Conclusion:

If you lack confidence in the direction of your Cloud migration team (CMT), you are not alone. Chances are the Cloud migration was led by one or two enthusiastic champions from enterprise architecture, infrastructure or apps development who were comfortable being high-risk takers to advance their careers. Too often, these efforts result in partial results and sporadic application, which leaves many senior executives questioning the value of these untamed Cloud engagements.

What is needed now is a structured approach to Cloud skills development and team selection, that culminates in a CMT that effectively manages business needs and the underlying IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) to deliver those business needs. Holding complimentary skills across the team will ensure a more robust analysis of the business needs, and a selection and rightsizing of solutions that continues to flex to meet changes in business and customer requirements. A post-migration Cloud framework should also apply, and contain a continuous improvement register which is examined and updated as the Cloud evolves, and governance programs that identify opportunities to maximise any hybrid or multi-Cloud solution.

Read more ...

Conclusion:

Disruptive collaboration is the term IBRS uses to describe the impact collaboration tools have on processes, knowledge management, and organisational structures. Over the last two years, most staff members have become familiar with collaborative solutions, such as Microsoft Teams. There is no going back.

As a result, many organisations are beginning to discover how outmoded their enterprise knowledge and records management solutions are. We are in the midst of a tectonic shift away from the traditional paper metaphor of business, to a digitally native, collaborative business model. Organisations must be prepared for the coming generation of knowledge management solutions that address this new collaborative business model.

Read more ...

For many organisations, Cloud adoption has become an imperative to deliver on the ever-increasing business appetite for digital solutions. Yet despite the fact that Cloud services are now mainstream, some organisations are still stuck on the mantra of Cloud first as a strategy.

Read more ...

The Latest

4 January 2022: RingCentral recently announced that it is expanding its telephony solutions through the Message Video Phone™ (MVP™) platform via a ‘bring your own carrier’ (BYOC) offering. The vendor will also enhance its service to enterprise call centre solutions by allowing Microsoft Teams clients in Australia to integrate the RingCentral app for embedded dialler integration, direct routing solution and fax, call-to-web and voicemail capabilities.

Why it’s Important

IBRS has observed a rise in the number of call centres integrating apps such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom in their operations for embedded phone features. In March 2021, MaxContact, a vendor of a Cloud-based call-centre solution, announced it is supporting integration of Microsoft Teams clients. 

The increased interest in integration of popular video collaboration solutions is a direct result of customers’ recent experiences with video calling. The pandemic has raised expectations for digital service delivery and omnichannel experiences.

IBRS predicts that within the next three to five years, video call centres will be common, and supplement existing in-house facilities. This will coincide with the majority of call centres adopting real-time agent solutions to off-load common service requests and free up operators to offer a deeper, hyper-personalised care that will increasingly include video. These companies will also leverage advanced real-time analytics and artificial intelligence that will accurately detect client sentiment and reaction in every digital interaction.

However, while white-glove service is ideal and will be the norm in the coming years, two challenges will arise. First, even if the technology is already available, it is too early to determine which industries will lead the way and what impact it will have on traditional call-centre outsourcing models. For instance, Australian banks have relocated their call centre operations back to Australia to streamline communications and quickly resolve issues firsthand.

Second, will be the value of outsourced call centres, especially in Asia Pacific where millions of business process outsourcing (BPO) workers in the Philippines cater to telecommunication, banking and insurance customers in the United States, Australia, Europe, Canada and Japan. Video calls will require more than just accent training to make it appear that the servicing company is based locally. The entire user experience - including the call centre environment - will need to be ‘localised’ for different markets.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • User experience/customer journey teams
  • Customer service teams
  • Call centre teams

What’s Next?

Call centre managers must invest time in exploring new modes of communication with the aim of enhancing customer relationship management (CRM) tools. However, given that it is highly profitable for vendors to take advantage of this trend in the next five years, call centre solution vendors will be looking for ways to differentiate themselves, while also supporting a wide range of common integrations.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Why is Zoom Pivoting? Do You Need to Be on Top of the Fourth-Wave of Unified Comms?
  2. Better Practice Special Report: Microsoft Teams Governance
  3. VENDORiQ: CommsChoice becomes Australia's first vendor of Contact Centre for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing

The Latest

December 2021: Data centre and colocation service provider NEXTDC announced it will buy 20 per cent (AU$35m of equity) in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider AUCloud to support the latter's Cloud platform zone expansion in Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide. These centres will be operational as early as the fourth quarter of 2022.

Why it’s Important

NEXTDC is a major data centre provider in Australia with strong contracts in the public and private sectors. By buying into AUCloud, the firm is preparing its position for what is expected to be a wave of 're-localisation' of Cloud services, bringing Cloud workloads back from geographically spread environments to smaller, Australian-based sites.

With re-localisation, enterprises can benefit from highly responsive support from regional Cloud providers that do not just ride the trend of introducing solutions based on US or European requirements and enforce it for local enterprises.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads

What’s Next?

Organisations must consider the advantages of working with localised Cloud service providers, especially those with a strong reputation in the industry. They have to look into the benefits that it can bring to their platform in terms of service and technology, delivering geographic redundancy while taking advantage of the proximity to their facilities. These localised services can help with latency and meet data security and compliance requirements demanded by some industries.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. The Industrialised Web Economy - Part 1: Cloud Computing
  2. VENDORiQ: Google Next: Distributed Cloud is More Than Hybrid and Multi-Cloud

The Latest

18 November 2021: AWS recently announced the launch of AWS Skill Builder, a digital learning platform which provides free Cloud computing skills training globally. It currently has over 500 free, on-demand courses - including nearly 60 new Cloud computing classes added this year. 

This expands AWS’s free access Cloud skills training programs in the region, in addition to last year’s launch of the AWS re/Start program - a free, 12-week full-time skills training program that prepares the unemployed, and underemployed, for careers in Cloud computing. Training is done in partnership with Indigenous training companies Goanna Solutions, Academy IT, and FDM in Australia and Te Pūkenga, the largest tertiary education provider in New Zealand. 

In addition, AWS is collaborating with local institutions such as The University of NSW’s (UNSW) CyberSECurity Education Network (SECedu) to teach both professional and practical cyber security skills in response to the growing demand for Cloud-oriented security skills.

Why it’s Important

Cloud skills are in hot demand, with competition for talent driving up salaries. 

Furthermore, IBRS has noted a growing dissatisfaction in paid programs for Cloud training and certification, though this is more a matter of perceived quality of delivery than concerns over the material in the training programs. Tech training is a booming industry right now, and the quality of independent training suppliers is mixed.

Therefore, it is no surprise that there is some scepticism about the quality and effectiveness of free Cloud professional training. If the paid programs are struggling to get it right, how will free programs deliver?

IBRS believes that scepticism is healthy. However, after a review of the AWS strategy and offerings, IBRS has concluded the program is robust and addresses some of the most critical skills gaps organisations are facing with Cloud migrations. Rather than treating these programs as ‘free’ organisations should be evaluating the available programs and building them into their internal skills development initiatives.  

AWS’s Skill Builder initiative is based on the concept of micro-credentials (small, granular certifications) which make it relatively easy to insert into organisations' existing skills development programs.

Reviewing and inserting Cloud training programs (from any of the major hyperscale Cloud vendors) into an organisation's internal skills development program is where the tight training budget can be spent effectively.

Who’s Impacted

  • Educational policymakers
  • CIOs
  • Educational ICT strategy leads 
  • Principals and senior leadership of higher education institutions
  • Digital workspace teams

What’s Next?

Adoption of Cloud computing across multiple industries is predicted to spawn a huge number of new roles over the next decade. Organisations should consider supporting a workforce education program. Their investment in digital skills training will not only help organisations achieve their digital transformation goals but also improve employee retention.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

17 November 2021: Google announced that it has launched a second zone in Sydney for Bare Metal Solution (BMS). Google BMS now has a global presence in 13 regions.

Why it’s Important

With Oracle pushing hard for organisations to move their legacy applications and workloads into its next-generation Oracle Cloud, Google is attempting to swoop in with BMS as a less costly alternative that promises to run Oracle workloads with less than 2ms to Google Cloud. 

Google BMS leverages Google Cloud Platform (GCP) services, including BigQuery and CloudSQL for database operations. This may be a draw for organisations looking to reduce their dependency on Oracle, or exit Oracle altogether and switch to a managed database service. It is a potential stepping stone to open-standards-based databases. 

Oracle’s user based licensing approach is oftentimes seen as complicated and treacherous. Google BMS uses a simpler subscription pricing model without upfront costs. Most importantly, Google BMS also offers license portability. You can bring your own license (BYOL) from Oracle and run it on Google BMS. It has been reported to IBRS that this can avoid Oracle’s early contract cancellation costs that run between 30-50% of its original contract value.

On the surface, Google BMS appears to be an economical alternative to Oracle Cloud. However, there are certain considerations such as server sizing and configuration, OS and chipset upgrades, and possible database upgrades that could make the move to Google BMS turn out to be more complex.

It is also possible that Oracle, like Microsoft, will alter its licensing terms to block migrating on-prem licensing to hyper-scale Cloud. 

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO
  • ICT strategy leads
  • Infrastructure architects

What’s Next?

Before moving to Google BMS, consider the additional complexity involved. Specialised skills are needed in order to deploy Oracle on Google BMS. Migration to Oracle Cloud, in contrast, is reported as being a relatively smooth process. Oracle Cloud also includes automated database tuning administration. In short, you need to consider the costs associated with having trained staff to monitor your Oracle database on Google BMS, which could result in higher overheads.  It is not just about the cost of the Cloud. But if the goal is to migrate from Oracle over time, Google BMS is attractive from a cost perspective.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. AWS Babelfish Brings PostgreSQL to its Hyperscale Database
  2. Google Next: Data - PostgreSQL Spanning the Globe
  3. Google introduces Database Migration Service

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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Cloud migration is increasingly becoming one of the most important parts of business processes. When migrating to the Cloud, organisations must find a balance between cost, risks and benefits. It is also vital to create an effective roadmap. IBRS lead a webinar with our advisor Mark Unwin, where we discussed a recent Cloud migration case study, Mark further gives an overview of IBRS's Cloud migration roadmap framework and addresses the next steps you need to consider to successfully migrate to the Cloud.

Read more ...

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a much sharper focus on digital transformation efforts which have been underway in many organisations. This focus has also highlighted not only the opportunities and benefits of digital investments but also the need to accelerate the pace and delivery of outcomes.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This month has seen an increased focus on discussions regarding supply chain disruptions. While demand for ICT products and associated services remains strong, if supply chain issues cannot be averted or accommodated, disruptions experienced can have an adverse impact on a business’ ability to operate. Supply chain issues, as well as sudden shifts in supply or demand can impact on sales and general company operations. To ensure the continued delivery of business-critical products and services, digital transformation efforts are required to reduce the impact of supply chain disruptions and minimise effects on business operations. Vendors can assist with establishing protocols, supply chain resilience and maintenance as well as ensure a well-managed supply chain remains a business priority.

Read more ...

Conclusion: This advisory will be presented as a series of five instalments, culminating in a Webinar. This first instalment will focus on an introduction to key concepts in project, programme and portfolio maturity. The next instalments will address:

  • the necessary inclusions in your project management framework (PMF) and the value of developing a community of practice (COP) to ensure continuous improvement,
  • a discussion on the value proposition for the project and/or programme management office (PMO), and
  • a discussion on the value of project assurance.

The final instalment will be a Webinar, which will both present the findings from the three instalments and provide an opportunity for subscribers to question the findings.

The ability to provide consistency in the management of projects and programmes is a reflection of the organisation’s maturity. Whether your organisation runs waterfall, agile or a mix of both, the need for effective project and programme management processes and effective governance is essential for success.

Organisations that are not mature in their approach to projects often find themselves in difficulty resulting from inconsistency in application of management practices, reliance on individuals that represent single points of failure, and ineffective governance that is unable to meet its responsibilities.

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Conclusion: Making a business case for human capital management (HCM) solutions can be undervalued by senior leadership who do not share the same perspective as the teams involved in the proposal. Securing their commitment through highlighting pain points and respective solutions can build momentum for digital transformation.

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Conclusion: The rise in the number of employees working remotely has transitioned security implementations in favour of zero trust architecture to replace traditional, static security perimeters. But while the extensive set of current technologies and processes in a zero trust model are designed to prioritise real-time visibility into every user’s behaviour, no solution is perfect. As such, integrating a combination of security solutions is necessary since no tool or method is enough on its own. By combining technological assets, security teams can create a cohesive strategy that provides real-time intelligence across multiple networks that enables organisations to respond more quickly to internal attacks.

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Conclusion: One of the immediate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was the closure of offices and the move to remote working conditions. Some businesses were able to immediately execute this as part of their business continuity plan (BCP). Now that the crisis has become the business-as-usual state, challenges have also begun to appear and BCPs need revising to adapt to this new situation.

The employer’s ability to provide the right set of tools goes back to technology and infrastructure investments made prior to the crisis. With a huge percentage of the population online, not just businesses but also schools, government agencies, and communities, there may be a need to update systems and invest in more infrastructure. However, it will not be as easy as purchasing products. It requires understanding workforce behaviour, emerging needs, and trends. As with any change, it will be crucial to maintain organisational culture and connection.

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Conclusion: Chatbots are a valuable addition to any organisation’s customer service strategy, and are an essential part of the toolkit that should support your organisation’s high-tech, high-touch approach to increasing customer satisfaction.

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Conclusion: ICT leaders are increasingly expected to combine traditional technical skills with leadership competency in an agile and flexible environment. This often presents a challenge: how can leaders connect with teams and individuals, from across disciplines, rapidly, and in a positive performance manner that achieves organisational and employee outcomes.

This paper covers how the principles of situational leadership can be leveraged by ICT leaders, to influence the approach applied to their management of individuals and mixed teams, to drive cohesion, collaboration, and delivery, and avoid dysfunction.

Read more ...

The Latest

30 November 2021: Microsoft recently announced the release of Windows 11 SE in 2022, which is designed to support K-8 students’ blended learning needs in the classroom. The operating system (OS) will only be available on low-cost devices sold exclusively to educational institutions. Windows 11 SE was developed after consulting with teachers and students for 18 months, which resulted in removing the widgets section, adding an automatic backup of files to OneDrive, and launching apps in full screen mode. The new Surface Laptop SE for students as well as upcoming devices from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Dynabook, Fujitsu, HP, JK-IP, Lenovo and Positivo will carry the OS.

Why it’s Important

With the launch of Windows 11 SE, Microsoft hopes to influence educational technology teams to shy away from Chrome OS. Microsoft claims with this product, IT admins can take advantage of the simplified backend as well as bundled Microsoft and non-MS apps such as Minecraft for Education.

IBRS recently conducted a major study of the Australian education sector to explore issues relating to the transition to remote learning during the pandemic. IBRS discovered that it is not the OS, nor the device, that is the primary challenge. Rather, it is the identity, access and administration concerns safeguarding students' privacy that were the single biggest issue.

Microsoft Windows 11 SE markets itself as a student-friendly version to compete against Google Chrome OS. In Australia and New Zealand, it is unlikely to impact the relatively low (in comparison to international market) presence of Chrome OS.

Who’s impacted

  • Educational policymakers
  • CIOs
  • Educational ICT strategy leads 
  • Principals and senior leadership of higher education institutions
  • Digital workspace teams

What’s Next?

Based on IBRS’s series of consultations with the education sector, the group recommends educational institutions decide on robust or streamlined solutions based on their learners’ needs and not on the premise of fear of missing out (FOMO). Developers must continue to collaborate with their target market, allowing students to be exposed to professional tools that provide a headwind in accelerated learning. Likewise, stakeholders must constantly assess their technological devices and platforms and how these impact the learning styles of users.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Dr Sweeney on the Post-COVID Lessons for Education (Video Interview)
  2. Kids, Education and The Future of Work with Dr Joseph Sweeney - Potential Psychology - 25 July 2018
  3. Higher Education Technology Future State Vision
  4. BYOD in Education: A report for Australia and New Zealand

The Latest

30 November 2021: Enterprise automation software firm UiPath collaborates with business schools to support student training on robotic process automation (RPA). This is part of their program to develop students’ skills in automation technologies, especially for business and finance majors. The strategy is aimed at growing future demand for RPA among business (as opposed to technical) staff.

Why it’s Important

Microsoft successfully transformed MS Excel into a standard spreadsheet software program in universities and enterprises, and edged out Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro in the ‘80s. Having Excel built into the curriculum of most schools at that time solidified Excel’s adoption.

In a one-on-one executive interview with IBRS, UiPath’s executive revealed that while it is a relatively young vendor, it has donated millions of dollars to business schools as part of the company’s Academic Alliance partnerships. In the ANZ region, this includes:

  • University of Melbourne
  • Deakin University
  • Tower Australian College
  • University of Tasmania
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • University of Wollongong
  • University of Auckland
  • Auckland University of Technology

UiPath’s goal is to train students early in using personal software robots to support the automation of manual processes, build smarter assistants, and create their startup similar to how Microsoft influenced developing spreadsheet skills in the ‘80s and ‘90s. In other words, the company is developing a new type of use case in the business and finance department where the launch of a non-IT version of the RPA will mean creating a domain for business majors, and not just for the IT department.

IBRS predicts that since RPA is rapidly becoming merged within the low-code everything ecosystem, it will play a vital role in business and finance even if it will take some more time for the technology to provide insights, predict outcomes and exercise self-healing. 

Who’s impacted

  • Educational policymakers
  • CIOs
  • Educational ICT strategy leads 
  • Principals and senior leadership of higher education institutions
  • Digital workspace teams

What’s Next?

IBRS recommends CIOs prepare for RPA to become a standard business staff tool over the next three to 10 years. Its accelerated adoption in universities will expand its scope of automating rule-based digital processes and advanced cognitive automation on unstructured data sources across industries. Furthermore, organisations need to recognise the shift in management approaches and process discovery by adopting more sophisticated solutions that will leverage no-code tools and AI-driven technology to achieve their target ROI.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Dr Sweeney on the Post-COVID Lessons for Education (Video Interview)
  2. Higher Education Technology Future State Vision
  3. Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT

The Latest

23 November 2021: SoftIron is developing an Australian facility to manufacture it’s high-performance data processing appliance. This is the company’s second facility after its California factory and they have plans to develop another centre in Berlin in the coming years. The planned edge manufacturing facility is expected to be the first component level computer manufacturing hub in Australia for several decades.

SoftIron’s New South Wales manufacturing facility is supported by a AU$1.5 million grant from the Department of Defence. The hardware provided by SoftIron will include open-source appliances for high performance data processing.

The vendor will leverage smaller-scale, automated ‘edge manufacturing’ systems and effectively side-step global supply chain bottlenecks.  

SoftIron claims that security-minded clients, such as the Australian Government, are increasingly concerned about the risks of supply chains that include foriegn entities suspected to have inserted spyware. Governments are already applying bans on foreign providers of communications and data processing hardware that power modern data centres. SoftIron claims the ability for clients to verify every aspect of a product - from the open source code to the supply chain of components and manufacturing cycle - is critical for trust in data centre appliance.

Why it’s Important

SoftIron’s entry into Australian tech manufacturing is welcome. Australia’s technology tech manufacturing was decimated by large-scale overseas production capabilities in the mid to late 80s, despite having some extraordinary world-leading products. For example, the world’s first battery-powered laptop, the Dulmont Magnum (aka the Kookaburra) designed and manufactured in Australia in 1984. Hartley Computers developed hardware and software locally in the same decade, before concentrating on supporting imported Wang minicomputers.

The SoftIron announcement raises several important considerations:

Supply Chain Risk

Procuring hardware from an foriegn manufacturing plants (such as POS and telecommunication systems) is now being flagged as a possible point of exposure to business espionage and spying. The complexity of international supply chains combined with the opaqueness of the firmware and code running on tech products, opens up many avenues for criminal and state actors to inject malware into products sold overseas. While China is a target of US suspicions, it should be noted that Australia's allies have engaged in similar activities in the past: in particular the US and Germany with encryption technologies, and the recent use of the ANoM phone app used to ensnare criminals.  

For Australian enterprises, the lack of visibility into the supply chain should be a growing concern. The only way to address this concern is to adopt a risk assessment policy that includes verifiability of the supply chain, and the firmware and code of products.

Support Chain

Edge manufacturing (aka micro-manufacturing) leverages the ever lowering costs of robotic manufacturing systems and (importantly) the lowering cost of programming such robots, to compete against the cost-efficiencies of huge factories in lower labor-cost countries. 

Technology manufacturing firms have traditionally driven costs down through economies of scale and labor savings. However, the global supply chain crunch due to the pandemic and slow-moving trade wars, coupled with rising labor costs globally, is causing a change in the equilibrium of manufacturing. 

Edge manufacturing employs robotic technologies and short-run production automation to deliver specialised products at a faster rate, at costs that are within the realm of those offered by large scale manufacturing, when transport, warehousing and related global supply chain costs are considered.  Edge manufacturing is less susceptible (though not immune) to global supply chain disruptions. 

Most importantly, edge manufacturing is highly agile and their entire manufacturing process is verifiable, making the model attractive for security conscious buyers. Finally, firms that locate their facilities here are covered by Australian laws and are therefore required to be certified to a compliance standard to ensure the level of data security is being met.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO
  • Procurement managers

What’s Next?

IBRS believes that the national economy has a solid potential to benefit from edge manufacturing.  Recent economic modelling by IBRS and Insight Economics noted a 10% increase in organisations buying Australian software (as opposed to US and European solutions) would return close to a $1.5 billion uplift in the economy within a decade. This economic benefit would be significantly magnified if hardware was added.

Organisations can examine the premium put on closer collaboration with suppliers and vendors through this business model by:

  • Running a hypothetical stress tests on their current supply chain to understand how it affects their financial standing
  • Utilising local vendors while considering a third party risk assessment and compliance program that will fit their cyber security strategy
  • Assessing a vendor’s governance framework using the IBRS Vendor Governance Maturity Model

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. How does your organisation manage cyber supply chain risk?
  2. Vendor governance framework (VGF): Evaluate maturity to manage growth and risks
  3. Strategic vendor management in government
  4. Challenges when conducting business impact analysis

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.

Read more ...

The Latest

16 November 2021: Oracle recently launched the Oracle Industries Innovation Lab as part of its commitment to supporting the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference’s (COP26) climate goal of lowering global temperature by 1.5 degrees. The facility, located in Reading, UK, is set to open in the spring of 2022 and will become a sustainable town centre dedicated to creating solutions to fight against climate change. It will feature wind turbines, electric vehicles and a simulated train station with a railcar made from repurposed materials. Oracle’s first innovation lab was built in Chicago in 2018 to host tools and technology for testing in simulated worksite environments.  

Why it’s Important

Other new tech initiatives that were introduced during the conference include:

  • Salesforce announced its US$300 million investment in reforestation and ecosystem restoration over the next ten years. It will donate technology through its nonprofit program and commit 2.5 million volunteer hours to organisations that work on climate change initiatives.
  • Amazon pledged US$2 billion to transform inadequate food systems and restore landscapes. Its aviation unit, Amazon Air, which operates exclusively to cater to the business’s cargo operations, also vowed to use sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) together with other major US airlines.
  • Rolls Royce secured the backing of the British government to develop the country’s first small modular nuclear reactor to deploy low carbon energy and replace its aging nuclear plants.

In 2008, an IBRS study found that the majority (25% rating it as a high priority, 59% rating it as somewhat of a priority) of ANZ organisations had a strong mandate for the executive to reduce the environmental impact of IT. However, interest in sustainable computing has plummeted year on year, and by 2019, less than 5% of CIOs rated sustainable ICT as a high priority. 

Recent climate events, and shifting public opinions are now seeing the trend reverse sharply. Initial data from a 2020-2021 study (not yet complete) suggests that once again most private and public organisations are joining the call for immediate action on climate change, with 24% of respondents stating it is a high priority.

All hyperscale Cloud vendors are promoting their carbon footprint and energy consumption credentials.. 

CIOs should expect increased demand to balance success in terms of investment returns and the impact on the environment, especially when pledging their support for man-made carbon capture innovations. Transparency and clarity through specifics in planning and execution of net zero transitions are the keys to speeding up the progress of such initiatives.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO
  • Data centre leads
  • Infrastructure architects

What’s Next?

CIOs must revisit their Green IT strategies and consider revising areas that do not meet proactive and incremental operational eco-efficiencies as well as cleaner processes. This includes focusing on infrastructure efficiencies and implementing energy management that takes action out of boardroom discussions and into actual practice.

In addition, more gains will be realised in the coming years through cleantech, with Cloud computing being a major contributor to carbon emission reductions, as we concluded in our 2021 study. CIOs must consider benefits such as this when designing their Green IT strategy.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Cloud Vendors will Push New Wave of Sustainable ICT Strategies
  2. Building your Green IT strategy
  3. VENDORiQ: More Evidence for Cloud Leading Sustainable ICT Charge

The Latest

16 November 2021: BlackLine launched its new accounts receivable (AR) tool, which it claims is the first unified platform for end-to-end cash flow optimisation in the industry. The software features intelligent optical character recognition (OCR) to eliminate manual work and reduce process errors. It also allows the predictability of customer payments when building cash flow forecasts. 

Why it’s Important

More organisations are adopting e-invoicing to take advantage of automation features, reduced printing costs, shorter payment delays and faster delivery times. As noted in our previous advisory The ERP: A critical IT application for the business, more Australian organisations are joining the trend of transforming their finance processes by replacing their ERP finance systems with a scalable Cloud-based ERP system that offers seamless integration to other business applications and streamlines backend business processes. 

Recently, IBRS conducted a study into the economics of ERP and Cloud solutions to find out the best ROI on their tech investments. A common answer among mid-size organisations and government agencies is the value of financial automation in relation to labour hours. On average, they reported productivity savings of between 0.5 and 3 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles when they switched to e-invoicing. Interestingly, the same benefit was cited by respondents in our 2019-2020 study on local governments in the country.

There are challenges to e-invoicing adoption, however. Apart from the perceived complexity and difficulty of most organisations in getting up to speed in their transition, employees worry about the threat of being made redundant in the near future.

IBRS discovered, however, that senior leadership teams transfer employees impacted by the reduction in labour hours to other roles where their skills are applicable. Organisations that go down this path gain more control in carefully managing their employee concerns. E-invoicing has become a foundational solution for better process management to establish digital relationships with their partners and internal staff.

Who’s impacted

  • CFO
  • CIO

What’s Next?

Before upgrading the financial platform, review the context of your current organisational and ICT strategy. Consider how the platform supports full ‘end-to-end’ processes that are integrated with other business software systems so that appropriate touchpoints are captured and understood. By doing so, the platform can meet its expected impact on your financial metrics and process requirements.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. A review of ERP finance systems
  2. The ERP: A critical IT application for the business
  3. Replace or reinvigorate today's ERP Solution now
  4. Turning data analysis from an art to a science

Disaster Recovery (DR) planning is much more than just developing a DR plan. Building your organisation’s maturity to successfully recover from a disaster scenario is an exercise in continuous improvement. Recently, IBRS hosted a webinar to address four IBRS advisory papers focusing on the steps needed to successfully plan for DR and build the maturity of the organisations DR planning processes. The end game; to improve the likelihood of mitigating an ICT disaster event to ensure business success. Disaster Recovery Must Work!

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The Latest

09 November 2021: Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the availability of Babelfish for Amazon Aurora. Babelfish enables its hyperscale Aurora relational database service to understand Microsoft SQL Server and PostgreSQL commands. This allows customers to run applications written for Microsoft SQL Server directly on Amazon Aurora with minimal modifications in the code. 

Why it’s Important.

This new feature in Amazon Aurora, means enterprises with legacy applications can migrate to the Cloud without the time, effort and huge costs involved in rewriting application codes. In addition, using Babelfish benefits organisations through:

  • Reduced migration costs and no expensive lock-in licensing terms, unlike in commercial-grade databases
  • No interruption in existing Microsoft SQL Server database use since Babelfish can handle the TDS network protocol
  • Availability of the open-source version of Babelfish for PostgreSQL on GitHub under the permissive Apache 2.0 and PostgreSQL licenses 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

More general availability of hyperscale Cloud computing to support scalability and high-performance needs is expected in the coming months from major vendors. The most successful ones will require minimal changes in enterprises' existing SQL Server application code, speed of migration, and ease of switching to other tools post-migration.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Google Next: Data - PostgreSQL Spanning the Globe
  2. VENDORiQ: Google introduces Database Migration Service

The Latest

28 October 2021: The US Senate voted unanimously to deny Huawei and ZTE from supplying equipment to US enterprises due to national security threats that would violate the Secure Equipment Act. Once approved by Pres. Joe Biden, the companies will not be granted equipment licenses by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under its ‘Covered Equipment or Services List’. A few days before, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided PAX Technology's Jacksonville warehouse after reports of alleged transmission of malware through the Chinese manufacturer's point-of-sale (PoS) terminals.

Why it’s Important.

As a member of Five Eyes (FVEY), an alliance of countries including Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, for joint cooperation in signals, military and human intelligence, Australia has previously followed the US in cutting off suspicious foreign tech companies' domestic presence due to national security concerns.

  • Australia blacklisted Huawei and ZTE in 2018 from selling 5G equipment. The two firms vehemently dismissed accusations over high-speed mobile network espionage, citing discriminatory tactics even with a no-backdoor agreement. 
  • In the same year, the Australian Defence Department banned messaging and payment app WeChat for failing to meet the organisation's standards for use on networks and mobile devices but not necessarily because of security and privacy issues.
  • In late October 2021, PoS terminals from PAX were detected sending anomalous network traffic, which has seen formal requests to replace the equipment due to security concerns. 

The fundamental issue here is supply chain security - the ability of nation state actors to inject spyware (or other malware) into equipment that is broadly used globally. Even where the security risks are not validated, the potential remains. It must also be noted that in the recent past, allies of Australia have engaged in such activities.

With the current geopolitics on global telecommunications being influenced by the US, sweeping impacts on the global supply chain and reduced competition in the market are likely.  

IBRS expects this technology supply spat will expand into areas outside of telecommunications, such as industrial control systems and PoS. Any widespread technology that can be used to impact or monitor aspects of national economies are likely targets.

Who’s impacted

  • Telecommunications procurement

What’s Next?

For organisations considering foreign-manufactured tech products and services, look more closely at the implications of selecting such equipment or platforms. While there is still no public evidence on the credibility of allegations against specific state actors, senior leaders must take security concerns in their organisation and assess the risks they are willing to take when selecting any vendor.

In addition to the security risks, there are also reputational risks, and risks associated with having to replace key solutions, such as is the case with the PAX PoS hardware.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Choosing Huawei could be risky - but not why you think
  2. Are you FRUSTRATED with procurement? Why procurement often goes off the rails

Conclusion: This month has seen a rise in outsourcing project implementations. In particular, the completion of migration, consolidation and transformation efforts have been prominent. Whilst this work is critical, developing, then commencing and conducting successful projects can be difficult. After completion, ongoing monitoring and assessment of projects is required. Without careful planning and strategic approaches to align new projects with business objectives, organisations can be vulnerable to technical capability gaps, as well as inappropriate systems and tools that fail to fulfill technical objectives. Hasty, short-term solutions can result in partially implemented or inadequate systems that can decrease a company’s ability to innovate, reduce the capacity to respond to competitive threats, and excessive, unexpected costs. When planning projects, it is important to engage specialists that can assist with a strategic, long-term approach to project planning, implementation, and ongoing review.

Read more ...

Conclusion: A zero trust posture is critical as the global workforce has transitioned to remote work at scale brought about by COVID-19. The need to evolve from perimeter-based cyber security measures emphasises the crucial role of least privilege in Cloud environment access and micro-segmentation in digital networks.

The slow adoption of zero trust among enterprises is in part due to the difficulty in implementing key technologies and the associated security skills and practices. It is also because security teams do not engage with the C-suite to explain and sell the importance of zero trust for the modern workplace.

In this paper, IBRS provides a high-level overview of zero trust aimed at educating executive stakeholders to the needs, benefits and challenges. Ensuring senior business stakeholders understand the drivers for zero trust is essential, as the model is more than just technology – it demands a change in the mindset of how to approach cyber risk.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Don’t leave Cloud skills benchmarking to chance. Determine where the skills’ gaps exist and create a skills’ development program that is not limited to in-house IT resources, but extends to any outsourced Cloud specialists. Vendors with specialised Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) products find themselves having to maintain a rigorous training regime to keep up with the investment demand of Cloud communities they have created and support.

Organisations should take advantage of the investment by Cloud providers to increase skills through the variety of online resources now available. The difference now is that organisations no longer need to invest directly in their own learning management systems (LMS) as Cloud providers see their LMS investments providing traction and portability for users entering or existing within Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), SaaS and PaaS product suites.

Read more ...

Conclusion: There are many frameworks available that can guide an organisation’s efforts to enhance its security capability. However, most are abstract and carry very little practical detail. Thus it can be difficult to establish how to implement the aims of a framework. This is a challenge to any organisation working towards minimising risk.

The Center for Internet Security (CIS) has been evolving the CIS controls for a decade or more. They are formulated in a way that makes them a superb tactical approach to cyber security. They do not subvert the available frameworks. Rather, they supplement most frameworks by filling in the details of what to do and how to do it.

Any organisation would do well to use the CIS controls as a measure of their current security stance.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Organisations are using chatbots as information assistants, advisors, and digital services channels. Most businesses start with generic chatbots (as virtual agents), but as the demand for customer communication grows, chatbots require integration with an increasing number of backend systems and improved scalability.

The reason why most chatbot ventures fail is the inability to recognise that the chatbot principle is simple, yet complexity of deployment rises sharply over time. In addition, chatbot design must align the business and target audiences, and both will evolve. This subtle shift over time is important as organisations need to learn the role, tone, specific purpose, and personalities of their chatbots based on actual usage and feedback.

Thus, starting small with continuous, incremental development is the best strategy for chatbot development. However, this iterative approach must balance the development of chatbots with business implementation, and must consider the attributes of the existing and future deployments.

Read more ...

IBRS advisor Joseph Sweeney said there was plenty of evidence that new entrants like ClickUp could make a splash in the “projects-oriented collaboration” space, where often there was a lack of standardisation of software used within individual organisations. Joseph Sweeney went onto say, Atlassian was relatively well entrenched with many customers across the different areas it served, and that ClickUp was more likely to be a threat to the raft of other smaller software players vying for the market.

Full Story.

Australian enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform TechnologyOne commissioned first of its kind analysis from IBRS and Insight Economics found that fast-tracking a shift away from legacy on-premise systems would deliver $224 billion in economic uplift.

The $224 billion in economic benefits that are outlined in the TechOne report – which was produced independently by IBRS and Insight Economics and commissioned by TechnologyOne – were validated using the Monash Multiregional Forecasting (MMRF) model, which is frequently used by federal and state governments in the evaluation of new policy proposals and investment.

Full Story.

The Latest

02 November 2021: Snowflake recently released the Snowflake Media Data Cloud that allows access to real-time, ready-to-query data products, and services from more than 175 data providers. The data-sharing company announced that its product can combine consumer data across sectors to reduce data latency and improve accuracy.

Why it’s Important.

More Australian organisations now recognise that access to external data enables enterprises to create one-to-one or one-to-many relationships for more reliable insights into data. Since it is difficult for businesses to make sense of data they don’t generate themselves, sharing information between internal business units inside the same company or between outside organisations, has narrowed insight gaps aside from lowering the cost of data collection and research. Some recent developments in this area include the following institutions that have extended their data sharing:

  • In 2014, Coles revealed that its online shoppers using Flybuys would have their personal information shared with 30 companies under the same Coles umbrella as well as with third parties in more than 23 countries.
  • Woolworths first started granting access to its consumer shopping behaviour data with all of its suppliers in 2017 to support collaborative decision-making with a customer-centric approach. However, it remains obstinate against disclosing all companies that handle its data when asked to submit comments during the Privacy Act review in 2021.
  • In June 2021, Bunnings announced an upgrade of its tech platform to capture customer information to improve buyer experience. Its privacy policy page explicitly discusses how information is shared with third party businesses such as financial searches, security providers, market research firms, and payment collectors.
  • Likewise, Target Australia discloses customer information to its service providers based overseas and to external call centres, recruitment companies and external fulfilment businesses. 

Ensuring the rights of consumers whose data is being shared can be an issue and apprehensions about maintaining privacy and confidentiality are often raised. The government introduced open banking across the country to provide consumers greater control of their personal data, and with whom it is shared, when applying for banking services.

Enterprises in the data-sharing environment must also find ways to ensure fair and equitable advantage of the information by accessing the same level of data insights as their competitors do. 

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Enterprises need to address the challenges of sharing large scale datasets, such as adherence to legislative and ethical frameworks, using personally identifiable information (PII) for testing, defining the critical role of service providers and their limitations, and improving the overall context of each shared data environment. This can be achieved if policies, procedures and standards on data privacy and security are aligned with data ethics that engender trust among the myriad direct and indirect actors involved in data sharing. Whatever goals such practice entails (such as developing innovative ancillary products with business partners or improving customer care by analysing real-time dashboards for rapid issue resolution), making the best use of opportunities in the field needs to be secure, lawful, just and ethical to ensure that collaboration leads to better decision making when building upon the work of others and fostering a culture of trust. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Beyond privacy to trust: The need for enterprise data ethics
  2. Three ways to turn employee engagement results into actionable and achievable plans
  3. Data loss by the back door, slipping away unnoticed
  4. How Australia must use the PageUp data breach to become stronger - AFR - 18th June 2018

The Latest

2 November 2021: Two former Western Sydney TAFE (WSI TAFE) executives have been charged by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for allegedly engaging in illegal solicitation and acceptance of $450,000 from IT consultancy firm Oscillosoft. The three-year investigation published its findings in a public report that revealed how the executives failed to comply with the proper IT procurement processes when they acquired the iPlan software program on behalf of the institute.

Why it’s Important.

IT-related fraud and corruption have grabbed the headlines in the past years, including:

  • the payment of false invoices in 2015 by a former IT manager who worked at several Australian universities 
  • the 2016 corruption investigation involving $1.7 million in payments for the personal business of an ICT manager at TAFE NSW South Western Sydney Institute 
  • the 2012 illegal ICT contractor recruitment by the head of ICT projects at The University of Sydney 
  • and just recently in 2020, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) investigated fraud allegations concerning $2.8 billion worth of procurement contracts by government agencies made with IBM. 

While these headline grabbing examples are concerning, the reality is questionable contracting and programming in ICT is far more pervasive than most executives would like to admit.

IBRS has seen multiple examples of this problem. 

Sometimes these have been uncovered as part of ‘project rescue’ engagements where IBRS has been asked to review why a project is failing and recommend remediation. This is the worst time to discover that the consulting services being procured are more or less thin air, as it means significant budget has already been spent. In one case, IBRS identified a project to implement a major information system had burnt through $3.5 million over three years without a single delivery milestone being met and no code being available for review. There was a ‘friendship’ between the contracting company and the ICT executive.   

In another case, IBRS uncovered consulting being awarded to a family member of the person granting the contracts, and the organisation had an ‘over-reliance’ on contracting.   

Neither of these situations may warrant a corruption investigation. Though they certainly skirted the edges of the law.

At other times, IBRS has uncovered questionable contracting and procurement as part of project assurance reviews. This is the best time to reveal problematic procurement, since it occurs earlier in the project cycle and thus heads off significant losses. More importantly, when staff know that such activities are likely to be exposed as part of the regular due diligence of project assurance, the temptation to engage in such activities that just barely skirt corruption is far less likely to occur.

There is a great deal of financial and reputational savings to be accomplished by putting appropriate governance, such as formal gateway reviews and project assurance programs, in place. 

That said, not every project needs a top-down approach to procurement. Still, the industry needs a more careful process of choosing the right level of governance and assurance for the right projects, taking into consideration the context and culture of each organisation.  

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • CFO
  • Procurement teams
  • Executive board

What’s Next?

For fraud and corruption to be prevented, better oversight by an institution's board should be extended to overriding controls, reviewing financial transactions and reporting processes, coupled with a program of project assurance.

Internal controls in payroll, procurement, inventory, sales and financial reporting must be proactive to prevent the manipulation of processes. 

Finally, organisations must review procurement processes regularly and amend sections that promote poor supervision and weak adherence to routine audits.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. The difference between fraud and cybercrime
  2. Critical Controls for ERP Projects: The Human Factor
  3. Recognising cognitive biases for better decisions

The Latest

2 November 2021: The 2021 Australian Digital Inclusion Index indicates improvement in technology access, but many are still considered left out of the digital revolution.The recently published Index reports access to technology accelerated to 71.1 from 67.5 points the previous year, indicating significant improvement among middle-aged and senior Australians. It remains to be seen if this pace of progress can be sustained in the next year, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on online participation.

Why it’s Important

When planning digital engagement, service and marketing teams need to be aware that access to digital services is not ubiquitous. This is especially important for public sector organisations, where the failure of equitable delivery services may harm the most at-risk segments of society. However, it is also important for private sector organisations, as they plan multi and omnichannel services.

The Index provides important information that can help with planning digital services.

Some of the report's key findings necessary for policy implications include the following: 

  • The metro-regional gap has narrowed in different regional areas to 67.4 from 62.3 points
  • The national access score has improved to 70.0, but it is not shared evenly by all citizens, with 11 per cent of the population still being excluded
  • A slight boost in the digital ability score has been achieved at 64.4 points, although basic operational skills (setting passwords, connecting online, etc.) have dropped.
  • 14 per cent of Australians would need to pay more than 10 per cent of their income to afford a reliable internet connection
  • The gap between citizens with the lowest and highest income has slightly widened from 25.3 to 26.5 points.

These survey results indicate the need for solutions to remove barriers to inclusion, such as affordability of devices and lack of training for better digital literacy. In particular, the Index recommends improvement in network access and critical infrastructure through the ongoing pandemic, and provision of more affordable broadband connections across all regions and cities.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Managers
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

When planning digital services, look for qualified sources of information on the extent to which the new services will be accessible and, importantly, who may be excluded. Discuss the impact of any exclusion on both those being excluded and your organisation. What additional, non-digital channels will be needed, and how will these channels eventually find their way back into the multi or omnichannel strategy?

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Staff need data literacy – Here’s how to help them get it
  2. Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT

The Latest

22 October 2021: Google’s latest digital solutions, product features and partnerships were unveiled at Google Cloud Next ’21. In this three-day event, Google and Alphabet chief Sundar Pichai and Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian led the keynote sessions on Google Cloud’s improved customer ecosystem and security capabilities.

Possibly the most significant announcement at the event was around Google Distributed Cloud. The Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) platform allows deployment of Cloud-native architecture to private data centres. GDC Edge provides capabilities to run applications at the ‘far edge’ of organisations - IoT devices, AI enabled devices, and so on - via low-latency LTE, radio access network (RAN) networks, and newer 5G Core network technology.

Google Distributed Cloud does not require enterprises to connect to Google Cloud when using their APIs or managing network infrastructure. This is important for organisations (e.g. public sector, finance, health) needing to retain on-premises deployment for tighter control over security and compliance.

Why it’s Important

With GDC, all the top three hyperscale Cloud vendors now have options to run applications developed for public Cloud across private and semi-private infrastructure. Furthermore, all three vendors have approaches to ‘edge’ computing. This is a natural evolution of the operational practices, automation and management software, software defined networking and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) that sees the Cloud seeping back into all areas of ICT. As this trend continues, and the lines between where ‘Cloud infrastructure’ sits, organisations will need to make decisions on the key automation and management platforms they will adopt across Clouds.

More organisations have started looking for better solutions to place their Cloud resources anywhere and in any geolocation. This offers considerable reductions in latency by eliminating the distance between users and their content to ensure highly available data while keeping costs low.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

All the hyperscale Cloud vendors are offering this type of flexibility and they are strongly expected to improve over time. It will further drive hyper converged infrastructure (HCI) investments driven by the demand for cost-effective scalable storage with strong durability and availability guarantee.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

22 October 2021: At Google Cloud Next ’21, Google announced the general availability of a PostgreSQL interface to its hyperscale, global spanning Spanner relational database. In short, this means that organisations that have applications that are compatible with PostgreSQL can now migrate to a highly elastic database that is significantly less costly, more robust than running PostgreSQL instances on virtual machines.

Why it’s Important

Google’s highly scalable Cloud relational Spanner database provides high-velocity transactions, strong consistency, and horizontal partitioning across global deployments. Like other specialised, serverless Cloud databases, Spanner previously required legacy (on-premises) applications’ data access layers to be reworked. 

The addition of a PostgreSQL interface greatly reduces development teams’ workload for migrating applications to Spanner. This has several knock-on impacts when migrating applications to the Cloud, including: 

  • reducing training  / new skills development, and allowing existing skills to be fully leveraged
  • reducing the vector for new bugs to be introduced
  • simplifies testing

Overall, this significantly lowers the cost and risk of moving an app to the Cloud. 

As always, the devil is in the detail. Cloud Spanner Product Manager, Justin Makeig posted that the platform does not yet have universal compatibility for all PostgreSQL features, since the company’s goal was to focus on portability and familiarity. However, IBRS has determined that even with the current level of functionality, the PostgreSQL interface for Spanner presents good value for teams looking to migrate legacy applications to the Cloud.

Google is not the only hyperscale Cloud vendor that has enabled this type of operability. However, Cloud Spanner is more economical than competitive hyperscale Cloud database products at this time.

Who’s impacted

  • Development team leads
  • Cloud architecture teams

What’s Next?

Google announced that it is planning to expand its Spanner integration to additional database standards. Data portability and migration of legacy applications to hyperscale Cloud is now a focus for many ICT groups. The availability of open standard SQL interfaces to database PaaS (platform-as-a-Service)  is expected to be a trend for application and data migration, especially where the applications are complex.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Google introduces Database Migration Service
  2. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) Part 5: Will automation of S/4HANA data migration make modernisation

The Latest

22 October 2021: Google introduced the Work Safer program at the Google Cloud Next ’21 event. The new program includes the Google Workspace suite of products, and adds several third party cyber security services for endpoint security and access to legacy solutions. In addition, Google unveiled upgraded devices, including new Chromebooks from HP.   

A new in-house Google Cyber security Action Team was also introduced in the event. The group will take the lead in developing cyber security and digital products by leveraging the capabilities of the Work Safer program and developing training and policy materials..

Interestingly, Google is offering a whopping 50% discount for the term of the initial contact for all products (its own and third parties) within the Work Safer program.

Why it’s Important

The aim of the Work Safer program is to reinvigorate interest in the Google Workspace ecosystem.  

Microsoft continues to have a near monopoly on the office productivity space, and is using that position to drive organisations towards its Azure Cloud ecosystem and its security ecosystem. Microsoft’s strength is its breadth of services, support for legacy solutions and resistance to change by both desktop teams and office staff.  Creating sufficient impetus for change to a light-touch, collaborative environment of the magnitude Google proposes is hard.

Google Workspaces has a far smaller attack vector compared to Microsoft. Its architecture has been firmly rooted in zero trust since its inception - from the devices all the way to the apps, storage and access controls. However, organisations that have not yet gone down the Google path retain a significant array of existing network investments, legacy solutions, mixed access controls and identity management, devices and so on. To meet these clients' needs, Google has partnered with CrowdStrike and Palo Alto Networks to come up with endpoint protection and threat detection solutions. The partnerships should not be viewed as “Google is backfilling weaknesses in its ecosystem” (which is something we expect to hear from Google’s competitors soon. Instead, these partnerships should be viewed as Google recognising its ecosystem will need to sit alongside ecosystems based on architectures that were conceived several decades ago and retain complexities that need to be addressed.

With more businesses shifting to a remote or hybrid work setup, the risks of ransomware attacks through phishing campaigns, malware infections and data leaks pose a threat to these companies’ data security practices. As such, Google easily benefits from its product’s value proposition already being consumed.   

Therefore, it would appear that Google’s messaging is on point. 

However, from roundtable discussions with digital workspace teams held this month, IBRS has confirmed that Australian organisations’ ICT groups and senior executives continue to resist a major step-change in the office productivity and device space. Rather, most organisations continue to look for ways to extract more value from their existing Microsoft contracts, increasingly looking to expand their investments into Microsoft’s E5 security offerings.  

In short, Google’s challenge is not convincing organisations they have a better, leaner security model. It is not even being less costly than Microsoft.  

It is literally resistance to change.

Who’s impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Even if an organisation is unlikely to switch to Google Workspace, it is beneficial to review Google’s architecture and which aspects can be applied to the existing architecture.

Organisations should also consider running Google Workspaces experiments with groups of remote / hybrid workers that have less connection with legacy solutions.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Deciding between Google G Suite and Microsoft Office 365
  2. Considering Chromebooks Part 1: Show me the money!
  3. Chrome OS: Follow the money

The Latest

22 October 2021: Microsoft recently unveiled the latest versions of its Surface line of devices with versatile form factors to cater to different use cases. Highlights include the redesigned 13-inch Surface Pro 8 tablet with 11th generation Intel processor, the portable Surface Go 3, the laptop/tablet Surface Pro 7+, the pocket-sized Surface Duo 2, and the highly anticipated Surface Laptop Studio.

Why it’s Important

Microsoft released its redesigned Surface lineup form factor alongside its rollout of Windows 11 earlier this month. While there are plenty of improvements in the new lineup, most are best described as evolutionary: more computing power, refinement of form factors, etc. 

However, two products stand out as potential new niche market makers: the Duo 2 and the Surface Laptop Studio.

The Duo 2: Win-Win or Double-Trouble?

IBRS has obtained a Surface Duo 2 and finds it fits somewhere between a smartphone and a tablet… yet not quite matching either role. While Samsung found some success with its Galaxy Z Fold device as a smartphone, the Duo 2 tends more towards the tablet end of the market.

If the Duo 2 is to be successful, it will be due to Microsoft defining a new niche for mobile prosumer (professional- level consumers). The success of the device will indicate that there is no single market niche for foldable devices (as they are currently being touted), but several sub-niches tied more to screen size, onscreen keyboard capabilities and photography prowess.

On the flip side (pun intended), first impressions of the Duo 2 suggest it may be a workable alternative to the semi-ruggedised, larger format smartphones which are making inroads against traditional fully-ruggedised tablets. 

The additional screen space and size of the on-screen keyboard, positions the Due 2 slightly above most of the large format phones for field workers. It is even passable (just) for running remote virtual desktop applications. 

Surface Laptop Studio: Solves the problem you didn’t know you had

IBRS has also trialled the Surface Laptop Studio. IBRS believes this device serves a new niche between more traditional laptops (such as the Surface Book) and hybrid devices (such as the Surface Pro).  

The Laptop Studio has a hinge at the back to help set up the device in three versatile constructions: a regular laptop, a ‘stage’ mode where the screen is closed when streaming or engaged in video calls, and the ‘studio’ mode where the screen slides out flat, effectively turning the device into a graphic-intensive tablet.

From observations during ‘digital workspace’ consulting engagements, IBRS has noted that the Surface Pro is often used as a ‘primary desktop’ (meaning, used mostly when seated as a staff-members regular desk and in the home office). The weakness here is that the device is better suited for mobile (nomadic) work.

The Laptop Studio is more geared towards a desk-top experience, while also providing for flexible user configuration. For example, it features more connectivity ports, but less focus on the battery 

Microsoft is not the only company implementing a new form factor to cater to users’ needs for devices that straddle between existing designs. Acer’s ConceptD 3 Ezel and HP’s Spectre Folio also share the same form factor as the Surface Laptop Studio. 

It is likely this ‘desktop oriented yet flexible’ form factor will gain ground as more organisations adapt to the demands of hybrid working. It is not enough to consider someone working between multiple office locations as being a ‘remote worker’. Rather, they are full-time office workers that may wish to move between locations, while gaining the ability to host video conferencing, engage in pen / tablet creative work, and switch back to having a more traditional desktop experience.

Who’s impacted

  • Procurement
  • Digital workspaces / end-user computing teams

What’s Next?

The evolution of end user devices is ongoing - albeit slowly and with more than a few dead-ends. Manufacturers continue to experiment with new market niches, as organisations become more selective with devices that meet specific needs.  

The upshot of this is that care should be taken when developing ‘personas’ for digital workspaces. Keep in mind that a persona is not solely related to a staff member’s ‘job’ (which is really multiple different types of jobs). It needs to factor the environment, the tasks performed in the context of the environment, and the staff's ability to switch between different devices based on needs at any given time.

In addition, when determining mobile force field device needs, do not limit the evaluation to the features of fully rugged products. Instead, consider the lifecycle of the products and software dependencies. Only then should an organisation decide which available devices on the market can best cater to the work contexts and personas you have.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Redefining what ruggedised means
  2. The use and abuse of Personas for end-user computing strategies
  3. Examples of Persona Templates
  4. VENDORiQ: Samsung unveils new smartphones

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