Conclusion: Many processes are relatively poorly designed and are not subject to effective governance. The reasons for this are many and varied: some relate to complexity, where there is a perceived risk associated with their criticality and whereby change could harm the business if they are altered; others are just not managed at all.

If your organisation does not understand how its business processes are architected, executives run the risk of fear influencing their judgement, rather than fact – the end result is ‘no change’ where change is needed. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for flexibility and agility in business processes to sustain and grow the business. The opportunities in the post-COVID-19 world, where many processes have been found wanting, are too great to be missed.

Successful organisations understand, manage and adjust business processes to meet the times. Having an effective business process management approach – where the process strategy is documented, processes are designed against set standards, implementation is monitored and managed, and controls are in place to manage the process lifecycle – is essential if your organisation is to achieve the best outcomes.

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Conclusion: Traditional service desks which are based on voice communication and email to engage with clients are no longer adequate for the current IT market. New-generation service desks should:

  • Allow self-service to extend the hours of operations.
  • Use multiple communication channels (e. g. online chats) to make the service desk more reachable to clients.
  • Adopt artificial intelligence technology to analyse unstructured data.
  • Deploy virtual agents to reduce service desk’s staff workload.

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Conclusion: Scenario planning is a formal approach for developing and exploring possible future situations or marketplace environments. It allows organisations to be more flexible and agile by considering the possibilities for change. It helps organisations – and for the focus of this paper, the ICT teams – identify the environmental uncertainties and allows ICT to prepare proactively instead of reactively.

ICT executives should leverage scenario planning activities to help with post-pandemic planning, preparing advice for the board with the organisation’s readiness to react to possible changes in the market, and also as a morale and team-building activity.

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Conclusion: For many years, shadow IT or business-managed computing has flown under management’s radar screen with mixed results. For some organisations it has been a panacea as it has helped them automate business processes quickly and gain valuable business insights from accessing complex data structures.

In some organisations, business managers resort to developing a shadow IT solution because skilled IT resources are not available due to budget constraints. When this occurs, business or engineering professionals (also known as digital natives) are then reassigned to provide a stop-gap solution, which is often uncontrolled. For these managers, shadow IT is an irritant as it diverts them and their direct reports from their everyday tasks.

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Conclusion: With working from home mandated for a large portion of Australian workers as part of the national pandemic response, ICT groups are tasked with rapidly scaling up existing remote working programs and implementing entirely new ways of working for staff.

On the 16th April 2020, IBRS moderated a virtual roundtable where senior ICT executives discussed their organisation's experience in rapidly migrating to working from home and explored the lessons they had learned along the way. This paper details the insights gained and makes recommendations.

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Conclusion: This month, there has been a particular focus on business continuity plans amidst COVID-19-driven uncertainties. Businesses are updating and activating, or establishing business continuity plans to minimise operational disruptions. Broad-based business continuity programs to ensure solid internal operations, avoid supply chain disruptions, support customer liquidity needs and mitigate risks associated with a volatile industry have become critical. Vendors must focus on managing partner and customer relations during market shifts and changes to strategic plans which are expected to be ongoing.

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Conclusion: Many vendors, consultants and managed service providers are pushing ‘security information and event management’ (SIEM) as a panacea to security failings. The intent is correct. Having visibility of what is or has happened in the infrastructure is essential to detecting and responding to intrusions.

What often gets glossed over is that SIEM is a tool, not a complete solution in itself. Deployment requires deep engagement with the IT operations team and a clear vision of what is expected from the SIEM. The vision will be driven by how SIEM will be used, what outcomes would be expected and how its use would evolve over time.

With careful planning prior to deployment, some, if not most, of these issues can be addressed.

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Conclusion: More than one-third of businesses globally claim to have an omnichannel strategy, which is often predicated on the use of digital channels and platforms1. However, in this quest to leverage digital channels, many organisations are rushing to create omni-enablement plans that look good on paper, but in fact, fail in practice.

This paper covers the three measures that organisations can take to successfully evolve their multichannel foundational investment (walking) for sustainable future omnichannel enablement (running).

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Conclusion: One of the misconceptions in business intelligence (BI) is that the goal is to capture and report upon all available data. This misses an essential business maxim: data is only useful when it is applied deliberately and with a clear goal in mind.

Too often, an organisation’s focus on BI quickly moves from aspirational principles of ‘being a data-driven business’ to discussions of technology architecture and data governance. However, it is dangerous to focus on simply hoarding data in the hope it will be useful in the future. What extracts value from data are steps taken after collection. And to define those steps, an organisation must first define the purpose to which the data will be applied.

IBRS has identified four increasingly sophisticated business models for how data can be applied: business reporting, data visualisation, key performance dashboard and predictive decision support.

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Conclusion: Creating an environment in which IT and business professionals can adapt to a new and remote (also known as alternate work) environment will test the ingenuity of many senior managers.

To meet the challenge, managers must help their staff avoid being anxious and isolated and enable them to easily access their peers for advice and guidance. Failure to keep contact could lead to a decline in productivity and staff not feeling part of the team. Alternately, not having to travel to work sites and work prescribed hours can be a blessing for others.

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IBRS was asked to present on the AI market for 2018 - 2019. This advisory presents an AI market overview for this time with an outlook towards 2025. How has your organisation's AI journey progressed?

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Conclusion: The phrase ‘People, Process and Technology’ describes the three key elements of a successful business. Business is the why, People the who, Process the what, and Technology the how. No single element of the trilogy can be seen as more important than the others. However, in the post-COVID-19 world, successful businesses will see that the focus of People has changed – they no longer go to work, work goes to them.

In technology terms, this effectively means that everyone is now the core of the system; the old concept of a core that is controlled from a central hub is now questionable. Post-COVID-19 technology design must allow for each worker to be able to work from any location, able to access information, services and data when necessary, and for each location to have surge capability.

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Conclusion: Risk assessment tools help protect and support staff and minimise business disruptions by following Australian risk management (and health) guidelines.

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Conclusion: Organisations should tap into their management team (department heads, managers and team leaders) to keep their working-from-home employees committed to the organisation. These organisational leaders have the most direct relationships and therefore are the most qualified to invite engagement from employees and other stakeholders. However, new models for engaging and measuring employees are needed that reflect the shift to virtual teams and virtual management: there is a shift from managing by activity to managing by trust.

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Conclusion: IT services are critical to reducing the impact of pandemics on public health, jobs and the overall wellbeing of nations. To prepare IT for this challenge, organisations should:

  • Embed pandemics management into their business continuity plans
  • Define fallback strategies to operate during pandemics
  • Plan the transition to the normal mode of operations when the time comes

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Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is sweeping across the globe and is being felt by every individual and every organisation. By its very nature, the COVID-19 crisis is global in scope, indefinite in its duration and unknown in its long-term impact. Given the reliance of organisations on their ICT services, particularly at this point in time, CIOs have a unique opportunity to make a significant contribution, showcase their leadership capability and enhance the long-term brand of their ICT teams. All too often under the pressure of a crisis, CIOs will focus on tasks as opposed to the softer elements of leadership. The opportunities this crisis presents should not be wasted. Your leadership is on show.

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IBRS analyst Dr. Joseph Sweeney provides best practice-advice on working from home in the current pandemic situation. Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses current working from home policies which are mandated due to public health reasons, and explains how he has helped many organisations to adopt proper work-from-home practices.

Full Story.

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding the COVID-19 outbreak and the range of impacts on industry have been prominent. While extreme and unforeseen impacts of seemingly small events have been common for vendors and their customers in the past, this pandemic has triggered a wide range of effects, with potentially long-term implications. In all circumstances, vendors need to have strong, yet highly adaptable foundations to accommodate sudden shifts in the market, and adequately support their customers. The outputs and responses to this pandemic will be unique; however, customers will still require experienced vendors to provide services which support changes to business operations, long-term strategies and external issues, such as fluid supply chains, new government regulations/frameworks and economic uncertainties.

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Conclusion: The recent use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions has demonstrated the value of this type of technology to consumers and organisations. It resulted in the recent discovery of new antibiotics, the emergence of self-services (e. g. virtual agents) and the ability to analyse unstructured data to create business value. However, releasing AI solutions without integrating them into the current IT production environment, the corporate network and Cloud will limit the value realisation of artificial intelligence deployments.

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Conclusion: When cost cutting of IT services is on the executive agenda, due to the impact of COVID-19 virus, will it yield low hanging or sour fruit? One area often regarded as low hanging fruit is the amalgamation of SPOC (single point of contact) activities, viz. help desk, service centre and contact or call centre. Combining them is a compelling proposition and demands an informed response.

Put simply, the logic used by management, seeking to amalgamate and reduce costs, is:

  • Similar skills are required so staff can be co-located
  • Staff can become multi-skilled and resolve incidents or software failures of internal (service desk and help desk) and external clients
  • Office space used now will be reduced and by combining the functions
  • Headcount savings will ensue

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Conclusion: Projects in trouble or failing need to be assessed with two main possible outcomes: rescue or discontinue. Organisations should carefully consider whether shutting down a project is a better outcome. If the decision is to discontinue then it should be done in a careful and controlled manner which considers the impact on stakeholders, team members and any residual value that can be extracted.

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Conclusion: Ransomware attacks have been in the news lately with Toll, Talman, Travelex and Manheim Auctions all having their day-to-day operations completely shattered. Many pundits and security product vendors are touting their initiatives to help an organisation defend itself against such an attack.

Despite all best efforts, there is no 100 % guaranteed defence against succumbing to a ransomware attack. So rather than investing still more funds in defensive products, it is well worthwhile creating a strategy to allow a rapid recovery or reestablishment of service after being struck by an attack.

It is possible to develop some strategies, all relatively inexpensive apart from time, that will position an organisation to have an excellent chance of quickly returning to normal productivity after a ransomware attack.

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Conclusion: With an ever-increasing number of cyber-related incidents, cyber security risk has evolved from a technical risk to a strategic enterprise risk. While many organisations have enterprise crisis management and business continuity plans, specific plans to deal with various types of cyberattacks are much less common, even though many of the attack scenarios are well known. Every organisation should have an incident response plan in place and should regularly review and test it. Having a plan in place can dramatically limit damage, improve recovery time and improve the resilience of your business.

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Conclusion: With cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emerging across Australia, many businesses are or should bewell into pandemic planning to ensure they maintain essential services. Teleworking, remote working, or working from home, is a centrepiece of those efforts and will increasingly be implemented by organisations. Cybercrime activity is rising rapidly with actors seeking to exploit the fear and uncertainty in the community. The use of remote working technologies presents additional cyber security challenges that can be different from the more secure on-premise environments. Below is a list of considerations to help guide businesses through these challenges.

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Conclusion: Increasingly, organisations are looking to improve customer experiences through effective business processes. A ready portfolio of electronic services is expected by the market which offers services using online processes. SAP is often at the core of these ecosystems due to its scalability and interconnection with other specialised applications. This type of interconnection of systems has become the new norm.

Data collection, processing, security and privacy are but some of the concerns of customers. Systematic collection of data including seamless integration and extension of processes across multiple applications are part of the customer’s expectations, albeit unseen.

Once SAP forms the core of the ICT ecosystem, the ROI concerns will not stop once SAP integration is complete. Instead, organisations carrying a large SAP licensing investment would naturally dwell on maximising the ROI. Let us explore the risks associated with achieving this ROI now SAP has shifted the definition of user licensing.

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Conclusion: Organisations will typically have employees of different cultural backgrounds. As teams expand and organisations become more global, managers may find themselves managing whole teams based in countries other than their own. A lot of the time, management will by necessity have to be done remotely.

Managers need to be very aware that management cultural diversity needs to be considered, especially in areas such as communication, decision making, coaching, support and dealing with any issues or conflicts. Trust is a key element of successful manager/employee engagement and is critical when managing remote teams who may have significant management cultural differences.

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Conclusion: An ERP implementation can be one of an organisation’s biggest investments when considering implementation services, licences, hosting and support. ERP implementations and major version upgrades continue to be endorsed the world over, suggesting ROI continues to be positive. In scenarios where an ERP tool has been implemented or upgraded but has not been reviewed for years, especially in a changing operating environment, the intermediate step of a health check can drive significant value through adjusting and performing minor upgrades to the system for less investment than a new implementation or major upgrade.

As health checks are a periodic activity outside of business-as-usual, they often benefit from a different perspective, so organisations often use external consultants. While health checks should yield outputs that consider risk and value, ensuring the accuracy of findings is paramount in ensuring targeted value creation. To do this, organisations should consider several factors in the setup, execution and output of health checks.

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Conclusion: Organisations that are nearing the end of life for their current voice platforms or have a compelling event to hinge the replacement of their voice service, need to review their use of voice before replacing the technology. IBRS recommends organisations look to leverage voice as an application to operationalise the processes within the organisation, and improve customer satisfaction.

Today the newer technology offerings allow your organisation to get a better return from voice. However, the use of these new technologies will impact business processes and offer greater innovation for your customer interaction. It will not be a simple replacement of boxes.

The key is understanding the power of voice. It is now an application driven by smart software. Businesses need to assess their use of voice to determine the cost benefit of the changes in the technology stack now on offer.

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Conclusion: A common pitfall experienced by service-orientated organisations is the disconnect between its digital efforts and its marketing program. In good practice, marketing efforts should underpin your digital strategy. This can be achieved by unifying marketing’s focus on customer and staff engagement, communications and promotion with the leveraging of digital channels to conduct these activities.

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Conclusion: Being Cloud-based, Microsoft’s Office 365 includes features that would traditionally be considered backup. According to the Microsoft Office Trust Center, Microsoft establishes itself as a data processor with a primary focus on data privacy and management. It is not responsible for compliance or backup, but reliability and availability. As a result, Microsoft may not be able to provide security and protection to data in a way that meets an organisation’s compliance requirements.

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Conclusion: Covid-19 has already had severe global impacts even though the total impact is yet to be fully dimensioned. Further restrictions are foreseen in Australia. Its implications will be long term and disrupt the way we conduct business in future and the way we interact socially and a ‘new normal’ will emerge. No business will be immune and during this dislocation both challenges and opportunities will arise.

At IBRS we believe that it is critical to take the long view on how the crisis will evolve and be prepared for the waves of change which will follow.

Download your COVID-19 Survival Kit Covid-19-Survival-Kit.pdf

Is your Working From Home Policy causing you grief?

Most organisations’ Working From Home policies are created under the assumption that people would be seeking permission to remote work. As a result, they focus on things that are simply not applicable to, or even blockers for, mandated working from home and self-isolation. 

Worse, many policies have clauses that are impossible to enforce during this pandemic, go against government recommendations and potentially open the organisation up for workplace challenges. At the very least, older WHF policies can confuse and worry staff.

To help, IBRS has created a template for a simple, practical WHF policy, written in staff-friendly language. You can quickly customise and download this policy template as a Microsoft Word file.

Click here to create your Working From Home Policy template

 

IBRS workforce transformation advisor Joseph Sweeney said many government departments had to navigate difficult IT environments that were only part-way through their digital transformations, with some systems in the cloud, and other legacy software still on premise.

Full Story.

With the outbreak and continued spread of the recent Coranavirus, or COVID-19, your business continuity plan (BCP) may need to be put in motion.

IBRS has created the Business Continuity Planning: Pandemic Scenario template to test your BCP using the potential COVID-19 pandemic.

Download and use this template to ensure your organisation is well prepared.

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"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done; it is an ongoing evolution within any organisation and requires constant care and feeding," IBRS adviser Peter Sandilands said.

"The big four has done a lot of their security work using fresh grads. They can use the tools but don't necessarily understand the real world implications."

Full Story.

NewsIBRS advisor Dr Joseph Sweeney has been tracking the three major Cloud vendors capabilities in AI and said Google is right to believe it has an edge over AWS and Microsoft when it comes to corpus (the data that 'feeds' certain AI applications) and also in AI application infrastructure cost and performance. However, he said this advantage was not materialising into significant gains in the Australian market.

Full Story.

Conclusion: This month has seen a surge in merger and acquisition transactions, and discussions regarding the increased level of acquisitions in the past year. A growing trend of private equity firms investing in service providers was also flagged. This represents a shift in the market, as vendors become more established, profitable and more attractive to private equity investors. The opportunity to drive greater profitability, and demand for specialised technologies and services, also act as incentives for investment and provide vendors with resources to develop and offer a wide range of targeted, high-quality services to their customers.

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Conclusion: Once a project is in trouble and the first response of escalation of commitment in terms of allocating time, budget and resources in an attempt to recover the project has not been successful, the project can be considered as not just troubled but in real crisis. Recognition of a project in crisis is the first step to recovery and often the most difficult. Next steps involve putting the project into triage and preparing the project for the detailed assessment phase which provides critical information, options and the potential important decision to kill the project or recover.

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Conclusion: The increased proliferation of critical digital services has resulted in ransomware attacks becoming one of hackers’ means to make money. As a consequence, many organisations have become the victims of such attacks. IT organisations should implement a full recovery strategy to restore IT services in the event of ransomware attacks. The recovery strategy should become an integral part of the disaster recovery plan. This will raise business stakeholders’ trust in the service security and reduce the spread of this type of IT organised crime.

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Conclusion: A Cloud strategy can take many forms. Whether you select a private Cloud, hybrid Cloud (on-premise with Cloud elements), native Cloud or a multiCloud implementation will impact the framework of your strategy. The success of your strategy will be driven by the motivation your organisation has to elect the move.

If your only motivation is the perceived cost model where you reduce capital in favour of operational expense, and potentially see savings based on usage, you are unlikely to succeed. The need to have a clear business strategy on why Cloud, what opportunities it may bring the business, and how to transition, manage and exit the Cloud is essential to see the true benefits.

Key to a successful strategy is to use an effective framework that allows your organisation to migrate to, operate and govern the engagement, and exit the engagement. A Cloud strategy is a commercial arrangement. Understanding the business benefits of entering into a Cloud contract engagement and being able to measure success factors is equally as important as the selection of providers for functionality and cost. It is important that you step into Cloud with your eyes wide open.

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