Strategy & Transformation

Flourishing in the modern marketplace relies on an organisation’s ability to make the right choices.

To avoid being left behind in an evolving world it is critical for organisations to jump at opportunities for transformational growth. However, acting without sufficient planning is fraught with risk. 

Transformation can only happen when an organisation is aligned on its strategic intent, and IT leaders need the resources to drive great choice-making across their organisation.

From planning to delivery, IBRS can cut through the confusion and guide your organisation all the way through its transformational journey. Our advisors have first-hand experience delivering digital transformation projects and can develop a tailored roadmap to deliver the outcomes you want. 

The Latest

19 Nov 2020: During its annual summit, Snowflake announces a series of new capabilities: a development environment called Snowpark, support for unstructured media, row-level security for improved data governance and a data market.

Why it’s Important

Of Snowflake’s recent announcements, Snowpark clearly reveals the vendor’s strategy to leverage its Cloud analytics platform to enable the development of data-intensive applications. Snowpark allows developers to write applications in their preferred languages to access information in the Snowflake data platform.

This represents an inversion of how business intelligence / analytics teams have traditionally viewed the role of a data warehouse. The rise of data warehouses was driven by limitations in computing performance: heavy analytical workloads were shifted to a dedicated platform so that application performance would not be impacted by limits of database, storage and compute power. With Cloud-native data platform architectures that remove these limitations, it is now possible to leverage the data warehouse (or at least, the analogue of what the data warehouse has become) to service applications.

Who’s Impacted

Development teams
Business intelligence / analytics architects

What’s Next?

Snowflake's strategy is evidence of a seismic shift in data analytics architecture. Along with Domo, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and other Cloud-based data platforms that take advantage of highly scalable, federated architectures, Snowflake is empowering a flip in how data can be leveraged. To take advantage of this flip, organisations should rethink the structure and roles within BI / analytics teams. IBRS has noted that many organisations continue to invest heavily in building their BI / analytics architecture with individual best-of-breed solutions (storage, databases, warehouse, analytics tools, etc), while placing less focus on the data scientists and business domain experts. With access to elastic Cloud platforms, organisations can reverse this focus - putting the business specialists and data scientists in the lead. 

Related IBRS Advisory
Workforce transformation: The four operating models of business intelligence
Key lessons from the executive roundtable on data, analytics and business value

Conclusion: Despite decades of investment in new technologies and the promise of 'digital transformation', workforce productivity has languished. The problem is that technological change does not equate to process nor practice change. Put simply, doing the same things with new tools will not deliver new outcomes.

The mass move to working from home has forced a wave of change to practices: people are finally shifting from a sequential approach to work to a genuinely collaborative approach. And this work approach will remain even as staff return to the office.

The emerging wave through 2020 and beyond is process change: continual and iterative digitisation of process. Practice and process changes will be two positive legacies of the pandemic.

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The Latest

13 Nov 2020: Google Cloud announced preview availability of a serverless Database Migration Service (DMS), which enables clients to migrate MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases to Cloud SQL from on-premises environments or other clouds. 

Why it's Important 

Refactoring applications to take advantage of Cloud-native databases is one of the fastest cost-optimisation opportunities for organisations migrating to Cloud services. Cloud-native databases offer cost-efficiencies in both technical terms (e.g. storage costs) and operational savings (e.g. auto-tuning and scaling). However, the cost of migrating can be a sticking point in the development of business cases, especially where specialised outside help is required. 

Google DMS addresses the above by simplifying and reducing the cost of database migration. It eliminates the need to provision migration-specific compute resources.

Azure and AWS have their own database migration approaches, and even though Google’s solution is in its infancy, it has a solid road map.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • Enterprise Architects
  • Cloud Migration / Strategic leads

What’s Next

Organisations with Cloud migration strategies should be comparing how to not only optimise the cost of running Cloud databases, but also the cost and agility of migration. This consideration should not rest upon one use case, but assume that an increasing number of databases will be migrated over time, both from on-premise and from other Cloud providers.  

Close ‘like-for-like’ calculations suggest that Google’s MySQL database services are lower than that of both Azure and AWS, though direction comparisons are difficult given the number of possible configurations. Therefore, while Google is not a major Cloud player in the ANZ region (compared to AWS and Azure) it can be considered as an option for cost-optimisation in a multi-Cloud setting.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest
9 Nov 2020: Adobe announced a commitment to purchase Workfront for USD1.5b. The deal will bring Workfront’s marketing workflow and collaboration solutions into Adobe’s portfolio of ecommerce, content creation and delivery solutions.

Why it's Important
Adobe is the leader in the marketing technology landscape, with a wide portfolio of solutions for content creation and delivery. In the last three years, Adobe has aggressively pursued design and ecommerce automation through AI and related technologies. The addition of Workfront to its portfolio brings collaboration and workflow into the mix. The likely result being AI powered decision-making into marketing workflows.

Who’s Impacted
Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • eCommerce / marketing technology leads

What’s Next
Workfront and Adobe have a history of collaboration and there are cultural synergies that will likely make the merger relatively seamless from a customer perspective. In the near term (2-3 years), Workfront clients will not see a significant shift in product direction nor licensing. However, as Adobe leverages its AI capabilities into Workfront, expect to see new capabilities that benefit Adobe Marketing Cloud, Experience Manager and other products in the Adobe suite. Longer term, Workforce clients (many of whom are already Adobe clients) should prepare for the more assertive licensing audit activities for which Adobe is known.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: Organisations using Microsoft Server licences should consider leveraging the full potential of recent developments in the AWS licence suite. For more than a decade, AWS Cloud services have provided different organisations reliable data servicing and fewer downtime hours. AWS suggests that it offers clients more instances and twice the performance rate on SQL servers compared to other Cloud providers. Clients will need to have a performance rating in mind to validate these services for their own use.

Over the past decade, AWS has sought to innovate its processes and features following customer feedback. For example, the AWS License Manager was developed after customer feedback as a one-stop solution that manages usage limits and enables IT licensing optimisation across a variety of software vendors and across hybrid environments. It is important for customers to compare this licence management solution with other Cloud providers to validate the additional benefits.

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Conclusion: SAP ECC on-premise versions required ownership of ERP infrastructure and multi-year licensing. The business cases for such investments considered ERP systems essential to remain competitive in IT service industries, logistics and resource-intensive sectors.

The next stage of the SAP journey recognises that Cloud infrastructure associated with S/4HANA can remove the large capital investment and reduce operating costs. Even with this infrastructure saving, the data migration risk remained with CIOs looking to identify a reliable data migration method. Any data migration considered to be high risk should be avoided in the current environment. Many are unfamiliar with the best method to migrate from on-premise SAP solutions to SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud.

SAP and its partners are now making this data migration journey not only more transparent but achievable in a timeframe that is measured in months not years. This is being achieved through Cloud platforms that can interrogate and integrate legacy data, then present migration paths in real time whilst retaining the data integrity before, during and after the migration.

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Conclusion: ‘Voice of the customer’ (VoC) programs often involve the collection and analysis of data through feedback, research and analytics. This can provide an organisation with a strong view of customer desires, pain points, improvement opportunities and new product opportunities. However, this approach does not provide insight into whether these desires, pain points and ideas are shared by your employees. It also does not tell you whether these ideas are easy to implement or if they are achievable. In part, these are the reasons why only 24 % of large firms think they are good at making changes to the business based on insights captured through their VoC programs1.

Many organisations invest in employee engagement programs and initiatives, without realising the full benefit (i. e. action) of this investment2. This paper explores how, by capturing the voice of your staff as a component of your VoC program, organisations can increase the practical value of insights collected, expedite the road to implementation and focus on targeted, achievable action.

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Conclusion: Growing use of SaaS-based, low-code application development platforms will accelerate digital process innovation. However, embracing citizen developers (non-IT people who create simple but significant forms-based applications and workflows) creates issues around governance: including security, process standardisation, data quality, financial controls, integration and potentially single points of failure. There is also a need for new app integrations and service features for its stakeholders that need to be addressed before the potential for citizen developers can be fully realised.

If governed properly, low-code platforms and citizen developers can accelerate digital transformation (or at least, digitisation of processes) and in turn alleviate the load on traditional in-house development teams.

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Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in prolonged lockdowns and quarantines, limiting economic activity and resulting in closure of businesses and many people losing their jobs. Various institutions around the world are unanimous in predicting that a recession is on its way, if not already here. Unless a vaccine is developed in the immediate future, the uncertainty will continue to rise in the days and months to come. However, businesses can turn this situation into an opportunity to examine their current operations.

A review of the events of the recent global recession – the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 – reveals that six recession-seeded trends, when acted upon promptly, provided business advantage. Although the trends for the anticipated COVID-19-led recession are still to be established, CIOs can benefit from re-examining the lessons of the past recessions and exploring a recession’s potential to deliver organisational efficiencies and savings. The outcome may be selective adoption of technology or deferral of projects, but the potency of these trends cannot be ignored.

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Conclusion: The need to see value from an enterprise architecture (EA) framework is essential, if for no other reason than to justify the cost. However, the business benefit of EA is not just the cost. It will also provide reduced risk and improved agility for the business in its use of ICT.

Many organisations struggle with how success or failure of EA should be measured. This paper provides the reader with guidance and advice on what to measure EA against and how that measurement could be presented as a key performance indicator (KPI).

In establishing KPIs for the EA framework your organisation has adopted, both business and ICT will jointly have a better understanding of the value EA brings to the enterprise, and be able to provide governance on the continuous improvement of your EA framework to achieve even better value.

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Conclusion: The Digital Ready Workforce Maturity Model serves as a tool to help organisations measure the digital readiness of their workforce. It provides the baseline for organisations. This insight then informs strategic planning, policies and capability development priorities for organisations to guide and subsequently monitor maturity and capability.

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Conclusion: IBRS has identified five areas of governance overlooked in the rush to deploy Teams. Organisations now need to ‘back-fill’ these areas to ensure the organisation meets its compliance obligations and reaps the full benefits of the digital collaboration environment.

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Conclusion: Many organisations have implemented collaboration and in particular video-conferencing facilities to support critical business operations in response to managing the COVID-19 pandemic. While remote workers have embraced these platforms with enthusiasm, organisations have had little opportunity to govern the use of these platforms due to the need to roll them out quickly. As end-users push forward with sharing confidential data and video across many teams, issues of data access rights, data confidentiality and employee confusion will emerge. Unless organisations put in place appropriate governance on their collaboration platform, the full benefits of the platform will not be realised.

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Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the whole world by storm, shutting down establishments and pushing businesses and public sector agencies towards high levels of uncertainty. It seems it will be a while before this storm lets up.

Regardless of how bleak the effects of the pandemic and ensuing lockdowns are to the economy and the business sector, it can be a platform where leaders and innovators come forth.

Most companies are struggling to determine the next steps and are barely surviving through their business continuity plans. This paper aims to help you pivot towards a different perspective.

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Conclusion: A simple Google search can provide access to thousands of change management frameworks, methodologies and theories. Many relate specifically to digital transformation; however, methods such as the Knoster model cover organisational change more broadly across culture, vision, resources and action planning.

The frequency of unsuccessful organisational change or transformation is on the rise1. While there are many organisational change theories, this paper demonstrates the connection between a particular theoretical framework (Knoster model) and how an organisation can translate these theories into successful organisational activities and practice.

This advisory paper will step through the six dimensions of change within the Knoster model for managing complex change and how you can use this to easily investigate and diagnose the overall health of your organisation’s change or transformation agenda, and to identify practical steps to stay on track.

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Conclusion: When it comes to embracing collaboration, organisations should recognise that it is difficult to manage diverse personalities, perceptions and beliefs. In addition, every individual is going to have their preference on what makes a ‘good collaboration system’.

As a result, it is vital that project leads carefully consider the role staff play in a successful Microsoft Teams deployment and prepare staff for the changes ahead.

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Conclusion: Many organisations have now contained the COVID-19 crisis and stabilised their operations. The focus is now rapidly shifting towards the recovery phase. While the full implications of the 'new normal' are yet to be fully understood, it clear that industry sectors will be impacted very differently. What are the three mega trends emerging in the post COVID-19 world.

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Conclusion: Microsoft Teams is a collaborative hub for teamwork with links to a wide range of information sources and communication capabilities. While a latecomer to the collaboration software solution market, Teams benefits from being included in Microsoft’s 365 platform, which means many organisations have ready access to collaboration capabilities without the licensing costs of dedicated third-party solutions.

Teams is a relatively new and rapidly evolving solution; therefore, deployment challenges are present. Organisations must prioritise a structured approach to planning, governance development and security. Planning is important to empower users so that the organisation can break down information and communication silos. The sooner the organisation prepares concrete plans, the smoother the transition will be. This paper outlines better practices for such planning.

Organisations that rushed the deployment of Teams to support working from home as part of the pandemic response should revisit their Teams deployments against the better practices discussed in this advisory paper, and ‘back-fill’ any missing activities to ensure that Teams maintains long-term benefits for the organisation.

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Conclusion: For many years, shadow IT or business-managed computing has flown under management’s radar screen with mixed results. For some organisations it has been a panacea as it has helped them automate business processes quickly and gain valuable business insights from accessing complex data structures.

In some organisations, business managers resort to developing a shadow IT solution because skilled IT resources are not available due to budget constraints. When this occurs, business or engineering professionals (also known as digital natives) are then reassigned to provide a stop-gap solution, which is often uncontrolled. For these managers, shadow IT is an irritant as it diverts them and their direct reports from their everyday tasks.

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Conclusion: With working from home mandated for a large portion of Australian workers as part of the national pandemic response, ICT groups are tasked with rapidly scaling up existing remote working programs and implementing entirely new ways of working for staff.

On the 16th April 2020, IBRS moderated a virtual roundtable where senior ICT executives discussed their organisation's experience in rapidly migrating to working from home and explored the lessons they had learned along the way. This paper details the insights gained and makes recommendations.

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Conclusion: More than one-third of businesses globally claim to have an omnichannel strategy, which is often predicated on the use of digital channels and platforms1. However, in this quest to leverage digital channels, many organisations are rushing to create omni-enablement plans that look good on paper, but in fact, fail in practice.

This paper covers the three measures that organisations can take to successfully evolve their multichannel foundational investment (walking) for sustainable future omnichannel enablement (running).

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Conclusion: One of the misconceptions in business intelligence (BI) is that the goal is to capture and report upon all available data. This misses an essential business maxim: data is only useful when it is applied deliberately and with a clear goal in mind.

Too often, an organisation’s focus on BI quickly moves from aspirational principles of ‘being a data-driven business’ to discussions of technology architecture and data governance. However, it is dangerous to focus on simply hoarding data in the hope it will be useful in the future. What extracts value from data are steps taken after collection. And to define those steps, an organisation must first define the purpose to which the data will be applied.

IBRS has identified four increasingly sophisticated business models for how data can be applied: business reporting, data visualisation, key performance dashboard and predictive decision support.

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IBRS was asked to present on the AI market for 2018 - 2019. This advisory presents an AI market overview for this time with an outlook towards 2025. How has your organisation's AI journey progressed?

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Conclusion: The phrase ‘People, Process and Technology’ describes the three key elements of a successful business. Business is the why, People the who, Process the what, and Technology the how. No single element of the trilogy can be seen as more important than the others. However, in the post-COVID-19 world, successful businesses will see that the focus of People has changed – they no longer go to work, work goes to them.

In technology terms, this effectively means that everyone is now the core of the system; the old concept of a core that is controlled from a central hub is now questionable. Post-COVID-19 technology design must allow for each worker to be able to work from any location, able to access information, services and data when necessary, and for each location to have surge capability.

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IBRS analyst Dr. Joseph Sweeney provides best practice-advice on working from home in the current pandemic situation. Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses current working from home policies which are mandated due to public health reasons, and explains how he has helped many organisations to adopt proper work-from-home practices.

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Conclusion: The recent use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has demonstrated the value of this type of technology to consumers and organisations. It resulted in the recent discovery of new antibiotics, the emergence of self-services (e. g. virtual agents) and the ability to analyse unstructured data to create business value. However, releasing AI solutions without integrating them into the current IT production environment, the corporate network and Cloud will limit the value realisation of artificial intelligence deployments.

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Conclusion: Organisations that are nearing the end of life for their current voice platforms or have a compelling event to hinge the replacement of their voice service, need to review their use of voice before replacing the technology. IBRS recommends organisations look to leverage voice as an application to operationalise the processes within the organisation, and improve customer satisfaction.

Today the newer technology offerings allow your organisation to get a better return from voice. However, the use of these new technologies will impact business processes and offer greater innovation for your customer interaction. It will not be a simple replacement of boxes.

The key is understanding the power of voice. It is now an application driven by smart software. Businesses need to assess their use of voice to determine the cost benefit of the changes in the technology stack now on offer.

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Conclusion: A common pitfall experienced by service-orientated organisations is the disconnect between its digital efforts and its marketing program. In good practice, marketing efforts should underpin your digital strategy. This can be achieved by unifying marketing’s focus on customer and staff engagement, communications and promotion with the leveraging of digital channels to conduct these activities.

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Conclusion: Being Cloud-based, Microsoft’s Office 365 includes features that would traditionally be considered backup. According to the Microsoft Office Trust Center, Microsoft establishes itself as a data processor with a primary focus on data privacy and management. It is not responsible for compliance or backup, but reliability and availability. As a result, Microsoft may not be able to provide security and protection to data in a way that meets an organisation’s compliance requirements.

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Is your Working From Home Policy causing you grief?

Most organisations’ Working From Home policies are created under the assumption that people would be seeking permission to remote work. As a result, they focus on things that are simply not applicable to, or even blockers for, mandated working from home and self-isolation. 

Worse, many policies have clauses that are impossible to enforce during this pandemic, go against government recommendations and potentially open the organisation up for workplace challenges. At the very least, older WHF policies can confuse and worry staff.

To help, IBRS has created a template for a simple, practical WHF policy, written in staff-friendly language. You can quickly customise and download this policy template as a Microsoft Word file.

Click here to create your Working From Home Policy template

 

NewsIBRS advisor Dr Joseph Sweeney has been tracking the three major Cloud vendors capabilities in AI and said Google is right to believe it has an edge over AWS and Microsoft when it comes to corpus (the data that 'feeds' certain AI applications) and also in AI application infrastructure cost and performance. However, he said this advantage was not materialising into significant gains in the Australian market.

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Conclusion: A Cloud strategy can take many forms. Whether you select a private Cloud, hybrid Cloud (on-premise with Cloud elements), native Cloud or a multiCloud implementation will impact the framework of your strategy. The success of your strategy will be driven by the motivation your organisation has to elect the move.

If your only motivation is the perceived cost model where you reduce capital in favour of operational expense, and potentially see savings based on usage, you are unlikely to succeed. The need to have a clear business strategy on why Cloud, what opportunities it may bring the business, and how to transition, manage and exit the Cloud is essential to see the true benefits.

Key to a successful strategy is to use an effective framework that allows your organisation to migrate to, operate and govern the engagement, and exit the engagement. A Cloud strategy is a commercial arrangement. Understanding the business benefits of entering into a Cloud contract engagement and being able to measure success factors is equally as important as the selection of providers for functionality and cost. It is important that you step into Cloud with your eyes wide open.

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Conclusion: Starting as a Melbourne-based SharePoint plug-in for forms creation solution, Nintex1 has grown into a Cloud-based process and workflow automation platform. In the last 18 months, Nintex has leveraged acquisitions of process mapping and robotics automation technologies to expand its offerings. The Nintex platform can now identify, visualise, manage and automate processes, placing it in competition with traditional business process modelling vendors. The firm has reconfigured its sales and marketing to focus on the market for enterprise optimisation – a market traditionally held by the likes of Pegasystems, IBM, Appian and Oracle. IBRS believes that Nintex now has the critical components of a pragmatic, Cloud-based business automation suite. Nintex should no longer be viewed as a niche workflow vendor for Microsoft solutions but should be considered along with other competitive mainstream business process automation solutions such as Red Hat, TIBCO Software, Software AG and K2.

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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.

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Conclusion: Many organisations are interested in next-generation office space designs that leverage technology to promote collaboration and workforce transformation. Leaders in this field incorporate a human-centric approach. However, environmental factors in designing next-generation workspaces are also considered. Workplaces are the intersection between people and place, and both must be considered to enhance productivity.

In 2019, IBRS conducted an extensive study into transformative workplace designs and interviewed Australian organisations that have been successful when implementing next-generation workspaces. IBRS identified common traits for success. This paper details the environmental (built space) aspects of designing a next-generation workplace.

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Conclusion: Digital transformation is more than another software development stream to replace legacy systems by mobile applications. Digital transformation includes building a new IT capability that can improve the business bottom line. It requires increasing business performance, reducing the cost of doing business and mitigating business risks in a cost-effective manner. To support digital transformation, IT value management capabilities should be established on the following building blocks:

  • Value creation – Define and create the desired IT value needed by business lines. The IT value is a combination of services and technologies capabilities.
  • Value measurement – Measure the IT value contribution to digital transformation.
  • Value communication – Communicate the IT value contribution to business stakeholders, ensure that their expectations are met and re-adjusted (if needed) to address the business and market emerging imperatives.

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Conclusion: A digital strategy and the need for organisations to undertake numerous projects to achieve digital transformation have become the new norm. Digital strategies often require organisations to complete major transformation projects to deliver the outcomes required of the strategy. However, a digital strategy is not just about technology, it is a holistic strategy that involves change across the business processes, to improve both the organisation’s bottom line and the customer experience.

The considerations you must address in development of your digital strategy are much broader than just technology, or indeed just internal business processes or people skills. A digital strategy is about running the business in a smarter, more efficient and effective way, which allows customers improved and faster access to products and services.

For a digital strategy to deliver the best outcomes for the organisation, the customer experience must be the key consideration. Only from the customer’s perspective can the considerations of people, process and technology be best achieved.

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Conclusion: To support the changing workforce, businesses should look at adapting transformative workplace designs to maximise productivity and collaborative efforts. Early adopters of modern workplace designs have tried a variety of approaches in an effort to provide tangible improvements to staff productivity. Unfortunately, in many cases, the high hopes for innovative office designs resulted in the opposite – workplaces that confused, frustrated and distracted staff. IBRS conducted an extensive study into transformative workplace designs and interviewed Australian organisations that have been successful when implementing next-generation workplaces. IBRS identified common traits for success. In this paper, we detail the human aspects of designing a next-generation workplace.

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Conclusion: Cloud services have now been around for over a decade and since that time many of the services available have evolved in both scope and maturity. Most organisations now have a range of services in the Cloud and many have adopted a ‘Cloud first’ strategy for new solutions to business problems. However, this reactive approach runs the risk of not leveraging the full potential of Cloud services and creating fragmented infrastructure and applications which inhibit the rapid response to business problems and increase costs in the longer term. What is required is a deliberate strategy which maps out the transition to Cloud at infrastructure, platform and application levels and is integrated with enterprise IT. Given the scale, scope and risks of the strategy, executive and board alignment is critical as is the implementation of appropriate governance.

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Conclusion: IT organisations wishing to migrate to Cloud should adopt a pragmatic approach that strikes a balance between migration cost, Cloud risks and benefits. The bottom line is to avoid the hidden cost (e.g. scope changes), mitigate the migration risks (e.g. effective multi-Cloud management) and realise the benefits that contribute to business performance improvement. Effective governance of the overall Cloud migration is a critical success factor.

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