Coaching & Mentoring

Conclusion: Organisations that laid off IT and business professionals during the pandemic due to cost pressures will find it challenging post-pandemic to reset IT services needed to meet client service requirements and those of much leaner organisations.

With many employees working remotely, organisations will need to enhance their cyber security skills while providing secure services in a price-sensitive and cost-constrained environment in which many clients will also be struggling financially.

Vendors will also find it difficult to grow a client’s technology base post-pandemic due to their clients being short of capital, which will frustrate both parties, and once the solution is justified fewer skilled staff (than pre-pandemic if lay-offs occurred) will be available to implement them.

Conclusion: As organisations strive to enhance customer experience, complemented by marketing and sales activities, success will be contingent on IT and business professionals using data literacy skills and being able to implement systems that make it easy to do business with them and understand their buying patterns.

Unless IT and business professionals acquire the data literacy skills needed, and make the right data available, efforts to better engage with customers and prospects will fail to achieve expectations and opportunities will be wasted.

Conclusion: Many organisations are engaged in implementing digital transformation programs to provide enhanced customer services, e. g. with new products or to reduce operating costs, or both. Unfortunately, many programs fail, sometimes repeatedly, until they achieve their set objectives. What is important though is when failure occurs, use the lessons learned to try again.

Delivering a transformed organisation is hard as it is inevitably accompanied by:

  • Redesigning business processes to meet today’s business imperatives
  • Implementing enhanced information systems
  • Encouraging employees to acquire new skills and be innovative
  • Actively minimising the business risks

Conclusion: Estimating the workdays for an agile- or waterfall-based IT project is not a simple task. However, with effort and a disciplined people-focused approach, it can be turned from an art into, as close as possible, a science.

When the effort is made, management will become more comfortable with the resources needed to complete projects and avoid the unpleasant task of asking for more resources than expected due to flawed estimating.

Conclusion: Due to the pandemic and economic decline, politically astute IT managers will need all their selling skills to get one-off IT infrastructure proposals approved. Not only is this due to a decline in earned revenue or grants, but also because procurement involves paying cash to vendors.

IT managers may need to ‘walk the talk’ to convince decision makers to support IT infrastructure investment proposals. In an environment where demand exceeds supply, and competition for scarce resources is high, the need to sell the proposal is probably an organisational political necessity.

Conclusion: Working remotely has become the default option for most companies in the new normal setup. Although this has led to rising demand in technological tools and IT systems, it is unlikely the tech industry will be spared widespread job cuts – already such cuts are being seen in some industry sectors. With the world bracing for recession, companies are cutting down on costs and tightening budgets wherever they can.

Understandably, the current state of job insecurity is creating anxiety in employees who have retained their jobs. IT staff are justifiably feeling insecure and this is likely to affect some employees’ work performance. Such anxiety is a major issue that needs to be recognised and addressed quickly and effectively in order to enable the company to maximise its existing resources both during the economic downturn and as it starts to grow again.

Conclusion: Scenario planning is a formal approach for developing and exploring possible future situations or marketplace environments. It allows organisations to be more flexible and agile by considering the possibilities for change. It helps organisations – and for the focus of this paper, the ICT teams – identify the environmental uncertainties and allows ICT to prepare proactively instead of reactively.

ICT executives should leverage scenario planning activities to help with post-pandemic planning, preparing advice for the board with the organisation’s readiness to react to possible changes in the market, and also as a morale and team-building activity.

Conclusion: Creating an environment in which IT and business professionals can adapt to a new and remote (also known as alternate work) environment will test the ingenuity of many senior managers.

To meet the challenge, managers must help their staff avoid being anxious and isolated and enable them to easily access their peers for advice and guidance. Failure to keep contact could lead to a decline in productivity and staff not feeling part of the team. Alternately, not having to travel to work sites and work prescribed hours can be a blessing for others.

Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is sweeping across the globe and is being felt by every individual and every organisation. By its very nature, the COVID-19 crisis is global in scope, indefinite in its duration and unknown in its long-term impact. Given the reliance of organisations on their ICT services, particularly at this point in time, CIOs have a unique opportunity to make a significant contribution, showcase their leadership capability and enhance the long-term brand of their ICT teams. All too often under the pressure of a crisis, CIOs will focus on tasks as opposed to the softer elements of leadership. The opportunities this crisis presents should not be wasted. Your leadership is on show.

Conclusion: Organisations will typically have employees of different cultural backgrounds. As teams expand and organisations become more global, managers may find themselves managing whole teams based in countries other than their own. A lot of the time, management will by necessity have to be done remotely.

Managers need to be very aware that management cultural diversity needs to be considered, especially in areas such as communication, decision making, coaching, support and dealing with any issues or conflicts. Trust is a key element of successful manager/employee engagement and is critical when managing remote teams who may have significant management cultural differences.

Conclusion: There are many benefits in taking a break during the holidays that go beyond just recharging the batteries. However, along with the seemingly obvious benefits, there are also some traps for the unwary. On the flip side, there are some benefits to working in the office during the quieter periods, so take time to prepare and plan for the holiday period: develop sound strategies for all staff and above all, be authentic with setting expectations.

Conclusion: A recent Harvard business review article1 reinforced the view that meetings have increased in length and frequency over time from 20 % to nearly 50 % of the working week. This time does not include the planning, reading and preparation of those meeting. Executives such as CIOs or similar should spend some time assessing how effective meetings are in their organisation to return the valuable commodity of time to all and reap the benefits.

Conclusion: Analysts in general are correct to identify the challenges in the industry to develop appropriate skills, meet the demands of digitisation and to counter the security threats. When it is distilled down it is all about the business. The CIO is supporting business outcomes which will need specific technology solutions, which will, in turn, drive ICT strategy. The key to success is defined by how the CIO drives the outcome. The CIO, therefore, must possess soft skills as well as technical knowledge to deliver success.

The key to success for CIOs is mastering four soft skills that allow them to achieve control of the ICT environment. Effective control will allow the CIO to deliver exemplary services in support of business today, whilst gaining support from the executive for the ICT strategy to meet the demands of tomorrow. Sounds simple but as experience has found, it is easier said than done.

The secret lies with good networking within the executive and key stakeholders, situational awareness of the ICT environment, the ability to effectively delegate with clear direction of what is to be achieved, and a communications strategy which allows for engagement by all stakeholders and escalation of issues through both technical and management channels without fear or favour.

Conclusion: Successfully hiring new employees can bring lots of benefits to an organisation – improved productivity, employee morale or business outcomes, to name just a few. Equally, poor hiring decisions can be extremely costly to an organisation. Having to dismiss someone who was recently hired but proves to not be a good fit for the role can impact the organisation in many ways, and usually at a higher cost than the direct costs associated with the actual recruitment process.

HR tech is a rapidly growing field of software solutions that are designed to help improve the recruitment process, with the ultimate goal of helping organisations improve their hiring outcomes.

Organisations wishing to improve their hiring effectiveness or efficiency should consider the emerging new recruiting solutions and how they may help address any identified problem areas in their current recruitment efforts. But caution needs to be taken, especially for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that may be built on historical data that results in bias, for example giving preference to particular genders.

Conclusion: The apocryphal ‘three envelopes’ story about the executive starting a new role is a cynical view of leadership transition. However, at its core, there are some uncomfortable truths about how people respond to crises early in their leadership. Digging deeper, there are lessons to be learned from these scenarios, suggesting more productive ways to deal with these issues as they arise.

It is critical for transitioning digital leaders to understand that people, culture and politics are the most powerful forces in an organisation. An ability to manage change and form collaborative relationships is a much stronger predictor of success in a digital transformation role than any digital or technical experience.

Conclusion: In an age-diverse workforce, it is important that IT managers and professionals understand the different expectations and management styles of stakeholders and accommodate them to gain their support for IT-related initiatives being proposed.

Without understanding the management styles and expectations of age-diverse stakeholders, a level of disconnect may occur and business relationships could slip from being of mutual benefit to transactional and ineffective.

Conclusion: Business ethics is not a new topic. It is as old as business itself and many of the issues and questions posed during ethical considerations are just as old. Digital ethics takes a fresh look at many of these issues from a new perspective, that of a technology-enabled society and the business community. Digital capabilities introduce new complexities and challenges to the business environment. Many ethical issues arising from technology advancements cannot be solved simply. However, without addressing these matters, the business community puts itself, its customers and the community at risk. Viewing ethical issues with a technology focus and adherence to ethical principles can mitigate some of these risks.

Conclusion: Relationships at work between managers and employees are important and can influence the success and effectiveness of individual teams or whole organisations. Both managers and employees need to understand the bias that can occur between a view a manager may take about an employee they have invested in and ‘hired’ or selected, versus an employee that is thrust upon them or that they inherit from another manager; for example, employees that join an organisation as the result of an acquisition.

When managers are ‘invested’ in the selection of employees, a relationship exists that reflects on the managers’ judgement and decision-making skills, having believed that they have made good hiring decisions. No such relationship exists when the managers have no involvement in the selection of the employees but are assigned to managing the employees.

The more that managers understand this, the better they can focus on avoiding viewing employees differently. The more that employees understand this, the better they can recognise potential issues, and work to improve their career prospects by ensuring they work for a manager that has ‘chosen’ them, or at least learnt to understand their abilities and contributions.

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.

Conclusion: Successful businesses need their people to be productive and to perform well. Effective communication may assist i.e.suring they do. Effective communication is about thought leadership, defining a purpose, informing tasking and priorities and, most importantly, listening. Opportunities that impact productivity and the fiscal performance of organisations are often lost or not fully prosecuted due to poor communication. Poor communication will result in less than optimal planning or reduced time to react, causing the need to compromise. This, in turn, results in poor prioritisation, and i.e.erything is urgent, nothing gets the appropriate focus.

To communicate effectively at the personal, work unit and organisational levels requires a level of discipline in adherence to the basic principles of effective communication, which will lay the foundation for success.

Effective communication will improve productivity, reduce risk, reduce costs and reduce time to market. Effective communication will deliver line of sight for your strategic outcomes and in doing so will be a combat multiplier for your business.

Conclusion: The current Business Relationship Managers mostly act as a service desk to manage the implementation of business stakeholders’ service requests. While this is an important business relationship function, the current incumbents are not engaging with business stakeholders’ strategic discussions that require the selection and implementation of new technology that can improve the business presence and performance in the market. As a result, Business Relationship Managers are not earning a “trusted advisor” status. The Business Relationship Manager’s job focus and skills should expand to promote the value of IT services that contribute to business value creation, measurement and communication. This should allow the IT organisation to become the service provider of choice.

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.

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.

Conclusion: “C-suite” leaders including CIOs and IT managers must continually adapt and change their mindset to be digitally savvy in order to keep pace and influence the digital revolution at the workplace12. Failure to do so will increase risks to implement initiatives whilst harming their own careers and those under their care.

Conclusion: The 2018 CIO survey1 revealed that the CIO’s influence is stalling, with fewer CIOs on executive boards. However, improving business processing is still the #1 operational priority. To address this priority, CIOs and IT managers should use everyday tools such as calendars to better collaborate with their staff by exploiting and promoting the features of the tools at their fingertips.

Conclusion: Keeping the executive informed on how the ICT function is performing while advising it how to take advantage of changes in business technology is an ongoing challenge for every CIO or ICT manager.

Astute CIOs know that to get traction with the executive (or equivalent) they must deliver services required by stakeholders while contributing to strategy debates on how to use new technologies to meet the challenges of the future. Getting traction starts with presenting the right ICT-related information to the executive at the right time.

Conclusion: The role of being a supportive follower is overlooked as compared against the literature of being a leader. Everyone is a follower, yet by a factor of over 1,000 to 11, information is overwhelmingly written about how to be a better leader rather than about being a follower. As a leader, there are many benefits in identifying traits of what is required in a follower. There is also a strong overlap in the behaviours of being an effective leader as there is in being an effective follower. Both roles are just as important as each other and yield significant benefits to the organisation and individuals when realised.

Conclusion: The differences in roles and responsibilities between an IT professional and line manager are many and need to be understood quickly by the new managers and their peers. Not only will the understanding help both parties make the appointment work but it will also reinforce the selection panel’s appointment decision.

A new line manager must remember that the behaviour and strategies adopted in the IT professional role are unlikely to guarantee success in the new role. This is because the new role is typically a multi-dimensional one in which there are more stakeholders, outcomes are elusive and feedback is minimal.

Conclusion: Just as one size car does not suit everyone, so one IT management reporting structure will not meet the needs of all firms or agencies. While there is no blueprint for developing an IT management structure, there are guiding principles and workplace change management practices to help get the restructure right the first time.

Due to fluctuating IT investment cycles and business transaction volumes changes, IT management reporting structures are rarely static. Consequently, management must be prepared to change IT management reporting structures quickly in response to business changes or when they are not meeting the purpose for which they were designed.

Conclusion: Being able to deal with workplace conflict quickly and effectively reaps many rewards. There are different strategies that can be used to deal with the differing types of conflict in the workplace. Being mindful that personality classifications are fluid states of being, i. e. there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert1, in a recent survey2, slightly over 50 % of IT professionals classified themselves as introverts, another 20 % as extroverts and a quarter as “ambiverts” (neither one nor the other). So there is also a requirement to be mindful of what strategies work well (or not) with the differing personality traits of all involved at the time.

Conclusion: Organisations planning to transform their business operations using IT must develop a shared vision of how to use IT to enable the transformation. Failure to provide a vision will frustrate attempts to implement the transform agenda, demotivate employees and, if false starts occur, could adversely impact business relationships with suppliers and clients.

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: Organisations are complex and diverse and do not change direction or a business process just because a manager or the Executive think it is a good idea. To sell the idea, managers and staff need insights into the politics, or influence patterns, in the organisation and can align it with a corporate direction, such as the digital (transformation) strategy.

Conclusion: Strategic thinking, planning and problem solving often involve bringing together a team of knowledgeable contributors who need to analyse, debate, discuss and decide on key issues around the topic they are trying to address. Mind mapping can be a powerful technique for helping to stimulate the ideas, plan actions, and even communicate the output of the thinking.

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: The program to upskill IT professionals and managers must be intentional and the results measurable. Unless the program is actively supported by participating line managers and affected staff, it may not meet the vision set in the IT strategic or business operational plan. The IT upskilling program’s initiatives should be presented by the CIO, to the executive or its talent management committee so the results can be applied elsewhere in the organisation.

Conclusion: Mind mapping is a tool that facilitates “whole-brain” thinking. It is a technique that can be applied to all forms of the thought process, particularly to memory, creativity and learning. Within an organisation, the use of mind mapping as a visual and graphic thinking tool can help improve business processes and practices, solve problems, improve decision making, rethink strategies, set goals or simply improve the day-to-day efficiency of working within the organisation.

By encouraging and training individuals and teams within organisations to utilise mind mapping, organisations can benefit by improving thinking processes and developing daily habits that improve productivity and outcomes.

Conclusion: Maintaining a good relationship with the CIO provides many benefits to their direct reports. It is more than just being given the opportunity to shine and leading exciting and new innovative initiatives, it is also essential to the well-being of the direct report and keeping them motivated. According to Gallup1, the number one reason why people leave jobs is to escape their manager, so strive to keep the relationship as positive as possible and maintain that trusted engagement with the CIO.

Conclusion: Successful business analysts adapt their working practices to ensure they aid in delivering the best solutions to fit business needs in their pivotal role working with IT teams. This is crucial in small delivery teams and in working with the newer Agile methods of delivery.

Conclusion: Selecting the most suitable candidate is a critical responsibility. Take the time upfront to prepare for hiring the person required. Choosing the right person will reap rewards in many ways, such as improving the workplace, increasing revenue and a host of other goals.

Conversely, the pain and effort in employing the wrong person can have disastrous consequences in terms of loss of productivity and loss of reputation to the business, and it creates many issues for the team or individual who made that recruitment error.

Many organisations are wanting to drive innovation, encourage creative thinking skills and boost productivity. Mind
Mapping is a proven technique that helps individuals and teams improve their creative thinking skills.
This course will help you understand Mind Mapping Skills and how to apply them for work purposes. 

Conclusion: One of the least understood contributors in implementing IT projects successfully is the leadership provided by competent TTLs (Technical Team Leads). Their ability to steer projects in the right direction, maximise the contribution of team members and cement the relationship with sponsors, is pivotal.

IT professionals, with potential to act as TTLs, must manage their careers by seizing leadership training and mentoring opportunities so they have a head-start when assigned to a TTL role.

Conclusion: Growth in ICT remains strong in the foreseeable future in a very competitive market. Successful CIOs and ICT leaders responsible for staffing and sourcing need to adopt multiple strategies to successfully recruit, retain and plan for the resource challenges of tomorrow.

Conclusion: Most change management processes focus on the traditional approach of identifying problems then analysing the causes of the problems, followed by the identification of possible solutions then arriving at the solution and implementing the same. APIQ focuses on what the organisation does well, then explores and identifies how those strengths and values can be further improved. The results can be dramatic in terms of improving quality of services and products produced, employee satisfaction/engagement and it is also sustainable.

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: It is difficult to plan when innovation will occur. It is particularly difficult for established organisations to be innovative – they have been successful through sound business practices and an ability to execute, not innovate. Nearly all organisations, both public and private, understand and accept that innovation and the ability to change is critical to success and ongoing viability. However, the very structure of organisations could be killing ideas and management processes can slow change down to a glacial pace. Budget cuts and efficiency measures have largely been focused at the operational level which means that there are less resources to do the same or more work, and then there is the added pressure of being innovative. Real change is effected when the change is applied throughout the organisation, starting at the executive level.

Conclusion: The initial gathering of momentum for change is difficult enough to generate, but letting that momentum lapse will make it even more challenging next time to generate the passion and endeavour to improve the modus operandi for the long haul.

Conclusion: The ability to inspire as a leader is becoming more recognised as a core management and leadership skill. What does not change overnight are the most innermost core values of how an inspirational leader behaves. Through their leadership they inspire others to perform and succeed, making a positive difference not just internally within the organisation, but also with every employee who has been touched by their inspirational abilities.

Conclusion: Mind mapping is a popular technique to assist with the thinking ability of an individual or team, and to help generate ideas and thoughts. Mind maps literally involve “mapping” out thoughts, using associations, connections and triggers to stimulate further ideas.

Whilst traditional mind maps have been drawn on paper, the availability of mind mapping software provides platforms that can be used within organisations to improve the productivity and creativity of individuals and teams. Additionally, it is possible to do things with digital mind maps that are not possible with a hand-drawn diagram, especially in the area of team collaboration, dynamic links and exporting to other formats such as presentations, websites or project plans.

Standardising on a particular mind mapping application can provide a powerful collaboration tool for all employees in the organisation1. With so many choices available, organisations should define their needs and select an application that best integrates with how they expect to deploy mind mapping.

Conclusion: IT professionals who operate in a structured and predictable environment could find the role change to that of an IT manager more challenging than they had anticipated, as it typically requires a mind-set change from completing one or two tasks to managing people. To avoid disappointment, senior management must help new IT managers make the transition and cope with the nuances of the role.

To help them succeed, assign other IT managers, who have made the transition, to coach them. In this way they can learn how to act out the new role and come to grips with the politics of the organisation, or spheres of influence, and know how to interpret business priorities.

Conclusion: Mind mapping is used broadly throughout the world as a technique for improving creativity, problem solving, organising, planning, learning and collaborating. It can be used effectively to help an individual with their personal productivity, and importantly it can help teams and whole organisations.

If organisations are going to embrace mind mapping and encourage employees to utilise this proven technique, then it should manage the rollout like it would for any other major new initiative. A specific training program needs to be utilised, and if software is to be used to enable collaboration via Mind Maps, the organisation will need to determine an approach and evaluate potential applications from the growing list of mind mapping applications becoming available.

 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: Effective ICT project managers are essential to the successful running of any ICT-led change initiative. They provide a necessary level of trust and confidence to the CIO and are a key resource for any effective CIO running a large mix of ongoing and change initiatives.

Conclusion: CTOs need to balance natural technical strengths with traditional leadership skills such as strategic thinking and empathy with others to be initially recruited and then remain as successful CTOs.

Conclusion: It is not enough to just work hard and deliver results, although these are essential qualities to get noticed. To obtain that elusive CIO job and then keep it requires more ongoing effort and vigilance negotiating, monitoring and engaging at executive levels.

Conclusion: Leaders play an integral role in setting the team or office culture which, if positive, improves the effectiveness and performance of that team. Be patient as it takes time to turn around a suffering team, even if they are recruited to transform and instil positive cultural change.

Conclusion: Technologies which improve the efficiency of the marketing value chain will grow in importance because they can enhance productivity. The technologies are more developed and easier to access. In the mixed conditions of the current business environment squeezing more value is a basic imperative.

The constant themes of marketing, resource allocations and targeting also apply, and with better data tools and analytics it should be easier to gain insights which can be used commercially.

Conclusion: Too often the CIO or program/project executive will focus on the more tangible aspects of developing a new ICT system, bunch of processes, environments and the like only to have the new initiative fail as a result of risk averse and increasingly change weary and cynical employees1. Successful leaders need to spend increasing time and effort on getting all stakeholders on-side at all levels to implement and make sustainable positive change.

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. 

Digital transformation of a business is defined as making fundamental and revolutionary changes to achieve new business goals using ICT.

Although digital disruption is now a given in every industry vertical, each business is impacted in its own distinctive ways. 

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: Staff remember how leaders behave and react during a crisis, rather than when the business is operating successfully. Astute leaders do not just deal with restoration and getting the business back on deck; they also support their staff during and after the crisis and can even create the potential for the organisation to be in a better state than before the crisis occurred.

Conclusion: Too often in organisations, executives focus on the more mechanical elements of Project and Business Management but ignore the need to develop the skills of their staff and encourage them to succeed.

Team members’ salary is rarely in itself a motivator to get things done.1 Many motivational positive factors, when combined, get the results needed to get the most out of each team with minimal staff losses along the way.

Conclusion: IT management teams that spend little time planning to grow and retain talented people will find it hard and expensive to keep pace with technology advances and business model changes. Conversely, IT management that makes every effort to retain staff are likely to be employers that attract the best people. They will do this by helping them enhance their skills and recognise their achievements.

Conclusion: It is widely recognised that public sector organisations do not have the same market drivers as private enterprise to be able to innovate in the same way. Drivers such as competitive forces and profit incentives stimulate and support breakthrough innovation. However, by understanding the elements that are active when breakthrough innovation occurs and reframing it within the context of the government sector, significant benefits and progress can be achieved.

Conclusion: The Australian market presents serious problems to marketers. The situation has been foreseeable for the last two years. The situation is likely to soften further, which will constrain their capacity to seek growth.

Solutions are available and require reappraisal of strategies and objectives. Applying intelligence and the right tools should help organisations steer through the variety of conditions ahead.

Conclusion: Unless the Executive holds business and IT management accountable for reporting if the benefits expected in the business case have been realised or not, they will never know whether they made the right decision to invest in the first place.

To estimate the gross benefits and costs, it is imperative the business case records not only the performance metrics when it was approved, but also those current when the business system(s), was implemented (when there is a time lag).

Conclusion: The standard method to assess the future is through the type and function of technologies. The starting point is the way new technologies modify processes and thereby rebalance requirements and outputs. An alternative approach is to examine how executive management will adapt to technological innovation because management maintains longstanding principles and objectives which are noteworthy in the implementation of technologies.

Conclusion: To achieve workplace assimilation of new or replacement business systems, staff must be well trained and convinced it is in their best interests to become proficient operatives. For assimilation to become a reality a comprehensive workplace change management program, that includes a systems training strategy, must be developed.

Conclusion: In a rapidly changing business environment driven by demand for enhanced client services and immediate access to business data, CIOs who can deliver what is needed will thrive. Conversely CIOs unable to meet the CEO’s and Board’s transformation objectives and leverage service providers could quickly find themselves redundant.

Conclusion: Organisations source and procure research and advisory services for a range of reasons. The benefits of access to external research and advisory can vary widely from organisation to organisation. Today’s business and technology environment is changing in more radical and rapid ways. Organisations that fully access and embed the information and advice available from research and advisory services can enhance the problem identification and solving process, ensure staff are incorporating a broad range of information into their thinking and systematically include changing environmental information at strategic, tactical and operational decision making levels. Research and advisory can also be used to improve staff analysis and presentation skills. 

Conclusion: Organisations often look to their competitors for new ideas and innovations and to provide a comparison to their own operations and business direction. Public sector organisations tend to look at other public sector organisations at different levels such as local, state or federal and public sector operations in other countries. Australia generally looks to Canada and the United Kingdom for advances in public sector administration and operations.

However, there are many lessons to be learned from other sectors and industries that could have significant benefit for individual organisations. Failure to identify and harvest the lessons and ideas from other industries will place organisations at a significant disadvantage in the future.

Conclusion: Organisations that fail to develop the skills of their BAs, or give them intellectually challenging roles, are in danger of losing them and their corporate memory. BAs used wisely are often the glue holding complex projects together.

Use them to elicit and simplify business requirements, develop compelling business cases and redesign business processes and the investment will reap dividends. Allocating them mundane tasks and failing to involve them in critical decision making meetings will demotivate them and give them a reason to move on.

Conclusion: Business leaders who have concluded that a Chief Digital Officer is required to provide a critical focus on their digital transformation plans, will find that defining the role in detail will remain an ongoing challenge because it is intensely context-sensitive.

Consequently, the first iteration of a Chief Digital Officer’s (CDO) role responsibilities, job description and person specification needs to be widely canvassed and tolerant of the ambiguity between maintaining ‘business as usual’ and a digital transformation.

A CDO role action plan is an important first step in setting and clarifying expectations.

Conclusion: Workplace change and IT transformation projects typically bring with them more political (organisational) than technical challenges. To win support for these projects concentrate on the people by listening to their concerns and developing strategies to alleviate them. Let the technical solution stand or fall on its own merits.

Conclusion: Some organisations succeed at innovation better than others. To do so requires insight and an ability to understand how an organisation can function differently.

Innovation requires fresh thinking and different approaches. It demands attention on the value chain and business process in order to develop alternatives that will solve old issues.

Conclusion: Organisations across Australia are talking about innovation. Having a structured approach for idea management within organisations is critical as is receiving executive support and appropriate funding for new ideas. However, thinking differently about problems and opportunities will be a key competency in the drive for innovation. One approach such as design thinking is being utilised to great effect in other countries. There are some local occurrences but Australia is lagging and needs to take action to catch up.

Conclusion: Productivity is one of management’s major objectives. This is generally understood but not always executed. As an enabler of organisational functions and productivity, IT needs a precise understanding of the concept in order to fulfil organisational productivity.

Conclusion: Virtual teams continue to be an accepted organisation mode as a means of grouping specialist and project resources together to achieve high quality outcomes. Recent research1 identifies that more than 40% or Fortune 500 companies currently utilise virtual teaming. Smaller organisations have found that technology tools provide the mechanisms to collaborative cost effectively. A key activity of virtual teams is collaborating on research, projects and reports. Understanding the purpose of the collaborative authoring activity, the personality preferences of the authors and the relationship of the authors can enable organisations to increase the quality of the output with less effort and in less elapsed time.

Conclusion: With increasing pressure to digitise extra services to clients, now is the time to review the effectiveness of the partnership between IT and business units. Unless it is strong the capacity to deliver the extra services will be at risk.

Conclusion: Whilst surveys highlight a surplus of ICT professionals and managers, job recruiters are not convinced. They claim the many vacancies on their books for skilled ICT professionals indicate there is a shortfall. Ironically both claims are true and together demand a different management response.

Conclusion: When it comes to balancing the demands of stakeholders, CIOs are often left with Hobson’s choice1 – give in to demands from their enterprise customers. The alternative (saying no) risks the CIO being labelled a ‘Blocker’.

Elite CIOs deal with individual stakeholder demands within an ecosystem of five distinct stakeholder forces, and in doing so drive extraordinary enterprise benefits. Less effective CIOs remain bogged down in a tactical debate focusing on one demand at a time – never really satisfying anyone.

Success as a CIO will be defined by how well an agreed balance by these five stake-holder forces will be achieved.

Conclusion: Organisations that fail to recognise the difference between information and knowledge are at risk of haemorrhaging knowledge at a rate that at the very least has a measurable impact on the quality of service delivered by the organisation. In the worst case, a loss of knowledge poses an existential threat to a product line or to the entire organisation. Whilst tools can play an important role in facilitating knowledge preservation, it is information sharing between individuals and teams that fuels the creation of knowledge.

For several months business analysts and government ministers have been telling the public that Australia has to lift its productivity. The urgent call to action has come about because the golden years of mining are stuttering. To fill the gap left by mining, at the same time as the creeping shadow of ageing ‘boomers’ lengthens, productivity has to rise.

Companies and individuals are aware of this. Recommendations to improve productivity come in various forms. With technology, it’s in almost every piece of kit offered, from gadgets that squeeze that extra bit of output per hour to a full migration or new stack. In the human resources area it may come as advice to give more time to the work-life balance. Even adding green plants to the workplace has been another means to lift productivity.

Conclusion: Equitably allocating IT resources to competing proposals can be simplified by conducting a business systems portfolio assessment in advance with stakeholders. Without the assessment, management will find it hard to reach consensus on where to best allocate their IT investment and skilled resources.

Conclusion: CIOs have a pivotal role in ensuring business and IT transformation and major change initiatives succeed. As they are both disruptive to business and IT operations and typically involve retraining staff while implementing new information systems, CIOs must be innovative and exercise a strategic leadership role. If they do not, project failure is almost inevitable.

Conclusion: CIOs must create a flexible workplace combined with astute people management practices to achieve service related productivity improvements and reduce IT costs. Creating the workplace and expecting that the benefits will accrue without astute team management is naïve. It is analogous to giving a new programmer complex specifications and, without supervision, expecting, error free code when first tested.

Conclusion: IT managers, who aspire to become CIOs, must not only work hard but actively support business projects in order to succeed. Having a track record of successfully completing projects and winning the respect of peers will go a long way towards convincing senior management of fitness for the CIO role.

Conclusion: It is widely accepted that ICT plays an ever-increasing role in almost all aspects of personal and business activities. As an industry, ICT has made many significant contributions over the past few decades. However, despite an instrumental role in business ICT continues to suffer from negative perceptions in terms of its professionalism and conduct and many business customers are frustrated by the limited avenues available to demand standards of service, professional conduct, complaints management, and dispute resolution.

There are various industry bodies supporting the ICT industry at both an individual and organisational level. There is a perception that the industry self-regulates in a limited way as there is currently no significant formal independent oversight of the industry. Without an appropriate regulatory framework for the ICT industry there is no independent complaints management mechanism and little recourse for misconduct which impacts on customer confidence and the ability of the industry to collectively improve professionalism and standards.

Conclusion: CIOs who align their forward work program with their IT workforce competency assessments so they can assign the right people to the right roles have a higher probability of successful services delivery than those who rely on intuition alone to make the assignment.

Conclusion: ICT plays an integral role in almost all areas of society. Over the past two decades there have been spectacular failures with the implementation of ICT business improvements. These failures have cost organisations millions of dollars in direct costs and revenue, damaged brands and even contributed to a number of company failures .ICT as an area of expertise has been evolving over the past few decades but has not yet reached the level of a profession. There continues to be a lack of structure and clarity to the many roles undertaken in ICT, no professional accreditation that is widely valued and demanded and no formal mechanism to enforce accountability.

This is largely due to the diversity of roles categorised under the umbrella of ICT, the limited membership of professional bodies, lack of business expectation that an ICT worker will belong to a professional body and the lack of enforceable accountability as a consequence of the low membership.

Conclusion: The war for talented IT professionals and managers is ongoing. To attract and keep talented people, senior IT and HR managers must continually ask whether their job-hiring and staff retention strategies are working. If the strategies do not create a flexible working environment with access to new technologies to meet the aspirations of talented people they risk losing their organisation’s competitive advantage.

I was surprised when a CIO that had engaged an external services provider told me the firm was not delivering the project management services it had contracted to provide. I had earlier conducted due diligence on the provider and been impressed with its track record. The CIO stated the provider had not assigned an activist project manager and problems were not identified in advance and solved. The client subsequently terminated the contract.

Some standards are undeniably useful, and the benefits of these standards can typically be quantified in terms of improvements in quality and productivity due to increases in the level of automation and interoperability. In contrast, other standards mainly fuel a certification industry that has developed around a standards body, without leading to any measurable benefits, whilst clearly adding to the operating costs of those organisations that choose to adopt such standards.

Conclusion: CIOs need a politically sensitive antenna to pick up items of interest or performance metrics that need to be included in their Monthly Operational and Strategic Update reports to the Executive or Board. Their antennas must pick up and focus on matters likely to be on the ‘radar screen’ of the Executive such as responses to a competitive initiative or the status of a critical business system's implementation, which may take priority on the agenda over 'business as usual' matters, such as IT service delivery performance.

Additionally, if a major online systems outage has occurred in the month, they will want to know its impact and steps being taken to ensure it does not happen again.

Strategic Update reports, which are usually required on a regular basis, typically focus on major achievements and initiatives planned for the next reporting period. These reports are aimed at keeping the Executive informed on how IT investment is contributing to meeting business objectives.

Much anguish has been expressed over the Apple-Samsung patent court battle. It’s not that this run of patents wars is new – they’ve been a feature of the technology business for over a century

One of the nastiest feuds was between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. Apart from being a brilliant inventor Edison was a consummate litigator. One of the reasons the movie business took root in California was to evade Edison’s patent police. He owned the major patents on movie cameras and pursued anyone who reverse engineered his product. The East coast film producers were obliged to pay large fees to Edison; but on the west coast that was evadable. It is a suitable irony that copyright violation is one of the foundations of American film industry. Edison’s struggle with Westinghouse over alternating current versus direct current power was typically bitter. By 1900 Edison’s legal costs were $2M, equivalent to $52M in today’s money.

Conclusion: One of the hardest tasks for CIOs and line management, unless there is a Board directive, is to convince the Executive to divert scarce resources from enhancing business-critical systems and update their plans on what they might do if a major systems outage or disaster occurred. Paradoxically, it is an easier sell when a preventable outage has occurred recently and the slow recovery has put the organisation’s reputation and their careers at risk.

Conclusion: The drop in enrolments in IT related courses at academic and vocational institutions in the last 10 years and estimates of job vacancies in 2012 and 2014 are alarming.1 Whilst online job advertisements have declined in the last year, and pending public sector budget job cuts may free up some IT professionals, these are temporary blips and pale alongside long term vacancy projections.

To avoid being caught short in 2014, when unmet job vacancies will peak, hire the best graduates, improve productivity and retain proficient staff. Doing nothing is not an option.

Changes at the top of your organisation can happen for a whole multitude of reasons – acquisition or merger, change of government, CEO retirement or even a new board. These changes often require CIOs to build a new relationship even when they’ve been with the organisation for a number of years.

Conclusion: Whether it be market pressures, skills shortages, budget shortfalls or a combination of these factors, it is important for organisations to imbed a culture of innovation into their businesses; not only to address the many issues facing them today, but also for the inevitable challenges that will arise in the future. There are no hard and fast rules for an innovative organisation. CIOs may be concerned that embarking on innovation activities may be costly, time consuming or a distraction from the more immediate operational needs of the organisation. Conversely, CIOs may be looking for ways to increase morale and build closer relationships with business areas within their organisation.