ICT Modernisation

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.