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: 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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Conclusion: Web delivered applications, along with specific Web 2.0 tools, have created new, and possibly higher expectations of online interaction from users. As government, at all levels except local, continues to examine ways to deploy these tools and raise its interactive capabilities, it will have to develop customer-centric techniques and possibly behaviour too, or else stumble in the attempt.

In evolving customised government channels the planning process will need greater attention than has hitherto been given to government channels and website content management. In addition, considerations of technology deployment will require a deeper level of strategic priorities and future proofing.

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Conclusion:Value chain analysis is one of the fastest ways to understand the essence of a business or an organisation, provided appropriate techniques are used in the analysis. The only concepts needed for recording value chains are roles, systems, artefacts, the links between these concepts, and a distinction between artefacts that are exchanged with other organisations and artefacts that are only relevant within the organisation. One of the biggest pitfalls in value chain analysis is to lose track of the big picture, and to get lost in the details - which can easily be avoided by following a small set of best practices to avoid work that does not add value.

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

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

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Conclusion:Last year Richard Soley, Ivar Jacobson, and Bertrand Meyer called for action to re-found software engineering on principles and practices that are backed by robust scientific theories. Achieving big gains in software quality and productivity by introducing off-the-shelf methodologies has proved to be elusive. The evidence suggests that looking for much smaller (and scientifically validated) building blocks that can be composed into an organisation-specific methodology is much more likely to deliver results than the quest for the ultimate methodology. Alignment between business and IT requires constant vigilance of staying on the narrow ridge that separates over-simplification of an organisation’s activities from spurious complexity in software implementations.

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Conclusion: Despite better and more available government services online there are considerable gaps in service quality. These gaps, or dissatisfaction, with services are based primarily in users' ability to deal with accessibility, navigation and understanding of government services and information.

There are two recommendations to be made from the five years' of usage data of government sites: Firstly, that content management, site navigation and information discovery has to be improved, and, secondly, an information marketing campaign to assist users should also be considered using the Web and traditional media to inform and educate the public.

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Conclusion:Organisations that that plan to deploy or extend their WAN Optimisation Clients (WOCs) should strongly consider virtual WOCs. Virtual WOCs will carry less financial commitment, and an organisation deploying virtual WOCs will not be encumbered after 2-3 years with outdated appliances which cannot be repurposed. The importance of not over-committing to WOC appliances will become increasingly important: as WOC capabilities get baked into application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs); and as organisations move towards web applications, which will require their own accelerators.

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Conclusion: Expanding Web 2.0 tools in government consolidates the current experimentation into a new range and reach of technology from established practices. Adoption of 2.0 tools may create new responsibilities and pressures for government agencies and consequently managers will have to review specific strategies and prioritise the deployment of 2.0 tools.

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Conclusion: IT managers starting to investigate either WAN optimisation or web application acceleration technologies need to be clear on several factors before making a purchase. The first and most important factor is the technical architecture their organisation currently has. The correct choice of technology will depend on: where the data is, where the users are, what applications the users need, how mobile they are, and whether the organisation is moving towards web applications.

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Conclusion: Oracle Exadata is an innovative approach to system design that makes Oracle a leading vendor in our Integrated Systems model and it is an example of how IT infrastructure will evolve over the next 3-7 years.

Oracle’s reinvention of storage as a cluster of commodity servers (x64), using commodity storage (SAS/SATA), and a volume storage operating system, is particularly noteworthy. This is a fundamental departure from the last 20 years of storage design, and heralds a major shakeup in the storage industry over the next five years.

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Many highly accessed government web sites are fragmented, with out of date information, and appear poorly coordinated. While some departments and agencies have demonstrated positive web governance abilities, the expansion of Commonwealth government web sites, coupled with lack of oversight or continuity, means that gaps in service and information delivery are evident.

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Conclusion: In the short-term, the soon to be launched Windows Azure platform is likely to be misunderstood by IT enterprise architects and under-estimated by in-house software developers. The notion of "cloud computing" has become ill-defined and confused. In order to understand where Azure and other cloud based solutions can benefit an enterprise, it is vital to have clear definition of the different classes of cloud computing and the trend of clouds towards greater simplicity at the expense of flexibility.

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Conclusion:Government does not only want to supply information and transactional services, it wants engagement from within and outside its ranks. But that ambition may be already too late.

The reality of online use is that government (including its policies and services) is part of the online knowledge system network that includes a plethora of blogs, forums, videos and mailing lists. As the Web grows in scope and complexity, the idea of developing Government 2.0 as a media policy is already history. It's time to investigate a new approach to government online.

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Software development was still a very esoteric discipline in the days when Lisp was born. In the meantime the software industry went through a whole series of major paradigm shifts:

  • From structured programming (Pascal and related languages)

  • To relational databases (the SQL standard and implementations from IBM, Oracle and others)

  • To Computer Aided Software Engineering (a very large range of competing tools)

  • To object-oriented languages (such as Smalltalk, C++ and Java)

  • To components (such as the CORBA standard and Java Enterprise Edition)

  • To web based applications (HTML, XML, JavaScript, and other scripting languages)

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Conclusion: Oracle’s vision is to become the leading IT Systems Vendor by creating a complete IT stack of hardware, middleware and applications. The objective is to reduce complexity, and to lower the total cost of ownership, though integration and optimisation across the entire stack.

Oracle will retain Sun products that are both complete this Systems Vendor vision and are aligned with its long term business and technology strategies. The remaining Sun products will either be parked, and the customer base transitioned to a related Oracle product, or sold to a third party.

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

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Conclusion: Public sector IT departments are facing greater financial scrutiny as a result of both the GFC and the Gershon Report. There is a broad mandate to reduce ‘business as usual’ costs. In order to prioritise projects, manage expectations and drive down IT costs, IT professionals need to understand the key technology trends in the public sector.

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Conclusion: A decade ago Knowledge Management was the next big thing, and according to the analysts responsible for the Knowledge Management hype, it has evolved into a well-understood concept that is firmly established in the majority of organisations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Only very few organisations have a practically useful definition of knowledge, and even fewer realise that knowledge is not something that needs to managed, but something that needs to be nurtured - by committing to capture knowledge in its purest form, neither diluted by implementation technologies, nor distorted by organisational politics.

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Conclusion: More organisations are establishing explicit rules governing the use of social media. Any guidelines or functional principles for social media use should be comprehensive and practical.

Most importantly, the rules should be drafted for the specific organisation, not taken from a generic template as they will lack specific and pragmatically understood rules within the particular organisation. In so doing, the guidelines will be unambiguous. In addition, one of the objectives of a guide must be to gain complete cooperation from all staff, and consequently make compliance, and therefore sanctions, easier to apply.

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