Leadership & People

Positive change starts from the top. Great leadership drives teams to succeed, defines a positive culture and inspires the leaders of tomorrow. 

Much is written about what makes a good leader, and no one recipe or formula exists. The challenges facing our current and upcoming leaders vary wildly.

How teams thrive while dealing with internal politics, external ideas and failure are complex challenges every leader must learn to manage. You don’t have to do it alone.

IBRS is comprised of many ex-CIOs with a wealth of knowledge that can provide mentoring and advice to current and aspiring leaders. Our career development, networking and thought leadership resources help leaders solve problems and create workplace cultures geared towards success and satisfaction.

For a long time now we have run a national private computer network, based predominantly on Optus Frame Relay and ATM with some Telstra On Ramp, mainly for redundancy. The network topology has been based on a “hub and spoke” model where Head Office, which hosts the data centre and provides our only gateway into the Internet, is the central hub, the branch offices are secondary hubs and the projects are on the perimeter, coming and going as the business dictates. Naturally as reliance on the network grows, and network traffic increases, the communication links in this network have expanded to meet the need.

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Conclusion: As a CIO, or an IT Manager, a key part of your job will be helping business leaders recognise opportunities where IT could improve the way they do business.

If you haven’t made an effort to build a personal relationship with your peers BEFORE you try to give them business advice you will almost certainly fail. Put simply, if they don’t like you they won’t trust you and they won’t listen to your advice.

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Conclusion: An organisation’s culture is a vital part of its business process but it’s an element of a company that is only examined when there are problems. Taking stock of the state of the company’s culture, and also observing it within departments, could be another means of improving profitability and employee satisfaction.

For an examination of culture to be worthwhile, it ought to strive for definite outcomes or else it may become just another exercise in staff management. Managers can make two plays to attain goals:

  1. Sanction consent and support at executive management level as it must be something the company endorses;

  2. Make the diagnostic process deliver results and not just analysis, thereby establishing goals in the future.

By ensuring that a cultural examination will be useful to an organisation, a better understanding of how the firm is working is gained. This type of information is qualitatively useful for managers.

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Conclusion: Just as one size car does not suit everyone, so one organisational design and IT management structure will not meet the needs of all firms or agencies. As there is no perfect approach for developing an IT management structure, managers must research available options, assess their suitability and ‘road test’ them before implementing them.

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Conclusion: CIOs who sit back and wait for their executive teams to implement ICT governance are putting their own careers at risk. While business leaders continue to misunderstand measures of ICT performance CIOs face two perennial problems: good performance may go completely unrecognised while CIOs may be blamed for failures that are totally outside their control.

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Conclusion – Restructure roles and responsibilities of staff only when there are compelling reasons and apply the guiding principles, as set out below, when designing the new structure.

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Conclusion: In 2003 any failure of e-commerce systems through problems with supporting technology is seen as a failure of the whole organisation. Many business leaders have recognised that they need better models for governing IT investments and ensuring effective IT operations. To their dismay most CIOs have not recognised that change is required. Today many CIOs are ‘playing the wrong game’. Unless they quickly understand what is required they will be replaced with managers who do.

Many CIOs have remained focused on low cost operational support when they should be working hard to grow corporate capabilities in IT strategic planning, enterprise architecture, program and project management, relationship management and technology R+D.

For years CIOs have been waiting for an opportunity to work with business as a full partner. Today that opportunity is staring many CIO’s in the face and most haven’t recognised it.

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Conclusion: Every department within an enterprise is under greater scrutiny to prove their worth. For the IT service department rising beyond a service supplier relationship with the rest of the firm or agency means marketing their wares in two ways:

  1. Delivering services in a timely and responsive manner which like all actions can be a matter of execution;

  2. Opening and maintaining two-way communication channels with all areas of the organisation: necessary to deliver services today and to anticipate next stage requirements. To achieve these aims may require implementing some tried and tested marketing and market research techniques.

Getting the approach to marketing right can make a difference in effectiveness for an organisation, not just for the IT department.

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Conclusion: By helping geeks (those who deliver technical solutions) resolve the ambiguity inherent in their work environment you can help them deliver quality technical solutions and meet your work-related objectives.

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Conclusion: While attracting and retaining staff is no longer a pre-occupation of CIOs, the challenge today is to manage IT professionals in a way that maximises their contribution and minimises the possibility of them seeking another role.

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Most e-commerce communications have been done with email or some other form of advertising, whether banners or tiles. These have not yielded the results initially hoped for and so scepticism has crept in about the whole field. Up steps an Australian firm called SimCast with a new approach to the problem of so-called ‘permission marketing’, that is, when customers want to be contacted about services and products.

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Conclusion: One of the best means of gaining greater leverage in business marketing is with the sales force. The sales team is the most valuable unit to promote the business, as it already knows the key elements of selling the business, namely:

  • a brand value understanding;

  • the customer value;

  • an ability to communicate customer value;

  • and follow through with implementation and management.

In the current business environment operations are being reviewed to gain greater returns and consequently the sales force needs to be retrained in operational management and undergo a revision of sales tactics to achieve targets. Those tactics may include ancillary and competitive affiliations to network the company’s product to the market.

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Conclusion: In the past, age and income were reliable predictors of behaviour but now, and in the future, the old definitions do not depict consumers well. Regardless of the industry, businesses in the future must gain quality consumer psychographic research either, syndicated or customised, if they are to operate confidently in evolving consumer markets. The other ingredient to the emerging customer strategy is segmenting and categorising the market by what consumers think, hope and wish for rather than any other fixed metric like age or even income. This involves slicing consumer markets into separate dimensions to gain a better view on how they operate and what will drive them in the future.

Marketing management has always wanted to get inside customers’ heads and it will be essential to do so to understand what they want, dream of, and ultimately buy.

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Conclusion: Over the next 5 to 10 years marketing to the mature, that is, over 50 consumers will become an essential element in the business of all types of enterprises as the entire population ages. The largest portion of consumers will be in this age group. Grasping the demographic difference will set a marker between those companies that can prosper and those that are living in the past.

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