Software Asset Management


When considering the level of Microsoft/Office and licensing, the biggest conundrum is generally around E3 versus E5 licensing. E3 licensing is closest to the capabilities organisations have had with perpetual licensing for the Office Pro suite. E5 licensing adds a slew of new services, including security, analytics, and advanced e-discovery and enterprise voice.

The Latest

19 August 2021: Microsoft has announced pricing increases for its Office 365 and Microsoft 365 offerings, which has resulted in a great deal of media coverage.Microsoft is at pains to point out that it has not increased its prices on 365 for a decade, and during that time has added a great deal of functionality (20+ applications) to the portfolio.

The Specifics

Microsoft is still working through how the new pricing will be applied in the Australian market and an announcement is expected soon. IBRS will perform a detailed cost analysis at this time. However, Microsoft has confirmed that any changes to local pricing will mimic the North American price changes. 

Based on the US data, enterprise and business plans will see increases in March 2021. Based on US$, the dollar amounts range from US$1 to US$4 per user per month, or US$12 to US$48 per user per year, with the percentage increases running from a low of 9% to a high of 25%. Microsoft F-series licences for frontline workers and Microsoft 365 E5 are not subject to price increases. Consumer and education-specific plans (the A-series) are also unaffected by the price increases.

The new pricing structures will disproportionately impact small businesses and those with the lower levels of the Microsoft suite, while enterprises with E5 licences will be left unscathed. That in itself reveals Microsoft’s clear intent to nudge the market towards its E5 offerings. It is estimated that only 8% of Microsoft customers globally opt for E5 licensing, though IBRS has seen strong interest among Australian organisations to at least explore the more expansive capabilities found in E5.

At this time, we believe the majority of IBRS clients will see price increases in the lower range. However, given that Australia has been one of the fastest adopters of Office 365, and has for decades suffered from ‘the Australia tax’ of software vendors, the increases will still be felt deeply across the industry.

Why it’s Important.

For many IBRS clients, the immediate impact is the need to set aside extra budget for its existing 365 environment. 

Something that is not gaining attention is that the new pricing also increases the cost of Microsoft’s Unified support, since it is calculated as a percentage (10-12%) of the overall Microsoft spend. IBRS recommends that organisations set aside a budget for this increase as well.

However, the price increase is not the full story. A closer look at how the new pricing is structured, plus other less publicised changes, suggests it is geared towards making E5 licences more attractive to mid-sized organisations. 

The increases came shortly after Microsoft announced that its perpetual-licence Office would see a 10% increase and that its service for Office would drop from 7 years (it was previously 10) to just 5. Even more telling is that Microsoft has effectively engineered a one year ‘gap’ in N-2 support for Office (with the persistent licensing model), which forces organisations with older Office Pro licences to either purchase an upgrade sometime before 2023, or migrate to Office 365. 

In summary, Microsoft’s recent changes to Office licensing are a strategy that makes the price difference from E3 to E5 licensing less imposing and makes sweating perpetual Office licences far less attractive, if not unworkable. The savings from sweating Office licences over a five-year period are still there, but they are significantly lower than with seven-year cycles.

IBRS has long stated that Microsoft’s goal is not necessarily to drive up ICT budgets. A closer look at the additional capabilities found in E5 licensing reveals that most are aimed at moving Microsoft into adjacent product sets. For example, the additional security capabilities that become available with E5 licensing are clearly aimed at security incumbents, such as Symantec. Microsoft’s E5 strategy is to pull ICT budget away from competitors and into its own coffers. It is about carving out competition.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO & procurement
  • Digital workspace teams

What’s Next?

In the Australian market, IBRS sees few enterprises still on persistent licensing for Office. Globally, Australia has been an early adopter of E3 licensing, though until the mass push to work from home in 2020, many organisations did not take full advantage of the additional features and collaboration capabilities of the 365 platform. Furthermore, Google Workspaces is only making marginal increases in the local market, meaning Microsoft has little real local competitive forces working to temper it in the office productivity space (though this is not the case in other markets in the Asian region).

Therefore, the question for organisations is, is this strategy to push customers from existing E3 licences to E5 licences a trigger to start re-evaluate ways to leverage more value from the Microsoft ecosystem (that is, double-down on Microsoft).  

Organisations may respond to this price increase and Microsoft’s strategy to push customers from existing E3 licences to E5 licences as a trigger to:

  1. Re-evaluate ways to leverage more value from the Microsoft ecosystem (that is, double-down on Microsoft).  Just prior to this announcement, IBRS had drafted a paper on how to decide between E3 and E5 licensing. It is due for publishing in the coming month. However, if you wish an advance (draft) copy, please request it from It is focused on how to evaluate the additional benefits of E5 in the context of your existing software ecosystem.
  2. Set up a ‘plan b’ for enterprise collaboration. In a practical sense, this would likely be a shift to Google Workspace for part of the organisation, coupled with a percentage (generally 20-30%) of the organisation also having Office software, though not necessarily Office 365.  
  3. Set aside 12-15% extra budget for the existing E3 environment, plus a similar increase for support of the Office environment, and re-evaluate the situation in 2-3 years

IBRS also recommends considering what will happen in another 10 years, when many organisations have migrated to E5 (which is likely). What new business risks will emerge from this? Migrating from Office 365 E3 to a competitive product (e.g. Google or Zoho) is hard enough. When E5 features are fully leveraged, the lock-in is significant, but so too is the value. At the end of the day, the ultimate risk factor is trust in Microsoft not to engage in rent-seeking behaviour.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Pros and Cons of Going All-In With Microsoft
  2. Special report: Options for Microsoft support - Key findings from the peer roundtable: August 2020
  3. The journey to Office 365 Part 6: Mixing up Microsoft’s 365 licensing and future compliance risks
  4. DXC Technology and Microsoft collaborate on workplace experience
  5. AIP Should be Essential to Any O365 and Workforce Transformation Strategy
  6. AIS and Power BI Initiatives
  7. Microsoft Pivots to Target Verticals

The Latest

20 March 2021: GorillaStack has released capabilities that allows it to monitor and apply governance rules to any external service that communicates with AWS EventBridge.

Why it’s Important

GorillaStack is one of the earliest vendors to address the complexities of Cloud cost management, having started in Australia in 2015 and moved to having strong growth in the international market. In May 2020, GorillaStack was acquired by the switzerland-based SoftwareOne.

Like its international competitors, GorillaStack moved from helping organisations monitor and optimise their Cloud spend, to monitoring the Cloud ecosystems for performance and security concerns. This recent announcement suggests that the next phase of growth for organisations in the Cloud cost optimisation space is not only to detect events in Cloud infrastructure, but also external services, and then apply rules to perform specific actions on those events. Such rules can not only automatically help reduce Cloud spend by enforcing financial governance directly into the Cloud infrastructure, but also helping to enforce security rules.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Cloud cost optimisation is already an important discipline for organisations with mature Cloud teams. Like software asset management (SAM), tools alone will not see organisations optimise their expenditure on Cloud services. An understanding of the disciplines required and setting up appropriate rules is needed. In addition, IBRS notes that many less-mature organisations have a ‘sprawl’ of Cloud services that need to first be identified and then reigned in before cost optimisations products can be fully effective. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. New Generation IT Service Management Tools Part 2: Multi-Cloud Management
  2. How to Get on Top of Cloud Billing
  3. Sourcing Monthly April 2020 – May 2020

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Conclusion: As-a-Service solutions offer organisations agility, flexibility and scalability but the graveyard of unused software piling up should ring alarm bells. Neglected software utilisation and compliance will be factors that should drive a new Software Asset Management (SAM) investment. The impact of an unmanaged Cloud SaaS or IaaS solution will be quickly revealed during audits. At a time when management is a focus, this should be an easy win.

Organisations will need to quickly identify if they are running single or multi-tenanted instances and whether production and non-production environments are being managed efficiently for the purposes of SAM product selection.

Selecting a SAM tool should be proportionate to the cost of non-compliance. Unmitigated software licence costs can be eye-watering. Consider these factors when selecting your SAM product for Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM):

  1. Data points
  2. Software overspend
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Compliance

Conclusion: In August 2020, IBRS ran a roundtable on the issue of Microsoft Support service, and specifically options for obtaining services in the most effective manner. 

The replacement of Microsoft's traditional Premier Support programs for its Unified Support program is well underway. For many organisations, the new program is a strong fit, offering a wide range of services and unlimited reactive support inquiries for a fee that is directly proportional to their Microsoft software and platform investment.  

However, for others, the program is not an ideal or cost-effective fit. During the roundtable, 16 peers shared their stories of how they have approached Microsoft support in the new era and a set of practical recommendations was developed. 

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Conclusion: Increasingly, organisations are looking to improve customer experiences through effective business processes. A ready portfolio of electronic services is expected by the market which offers services using online processes. SAP is often at the core of these ecosystems due to its scalability and interconnection with other specialised applications. This type of interconnection of systems has become the new norm.

Data collection, processing, security and privacy are but some of the concerns of customers. Systematic collection of data including seamless integration and extension of processes across multiple applications are part of the customer’s expectations, albeit unseen.

Once SAP forms the core of the ICT ecosystem, the ROI concerns will not stop once SAP integration is complete. Instead, organisations carrying a large SAP licensing investment would naturally dwell on maximising the ROI. Let us explore the risks associated with achieving this ROI now SAP has shifted the definition of user licensing.

Conclusion: An ERP implementation can be one of an organisation’s biggest investments when considering implementation services, licences, hosting and support. ERP implementations and major version upgrades continue to be endorsed the world over, suggesting ROI continues to be positive. In scenarios where an ERP tool has been implemented or upgraded but has not been reviewed for years, especially in a changing operating environment, the intermediate step of a health check can drive significant value through adjusting and performing minor upgrades to the system for less investment than a new implementation or major upgrade.

As health checks are a periodic activity outside of business-as-usual, they often benefit from a different perspective, so organisations often use external consultants. While health checks should yield outputs that consider risk and value, ensuring the accuracy of findings is paramount in ensuring targeted value creation. To do this, organisations should consider several factors in the setup, execution and output of health checks.

Conclusion: Choosing to simplify the SAP migration project by removing irrelevant KPIs could increase adoption. This is the common thread for organisations that have successfully undertaken the SAP migration from on-premise to the Cloud.

Choosing an SAP certified practitioner with S/4HANA migration expertise helps reduce migration risk and enables a simpler migration strategy. SAP design for the S/4HANA suite replaces the extensive tables structures of the ECC series with a new digital core, in memory processing and reduces data storage costs.

Project risk can be minimised by considering these during the planning stage:

  1. An experienced SAP S/4HANA project team.
  2. Fully engaged executive sponsors and users.
  3. Early user engagement and user training.
  4. Allow testing to increase user confidence and reduce fear of data loss.
  5. Not underestimating the impact organisational issues will have on the project timeline.

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Conclusion: Reimagining the ERP strategy will require IT and business collaboration to ensure requirements are clear. Retaining the 5–10 year old ERP system1 may serve back office functions but this may impede innovation. ERP customisation is being replaced by vendors who deliver regular updates to their SaaS ERP model. This provides innovation which could reduce the need for complex business cases.

ERP vendors have signalled sunset on support for older ERP systems to challenge organisations to embrace modernisation in the next five years2. This seems far away but experience suggests laggards could see skills shortages and higher costs as the deadline approaches.

ROI measures successful ERP migrations but SaaS models will challenge this. Organisations will need to hold regular conversations to understand these competing parameters. Business leaders will question business requirements; however, innovation should not be ignored during the development of the new ERP strategy.

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Demand for chatbots – automated conversational agents that may be deployed across multiple digital channels, including websites, social media feeds, instant messaging, voice assistants etc. – is growing. As outlined in Chatbots Part 1, organisations should take an evolutional approach to develop an understanding of chatbots, and the skills and capabilities needed to harness them.

IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Conclusion: Interest in eforms solutions is being driven by two drivers:

  • First, the promise of enabling “citizen developers” within the organisation to take ownership of the creation of forms and automate simple processes.
  • Second, the promise of greater workforce efficiency by digitising manual activities.

These two drivers sit at opposite ends of a spectrum of eforms capabilities. The following framework provides a starting point for organisations to capture and refine their eforms requirements and structure information gathering prior to going to market for a solution.

Conclusion: IBRS recently conducted interviews with development partners that promote the use of Agile project development. During the interviews, IBRS noted that the spectrum of Agile services available in Australia has evolved in the market over the last three years. Understanding this emerging spectrum of services is vital, since it is important to align an organisation’s Agile maturity and appetite: is Agile viewed as a project delivery methodology, or is it an important organisational capability? Only then should potential Agile partners be considered.

Conclusion: AI includes a very broad range of technologies being applied in virtually all industries. AI is being used in new stand-alone services like real-time language translation1 or extensions of existing common IT applications such as the increasing use of chatbots in contact centres or recommendation engines in digital marketing.

This means that the use of AI in both IT and operational technologies2 (OT) requires C-level attention.

Business leaders will need to convert recent global interest and agreements in AI safety and ethics into AI governance guidelines in the exercise of their triple bottom line responsibilities (for profit, social responsibility and sustainability).

Conclusion: Technology decision-makers have a larger and ever-growing set of technologies to choose from. The creative entrepreneurship driving the expansion of products is generally beneficial to end-users because it stimulates change and helps to drive innovation from the major vendors.

For larger organisations, in most cases, the major enterprise offer will be selected for many reasons, incumbency being significant, along with compatibility. For other organisations, examining the new and emerging vendors’ technologies may unlock a better process. However, assessing all the vendors within a category vertical, each with their own range of solutions, features and technical aspects, can result in a lot of information to process. The most effective method is to apply the principal business objective and assess how it aligns with strategic execution.

As outlined in “Human Capital Management Solutions: Why your ICT Group needs to get involved with HR right now” (IBRS, 2017) vendors are increasingly offering capabilities right along the spectrum of human capital management (HCM), starting with recruitment, through learning and performance management, to succession planning. This infographic provides a snapshot of vendors key strengths within the HCM. This Infographic is a useful starting point for conversations with HR professionals as to the HCM areas that may be worth considering in the short, mid and longer term, and links this discussion to product selection.

Conclusion: For the first time, Google has articulated a comprehensive go-to-market strategy for enterprise Cloud services. While the company has the technology and scale needed, it is only now outlining why organisations may wish to consider the Google Cloud Platform. Google will create a direct data centre presence in Australia in 2017 and is rapidly building a global services partner ecosystem. Google’s strengths (and weaknesses) compared to its two competitors, AWS and Azure, are well-reflected in its enterprise strategy. Google’s most significant announcements were not related to products, but rather its plans to address enterprise clients and develop a robust partner ecosystem. Australian organisations planning new Cloud initiatives for late 2017 or early 2018 may consider Google a viable option for enterprise Cloud infrastructure, though it will take another 12 months for Google’s local partner network to mature.

The following are examples of Persona Templates.


Conclusion: The options for processing ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) range from on premises to managed services to public Cloud to SaaS (Software as a Service). The attributes of all the solutions, including the risks, costs and benefits, can appear overwhelming and may persuade risk averse senior management to make an expedient decision and keep the status quo.

IT managers must engage their risk averse peers and force them to think through the issues and make a strategic, rather than an expedient, decision as whatever they decide will have long-term ramifications.

Conclusion: On 1st October, Microsoft introduced a number of changes to its licensing regime, changed the names of several products, added two new packages under the new Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) portfolio and introduced new licensing rights1.

The new licensing packages are aimed at taking organisations on a journey off Cap-Ex (persistent) licensing for devices, toward Op-Ex (subscription) licensing for users.

Understanding the new Secure Productive Enterprise licensing packages is essential for organisations embarking on a move to digital workspaces, and those renegotiating Enterprise Agreements (EAs) within the next nine months.

IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

Conclusion: Most IT professionals see Cloud as simply a replacement (sometimes even competition) for the tasks they do now – provide CPU cycles, storage and internal communications. Looking at Cloud through such a narrow lens is a big mistake. Cloud is not just a replacement for IT processes – it is a replacement for all business processes that are based on legacy in-house IT capabilities.

Conclusion: Cloud architectures offer a vast array of possibilities that are not an option for organisations limited to conventional IT solutions. Do not let infrastructure people convince the organisation they can match Cloud capabilities solely using legacy in-house resources

Conclusion: As the concept of digital disruption and digital transformation takes hold, it is vital that IT is not only aligned with, but synonymous with business. Both business executives and IT groups find themselves in a constant race against competitors who have embraced new technologies and new business models. Unfortunately, this situation results in a mad dash between one hot new technology and another in an effort to meet evolving business priorities. In any race, having a skilled navigator and an accurate map is vital. IBRS’s Business Priorities Atlas (see Figure 1) presents the highest-level view of Australian business priorities and the likely technological landmarks along the way towards meeting the organisation’s desired destinations. The Atlas may be used to stimulate discussion between senior IT and non-IT executives as to what, where, and when to invest.

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: In this note, IBRS defines real-time co-authoring, and outlines the factors hindering its adoption. Real-time co-authoring has been available for almost a decade via products such as Google Apps, and in the past few years, web-based Microsoft Office 365. However, the uptake of this capability has been lacklustre due to immature collaboration environments and, more significantly, deeply held preconceptions about the nature of documents and work.

The introduction of real-time co-authoring in the Microsoft Office 2016 (Word) desktop client removes some barriers to the end user adoption of real-time co-authoring. However, it does not directly address the cultural aspects that hinder adoption. Even so, organisations should expect the use of real-time co-authoring to rise, but in a fragmented, infectious manner.

Conclusion: Microsoft’s new strategy is to make Windows 10 the dominant enterprise desktop O/S by first winning over the consumers with a much improved user experience, then have consumers demand Windows 10 at work, forcing the enterprise to upgrade. This is Microsoft’s best desktop strategy in 10 years and IT executives must prepare a strategy1 for dealing with user demands or risk losing control of the enterprise desktop strategy.

Conclusion: The Workspace of the Future is a vision statement on how staff and stakeholders will perform tasks related to their work in the next decade. It includes technological innovation (e. g. mobility, Cloud, data analytics), organisation transformation (e. g. activity-based working) and cultural change (e. g. social, collaboration). To realise this vision, especially given its all-encompassing and potentially transformational impact, requires a strategy that is specifically crafted to fit with an organisation’s long-term objectives. Part of this strategy is a complete rethink of end user computing, by challenging desktop era assumptions.

However, challenging assumptions is difficult. To gain clarity, IBRS recommends mapping assumptions to principles and business impacts. By conducting an assumption mapping exercise, organisations may begin to not only communicate the need for change within both IT and business groups but, also, uncover potential for fundamental business transformation.

Conclusion: leading Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution providers will persist but face multiple challenges with Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite, especially its Intune Configuration, rising as a logical challenge to MDM in >50% of Australian enterprises before 2017.

The dominant MDM selection criterion will remain: how well does this mobility solution integrate with Microsoft and others?

Conclusion: email and basic collaboration services have reached a point where Cloud-based solutions deliver features, quality of service and reliability at price points that cannot be met by the vast majority of in-house IT groups. The question is not should an organisation move its email and basic collaborations services to the Cloud, or even when an organisation should move to the Cloud, but what additional collaboration services will move to the Cloud at the same time.

Conclusion: when approaching significant software licensing decisions, consider re-evaluating the organisation’s licensing service provider (LSP) to bring contestability to value-added services and costs not directly related to the software licences. Determining appropriate selection criteria for an LSP is based partly on an organisation’s software asset management maturity, and investments in software asset management capabilities, and a range of vendor management issues.

Conclusion: The digitisation of service delivery in the finance, insurance, and government sectors means that all organisations in these sectors are now in the business of developing, maintaining, and operating software products for millions of users, with profound implications for organisational structures1, business architectures2, and the approach3 to service development and operation. Whilst internal business support functions can usually be addressed via off-the-shelf software, with very few exceptions, the functionality of customer facing services can’t be sourced off-the-shelf.

Conclusion: Adobe’s ‘Cloud’ licensing model, coupled with aggressive auditing tactics, is causing discomfort for organisations in Australia. In the past, organisations used Adobe’s persistent licensing to deploy Adobe’s products in a largely ad hoc fashion. Now these organisations are being scrutinised by Adobe, and finding themselves out of compliance. Reducing the organisation’s Adobe exposure should be considered a priority.

Conclusion: In most vendor-client relationships power shifts from the client to the vendor as soon as the deal is signed. As the SMACC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Consumerisation) ecosystem evolves, strategies are emerging that enable power to remain with the client for the duration of the vendor-client relationship. However, this shift in power will only happen if the client actively works to eliminate vendor lock-in strategies.

Once upon a time there was a programmer who developed software, working for a software vendor, and there was a CEO, a CIO, and a sales executive who all worked for a manufacturing business. It was a happy time, where everyone knew who developed software, who bought software, who implemented software, and who used software. In this long-gone era businesses delivered physical goods and professional services, and software was a helpful tool to standardise business processes and automate tedious repetitive tasks. Those were the days where hardware was solid, software was easy to deal with (certainly not harder than dealing with a teenager) and humans were the masters of the universe.

Conclusion: In government organisations the potential for standardisation and process automation via the use of enterprise resource planning software is largely limited to internal administration. In terms of digital service development government organisations can optimise their IT budgets by understanding themselves as knowledge-transformation organisations rather than as consumers of off-the-shelf technology.

Conclusion: The architecture for a Software Asset Management solution must take into account an organisation’s structure, ability to digest and utilise the information that such solutions provide, using existing tools and processes. Furthermore, the architecture should not be considered a final end-state, but rather an evolving set of technologies and processes which will incrementally deliver benefits over time.

Conclusion: The operational model and associated processes of larger organisations in many sectors of the economy are encoded in software. Enterprise software from SAP plays a dominant role in many industries and significantly influences the terminologies and workflows used within organisations, in particular in those domains where SAP offers out-of-the-box solutions. The resulting level of standardisation has tangible advantages, but also represents an upper limit to the level of operational efficiency that is achievable. Organisations that rely on SAP are well advised to get independent advice to determine the optimal level of lock-in to SAP.

Conclusion: Organisations looking to adopt Software Asset Management (SAM) tools for the first time often discover that they lack the structure and maturity to realise the full benefits of these tools. Addressing the deep cultural issues that are at the heart SAM maturity may not be rushed, leapfrogged or outsourced. Instead, a steady process of organisational development is needed. 

Conclusion: While many IT organisations believe that using public IaaS (e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google) to host business applications is a cost-effective strategy, they still require to manage the hosted environment themselves or select an external service provider to manage it for them. Towards this, it is critical to understand the current service management maturity level prior to choosing an in-house or outsourced solution. This note provides a self-assessment service management maturity model to create a solid foundation for selecting sourcing options. IBRS recommend that IT organisations with maturity level 3 or higher retain the service management function in-house, whereas, IT organisations below maturity level 3 should outsource the service management function.

Conclusion: An organisation planning a CRM upgrade, or deployment of a new CRM, has a wide selection of viable methodologies to choose from. Across the various methodologies there are a common set of principles which make application of a suitable methodology relatively straightforward.

Interpreting and using the most relevant components from a methodology will be important, otherwise there is a risk of being overwhelmed with too much information.

Conclusion: Enterprise software vendors and enterprise software users are increasingly investing in in functionality that is accessible from mobile devices, and many organisations face the challenge of making key legacy applications accessible on mobile devices. Comprehensive and reliable APIs are the key for the creation of architectures that enable a seamless user experience across a range of mobile devices, and across a backend mix of state of the art Cloud services and legacy systems.

Conclusion: A major reason CRM projects stumble, or fail outright, is a poorly argued strategy and business case.

A thorough strategy and business case will provide all stakeholders with a clear rationale of what is being planned, and the related business issues that will be managed better as a result. Additionally, the reason for the investment will be understood and the potential costs and benefits articulated.

The drama surrounding Microsoft's new CEO has been something akin to the reality TV show ‘The Bachelor’. Who would be the perfect match for the rich, handsome, but somewhat socially awkward hunk?

In order to answer this question, it became publicly clear that there was confusion both within Microsoft and in the market in general as to what role the organisation would – indeed should – take in a rapidly changing technology market. The choice of Satya Nadella says as much about the company's final direction as it does about the man.

Conclusion: Software Asset Management (SAM) is not simply a set of technologies: it is a set of ongoing organisational practices and processes. Prior to embarking on SAM, organisations need to ensure that the foundations for a successful program are in place: identification and education of executive stakeholders, clarifying the scope of the SAM and setting clear and measurable objectives as well as identifying the sources and quality of information required.

Conclusion: Utilising vendor products entails a cost to the user above the licence fee. This cost, which is hidden, is mostly unaccounted except when dealing with a vendor that imposes vexatious conditions. Such conditions may alter usage rights and prolong the negotiation period to conclude contracts. That adds costs to an organisation it should not bear.

Where a vendor has myriad and confusing contractual terms it is a cause for organisations to assess their lock-in with that vendor. In reassessing their connections with vendors, organisations ought to strategically move out of deep lock-in towards more flexible relationships with vendors. For a user organisation to be overly dependent on a limited number of vendors is a potential problem. Reducing dependencies on single or groups of vendors may also deliver more efficient business relationships. It also serves as a signal to vendors that an organisation wants an efficient arrangement.

Conclusion: When faced with the need to upgrade the desktop, rather than viewing this as a refresh or modernisation project (which is an IT centric approach to technology issues) undertake a business centric Application Delivery roadmap that focuses on the end-user’s application experience and the business benefits.

An Application Delivery approach will reduce project risks by highlighting the linkages between the project and the business benefits, prioritising the delivery stages of the project to get value early in the project, and ensuring application delivery methods are aligned to the user’s needs, ensuring a high quality user experience.

Conclusion: CRM technology is capable of being put to several discrete purposes. The added complexity of the tools is necessary in the more complex digital communications environment. Even though CRM systems are more adaptable and extensible than before, there are still four central questions to CRM activities.

The central business questions that drive the sales and marketing effort are about communications channels and the use of data. Organisations should be clear about how they answer those four questions as that will assist in the way they manage CRM and its associated capabilities.

Conclusion: The recent enhancements to CRM suites offer deeper and more useful insights into organisational processes. The second and possibly more profound aspect to CRM suites is that they provide the means to evaluate organisational productivity.

Productivity can be seen in ratio terms across the enterprise and therefore the management of assets which can be handled with greater clarity. If organisations chose to use CRM as a productivity management tool, they would need to organise a management team that oversaw such a designated use. It is not a sales or a marketing role but it is a function that finance and those connected with the executive may choose to accept.

Conclusion: When faced with the need to upgrade the desktop, rather than viewing this as a refresh or modernisation project, which is an IT centric approach to technology issues, undertake a business centric Application Delivery roadmap that focuses on the end-user’s application experience and the business benefits.

An Application Delivery approach will reduce project risks by highlighting the linkages between the project and the business benefits, prioritising the delivery stages of the project to get value early in the project, and ensuring application delivery methods are aligned to the user’s needs, ensuring a high quality user experience.

Conclusion: Software Asset Management (SAM) is a widely overlooked and misunderstood practice. Over the last five years IBRS has seen a marked rise in organisations finding themselves out of compliance due to immature SAM practices, and this is resulting in licensing exposure ranging from hundreds of thousands, to millions of dollars. This rise is partly due to the more aggressive stance of software vendors, namely Microsoft, Adobe and Autodesk. However, it is mainly due to a lack of awareness among IT professionals of the financial risks of not having SAM, and the potential benefits of getting SAM right. IT executives should determine the benefits SAM brings to their organisation, and articulate these to senior business executives.

Conclusion: Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is undergoing major changes. The addition of features, analytics, and high quality data measurement gives users more options than ever to explore how their various customers interact with their organisation.

The substantial enhancements in CRM technologies should encourage organisations to lift their own skills in order to use the power of these tools. To use the CRM tools effectively it may be necessary for people within each department to coordinate their work across different areas of the organisation.

Conclusion: Application portfolio rationalisation offers the promise of reduced ICT maintenance costs while improving data quality, process support and usability for end users, and increasing organisation effectiveness and efficiency.

An effective approach to application portfolio rationalisation involves five steps: 1. understand your business architecture; 2. understand your applications portfolio; 3. develop principles for rationalisation; 4. assess opportunities for rationalisation; and 5. rationalise.

Conclusion: The concept of work context provides a framework to examine how staff interact with technology, information and their environment when performing different tasks. Without considering work context, mobility strategies can become overly focused on a single delivery channel for mobility – usually handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones – and miss other opportunities.

Conclusion: Most organisations that use enterprise resource planning (ERP) software have a need to integrate the ERP system with other enterprise software. It is common for ERP systems to be integrated with customer relationship management software (CRM) and with all the bespoke applications that operate at the core of the business. Some organisations strive to simplify the system integration challenge with a single silver-bullet system integration technology, but this approach only works in the simplest scenarios, when the number of system interfaces is small. Instead, aiming for maintainable integration code leads to better results.

As the market ecosystem changes, so too do the dominant species. The introduction of Internet and – more importantly – wireless Internet, has changed the IT landscape to such a degree that new dominant species are emerging rapidly: IBM is something of a dinosaur now, shrunk to a stroppy old crocodile; Apple kept its DNA of excellence in branding, evolving from a tasty Macintosh, into a Venus flytrap; and Google is a clever and adaptive monkey; and then there is the mammoth in the room, Microsoft.

Conclusion: Many organisations in Australia rely on SAP software for enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. To get the best results out of their data, a significant number of organisations have implemented a data warehouse alongside operational systems, and are combining SAP software with best-of-breed technologies for customer relationship management and system integration. Whilst SAP software continues to provide important functionality, it pays to understand to what extent standardisation of ERP functionality makes economic sense, and from what point onwards standardisation reduces the organisation’s ability to deliver unique and valuable services. Standardisation is desirable only if it leads to a system landscape that is simpler and sufficiently resilient.

Conclusion: Most organisations run a large percentage of their workloads on VMware’s hypervisor, yet they are reluctant to virtualise their production Oracle Databases. The three common reasons given are: lack of support, poor performance and increased licence costs. The first is Oracle FUD, the second is a lack of understanding and testing, and the third needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis, but can result in a reduction in cost.

For many organisations moving some, or all, of production Oracle databases to an existing Intel/VMware platform is a low risk, high value strategy that should be examined.

Conclusion: As outlined in a previous research note1, CIOs need to ensure that external-facing websites support an appropriate range of browsers. This is to ensure websites can be accessed by the largest possible percentage of users per dollar spent on development and testing.

The very public nature of the issue means that it is wide open to criticism. Many CIOs have been called on to explain their position. Astute CIOs will have a clearly defensible support policy that can stand the test of public scrutiny.

Conclusion: Rather than building specific solutions for individual, mobile form and workflow applications, organisations should look towards identifying the most appropriate overarching mobile forms architecture from which many different forms-oriented solutions can be realised.

Conclusion: Software as a Service (SaaS) is gaining mainstream acceptance as a viable sourcing strategy for enterprise applications in both the public and private sector. IDC predicts that by 2015 24% of all new business software purchases will be of service-enabled software with SaaS delivery being 13.1% of worldwide software spending1. SaaS is being considered by many organisations as a means of achieving faster delivery times, cost reductions and access to innovative capability. In addition, organisations can exploit the SaaS model during the acquisition phase to reduce risk, improve business change management and test activities if they are prepared to move away from more traditional approaches and deal with organisation cultural issues. This paper focuses on the early stages of the acquisition process prior to contract finalisation.

Conclusion: IT Managers and CIOs who are responsible for external-facing websites are faced by the difficult proposition of determining the optimal set of browsers and browser versions to support. Supporting too many browser platforms wastes money; supporting too few risks alienating users.

Conclusion: Based on recent survey data and interviews conducted by IBRS, the position of Windows 8 in Australian enterprises is likely to be limited to specific use-cases and tablets / hybrid devices, or those with security policies that mandate N-2 versions of the desktop OS. As predicted, Windows 7 will dominate the enterprise and it is our prediction that Windows 7 is set to be the next Windows XP.

Conclusion: Along with many benefits, mobile devices bring new challenges in securing access to the organisation’s data and applications. The real issue is not with technology, but in striking a balance between security and the mobile user experience.

A common mistake is touse typical desktop management practices and tightly control the mobile device. This often results in a compromised user experience, leading to high levels of user dissatisfaction. As employees, and contractors, increasing expect to use their personal devices (BYOD) for work, Organisations will find this approach is unacceptable.

Conclusion: The cost of Flash Memory, a high-speed alternative to disk storage, has declined to the point that it is now economical to use in a broad set of cases. This has spawned a large number of Flash based products, often from start-ups, that offer an adjunct, or alterative to, Disk. The different approaches, and the conflicting technology claims, make product selection complex. When coupled with a high capital price, technology risks, and the viability of start-ups, purchasing Flash products carries a high risk for the next few years.

IT organisations should only purchase Flash devices tactically when a sufficiently strong benefit justifies the risk. Over the next five years the cost of Flash will decline by a factor of 10, and the technology and vendors will mature, making it suitable for mainstream use.

Conclusion: For desktop fleets, Windows 8 offers few benefits to enterprises over Windows 7 and presents a number of additional challenges. However, its arrival will place more pressure on organisations still using XP to migrate. IBRS recommends organisation standardise on Windows 7 rather than Windows 8 for enterprise desktops.

Conclusion: Australian enterprises seem to be slow in adopting social media and related enterprise collaboration tools. Survey evidence indicates that corporate Australia is not as interested in the social and collaborative technologies as counterparts in other regions.

Taking a steady and progressive strategy implementation of social and collaboration is probably an advantage. Being an early adopter with such technology may be an opportunity for some enterprises but not for a mid-sized or larger organisation. However, waiting too long, or crafting an even better strategy may mean wasting opportunities.

In the last four years the mobile device space has undergone a major transformation as Apple redefined the market, first with the iPhone and then the iPad. In that period Apple created a mobile device business with revenues that exceed the total of all Microsoft’s revenues1!

Microsoft, long the dominant desktop software vendor, has struggled in the mobile device market and has fallen out of favour with the consumer and the enterprise for mobile devices. A recent survey2 of the smartphone installed base in the US shows the iPhone has 34% of the market, Android 51% of the market and Windows mobile 4%.

Conclusion: In the last two years VMware’s desktop vision has undergone a profound transformation from a narrowly focused VDI (a centralised, virtualised desktop) strategy to a broader Dynamic Desktop1 strategy that supports Physical and Virtual desktops and Software as a Server and mobile applications. Despite this change, for the next 18 months VMware will continue to trail Citrix, which has greater desktop experience and had all the elements of a Dynamic Desktop since 2009.

Conclusion: Einstein said that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This is true in enterprise architecture and project management. CIOs know that simple solutions have many benefits over complex ones. Highly complex projects have high failure rates, like highly complex architectures. However, many CIOs unwittingly encourage and reward complexity. Complexity must be viewed as a primary focus for reducing cost and risk associated with large projects. CIOs should understand some of the key steps that can lead to reduced complexity in projects and systems.

Conclusion: As the market for Board Portals rapidly matures, IT organisations are being asked to assist in selecting and implementing a solution. This is a golden opportunity to raise the IT Organisation’s profile with some of the most influential people in the company.

The CIO must ensure that technical staff do not overcomplicate the project and must find an Executive sponsor who can manage the Board members’ requirements and expectations.

Conclusion: In spite of changes over the last decade the Microsoft Windows Server licensing is still rooted in the physical machine era of the ’90s. However, most organisations run the majority of their x86 workloads in virtual machines. Microsoft’s disconnect with the virtualisation realities of the last five years can result in licensing confusion. Organisations that choose the wrong licensing approach will either greatly over-spend on Microsoft licences or, more likely, not be compliant.

Conclusion: In spite of some benefits in security, remote access and speed of deployment, VDI has remained a niche product. This has largely been due to the higher complexity and much greater capital cost compared with a Full Desktop. However, as VDI infrastructure innovations continue to close the gap, the adoption of VDI will increase beyond this small base. Due to the risks and costs of switching from a well understood model to a relative unknown model, the adoption will increase at a moderate rate and there never will be a “year of VDI”.

Conclusion: No, and there never will be “the year of VDI”. However, now that the capital cost of VDI is close to that of a Full Desktop the adoption of VDI will begin to increase beyond its current small niche. The large capital cost and complexity of replacing the existing desktop fleet, the perceived risks in using to a new desktop approach, and a general lack of experienced staff will ensure adoption of VDI will proceed slowly.

For the next 5-7 years organisations will continue to use a range of desktop deployment techniques (such as Full Desktop, Laptop, Remote Desktop Services aka Terminal Server) with VDI being just one of many.

Conclusion: Oracle will continue to excel in the Application, Middleware and Database markets, but it also intends to radically transform and simplify IT infrastructure. Oracle’s strategy is to eliminate complexity, create significantly greater business value and reduce infrastructure costs using an Integrated Systems approach. The objective is to enable customers to focus on applications, instead of infrastructure, in the hope they consume more Oracle software.

IT executives should keep abreast of Oracle’s infrastructure innovations, as well as the competitors’, and be prepared to rethink their existing infrastructure approach if an Integrated System can create a significant new opportunity for the business.

This month Microsoft unveiled aspects of its new Windows 8 operating system at the Build developers’ conference. A significant change in the new OS is the use of the “Metro” style user interface, which will be familiar to anyone who has used Windows Phone 7. Metro involves extensive use of multi-touch and “tiles” that represent both applications and live data, instead of icons and menus. The Metro user interface metaphor is arguably one of the most creative and context aware on the market, and is well suited for mobile devices and tablets. However, will Microsoft be able to bring this new User Interface to the traditional desktop space? To answer this question, we need examine three issues.

Conclusion: Lock-in to software technology always goes hand in hand with lock-in to knowledge. When using Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) software, most of the lock-in relates to elements external to the organisation. In contrast, the use and development of open source software encourages development of tacit knowledge that extends into the public domain. It is time to move beyond the passive consumption of open source software, to remove business-risk inducing restrictions on the flow of knowledge, and to start actively supporting the development of open source software.

Conclusion: Market and technological forces are minimising the value of the Microsoft Office client, and pushing the true value proposition for productivity services to backend services. Microsoft’s evolving product, marketing and licensing strategies to support this trend. Understanding Microsoft’s strategy is important when planning future desktop deployments, as well as collaboration and mobility strategies.

Conclusion: Lock-in is often discussed in relation to external suppliers of products and services. In doing so it is easy to overlook the lock-in relating to internal tacit knowledge and in-house custom software. The opposite of lock-in is not “no lock-in”, it is lock-in to an alternative set of behaviour and structures. Even though organisations can sometimes suffer from an excessive degree of external lock-in, organisations also benefit from lock-in, in the form of reduced costs and risk exposure. The art of lock-in involves continuously monitoring the business environment, and knowing when to switch from external to internal lock-in and vice versa.

Conclusion: To date vendors such as Microsoft and Apple have been able to exploit operating systems as an effective mechanism for creating locked-in technology ecosystems, but the emergence of the HTML5 standard and Google Chrome sees the value of such ecosystems tending towards zero.

Providers of Cloud Computing services are united by the goal of minimising the relevance of in-house IT, from hardware right up to operating systems and higher-level infrastructure software. Enterprise application vendors such as SAP1 and are pulling in the same direction. To avoid sunk IT costs and a dangerous level of technology lock-in, any further developments of in-house architectures and applications that ignore this trend should be re-examined.

Conclusion: In many organisations there is a major disconnect between user expectations relating to software quality attributes (reliability of applications, intuitive user interfaces, correctness of data, fast recovery from service disruption, and so on.) and expectations relating to the costs of providing applications that meet those attributes.The desire to reduce IT costs easily leads to a situation where quality is compromised to a degree that is unacceptable to users. There are three possible solutions:

  1.  Invest heavily in quality assurance measures,
  2.  Focus on the most important software features at the expense of less important ones, or
  3. Tap into available tacit domain knowledge to simplify the organisation, its processes, and its systems.

Software: Ah, what a day. Do you know you’re the 53,184th person today asking me for an account balance? What is it with humans, can’t you even remember the transactions you’ve performed over the last month? Anyway, your balance is $13,587.52. Is there anything else that I can help you with?

Customer: Hmm, I would have expected a balance of at least $15,000. Are you sure it’s 13,500?

Software: 13,500? I said $13,587.52. Look, I’m keeping track of all the transactions I get, and I never make any mistakes in adding numbers.

Customer: This doesn’t make sense. You should have received a payment of more than $2,000 earlier this week.

Conclusion: Oracle’s decision to end all further development on Itanium, will force HP Integrity customers to make a strategic decision between Oracle and Itanium. Providing the latest version of Oracle software is used customers have until 2016 to implement this decision. Since Red Hat and Microsoft have also abandoned Itanium, IT Organisations must evaluate the long-term viability of this architecture based on its ability to run the applications that matter to the business.

Since high-end UNIX systems typically have a 7-8 year lifespan, Organisations must have a strategy before purchasing new systems or undertaking a major upgrade. This strategy will be driven by the degree of dependence on, and satisfaction with, Oracle’s business applications.

Conclusion: In order to be effective, Quality Assurance must be woven into all parts of the organisational fabric. Designing, implementing, and monitoring the use of an appropriate quality management framework is the role performed by a dedicated Quality Assurance Centre of Excellence in the organisation. This internal organisation ties together QA measures that apply to core business processes and the technical QA measures that apply to IT system development and operations. Unless the QA CoE provides useful tools and metrics back to other business units, quality assurance will not be perceived as an essential activity that increases customer satisfaction ratings.

Conclusion: With the release of View 4.5 VMware has failed to move beyond the limitations of a centralised, virtualised desktop (aka VDI) to a robustly managed Dynamic Desktop that supports Full, Virtual and Published Desktops. VMware claims to have eliminated the capital cost barriers to VDI adoption and has introduced a management framework concept called the Modular Desktop that in the long run will enable VMware to expand out of its desktop niche.

VMware will continue to be challenged by Citrix which has much greater experience in the desktop market and has delivered a Dynamic Desktop for over 12 months. Microsoft also has the capability to deliver a Dynamic Desktop, but has yet to articulate it in a robust or compelling way.

Conclusion:When it comes to evaluating software products to address a particular business need, the first activity after determining a list of candidate products often consists of sourcing product selection criteria from independent subject matter experts. But qualified product selection is only possible if extensive information about the specific organisational context is taken into consideration, otherwise boilerplate product selection criteria only have the effect of a security blanket.

Conclusion: In the short-term, the soon to be launched Windows Azure platform is likely to be misunderstood by IT enterprise architects and under-estimated by in-house software developers. The notion of "cloud computing" has become ill-defined and confused. In order to understand where Azure and other cloud based solutions can benefit an enterprise, it is vital to have clear definition of the different classes of cloud computing and the trend of clouds towards greater simplicity at the expense of flexibility.

Conclusion: Public sector IT departments are facing greater financial scrutiny as a result of both the GFC and the Gershon Report. There is a broad mandate to reduce ‘business as usual’ costs. In order to prioritise projects, manage expectations and drive down IT costs, IT professionals need to understand the key technology trends in the public sector.

Conclusion: This year's Tech·Ed comes at a time when Microsoft is attempting to recapture attention with products such as Windows 7, HyperV, Office 2010, Visual Studio 10 and Silverlight 3. IBRS has analysed Tech·Ed attendee patterns to identify key issues and areas of interest for developers and enterprise architects for the coming year. Topping the list is a range of desktop deployment issues. However, this analysis also shows that some technical skills that have been assumed to exist within IT departments are in fact under-developed. These skill gaps must be addressed prior to new desktop or unified communications deployments.

Desktop virtualisation is no longer the hottest topic in the media, however it still gets considerable interest from IT executives. As part of a series of roundtables that I am running on “The Evolution of the Desktop” I have just finished speaking to 28 IT executives on this topic. From these conversations it is clear there is still a strong interest in finding a better way to deliver the desktop that both reduces the TCO and increases agility. That is, simplifies remote access, enables business continuity and speeds up deploying new desktop applications.

The centralised virtual desktop, commonly known as VDI (which was VMware’s product name), was once considered a promising way to achieve these goals. However many IT organisations have discovered that simply moving the desktop into the data centre does not solve the real problem which is the management of the desktop image (the operating system, applications and data). Leading organisations are now recognising that it is necessary to radically change the way they build the desktop image so that the management costs and problems can be radically reduced.

At IBRS, we get to see our fair share of IT project failures. We often get called in at the last minute to explain why or how some project is going FUBAR and to suggest remediation tactics. What never ceases to amaze me is that so many of these project failures are identical.

Conclusion: Microsoft licensing costs for SharePoint range from free to well over A$100,000. Minimising installation costs requires organisations carefully analyse user requirements, business needs and then narrowly define what SharePoint features are actually needed, then work through Microsoft's licensing model, taking into account existing enterprise licensing arrangements. Savings of over A$30,000 on SharePoint deployments are possible through careful selection of licensing options.

Conclusion: Virtual Desktops was one of the hottest infrastructure topics of 2008. However, tight IT budgets due to the economic downturn, and mounting evidence that Virtual Desktops are more expensive that well managed full desktops, will dampen enthusiasm for this technology in 2009.

Based on recent discussions with a cross-section of large and small organisations we confirm our long held view that Virtual Desktops are not a general purpose replacement for a Full Desktop and that reports of mass rolls-outs of Virtual Desktops are pure vendor hype! As predicted, we did find some organisations using Virtual Desktops in a limited fashion for a specific niche.

Conclusion: To be successful at an enterprise level, SOA (service oriented architecture) requires a backbone to provide integration between applications, transport of events messages and data, and manage deployment and (optionally) discovery of applications. The deployment of an Enterprise Service Buss (ESB) is essential for enterprise SOA, yet no single ESB product can magically turn an organisation into a SOA powerhouse.

Conclusion: Deployment of a virtualised Microsoft desktop environment requires careful consideration of how virtualisation impacts an organisation’s Microsoft’s licensing costs. Even though Microsoft has introduced new licensing packages to address desktop virtualisation, it is not uncommon for organisations to significantly underestimate the licensing costs involved.

To avoid confusion, and potentially embarrassing licensing cost surprises, when evaluating a virtual desktop strategy IT organisations must keep firmly in mind Microsoft’s edge-centric (device) licensing model. Think in terms of licences and grants and not in terms of software.

Conclusion: Most major IT implementations such as ERP roll-outs, do not fully realise their original objectives. One symptom is that planned functionality is not utilised by staff to the fullest extent. Another is a tendency for staff to fall back to their comfort zones, using manually-maintained records, spreadsheets and the like. The root cause is that insufficient attention is paid to dealing with the human aspects of change. Knock-on effects are largely financial. If additional resources need to be brought in to effect lasting change, this action dilutes the strength of the original business case, not only in terms of outright cost but in the time taken to achieve desired outcomes. If left untreated, the full benefits may never be realised.