The financial press has begun using the term GFC as a short form for the Global Financial Crisis. Whilst outside the scope of this paper to speculate on the length and socio-economic effects of the GFC, there is no doubt that its impact will be experienced widely across business sectors and indeed within government. As consumer confidence recedes, corporate earnings shrink and revenue forecasts are revised downward, nothing is more certain than IT budgets being trimmed in 2009.

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Conclusion: Video conferencing (VC) solutions have split into five different strands, each of which must be considered when planning to implement an Enterprise Video Communications (EVC) solution. Technology should not be the deciding factor when selecting an EVC. The main reasons video communications / conferencing implementations fail is not related to technology, but to mismatched user expectations resulting from a lack of training and change management, poor environmental considerations (room design, lighting, seating and so on), inconsistent interfaces and poorly engineered integration of components. Address these points of failure when evaluating EVC solutions.

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Conclusion: Because cross-enterprise projects cross management responsibility boundaries and change the way people work, resistance is inevitable. To minimise resistance, start the project only when all plans have been agreed and skilled resources, including change managers, are available.

If the project is started before minimisation initiatives are implemented, counter implementers, who thrive when there is uncertainty, will create resistance and put success at risk.

Project managers and the governance group for cross enterprise projects must be aware of the risks of failure and not be daunted by them. Success comes to those who minimise the political (or people-related) risks. Appoint the right professionals to implement the project and break it up into ‘bite sized chunks’ in which usable results are possible.

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Conclusion: In our experience many Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives end up well short of their original objectives. But all is not lost. Sometimes it helps to learn from the experiences of others. For those:

  • Intending to embark on a new BI initiative
  • Working to remediate a BI strategy that had lost momentum.

This research paper examines some case studies and examples which reference breakthrough approaches and reflect the sometimes arduous travails involved in dealing with the many challenges presented by BI projects.

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Conclusion: The ability of organisations to implement major strategic business initiatives is to a large degree dependent on their ability to successfully execute the program of projects on which these strategies are reliant. Despite the importance of such programs most organisations, while accustomed to the demands of managing individual projects, often lack the skills and experience required to manage the complexity of such programs. The recruitment of an experienced program manager to lead the program and an integrated approach to program governance and planning can go a long way to ensuring a successful outcome.

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Conclusion: Business process and software modelling tools provide a good example of a domain with an impressive number of industry standards, many of which are of questionable value. Although software modelling is an extremely valuable activity, and many of the available tools are of high quality, there are significant shortcomings in terms of practical interoperability. The current situation is the result of a broken process for software industry standard development and false expectation. Corresponding lessons have already been learned in other IT disciplines, indicating a path towards practical interoperability.

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Conclusion: Reducing the environmental footprint of the Desktop has become an important topic for many organisations. Astute CIOs will implement simple measurement processes to test vendors’ claims and separate the ‘green washing hype’ from the truly effective changes.

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Related Articles:

"Greening Your Desktop Part II: Pick the Low Hanging Fruit" IBRS, 2008-10-31 00:00:00

Conclusion: Despite the growing body of information available on data breaches, many executives remain unjustifiably overconfident in their organisations’ security capabilities. (Ironically, this overconfidence is reflected in the contributing causes of data breaches.) Organisations will not be breached through their strongest points of defence – the points organisations have most confidence in – they will be breached through their weakest points. The lesson from past data breaches is that these weaknesses are likely to be areas which have been overlooked. It is the unknown unknowns that undermine information security.

These unknown unknowns can only be identified by people who have not been instilled with the same assumptions that the organisation is already working with. It is only through encouraging designated people, and third parties, to challenge assumptions and voice dissent that organisations stand a chance of avoiding the trap of insecurity-by-consensus.

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To successfully transition an acquisition or merger into the acquirer’s corporate IT systems, people and cultural issues need to be taken into account and the necessary steps taken to understand and minimise the effects such issues may have on a successful transition.

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Conclusion: The International Standards Organisation has just released a new International Standard that focuses on Disaster Planning for IT1. This new standard reflects the changed/outsourced IT world. It provides guidelines for information technology disaster recovery services as part of business continuity management that apply to both “in-house” and “outsourced” ICT environments. This new approach for Disaster Recovery (DR) Standards should stimulate organisations to re-examine their IT DR plans to ensure that they meet current best practice and that the processes they are using to maintain their DR planning are satisfactory.

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Conclusion: Web analytic tools are so pervasive and widely used it hardly seems necessary to consider their capabilities and implementation. Yet businesses and other organisations may under-use, their Web analytics software. In which case they are not obtaining the value they expected.

The evidence from both measured and anecdotal sources is that organisations that achieve the greatest gains through Web analytics have used a process to select the right tool for their needs, then integrated it well, and trained their staff to use the system to segment visitors, understand their engagement, and quantify the effectiveness of the website.

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Last month’s issue of the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) contained a timely article on the role of formal methods in the design and construction of software systems. The article drives home the point that much of software development today still amounts to "radical design" when viewed from the perspective of established engineering disciplines and that, to date, there are only a limited number of areas for which established "normalised software designs" exist. But this picture is slowly starting to change, as model-driven approaches offer economically attractive ways of packaging deep domain knowledge as reusable "normalised designs".

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A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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Conclusion: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is concise and promotes many effective controls – most of which can be achieved through business process reengineering or redesign. Software and hardware vendors talk about fines for non-compliance, but unlike the US, these fines are almost non-existent in Australia. As such, PCI DSS has no stick but there is the possibility of a carrot: a lower risk profile.

Many organisations confuse receiving credit card payment with handling cardholder data1. These are not the same thing and CIOs should challenge the assumption that it is necessary to handle the cardholder data. Only organisations that absolutely must handle cardholder data should become PCI DSS compliant. Otherwise, organisations should reduce their risk profile by not handling cardholder data at all.

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Conclusion: To gain insight into C-level executive intentions with information management, Accenture carried out a global survey2 in 2007. Whilst the majority of respondents had well-developed views on the power of Business Intelligence (BI) as a strategic differentiator, the report unearthed an underlying frustration in achieving their vision of an organisation-wide BI capability. This echoes our experiences in the ANZ market in which we observe many CIOs struggling to bring their complete BI visions to reality.

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Conclusion: Waste is a normal consequence of marketing. It appears as high budgets in costly marketing channels, which can occasionally under-deliver a solid return on investment. In buoyant economic times wastage is accepted, but in a downturn, as is occurring now, alternatives are sought to improve efficiency, become more 'accountable' and cut all wastage.

In response, the typical strategy is to reduce budgets and seek cheaper alternative marketing channels. While these strategies are proven, to improve marketing investment returns a major piece of information is still missing, in good and bad times: that is, to have better information on consumer purchasing behaviour with special reference to the adoption cycle.

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Conclusion: Unless organisations invest in workplace transformation initiatives when acquiring expensive collaboration tools, they are unlikely to create an innovative and knowledge rich workforce. This is because while the tools such as software and video / web conferencing equipment may be used by a core group, widespread assimilation will probably only occur when sound relationship management practices are introduced.

To facilitate assimilation a comprehensive workplace collaboration plan is needed. This plan must include, at a minimum, targeted selling of the solution (different people need different strokes), helping stakeholders form like minded interest groups or virtual teams while ensuring members appreciate one another’s contribution.

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To maximise the chances for a successful implementation of significant business application software projects involving third party vendors, the preparation and publication of a well structured and detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) is essential. The difference between the success or failure of these projects can often depend on the quality and completeness of this document.

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Conclusion: Standards Australia has developed and published the Australian Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Governance Standard1, the first government driven ICT Governance Standard in the world. This provides an opportunity for ICT dependent organisations to revisit their ICT governance and confirm it meets agreed good practice. It is also a useful template for any organisation that is setting up or re-examining its ICT governance, policies, and procedures. It should be used by company directors, owners of small businesses, and other organisations to recognise and accept their ICT responsibilities and to set in place processes that ensure that ICT meets these obligations.

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Conclusion: Building a business case for supporting Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) is similar to building a case for Collaboration and Unified Communications. At this point in the technology’s evolution, business cases will rarely be able to be based purely on financial models because it is difficult to identify the productivity benefits of PEDs as discrete and measurable elements. 1 However, this does not mean that PEDs have no role to play in modern enterprises. IBRS proposes that organisations consider the benefits of PEDs via an appraisal model aimed at identifying individuals and applications with a need for greater communication and collaboration. One such model is working spheres.

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Related Articles:

"PED Antics part 1: The broken promise" IBRS, 2008-07-28 00:00:00

Conclusion: Historically, the main barriers to mobility were the high cost and the limited capabilities of the mobile devices and the mobile data network. With network and device costs plummeting, 3G network bandwidth good enough, and the computing capacity of recent mobile devices rivalling laptops from a few years ago, these barriers have now been all but eliminated.

The new mobility barriers are the lack of a robust Identity and Access Management infrastructure to securely authenticate users and determine their access level and the rigid Standard Operating Environment (SOE) currently used to manage desktop complexity.

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A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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Conclusion: It is all good and well to talk about alignment between business and IT, but it is easy to get trapped – either in purely theoretical business process models that bear little resemblance to reality, or in technical jargon associated with the latest and greatest implementation technologies. Given appropriate executive backing, significant productivity and quality gains can be achieved within six months or less by implementing a small number of fundamental best practices.

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Conclusion: Stakeholder management is a critical, but often overlooked aspect of project management. Insufficient attention to the needs and attitudes of project stakeholders can lead to project failure even when the more well known components of project management have been addressed.

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As countries struggle to improve their populations’ dietary habits, now may be the right time to borrow an idea from the ICT industry: just claim it, whatever it might be, leads to higher productivity. The argument seems to work because products that linger on shelves start to move with this simple but effective message. It also motivates policymakers to design grand projects on the basis of productivity gains; it is at the centre of how business is done and it provides an unassailable argument. No one would deny the benefits of productivity.

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IBRS conducted an online survey of prequalified IT decision makers in Australia & New Zealand. The respondents were asked questions focusing on their experience of operational issues relating to identity and access management. The results of this survey are presented in this report, and a high level analysis is given.

A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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Conclusion: The corporate battle for search supremacy between Microsoft and Google over Yahoo! has been a good spectator sport for several months. So far it’s unresolved, but it should refocus attention on search marketing strategy, on optimal tactical channel selection and the opportunities that may emerge from a new landscape in search marketing.

With changing conditions in the economy leading to greater uncertainty, organisations ought to use this time to re-examine their search strategies and to look for better value and accountability from search channel suppliers.

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Conclusion: While Virtual Desktops are one of the hottest infrastructure topics of 2008, simply virtualising a typical desktop environment and migrating that to the data centre will prove to be a very costly mistake. Instead organisations should look beyond the Virtual Desktop hype and focus on implementing a Dynamic Desktop architecture that increases desktop agility and lowers the total cost of ownership. Once adopted the Dynamic Desktop architecture can be used with any type of desktop deployment method, i.e., Full Desktop, Virtual Desktop or Terminal Services, and becomes the foundation for reducing desktop cost and increasing desktop flexibility.

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Conclusion: Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are flooding into enterprises. In addition to the technical challenges and costs PEDs place on IT departments, PEDs may be actually hindering service quality and productivity. Management need to step back from the promises that PEDs offer, and take a long, hard, pragmatic look at how these devices are really being used.

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Related Articles:

"PED Antics part 2: a collaborative perspective" IBRS, 2008-08-28 00:00:00

Where a major information technology project is discontinued; failure to provide this will result in a significant project financial loss, diminished credibility for the IT Department and, for mission critical projects, could mean a loss of revenue for the organisation.

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Conclusion: In the current credit and liquidity market investors demand more transparency, and accurate and timely product and market information, yet most legacy banking systems are not up to the job. There is a strong business case for replacing legacy banking systems to restore organisational agility, and to improve the quality of service offered to customers.

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Conclusion: Organisations considering outsourcing are increasingly focusing on the ability of service providers to implement effective relationship management in their outsourcing arrangements. A systematic approach to the evaluation of service provider relationship management capabilities is more likely to lead to the selection of a service provider who will be able to work with the buying organisation to help it achieve its outsourcing goals.

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Conclusion: The threat of a data breach (unauthorised access to data) is not just from hackers, and not just as a result of malicious intent. Carelessness and oversight by trusted inside sources has been shown, repeatedly, to be the root cause of numerous data breaches. Recognising this, many organisations (particularly in government and finance) include security awareness training as part of an employee's induction.

But this one-time security awareness training is easily lost in the information overload experienced by new starters. Security awareness training is vital but in order to realise the benefits, and prevent the acts of carelessness, it is even more important to repeatedly expose employees to the training to keep their level of security awareness elevated. Elevated security awareness helps create the human firewall: probably the most cost effective security resource you can get.

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Conclusion: Unless an organisation consistently conducts project PIRs (Post Implementation Reviews) for business systems (IS development, staff training and business process redesign) and IT Infrastructure projects it cannot claim to be learning organisation.

Done well the reviews can help avoid mistakes of the past, sustain the project’s benefits and aid staff development.

Organisations that do not review outcomes from business systems and IT Infrastructure projects, or do review them but pay little attention to the lessons learned, will probably continue to make unwise business systems investment decisions and fail to develop their people. 

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Conclusion: Business departments not getting the services they want from their IT departments see Software as a Service (SaaS) as a very attractive alternative to get applications currently not being provided or to replace unsatisfactory or poorly supported applications. CIOs must be prepared to find (possibly renegade) SaaS applications in use in their organisations. They must set in place the relevant support and appropriately skilled staff to manage this potentially disruptive technology.

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Conclusion: In March 2001 the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a management brief1 addressing problems in implementing large IT projects in the public and private sectors. Observations in this report included “...budgets are exceeded, deadlines are over-run and often the quality of the new system is far below the standard agreed when the project was undertaken”.

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Your organisation is planning to outsource some of its IT functions. You have a competent purchasing group, a long standing arrangement with a firm of legal advisors and an experienced IT management team ready to go. So your expectation is that you should be able to handle the selection and transition to a service provider without resorting to external advisors.

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Conclusion: The usefulness of Web based applications is not limited to the provision of Web-enabled front-ends to traditional business software. The Web also allows the design of applications that are capable of putting powerful human intelligence at our fingertips. Tapping into that intelligence to solve truly hard problems possibly constitutes the next disruptive innovation. Intelligence has never been cheaper!

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Conclusion: Managers who can retain their best people are well on the way to a successful career. Because many IT professionals and managers have unique skills their retention is vital to business success. Conversely when they resign ‘with regret’, their loss may delay projects, increase system failures and adversely affect their manager’s career.

Astute managers identify their best people and develop strategies to keep them as well as their likely successors. It is called career protection insurance.

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