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Conclusion: While it appears that every known test to evaluate cloud computing has been done, there are two which determine the accuracy of any savings claimed. Indeed, they could be applied to any evaluation of IT savings and not the cloud alone.

To a large degree the tests discussed here challenge some processes of cost assessment, but IT executives ought to look for better ideas and arguments. It should be possible to ask questions of consultants and vendors in order to obtain better answers.

Conclusion: Web delivered applications, along with specific Web 2.0 tools, have created new, and possibly higher expectations of online interaction from users. As government, at all levels except local, continues to examine ways to deploy these tools and raise its interactive capabilities, it will have to develop customer-centric techniques and possibly behaviour too, or else stumble in the attempt.

In evolving customised government channels the planning process will need greater attention than has hitherto been given to government channels and website content management. In addition, considerations of technology deployment will require a deeper level of strategic priorities and future proofing.

Conclusion: Despite better and more available government services online there are considerable gaps in service quality. These gaps, or dissatisfaction, with services are based primarily in users' ability to deal with accessibility, navigation and understanding of government services and information.

There are two recommendations to be made from the five years' of usage data of government sites: Firstly, that content management, site navigation and information discovery has to be improved, and, secondly, an information marketing campaign to assist users should also be considered using the Web and traditional media to inform and educate the public.

Conclusion: Expanding Web 2.0 tools in government consolidates the current experimentation into a new range and reach of technology from established practices. Adoption of 2.0 tools may create new responsibilities and pressures for government agencies and consequently managers will have to review specific strategies and prioritise the deployment of 2.0 tools.

John Maynard Keynes is back in business. A version of his theories helped save the world’s economy last year. The English economist’s robust statement is the headline above, and it’s getting a lot of wear right now. It serves as a reminder of how being flexible is the basis of making the right decision.

As everyone breathes a sigh of Keynesian relief, there is also a spotlight on Japan as the former Asian economic powerhouse may illustrate the future for most of the developed world, technologically and economically.

Conclusion:Government does not only want to supply information and transactional services, it wants engagement from within and outside its ranks. But that ambition may be already too late.

The reality of online use is that government (including its policies and services) is part of the online knowledge system network that includes a plethora of blogs, forums, videos and mailing lists. As the Web grows in scope and complexity, the idea of developing Government 2.0 as a media policy is already history. It's time to investigate a new approach to government online.

Conclusion: More organisations are establishing explicit rules governing the use of social media. Any guidelines or functional principles for social media use should be comprehensive and practical.

Most importantly, the rules should be drafted for the specific organisation, not taken from a generic template as they will lack specific and pragmatically understood rules within the particular organisation. In so doing, the guidelines will be unambiguous. In addition, one of the objectives of a guide must be to gain complete cooperation from all staff, and consequently make compliance, and therefore sanctions, easier to apply.

Conclusion: The number of documents (reports, email, TXTs, other written material) managers read every day amounts to a huge amount of textual information. All of us are now 2.0-conditioned and are more used to absorbing sound or word-bites and less sympathetic to struggling through long documents. So you can be certain that, no matter how important the substance of your reports, your audience will not read them with as much care and attention to detail as you spent writing them. Even the management summary may get the 10 second treatment: a once-over-lightly scan to determine the document’s usefulness before giving it a proper read – or not if it doesn’t grab attention.

Bloggers know all about the 10 second treatment and the good ones construct their blogs to capture and hold their target readers. (If they don’t they lose the revenue from selling their products or the advertisements on their blog sites). Competent bloggers use successful attention grabbing and holding techniques to help ensure that their communications get the attention they deserve and convey their intended messages.

Observations: Thanks to the 2.0 world most people have learned to skim-read really quickly. This is a problem for those writing reports for management. It means that if they haven’t made the important parts easily findable and accessible then the whole report becomes invisible. Write reports, and especially, management summaries, expecting their readers initially to only scan them. Once the report has captured their attention, they will return and read more closely what they initially scanned.

The medium is the message. Marshall McCluhan1 meant by this that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role, not only by the content delivered via medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself. The widespread acceptance of PowerPoint last century (!) resulted in many documents and reports being produced in a PowerPoint-like format. Now, the ubiquitous influence of the Internet and Web 2.0 means that reports and documents are being delivered and presented in web-influenced styles.

It’s a 2.0 world, so cater for speed readers. Managers have to wade through scads of written material and become proficient speed readers, scanning at about 900 words per minute, rather than reading at about 240 words a minute. (It is likely that you will spend about 10 seconds scanning this entire note to determine its usefulness and, if it has captured your interest, will return and spend four or so minutes giving it a proper read.) Therefore, if your writing is initially going to be speed-read it is wise to write it on this assumption.

Learn from bloggers. Expert bloggers capture their readers by making it easy for them to scan the blog and find the key elements in the approximately 10 seconds they’ll initially allocate to the blog’s content. They attract the reader’s eye with:

  1. a catchy blog title,

  2. subtitles or subheadings within the blog

  3. bold, underlined, quoted, or otherwise highlighted text and hyperlinks

  4. pictures, graphs, charts, or images

  5. a summary of key findings/points/recommendations

If their scan suggests the blog is likely to meet the readers’ interests they will then go back and read the article in more depth.

Copy the bloggers. By including these keys in your document, your target audience can rapidly appreciate its value and assess the relevance of the content. After that, those who are interested will re-read it, this time in more depth, understand the message and act accordingly.

Content is king is a web catchcry, generally focused on ensuring that the web sites are easily indexed by search engines. The same meme2 applies to blog writers, wanting to ensure that blog readers see the value of the blog’s contents and return for more rather than ensuring search engine optimisation. The whole point of a blog (and your report) is the message. The person reading the blog (your report) wants to learn something or have something they ”know” confirmed – they are reading it for the content. That is why bloggers use the approach described above.

Rule number 1: Remember, busy people never read beyond the first page or maybe (the diligent ones) the second. You may still have to provide all the expected back-up bulk, but the serious content must appear early. Help the diligent ones find all the detail by using hyperlinks to the relevant components.

Rule number 2: Follow the Three Rules of Targeted Traffic to ensure those you want to read your material do so:

  1. Determine the audience you are writing for – write for them.

  2. Stay on-topic – don’t introduce irrelevant distractions.

  3. Write the document – and its title – so that your targeted reader finds it as interesting as their favourite web page.

Rule number 3: review your final document – and edit if it needs be – to make sure your target audience will read it. Check that:

  1. You’re making a unique and new point and not just regurgitating information,

  2. You’ve clearly summarised the point of your article in 2 – 3 sentences,

  3. the point you’re trying to make is apparent.

And: Move all those boring front pages containing the revision history and sign off details to an appendix with a hyperlink to them. Put the most important part of your document right up front!

Next Steps:

  1. Determine your target readers’ views of the readability, clarity and value of the documents/reports you provide them, and how they think they could be improved.

  2. Determine if a “blog-like” approach would improve their perceptions.

  3. If “Yes” set up a pilot program to “blog” a particular set of documents and monitor the response of the target audience.

  4. If it is successful, expand the program, possibly placing your non-sensitive “blogs” on your intranet.

What about – Start now – explore the option of blogging your approach as you develop your 2009/10 IT budget3.

2 Meme – A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Coined by analogy with `gene', by Richard Dawkins

3 See Start to prepare IT Budgets for 2009/10 Now IBRS February 2009

Conclusion: The possibility of enhancing websites is not high in 2009. Therefore, developing ingenious ways to improve old website properties is necessary. Evaluating and testing the website is a wise strategy in order to refresh content and enhance contact with site users.

A testing strategy should set out the business case, including the logic by which it will be conducted and the return on investment that may be expected. This focus on process will help to ensure that the testing program can achieve results and that other stakeholders within the organisation understand the objectives and purpose of such a testing program.

Conclusion: The new government broom in Canberra will implement its policies and that means the telecoms market, and in particular broadband, is set for a clean sweep that may revolutionise the Australian communications market. Before the initial tenders close on the $4.7 billion broadband strategy, sometime after June 2008, it’s timely now to investigate the background to these policies that will bring big changes in Australia.

To a large extent the broadband initiative is based on foreign experience; both South Korea and Japan being important influences. In those countries the superficial evidence of investment induced benefits to the economy from high speed broadband has captured the imagination of Australian policymakers, yet the measured economic benefits are not clear, despite the enthralment of superfast broadband and its promise for the future, and to uninvented industries.

As the scale of the projects and the size of investments are so large, the arguments about economic advantage, and lessons from foreign experience to date, and into the near future is critical; otherwise it will be difficult to dispel the impression that projects have been undertaken without adequate understanding or that simple gullibility has prevailed.

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