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Guy Cranswick

Guy Cranswick was an IBRS advisor between 2002 - 2017 who covered Google (Apps and Search), broadband/NBN, Web 2.0 technology, government and channel strategy, including areas of business productivity. Guy had worked in the UK and France as Strategy Manager for Initiative Media and director of European operations for Modem Media (Poppe Tyson), the first online marketing and development company. In Australia, Guy was Senior Analyst at both Jupiter Communications and GartnerG2 covering online technologies and strategy in Asia-Pacific. He has published analytical articles in business and technology media, including the AFR, and was the winner of the Australian Institute of Management 2003 essay prize on the topic of corporate communications.

In early September the Audit Bureau of Verification Services released its online advertising market report which showed that revenue had grown by 62.7% year-on-year to $488m. For the last five years the online advertising industry has been promoting its growing revenues as proof that it has “arrived”, and by implication, companies should use online media as an advertising channel.

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Conclusion:The Federal Government is proud of its achievements in getting community acceptance of e-government. It has connected more citizens and customers over the last 2-3 years and e-government is proving to be an efficient means of processing transactions, and disseminating information.

The Government is on the brink of taking its activities online to a new phase, which will not result in a radical overhaul of current practice, but rather a consolidation of extant systems and delivery.

Yet despite the government’s success there is considerable criticism from SMEs of what it can offer them. The magazine CRN covered this story last year. The SME’s dispute with government was concisely summed up by one ICT executive as hinging on the perceived higher financial risk, or stability, of an SME. In addition the level of liability insurance the supplier must have as required by government – which for many SMEs inhibits their engagement – means the prospect of winning government business, is remote.

In the context of the challenges for SMEs, the imminent reappraisal of e-Government policy should take into account pragmatic methods to permit this sector of the market to compete with larger enterprises. It might do this by setting an objective for SMEs to win a percentage of business by a specified timeframe. This is not a new idea and since 1953 under the Small Business Act it has been legislated in the US. The ICT sector in France has formed the Richelieu Committee to implement a similar agenda.

Alternatively, government might modify some engagement conditions, depending on circumstances, for certain types of services. In developing policy allowance must be made for the large difference between hardware, software and intellectual consulting engagements; that is, between the risks associated with one service versus another. Such practical measures may improve the competitive field for enterprises competing for government business and be a boon for SMEs who can use government contracts to develop their businesses in other markets and overseas.

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Conclusion:The analysis and discussion in the paper, The Role of Productivity (July05), examined how the productivity equation measures economic output. This paper extends that analysis to examine how productivity can and should be utilised in a business case.

Managers who use productivity as an objective in a business case would be advised to measure the current operational situation within their organisation. At first glance this may appear a difficult task but the reason is straightforward: any claim for a productivity gain will not mean what it declares unless an established benchmark is categorically defined. Moreover it will be useful in dealing with the aggressive productivity claims by vendors for their products when they can be judged in the context of an organisation’s operations.

In so doing managers who define their terms and the input criteria for productivity will be in a stronger position to make business cases and advocate investments in place of assertions.

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Conclusion:There is conflicting evidence on the role of IT in delivering higher productivity. Some studies attribute productivity gains almost entirely to IT, yet two recent surveys have found that astute management may have played a vital role.

For technology managers it’s important to understand how technology affects productivity because the argument that productivity gains can be realised often underpins business cases and investment decisions. Technology alone may not produce higher productivity but simply make the input component of the productivity equation more efficient. Under these types of conditions, therefore, the role of management becomes a key variable in realising productivity growth.

To understand how productive they are, managers should examine their organisation’s business processes and management practices over a number of dimensions. These dimensions would include business processes in conjunction with personnel quality and management; the aim of which is to know how an organisation functions as a whole and therefore to know how and where improvements to productivity may be applied.

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Conclusion:In May 2005, Google released Desktop Search for Enterprise for organisations to use Google without using their public toolbar. The enterprise search market is well served and there are a number of tools which serve particular functions depending on the requirements of the organisation. Google’s objective is to capture the enterprise search business and consolidate their dominance of the entire search function market.

As the Google Press Release disingenuously phrased the announcement:

With the addition of Google Desktop Search for Enterprise, businesses of all sizes can offer their employees one-stop Google search for the desktop, intranet, or web." Google’s aim is to enlist everyone to the use its brand and so aggregate every possible eyeball in support of its main advertising business.

One-stop use of a single brand is one of the reasons for the stock markets sentiment in pushing the Google share price to nearly US$300.

Google’s intention is to encircle individual consumers and businesses so they use Google automatically when they need information. As an information intermediary Google can capture; although it’s unclear just exactly how, information about users and connect it with businesses.

To avoid reliance on Google, examine how many of its products are used with the organisation. While there is nothing sinister in what Google are offering, managers must ensure security and privacy concerns are assessed and addressed now. Guidelines for employees using Google applications should be clarified to minimise potential risks.

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Conclusion:In the last three years company mergers in the IT industry worldwide have shrunk the number of technology related brands. New brands arising from the acquisition of companies, such as HP and Compaq, need to be reinforced by a renewed marketing effort to convey what the new brand means i.e. its service offer, value proposition, product range, style and so on.

The new merged brands are not the sum of their two parts. In some cases these brands have to reorganise their products and redefine how to sell them to achieve what they expected as a consequence of the merger or takeover. The effort on branding, that is on the style and presentation of a brand is not always persuasive on its own. A focus on product and service is essential, yet can be overlooked, even though consumers are now more able to assess the value of brands than in the past.

For buyers of technology products, whether for home use or business, the value of a brand is an essential element in the decision to buy. But as Chris Morris discussed in “What to do when your Vendor gets Acquired” (IBRS July 2003) a company’s product is a real thing, with services and functional components and management has discretion on whether to change it or let it stay, based on the design of the new business model after a merger or takeover.

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Conclusion: Recent media coverage has highlighted a shortage of qualified trades’ people in the labour market. The technology industry has not had a problem in attracting people; however, with an aging population and other market forces at play, the ICT industry also faces shortages.

In February CIO magazine reported that the ATO had moved a software development project from Canberra to Melbourne because it couldn’t fill 100 new positions required to complete the project. This instance may be exceptional, and Canberra is an atypical labour market, but nevertheless it is a sign. <p ">   <p "> With the overall available labour falling in coming years, business and IT managers will have to plan new ways to attract and retain a scarce resource. A new competitive pressure will be thrust on IT departments.

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VOiP is apparently, “the only sexy thing out there” in technology today. Decoded, this quote means that it’s VoIP is apparently, “the only sexy thing out there” in technology today. Decoded, this quote means that it’s growing quickly. Telephones and sex go back nearly a hundred years so the metaphor is not surprising.

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Conclusion:The IT Contribution Model is the latest measurement performance model to be offered to managers in evaluating IT investment. Professors Marc J. Epstein and Adriana Rejc have created a highly abstract and all inclusive model of processes to classify and measure the role of IT in business outcomes, with a reference to profitability.

The quality of the model, however, and the argument to sustain it, is diminished by: the high level of generality and abstraction i.e. IT strategy as an input variable; and a naïve mechanistic explanation of the causal relationship between applied resources and economic results. The conceptual underpinning is not helped either by basic errors of logic, such as the expounded procedure to determine a metric which is circular and a formal tautology and cannot be used to derive what it lamely wishes.1 This inept thinking is compounded by the equally lazy use of these adjectives: ‘critical’, key’ and ‘careful’, to explain various aspects in the creation of the model’s implementation.

Managers are already obliged to do many of the things the Model offers, albeit at a lower scale, and not necessarily finding the linkage between IT investment and overall profitability. The IT Contribution Model is a conceptual system or engine for making a measurement although systems, such as this model, do not validate its own results, regardless of its own coherence.

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Conclusion: In management, the role of character has been understood for some time and is frequently covered in the business literature. It is also at the core of profile testing which is used to learn how adept people are for certain jobs in an organisation.

For most managers how and why they make certain choices, or decide to follow particular plans are based on demands and outside influences. Yet starting new initiatives, even embarking on a project that is genuinely strategic may be rooted in a manager’s motivations.

To successfully implement projects and set the feasible priorities over the next year; a clearer view of how and why you manage your job can be an effective way to do it better.

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