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This month, discussions regarding mergers and acquisitions have been prominent, in particular the high level of activity in ICT services companies. A number of companies have attributed growth to past acquisitions, announced intentions to acquire particular firms or flagged acquisition activity as a strategic priority. Associated actions, such as rebranding, restructuring, and capital raising efforts have also been discussed. The need to remain competitive in current environments, utilising mergers and acquisitions to help evolve businesses has become clear. These transactions can be highly beneficial when expansion plans include re-engineering core business lines, or developing new and targeted specialisations. However, when looking into acquisitions, it is important to plan carefully, intertwine activities with current company strategies and ensure a balance between a company’s existing strengths and stretching newly acquired specialities.
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This month, discussions regarding security threats to third party suppliers have been prominent. With malicious actors targeting new technologies and work methods, it has become critical for customers to assess and conduct ongoing reviews of third party supplier security prior to establishing partnerships, particularly critical systems providers. A rigorous security strategy and ongoing maintenance is required to safeguard customer data and internal systems. Third party suppliers require the ability to deal with irregular activities, as well as technical controls and policies that correlate with their customers. Supplier vulnerabilities can result in operations and compliance risks, necessitating professionals to develop, implement and audit third party risk management strategies and processes. It also requires security professionals to conduct ongoing audits, establish plans for third party incident responses, and the implementation of restricted access mechanisms. Customers can strengthen their resistance and attack containment mechanisms with professionals to help detect, analyse, contain, and respond to security threats.
This month, discussions regarding security threats to managed services providers (MSPs) have been prominent. In the past, cyber criminals and ransomware gangs have targeted MSPs to gain access to corporate networks. Outsourcing IT administration can leave clients vulnerable when MSPs are given highly privileged access to customer systems. Remote management tools can also leave vendors open to attacks. It is imperative that MSP offerings and managed services provide a comprehensive and dedicated suite of technologies and skills to defend vendor security. A clear strategic approach for clients is necessary in order to address the difficulties associated with recent security threats.
This month, discussions regarding changes to company structures and operations have been prominent. An increased demand for transformation and internal enhancements has prompted managed service providers to further develop their firms. Streamlining and redeveloping customer products and offerings to meet specific targets has been a particular focus, as well as using predictive techniques and tools to respond to customer needs. In an effort to meet demands, service providers require transparency with customers, and improved offerings for their clients and business partners. This will assist vendors when delivering products, services and support to their customers, and drive their productivity and growth.
This month, discussions regarding an increased demand for disaster recovery, business continuity and work management solutions has been prominent. While the pandemic has triggered fundamental IT changes in an effort to resolve gaps and vulnerabilities, the accelerated rate of digital transformation and migration efforts has resulted in shortfalls when planning and establishing new work environments. Vendors have found difficulties maintaining business processes when unforeseen or extreme events occur. Combined with management solutions that cannot cater to all scenarios and a lack of clarity regarding customer responsibilities when responses to operational failures are required, difficulties have arisen for service providers. This requires vendors to provide more detailed and clearer disaster recovery and business continuity plans for customers, as well as specialised management tools and associated resources to implement solutions and responses. It is also critical for vendors to communicate with customers to facilitate the recovery of processes and ensure all business systems can be utilised in new and dispersed working environments.
This month, discussions regarding project investment have been prominent. In particular, increases attributed to the changing threat environment and the constant emergence of new technologies. The resultant digital initiatives help create new opportunities or mitigate issues that can have a cascading and negative impact throughout operations. A continuous cycle of project investment is beneficial to improve business processes, resolve operational difficulties, as well as accelerate digital transformation. By delivering more efficient and innovative operations, companies can address new and shifting technology goals and expectations.
This month, discussions regarding customer and employee experience solutions have been prominent. New remote working models have driven demand for products and services which support improved customer and employee experience solutions. Customer engagement services that can align business goals and needs with IT services and infrastructure are required to avoid the implementation of solutions that interfere with business processes. Data science tools, solutions and a combination of information from different sources can help vendors retain a focus on customer metrics that drive business growth. They also help to manage operations, supply chain issues and provide a greater understanding of changes underlying customer and employee behaviours.
At 21.7 per cent, staff attrition within the Australian Information Technology (IT) sector is unsustainably high. Staff recognition can be defined as the action or process of recognising employees for the work completed through words and gratitude1. Over the past five years, globally, organisations have increased their focus and investment on employee reward and recognition.
However, despite this increased focus, research shows that recognition is not occurring as often as it should be, as only 61 per cent of employees feel appreciated in the workplace1. Research also shows that even when recognition is provided for employees, it is not executed well or enacted correctly 1/3 of the time.
Organisational development and human resource studies demonstrate that reward and recognition programs commonly do not resonate or hit the mark for employees, if they are: not authentic and sincere2, only provided in a single context, or are based on award criteria that is overly complex or unattainable3.
This paper covers how leaders and organisations can recognise and then subsequently avoid these three common pitfalls, to maximise the investment into employee reward and recognition programs and efforts.
18 February 2021: The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force report highlighted major increases in employment for ICT and business professionals.
Net increases of note in the period were:
These increases are consistent with forecasts that found ICT spending would increase in 2021 tosecure growth opportunities and support remote staff.
Employment increases of the scale above inevitably trigger investment in new systems that needinnovative software solutions, hardware, and specialised ICT services, all of which open the door formarket-ready vendors to promote their offerings.
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This month, discussions regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous solutions have been prominent. As customers become aware of the potential benefits of adopting new solutions, vendors must be capable of clarifying the associated risks. This will allow vendors to respond to rising customer expectations, particularly when they require faster responses to change or have larger, more complex projects. When comparatively new solutions are sought after, but possess market gaps or perceived weaknesses, vendors must be prepared to cater to them and facilitate transparency with customers regarding the unknowns. This will assist with maintaining the integrity of offerings and supporting customer interactions. While the failure to adopt new solutions quickly can result in disadvantages in the market, vendors need to exercise caution. Premature adoption without sufficient strategic planning, analysis as well as transparency with customers can result in unforeseen and negative outcomes.
While discussions regarding industry trends and customer priority shifts have remained prominent this month, vendor innovation in light of expected growth has also been a focus. In particular, managed service providers required to innovate beyond evolving technologies to include hybrid and integrated offering structures, effective business operations and external sources to support vendor growth. The need to access external sources for funding, skills, offerings and client base has become apparent. The demand for improved internal frameworks to allow for hybrid solutions, offering delivery and customer interactions has also been flagged. Accelerated activity in a critical and complex industry requires vendors to continue to provide high quality, innovative service provision frameworks in order to remain competitive.
Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding expected industry trends in 2021 have been prominent. In particular, the growth of providers that support digital transformation projects and associated infrastructure, as well as security, Cloud services and automation tools. This growth is expected to be driven by industry shifts resulting from COVID-19 and the need to adapt to new operating environments and business processes. Vendors are preparing for heightened activity and expanding offerings to cater to customer needs. Customers will require integrated vendor services that respond to external issues, internal business changes, and the adoption of new technologies and frameworks to improve efficiencies.
Conclusion: Employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, and 96 % of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention1. Many organisations understand the importance of employee engagement, yet many organisations also do not develop and deliver successful staff engagement plans or activities2.
Many published strategies centre on the aspirational and critical elements of vision, leadership and growth3. This paper focuses on three practical steps that organisations can implement easily, to help tangibly begin the journey to turn employee engagement results into informed, believable and actionable plans.
Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding managed service provider expansion plans, both locally and globally, have been prominent. A number of vendors are expanding bases and offerings, and acquiring skills in preparation for heightened customer demand across areas in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on digital transformation initiatives. The need for customers to transform and optimise operational frameworks as well as transition workloads has driven a range of mergers, acquisitions and site establishment projects in new markets. Customer demand for assistance with navigating and transitioning during difficult periods is high, but vendors must also prepare to accommodate shifts in buying behaviour resulting from the market growth which is expected to follow.
Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding a heightened demand for managed security services have been prominent – in particular, around vulnerability and penetration assessments, mitigation frameworks, response and recovery protocols, as well as response consolidation and training. Customers have long recognised the need to ensure systems are protected from inappropriate access. However, internal business preparedness, recovery and continuity plans have caused vulnerabilities in the past. A greater number, frequency and awareness of security incidents have prompted vendors to integrate security services with a customer’s business operations and business preparedness plans, with a focus on response and continuity. This has resulted in the provision of high-quality offerings, delivery models and ongoing support, with an increased customer adoption and integration with existing business operations.
Conclusion: This month, there has been an increased focus on the impact of external environments and customer demands on managed services providers and their offerings. An increased demand for hybrid working solutions, remote operations and connectivity solutions has driven a greater demand for associated services such as security, Cloud and platforms. Customers have been searching for targeted and combined solutions to help address business needs and increase operational efficiencies. For those vendors that put an emphasis on meaningful customer relationships and interactions, maintaining open and clear communications and the capacity to adapt to client needs is critical. A customer with a heavy reliance on legacy systems for key business processes may find this raises challenges or is simply no longer feasible in the current climate. Service providers must be ready to work with clients that need to adapt or completely overhaul in order to provide the necessary support in difficult times.
Conclusion: This month has seen a rise in mid-high level IT management appointments and departures. These types of shifts are especially prominent in times of change and uncertainty when companies search for staff to provide new skills, experiences to support critical IT and business operations. With an impetus to expedite digital transformation and other projects, companies must focus on increased standards for selecting, deploying and managing infrastructure and highly skilled professionals to implement plans. Vendors must be prepared to support customers when leaders with different priorities or focused on streamlining and enhancing business operations are brought in.
Conclusion: This month, the first anchor tenant signed up to the new Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct. The NSW Government first announced plans for the Tech Central precinct, located in Sydney’s CBD, in 2018. The precinct is expected to provide 50,000 square metres of space for startup and scale-up businesses and promote industry expansion, innovation and collaboration. These types of initiatives are critical to stimulating the ICT service industry, and ensuring the ongoing development of offerings and delivery models that shift quickly and are sensitive to external influences, such as new technologies or the pandemic. The Tech Central precinct is expected to facilitate the evolution of the industry in Australia and allow for high quality and advanced products and services that customers demand, and vendors require to remain relevant in a highly competitive environment.
Conclusion: This month there have been increased discussions regarding the security services sector, marketplace expansion and triggers for growth. New market conditions, operating frameworks and the rapid adoption and integration of new services and technologies have resulted in a demand for security offerings that cater to the new environment. However, it has also given rise to new threats posed by new offerings and technologies, such as ageing devices which can cause vulnerabilities with changed operations, configuration changes and under-skilled staff. Security service vendors need to target offerings to individual company needs and strategic objectives as well as specific industry needs.
Conclusion: This month there has been a focus on the impact of the current economic environment on managed service providers. Declines in vendor service uptake, or difficulties experienced by existing customers, have resulted in the need for providers to adapt in an uncertain environment. New measures adopted by vendors when dealing with customers have included the revision of traditional business and payment models, increased flexibility with service contracts, and client support packages. Internally, vendor strategies include tightened cashflow management and regular communication with suppliers to mitigate disruptions that can have flow-on effects to their own customers. Whilst there has been a growth in demand for vendors to provide new and more complex solutions to cater to new work practices and business operations, vendors must work to maintain the integrity of their services. The re-diversion or loss of staff can impact on a vendor’s capacity to provide quality managed services, resulting in vulnerabilities. Vendors must adapt customer engagement practices in order to cater to both internal and external pressures caused by the highly variable and uncertain economic environment.
Conclusion: This month, there has been a particular focus on business continuity plans amidst COVID-19-driven uncertainties. Businesses are updating and activating, or establishing business continuity plans to minimise operational disruptions. Broad-based business continuity programs to ensure solid internal operations, avoid supply chain disruptions, support customer liquidity needs and mitigate risks associated with a volatile industry have become critical. Vendors must focus on managing partner and customer relations during market shifts and changes to strategic plans which are expected to be ongoing.
Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and the range of impacts on industry have been prominent. While extreme and unforeseen impacts of seemingly small events have been common for vendors and their customers in the past, this pandemic has triggered a wide range of effects, with potentially long-term implications. In all circumstances, vendors need to have strong, yet highly adaptable foundations to accommodate sudden shifts in the market, and adequately support their customers. The outputs and responses to this pandemic will be unique; however, customers will still require experienced vendors to provide services which support changes to business operations, long-term strategies and external issues, such as fluid supply chains, new government regulations/frameworks and economic uncertainties.
Conclusion: This month has seen a surge in merger and acquisition transactions, and discussions regarding the increased level of acquisitions in the past year. A growing trend of private equity firms investing in service providers was also flagged. This represents a shift in the market, as vendors become more established, profitable and more attractive to private equity investors. The opportunity to drive greater profitability, and demand for specialised technologies and services, also act as incentives for investment and provide vendors with resources to develop and offer a wide range of targeted, high-quality services to their customers.
Conclusion: Finding superior talent has always been a challenge, even more so now. Traditional attraction and retention strategies still have value in most situations. However, there are novel ways to think about attracting talent in a digital world, including rethinking the need to attract talent at all by rethinking the business problem.
In many cases, technical skills can be taught on the job. What is harder to teach – and is therefore highly sought after – is the triple-crown of critical thinking, creativity in problem solving and curiosity. Consider putting those three characteristics at the top of the talent wish list and adapt existing recruitment practices to identify, attract and retain the right talent.
Conclusion: With both the NSW and commonwealth parliaments passing respective Modern Slavery Acts in 20181, there are now real implications and consequences for business leaders and their suppliers who ignore the risks of slavery within their supply chains.
Unlike the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act 2010 which applies to tangible goods offered for sale, Australian firms will need to disclose their efforts to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chain of both goods and services. This means at least 2,100 public and private firms2 have until 1 July 2019 to ask explicitly of suppliers, whether local or foreign, off-premise Cloud or on-premise device manufacturer: What are you and your organisation doing with respect to modern slavery risks?
For many organisations in Australia this will mean more than just adding new evaluation criteria to be applied to current and potential suppliers. Rather it requires providing an accurate attestation on the issue of modern slavery which will require lifting the hood on all manner of “as-a-Service” offerings. Thereby exposing aspects of service delivery that the majority of firms previously thought they no longer needed to concern themselves with, having “transferred” risks, such as those found in supply chains, to their vendor partners.
Conclusion: IT teams across government and industry are facing resource challenges including hiring the right resources with the right skills to add value to the team and support the organisation’s future needs.
Conclusion: The attention in which organisations are engaging with social media inevitably leads to a sharper focus on the reputational and legal ramifications of using social media. Organisations have to consider how their staff use social media, the materials published, the statements made on an organisation’s behalf, and possible consequences of the material.
Reviewing and resetting guidelines for employee use of all social media, in particular career sites, is fundamental to how an organisation, its brand name and products are distributed and perceived through social media. New guidelines will set a fairer use policy between employee and organisation, reduce the uncertainties and reduce unforeseen risks.
Conclusion: The Australian Institute of Management recognises that leadership and management will need to continue to evolve to keep up with technological innovation and globalisation. Whilst organisations are usually aware of the need to keep up with technological changes, they often struggle with the practical implications for management and impact on organisational structure. On the one hand operational management can increasingly be automated, and on the other hand the ability to build and lead high performance teams is gaining in importance. Having appropriate people in executive team leadership positions is critical.
Conclusion: More than almost any other factor in a CIO’s armoury, having good people within IT is a mainstay of continued success. Building good teams starts with staff selection. While some use search firms for senior roles, most CIOs use traditional recruitment methods: profile the role, advertise it, shortlist candidates, interview them, check references, then appoint. In difficult employment markets it is tempting to make staff selection compromises purely for the sake of filling a vacant role and relieving a stress-point.
Conclusion: A new leadership team in a major IT provider such as IBM will mean the potential for change and disruption for customers, partners and staff of IBM. This change may vary from a potential for a shift in strategic direction to more incremental changes as new management seeks to place its stamp on company performance. Just as in your organisation, new leadership at IBM will mean new ideas and processes for both IBM and its clients.
Conclusion: The generic term “the business” as used by IT people to refer to their stakeholders, is a gross and somewhat dangerous generalisation. Blithely referring to “the business” while making little effort to understand the real needs and priorities of system constituents can leave IT practitioners disconnected from the people they are trying to serve. Organisations have many different facets and characteristics that all seek different qualities from IT solutions. Understanding these differences is an essential requirement to delivering superior IT services and solutions.
Conclusion:All contracts eventually terminate, however the reasons for the termination and the way the termination is handled can lead to different outcomes. To minimise the risks associated with contract termination it is essential that the buying organisation gives due consideration to this event while in the early stages of the procurement cycle. Unless the procurement contract is drafted to cover the issues that can arise as a result of termination, the buying organisation can be faced with significant business disruption, financial penalties and potentially even legal action.
Conclusion: In Australasia in 2009, admittedly in the thrall of the GFC, an unprecedentedly high number of CIOs lost their jobs. A broad spectrum of CIOs were involved: some were high profile industry figures, a few had been promoted from within whilst others with seemingly well-credentialed backgrounds had been in their roles for a matter of months.
Conclusion: Historically grown organisational structures and simplistic job descriptions sometimes stand in the way of creating a high-performance team. Taking personality attributes into account when assigning roles and responsibilities can have a measurable influence on overall costs, delivery time, functional fit of IT solutions, as well as on skill development in the team.
Conclusion: eLearning is re-emerging as a solution for effective delivery of online, hybrid, and synchronous learning regardless of physical location, time of day or distribution device type. eLearning can be used by the whole organisation for ensuring staff have and maintain the skills they need to deliver top organisational performance. Pending financial constraints provide an ideal stimulus to consider the increased use of eLearning in organisations.
Conclusion: As executive management become more cynical about technology’s ability to deliver change, they continue to depend upon it as an enabler whilst keeping a closer rein than ever on the IT spending component of change programs. This places enormous pressure on the IT Executive. However, change programs are not just about technology. The problem is that the IT component is usually the most visible, and often the most expensive part of a change program. In my experience, if an IT-based project fails to deliver, though the Project Sponsor may nominally be responsible, the technology is often blamed and it is the IT Executive who may well be brought to account by association.
Conclusion: Recent media coverage has highlighted a shortage of qualified trades’ people in the labour market. The technology industry has not had a problem in attracting people; however, with an aging population and other market forces at play, the ICT industry also faces shortages.
In February CIO magazine reported that the ATO had moved a software development project from Canberra to Melbourne because it couldn’t fill 100 new positions required to complete the project. This instance may be exceptional, and Canberra is an atypical labour market, but nevertheless it is a sign. <p "> <p "> With the overall available labour falling in coming years, business and IT managers will have to plan new ways to attract and retain a scarce resource. A new competitive pressure will be thrust on IT departments.
Conclusion: Many State and Federal Government Agencies across Australia are faced with a dilemma. Their attempt to restrict the level of ICT salaries for permanent employees has created a situation where Government IT managers cannot compete for quality ICT professionals. Their only avenue for hiring top-flight staff is through contracting. This has lead to an excessive dependency on expensive contracting even for day-to-day IT delivery.
Conclusion: In his book Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin argued ‘that it is neither the strongest, nor the most intelligent but most responsive to change that survive'. Over the last four decades we have seen many species of IT professionals rise to lofty heights briefly prosper and then rapidly become extinct. If you are of the Genus IT Darwin's theory of evolution is critical to your career.
Conclusion: This paper argues that managing staff with outdated skills and removing poor performers are the real resourcing problems facing many IT managers.
IT managers must take personal responsibility for staffing and skills management. All of the valuable staff in the IT area are relying on YOU the IT manager to deal with poor performers and unaligned skills. Working with poor performers frustrates good staff and drives them out of your organisation. You’re their only hope! Don’t let them down or they will leave.
IT managers need to look at four key techniques for developing the right skills mix in their organisations. These are the new team strategy, re-skill staff to leave, re-skill staff to stay, and termination.
Conclusion: One of the best means of gaining greater leverage in business marketing is with the sales force. The sales team is the most valuable unit to promote the business, as it already knows the key elements of selling the business, namely:
a brand value understanding;
the customer value;
an ability to communicate customer value;
and follow through with implementation and management.
In the current business environment operations are being reviewed to gain greater returns and consequently the sales force needs to be retrained in operational management and undergo a revision of sales tactics to achieve targets. Those tactics may include ancillary and competitive affiliations to network the company’s product to the market.
DevOps, business intelligence (BI) and data, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) are all driving rapid change within IT departments. The challenge will be finding Cloud certified people to meet the rising demand.
Leaders have two main choices. Upskill their existing teams, or embark on a recruitment campaign that brings in Cloud certified professionals to manage Cloud migration and provide the ongoing support and optimisation needed to bring the full value of Cloud to IT operations.
For organisations who suddenly realise how far they are behind on the Cloud value curve, pressure will mount to deliver results quickly. Make sure staff are certified and ready to address your hybrid or multi-Cloud environments.
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