Digital Transformation

The Latest

2 November 2021: The 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index indicates improvement in technology access, but many are still considered left out of the digital revolution.The recently published Index reports access to technology accelerated to 71.1 from 67.5 points the previous year, indicating significant improvement among middle-aged and senior Australians. It remains to be seen if this pace of progress can be sustained in the next year, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online participation.

Why it’s Important

When planning digital engagement, service and marketing teams need to be aware that access to digital services is not ubiquitous. This is especially important for public sector organisations, where the failure of equitable delivery services may harm the most at-risk segments of society. However, it is also important for private sector organisations, as they plan multi and omnichannel services.

The Index provides important information that can help with planning digital services.

Some of the report's key findings necessary for policy implications include the following: 

  • The metro-regional gap has narrowed in different regional areas to 67.4 from 62.3 points
  • The national access score has improved to 70.0, but it is not shared evenly by all citizens, with 11 per cent of the population still being excluded
  • A slight boost in the digital ability score has been achieved at 64.4 points, although basic operational skills (setting passwords, connecting online, etc.) have dropped.
  • 14 per cent of Australians would need to pay more than 10 per cent of their income to afford a reliable internet connection
  • The gap between citizens with the lowest and highest income has slightly widened from 25.3 to 26.5 points.

These survey results indicate the need for solutions to remove barriers to inclusion, such as affordability of devices and lack of training for better digital literacy. In particular, the Index recommends improvement in network access and critical infrastructure through the ongoing pandemic, and provision of more affordable broadband connections across all regions and cities.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Managers
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

When planning digital services, look for qualified sources of information on the extent to which the new services will be accessible and, importantly, who may be excluded. Discuss the impact of any exclusion on both those being excluded and your organisation. What additional, non-digital channels will be needed, and how will these channels eventually find their way back into the multi or omnichannel strategy?

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Staff need data literacy – Here’s how to help them get it
  2. Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT

The Latest

16 August 2021: Zoom is best known for its video conferencing solution, which set new standards for ease of use and quick adoption, which in turn saw its usage skyrocket during the first months of COVID-19 lockdowns. The firm’s brand is now so ingrained that staff often refer to video conferencing as ‘zoom calls’ and the public use the terms ‘zooming’ and ‘zoom me’, even when Zoom may not be technology in use. Unfortunately for Zoom, its strong brand recognition with video calls often obscured the breadth of its unified communications (UC) ecosystem.

Zoom is attempting to reposition its brand as an end-to-end UC platform. The topics for its planned Zoomtopia summit, scheduled for the 14th of September, are clear indicators of where Zoom will focus its efforts in the coming year: 

  • Public sector
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Financial services

IBRS recent interviews as part of the Cloud economic study found these four sectors have all been particularly impacted by COVID-19 in terms of service delivery volume and increasing expectations on multichannel (if not omnichannel) experiences. So Zoom’s targeting makes sense. 

Why it’s Important.

The requirements for UC are shifting from internal standardisation (cost optimisation, ensuring staff can communicate efficiently and switch between communications modes) to external flexibility (delivering services using end-points that the public have on hand). It is for this reason that both Microsoft Teams and Zoom are finding their way into call centre strategies. It is not just that these video communications technologies fit within a larger communications ecosystem, but that the majority of the public are familiar with the services and likely have clients already installed on their devices. The mature wave of UC, which IBRS introduced 14 years ago, is moving from the trailblazers into the mainstream.

Who’s impacted

  • User experience / customer journey teams
  • Development team leads
  • Customer service teams
  • Call centre teams

What’s Next?

There two key triggers for replatforming an organisation’s UC environment, or at least introducing a new UC platform:

  • An overhaul of call centres, possibly in conjunction with CRM modernisation.
  • Replacement of legacy PBX or VoiP solution


Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Unified Communications: the future is full of MUC
  2. Unified Communications: Justifications and Predictions
  3. Special Report: Using Lessons from Activity-Based Working to Redefine the Post-Pandemic Workplace


Organisations everywhere are implementing Agile as a dynamic approach to speed up the creation of value and improve development of new and improved services and products. It should be noted that despite all the strengths of Agile it is not suited to all projects. Adopting a best practice such as Agile is more than learning a new process and skill and then applying it in a project environment. Implementing Agile in an established organisation means that there are often a number of other frameworks, best practices and procedures that will need to co-exist with Agile. Without looking at Agile as part of the whole ecosystem, the results can seem underwhelming or negatively impact on other areas, and can cause a lack of appreciation for Agile and subsequent lack of adoption, or a complete rejection of an approach that has so much to offer.

The true benefit of digital strategies is in the thinking, reviewing, assessing and critical evaluation of where the current state is and where the target needs to be. Organisations that have commenced digital transformation have recognised that capability development and ownership of the strategy can make or break success. It is critical to be brutally honest about capability and skills to get to the target.

Log in and click the PDF link above to download the IBRS presentation kit to inform your team.

Too often, information communications technology (ICT) and business analytics groups focus on business intelligence and analytics architectures and do not explore the organisational behaviours that are required to take full advantage of such solutions. There is a growing recognition that data literacy (a subset of digital workforce maturity) is just as important, if not more important, than the solutions being deployed. This is especially true for organisations embracing self-service analytics.

The trend is to give self-service analytics platforms to management that are making critical business decisions. However, this trend also requires managers to be trained in not just the tools and platforms, but in understanding how to ask meaningful questions, select appropriate data (avoiding bias and cherry-picking), and how to apply the principles of scientific thinking to analysis.

Download the pdf now.




Delivering value faster and better with quality code has been the holy grail of software development and support for many years. Navigating a post-COVID-19 world, organisations will find themselves faced with new challenges and the expectation of delivering value and quality results in a shorter time frame.

DevOps is a set of practices that works to automate and integrate the processes between software development and support, so project teams can build, test, and release software faster and more reliably. As such, DevOps and Agile methodologies have become key tools in responding to an increasingly diversified and dynamic business landscape where most, if not all businesses are using technology to reshape their respective organisations.

Yet despite its potential to deliver, many organisations are struggling with DevOps implementations. Developing a clear roadmap based on best practices and a pragmatic approach will accelerate this journey and minimise the risk of failure.


The complexity and scale of Cloud operations is beyond the capability of traditional financial management processes. Today, organisations use Cloud service providers to increase agility, flexibility, and efficiency. Efficiency in this context means the speed of delivery coupled with a reduction in both capital and operational costs. However, that is not the only benefit to be derived. Operating cost reduction is a challenge to organisations that are new to the Cloud and even with those who achieved a certain maturity level. Dealing with operational cost needs in-depth Cloud financial management (CFM).

With this in mind, there are three things to consider with Cloud cost optimisation. First, assess your organisation needs and its level of maturity in using the Cloud. Second, if you lack the skills, then collaborate with a Cloud-Certified Partner (CCP). Lastly, set a collective governance system (guidelines and guardrails) to ensure the services are continuously cost-optimised.

The Latest

Mid May 2021: Mulesoft detailed its new Connectors for SAP during an analyst’s briefing. The SAP connector is most interesting, since it aims to speed up the development of lightweight, agile customer-facing, online self-service capabilities, while building on the weighty (not exactly agile) capabilities of SAP.  

Mulesoft has out-of-box integrations (called connectors) for existing data sources including AWS, Google, GCP, Azure, Snowflake, Salesforce, Splunk, Stripe, Oracle, ServiceNow, Zendesk, Workday Jira, Trello, Azure, SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, etc. Mulesoft has identified 900 common enterprise applications, though only 28% of these have pre-existing integrations. Mulesoft states that on average 35 different apps are needed for a single customer-facing enterprise digital solution. Therefore, it is investing heavily in developing additional connectors for enterprise solutions, with at least 50 planned for release in 2021.

Why it’s Important

In late 2019 and early 2020, IBRS conducted a series of 37 detailed interviews with organisations that found organisations with ERP SaaS platforms supported by low-code workflows and integration, saw at least 3 times (and up to 10 times!) as many customer-facing services delivered annually as compared with on-premise solutions with traditionally managed API integrations. A recent series of 67 interviews confirms these findings.

During COVID-19, the big winners of the ‘prepackaged integration’ model (specifically, the model outlined in the 'Trends for 2021-2026: No New Normal and Preparing For the Fourth Wave of ICT'), were business-to-consumer organisations that quickly pivoted from a myriad of shopfront locations to digital stores in a matter of weeks. As Mulesoft has figured out, this is not just an issue of having the ability to integrate, but having a consolidated core of ERP capabilities to provide core data and processes, surrounded by a fabric of low-code application, workflow and integration services.

Who’s impacted

  • COO
  • CIO
  • Head of sales 
  • DevOps leads
  • Enterprise architects

What’s Next?

Organisations should consider how their current environment - including legacy ERP - can evolve to support the fourth wave of enterprise architecture. This will impact upgrade decisions for ERP and other enterprise applications, the selection of low-code application development and integration tools.  

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Trends for 2021-2026: No New Normal and Preparing For the Fourth-wave of ICT
  2. Accelerating Remote Services Deployment


Low-code solutions expand the entry-level for application development by enabling non-developers (a.k.a. citizen developers) and developers alike to create applications visually. Low-code platform solutions allow citizen developers to develop applications using WYSIWYG tools to create functional prototypes of applications that digitise special – often narrowly defined – business processes. This can be highly disruptive without clear policies (see ‘Non-techies Are Taking Over Your Developers’ Jobs – Dealing with the Fallout’). In addition, to avoid the Microsoft access problem of creating fragmented applications and processes, the ICT group needs to be involved in the selection of a low-code platform that provides not only eforms and workflow capabilities, but also governance features to avoid the chaos that can ensue from unfettered development.

Low-code platforms can be viewed as offering a spectrum of capabilities, as detailed in ‘How to Succeed with Eforms Part 1: Understand the Need'. To provide a smooth transition along the spectrum of development capabilities, organisations may either:

  • introduce a second developer-focused low-code platform, since many citizen-developer-focused solutions have insufficient capabilities for developers.
  • adopt a single, low-code platform that provides both the simplicity needed for citizen developers and the power needed for developers.


The growing maturity of data handling and analytics is driving interest in data catalogues. Over the past two years, most of the major vendors in the data analytics field have either introduced or are rapidly evolving their products to include data cataloguing.

Data catalogues help data users identify and manage their data for processing and analytics. Leading data cataloguing tools leverage machine learning (ML) and other search techniques to expose and link data sets in a manner that improves access and consumability.

However, a data catalogue is only beneficial when the organisation already has a sufficient level of maturity in how it manages data and analytics. Data literacy (the skills and core concepts that support data analytics) must also be established in the organisation’s user base to leverage full benefits from the proposed data catalogue.

Organisations considering data catalogues must have a clear picture of how to use this new architecture, and be realistic in how ready they are to leverage the technology. Furthermore, different organisations have unique and dynamic data attributes, so there is no one-type-fits-all data catalogue in the marketplace.

The Latest

25 February 2021: Microsoft has announced a new industry Microsoft Cloud product suite. In short, Microsoft is pivoting to deliver vertical market Cloud offering for: Financial Services, Manufacturing, Non-profit and Retail on the back of the success with the Microsoft Healthcare Cloud. The primary purpose of these tailored industry solutions is to meet specific needs, breakdown silos and increase collaboration, productivity and efficiency within and across Industries.

Is this new or are we seeing a response to similar Cloud SaaS verticals from Salesforce and Netsuite?

Why it’s Important

Whether it is regulatory compliance or creating efficiencies, Microsoft is the latest to develop industry driven verticals offerings under the Microsoft Cloud banner. Whilst each MS Cloud solution addresses specific industry needs it also makes a concerted effort to take the existing Microsoft software products suites and add new capabilities to M365, Azure, Dynamics 365 and the Microsoft Power Platform. 

This level of investment by Microsoft in Cloud specific solutions should reduce the need for industries to invest heavily in their own solutions and instead adopt a common off the shelf SaaS solution. But will this provide competitive advantage for industries or will it make everything vanilla over time. Microsoft is planning continuous engagement with Industry leaders to ensure constant innovation so the industry Clouds do not become a one size fits all, set and forget approach. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CDO
  • Digital Supply Chain
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Software Architecture Leads

What’s Next?

Monitor the release of these industry specific Microsoft Cloud solutions in March 2021. As with Microsoft Power Platform products, much of the pricing remains a mystery for these Cloud offerings. By all means get access to release information and hopefully a private preview from March 2021 so you can see if the industry solution really meets your business needs.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Book at an advisory session to explore how Microsoft’s Strategy impacts your organisation
  2. Pros and Cons of Going All-In With Microsoft
  3. Google Workspace for Education - From Free to Fee
  4. Oracle’s new federal government Cloud capabilities

The Latest

23 February 2021: Creatio has just taken US$68 million in funding, joining the current investment frenzy in low-code platform vendors. 

Why it’s Important

Creatio started life as a BPM vendor in 2011, and introduced its low-code platform in 2013, making it one of the better established of the new generation of low-code vendors. This round of investment is relatively small, compared recent activity in the low-code platform market. Even so, it is yet more evidence that the market for Cloud-based low-code is on the boil. These low-code platform vendors are spending their new-found cash on the following, in order of priority:

  • global market expansion: setting up new offices and hiring channel managers, which means more vendors will be entering the ANZ market more aggressively
  • buying additional elements of the ‘low-code everything’ stack: including business process mapping / management (BPM), robotic process automation (RPA), API management (APIM) and rules engines
  • buying market share with acquisitions: as we saw recently with Nintex procuring K2

The challenge for buyers of low-code platforms is that while the market is beginning to see a great deal of change and competition, their ICT investments need to be considered for the long-term - at least a decade. This is due to the need to invest the skills, processes, governance and change management to get the promised returns on whatever low-code is selected. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

When considering low-code platforms (and it is likely your organisation will have more than one, in order to meet different needs) look for the investment and development road map of the vendors. In particular, determine if the vendors have a viable strategy to develop skills and support resources locally, either directly or through channel partners. Also, explore their road map for delivering more than just eforms and workflow, but moving to acquire or develop a ‘low-code everything’ platform. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Cloud low-code vendor Webflow secures US$140 million
  2. How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need
  3. Workforce transformation part 4: Non-techies are taking over your developers’ jobs – Dealing with the fallout
  4. Aussie vendor radar: Nintex joins the mainstream business process automation vendor landscape


Traditional Enterprise Architectures (EAs) were introduced to tighten IT control over the type of technology to be used and ensure IT developers comply with IT standards. While this control driver was essential to ensure cost-effective solutions, it was introduced at the expense of efficiency. Without reducing the essential controls, modern EAs should shift the current focus to continuous service improvement. This will permit a flexible mode of work (e.g. anywhere, anytime, any device) and enable businesses to transform, grow and survive in the digital world.


Digital transformation initiatives will drive organisations to grow existing skills and develop new competencies. Unless this need to grow is recognised and plans developed to train geeks in advance, projects will falter and delays will frustrate stakeholders.

To avoid failure it is imperative that organisations develop workplace initiatives to close the (presumed) skills gap, and ensure the business case for the transformation includes funds to train the right people (geeks) and upskill them. Unless the initiatives are identified, and funds allocated, sponsors will need to continually ask for more resources – a career-limiting activity.

Australian businesses expecting the hassles of the COVID-19 pandemic to vanish in 2021 are in for a rude shock, according to business analyst firm IBRS, which as also released a new report on the future of the IT space. The firm's 'Future of Work' expert, and IBRS advisor, Dr. Joseph Sweeney said improvements in IT departments were required because customer organisations will remain threatened by sporadic coronavirus incidents for some time yet.

The IBRS report, titled Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT, outlines misconceptions businesses have regarding the timeline of the pandemic and that a new, fourth-wave of ICT architecture is emerging in response to the challenges that will linger after the vaccine rollout.

Full story.

The Latest

17 February 2021: Google Apigee announced the release of Apigee X, its latest edition of its API management solution.

Why it’s Important

IBRS has found that the topic of APIs has moved out of the boiler room to the boardroom. During a series of roundtables with CEOs, CFOs and Heads of HR in late 2019, IBRS noted that many of these executives were advocates for ‘API enabled enterprise solutions’. Upon further questioning, these non-technical executives were able to accurately describe the core concepts and purposes of APIs. Much of their knowledge had come from engagements with combined SalesForce / Mulesoft sales teams. During 2020, the demand for rapid digitisation of processes with low-code platforms further raised the profile of API usage.

Expectations for APIs are high. Meeting those expectations demands a structured approach to management of APIs, and the ability to report on their usage. 

Who’s impacted

  • CTO
  • Software development teams

What’s Next?

Consider how the topic of APIs - which many executives see as critical for evolving business functions, or even a building block of digital transform efforts, needs to be communicated within the organisation. Explore how the adoption of low-code platforms both within and tangential to the ICT group will further expand the use of APIs. If not already available, put in place a roadmap for the introduction of API management capabilities, factoring both governance issues and supporting technologies.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Architectures for Mobilised Enterprise Applications
  2. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 15: Traditional enterprise architecture is irrelevant to digital transformation
  3. IBRSiQ: Can IBRS advise on the pros and cons of best of breed combined EAM/ERP vs fully integrated ERP/EAM?
  4. The impact of Software-as-a-Service on enterprise solutions: Why you must run IT-as-a-Service
  5. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) Part 2: Planning the ERP strategy for modernisation
  6. How to succeed with eforms Part 4: Selection framework
  7. Making the case for enterprise architecture


Thinking that the pandemic will soon be past and some form of new normal will emerge, be it working from home or office work, or a hybrid mix - is a misconception. Even with a vaccine, the pandemic will continue in isolated, difficult to predict pockets, and cause sporadic rapid changes to work practices for the foreseeable future. Organisations will need to be able to quickly flip-flop work environments rapidly, and work processes - and thus technologies - must evolve to meet the challenges of the 'age of uncertainty'. A fourth-wave of ICT architecture is emerging, with a focus on information over architecture, low-code everything and powered by algorithms.

Find attached at the bottom of the article a free downloadable PDF copy of the trends for 2021-2026 executive presentation deck.


Minimising risks from systems specification errors and cyber risks from network intrusions when an enterprise-wide digital transformation is underway is a daunting task, as many stakeholders could be impacted. Depending on the severity of the error or network intrusion, an incident could damage a brand’s image and shareholder confidence in the board. In the public sector, a cyber incident could result in the leaking of citizens’ private data and put an unwelcome spotlight on ministers and bureaucrats.

While boards are ultimately responsible for monitoring and minimising risks, they must ensure management creates a risk abatement framework and strategy, and executes it. The problem is compounded when the organisation’s aim is to transform or reshape its business model and the changes proposed are resisted by staff concerned at possible job losses or fear of failure – risks which must be addressed in the strategy.


Too often, information communications technology (ICT) and business analytics groups focus on business intelligence and analytics architectures and do not explore the organisational behaviours that are required to take full advantage of such solutions. There is a growing recognition that data literacy (a subset of digital workforce maturity1) is just as important, if not more important, than the solutions being deployed. This is especially true for organisations embracing self-service analytics2.

The trend is to give self-service analytics platforms to management that are making critical business decisions. However, this trend also requires managers to be trained in not just the tools and platforms, but in understanding how to ask meaningful questions, select appropriate data (avoiding bias and cherry-picking), and how to apply the principles of scientific thinking to analysis.

The Latest

27 January 2020: Sitecore, which offers a web content management and online customer experience platform, announced a US$1.2 billion investment plan to grow its global footprint. 

Why it’s Important

In the market for online customer experience, Sitecore is the key rival to Adobe. While Sitecore does not provide the breadth of digital design services that Adobe offers, its web content and digital marketing capabilities are competitive. This US$1.2 billion investment plan signals Sitecore’s desire to take advantage of the increased demand for digital service delivery in the wake of the pandemic. 

Sitecore’s offering is price-competitive against Adobe, though still at the high-end of the market. However, it does need to boost its support network and partners if it wishes to encroach on Adobe, while also defending against mid-tier players and modern CRMs such as Salesforce and Netsuite ecommerce and customer service offerings. 

Who’s impacted

  • CMO
  • Sales / Marketing teams

What’s Next?

While Sitecore is well-known in Australia and the Asia Pacific / Japan region, strengthening its implementation partners and support network will go a long way to positioning it against Adobe. IBRS has noted that some Australian Sitecore clients have expressed frustration with the availability of local Sitecore skills and sought US-based contractors to fill the gaps. Investment in building an international footprint may help alleviate local skills shortages.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. CRM modernisation Part 1: Strategy, planning & selection
  2. CRM modernisation Part 2B: Creating a customer experience strategy
  3. Positive customer experiences must lead digital transformation

The Latest 

19 January 2021: Salesforce has added a customer loyalty management module to its Customer 365 Platform. The new module allows organisations to define and deploy programs for incentives and rewards, linked to customer data held within the core Salesforce and customer experience platform.

Why it’s Important

During the pandemic and related lockdowns, digital service delivery has surged. More significantly, as consumers adopted more online service delivery, they also tried out new brands. McKinsey estimates that 80% of US consumers stuck with their new channels, with digital customer loyalty programs being a significant force in this trend.  

Who’s impacted

  • CMO
  • Sales executives
  • E-commerce teams

What’s Next?

While data for Australian consumers' adoption of digital channels and digital loyalty programs is not readily available, anecdotal evidence from discussions with IBRS clients and from well established online retailers such as Kogan and Woolworths, suggests Australia has also seen a similar pattern to that of North America, though perhaps not as pronounced.  

Loyalty programs will likely become a key differentiating factor for brands to maintain repeat business as more (niche) Australian retailers take up digital channels to meet their client demands. Organisations should begin to explore how digital loyalty programs can:

  • drive repeat and regular online engagement 
  • build brand awareness and affiliation, and 
  • increase life-time-value measures.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. CRM modernisation Part 1: Strategy, planning & selection
  2. CRM modernisation Part 2B: Creating a customer experience strategy
  3. Positive customer experiences must lead digital transformation

The Latest

11 January 2021: IBRS interviewed low-code vendor Kintone, exploring its unique capabilities. The Japanese company is looking to expand its presence in the Australian market through traditional channels and some unexpected partners.

Why it’s Important

As detailed in the ‘VENDORiQ: Cloud low-code vendor Webflow secures US$140 million’, the low-code market is growing rapidly.  Kintone Australia is a subsidiary of Cybozu, one of Japan’s largest software companies, which was founded in 1997. The firm’s platform focuses as much on collaboration around digitised processes as it does on the development of applications - with every process having ‘conversational threads’. The firm’s clients in Australia are predominantly Japanese firms with local operations.

Who’s impacted?

  • Development team leads
  • Workforce transformation leads

What’s Next?

Kintone addresses the low to mid-range of the IBRS spectrum of services for eforms and low-code environments. It is suited for less-technical staff (including business analysts) to create structured processes that include collaboration. 

Kintone’s approach is worth noting, since many of the processes digitised by low-code platforms are replacing ad-hoc, messy processes that are often managed with manual activities and collaboration. There is an active evolution from manual, collaborative processes to digitised processes.

Kintone has a stable financial base via its strength in the Japanese market. Skills, training and support for Kintone are comparatively weak in the domestic market. However, Kintone is looking to partner with IT services organisations and partners with strengths in providing printing and digitisation technologies. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need.
  2. Workforce transformation part 4: Non-techies are taking over your developers’ jobs – Dealing with the fallout
  3. Aussie vendor radar: Nintex joins the mainstream business process automation vendor landscape
  4. VENDORiQ: Cloud low-code vendor Webflow secures US$140 million

The Latest

14 January 2021: IBRS interviewed Appian, a low-code vendor that specialises in providing business analysts and developers with a platform to deliver custom enterprise applications. The vendor has seen strong growth in the later half of 2020 due to organisations needing to quickly develop new applications to address lockdowns and new digital service delivery demands. The vendor also detailed how it is leveraging machine learning to guide users through the development of applications. The use of machine learning to recommend low-code application designs and workflows is a key differentiator for Appian.

Why it’s Important

As detailed in the 'VENDORiQ: Cloud low-code vendor Webflow secures $140 million', the low-code market is growing rapidly. Appian is a major global vendor in the low-code market. It positions itself above the non-technical / citizen-developer tools such as Forms.IO, but below the specialised development team platforms such as OutSystems. Appian’s ‘sweet spot’ is teams of business stakeholders working with business analysts and developers to jointly prototype and then put into production applications. 

Appian has been expanding the use of machine learning algorithms to application design. During application development, the algorithms will make recommendations on fields that are needed on forms, workflow steps, approval processes, etc.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

When selecting a low-code platform, organisations should be very clear about who the stakeholders are, who will use the platform, the project management model for application development and the applications to be developed.  

In the case of Appian, there is clearly a close alignment with Agile business methodologies, which extend beyond the ICT group as outlined in the 'IBRS Snapshot: Agile Service Spectrum'.

The use of AI during the development applications is a feature more than a gimmick. This ‘guided’ approach to design not only speeds up application development, but by analysing a large body of existing applications and drawing inferences based on usage and effectiveness, it helps ensure that ‘best practices’ in workflows are not overlooked.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need.
  2. Workforce transformation part 4: Non-techies are taking over your developers’ jobs – Dealing with the fallout
  3. Aussie vendor radar: Nintex joins the mainstream business process automation vendor landscape
  4. VENDORiQ: Cloud low-code vendor Webflow secures US$140 million

The Latest

12 January 2021: Webflow, a Cloud-based low-code vendor, has secured US$140 in investment. The new round of investment values the vendor at US$2.1 billion. 

Why it’s Important

The low-code market exploded over the last year. Newer entrants, such as Webflow (founded in 2012), are attracting significant venture capital. Just 17 months ago, Webflow took $72 million investments which valued the company at $400 million. The new investments thrust the vendor into unicorn status. At the same time, well-established low-code vendors such as Nintex and Microsoft are consolidating and expanding their portfolios to include robotic process automation, process modelling and integration tools.

The market for low-code is not yet at the peak of its feverish growth, but IBRS cautions that current rates of investment and hype are unsustainable. There will be turmoil as the mark begins to consolidate, likely in 2023 to 2026.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Workforce transformation leads

What’s Next?

Low-code development is not a new concept. However, the uptake of Cloud platforms, common data models, robot process automation and business modelling are extending the notion of low-code development from simple ‘e-forms’ tools to services that enable enterprise-grade process digitisation.  

The pandemic and working from home has supercharged the need for process digitisation, and low-code vendors are all seeing strong sales growth. 

Unfortunately, the term ‘low-code’ is starting to become meaningless, as vendors that provide very different application development tools and platforms attach the term to their products.  IBRS recommends organisations view ‘low code’ as a broad term that covers a spectrum of capabilities, as detailed in 'How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need'. It is likely that most organisations will need to acquire two low-code products to cover different parts of this spectrum: one product aimed at non-technical staff for simple e-forms, and another product to increase the agility of pro-developers in the ICT group.

Consider the financial backing and stability of a vendor when selecting low-code tools, as market consolidation is on the horizon. You do not wish to be developing business processes on a platform they will outlive.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need.
  2. Workforce transformation part 4: Non-techies are taking over your developers’ jobs – Dealing with the fallout
  3. Aussie vendor radar: Nintex joins the mainstream business process automation vendor landscape
  4. IBRSiQ: Can IBRS assist in identifying a mobility platform other than Xalt?

The Latest

5 December 2020: Australian education solution vendor Tribal, has upgraded its digital learning design chatbot. The move is illustrative of how chatbots can be leveraged to aid complex tasks - in this case, learning content, delivery, and leaner coaching.

Why it’s Important

Chatbots are not unique to Tribal. However, Tribal is demonstrating how such agents can deliver new capabilities into the LMS market, which can be glacial in the adoption of innovation. The Tribal chatbot is aimed at improving knowledge transfer inside an organisation. It assists domain experts to build learning content and share knowledge by recommending approaches to online training.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO / CTO
  • Service delivery teams 

What’s Next?

Like most forms of AI, chatbots will make their way into organisations through their addition to existing software solutions, either via paid upgrades or as part of the ongoing improvements of SaaS solutions. Chatbots will increasingly act in an advisory manner or as a guide for complex processes inherent in the vendors’ solutions. 

As a result of this trend, staff will be presented with a growing number of chatbots embedded in different vendor’s solutions, each serving a specific purpose. This itself will present a new challenge for digital maturity and staff satisfaction.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

2 December 2020: Salesforce Einstein is being extended into the Mulesoft automation and data integration platform. The newly announced Flow Orchestrator enabled non-technical staff to transform complex processes into industry-relevant events. The new AI-assisted MuleSoft Composer for Salesforce will allow an organisation to integrate data from multiple systems, including third-party solutions.

Why it’s Important

AI enables business process automation as a key technology enabler that favours organisations with a Cloud-first architecture. Salesforce will leverage its experience and connections with selling to organisation’s non-IT executives to secure a strong ‘brand leadership’ position in this space.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIOs
  • CTOs
  • CRM Leaders

What’s Next?

In mid-2019, IBRS noted a significant upswing in interest in Mulesoft and integration technologies more broadly from the non-ICT board-level executives. In particular, COOs and CFOs expressed strong interest in, and awareness of, process automation through APIs.  

Digging deeper, IBRS finds that Salesforce account teams, who are well-known for bypassing the CIO and targeting senior executive stakeholders, are also bringing Mulesoft into the business conversation. Also, Microsoft is expected to double-down on AI-enabled business process automation with the PowerPlatform. 

As a result, the addition of Salesforce Einstein AI into the discussion of automation and integration is expected to land very well with COOs and CFOs. 

CIOs need to be ready to have sophisticated discussions with these two roles regarding the potential for AI in process automation. Expectations will be high. Understanding the possible challenges of implementing such a system takes careful consideration. CIOs should be ready to build a business case for AI-enabled business process automation.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: The true benefit of digital strategies is in the thinking, reviewing, assessing and critical evaluation of where the current state is and where the target needs to be. Organisations that have commenced digital transformation have recognised that capability development and ownership of the strategy can make or break success. It is critical to be brutally honest about capability and skills to get to the target.

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.

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.

Conclusion: Digital transformation is a journey that will require an organisation to undergo metamorphosis. Unlike projects, it does not always have a short-term or long-term timeline. However, organisations can tread with discernment by harnessing clarity of purpose and an adept understanding of its culture and the values of its people.

There are different types of organisations in terms of how they handle digital transformation. These are the ‘visionaries’, the ‘explorers’ and the ‘watchers’. Visionary companies are those which truly utilise digital for transformation and truly believe that they can implement change. Explorer companies utilise digital transformation for experience.
Organisations that are considered as watchers utilise digital transformation for efficiency and have a traditional view with regard to technology. They believe that technology adoption can be used to reduce waste and gain efficiency.

The type in which an organisation falls may also affect the strategy it employs in handling challenges and obstacles. The most common hurdles faced by organisations are insufficient funding and technical skills, lack of organisational agility and entrepreneurial spirit, having a risk-averse culture, lack of collaborative culture, security concerns, competing priorities, lack of strategy and understanding.

Aside from the obstacles and challenges companies encounter, there are also various pitfalls they fail to recognise early on. This leads to mistakes and miscalculations.

Conclusion: Shifting end users to a digital service delivery channel is more cost-effective for most scenarios and most organisations. The return on investment is through a reduced volume of low-value interactions and an increase in the volume of high-value interactions within high-cost traditional channels. This is a strategic tactic for many organisations and mature ones will have this articulated in a channel management strategy with defined channel migration/shift/uptake targets.

If that channel migration target is not at the centre of the key performance indicator (KPI) design before it gets rolled out to front line staff, organisations run the risk of creating internal tension between their departments which in turn slows down the rate of transformation.

Well thought out and designed KPIs are a critical success factor in the time it takes for an organisation to see a return on the investment in service delivery transformation.

Conclusion: Digital transformation is the number one information communication technology (ICT) challenge for information technology (IT) leaders across Australia and New Zealand. Organisations are faced with various hurdles whenever they try to implement digital transformation initiatives. The major concerns for these organisations are how to get to the other side of disruption efficiently and effectively and how to best deal with the cultural and technological challenges of digital transformation. Challenges are not focused on technology or adoption approaches as these are available and matured. Traditional challenges of organisation change, culture and budget seem to not have been overcome, even after more than three decades.

Based on Infosys Digital Radar 2019, in terms of the digital maturity ranking in the Asia Pacific per country, Australia is within the top 5 out of 10 countries and New Zealand is in the top 7 out of 10 countries. Organisations are encountering obstacles in adapting successfully in the digital era.

Conclusion: Agile approaches are being applied to a wide range of projects and activities within organisations including infrastructure upgrade projects of known tools and devices and across existing customer bases. Focusing on the technology elements and progressing quickly to build and test can uncover blind spots due to a high degree of familiarity and assumptions. Areas such as stakeholder engagement, vendor management, integration and the need for discovery and design can be glossed over as it is assumed that most of the details are known. The result is a discovery and gaps are discovered at the end of the test phase, just prior to release or even after release to production.

Conclusion: The three largest service providers in Australia for mobile phone services, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, have all committed to providing 5G networks. 2019 has seen the introduction of 5G networks and devices; however, the coverage is still limited. Initial coverage by the service providers will focus on areas with the highest population density, providing coverage to a greater number of potential users. In 2019, it is estimated that coverage should be available to about 4 million potential subscribers.

The jump in speed and reduction in network latency will open up opportunities for new services and customer experiences that would not be practical using existing 3G or 4G networks. There is a large potential economic upside and organisations should be planning for future use cases.

Conclusion: Many strategic planning activities that are meant to set the future direction for the organisation fail to meet that objective. Current success, a high level of incumbent expertise or even passion can prevent an organisation from considering red flags or other indicators that will impact on future success. At worst, it can result in significant failure; at best, it limits the activities of the organisation to do more of the same with a tactical work plan. Overcoming this myopia is critical to ensuring that strategic planning i.e.fective and provides a useful compass for the organisation.

Conclusion: The ubiquitous availability of smartphone and wearable technology has opened up opportunities for a wide range of new applications that take advantage of knowing the location and proximity of these devices.

One of the newer underlying technologies that enable these new apps are low-cost small beacons that provide regular transmissions, usually to Bluetooth-enabled devices. When working on digital transformation projects or opportunities to innovate, these technologies should be included in the developer’s tool bag.

Conclusion: Globally, organisations are dealing with the challenges of “digital transformations” and the need to “innovate”. Chief information officers (CIOs) need to support their organisations in these initiatives, but the ownership in defining what is required rests with the business managers, and the key executives such as the chief marketing officers, chief supply chain officers, chief human resources officers and chief executive officers. If the organisation has one, chief technology officers would be a contributor in terms of how technology can be included in innovation initiatives.

CIOs need to be valued as trusted advisors to the business leaders in terms of what technology solutions will support their businesses’ initiatives.

Conclusion: Innovation is a growing key competency for organisations in the public sector and seemingly an imperative for the commercial and not-for-profit sectors to grow or maintain market share and relevance in a continuously dynamic marketplace. Although innovation is included in nearly all current strategic plans, both business and technology, organisations still struggle to actually adopt innovation in practice. Only by recognising how not to innovate can organisations ensure that change to their actions and behaviours supports innovation and does not kill it.

Conclusion: Agility has been introduced into organisations as part of their approach to increase the cadence, or velocity, of design, development and implementation cycles for project delivery. Increased levels of activity and visibility are also integral to many social media solutions and their approach to online presence. However, strategic planning processes evolve slowly and for many organisations this critical business and technology planning activity is lagging behind and no longer supports the business objectives in the digital era. 

Conclusion: Developing a digital strategy or embarking on a digital transformation program is now a common business narrative. For some organisations it is a process of recasting existing IT strategy and continuing in more or less the same manner. For others it involves initiating a technology project as a way to learn new processes and update platforms and skills. Understanding the business readiness of the organisation is a critical element for any change but is key to digital transformation.

Conclusion: Increasingly, leaders in the field of AI adoption are calling out the limitations of the current machine learning techniques as they relate to knowledge representation and predictive analysis.

Organisations seeking to adopt machine learning as part of their AI-enabled transformation programs should ensure they fully understand these limitations to avoid unproductive investments driven by hype rather than reality by expanding their definitions of machine learning to include the use of graph networks and social physics solutions.

Conclusion: Digital transformation is happening everywhere. It is being included in organisational strategic plans for government service improvements and in commercial organisations to address market challenges and industry disruptors. Digital transformation efforts include a core group of domains including strategy, innovation, experience, automation and trust and these must be addressed in any digital transformation approach. However, a core element of digital transformation is people and the hardest part of digital transformation is the cultural piece.1 Understanding the people elements of digital transformation and appropriately addressing them can mean the difference between success and failure for organisations.

Conclusion: In IBRS’s 2018 Top Business Technology Trends Priorities Report, we noted that despite significant media attention on blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) in 2017, the primary concerns of Australia’s Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in 2018 remains focused on the more pressing issues of migration to the Cloud, and its impact on IT operations and staffing.

However, ignoring DLT in the long term is no longer an option. After 10 years since the advent of blockchain, real world and production examples are now emerging from market-influencing players in Australia such as the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Commonwealth Bank (CBA). This, combined with significant investment from credible vendors (both old and new), requires that CIOs and their Enterprise Architects review the implications of DLT becoming a mainstream means for secure, immutable data exchange to enable fully automated multi-party workflows.

Conclusion: Organisations either recognised early that digital transformation was essential to meet the competitive demands of their respective markets or accepted that general community expectations had increased where digital transformation of traditional business operations, processes and services was no longer expected and demanded. Digital transformation became the next big thing in organisations and initiatives were launched in earnest everywhere. While there are always success stories, many more have been less than successful and their stories have some very common themes. To make digital transformation work for the long term it is critical to avoid these mistakes.

Conclusion: Organisations seeking to ride the new wave of AI-enabled transformation are facing a clear choice when it comes to the adoption of supporting AI capabilities such as machine learning or speech recognition, either:

  1. DIY (Do It Yourself) – By adopting AI early as stand-alone services; or
  2. MODIFY (Make Others Do It For You) – By waiting for AI functionality to be embedded in existing solutions.

Deciding which path to take requires that organisations reflect on their current maturity when it comes to building solutions. Only those organisations that can honestly demonstrate full development lifecycle capabilities and that have contemporary development tools and frameworks should expect anything but proof of concept success with DIY approaches to AI solutions.

Conclusion: Organisations everywhere are thinking about, planning or undertaking digital transformation activities. While good progress is being made, there is still a tendency to view digital transformation as a technology project or series of technology projects which will provide some value but will not result in an organisation being digital.

Conclusion: In seeking to achieve their vision, goals and objectives, organisations constantly evaluate internal and external factors in order to take action. Although tuned to the unique needs of each enterprise, there have been identifiable waves of factors and responding actions that have occurred since 2000 in the form of business and digital transformation.

Business transformation addressed the changing nature of markets in a connected and globalised world by focusing on delivering cost savings through new models of operation, while the subsequent wave of digital transformation sought to employ technology and exploit pervasive connectivity to increase the efficiency of internal processes and customer-facing interactions.

IBRS has identified a new wave we call “artificial intelligence-enabled (AI-enabled) transformation”, which is focused on optimising business operations through the use of emerging technologies that leverage “self-learning” algorithms to make predictions, respond to real-world objects and events, and possess user interfaces that mimic how humans communicate.

However, in order to successfully exploit this new wave of transformation, organisations must first understand what exactly AI is and how AI-enabled transformation differs from the waves that have come before it.

Conclusion: Due to years of tactical software deployments in response to urgent digital transformation uplifts, organisations have created a jungle of business intelligence (BI) technologies deployed in the absence of a well described and comprehensive approach to the challenges faced; challenges that will continue to increase with the shift to AI-enabled transformation.

Instead the majority of solution paradigms have centred around the application of emerging technologies with little articulation of a coherent architecture traceable to the underlying functional or non-functional requirements required to support a well governed and long lived data analytics platform. Instead, with each new trend in reporting and analytics, e. g. big data, results in a litany of partial solutions.

Enter Data Vault 2.0 (DV2.0) is the first well described architecture, methodology and modelling approach to emerge from the BI community in the last 5 years. DV2.0 provides a solid basis for organisations wishing to avoid the data sins of the past and adoption should be a top consideration for the inevitable expansion of BI that flows from business application transformation and as part of a clear DataOps strategy.

Conclusion: Business leaders should convert recent global interest in AI applications, safety and effectiveness into AI governance guidelines in the exercise of their triple bottom line responsibilities (for profit, social responsibility and sustainability) as outlined in IBRS research note, “The emerging need for IT governance in artificial intelligence”1.

AI includes a very broad range of technologies being applied in virtually all industries. This means that the use of AI in both IT and operational technologies2 (OT) requires C-level attention and supervision.

Conclusion: Achieving the ability to comply with the new European General Data Protection Regulation is seen as a costly and burdensome overhead adding a new layer of complexity to how organisations will need to manage and secure Personally Identifiable Information (PII) records kept by them.

However, organisations should view the potential benefits of being able to use obtaining and maintaining the ability to comply with GDPR as an opportunity to justify investments in technologies, process improvements and people to deliver better overall outcomes for the organisation.

Rather than simply focusing on doing what is required to be able to comply, focus should be on using the opportunity to update tools and processes to improve organisational efficiencies, reduce costs, increase customer and employee loyalty, and improve productivity.

Conclusion: Managing large IT environments and provisioning IT services within an organisation is complex and complexity will always exist. However, not all complexity is “bad”. “Good” complexity is the complexity required to simplify, to reduce costs, create value, improve security and improve overall operations and results.

Focus needs to always be maintained on reducing “bad” complexity. “Bad” complexity is the complexity that makes it difficult to do things, difficult to secure, difficult to manage, difficult to innovate, or difficult to adapt to changes in the organisation. “Bad” complexity comes with high costs, including hidden costs in lost employee productivity and morale, potentially loss of new business opportunities, or higher staffing costs due to the limited availability of the skills needed.

Organisations need to maintain a mindset of constantly managing initiatives to drive towards simplification in their IT portfolio, understanding that achieving this will involve sophisticated and often complex planning and the successful execution of those plans.

Conclusion: Australian Government digital transformation programs tend to adopt the model implemented by the UK Government and use this to develop priorities and implement programs. This will provide line-of-sight improvements and may help to identify some breakthrough options. Additional priorities will ensure that there is appropriate leadership to lead cultural and behavioural changes. In the future, citizen-centric should not mean a better way for each tier of government to deliver their traditional services but that services are designed to meet the needs of the citizens regardless of the jurisdiction or level of government service delivery.

Conclusion: Executives trying to put ambitious and commendable goals in place may not appreciate the clarification that they may see as downgrading their original goal. When IT is asked to provide systems to support ambitious goals, the executive team needs to make sure the costs are understood and any ramifications that may result in significant changes or investment in IT solutions to support the goals are clearly identified and costed.

Having corporate goals or strategies as a focus to help employees know what is to be achieved is commendable and a proven approach to getting individuals and teams to focus on specific targets or outcomes. But setting the targets too high can come at a cost that is not justified or that may result in a continual investment in trying to achieve something that is beyond the organisation. It can also be unnecessary when the goal only requires the organisation to be delivering better than the nearest competitor, or be providing a unique offering or service that defines the organisation and sets it apart from others in the market.

Conclusion: Although automation is actively being introduced through digital transformation projects, it may still be a minor part of the technological mix for a few years. The main reason for the potentially slower progress with automation is the relatively mixed economic background. In some specific instances, it is an obvious option but otherwise its benefits will be ambiguous for some time.

In these foreseeable circumstances it may be that business as usual (BAU) is the overriding strategic principle.

Conclusion: Automation will overturn the old model of technology in some industries and workplaces. How automation could modify work practice is being explored but it is the ramifications which are obscure. If automation becomes widespread, as credible forecasts claim, it will have multiple consequences which require understanding and response.

Conclusion: Abbreviated trialling of RPA platforms is shaping up as a relatively low risk, low cost approach to exploring the use of robotics to aid business process rather than lengthy technical evaluations.

However, business process re-engineering experience shows that just automating existing business processes without addressing inherent inefficiencies and adding a robotic overlay is a total waste of resources.

Basic RPA applications do not need IT coding and can reduce repetitive tasks and improve accuracy.

In more complex situations, use of RPA platforms and tools relies on leveraging IT systems integration in providing robotic aid to assist human intuitive decision-making.

Conclusion: Abbreviated trialling of RPA platforms is shaping up as a relatively low risk, low cost approach to exploring the use of robotics to aid business process rather than lengthy technical evaluations.

However, business process re-engineering experience shows that just automating existing business processes without addressing inherent inefficiencies and adding a robotic overlay is a total waste of resources.

Basic RPA applications do not need IT coding and can reduce repetitive tasks and improve accuracy.

In more complex situations, use of RPA platforms and tools relies on leveraging IT systems integration in providing robotic aid to human intuitive decision-making.

While the objectives of improved profit and productivity are straightforward, innovation is more complex than just the implementation of technology. Innovation touches people, processes and how organisations maintain their purpose in future

Conclusion: While activity based working can deliver a better ambient environment and cut some fixed costs, it is the less easily measured outcomes that are the objective. These objectives tend to come under the heading of collaboration.

Public sector organisations need to see beyond the initial phase of ABW and look to the longer term in order to achieve the promise of activity based working.

Conclusion: Many business leaders around the world have concluded that although information and communications technologies (ICT) are mature, their own business has yet to systematically address digital transformation as an opportunity and a Digital Officer is required to provide that focus. ‘Business-as-Usual’ is an increasingly rejected approach.

A Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or similar appointment with broad responsibilities is clearly needed to deliver radical digital transformation in large or complex enterprises.

Conclusion: The new digital business model for IT is based on selecting, composing, and leveraging a dynamic range of Cloud based external services. Under the new IT paradigm people will work the way they want, when and where they want and with all the tools with which they are familiar; collaborate using a wide range of low-cost commodity services; and use their own devices (and in some cases their own applications) while those responsible for information governance seamlessly maintain control over the organisation’s enterprise information, privacy and security.

This Compass is a companion document to IBRS’ Master Advisory Presentation (MAP) “Delivering Digital Business Transformation” which outlines business and management issues and provides guidance on delivering an effective digital business transformation.

Conclusion: Business investment has all but disappeared in the last five years1. Therefore it is understandable that the appeal for more investment in the drive to digital transformation will unlock innovation and a new route to productivity. However, it is not that simple, as a review of the data illustrates.

Planning the future with rear-vision perspectives is sure to disappoint, if not fail. Organisations would be better to examine their own situation and discard received wisdom, especially from vendors.

Conclusion: User-centricity, positive customer experiences (CX) and active customer engagement are the necessary central drivers of any business’ digital transformation.

Customer experience trends and issues need to be addressed methodically using a checklist to produce the necessary reviews of current approaches and plans to transform them into best practices.

Systematic use of the tools contained in contact centres, customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, algorithms in apps and communications-enabled business process will be the only responsible path for enterprises committed to improving their customer experience.

Conclusion: Since the inception of Bitcoin, the blockchain is now viewed as a potential technology improvement to many ordinary transaction and data storage functions. The financial sector has led the way, from investment banks to stock exchanges, but deployment of the blockchain has application in other industries. Its clear advantages may yield much efficiency leading to reduced costs. Organisations should examine how and when they might adopt the technology.

Conclusion: Many organisations looking to transform or innovate their existing business find it difficult to think about it in a completely new way as the past is always present. One way to approach the common strategic planning activity is take the perspective used by start-ups and build a business model for the future which re-evaluates current paradigms. Existing business models can be dissected into key elements and each element can be critically examined and evaluated in terms of its contribution to the desired value proposition.

Conclusion:Within the ICT industry new technology is deferred to as the catalyst of innovation. While this is partially true at the current time and over the next 3-5 years, the shifting structure of the wider economy is the more likely agent of transformation, and even perhaps of disruption, which will be seen through the adoption of various technologies.

Conclusion: Australian Organisations are actively developing and refining digital transformation strategies in recognition of the changing business and government operational environment. Innovation is generously mentioned in most strategies and there has been an increase in the number of Chief Digital Officer roles being offered and filled to assist organisations to achieve the transformation they are striving for. However, organisations need to actively develop innovation and entrepreneurial skills and capabilities across their organisations to ensure that they have broad skills to contribute to transformation and innovation programs and an entrepreneurial culture to support ongoing experimentation and change.

Conclusion: Telstra’s new shared access WiFi service Telstra Air solves the problems of users’ limited access to WiFi away from their own home, office or WiFi Hotspots by sharing some of other users’ WiFi capacity (2Mbps on a land line).

It uses globally deployed Fon services which also have massive capital expenditure reduction benefits for fixed and mobile telecommunications carriers and global roaming benefits for Internet service providers and users.

Enterprises should evaluate this type of architecture and service for use in novel ways to brand, differentiate and transform their customer engagement. Shared WiFi access to the Internet is another example of recent trends in the ‘sharing’ economy such as airbnb, Uber, GoGet carshare and others that create practical value.

Conclusion: There are almost no examples of traditional organisations metamorphosing their physical products (and related business models) into digital products (supported by new business models). On the other hand the list of organisations that have gone out of business as a result of the digital revolution continues to grow. Three characteristics are common to non-digital organisations that have lost out to digital competitors.

Conclusion: Nearly all organisations recognise that the world, their industry, and their customers are changing. Evidence of that realisation can be seen in company restructures, strategy and vision documents, and the discourse used by executive management. Change vocabulary such as transformation, innovation, anything Cloud, as-a-service or mobile is widely used. However, history shows that even highly successful companies find change and transformation difficult, with icons such as Novell and Netscape either failing completely or being relegated to market followers.

Review of these and similar organisations shows that being overly committed to a previously winning formula, misreading the market and competition dynamics or responding to market changes too slowly were common missteps.

Conclusion: Digital disruption is now a given in every industry vertical, although each is impacted in its own distinctive ways.

The drivers for connecting everything and transforming business are the desires for improving corporate agility and personal productivity. The use of utility information and communications technologies (ICT) such as Cloud and Mobility is proving to be a key enabler of Digital Transformation for any size of private or public sector business in any sector.

Transformation, agility and productivity are coming from hyper-connected people and processes.

Conclusion: moving to an activity based working (ABW) environment is a complex multifactor project. Organisations can take stock of their readiness to approach activity based working by using the maturity model. The model will assist in developing the planning criteria required for any ABW strategy.

Conclusion: Once an organisation decides its on-premises IT infrastructure model must be transformed into a Hybrid Cloud model the important question becomes “how is this best achieved?” While Cloud Native applications and Dev/Test infrastructure are the typical first steps they do not address the Enterprise applications that are central to most enterprises.

An emerging transformational strategy is one based on Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). This is a low cost, low risk, incremental approach to transforming on-premises IT infrastructure into a Hybrid Cloud infrastructure. The DRaaS leaders in Australia will be VMware, Microsoft and AWS in that order.

Conclusion: The popularity and growth of online social media platforms has pushed social data into the spotlight. Humans using the Web mainly interact with human-produced data. Yet the floods of machine-generated data that flow through the Internet remain invisible to humans. For a number of reasons attempts by organisations to mine big social data to improve marketing and to increase sales will fall significantly short of expectations. Data from digital devices and sensor networks that are part of the Internet of Things is eclipsing human produced data. Machines have replaced humans as the most social species on the planet, and this must inform the approach to data science and the development of healthy economic ecosystems.

Conclusion: Failure to embrace the SMACC stack (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud and Consumerisation) will result in the wider organisation working around the internal ICT provider. Job losses in the ICT team and a reduction in wider corporate capability will result.

Conclusion: The Standard Operating Environment (SOE) desktop has long been considered a best practice and is widely used. However, in recent years consumer IT has dramatically changed users’ expectations resulting in frequent complaints that the SOE desktop is inflexible and a hindrance to doing business.

With corporate supplied desktop continuing to be a key application access platform for the foreseeable future, IT organisations need to find an approach that meet the user’s expectations while controlling complexity, manageability, security and cost. One solution is a Dynamic Desktop1 extended with a self-service portal that emulates an ‘app store’ experience.

Conclusion: Amazon Web Services (AWS) dominates the IaaS market, witha commanding market share lead over all other vendors. Since there are no clear market forces that will change this in the next few years the question is who will become second and third?

Conclusion: The digitisation of services that used to be delivered manually puts the spotlight on user experience as human interactions are replaced with human to software interactions. Organisations that are intending to transition to digital service delivery must consider all the implications from a customer’s perspective. The larger the number of customers, the more preparation is required, and the higher the demands in terms of resilience and scalability of service delivery. Organisations that do not think beyond the business-as-usual scenario of service delivery may find that customer satisfaction ratings can plummet rapidly.

Conclusion: Technology increasingly is a commodity that can be sourced externally. In contrast, trustworthy data has become a highly prized asset. Data storage can be outsourced, and even SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) technology can be sourced from the Cloud, but the patterns of data flow in a service-oriented architecture represent the unique digital DNA of an organisation – these patterns and the associated data structures represent the platform for the development of innovative digital services.

Conclusion: Although small businesses and certain entrepreneurs are using Bitcoin, there is a business case for many other organisations to use the currency in limited conditions. It is one more transaction option that can assist commerce.

Conclusion: Innovation is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century organisation, whether it be companies growing or keeping their customers or the public sector, trying to deliver services with ever decreasing budget – innovation will play a key role as established models for business processes become increasingly under strain. A crucial part of innovation is ideas management. Ideas management involves how to generate and capture ideas, how to select and progress ideas and how to diffuse ideas.

Many organisations focus on the tools and technology available to improve idea management within their organisation, but this ignores the other important elements including strategy, people and processes, resulting in a low level of maturity and often a poor performance of implementing ideas. Improving maturity across all the elements of idea management increases the opportunity to find the best ideas and get them implemented. While a high level of maturity across all elements may not be feasible or desirable, organisations should identify those areas that are important and ensure they optimise these.

In the technology industry Apple, Google, Amazon and others are seen as synonymous with innovation. These companies disrupted prevailing business processes and changed the way people use music, buy products or even write documents. From their design, software tools, and e commerce, what these corporations have done to business around the world is dynamic. Innovation has been at the centre of their success and with it has come development and growth.

Conclusion: While on-premises is still the dominant IT delivery model, Cloud is increasingly viewed as a robust complement or alternative. When evaluating new IT system and services ensure IT staff evaluate the use of Cloud as an alternative delivery model. The evaluation should include non-cost benefits, such as time-to-solution, rapid scale-up and scale-down, pay-as-you-go, as well as traditional metrics such as Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and risk.

Rather than ask “Should we move to the cloud”, IT executives should ask “Why, What and When”, and then use these three questions to create a guidelines for comparing Cloud as an alternative delivery model to on-premises.

Conclusion:There is no other IT project as politically charged as the NBN. Politics and ideology will determine this project, not technology. The 2013 election may be the event that produces a different network to the one that was envisaged in 2008. Every strategy needs a plan B and that is the likely outcome of the NBN.

In early 2013 there is little or no disruption to such a change of outcome because the rollout has not reached a critical mass. However, any visions, or intentions, that hinged on the full fibre rollout may be trimmed in line with the altered network. Organisations will have a lot of time to plot their telecommunications requirements on the modified NBN. But they may also be able to realise the original NBN if they are willing to pay a higher price under a ‘user pays’ principle.

Conclusion: While organisations and personal customers anticipate NBN reaching their premises soon, the fact is it will take some time. The roll out timetable has been well known since the NBN design was outlined. The apparent delays in the roll out are the result of implementation and resourcing which NBN Co. has solved. NBN Co. expects to be able to ‘catch up’ on the roll out by the middle of 2013 and exceed its targets.

Organisations that want, or have a high demand, for the NBN should refer to the roll-out timetable and geographical detail. It may be a catalyst for planning, or allow them to develop strategies for services within their own organisational network which can be deployed in a timely manner.

Conclusion: Although more attention is given to mobile payments, the delivery of services will probably gain wider traction and help promote all trust-based types of transaction. Under this umbrella of services should be added loyalty programs. For brand vendors, loyalty is two-way as they understand the appeal of mobile devices is not simply transactional. It has a subliminal emotional quality which can be used as a platform for commercial gain.

Organisations ought to have business strategies incorporating technical scope and feasibility for mobile services. Critical market mass is important. While smartphone penetration grows quickly planning for programs and services should be put in place. Over the next year is when concepts may be organised into well-developed strategies.

Conclusion: Ticketing and other forms of transactions are essential elements to make other forms of non-cash and mobile financial transaction become habitual to customer behaviour. The familiarity of using the mobile device in such a way, with guaranteed security and convenience, is fundamental to user acceptance. It will help encourage all trust-based mobile interactions on a wider scale.

While smartcards have been seen as the transport ticketing solution there are risks and costs. Ticketing solutions built on smartphone platform is the obvious choice for transit authorities and other organisations that offer services to large groups of users and must manage their use of the service.

Conclusion: A major pillar for mobile transactions to gain widespread use is consumer acceptance. The various parties in the payments industry are working to convince the public of the efficacy of the technology and thereby change behaviour.

Payment vendors know that customer behaviour and usage must change for them to succeed. Altering behaviour can be difficult and costly. The adoption of cashless payments is not a done deal.

Conclusion: The seemingly growing deployment of enterprise social media may add another layer to organisational communications and collaborative suites; or it may replace them altogether. At this stage definite judgement is not possible, given the varying feedback on usage, value and overall benefits.

Ostensibly these tools are being introduced to improve collaboration and productivity. Yet the evidence is not conclusive on those criteria. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to rationalise such deployments on efficacy criteria alone.

Conclusion: Crafting a durable social media strategy is a challenge. How social media tools and behaviour will mature, and the lessons taken from the early phase, will define how it will be implemented later. To manage the social evolution, adequate guidelines can serve as a strategic path.

The two key elements to have in creating a social media strategy are: 1) a robust view of how users and user behaviour is evolving and 2) practical and tactical techniques and tools to deploy and measure in order to produce the information to grow competence.

Conclusion: Investment in meeting room management systems is becoming increasingly important for organisations looking to modernise and optimise their facilities. It is however a complex investment. The investment will fail if appropriate stakeholders’ perspectives are not included in the process and if an objective analysis of user requirements fails to occur. When executed correctly, the definition of a meeting room can be expanded, ensuring efficient use of assets such as car parks, lockers and technology.

Conclusion: Optimising the efficiency and security of statutory board communication is a critical requirement for any organisation. The development of board portal solutions have enabled the basis of board communication to shift from paper to digital media. It is vital that the IT department helps to facilitate this shift. The key challenge for IT departments is to ensure a focus on solutions that are able to be implemented across multiple platforms, and not tied to the latest ‘must-have’ device.

The cloud computing economic model is expected to bring significant rewards – apparently. Those rewards may be possible, but the quality of analysis to demonstrate that the cloud paradigm will yield an ever-growing margin is far from assured. The assumptions underlying the economics of the cloud are tenuous and therefore the promotions and promises should be treated with caution. More analysis has to be done to evaluate how and where advantages are achieved, and at what cost and margin. Without sufficient rationale, empirical data and analysis, the hype will burst once the ambiguous and unclear economic outcomes emerge, just like other technology bubbles before.

One of cloud computing’s apparently key advantages is reduced operational costs. On deeper investigation, however, the purported savings are achieved by removing obvious waste, which represent the bulk of the headlined ‘savings of 50%’ that cloud computing allegedly offers.

Web 2.0 tools are often seen as beneficial and effective for so-called celebrities and online activists. Yet a recent business survey suggests tangible benefits to organisations, together with subtle but real changes in the way business is done.

Conclusion: Web delivered applications, along with specific Web 2.0 tools, have created new, and possibly higher expectations of online interaction from users. As government, at all levels except local, continues to examine ways to deploy these tools and raise its interactive capabilities, it will have to develop customer-centric techniques and possibly behaviour too, or else stumble in the attempt.

In evolving customised government channels the planning process will need greater attention than has hitherto been given to government channels and website content management. In addition, considerations of technology deployment will require a deeper level of strategic priorities and future proofing.

Conclusion: Despite better and more available government services online there are considerable gaps in service quality. These gaps, or dissatisfaction, with services are based primarily in users' ability to deal with accessibility, navigation and understanding of government services and information.

There are two recommendations to be made from the five years' of usage data of government sites: Firstly, that content management, site navigation and information discovery has to be improved, and, secondly, an information marketing campaign to assist users should also be considered using the Web and traditional media to inform and educate the public.

Conclusion: Expanding Web 2.0 tools in government consolidates the current experimentation into a new range and reach of technology from established practices. Adoption of 2.0 tools may create new responsibilities and pressures for government agencies and consequently managers will have to review specific strategies and prioritise the deployment of 2.0 tools.

Many highly accessed government web sites are fragmented, with out of date information, and appear poorly coordinated. While some departments and agencies have demonstrated positive web governance abilities, the expansion of Commonwealth government web sites, coupled with lack of oversight or continuity, means that gaps in service and information delivery are evident.