Conclusion: Over the last 20 years data management has typically focused on structured data, and as a result most IT organisations now do a good job managing structured data and turning it into useful information that supports the business. However, many IT organisations have reached a tipping point where more than half of all their electronic data is unstructured, and the very high growth rates for unstructured data will ensure that this capacity balance rapidly shifts away from the traditional structured data “comfort zone”.

To cope with this rapid transition to unstructured data, IT organisations must learn to manage unstructured data as successfully as they currently manage structured data. To accomplish this, the IT organisation needs to work with the business to define a data management policy and then implement unstructured data management systems to enforce that policy. Since e-mail is usually the largest unstructured data repository, and often the de-facto records management system, we recommend starting with e-mail.

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IT due diligence is primarily undertaken to understand the target business IT systems with a view to establishing the resources and costs involved in integrating them into the acquirer’s IT systems, the possibility of the target business having a more suitable IT infrastructure already in place should not be ignored. The IT due diligence exercise must be exhaustive and particular emphasis placed on reviewing and understanding contracts with third parties and the possibilities of rationalising software licences. These are areas where value can often be added in the form of cost savings and improved processes.

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

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Conclusion: e-Learning technology has evolved substantially over the past two decades, but it is only in the past three years that inroads have been made into matching educational pedagogy (the study of educational practices and the processes of learning) with e-learning.

Advances in collaborative solutions coupled with a better understanding of how people learn, have given organisations the opportunity to improve employee education. E-learning initiatives that leverage educational pedagogy and collaboration can result in greater efficiency, increased customer satisfaction and more targeted learning activities based on business performance indicators.

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Recent research has concluded that Australia is far removed from the popularly held view of a casual, laid back sunburned country with a “she’ll be right” attitude to business and life in general. Now it appears that Australians are the second hardest working nation in the world with 22% of the labour force working in excess of 50 hours a week and 30% regularly working weekends.

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Conclusion: While the hype surrounding collaboration technologies and Web 2.0 services reaches fever pitch within the media, vendors and business managers alike, it will serve organisations well to stop and think carefully about what the buzzword collaboration really means for organisational processes, structures and efficiencies. When collaboration services are misaligned with business objectives, they will hinder, not aid, productivity. Having a model to categorise different forms – or modes – of collaboration is an important first-step in accurately matching technologies to different collaborative applications.

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Conclusion: Although without a firm launch date, the Google phone offers another interesting facet of Google’s relentless pursuit of digital media domination. While it may add some interesting competition to the mobile market, telephony is the least interesting aspect of the innovation.

The potential – at this stage that’s all there is – of Google’s phone on search and mobile directory services, all of which are related to advertising, looms larger and larger. It may a genuine catalyst in the development of Web 2.0 services, and along the way cause some anxiety to traditional media, Telco and directory service providers.

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An Enterprise Content Management System is an important part of the IT architectural model in supporting common processes across an organisation for the management of information. However the selection and implementation of a whole of business solution can involve significant cultural change which must be managed carefully. It may be that an organisation would be better served by implementing a number of point solutions rather than a fully configured whole of business system.

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Conclusion: In the last seven years Domain Specific Modeling and Model-Driven Software Development have emerged as fundamentally new paradigms for software development. Upon closer examination however, there is a familiar pattern at work. The new approaches represent a shift to a higher level of abstraction, not unlike the shift from assembly language to higher-level languages thirty years ago.

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Conclusion: Privacy is now a public issue. Consequently, many of the recommendations for the Australian Privacy Act will likely be accepted because they reflect good practice, and are in harmony with international data privacy trends. However, these amendments to the Privacy Act will introduce added complexity and expense to the management of personal data.

The danger right now is that organisations may try to dodge the cost of compliance by doing as little preparation as possible. Widespread, legally mandated, disclosures of data breaches would wreak havoc with consumer confidence in online transactions. Australian organisations, both large and small, cannot afford that loss of faith.

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A recent discussion of software development methodologies with a colleague ended in the joint conclusion that the way software is developed today apparently has a lot to do with process elements that are best described as “rituals”. Often these rituals work as expected, but sometimes they don’t.

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Conclusion: Of growing interest to senior IT executives is the effective practice of vendor management. Because this is where many client/vendor relationships commence, IT procurement lies at the very heart of vendor management. This is the second in a series of two articles that highlights the critical nature of IT procurement and some of the steps that can be taken in order to gain effective and timely outcomes.

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Conclusion: Evolutionary changes in the composition of the IT workforce 1 will continue to occur in mature organisations in next 3 to 5 years, but in immature organisations, where the focus is on today’s operations only, revolutionary change will be needed to enable the IT workforce to maximise the benefits from IT-related investment.

Fuelling the need for change in the IT workforce is the continuous enhancement of desk top and business process automation software combined with an increasingly IT literate workforce keen to exploit the latest technologies. In the opposite corner is the need to maintain business systems as usual, keep costs under control and minimise risks from uncontrolled use of the Internet. Senior management’s role is to hold the competing interests in tension.

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

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Conclusion: Outsourcing of IT services is increasingly used as a strategic initiative to support the achievement of business strategies for organisations. As a result the contract agreement between the organisation and the service provider has become even more important as it provides the foundation, and sets the boundaries, for the outsourcing. Negotiations associated with the development of the agreement also provide the first opportunity for the organisation and the service provider to develop an effective working relationship.

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Conclusions:When an organisation needs to trigger its Business Continuity Plan (BCP), and: it does not exist, or is untested, or is non viable, or it fails when activated..... the results are likely to be catastrophic. It is probable that its operations will not recover smoothly, if at all, and the business will be severely impacted, possibly unable to continue operations.

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Conclusion: Since the announcement by VMware of the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) initiative there has been a strong resurgence in interest in Thin Desktops. While there is a business case for a Thin Desktop, the benefits are often overhyped and it is not the universal panacea for desktop deployment as portrayed by some vendors.

While nearly every organisation uses Citrix Presentation Server or Microsoft Terminal Services, only a minority (6%) use these as a strategic technology to deliver an entire desktop, while the majority simply use them as a tactical solution to specific application delivery issues. In spite of VMware’s incredible success with Server Virtualisation, VDI will most likely follow in the footsteps of Citrix and Microsoft Terminal Services and be limited to a tactical solution instead of being a replacement for traditional desktop deployment.

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There can be significant gains in efficiencies and cost savings as well as environmental benefits through implementing managed print services. Because managed print services can have a significant affect on existing work practices IT management must be fully involved with key end users in the service evaluation process to ensure their understanding is sound and acceptance is reached with the minimum incident.

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Conclusion: Server virtualisation will continue to be one of the most important IT infrastructure trends for the next few years. However, the same cannot be said of storage virtualisation which is poorly defined, poorly understood and not widely used. Infrastructure managers must understand the realities of storage virtualisation, learn to separate vendor hype from facts, and discover where it can be applied to give real benefits.

Over the next 2 years network based storage virtualisation will remain a niche, while thin provisioning enjoys rapid adoption and becomes the storage virtualisation technique most talked about.

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Conclusion: Business units and end users are calling for, if not demanding, IT managers to deploy Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint is this years ‘must have’ product1 - however few understand what SharePoint is, what it does well and what alternatives exist. SharePoint initiatives will backfire without significant effort to ensure that an organisation is properly educated, specific applications and business needs are identified, and realistic expectations are set.

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Conclusions: Mobility and the exploitation of applications and content on mobile devices have been growing with furious speed in the last year. Although some organisations are moving to broaden or enhance their distribution channels through mobile, many Australasian organisations are employing a “smoke and mirrors” strategy to disguise their tardiness.

The mobile opportunity is ready and waiting and now is the time to be making real plans to realise that opportunity.

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Due to the availability of desk top software solutions for budgeting and forecasts and widespread use of Business Intelligence software to analyse and report results, it is not surprising that the need to improve data quality in reporting emerged as the most frequently cited technology concern of respondents in a recent survey of financial executives1.

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

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Conclusion: A common concern of many senior IT managers is their uncertainty regarding the capabilities of their people and the effectiveness of their service delivery processes. This uncertainty usually manifests itself when developing forward work plans, e.g. after the Budget or Planning cycle when the gap between capabilities needed and available becomes evident.

To reduce the uncertainty when doing work plans, one option is to self-assess existing competencies and practices using a framework, suggested below, and identify the capability gap.

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Conclusion: Most major IT procurement activity is oriented around acquiring software or services, the impacts of which are likely to have profound, organisation-wide consequences. As such, the cost of making mistakes, or indeed making poor choices, can be extremely high. Some of the consequences may include one or more of the following: 

  • Business benefits not being realised;

  • Budgets being exceeded;

  • Project execution times being extended; and

  • Organisational reputation being damaged.

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Conclusions: While there is now an increasing emphasis on Business Continuity Management (BCM), many organisations still focus on disaster recovery planning. Unwisely they restrict their focus to restoring IT infrastructure, giving only a “cursory nod” towards a more holistic business orientation that focuses on all critical business operations. Some create an artificial air of confidence by developing their business continuity plans and then not proving them. Others have little appreciation of the quality of their Business Continuity Plans (BCP) and whether or not they meet good practice. In all these cases there can be no assurance that the BCPs will be of any practical use if and when they are needed. The outcome will be, at least, serious and could be catastrophic.

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Conclusion: In the last seven years Domain Specific Modeling (DSM) and Model-Driven Software Development (MDSD/MDD) have emerged as fundamentally new paradigms for software development. Upon closer examination however, there is a familiar pattern at work. The new approaches represent a shift to a higher level of abstraction, not unlike the shift from assembly language to higher-level languages thirty years ago.

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Conclusion: The combination of new requirements for quality control in software development and the looming skills crisis in Asia will drive multiple initiatives in the software industry. These initiatives include: vendor consolidation (particularly in platforms); a fundamental shift in the role of internal IT organisations; and an explosion of innovative and pragmatic mini-applications that are developed and owned by the business unit rather than traditional IT departments. Because these mini-apps are driven and owned by the business unit, they are more aligned to business needs than the current wave of mismatched ‘collaborative Web 2.0’ applications.

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Conclusion: As a result of dissatisfaction with their initial outsourcing arrangement, some organisations have decided to move their IT services back in-house or to adopt a selective sourcing approach. Others have rethought their approach to outsourcing and have moved to an outsourcing model that is more flexible and more closely aligned to business goals and strategies. This has necessitated a different approach to the outsourcing relationship, an even greater emphasis on governance, and a more open approach to the relationship between the client organisation and the service provider.

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Conclusion: Since the advent of e-Commerce executive management has become acutely aware that their business systems are transparent to their clients and their data network exposed to hackers. This has forced many to rethink the role of strategic systems planning and integration.

To meet the need and present the best possible image to clients many organisations have elevated the role of the EA (Enterprise Architect), often with an attractive remuneration package.

The EA’s charter, put simply, is to determine and implement the framework needed to:

  • Ensure all business systems are developed to meet the requirements of the Mission;

  • Make the delivery of business systems appear seamless to clients;

  • Reduce systems complexity and support costs by adopting common platforms to develop and deliver business systems;

  • Ensure the right software and hardware solutions are used and data is protected against unauthorised access.

Determining what framework is able to best support the charter as above and implementing the framework with its associated changes has both a political (organisational) and technical dimension. This means executive management and the EA need to think identify the best framework, influence stakeholders to adopt it and provide direction to staff who need to use it to develop business systems.

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Conclusion: The often expressed dissatisfaction with outsourcing has lead many organisations to consider backsourcing their outsourced IT services. This is often done without due consideration being given to another option i.e. selectively sourcing IT services. When this option is considered many organisations have found it to be a more attractive option than backsourcing, with significant benefits and less of the complications associated with bringing IT back in-house.

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Conclusion: The increased focus on the environmental impact of ICT activities makes it essential that organisations making ICT purchasing decisions focus on the virtuous triple bottom line of economic viability, social responsibility, and environmental impact. Purchase agreements or tender requests for ICT goods and services should explicitly require vendors to demonstrate how and where their products meet the buyer's environmental requirements.

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Conclusion: Fundamental to any consideration of mobile banking will have to be a balance between risk and convenience; and that applies equally to both bank and customer. Even with the choice of secure technology the viability of mobile banking as a service will reside in its adoption, or not, by customers.

Worldwide the expansion of mobile banking is varied and the key factor in its sustainability is not technology but most probably customer acceptance. Any bank considering such real transactional services should conduct research into its likely acceptance with its customers thoroughly and use the responses to decide if mobile banking is likely to be a good deal for both parties.

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How often have we seen it in recent years? IT Management journals with articles about the need for CIO’s to get closer to the business. In many cases it is suggested that in order to add value to the business, the CIO should become involved in the development of business strategies and to put forward proposals for the use of technology to support the implementation of these strategies.

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Conclusion: With climate change a hot social issue, organisations with a “Social Responsibility” strategic objective are looking at ways to reduce their environmental impact and the IT organisation, like other areas of business, is expected to find ways to reduce their carbon foot print.

The data centre is a prime target for a few “quick wins” because in most organisations it houses a significant proportion of IT resources, and it is the area over which IT has the greatest control. IT organisations should start with short-term initiatives that are self-funding (i.e., payback period < 12 months) and which can be accomplished with little or no capital investment. With server 3-years power and cooling costs now comparable to server acquisition costs, Infrastructure Managers must look at optimising data centre energy efficiency.

In the last 18 months, many hardware vendors have jumped on the Green IT bandwagon to try and differentiate their offerings in a rapidly commodifying market. IT organisations must carefully evaluate vendors’ claims to separate the marketing hype from the reality. Purchase agreements or tender requests for ICT goods and services should explicitly require vendors to demonstrate how and where their products meet the buyer’s environmental requirements1.

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Conclusion: At the start of the year a resurgence of interest in Identity Management was heralded as one of a series of IBRS technology predictions for 2007. Subsequent vendor activity1 has borne this out and more market activity is likely to follow.

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

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Conclusion: Quasi-pervasive web connectivity in combination with more sophisticated software services that cope gracefully with short-term loss of connection are changing the landscape in which software product vendors operate. The shift in brand-awareness and power in recent years from traditional IT giants Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle towards web-based brands such as Google is one of several observable indicators of the transition of the web from a primarily static information repository to a highly dynamic ultra-large scale system.

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To enhance the relationship between the clients and the IT Department it is important that IT’s contribution is marketed successfully internally. Encouraging and implementing a service mentality within the IT department, constantly delivering a high level of service and support, and ensuring the transparency of IT through constant, good quality communication to IT users are important factors in marketing IT internally.

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As technology plays and increasingly important role in marketing, especially with the rise of online marketing and its influence on real-world marketing programs, a myriad of jargon has evolved from both the technical and marketing camps of the business. Unfortunately, not all of this jargon is readily understood by both camps and misunderstandings are common. This document provides definitions of essential marketing terms for technologists and fundamental technology terms for marketers.

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