Strategy & Transformation

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

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

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

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

Conclusion: CEOs need their CIOs to be out on the cutting edge to decide which technology to incorporate so that the organisation can adapt and transform in a rapidly changing landscape. As the digital leader, the CIO needs to emphasise the culture shift, be an influencer and guide the change across the IT team and broader enterprise. Organisations that elect CIOs as their digital champions experience higher performance compared with organisations where CIOs play a more passive role in digital transformation.

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

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

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

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Conclusion: Many Cloud service providers manage their own systems but do not take any responsibility for working with other providers in a multi-sourced environment. As a result, IT organisations wishing to maximise the benefits of hybrid Cloud should develop a governance framework to address technology integration issues, optimise the interaction among service providers managing the multiple Clouds and define policies to operate in a multi-sourced environment. This will ensure business operations remain unaffected by service providers’ potential disputes.

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Conclusion: IBRS has observed that many organisations’ eforms initiatives face five common challenges. To help ensure the best long-term outcomes for an eforms initiative, each of the five challenges must be considered, and remediation strategies put in place.

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Related Articles:

"How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need" IBRS, 2018-01-03 05:42:10

Conclusion: Organisations continue to emphasise their competitive differentiation based on the data they hold, and the insights gained from analysing this valuable resource. The rate at which organisations are shifting from traditional process-based to insight-oriented differentiation is being further accelerated by the adoption of Cloud-based data analytics services.

The combined result is an increasing portion of enterprise project activity that can be classified as extract, transform and load (ETL).

Despite ETL being the mainstay of data integration for decades, the cost of specialised skills and significant manual effort expended on integrating disparate data sources is now coming into sharp focus. In response, organisations are rightly seeking lower-cost solutions for data integration.

Although ETL exists in the form of at least one tool in almost every enterprise, the cost of ETL as a proportion of data analytics projects means organisations must decrease reliance on traditional ETL tools in favour of automated solutions that exploit machine learning techniques to reduce the need for ETL developers.

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The Future of Work: The Role of People

Foreword by Joseph Sweeney, IBRS Advisor
 
For the past 30 years, organisations have applied technology to people to make the workplace more productive. But despite substantial investments in technology, productivity has grown annually on average at just 1.8 percent.  Something was not working.   
 
During the last few years, we’ve seen a shift in power. Instead of organisations dictating technology, increasingly people are choosing the technology they wish to apply in the workplace. Initially seen as a problem, shadow IT, is now accepted and embraced.    
 

Conclusion: A customer relationship management (CRM) software tool is both a database for contact interaction and a productivity tool used to analyse customer data, win new business and track employee sales performance. The competition is fierce for a higher share of the CRM software market. Major benefits of the growing demand in CRM are the improvements in functionality including mobile applications, enhanced reporting and analytics, and better integration tools.

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Conclusion: The release of Amazon’s Echo in 2014 heralded the first of a series of “ambient” technologies1. These new devices are unobtrusive, multiple purpose and capable of responding to conversational input through integration with virtual digital assistants (VDAs) such as Amazon’s Alexa.

A key enabler of these platforms is the ability to implement “skills” or expand the platform’s capability to interpret and respond with appropriate conversational content beyond the basic function of the device itself.

The consistency of information required by organisations under omni-channel delivery models, combined with under-resourced editorial teams, mean organisations must prepare for conversational channels by transforming existing content sooner rather than later.

Failure to do so will see history repeat itself through short-term replication of content to support new channels only to have that content and channel functionality merged back into increasingly sophisticated content management platforms at significant cost.

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Conclusion: One strategy to implement IT-as-a-Service models is to focus on business efficiency improvement. This requires shifting focus from addressing IT internal issues (e. g. operating system upgrade) to improving business operations. It requires building IT skills and capabilities to leverage the emerging IT trends, technologies and services in the areas of artificial intelligence, analytics, Internet of Things, cognitive learning and multi-Cloud management.

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Conclusion: Eforms hold the promise of democratising the development of work-related apps. However, eform projects will stagnate, or even fail outright, if they are initiated primarily as a technology-driven initiative. Instead, the selection of an eform involves identifying where on the eform solution spectrum your organisation sits, and this can be accomplished by answering four questions.

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Related Articles:

"How to succeed with eforms Part 2: The five most common eforms challenges" IBRS, 2018-02-01 10:06:14

In December 2017, IBRS joined eight globally recognised thought leaders to discuss the Future of Work as part of Adobe's Think Tank series.

IBRS advisor, Dr Joseph Sweeney, not only presented a view of how technology is impacting the workforce during the live panel discussion but also moderated the pre-event brainstorm session and assisted with pre-event briefings.

The discussion examined the long-term ramifications of the changing workplace, including:

  • technology's impact on traditional jobs

  • which jobs are under threat

  • opportunities for new roles

  • changing hiring and work practices

  • the disruption caused by the gig economy

  • the role of governments
    how education must change

    For more, click on the video below.

 

Conclusion: The future of customer service will rely heavily on automating assistance with targeted empathy1.

Expect virtual digital assistants to heavily reduce the need for contact centre services and become the preferred choice as a CX channel.

Amazon’s $100 million investment2 fund to drive innovation in Alexa and its large installed base will advance Alexa and consumer digital assistant Echo capabilities rapidly3.

Treat Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) new “Connect” Contact Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) product as a complementary customer experience (CX) tool. Expect Connect to operate as a Trojan Horse for more complete AWS AI and CX solutions inside AWS customers’ operations.

Within two years it should be clear that AWS Connect has provided a significant point of inflection in the direction and functionality of global contact centre operations and the use of blended virtual digital assistants for voice navigation in CX. This is because in future, ecommerce or any customer service supported by separate or poorly integrated merchandising and buyer assistance platforms will be thoroughly unacceptable to end users4. A seamless fully blended CX56 will have become the (minimum) norm.

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Conclusion: Unless an organisation has made a decision to go “all-in” with Google’s G Suite, Chromebooks (plus Chromeboxes and related Chrome devices) are best viewed as an adjunct to traditional Windows laptops and desktops, rather than a replacement. Chromebooks provide the greatest value when applied to specific work contexts.

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Related Articles:

"Considering Chromebooks Part 1: Show me the money!" IBRS, 2017-11-02 04:26:19

Conclusion: One strategy to implement IT-as-a-Service models is to focus on efficiency improvement. This requires shifting focus from control to service improvement. The outcome will be end-user experience enrichment, cost reduction and business/IT operations synchronisation. Failure to do so will force IT to remain a utility provider offering insignificant innovation and playing a negligible role in business transformation.

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Conclusion: The ERP finance system is one of an organisation’s critical IT applications that can benefit or constrict operations. It is the backbone system that underpins how an organisation interacts with customers and suppliers, and manages day-to-day transactions and business operations. It is the CEO and CFO’s key business tool used to make business decisions. If an organisation can streamline its backend processes efficiently and automate transactions to speed up interactions with customers direct from online bookings to the capturing of payments swiftly, it sends a positive message to customers. This builds customer retention, a good reputation and long-term revenue by potentially increasing the lifetime value of customers and their referrals.

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

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

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

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Conclusion: Chromebooks continue to be viewed mostly as a low-cost alternative to Windows devices. While it is true a Google G Suite/Chromebook only workspace is a considerably lower cost compared to a Microsoft workspace, a careful examination of Chromebooks in a mixed device workplace – which is the norm – reveals that some of the purported savings are overstated.

More significantly, the over-focus on the cost of devices hides the more nuanced reasons for considering Chromebooks and the role they can play in an organisation’s move towards workforce transformation.

In the first of two management advisory papers, IBRS examines the extent to which Chromebooks deliver cost savings.

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Related Articles:

"Considering Chromebooks Part 2: Use cases" IBRS, 2017-12-02 06:25:01

Conclusion: One strategy to implement IT-as-a-Service models is to outsource the IT delivery capability to multiple service providers. However, the IT organisation remains accountable for the success of the outsourced arrangements. This requires the IT organisation to have a mature procurement and service provider governance function. The rationale is to acquire services and negotiate contracts that go beyond meeting the traditional IT needs to provide business innovation, performance improvement, cost reduction and risks mitigation covering IT and business vulnerabilities.

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Conclusion: Australian governments at the federal and state levels have been implementing, modifying, discarding or persevering with shared services models for the better part of 15 years. Most of these initiatives were based on the premise that consolidating corporate service functions into a single entity and providing “shared services” back to the originating agencies would provide significant efficiencies and cost savings. While the concept of shared services does have considerable potential for value creation and efficiencies for government sectors, it is the execution that needs to be rethought.

Shared services operational units need to heed the learnings from other activities including:

  • the entrepreneurial sector
  • application of UCD
  • other service redesign techniques, and effectively generate a spin-off that everyone wants to receive services from.

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IT consists of information and communications technologies (ICT) typically used in business, corporate or enterprise management (e.g. computer processing, data management, business processes and applications, customer service, enterprise networking).

OT consists of specific operational technologies used to run a business operation (e.g. capital assets, manufacturing process control, machinery, vehicles, equipment, avionics, telemetry).

This MAP and its companion Compass research note provide guidance on evaluating the forms of organisation necessary to deliver reliable and effective interworking of IT and OT. The proximity of IT and OT varies substantially by industry.

Whatever the industry, organisations must seek out and evaluate existing and emerging opportunities in converging IT and OT. If these opportunities are missed, the business will lag in real-time management and suffer loss of their productivity and competitive edge.

 

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 IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Collaboration services must align with business objctives to be effective but what does the buzzword "collaboration" really mean?

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.

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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Conclusion: Preparing the modern business for Cloud requires a common computing and networking infrastructure with new Cloud architectures converging with data centres over a hybrid of both direct Cloud connections and traditional wide area networking.

Organisations must begin by conducting a “triage” of their applications into three networking categories: those in pure public Cloud deployment; a hybrid of public and private (“on-premises”) computing; and those that will never go to Cloud (such as legacy apps, or for regulatory or security requirements).

At Cloud-scale the network becomes a fabric that facilitates software-defined technologies1 (compute virtualisation, SD Storage, SD Networking and SD Security). Software-defined networking (SDN) abstracts network functions so that existing switches, routers and appliances can be made programmable to enhance their functions and reduce costs.

Eventually business IT processing will be delivered by SD Everything as all fundamental IT functions coalesce.

From today, businesses should be placing new emphasis on the “management” of their networking as both “virtual” and physical networks and plan to drastically reduce manual configuration and operation of networked IT as indicated below.

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Conclusion: One strategy to implement IT-as-a-Service models is to build an in-house capability whereby the IT organisation is accountable for the full service delivery according to commercial practices. This requires the IT organisation to play the role of an internal service broker, expected to acquire external services and coordinate internal and external services delivery to meet the business needs. The service broker should at least be flexible, reliable and cost effective.

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A decade ago, IBRS made the case that there were many different “modes” of collaboration and stressed the importance of choosing the appropriate mode for specific work activities. A framework provided clarity in matching the different collaborative modes to work. The framework included five aspects: power, process complexity, reach, community breadth and goals. While collaborative productivity tool suites have become the de facto working environment over the last decade, the uptake of deep collaborative work practices within and between organisations has been hindered by cultural resistance, as outlined in “Get Ready for Co-Authoring: Parts 1 & 2”. The shift to deep collaboration working practices will be resisted, but it is inevitable.

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

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IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: Employ a bottom-up technology-based approach and a top-down business approach when developing the business and IT transformation program. Additionally, the program must take a pragmatic approach to reflect workplace changes that are feasible to meet the expectations of clients, staff, suppliers and the community.

Unless the program is continually revised to reflect the changing business and technology environment, it runs the risk of addressing yesterday’s problems. When benefits expected are not being realised, as indicated immediately below, it is important to implement turnaround strategies.

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Conclusion: All organisations have technology partners. Some will have long standing partners and some technology partners will play the role of innovation lead or be responsible for introducing new technologies to their customers. However, relying on these traditional technology partners may prevent organisations from achieving digital transformation goals and may even be detrimental to innovation objectives. Organisations that are successful in the digital era will use innovation as a strategic, systemic and technological lever for establishing and supporting agile innovation cultures, new accountable business management practices and processes, and establish or participate in global industry eco-systems. This means being a capable and proactive organisation and knowing how to utilise technology partners without being led by them.

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Conclusion: IBRS’ finding is that prominent Cloud marketplaces (CMPs) such as AWS Marketplace1, Microsoft Azure2, Google Cloud Platform3 and IBM Bluemix4 are gaining traction as alternatives to conventional enterprise ICT infrastructure and services sourcing.

Given the state of maturity of these marketplaces, they are currently only useful for quickly and conveniently locating and obtaining ICT infrastructure and microservices for use in low-risk small scale pilots or trials.

As wider take-up is underway with larger applications being adopted through AWS and Azure organisations should begin to prepare for a shift in the viability of enterprise-level solutions.

Our caution is that CMPs will not have profound impacts on enterprise ICT provision until both the IT and Procurement organisations within a business become satisfied that this approach has validity, value and is auditable5 and manageable.

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Conclusion: Both Google G Suite and Office 365 can enable deep collaboration. As discussed in Deciding between Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 3651, while G Suite puts deep collaboration front and centre, Office 365 allows organisations to evolve into this new way of working. Whatever office suite is selected, two aspects of end user computing are impacted when organisations seek to embrace deep collaboration: identity management and information governance.

  • Identity management must change to allow information to be shared with and worked upon by external parties.
  • Records management/compliance must change to enable an asynchronous knowledge management lifecycle.

Both of the above have policy and technology impacts. Prior to selecting either G Suite or Office 365, these impacts need to be carefully considered and the approaches taken by Google and Microsoft weighed against the organisational needs and appetite for change.

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Conclusion: When undertaking business-oriented transformation programs, such as the current wave of digital transformation, it is important for Enterprise Architects to develop an EA for IT in parallel – not as a separate or independent IT transformation effort.

Establishing the EA for IT requires that the IT organisation itself becomes the “enterprise” in context, ensuring that IT has a true business blueprint that reflects the needs of its wider organisational context. This will require that Enterprise Architects identify an effective set of contemporary reference models for what it means to deliver IT in an As-a-Service world.

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 IBRS iQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.
 

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

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

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Conclusion: Unless management develops work-place change management strategies and staff are trained to implement the transformation program, employees are likely to become disengaged and could fail to adapt to the changes envisaged. To minimise the risk of failure, the strategy to implement the program must be well planned and stakeholders consulted.

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Conclusion: The traditional Waterfall method of development delivery is now being increasingly challenged by Agile. The original decision to use Agile primarily based on speed of delivery of the coding and design functions was and still is just one factor. Other factors and characteristics still mean an informed decision must be made to maximise the chances of the project being implemented successfully.

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

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

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Conclusion: Transitioning to hybrid Cloud might include migration from the current outsourcing contracts and some in-sourced activities to IT-as-a-Service models. The rationale is to accelerate efficiency gains realisation in a timely manner. One of the Procurement Manager’s options is to seek a service broker (e. g. prime contractor) to efficiently undertake the migration without disrupting the current business operations.

IT Procurement Managers should:

  • Establish governance arrangements underpinned by an effective organisational structure, tools and processes to select the service broker
  • Request the acceptance of the transition plan to become a prerequisite to contract signature
  • Manage the new contract until the business objectives are met

One of the migration critical success factors is a detailed transition plan covering the service provider selection and setting the foundation of a healthy relationship between both parties throughout the contract duration.

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Conclusion: The decision to adopt Microsoft Office 365 or Google G Suite rarely comes down to cost. The decision is more often based on the speed at which an organisation wishes to change from “the old way of doing things” to the “new way”. More succinctly, it is a statement about how quickly the organisation wishes to transform its workforce to be mobile and deeply collaborative. The decision is therefore largely based on aspirational goals for the business, and a vision of how work will be accomplished in the future. However, it is important not to let such grand visions override practical considerations and the vendor hype – and almost religious fervour – surrounding both Google and Microsoft’s productivity suites.

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