Conclusion: To prepare for the inevitable questioning by senior management of whether an expense line item can be reduced, management must review its breakdown and be prepared to justify it to senior management when asked. Responses must highlight the business risks that will ensue should a selected expense line item in the ICT opex (operating) and capex (capital) expense budgets be reduced. Failing to frame the response in business (risks) terms could delay the review and reflect poorly on ICT management.

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Conclusion: As a result of COVID-19, has the criticality of web presence for your business changed? Is your organisation now exposed to threats and risks that previously were a lower order concern? Are there advantages to be gained in the realignment of the organisation’s web strategy?

IBRS recommends organisations assess the vision statement for its web presence. Once the vision is clear, review the framework for delivery and sustainment, the processes, and the roles and responsibilities for online web services, as a result of the impact of COVID-19. The purpose of the review is to ensure your organisation leverages the strengths and opportunities of the organisation’s online presence resulting from the impact of COVID-19.

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Conclusion: The traditional IT service management (ITSM) tools have allowed IT organisations to automate key IT processes (e. g. incident management), promote service management disciplines and meet service levels in the majority of cases. However, they were limited in identifying service issues before impacting business operations, managing multi-Cloud environments and lacking the required speed to empower the digital transformation initiatives (e. g. releasing new software to production). Organisations wishing to modernise their IT service management practices should evaluate the new generation ITSM tools to determine their suitability and cost-effectiveness to improve their business operations.

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Post-pandemics require changes to IT services, vendors' contracts and service levels. Organisations must re-examine their service foundations to meet business expectations and remain compliant with policies and legislation during and post-pandemics.

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IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.

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Conclusion: Many organisations have now contained the COVID-19 crisis and stabilised their operations. The focus is now rapidly shifting towards the recovery phase. While the full implications of the 'new normal' are yet to be fully understood, it clear that industry sectors will be impacted very differently. What are the three mega trends emerging in the post COVID-19 world.

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Conclusion: This month there has been a focus on the impact of the current economic environment on managed service providers. Declines in vendor service uptake, or difficulties experienced by existing customers, have resulted in the need for providers to adapt in an uncertain environment. New measures adopted by vendors when dealing with customers have included the revision of traditional business and payment models, increased flexibility with service contracts, and client support packages. Internally, vendor strategies include tightened cashflow management and regular communication with suppliers to mitigate disruptions that can have flow-on effects to their own customers. Whilst there has been a growth in demand for vendors to provide new and more complex solutions to cater to new work practices and business operations, vendors must work to maintain the integrity of their services. The re-diversion or loss of staff can impact on a vendor’s capacity to provide quality managed services, resulting in vulnerabilities. Vendors must adapt customer engagement practices in order to cater to both internal and external pressures caused by the highly variable and uncertain economic environment.

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Conclusion: Microsoft Teams is a collaborative hub for teamwork with links to a wide range of information sources and communication capabilities. While a latecomer to the collaboration software solution market, Teams benefits from being included in Microsoft’s 365 platform, which means many organisations have ready access to collaboration capabilities without the licensing costs of dedicated third-party solutions.

Teams is a relatively new and rapidly evolving solution; therefore, deployment challenges are present. Organisations must prioritise a structured approach to planning, governance development and security. Planning is important to empower users so that the organisation can break down information and communication silos. The sooner the organisation prepares concrete plans, the smoother the transition will be. This paper outlines better practices for such planning.

Organisations that rushed the deployment of Teams to support working from home as part of the pandemic response should revisit their Teams deployments against the better practices discussed in this advisory paper, and ‘back-fill’ any missing activities to ensure that Teams maintains long-term benefits for the organisation.

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Conclusion: Since the rise of personal computing in the 1970s, organisations have focused on acquiring digital tools and, since the late 1990s, on promoting digital skills. While we are now in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, where digital skills are essential, the so-called soft skills of employees also need to be constantly updated and upgraded.

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Conclusion: Remember, constructive feedback is of benefit to both the employees submitting the form and the staff who provide the services to enable working from home arrangements. Continuous improving is the nature of running IT operations and support services. This feedback can also assist with wider human resources polices as everyone comes to terms with supporting the existing present state and plan for future arrangements that may end up permanent or in a hybrid state.

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Conclusion: In the current COVID-19-driven environment, video conference calls have become the stuff of life. They are used for school, family, leisure and even work. Numbers of call attendees have jumped from tens of millions to more than 300 million worldwide. As is normal in technology, there are a plethora of options to choose from.

One of those, Zoom, has made the news repeatedly over the period of April-May, initially because of its popularity but then because security flaws were being discovered. With the flaws seemingly serious, commentators were recommending organisations abandon Zoom. Many organisations did so, given the amount of coverage the flaws received.

But the product was and is popular. It is one of the easiest video conferencing products to use. It works well and is simple to deploy. A valid question to ask is whether Zoom is safe to use for business purposes. Taking a realistic view of the flaws combined with efforts Zoom has made to correct some of them leads to the conclusion that Zoom is safe for general business usage.

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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.

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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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