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: On 3rd April 2018, Microsoft announced the availability of its Azure Cloud running within Canberra Data Centres (CDC) facilities, and officially rated for protected workloads.

Superficially, this appears to boost Microsoft’s ability to “check off” security concerns for government and other clients that have specific compliance demands.

While removing compliance barriers to Cloud adoption is certainly welcome, there are more compelling factors for considering the new Azure facilities. These include: closing the gap between legacy solutions, hyper-scale, (selected) SaaS environments, and legacy solutions; reducing the distinction between public and private Cloud services; blending customer ecosystems for critical national infrastructure.

The timing of this new infrastructure coincides with The Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill introduced to the Lower House in December last year, and passed by the Senate late last week.

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Conclusion: Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are largely developed in isolation. The result is ineffective recovery arrangements that do not meet the fundamental business needs. With the variety of Cloud service continuity solutions, IT organisations should initiate a unified business and IT continuity project to intimately involve business units in defining and deploying complete service recovery facilities, including mitigating the risks such as ransomware attacks and the lack of SaaS escrow1 services. This will tightly couple recovery services to business imperatives. The use of Cloud for service continuity (which was not available eight years ago) will reduce the overall cost of recovery.

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Conclusion: Current approaches to knowledge management are being disrupted by a wave of new working practices that replace the paper-based metaphor which pre-dates the computer revolution, with a digital-only metaphor. While this change has been brewing for over a decade, it should not be confused with simple “digitisation” of paper processes. It is a fundamental shift in thinking about knowledge as a digital asset.

This disruption is already seeing tensions for organisations embracing new collaborative workplace productivity suites, such as G Suite and Office 365. Likewise, vendors of enterprise content management (ECM) solutions are struggling to find relevance, or are fundamentally rethinking their future offerings.

Understanding the differences between the current paper-metaphor approach to knowledge management and the (still evolving) digital-only metaphor is a vital set to a workable knowledge management for the future, and for planning future investments in ECM solutions – which will not be anything like the ones of the past.

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Conclusion: The development of AI-based solutions is heavily dependent on various types of data input in the form of either:

  • Large data sets used to conduct experiments to develop models and algorithms for predictive analytics, optimisation and decision recommendations; or
  • Enriched and tagged corpuses of images, audio, video and unstructured text used to train neural networks using deep learning techniques.

While at first the data management needs of AI-based solution development might leverage both data scientists and their existing business intelligence platforms to exploit these types of data, the actual lifecycle management needs of AI developers will expand quickly beyond the boundary of the traditional enterprise data warehouse.

Therefore, like the source code and configuration data underpinning transactional business applications, the raw data and algorithms of AI solutions must be managed by evolving DevOps practices towards a comprehensive “DataOps” model.

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

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

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Conclusion: Although online digital platforms are in ready supply, organisations remain unable to avoid the receipt of critical information in the form of paper documents or scanned images. Whether from government, suppliers or clients, organisations are faced with written correspondence, typed material, completed forms or signed documents that must be consumed. For a variety of reasons, it may be unreasonable or impractical to expect this information to be sent in machine-readable form.

However, machine-readable content from incoming information, both past and future, is emerging as a prerequisite to exploit artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of digital transformation. Therefore, organisations need to re-examine their data ingestion strategies and move proactively to the use of optical character recognition on incoming paper- and scanned image-based information.

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Conclusion: Many IT organisations have adopted business transformation1 strategies to help their businesses increase revenue. However, while digital transformation has succeeded in making the communication with the enterprise more convenient (e. g. mobile applications), it has been difficult to substantiate digital transformation contribution to the financial performance improvement. As a result, justifying new software projects has become more difficult. It is recommended to shift the digital transformation focus from technology point solutions to building quality products and services that increase profit and elevate customer satisfaction. The success should be measured by increased sales instead of only technology charms.

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Conclusion: While there was significant media attention on artificial intelligence and blockchain in 2017, the primary concerns of Australia’s CIOs remain focused on the more pressing issues of migration to the Cloud, and its impact on IT operations and staffing. Where discussions of artificial intelligence play a role is in automation processes and workforce transformation.

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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: 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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 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: 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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