ICT Modernisation

Conclusion: NBN’s price model combines two different views of telecommunications market pricing: how the markets actually operate and; what the policy designers of NBN perceive it to be.

Without complete agreement to resolve the price model, there are many problems being stored for the future.

Inevitably these will affect NBN adoption, profitability and also the layout of the telco landscape. In addition they present challenges to organisations and entrepreneurs with plans to utilise the NBN. The current NBN price model also appears to stop the industry trend of falling prices for telecommunications services.

Conclusion: What the apps will be for NBN is unclear: even NBN Co. is not sure. It need not be so difficult as NBN can be seen simply as a national grid, and therefore conquer distance, regardless of its bandwidth capacity and other correlated benefits of such a network. It could run all the apps that are common amongst the metropolitan areas and for specific industries in remote areas.

Of course, that is not what NBN is intended to do, but rather enable the apps of a new generation that human creativity will forge one day in the future.

Conclusion: Many industries: finance, media, agribusiness, and education, to name a few, are talking up their growth prospects via NBN. The logic seems to be that the faster and extensive network will leverage their opportunities and improve their terms of business.

To understand which industries are more likely to prosper with NBN it is necessary to analyse three factors: timing, and with it market scalability; industry segment; and finally, productivity.

Unless and until these factors are brought to analyse the economic potential it is impossible to sift the possible from the wishful hopes.

Conclusion: We are living in the Knowledge Age, and the operations of many organisations are critically dependent on the use of software-intensive systems. The value of operational data is well recognised, and the power struggle between the Internet superpowers such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook is largely about control over data. Knowledge however, is much more than raw data, and can be defined as the capability to transform data into valuable products and services. Today vast amounts of knowledge are expressed in the form of program source code and related data structure definitions. Most of this knowledge is not nearly as easily accessible and modifiable as we would like it to be. Techniques for knowledge reconstruction are becoming highly relevant, and organisations are well advised to up-skill Enterprise Architects and Business Analysts in this new discipline.

Conclusion: The evolution of the social web 2.0 is creating a plethora of technologies for conducting transactions, with eBay, Amazon and PayPal being the most prominent players. The global financial crisis has sped up a trend towards specialised markets for peer-to-peer transactions and towards radically new business models that have the potential to transform entire industries. Consumers and SMEs are driving the change, and traditional banks and established corporations must re-focus part of their competitive edge on those areas that complement peer-to-peer transactions. Peer-to-peer exchange is as old as recorded human history, but traditionally it was limited in scope, leading to the creation of financial institutions that perform the role of a broker of trust between sellers and buyers, a role that is now being challenged by web based alternatives.

Over the past two years, IBRS has come to the conclusion that many IT departments are at war with consumer mobile device trends. We have been inundated with enquiries regarding mobility and mobile devices. Questions range from how best to support secure email on iPhones, or how to manage a fleet of iPads, to how to plan for Android application deployment.

These enquiries have one thing in common: they all focus on the device.

Conclusion: Organisations migrating from GroupWise or Notes should consider side-stepping on-premises email and calendaring solutions such as Microsoft Exchange, and look instead to cloud-based solutions such as Google Apps for Enterprise, BPOS / Office 365 (Exchange) or Zimbra. Doing so can deliver benefits in terms of total cost of provisioning and agility. However, this does mean that organisations with on-premises Exchange infrastructure will benefit from a move to the cloud at this time.

Conclusion: Microsoft Office 365 represents the biggest change in Microsoft since the departure of Bill Gates. While Microsoft’s evolution of its Business Productivity Online Suite to Office 365 is interesting from a technology perspective, the most important aspect of this announcement is Office 365’s licensing: Microsoft will finally offer its Office suite on a per-user basis. We now have an entirely new Microsoft licensing landscape to work with. The new licensing and deployment possibilities provided by Office 365 should be examined as part of new SOE (Standard Operating Environment) initiatives.

Reviewing one of the many new Christmas/New Year film releases, David Stratton, probably Australia’s best known film critic remarked: “It’s surprising how many A-grade actors it takes to make a B-grade movie these days......”.

Conclusion: Over the past two decades, management of the Student Information Systems (SIS) was generally in the domain of each school’s Administration. However, recent investments from the Digital Education Revolution, coupled with increasing State and Federal demands for ‘accountability’ in education, have promoted the SIS to centre stage. Essential SIS functionality now goes well beyond basic student records as it contains comparable functionality to that found in an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution, along with the complexities and extent of customisations required.

Conclusion: Operational data is the heart of a business in the information age. Without operational data the organisation would cease to function, irrespective of the software and hardware infrastructure that is in place. Hence the quality of data is a logical starting point for identifying opportunities to improve business operations. When used in combination with top-down value chain analysis, a quality assessment and categorisation of data can be used to identify essential system functionality, to identify pockets of obsolete functionality, and to discover sets of unreliable or redundant data.

The launch of Windows Phone 7 has surprised the worldwide IT industry in two ways: firstly that Microsoft launched a quality product – one that had to face up to the expectations set by iPhone and Android. These are not phones, not tools of information and communication. They are extensions of personal identity, designed objects that are adored.

It all really started with the hype and the launch around Apple’s iPad earlier this year. Until then, tablet devices were perceived as a fringe phenomenon, of little interest to the mainstream consumer or business user. I have had an eye on the tablet space since the first release of the Amazon Kindle in 2007, and always wondered when devices with a tablet form factor would finally take off. To some degree the introduction and promotion of netbooks in the last two years had confused the market, but the range of tablet devices that are now available is reassuring. Still, the dust is far from settled, and there is a whole pipeline of tablet devices that have yet to hit the shelves. So, apart from the geek-factor, what value can a business user get out of a tablet?

Creating a single source of truth is impossible in the modern enterprise. Today’s complex environment of custom, COTS and cloud solutions mean that redundant and inconsistent information will persist for a long time. Instead drive consistency and currency of data across systems using Master Data Management (MDM). Addressing underlying data quality issues will remain a harder task.

Conclusion: The perceived relevance of information technology varies greatly, depending on who is being asked. In software intensive industries, the overall IT budget consumes between 10–20% of the overall operating expenses. In software product development organisations the number is close to 100%. When defining the business strategy, it is easy to focus on costs and to underestimate lost opportunity costs and business risks. The biggest impact of IT budget cuts is on the resulting increase in operational risks, and conversely, the biggest potential for gaining value out of IT investments lies in the area of operational risk reduction.

My dog is cloud computing and I think you should invest in him. For a start, he’s a total mongrel and everyone has a different opinion about what he actually is. No one will ever be able to clearly define him because they all look at him and see what they want. In that respect he’s exactly like cloud computing. Some people see him as infrastructure, others as a platform for applications and others see something between. One thing is certain though, no matter what you think my dog is, he’s fuzzy.

Conclusion: Electronic documents and records management solutions (EDRMS) from yesteryear are failing to provide the flexibility and collaborative experiences that today’s organisations require. In most organisations, less than 10% of content has been placed in existing EDRMSs. However, investing in a new EDRMS will not result in greater satisfaction levels if new principles are not first adopted.

Conclusion: Traditional approaches to web application performance optimisation have focused on the physical network infrastructure, WAN optimisation, and to a lesser extent application development. As web applications become mainstream, the complex issue of ensuring they remain responsive has received increased attention.

Web application performance is impacted by physical infrastructure, application design, software, specialised services and WAN optimisation. This begs the question, who is actually responsible for a web application’s performance? IBRS recommends that a single person, or team, be responsible for end-to-end web application performance, with direct governance of the physical infrastructure, software and services needed.

Conclusion: Organisations that have fleets of Windows XP desktops will soon find themselves squeezed to either embark on a rushed migration to Windows 7 or pushed into purchasing additional licensing from Microsoft. IT Professionals managing the transition to a new Managed Operating Environment (MOE) must factor in Microsoft’s convoluted licensing options or run the risk of encountering higher than expected costs.

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.

Conclusion: ‘Adventure is just bad planning’ observed Roald Amundsen, renowned Norwegian explorer. Good strategic planning processes aim to avoid unintended consequences. They have a firm focus on seeking appropriate destinations then getting there with surety.

Conclusion: Most attention has been focused on Chrome OS's technical qualities and possibly disruptive effects on the operating system status quo while the commercial objectives of the operating system are veiled. Chrome OS is another potential channel by which Google can harness network effects to develop revenue.

Observing how revenue will grow from Chrome OS will indicate its real market and technological potential. Although it seems far away now, in the next 18-24 months IT departments in organisations will probably have to deal with the swelling influence of Chrome OS from its early adopters.

Conclusion: Google's Wave has caused both thrill and uproar over its innovation and potentially disruptive effects to the status quo of office productivity. Currently Wave is an indication of what might be possible, once all the programming and security issues and assorted bugs are either organised better or eliminated.

In any case, enterprises and large organisations are not likely to be early adopters of Wave because of their current collaboration platforms and legacy systems. The SME sector, and that comprises thousands of smart businesses in the information industries, are likely to adopt Wave. The underlying reason is due to their use of Google products, chiefly the Apps and search applications.

Conclusion: With the exception of an improved web browser, Windows 6.5 offers organisations little benefit over Windows 6.1, and developers will find accessing the iPhone-like features cumbersome. Organisations with Microsoft-based mobility initiatives should either ignore 6.5 and wait for Mobile 7, or expand support of alternative mobile platforms.

Conclusion: While some organisations with distributed sites are benefiting from WAN optimisation, there are variables which will have a direct impact on the viability of a deployment. These variables can be sorted into three categories: cost, environment and desired outcomes. The most important is the last – desired outcomes. Many WAN optimisers have been deployed to remove branch office servers, only for IT departments to discover that application latency was causing more of a headache for users.

Related Articles:

"WAN Optimisation - Latency will tear us apart" IBRS, 2009-06-29 00:00:00

Conclusion: Google is working in a dynamic market exploring and challenging current approaches. While that evolving plan may confuse some observers, it may succeed, though perhaps not exactly in the way originally set out.

To help understand what Google is doing in the enterprise market, IBRS interviewed the founder and driving force of Google Apps.

Conclusion: The recent media frenzy regarding Google’s soon-to-be-released operating system is not a sign of a serious competitor to Microsoft’s Windows Operating system – it’s the last gasps of a dying IT topic. That is, the importance of the operating system. As the computing power of underlying hardware on non-desktop devices (SmartPhones, handheld devices, netbooks, game consoles and so on) increase, and as consumers become increasingly technology savvy, users are caring less about the operating system and more about the overall ‘usability’ and ‘experience’ of the applications on the devices, which are provided by user interface layers that reside above the operating system. While operating systems will remain a consideration for IT architects, they will increasingly be a moot point for users. This has significant implications for IT management.

Conclusion:With infrastructure vendors jumping on the cloud bandwagon, their sales and marketing teams are increasingly using the terms “Cloud”, “Cloud Computing” and “Infrastructure Cloud”. From discussions with clients we have observed these terms are not well understood and mean a wide range of different things to different people.

This confusion is driven by a war between vendors to establish a definition of these terms that best suits their specific products, technologies and architectures. Until “Cloud Computing” and “Infrastructure Cloud” become commonly defined, which we expect to take at least until the end of 2010; be careful to define what you mean, and seek to understand what others mean by these terms to avoid significant misunderstandings between staff, vendors and partners.

Conclusion:The various techniques of WAN optimisation technology will eventually become a standard component of networks, but this does not negate the need for better application design. Currently, WAN optimisation technology provides the potential of a network band-aid until applications are consistently designed for truly mobile users.

Related Articles:

"WAN optimisation, Part 2 - Your mileage may vary" IBRS, 2009-09-28 00:00:00

Conclusion: Discontinuing a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) appears to be a quick way to reduce IT spend in the short term – which is especially attractive in the current economic environment. However, there are substantial financial risks involved in terminating an EA and organisations must be exceedingly careful not to open themselves to licensing liabilities. Exiting a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement requires its own business case review, looking at not only the obvious financial savings, but also at the risks, change management and mid-to-long term impact.

Despite the generally positive press coverage of Windows 7, its widely reported performance improvements are already being questioned by independent testers. My own tests on a dual-core Intel box and 2GB of RAM suggest that Windows 7 may indeed be a tad faster than Vista, but only by a fraction.

While some international analyst firms claim the economic crisis will cause Green issues to fall off the IT agenda, in Australia we beg to differ! In 2007 the Australian Federal Government introduced the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act 20071. The key features are:

  • Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and production by large corporations.

  • Public disclosure of corporate greenhouse gas emissions and energy information.

  • Consistent and comparable data available for decision making.

Failure to comply can mean up to two years in goal and a fine of up to $220,000. What makes this Act so interesting is that the CEO is personally liable to ensure their organisation’s IT systems are capable of complying with these new emissions reporting requirements. In short, this Act puts the onus on the CEO to ensure their organisation has the necessary reporting and monitoring systems in place.

Conclusion: Business process and software modelling tools provide a good example of a domain with an impressive number of industry standards, many of which are of questionable value. Although software modelling is an extremely valuable activity, and many of the available tools are of high quality, there are significant shortcomings in terms of practical interoperability. The current situation is the result of a broken process for software industry standard development and false expectation. Corresponding lessons have already been learned in other IT disciplines, indicating a path towards practical interoperability.

Conclusion: Video conferencing (VC) solutions have split into five different strands, each of which must be considered when planning to implement an Enterprise Video Communications (EVC) solution. Technology should not be the deciding factor when selecting an EVC. The main reasons video communications / conferencing implementations fail is not related to technology, but to mismatched user expectations resulting from a lack of training and change management, poor environmental considerations (room design, lighting, seating and so on), inconsistent interfaces and poorly engineered integration of components. Address these points of failure when evaluating EVC solutions.

Conclusion: Building a business case for supporting Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) is similar to building a case for Collaboration and Unified Communications. At this point in the technology’s evolution, business cases will rarely be able to be based purely on financial models because it is difficult to identify the productivity benefits of PEDs as discrete and measurable elements. 1 However, this does not mean that PEDs have no role to play in modern enterprises. IBRS proposes that organisations consider the benefits of PEDs via an appraisal model aimed at identifying individuals and applications with a need for greater communication and collaboration. One such model is working spheres.

Related Articles:

"PED Antics part 1: The broken promise" IBRS, 2008-07-28 00:00:00

Conclusion: The corporate battle for search supremacy between Microsoft and Google over Yahoo! has been a good spectator sport for several months. So far it’s unresolved, but it should refocus attention on search marketing strategy, on optimal tactical channel selection and the opportunities that may emerge from a new landscape in search marketing.

With changing conditions in the economy leading to greater uncertainty, organisations ought to use this time to re-examine their search strategies and to look for better value and accountability from search channel suppliers.

Conclusion: Even though the National Broadband Network (NBN) will not be ready for another year, and despite the lack of detail provided about it; speculation about the value of this network is widespread. The covert nature of the planning process is one major reason for criticism of the NBN. A second reason is the degree of understanding into the broadband market that underwrites its strategy and the NBN solution offered in a commercially litigious marketplace.

The National Broadband Network may become an object lesson for executives involved in strategic planning in that use and adherence to independent facts is critical, and the development of solutions must extend from that understanding of the industry or market. Although rollout of the NBN is delayed it is highly probable that policymakers will have to develop a better plan in the next three years.

Conclusion: Over the next 7 years the typical commodity IT infrastructure1 will be ‘reinvented’ from today’s network of independent servers and storage into a unified computing resource that looks and behaves remarkably like the old mainframe. This new infrastructure will blend the best attributes from each architecture to create a highly agile, robust and cost effective environment that is based on commodity components.

While the key technologies are available today, due to the inertia of the existing environment, and the cultural barriers in IT and the business, this journey will take most organisations 5-7 years to complete. IT organisations can hasten the journey by breaking down the siloed, hardware centric cultures that exist in their organisation. To succeed, the commodity IT infrastructure must be reinterpreted as a unified, shared resource, where a server is a mere component, rather than as a loose network of servers owned and managed by individuals or groups.

A number of vendors and thinkers have been promoting the idea of putting the entire data centre in a shipping container. These pre-assembled mobile data centres can come complete with pre-installed networking, power and cooling systems and can be transported by truck and quickly made operational. The approach is touted when temporary, mobile data centres need to be set up, such as in disaster-recovery situations. It is also being promoted as viable as organisations struggle with providing adequate IT resources for their IT dependant operations.

This month saw the beta launch of Microsoft’s Office Live, a Web 2.0 collaboration tool by Microsoft. The free service is yet another attempt by the Redmond Giant to halt the incessant march of Google. By going into a space that is normally associated with Google, Microsoft hopes to once again leverage its monopoly status with its desktop productivity tools to keep an upstart competitor off guard.

Conclusion: IBRS and other key IT industry commentators are reporting that Green Computing will be one of the areas receiving increased attention from senior management in 20081. The senior IT team should anticipate this increased attention and have a Green IT strategy agreed with senior management, in place, and active. This means that they will already be focused on their organisation’s strategic Green issues for instead of hastily adopting ad hoc and less than optimal green IT measures.

Conclusion: A survey warns that the IT industry's carbon footprint is skyrocketing and could soon surpass that of the aviation industry. On a per capita basis Australia and New Zealand are clearly up among the big players in the greenhouse gases emission stakes1. IT and how businesses use their IT, will increasingly come under the spotlight as governments and corporate boards seek to meet carbon-cutting commitments.

Conclusion: Mergers and acquisitions are an everyday occurrence in today’s business and public sector environment, where companies are bought and sold and agencies merged and de-merged to meet the government’s agenda. Whilst business leaders and ministers stress the expected benefits to clients, the impact on critical back office activities such as IT systems and infrastructure integration, rarely makes the headlines.

What is important in mergers or acquisitions is they be implemented with no unplanned business disruptions and, if likely they are likely to occur, stakeholders (staff, suppliers, clients and legislators) alerted well in advance, Similarly it is important, after the disruption has ceased, that the same people be thanked for their forbearance.

Conclusion: The new government broom in Canberra will implement its policies and that means the telecoms market, and in particular broadband, is set for a clean sweep that may revolutionise the Australian communications market. Before the initial tenders close on the $4.7 billion broadband strategy, sometime after June 2008, it’s timely now to investigate the background to these policies that will bring big changes in Australia.

To a large extent the broadband initiative is based on foreign experience; both South Korea and Japan being important influences. In those countries the superficial evidence of investment induced benefits to the economy from high speed broadband has captured the imagination of Australian policymakers, yet the measured economic benefits are not clear, despite the enthralment of superfast broadband and its promise for the future, and to uninvented industries.

As the scale of the projects and the size of investments are so large, the arguments about economic advantage, and lessons from foreign experience to date, and into the near future is critical; otherwise it will be difficult to dispel the impression that projects have been undertaken without adequate understanding or that simple gullibility has prevailed.

Conclusion: Multi-channel CRM is an area in which technology has to serve people, and when it does not, the disappointment and failure is measurable. In call centres, and in the growing, though underutilised implementation of Web based contact, CRM can be tuned to customer needs, if an organisation has made adequate plans, based on customer behaviour and usage.

If CRM solutions are chosen, for example, Interactive Voice Response technology, organisations may find a cost-effective solution over time, but one that short changes them in their ongoing relationship with customers.

Just a week has passed since the election, and the Australian population can switch off their PCs (and Macs too) and Web connections as they have blogged themselves into exhaustion; debating and understanding the policies; been involved at the grass roots level of political and social debate, all in all, thoroughly engaged in the of political process.

Conclusion: With a degree of inevitability the Web 2.0 bandwagon has reached CRM. And the reason is obvious: with so many Web 2.0 applications and media moving users to be engaged in some way, either by posting to blogs, or video and creating their own mashups, the engagement is interpreted as a sign of reinvigorated possibilities through CRM channels. Such diverse and disparate potential is however unlikely to be pursued by most organisations, although new approaches in communications are worth examining.

While for some businesses the mania over 2.0 apps is of value, in the main the hype is just that, and for one important reason: users may engage with some sites and corporations as friends might, but not with others, where the relationship might be described as nothing more than transactional. In other words it’s not an equal opportunity for all players and it would be unwise to accept the apparent 2.0 opportunity regardless of business sector and an organisation’s habitual relationship with its customer.

Conclusion: e-Learning technology has evolved substantially over the past two decades, but it is only in the past three years that inroads have been made into matching educational pedagogy (the study of educational practices and the processes of learning) with e-learning.

Advances in collaborative solutions coupled with a better understanding of how people learn, have given organisations the opportunity to improve employee education. E-learning initiatives that leverage educational pedagogy and collaboration can result in greater efficiency, increased customer satisfaction and more targeted learning activities based on business performance indicators.

A recent discussion of software development methodologies with a colleague ended in the joint conclusion that the way software is developed today apparently has a lot to do with process elements that are best described as “rituals”. Often these rituals work as expected, but sometimes they don’t.

Conclusion: In the last seven years Domain Specific Modeling and Model-Driven Software Development have emerged as fundamentally new paradigms for software development. Upon closer examination however, there is a familiar pattern at work. The new approaches represent a shift to a higher level of abstraction, not unlike the shift from assembly language to higher-level languages thirty years ago.

Conclusion: While the hype surrounding collaboration technologies and Web 2.0 services reaches fever pitch within the media, vendors and business managers alike, it will serve organisations well to stop and think carefully about what the buzzword collaboration really means for organisational processes, structures and efficiencies. When collaboration services are misaligned with business objectives, they will hinder, not aid, productivity. Having a model to categorise different forms – or modes – of collaboration is an important first-step in accurately matching technologies to different collaborative applications.

Conclusions: Mobility and the exploitation of applications and content on mobile devices have been growing with furious speed in the last year. Although some organisations are moving to broaden or enhance their distribution channels through mobile, many Australasian organisations are employing a “smoke and mirrors” strategy to disguise their tardiness.

The mobile opportunity is ready and waiting and now is the time to be making real plans to realise that opportunity.

Conclusion: A common concern of many senior IT managers is their uncertainty regarding the capabilities of their people and the effectiveness of their service delivery processes. This uncertainty usually manifests itself when developing forward work plans, e.g. after the Budget or Planning cycle when the gap between capabilities needed and available becomes evident.

To reduce the uncertainty when doing work plans, one option is to self-assess existing competencies and practices using a framework, suggested below, and identify the capability gap.

Conclusion: Quasi-pervasive web connectivity in combination with more sophisticated software services that cope gracefully with short-term loss of connection are changing the landscape in which software product vendors operate. The shift in brand-awareness and power in recent years from traditional IT giants Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle towards web-based brands such as Google is one of several observable indicators of the transition of the web from a primarily static information repository to a highly dynamic ultra-large scale system.

As technology plays and increasingly important role in marketing, especially with the rise of online marketing and its influence on real-world marketing programs, a myriad of jargon has evolved from both the technical and marketing camps of the business. Unfortunately, not all of this jargon is readily understood by both camps and misunderstandings are common. This document provides definitions of essential marketing terms for technologists and fundamental technology terms for marketers.

In 2003, the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) established and coordinated “Proof of Concept” trials of Open Source Software (OSS) in a range of public bodies in conjunction with IBM and Sun Microsystems. The OGC report that summarised the key findings from the trials also included information obtained from other public sector activity in OSS planning and deployment in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

Conclusion: Evaluation and measurement are creative activities in the technology business. In terms of evaluating the productivity benefit of broadband, the creativity needed is quite high. Finding a standard ROI assessment approach is not easy and designing better methods to locate broadband productivity is another challenge.

In terms of measuring broadband, the methodology applied, is critical for understanding how broadband contributes to productivity. As the broadband debate rages over both sides of the Tasman, the need for a better designed research project that determines the extent to which broadband contributes or not to productivity of knowledge workers should be a priority for organisations in the IT industry.

Conclusion: Most organisations aspire to be innovative and offer better services to their clients at lower costs. In some cases innovation programs span many years and acquire a life of their own, while in others they are tactical and focused on meeting short term goals.

Because most programs focused on innovation rely on having superior business intelligence or a smarter systems solution, active participation from IT management and staff is paramount. The article presumes all opportunities identified have a high IT component.

Conclusion: When future generations sift through the decade 2000-2010 they will wonder why so much effort was put towards understanding, managing and developing broadband and why many talented minds produced hundreds and hundreds of reports proving the benefits of this broadband. But as the current generation is stunned at the ignorance of history’s scientists, the same fateful judgement may rest on today’s analysts of broadband.

Policy makers and the community rely on interested parties to submit analytical reports which will have a determining influence on Broadband and its many affiliated industries and social projects. Unfortunately many, if not most, of the analysis from the interested parties is poor or even fallacious. If policy makers want to understand and steer broadband they will have to use much better analysis than is the currency of today.

The recent hullabaloo generated from Paul Graham’s essay “Microsoft is Dead” is a great indicator of the turbulent times we live in. In his article, Graham prophesied that Microsoft’s relevance to the IT industry would wane due to four factors: the rise Google, the advent of broadband, Web 2.0 applications, and the resurrection of Apple’s fortunes.

Conclusion: Web analytics should not be viewed as a tool forsimply logging online activity, but rather as part of an iterativecycle of constant quality improvement.

Conclusion: BI technology platforms have been available in various guises for over two decades. Indeed, certain BI terms, such as ‘drill down’ have become embedded into business parlance.

The technology itself is mature and capable and many organisations have harnessed it to their advantage. However, some of our recent dealings with both IT and business executives reveal an underlying dissatisfaction with their BI implementations. Complaints include costly implementations, poor acceptance of the technology, particularly by middle management, and concerns with data quality and integrity. 

Conclusion: The fractious and partisan dispute over Australia’s broadband is not educational, but it is informative, particularly for those IT executives developing a business case. Indeed, the entire public debate over broadband is dressed as a business case; that is, broadband offers a vital channel to future productivity. Or does it?

Perspective and context are required to understand what productivity gains technology can deliver. In the arguments over broadband, facts are disputed; the interpretation of tables and the consequences of policies all muddle perspective. Therefore, to understand the situation, and be able to make decisions, it’s necessary to return to the basic facts and then examine how the data is compiled, so that the logic of a business case is based on unbiased material.

Over the New Year the broadband forum, Whirlpool, conducted a survey of user attitudes to broadband services in Australia. There were many respondents, and Whirlpool has cleaned up the obvious faults in online surveys; so the results, though not be market research perfect, are a biopsy of what users think about the broadband service they are getting.

Conclusion: Voice over IP is having, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the telephony and PBX market. Telephony is becoming increasingly software based and is taking advantage of software-related economics. The popularity of services such as Skype1 and Babble2, and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)3, 4 VoIP applications demonstrates this. Microsoft’s recent release5 of its SIP based Office Communications Server (OCS 2007) will have a major impact on the telephony expectations and applications on organisations, irrespective of their size.

Conclusion: In politics it is generally considered that the first 100 days of office are critical for a new leader to assert his or her authority. Insightful and visible actions taken during that time instil confidence in the new leadership and set the right tone for the future. Arguably, a similar dictum applies to IT leadership.

Conclusion: One of the hottest IT issues at the moment is Software as a Service (SaaS.) However, SaaS is not yet a well-defined, nor well-understood approach. Like most IT buzzwords, vendors are rushing to stake their claim. Having a framework to evaluate the different approaches taken by vendors is essential for planning future IT architectures.

Conclusion: Distribution is an essential part of doing business and for some industries; media especially, its products can only be accessed through a complex distribution network, mostly through retail outlets. Underpinning that distribution network is an economic basis which appears to be changing. The change in that base will increasingly affect the mode of business.

Not all organisations face identical commercial changes to their distribution networks but where once brands, and media in particular, developed their online properties on the heritage of the traditional brand; now, Web properties have a brighter future than the heritage brand. That change in fortune may be explained and attributed to electronic distribution, not declining fortunes to the brand itself; but simply its access to the market

Organisations can deal with, and manage change, by being ready and planning ahead; by anticipating that distribution is a business function that will be modified according to competitive forces and market conditions.

Conclusion: With mobile device shipments predicted to grow in excess of 50% per annum though to 2010, IT organisations must learn how to deal with this trend. The key is to ignore the glamour and glitz associated with the mobile device and focus on the benefits that mobility brings to a core business process. Mobility projects have many of the same characteristics as ERP or CRM projects and IT organisations should apply the lessons learned from implementing such applications.

To avoid becoming a “solution looking for a problem”, organisations must resist the technology hype from telecommunications carriers and use a top down, business process improvement focused approach when considering whether to invest in mobility projects.

Conclusion: Irrespective of organisational size or business sector there is an extraordinary sameness to many of the activities carried out by IT Departments. Interviewing CIOs in a variety of organisations bears this out. In 2006, some of the common threads of activity include:

Conclusion: Networking has been a vital element of the Internet, and in organisations it has been formalised on the Web through sites such as Ryze or MySpace. Much of it involves business and technology professionals, and even people with specific political interests. Networks support and stimulate each member, and if harnessed with an agenda, even one as normal as bulk-buying discounts, they can exercise considerable influence.

Networking cannot fulfil all the communications and commercial demands of an organisation; however organisations could be using online networking to their advantage if it fits in with their communication aims.

Networking can be utilised by organisations in two ways:

  1. To generate new contacts or leads

  2. To gain a better understanding of a group or target market.

Initiatives in this area should be tested where possible on sites and through online networks. Adding networking as part of their Web communications can offer organisations a valuable means of working with customers and users and is a means of learning what users and consumers think.

Conclusion: It is time for a major stock-take of model driven software development approaches within software intensive industries. Progress in the last few years in terms of developing interoperability standards for model driven tooling has not been spectacular. The term "Model Driven Architecture" has gone through the usual hype cycle, and the dust is in the process of settling. Model Driven Software Development is about breaking the 1-fits-all approach to implementation languages when needed, and entails the use of small, domain specific languages.Only in some cases can domain specific languages be bought off-the-shelf. Model driven approaches have come a long way, and enable the incremental creation of strategic software assets that can be used across a large number of applications.

Conclusion: Open Source Software Development Tools are becoming mainstream. In the Java space, the number of available tools is mindboggling, and keeping up with the latest developments is becoming more and more a matter of being well-connected to the Open Source community and receiving tips and suggestions from trusted colleagues about the best and latest tools. It is no longer true that it is sufficient to keep monitoring the developments of the five largest tool vendors. Amongst the best tools some are being produced by small teams and individuals. The use of Open Source tools is also becoming established practice within traditionally conservative organisations in industries such as banking1.

The media was replete in November of reports that Telstra would be replacing and decommissioning approximately 1200 legacy systems. For instance, Mike Sainsbury in the Australian Business Section on 17 November, compared the systems to a ‘bowl of spaghetti’ on the assumption they were entwined and it would take a mammoth job to untangle them.

Conclusion: The rising popularity of online business networking platforms, sometimes also referred to as social software, is the first sign that the traditional CRM paradigm that equates to "one CRM system instance for each organisation" has reached the limits of its usefulness. The players that shape a new, complementary CRM paradigm exploit pervasive use of broadband and wireless internet connections. Many of them are dynamic and small organisations, some still operating in start-up mode. Over the next two years the CRM landscape will undergo significant change, and it may be worthwhile to wait for the dust to settle before investing in expensive CRM solutions that may soon be obsolete.

Widely-available, relatively cheap technology is catching up with the long-standing desire of end-users and businesses to use and pay for technology as demand arises, rather than them being forced to buy entire software packages or infrastructure, and then use just a small percentage of the overall capability. At the same time, user business environments have become more nimble, requiring more flexibility in IT delivery and usage, in licencing and payment structures, and in vendor business models. By being aware of new provisioning models, users will be able to gain long-sought improvements in costs and service.

Conclusion:The mobile phone is entering a new phase in which it appears likely to become another medium, combining material from broadcast and print media. The mobile is not likely to become a pocket cinema - Apple’s iPod video is that – but according to a recent Australian research survey mobile users want more communication choices on their mobiles and to enjoy media content.

Current developments in technology and the growth of mobile content and increasingly mobile media content give organisations a powerful channel option in their communications suite.

Conclusion: Every organisation needs to assess its level of maturity in the management of its IT asset at least annually. Because most managers focus on meeting service delivery levels, they can easily overlook the need to manage the life cycle processes for IT assets from acquisition to retirement. By not investing in initiatives to increase their level of maturity in IT assets management, as per the table below, managers could be putting their careers at risk.

Conclusion – Organisations that that have a clearly developed software release management strategy to help decide when to implement new releases will find it will easier to manage their inventory of mission critical software, keep their TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) under control and gain industry recognition for their proficiency in managing their IT investments.

Conclusion: The mid-1990s was a gold rush for ERP vendors. The ERP concept of integrating disparate corporate applications was right for its time and was superbly promoted by major players such as SAP who ran saturation campaigns directed at CXOs. I experienced it first hand, being one of them at the time! The gold rush continued through the decade. Drivers included the market momentum the ERP storm had generated coupled with corporate anxiety about legacy system’s likely inability to meet Year 2000 compliance requirements.

Conclusion: Much of the work undertaken by IT Departments (systems development, maintenance, systems upgrades, selection of new technologies, etc) could well be managed under a project framework. Instead many organisations choose to manage this work using permanent teams under a hierarchical structure. This is serious mistake that inevitably drives higher than necessary IT costs.

Conclusion:In May 2005, Google released Desktop Search for Enterprise for organisations to use Google without using their public toolbar. The enterprise search market is well served and there are a number of tools which serve particular functions depending on the requirements of the organisation. Google’s objective is to capture the enterprise search business and consolidate their dominance of the entire search function market.

As the Google Press Release disingenuously phrased the announcement:

With the addition of Google Desktop Search for Enterprise, businesses of all sizes can offer their employees one-stop Google search for the desktop, intranet, or web." Google’s aim is to enlist everyone to the use its brand and so aggregate every possible eyeball in support of its main advertising business.

One-stop use of a single brand is one of the reasons for the stock markets sentiment in pushing the Google share price to nearly US$300.

Google’s intention is to encircle individual consumers and businesses so they use Google automatically when they need information. As an information intermediary Google can capture; although it’s unclear just exactly how, information about users and connect it with businesses.

To avoid reliance on Google, examine how many of its products are used with the organisation. While there is nothing sinister in what Google are offering, managers must ensure security and privacy concerns are assessed and addressed now. Guidelines for employees using Google applications should be clarified to minimise potential risks.

The next ''Big Thing'' in business computing is more about new IT deployment, sourcing and management models than about the evolution of technology itself. Vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard have continued to fine-tune products and services that were announced in 2001 to a point where they are now viable choices for technology buyers. Given labels such as ''On Demand'' by some, or the Adaptive or Agile Enterprise by others, they can all be considered part of the Utility Computing paradigm.

VOiP is apparently, “the only sexy thing out there” in technology today. Decoded, this quote means that it’s VoIP is apparently, “the only sexy thing out there” in technology today. Decoded, this quote means that it’s growing quickly. Telephones and sex go back nearly a hundred years so the metaphor is not surprising.

Conclusion: Effective IT strategic planning is more relevant than ever in 2005 as IT budgets continue to be straitened and IT units remain under pressure to prove their corporate worth. Whilst there are many approaches to developing an IT Strategic Plan, a zero-based approach is more likely to resonate with business stakeholders and provide successful outcomes than other approaches.

Conclusion: Delivering real business improvement in Workforce Automation & Management practices has proven elusive for many organisations. Two principal factors seem to have been at play. Firstly, a piecemeal approach seems to have been taken with a focus on rostering rather than on the entire process chain (see diagram). Secondly, the organisational change management effort seems to have been underestimated. With so few opportunities available to businesses to deliver bottom line savings from application software initiatives, it is now timely to revisit this area. Further, increasing safety-awareness in sectors such as mining, construction and transportation, have highlighted the need to achieve success with WAM initiatives, in some cases driven by the need to comply with fatigue management standards for rostered staff.

Conclusion: The speed and ease of use that broadband delivers is still a rare commodity amongst the majority of Australian businesses, especially the SME. A constant refrain is that broadband must be pushed into the bulk of Australian organisations and for sound commercial reasons. It’s not clear that many businesses are interested; however, to ensure that broadband is a common standard. In the B2B marketplace organisations do not seem to be adversely affected by suppliers that do not have comparable communications infrastructure.

Even if there is a real problem of efficiency between business, changing conditions in the market is not easy. Pushing attitudes to change rapidly when the cost is borne by someone else won’t happen. The telecomm landscape is settled and the power of Telstra, directly and indirectly through its infrastructure affects, pricing to other suppliers of broadband.

Individual organisations could only use their voice through lobbying. So far, the loudest voices in the broadband debate have been from self-interested parties and they haven’t been able to state absolutely clearly why and how broadband will improve productivity. Their appeal to redress Australia’s relatively low standing on the international broadband league table relies on simple chauvinism.

The widespread low broadband usage in business is not a concern, despite its coverage, and it’s nearly impossible to know what the economic benefit would be if broadband was in every organisation in the country. Where companies and organisations do have broadband efficiency problems with their business partners they might work together to resolve them.

Conclusion: Channel strategy has become more complex with a range of options and better means of reaching various markets. The mobile phone is already a powerful tool and with the onset of more applications could emerge as the next, most discrete, channel in relationship management.

Changes will not occur overnight, but managers ought to look ahead to the next twelve months for options that are suitable to their organisation. This channel may be an effective one, replacing mail and leaflets, for both business and government, including local councils.

A plan to consider the mobile as a CRM tool should, at this stage, examine:

  • 1. Current channels and options and the cost of delivering them to see whether they can or ought to be changed.
  • 2. The aptness of emerging applications and how they might be adapted.

With the market reach of the mobile phone a strategy should be identified soon to take advantage of the channel.

Conclusion: When making the decision to invest in wireless, managers are presented with economic arguments from suppliers. Examining the variety of case studies* reveals that not all the arguments are valid, and this fact should not be significant, because not all decisions, should be, or are based on economic grounds.

Indeed, the case for a wireless solution in enterprises may be impelled by the same tacit logic of fashion. In other words, as more companies adopt it, perhaps even for purely financial and logical reasons, the spread of the technology becomes more compelling. If that line of argument appears fanciful, it is the same reason why the DVD is so popular, and in fact, one of the background causes as to how the PC took hold in companies, twenty years ago.

To assess whether to join the wireless movement or not, managers can simply do two things.

  1. Survey similar sized companies and organisations that have adopted it.

  2. Discount the putative efficiency benefit from any calculation of ROI in a short-term period, say the first year.

Widespread adoption of technology arises from network effects; in essence, because your competitors are doing it, there is a justifiable reason to do likewise.

Conclusion: Until recently, relatively unknown presidential candidate, Howard Dean is creating a stir in the U.S. as the leading Democratic candidate for the presidency, which is attributable to his innovative and successful Internet strategy. From the obscurity of just 4 percent of Democratic primary voters, Dean has moved to 15 percent of likely voters, according to a poll taken in November. Dean also took a record US$7.4 million in online donations during the third quarter of 2003, almost half his total for the same period.

Deans and his campaign managers have not re-invented Internet communication strategies, what they have accomplished is better than their rivals. They have demonstrated what is possible once the planning is right to start with. The two elements they have done very well are:

  1. Utilised the Internet is a facilitating channel: connections go from one to one to one and thus join people together.

  2. Encouraged engagement through other techniques like weblogs and meetings.

By connecting with supporters and managing the means to stay in touch, Dean has made the Internet a critical component of his success.

Conclusion: In 2004 many new IT initiatives (especially e-business and business intelligence initiatives) are likely to expose organisations to new technologies and business processes. These new technologies and business processes will require organisations to embark on new experience curves. Organisations that assume their existing track record will be sufficient to take on these new experience curves will find that seemingly low risk projects begin to fail.

Business and IT executives need to recognise that endeavours involving new experience curves must be managed as high risk ventures and where possible organisations should look to minimise the rate at which they expose their business and industry to new experience curves.

The US Defence Force is setting the pace for the universal adoption of IPv6 as the new IP has been mandated for its "security grid" counter terrorism initiative set for 2008. Essentially, IPv6 and its predecessor IPv4 define the way information is transmitted on and devices connect to the Internet.

Conclusion: The key selling point of 3G is remote access and mobility. This has been evident in the advertising from genuine 3G offers and the “pseudo 3G offers” from Optus, Vodafone and other telcos. The benefits of multi-media bandwidth are unnecessary to most businesses just as also bandwidth speed is not really compelling to most users.

There is no first mover advantage. Even other businesses adopting 3G would not be so convincing because there is no real advantage in choosing it – for reasons of price and usability - as there was in the early days of the PC.

Faced with a communications upgrade businesses need not jump in but should adopt three inter-related policies when considering 3G in the introductory phase:

  1. Negotiate firm performance contracts with vendors, e.g. No result no fee. If the claimed benefit has been improved results in business efficiency however that may be measured then it is up to the vendor to sanction those claims and support the investment in the technology on performance;

  2. Wait for prices to fall which is likely as with most new technologies of which DVD is an example

  3. Wait for better applications, which may come on stream but to date have not materialised.

Conclusion: Integration, Optimisation and Functionality are the three concepts to drive growth in technology investment in the future. In the tactical sphere these drivers of growth can be applied in planning the overall channel strategy. Technological implementation has mandated that efficiency gains ought to be made from the capital invested and that will be derived from either Functionality or Integration and Optimisation or a combination of all three.

Conclusion: IT organisations wishing to select quality services at competitive prices should rate themselves against an IT procurement maturity model to leverage economies of scale. This will enable IT organisations to reduce cost while meeting business needs in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Conclusion: Personas are a popular tool for organisations developing end-user computing strategies. Unfortunately, when used inappropriately, they can severely limit workplace innovation. However, the process of developing personas can be a very powerful tool for engaging with end users and uncovering opportunities to identify different work contexts within the organisation. Personas may also be used to simplify and communicate the business case for changes in how staff will leverage new end-user computing technologies in new ways.

Conclusion: It is no longer viable for telecommunication providers to simply offer Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunks for voice connectivity or Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) links to connect office and data centre locations. Nor does it make good business sense for the telco or for the customer.

The modern architectures of Cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), mixed with the need to maintain on-premise for critical elements are key components that support most digital strategies. Using older telecommunications architectures with fixed connections and physical infrastructure for routing and switching can be costly, and can stifle agility and therefore productivity.

However, modern telecommunication architectures bring an ability to virtualise connections and network switching. The abstraction of these capabilities allows dynamic management of the services providing substantial agility, as well as potential productivity gains and cost savings to the customer.

Conclusion:

The choices when selecting and designing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution are immense and typically require industry specific considerations. Executives rightly desire fully-integrated IT services across all departments within an organisation. The end result is a reliable, fully-integrated, and secure solution whether it is deployed in a public or hybrid Cloud solution.

What should not be up for negotiation are the essential, human-facing critical controls (CCs) that maintain the effectiveness and security of this critical asset during business operations. In all, IBRS sees organisations needing to address 10 human-facing CCs from a group of 20 CCs. The remaining 10 CCs will cover the technical controls later in this research series.