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Ewan Perrin

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Ewan Perrin is an IBRS advisor focusing on strategy, business alignment, leadership and culture, and risk management. As a CIO and senior IT executive in the Australian government he delivered transformational change, including the Federal government’s first offshore hosted Cloud solution. He chaired the Australian Government CIO Forum, bringing over 50 CIOs together to collaborate on cross-agency and broader industry issues and initiatives. He has established an award-winning program management office, achieving international recognition by the Project Management Institute as an ‘Outstanding PM Organisation’. Prior to joining IBRS, he was an Executive Partner with Gartner based in Singapore, providing mentoring, coaching and strategic advice to CIOs and other IT leaders across Southeast Asia. He has worked extensively with Board and CEOs across many industries on delivery of strategic IT programs, both as an advisor and as a consultant. Ewan is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a company director in the human services sector.

Conclusion: The IT skills shortage is likely to worsen. In addition to technical skills, technology leaders and workers overwhelmingly recognise the value of creativity in the workplace, yet they lament their inability to effectively cultivate creativity. Creativity can unlock innovation in the enterprise, generate high levels of employee satisfaction, and make a significant contribution to corporate profit margins as well as national economies.

Creativity can be taught and strengthened, in individuals and in teams. Studies in neuroplasticity are demystifying the biology behind training the brain, demonstrating that even ‘set in their ways’ workers can improve their creativity – and productivity – using relatively simple techniques. Neuroscience is showing that we can still teach an old dog new tricks.


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Conclusion: New digital services introduce new challenges and opportunities to traditional performance measurement. Start with simple, repeatable metrics and recognise the imperfections in the initial stages of implementation. It is more important to capture data consistently and identify trends than it is to achieve precision. As the new services bed down and the organisation matures digitally, more sophisticated measures will emerge.

Measurement alone will not lead to digital success. Reliable data capture and critical analysis will yield valuable insights. Acting on these insights can lead to further investment in digital programs and be used to fine-tune existing digital services.


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Conclusion: Finding superior talent has always been a challenge, even more so now. Traditional attraction and retention strategies still have value in most situations. However, there are novel ways to think about attracting talent in a digital world, including rethinking the need to attract talent at all by rethinking the business problem.

In many cases, technical skills can be taught on the job. What is harder to teach – and is therefore highly sought after – is the triple-crown of critical thinking, creativity in problem solving and curiosity. Consider putting those three characteristics at the top of the talent wish list and adapt existing recruitment practices to identify, attract and retain the right talent.


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Conclusion: Cognitive bias has the potential to reduce decision-making effectiveness. Although bias can often streamline the process of coming to a decision, the quality of such decisions may suffer. In emerging technology areas such as process and decision automation, as well as in mainstream activities such as procurement and recruiting, unconscious biases can have a significant negative impact on individuals and on business outcomes.

Recognising the most common biases and the tendency for people to exercise these biases will increase the likelihood that sound, defensible decisions will be made. Critical thinking, empathy and actively seeking diversity are all strategies that can be used to manage these risks.


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Conclusion: There are two broad groups of digital strategies – bold and defensive. Companies that choose bolder strategies tend to be more successful. However, there are good reasons why certain enterprises should consider choosing more conservative defensive digital strategies as there are still benefits to be gained from this approach. Strategy selection depends on a variety of factors, including industry forces and other factors which make each enterprise unique. It is important not to be half-hearted about digital ambition – defensive strategies are not sufficient in the long run. Strong and committed leadership at the top and throughout the organisation is still crucial to the successful implementation of digital initiatives.


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Conclusion: Digital transformation is top of the agenda for most companies in 2019. Many organisations have initiated digital transformation programs and are seeing success with small-scale pilots. However, these activities do not easily scale across the enterprise or ecosystem, limiting an organisation’s capacity to fully realise the benefits of their digital transformation investment.

The biggest barrier to scaling is not technology. It is culture. The established culture in a stable and successful organisation is likely to resist disruption. Existing remuneration and recognition frameworks tend to reward existing behaviours. Individuals and groups will resist change if they do not believe the “digital vision”. A clear, compelling narrative is needed.

Effective scaling of digital initiatives must be led with a commitment from the top, intense communication at all levels and a clearly articulated vision of the future. Organisations that recognise this and can source the right capabilities to deliver large-scale digital transformations will have higher success rates than those which do not.


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