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: 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.

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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.

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Conclusion:  Moving from Office 2003 or earlier, to Office 2007/2010 should not be viewed as a software upgrade. It should be viewed as a migration to a new solution architecture entirely, and planned accordingly. If an organisation treats the move to Office 2007/2010 as a simple software upgrade, not only will there be no tangible return on investment for the upgrade initiative, but it is possible that productivity may be negatively affected.

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Conclusion: While it appears that every known test to evaluate cloud computing has been done, there are two which determine the accuracy of any savings claimed. Indeed, they could be applied to any evaluation of IT savings and not the cloud alone.

To a large degree the tests discussed here challenge some processes of cost assessment, but IT executives ought to look for better ideas and arguments. It should be possible to ask questions of consultants and vendors in order to obtain better answers.

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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.

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Conclusion: The calculated process by which the Facebook message is intended to corral investors, marketers, users and others into the world of ‘social’ is breathtaking. The reality is more complex, less easily believable, and should make any organisation involved with social media ask questions.

Because Facebook (and social media generally) is still developing, it is necessary for organisations using the media to set their own metrics and build knowledge.

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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.

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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.

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Conclusion: Optimising the efficiency and security of statutory board communication is a critical requirement for any organisation. The development of board portal solutions have enabled the basis of board communication to shift from paper to digital media. It is vital that the IT department helps to facilitate this shift. The key challenge for IT departments is to ensure a focus on solutions that are able to be implemented across multiple platforms, and not tied to the latest ‘must-have’ device.

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Conclusion: Many enterprise applications remain in existence for 10 or 15 years, or even longer. The magnitude of their total lifetime costs usually mark enterprise applications as being in the top decile of all IT investments. Despite these factors, many of those involved in selecting candidate products choose the wrong products for the wrong reasons. A more structured approach is necessitated in which the traditional focus on detailed functional requirements is de-emphasised and balanced against other factors essential to making a sound, long term IT investment.

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Conclusion: Demand for storage capacity continues to grow at 60%+ per annum, requiring ongoing capital investments in incremental capacity upgrades, or worse, a capital intensive rip and replace upgrade every 3-4 years. Since “cloud” is the current IT buzzword, IT organisations are being asked to look at how the use of cloud storage can reduce cost and transform lumpy capital expenditure into a more uniform “pay as you go” operational cost.

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Conclusion: The increasing reliance of software solutions on third party web services creates new kinds of risks that must be considered when designing software systems. The main difference between in-house software components and external web services is the level of control available in the event of unforeseen issues. Consequently it is prudent to invest in improving the level of fault-tolerance and usability of applications. In order to determine where improvements are needed, organisations need to understand the end-to-end web service supply chains that are encoded in their software solutions.

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Search used to be easy. Not in the future. The momentum in online trends last year was all about ‘social’ and that included social search. If an organisation does not have a view of what the impact of social search might be to its online activities, it may present challenges that could have been avoidable.

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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......”.

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Conclusion: Many organisations use flawed approaches for selecting enterprise applications. In short, they buy the wrong software for the wrong reasons. With many enterprise applications continuing in existence for 10 or even 20 years, this is a long time to live with a bad decision.

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In dealing with the many issues around the cloud it will take a delicate balance of political skill backed by a strong communications strategy to negotiate and collaborate with business. Offering informed and contextual guidance in an open minded discussion is a strong position to adopt. Technology managers should reflect on, and if necessary, modify how they are managing the cloud, with their business colleagues. In some cases a formal approach may be required: presentations, roadmaps, evaluations and information packages delivered to a business audience. In many other cases, a revised approach may be informal, and involve a collaborative attitude to enable an organisation to make better choices.

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Conclusion: IBRS will be delivering research series covering the ramifications of new mobility and "consumerisation" of technology. In this first note, we provide an overview of current trends and make predictions on the shape of things to come.

While the introduction of the iPhone represented a milestone in consumer devices impacting IT decision-making within organisations, many strategic planners have been struggling to predict where trends in consumer technology will take us. Recent market shifts in Europe, the USA and even in Australia now provide a clear path as to how, where and why consumer devices will drive change in organisational IT. The ramifications for how enterprise solutions are developed and deployed are profound and should be top of mind for any CIO… and the COO, CFO and CEO.

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Conclusion: Effective IT Strategic Plans (ITSPs) are blueprints. They path future directions, provide rationale, explain benefits and can offer a rallying-point for staff. Yet many ITSPs become shelf-ware. Some become disused as initiatives enacted diverge from those in the plan, thereby undermining their credibility. Other ITSPs simply lack sparkle – the ‘Ah Hah’ factor that signals to stakeholders that the strategies will propel IT and the organisation into exciting, yet well-considered, new directions.

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Conclusion: Software products are marketed with long feature lists, and data export/import features in industry standard formats are commonly advertised – and perceived as the pinnacle of product maturity. Similarly application integration is often equated with the need for data exchange mechanisms between systems. Yet interoperability is a much wider topic, and data exchange only represents the most rudimentary form of interoperability. Failing to understand more advanced forms of interoperability leads to overly complex and brittle systems that are extremely costly to maintain and operate.

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Software, and or, middleware solutions to enable collaboration and other activities via the cloud are growing. Fortunately for organisations, the features, benefits and costs of the solutions offered by vendors provide plenty of choice. As this area of cloud applications and tools is growing rapidly, organisations should take a longer view, up to three years for a total cost of ownership evaluation, and assess the requirements for file sharing solutions. Social networking connection tools can be chosen without too much cost or risk attached.

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Conclusion: In recent months several Tier-1 Australian and New Zealand vendors have announced, and in some cases delivered, locally hosted Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)1. These announcements will reduce Business and IT Executives’ perception of the risk of adopting IaaS, and result in greater interest in using cloud as a “lower cost alternative” to in-house infrastructure.

While the cloud is often assumed to be an inexhaustible supply of low cost virtual machines, that are available on a flexible pay-as-you-go model, organisations that have looked beyond the hype found it was not as cheap, or as flexible, as you might think.

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Conclusion: As the post-GFC economic thaw continues, organisations are seeking to become more resourceful and adventurous. They are rediscovering their innovatory DNA whilst remaining focused on staff productivity and cost control.

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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.

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The cloud computing economic model is expected to bring significant rewards – apparently. Those rewards may be possible, but the quality of analysis to demonstrate that the cloud paradigm will yield an ever-growing margin is far from assured. The assumptions underlying the economics of the cloud are tenuous and therefore the promotions and promises should be treated with caution. More analysis has to be done to evaluate how and where advantages are achieved, and at what cost and margin. Without sufficient rationale, empirical data and analysis, the hype will burst once the ambiguous and unclear economic outcomes emerge, just like other technology bubbles before.

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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.

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Conclusion: Microsoft’s Windows Mobile platform has a long heritage in the enterprise, but in the past five years its market share has decayed as a tsunami of consumer-oriented smartphones hit the market. Microsoft’s latest offering, Windows Phone 7, is a big step up from its previous mobile offering, but it is unlikely that it will be able to bury the iPhone, as Microsoft attempted to imply recently1. However, the platform has a strong story to tell with regards to enterprise mobility.

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One of cloud computing’s apparently key advantages is reduced operational costs. On deeper investigation, however, the purported savings are achieved by removing obvious waste, which represent the bulk of the headlined ‘savings of 50%’ that cloud computing allegedly offers.

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Conclusion: Neither written languages nor formal programming languages are capable of representing organisational knowledge in a human-friendly format. Even though Semantic Web technologies attempt to offer assistance in this area, their scope of applicability is limited to the role of establishing crude links between elements of knowledge in the public domain. Making organisational knowledge tangible and easily accessible requires new techniques, and dedicated technologies.

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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?

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Conclusion:  For many organisations, the issue is not if, but when and how they will move to Windows 7. IBRS has identified three key phases that must be worked through prior to making the move to Windows 7 (or indeed an alternative desktop environment).

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Conclusion: Being acquired by Oracle is a good thing for Sun technologies. However the long acquisition period, followed by weak marketing of the benefit and poor communication of the product roadmaps, has left many customers unsure about their strategic investments in Sun technologies.

Oracle has a clear plan for Sun, with detailed product roadmaps, but customers will have to dig deep to get this information.

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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.

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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.

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Web 2.0 tools are often seen as beneficial and effective for so-called celebrities and online activists. Yet a recent business survey suggests tangible benefits to organisations, together with subtle but real changes in the way business is done.

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Conclusion: Defining the Cloud is proving to be elusive. This is because vendors are trying to neatly define Cloud around their products and services. This creates competing, product based definitions for what is actually an aspiration to create a “better IT environment”.

Viewed as an aspiration, the Cloud becomes a journey to create an IT environment with specific characteristics, such as cost transparency, utility pricing, capacity on demand, commodity pricing, self-service, location and device independence. Like all journeys there are many different paths which depend on where you start and where you want to go.

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Organisations dealing with larger volumes of information, and increasingly complex information requirements need solutions which can be integrated and suit users’ needs. Google’s search product is quite well understood, even if it is just as a search interface and affiliation with its Web search engine.

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Conclusion: Large-scale Enterprise Data Warehouse implementations and operations often lead to multi-million dollar items in annual IT budgets. It is paramount that investments of this magnitude are put to good use, and are translated into tangible value for the organisation. Complexity of the underlying information structures can become a major issue, especially once complexity impacts the ability to formulate data warehouse queries in a timely manner. With a bit of foresight, or even retrospectively, it is possible to equip data warehouse designs with simple orientation and navigation aids that significantly reduce the time that users need to locate relevant information.

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Conclusion: Creation of an enterprise strategy for printing services and printing often revolves around the issue of shared (or centralised) printing resources versus local (desktop) printers. The common approach is to use a TCO model to identify which approach is most suitable. However, simplistic TCO models miss important secondary financial and workplace benefits. When creating an enterprise printing strategy, one must look deeper into the TCO model.

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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.

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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.

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