen. 


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Conclusion: To respond to the digital world challenges, many organisations are transforming their operations to multi-Cloud to reduce cost, improve service efficiency and contain business risks. As a result, the multi-Cloud availability has become a critical success factor. In some cases, multi-Cloud complex architecture weaknesses have resulted in service outages and allowed ransomware attacks to severely impact business operations. The new generation ITSM tools provide effective backup and recovery facilities that are worth investigation to mitigate multi-Cloud exposures to failure.


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Conclusion: The traditional IT service management (ITSM) tools have allowed IT organisations to automate key IT processes (e. g. incident management), promote service management disciplines and meet service levels in the majority of cases. However, they were not designed for multi-Cloud management. The new generation ITSM tools address the essential multi-Cloud requirements by offering:

  • Asset discovery
  • Performance management
  • Multi-platform Cloud cost forecasting
  • Integrated Cloud security and compliance verification
  • Mechanisms to orchestrate applications workflow across platforms
  • Backup/recovery

IT organisations should assess the cost-effectiveness and relevance of the new ITSM offerings to business operations improvement1.


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Conclusion: The traditional IT service management (ITSM) tools have allowed IT organisations to automate key IT processes (e. g. incident management), promote service management disciplines and meet service levels in the majority of cases. However, they were limited in identifying service issues before impacting business operations, managing multi-Cloud environments and lacking the required speed to empower the digital transformation initiatives (e. g. releasing new software to production). Organisations wishing to modernise their IT service management practices should evaluate the new generation ITSM tools to determine their suitability and cost-effectiveness to improve their business operations.


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Post-pandemics require changes to IT services, vendors' contracts and service levels. Organisations must re-examine their service foundations to meet business expectations and remain compliant with policies and legislation during and post-pandemics.


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Conclusion: Traditional service desks which are based on voice communication and email to engage with clients are no longer adequate for the current IT market. New-generation service desks should:

  • Allow self-service to extend the hours of operations.
  • Use multiple communication channels (e. g. online chats) to make the service desk more reachable to clients.
  • Adopt artificial intelligence technology to analyse unstructured data.
  • Deploy virtual agents to reduce service desk’s staff workload.

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Conclusion: IT services are critical to reducing the impact of pandemics on public health, jobs and the overall wellbeing of nations. To prepare IT for this challenge, organisations should:

  • Embed pandemics management into their business continuity plans
  • Define fallback strategies to operate during pandemics
  • Plan the transition to the normal mode of operations when the time comes

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Conclusion: The recent use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has demonstrated the value of this type of technology to consumers and organisations. It resulted in the recent discovery of new antibiotics, the emergence of self-services (e. g. virtual agents) and the ability to analyse unstructured data to create business value. However, releasing AI solutions without integrating them into the current IT production environment, the corporate network and Cloud will limit the value realisation of artificial intelligence deployments.


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Conclusion: The increased proliferation of critical digital services has resulted in ransomware attacks becoming one of hackers’ means to make money. As a consequence, many organisations have become the victims of such attacks. IT organisations should implement a full recovery strategy to restore IT services in the event of ransomware attacks. The recovery strategy should become an integral part of the disaster recovery plan. This will raise business stakeholders’ trust in the service security and reduce the spread of this type of IT organised crime.


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Conclusion: Digital transformation is more than another software development stream to replace legacy systems by mobile applications. Digital transformation includes building a new IT capability that can improve the business bottom line. It requires increasing business performance, reducing the cost of doing business and mitigating business risks in a cost-effective manner. To support digital transformation, IT value management capabilities should be established on the following building blocks:

  • Value creation – Define and create the desired IT value needed by business lines. The IT value is a combination of services and technologies capabilities.
  • Value measurement – Measure the IT value contribution to digital transformation.
  • Value communication – Communicate the IT value contribution to business stakeholders, ensure that their expectations are met and re-adjusted (if needed) to address the business and market emerging imperatives.

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Conclusion: IT organisations wishing to migrate to Cloud should adopt a pragmatic approach that strikes a balance between migration cost, Cloud risks and benefits. The bottom line is to avoid the hidden cost (e.g. scope changes), mitigate the migration risks (e.g. effective multi-Cloud management) and realise the benefits that contribute to business performance improvement. Effective governance of the overall Cloud migration is a critical success factor.


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Conclusion: IT organisations challenged with predicting performance requirements of new digital applications should undertake end-to-end stress tests that can detect systems performance problems prior to production release. Test results should be used to define the final release dates, prepare corporate investment justifications for improving the application architecture and influence the ongoing capacity planning practices. Successful execution of the initial performance engineering exercises will result in sound deployment strategies and avoid media embarrassment. The specification of the stress tests should be clearly described in any request for proposals. The chosen vendors should have the capability to scale the new systems to the desired performance specification.


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Conclusion: Delivering mature infrastructure services depends on many factors. For example, the service levels may vary significantly. Some organisations opt for non-stop operations, others seek basic service levels that allow up to one hour unscheduled downtime per month (or more). The key challenge facing IT organisations reviewing their infrastructure is to strike a balance between service level, cost, quality and risks. To address this requirement, IBRS has developed an Infrastructure Maturity Model1 to help organisations understand the service components dependencies before selecting an infrastructure alternative.


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Conclusion: While release and change management processes have been contributing to good service availability during the last 20 years, the increased service architecture complexity caused by adopting multiple Cloud and digital services has demonstrated that release and change management methods used to date are inadequate for the new world. As a result, end users have been experiencing unscheduled downtime that has impacted their business operations and led to embarrassment in the media. This research publication provides guidance on how to raise the maturity of release and change management processes to address these critical issues.


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