Conclusion: To facilitate business and IT transformation PMOs must be given a role that puts them at the forefront of advising management where best to invest scarce resources in business and IT-related projects whilst ensuring business systems are successfully implemented.

To be successful PMO staff need:

  • People management skills to help project managers reach their potential
  • Business acumen to assess competing claims for funds for business systems projects
  • To be able to shape management’s expectations of what IT can and cannot deliver.

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By Guy Cranswick

The standard method to assess the future is through the type and function of technologies. The starting point is the way new technologies modify processes and thereby rebalance requirements and outputs. An alternative approach is to examine how executive management will adapt to technological innovation, because management maintains longstanding principles and objectives that are noteworthy in the implementation of technologies.

The rate of change can appear dazzling and complicate accurate perceptions and understanding of long-running forces. The way to solve this common problem is to use fundamental principles, or axioms, in order to forecast a plausible view of the future. This method was done in a 1958 Harvard Business Review article (‘Management in the 1980s’, Harold J. Leavitt & Thomas L. Whisler, https://hbr.org/1958/11/management-in-the-1980s), in what transpired to be a remarkably prescient examination on the state of management in the 1980s. The article is also notable for using the phrase ‘information technology’ for the first time.

We propose, in similar spirit, a generational look into the future using the same principles. It should not be read literally. Twenty-five years is too distant to be confident of any forecast and the 1958 paper more closely modelled the 1990s, which demonstrates that forecasts can miss, although not be entirely useless.

Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS) adviser Joseph Sweeney discussed digital disruption and investment. He said Australia had a “cultural problem” with reinvesting savings from technology back into businesses.

“When you look at Australia’s history of reinvesting in the business — taking profits and ploughing them into technology, by western standards we have very low reinvestment in business. And that’s a cultural issue,” Dr Sweeney said.

Outside of the big four banks and Telstra, Australia lacks world-class cyber security teams.

by James Turner

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the world's largest cyber-security event, RSA Conference, in San Francisco. This year was the 25th anniversary of the conference, and there were 40,000 attendees, and over 500 vendors exhibiting.

My experience at RSAC reflected my experiences at many other international cyber-security gatherings over the years. I have come to the conclusion that Australia has pockets of cyber-security leadership that are world-class, and in some instances, world-leading. But these pockets of capability – almost all at the top end of town – are insufficient for the nation's needs.

In Australia we have a small number of organisations with big cyber-security teams, and established leaders with excellent bench strength in their direct reports. Principally, these pockets of cyber maturity are in the big four banks, and a hothouse of talent that has emerged in Telstra.

Conclusion: Design thinking is increasingly being utilised by organisations in Australia and globally to create new products and services. Based on the current level of adoption by leading organisations and those investigating design thinking it could be considered the next best practice concept. However, like other best practices, it is the art of applying the technique that reaps benefits, rather than just following the process.

In other words it is the nuances that need to be considered closely and not just the elements that can be seen and touched. Understanding the elements of design thinking and, most importantly, applying the right people using the right approach with the right expectations will ensure that the results match the promise. Empathising with users, customers or consumers is the first step in the process and is critical to the success of all the effort that follows.

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Conclusion: Forward thinking IT organisations wishing to create a service differentiation should analyse their value activities to construct a “uniqueness capability”. The outcome should convince business lines that IT services can generate business value at a competitive price. The value chain firstly requires to address service delivery processes by constructing the IT value chain1 , secondly to realise cost advantage2 and thirdly to create service differentiation (this note).

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Conclusion: Office 365, like Google Apps, holds the potential to impact workplace practices through new collaboration capabilities such as real-time co-authorship. However, this potential may only be realised if activities for the Office 365 environment go beyond the traditional post-implementation review plan. Instead, organisations wishing to see genuine changes must create a post-implementation review plan which must assess the extent to which business benefits have been delivered over the long-term.

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Related Articles:

"The Journey to Office 365" IBRS, 2015-05-01 14:58:56

"The journey to Office 365: A guiding framework Part 1" IBRS, 2016-03-01 04:23:10

"The journey to Office 365: A guiding framework Part 2 migration" IBRS, 2016-04-01 04:43:19

"The journey to Office 365: Part 4 – Skills" IBRS, 2016-06-02 00:26:00

Conclusion: Cyber security can be perceived by outsiders as an occult domain. Psychologically, people can respond in many ways to something they do not understand with responses ranging from denial to fear. Consequently, a frequent challenge to better security maturity is inertia, rooted in ignorance. It is imperative that security practitioners break down this barrier by communicating with decision makers in a way that empowers the decision maker. Consequently, valuable conversations about risk and threats can be grounded in conversations about reliability, resilience, safety, assurance and reputation. Security may not need to be mentioned and, in many cases, even raising the label of security can undermine initiatives that had security as an objective.

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Conclusion: This month there have been a high number of new senior appointments and workforce expansions in the IT service industry, flagging the need to monitor and change resources which support businesses if required. Whilst strategic planning and initiatives are central to business development, the need for an effective skills base to successfully implement plans in increasingly complex and unique environments, which change quickly, is clear. Both the skills base and the framework to maximise benefits are required. Regular assessments of a company’s human resources, and structures in place to utilise them to achieve business objectives, have also become crucial. Structures need to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate new and targeted skills required to support both business and fluid IT environments.

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Conclusion: The analysis of various and complex data sets could provide a catalyst for team collaboration. One of the challenges organisations will face in combining teams is setting out the conditions in which they will work together. Looking past obvious differences in background, or so-called professional culture, will be necessary to organise roles with the talents available.

Initially devise pilots to assess teams and roles and the value of the output. The development of data projects should produce quick benefits in terms of output and team cohesion. Understanding of the analytical insights should be shared widely in order for the benefits to reach as many within an organisation and bring change where it is needed.

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Conclusion: The high-risk and high-reward Agile approach for systems development enabled many organisations to respond quickly to changing management strategies and yielded significant productivity benefits, according to a 2015 survey1.

However the same survey found not everyone has been so successful, as lack of experience in using the Agile approach, and organisation resistance to change, have frustrated almost the same number of organisations.

Once IT and business management have decided that Agile is the right approach they must:

  • Champion and defend its use
  • Actively track progress and allocate extra resources to the project if justified
  • Provide a safe environment in which a retrospective review can be conducted
  • Widely disseminate the lessons learned from the review, including strategies that succeeded and failed, without attributing blame

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Conclusion: Advisor reviews of recent business cases evaluating Cloud contact centres (CC) show that any upgrade needs to be driven by a customer service business strategy (not just a technology refresh).

Cloud delivery has become the dominant technology for any new contact Centres for two main reasons:

  1. Simplified contact centre acquisition and operation, and

  2. The new paradigm supports a wide range of current and emerging business strategies by providing relatively direct and complete integration into related enterprise systems such as CRM, ERP and eCommerce platforms which are critical for service fulfilment and creating positive customer experiences (CX).

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Conclusion: Most IT professionals see Cloud as simply a replacement (sometimes even competition) for the tasks they do now – provide CPU cycles, storage and internal communications. Looking at Cloud through such a narrow lens is a big mistake. Cloud is not just a replacement for IT processes – it is a replacement for all business processes that are based on legacy in-house IT capabilities.

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Related Articles:

"Why In-House IT is not like Cloud" IBRS, 2016-03-01 05:05:35

Conclusion: Organisations that fail to develop the skills of their BAs, or give them intellectually challenging roles, are in danger of losing them and their corporate memory. BAs used wisely are often the glue holding complex projects together.

Use them to elicit and simplify business requirements, develop compelling business cases and redesign business processes and the investment will reap dividends. Allocating them mundane tasks and failing to involve them in critical decision making meetings will demotivate them and give them a reason to move on.

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Conclusion: Deployment of Office 365 as a pure Cloud solution has lagged the sales of Office 365 licences. This is partly due to lack of formal migration strategies, confusion over the licensing and user options1, although non-technical issues play a bigger role. To assist in the move to Office 365, IBRS has identified a framework that will assist organisations in their journey.

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Related Articles:

"The journey of Office 365: A guiding framework Part 3: Post-implementation" IBRS, 2016-05-05 00:21:00

"The Journey to Office 365" IBRS, 2015-05-01 14:58:56

"The journey to Office 365: A guiding framework Part 1" IBRS, 2016-03-01 04:23:10

"The journey to Office 365: Part 4 – Skills" IBRS, 2016-06-02 00:26:00

Conclusion: Organisations often look to their competitors for new ideas and innovations and to provide a comparison to their own operations and business direction. Public sector organisations tend to look at other public sector organisations at different levels such as local, state or federal and public sector operations in other countries. Australia generally looks to Canada and the United Kingdom for advances in public sector administration and operations.

However, there are many lessons to be learned from other sectors and industries that could have significant benefit for individual organisations. Failure to identify and harvest the lessons and ideas from other industries will place organisations at a significant disadvantage in the future.

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Conclusion: Cost advantage can be achieved by firstly, estimating the existing services costs. Secondly, use cost effective external services. Thirdly, integrate services. Fourthly, retain cost advantage. This can be achieved by removing duplicated activities and influencing cost drivers.

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Conclusion: As cyber security gains awareness among business leaders, many organisations are undertaking new cyber risk management initiatives. However, these initiatives can be misdirected if business leaders are not clear on why they are doing them. On the journey to improving an organisation’s cyber security maturity, the question “why?” is a powerful tool to test alignment of security to business requirements.

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Conclusion: This month there has been a focus on supplier governance models based on the service integration and management (SIAM) approach which can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT environments. By establishing converged and hybrid technical foundations and utilising multiple suppliers significant benefits can be achieved. However such an approach may be problematic if disparate arrangements and processes for contract execution are employed. The SIAM approach provides a single and end-to-end user experience, despite multiple suppliers’ underlying IT functions. This type of model allows for greater efficiency and cost benefits, as well as faster IT overhauls for companies needing to increase capacity, upgrade, or wishing to access new technologies and solutions. However, the model also requires strong implementation partners for analysis and a strict system definition combined with strong management capabilities, to support a very tightly integrated environment where many components can operate as one entity.

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Conclusion: Since the inception of Bitcoin, the blockchain is now viewed as a potential technology improvement to many ordinary transaction and data storage functions. The financial sector has led the way, from investment banks to stock exchanges, but deployment of the blockchain has application in other industries. Its clear advantages may yield much efficiency leading to reduced costs. Organisations should examine how and when they might adopt the technology.

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Conclusion: CIOs continually wrestle with how to replace or modify failing core systems and having to convince management to invest in modernising them. They also know that ignoring a bad situation will probably cost the organisation more to fix the longer they postpone the replacement decision.

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Conclusion: Although virtualisation is widespread in computing and storage, software-defined everything (SDE) is 3–5 years away from broad adoption by enterprises. Early adopters are major ICT Service Providers and enterprises with specific opportunities.

Enterprise architects need to understand the implications of SDE now as Cloud and managed services projects using software-defined technologies ramp up, or risk becoming irrelevant and wedded to displaced traditional sourcing and delivery concepts.

Failure to appreciate the impacts of software-defined ICT will mean that businesses will be making planning and budget decisions today for ICT futures based only on current practices that are becoming superceded. 

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Conclusion: Cloud architectures offer a vast array of possibilities that are not an option for organisations limited to conventional IT solutions. Do not let infrastructure people convince the organisation they can match Cloud capabilities solely using legacy in-house resources

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Related Articles:

"Why in-house IT is not like Cloud (Part 2)" IBRS, 2016-04-01 05:08:33

When the leadership of IT and business management work well as a team there are few limits to what they can achieve in delivering services to clients. However for the teamwork to become a reality line management and IT professionals must put aside special interests and focus on implementing initiatives that deliver outcomes that meet the objectives of the organisation.

Agility is achieved when the team is able to quickly identify the source of a problem or business opportunity, corral their resources and expertise and respond with alacrity.

One area where teams struggle is identifying and putting into practice the guiding principles under which they will pool their resources.

This MAP is designed to guide and stimulate discussion between business and technology groups, and point the way for more detailed activity. It also provides links to further reading to support these follow-up activities.

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Conclusion: Deployment of Office 365 as a pure Cloud solution has lagged the sales of Office 365 licences. This is largely due to IT groups’ unfamiliarity with the Office 365 environment: unlike Office Professional, Office 365 can be run across new devices, provides real-time collaboration1 and offers new tools based on analytics. Simply replacing Office Professional with Office 365 will not deliver new value to the organisation: it will simply move the organisation from a CapEx to an OpEx model. Organisations should view Office 365 as a set of services that support the broader digital workspaces strategy. Organisations first identify the business benefits being sought and create a future state vision for end-user computing. Investments in Office 365 may then be used to support the digital workspace strategy, and a deployment plan developed.

To assist in deployment planning, IBRS has developed a framework that will assist organisations in their journey to Office 365.

Read more ...

Related Articles:

"The journey of Office 365: A guiding framework Part 3: Post-implementation" IBRS, 2016-05-05 00:21:00

"The Journey to Office 365" IBRS, 2015-05-01 14:58:56

"The journey to Office 365: A guiding framework Part 2 migration" IBRS, 2016-04-01 04:43:19

"The journey to Office 365: Part 4 – Skills" IBRS, 2016-06-02 00:26:00

Conclusion: Many IT organisations are perceived by their business units as high cost/low quality service providers. Much of this perception is due to the IT group’s inability to successfully articulate service value, demonstrate cost competitiveness, and create internal service differentiation. IT organisations should construct service value chain models to diagnose the IT organisation’s deficiencies, improve image, and link to vendors’ value chains. This can be achieved by disaggregating the business of IT into its strategic activities (e. g. service definition and communication, customer service). This will result in understanding the cost behaviour and identifying existing and potential differentiation sources such as accelerating the release of business products to market and improving IT and business lines interaction.

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Conclusion: Organisations building new products and services need new tools and skills to reinvent old business offerings or build completely new business products and services. To be successful, organisations and key decision makers need to be continually assessing the environment for tools and techniques that can be introduced to assist in providing creative thinking and service design activities. Rather than focus on volumes of detailed assessments and documentation the new approach for tools and techniques is creative and visual. Combined with a culture that supports innovation and change, these tools assist organisations to confirm their service and value direction or to identify and build new value for their customers and their organisation. Having staff who have the right skills and the right aptitude to be creative will be critical even if an organisation partners with a specialist business.

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Conclusion: Organisations must understand that cyber risk is not merely a technical issue that can be delegated to IT but is a business issue that comes hand-in-hand from operating in a modern, online, ecosystem. Until cyber risk is treated as a business risk, we will continue to see organisations fighting a rear-guard action to threats that should have been designed-against through better digital business strategy.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding a number of failed public sector outsourcing projects, which resulted in significant cost overruns have been prominent. Weaknesses were identified in a range of areas, from inappropriate vendor engagement processes to insufficient monitoring and response measures to problems that were identified during the course of a contract. It is critical for clients to establish protocols for contract management as well as frameworks to ensure these protocols can be followed.

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Conclusion: Return on investment is the touchstone of business investment success. Within marketing and in practice its use and definition is imprecise. The lack of precision is a challenge for marketing to the degree that it is difficult to assess its value in various dimensions.

Marketing and IT business case managers need to establish the baseline rules for return on investment and put them into practice for the long term.

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Four technology forces will shape the business strategy in 2016, writes IBRS' Dr Joe Sweeney

In the view of IBRS, four technology forces will shape business strategy in 2016:

  • Mobility, the Post PC Era, and Future Workplace Innovation
  • As-a-Service
  • Security Leadership
  • Data Driven Business

 

Conclusion: Unless an organisation has an already strong cyber security capability, or the budget and appetite to progress its maturity very quickly through expanding its headcount and changing business processes, it is unlikely that any security tool purchases will help. Instead, organisations aspiring to improve their cyber security maturity should focus on business alignment through risk driven conversations, and addressing and automating technical hygiene issues.

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Conclusion: Many organisations looking to transform or innovate their existing business find it difficult to think about it in a completely new way as the past is always present. One way to approach the common strategic planning activity is take the perspective used by start-ups and build a business model for the future which re-evaluates current paradigms. Existing business models can be dissected into key elements and each element can be critically examined and evaluated in terms of its contribution to the desired value proposition.

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Conclusion: The role and responsibilities of procurement and corporate services organisations is increasing relative to those of ICT groups as ICT becomes increasingly bought ‘as-a-service’ rather than installed as capital-intensive internal infrastructure.1

This demand is driving the trend to focus on governance, probity and sourcing management issues in buying decision frameworks.

Neither corporate procurement nor ICT sourcing teams can succeed in isolation: both will sink or swim together. The near-term challenge for most enterprise buying activities will continue to be the ability for both procurement and ICT to keep each other adequately informed and sufficiently knowledgeable in the other’s domain2.

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Conclusion: Most organisations have an unbalanced ICT investment portfolio where back-office systems (including ICT operations) consume more than their fair share of the ICT budget and capability. Consequently, emerging initiatives may fail to gain organisational support relevant to their potential business and organisational benefits.

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Conclusion: While technology is becoming increasingly critical to business transformation, IT organisations are becoming less important to business stakeholders. This is because enterprise architecture practice’s main focus remains on back-office systems and on initiatives that do not necessarily contribute to business performance improvement and business cost reduction initiatives. IT organisations should revive the enterprise architecture practice by delivering IT-as-a-Service with an outward focus targeting business, information, applications, and infrastructure domains. This will increase IT organisations’ credibility to become key players in business transformation projects.

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Conclusion: As the concept of digital disruption and digital transformation takes hold, it is vital that IT is not only aligned with, but synonymous with business. Both business executives and IT groups find themselves in a constant race against competitors who have embraced new technologies and new business models. Unfortunately, this situation results in a mad dash between one hot new technology and another in an effort to meet evolving business priorities. In any race, having a skilled navigator and an accurate map is vital. IBRS’s Business Priorities Atlas (see Figure 1) presents the highest-level view of Australian business priorities and the likely technological landmarks along the way towards meeting the organisation’s desired destinations. The Atlas may be used to stimulate discussion between senior IT and non-IT executives as to what, where, and when to invest.

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Conclusion: This month, there has been a particular focus on service-based Cloud offerings. As this market matures, there are increased concerns regarding vulnerabilities that arise when using evolving environments without adopting new enabling tools and processes to support a shift. Approaches, such as retaining legacy applications in a new technological space can cause difficulties in areas such as security, which require more high-level data collection and analysis for success, rather than basic functions offered in legacy systems. With a dramatic increase in vendors offering service-based solutions, it is important for customers to ensure solutions have underlying systems that can support businesses and strategic objectives prior to establishing agreements. It is critical for customers to alter their perspective of service-based Cloud offerings from an alternative hosting platform to an IT toolset that can alter business processes and efficiency, with adequate foundations to achieve business objectives.

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Conclusion:Within the ICT industry new technology is deferred to as the catalyst of innovation. While this is partially true at the current time and over the next 3-5 years, the shifting structure of the wider economy is the more likely agent of transformation, and even perhaps of disruption, which will be seen through the adoption of various technologies.

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Conclusion: This month, the Queensland government’s action against IBM for the failed Health payroll system was dismissed, with the liability waiver upheld despite assertions the government was misled by IBM regarding its capabilities during the tender. The Australian Federal Police also announced it has cancelled two five-year outsourcing contracts with Eldbit Systems because of project failure. This underscores the need for clarity during the negotiation phases and establishing clear contract terms such as liability waivers and exit clauses to cater to project failures and disagreements, as well as fostering an environment for positive client/supplier relationships even when projects fail.

Read more ...

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