The Latest

5 December 2020: Australian education solution vendor Tribal, has upgraded its digital learning design chatbot. The move is illustrative of how chatbots can be leveraged to aid complex tasks - in this case, learning content, delivery, and leaner coaching.

Why it’s Important

Chatbots are not unique to Tribal. However, Tribal is demonstrating how such agents can deliver new capabilities into the LMS market, which can be glacial in the adoption of innovation. The Tribal chatbot is aimed at improving knowledge transfer inside an organisation. It assists domain experts to build learning content and share knowledge by recommending approaches to online training.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO / CTO
  • Service delivery teams 

What’s Next?

Like most forms of AI, chatbots will make their way into organisations through their addition to existing software solutions, either via paid upgrades or as part of the ongoing improvements of SaaS solutions. Chatbots will increasingly act in an advisory manner or as a guide for complex processes inherent in the vendors’ solutions. 

As a result of this trend, staff will be presented with a growing number of chatbots embedded in different vendor’s solutions, each serving a specific purpose. This itself will present a new challenge for digital maturity and staff satisfaction.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

10 Nov 2020: CyberArk launches an AI-based Cloud entitlements manager. The solution combines principles of ‘least privilege’ and ‘zero trust’ to reduce risks of poorly configured access privileges for the major hyperscale Cloud platforms. CyberArk uses AI to determine the context and intent, which in turn provides risk assessment and recommendations for appropriate actions, and automation of remediation. 

Why it’s Important

Poorly configured privileges to Cloud solutions - in particular storage services - is a major cause of data breach. It is a significant risk for all organisations that leverage Cloud resources. Reviewing and maintaining privileges over resources is problematic, even with high levels of automation, because automation will only impact known entities in the environment, and can only address well-defined use cases. 

Who’s Impacted

  • CISO
  • Cloud Teams

What’s Next?

The use of Machine Learning algorithms to interrogate Cloud services and identify and remediate risks is a welcome addition to Cloud security management. While the efficacy of the CyberArk solution is not yet known, IBRS anticipates that this approach will be beneficial and at least provide an additional ‘check’ over sprawling Cloud environments.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding managed service provider expansion plans, both locally and globally, have been prominent. A number of vendors are expanding bases and offerings, and acquiring skills in preparation for heightened customer demand across areas in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on digital transformation initiatives. The need for customers to transform and optimise operational frameworks as well as transition workloads has driven a range of mergers, acquisitions and site establishment projects in new markets. Customer demand for assistance with navigating and transitioning during difficult periods is high, but vendors must also prepare to accommodate shifts in buying behaviour resulting from the market growth which is expected to follow.

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Conclusion: Organisations wishing to re-engineer their old legacy systems to modernise their environments, leverage the power and cost-effectiveness of Cloud and prepare themselves for the future should explore the new SaaS offerings when developing their service go-to-market strategies and tenders.

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Conclusion: Organisations that laid off IT and business professionals during the pandemic due to cost pressures will find it challenging post-pandemic to reset IT services needed to meet client service requirements and those of much leaner organisations.

With many employees working remotely, organisations will need to enhance their cyber security skills while providing secure services in a price-sensitive and cost-constrained environment in which many clients will also be struggling financially.

Vendors will also find it difficult to grow a client’s technology base post-pandemic due to their clients being short of capital, which will frustrate both parties, and once the solution is justified fewer skilled staff (than pre-pandemic if lay-offs occurred) will be available to implement them.

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Conclusion: Employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, and 96 % of employees believe showing empathy is an important way to advance employee retention1. Many organisations understand the importance of employee engagement, yet many organisations also do not develop and deliver successful staff engagement plans or activities2.

Many published strategies centre on the aspirational and critical elements of vision, leadership and growth3. This paper focuses on three practical steps that organisations can implement easily, to help tangibly begin the journey to turn employee engagement results into informed, believable and actionable plans.

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Conclusion: In today’s marketplace, a successful business needs to position itself strategically to be a leader in the market by either delivering services better and cheaper than the competition, or by disrupting the status quo to deliver services in a different way that empowers the consumer. To achieve this, organisations need to ensure their procurement plans are aligned with the business strategy and, where appropriate, identify in the ICT sphere where procurement is important strategically.

Organisations therefore need to identify the value a supply chain delivers to the business strategy. In doing so, the executive needs to understand the procurement activities that provide an advantage to the business in the marketplace, and which procurements may lead to a broader alliance with the supplier where mutual gain is possible to all parties involved.

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Conclusion: The true benefit of digital strategies is in the thinking, reviewing, assessing and critical evaluation of where the current state is and where the target needs to be. Organisations that have commenced digital transformation have recognised that capability development and ownership of the strategy can make or break success. It is critical to be brutally honest about capability and skills to get to the target.

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Conclusion: Machine learning operations (MLOps) adapts principles, practices and measures from developer operations (DevOps), but significantly transforms some aspects to address the different skill sets and quality control challenges and deployment nuances of machine learning (ML) and data engineering.

Implementing MLOps has several benefits, from easing collaboration among project team members to reducing bias in the resulting artificial intelligence (AI) models.

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The Latest

Woolworths has selected Dell Technologies Cloud to support its private Cloud infrastructure over two data centres. The Dell offering provides Woolworths with a consistent, managed operating environment across public and private Clouds.

Why it’s Important

The future of enterprise computing will be hybrid Cloud because hyperscale Cloud services are not the most cost effective environment for every application or use case. However, the benefits of Cloud can be brought into on-premises data centres through adoption of new architectures, including new management services, containers and virtualisation, hyperconverged systems and software-defined infrastructure. Dell’s approach wraps these technologies into a commercial model that mimics hyperscale Cloud vendors: consumption-based and elastic. It is a model worth watching.

Who’s Impacted

  • Enterprise architects
  • Cloud migration leads
  • Data centre managers

What’s Next?

Dell Technologies Cloud is as much a contractual innovation as it is a set of technologies. Like Oracle Cloud, it evolves traditional ICT operational models to embrace aspects of hyperscale Cloud, while recognising the necessity of on-premises infrastructure. This is one approach that may, if appropriately provisioned and supported locally, see strong growth among larger enterprises and those needing to maintain their own data centres, while still taking advantage of the benefits of Cloud computing.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

CommsChoice Group has announced expanded Centre functionality for Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. The new service allows companies to implement a call centre natively within the Teams environment, leveraging Direct Routing.

Why it’s Important

Many Australian organisations - in particular public sector and local government - are in the process of re-architecting customer engagement from traditional ‘centralised call centre’ models to multichannel and then to omnichannel. The introduction of collaborative telephony solutions with rich API support, such as Teams, brings the possibilities of accelerating the move to true omnichannel services. Direct Routing allows contact centre agents to make and receive calls within Microsoft Teams, while also engaging in mixed mode communications, such as chat (potentially assisted by chat bots) and video meetings.

Who’s Impacted

  • Call centre managers and architects
  • Sales managers
  • Telephony teams
  • Office365 teams

What’s Next?

While CommsChoice is not the only vendor offering call centre integration with Teams, its announcement shows the likely future of calls centre architecture: a blend of collaborative tools and telephony, linked to internal and external-facing service channels. However, IBRS cautions organisations against rushing to adopt omnichannel call centre architectures. We have noted that the most successful organisations take a measured, phased approach, moving first to a multichannel operating model and only then to omnichannel. Many organisations have departmental processes that struggle to support true omnichannel. Staging through a multichannel model first allows organisations to identify and address the internal departmental silos before making the biggest step to omnichannel.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Omnichannel Customer Service must be more than Multichannel done properly
  2. Improve the customer experience within a digitally transformed world
  3. Modern telephony: Considerations

The Latest

19 Nov 2020: During its annual summit, Snowflake announces a series of new capabilities: a development environment called Snowpark, support for unstructured media, row-level security for improved data governance and a data market.

Why it’s Important

Of Snowflake’s recent announcements, Snowpark clearly reveals the vendor’s strategy to leverage its Cloud analytics platform to enable the development of data-intensive applications. Snowpark allows developers to write applications in their preferred languages to access information in the Snowflake data platform.

This represents an inversion of how business intelligence / analytics teams have traditionally viewed the role of a data warehouse. The rise of data warehouses was driven by limitations in computing performance: heavy analytical workloads were shifted to a dedicated platform so that application performance would not be impacted by limits of database, storage and compute power. With Cloud-native data platform architectures that remove these limitations, it is now possible to leverage the data warehouse (or at least, the analogue of what the data warehouse has become) to service applications.

Who’s Impacted

Development teams
Business intelligence / analytics architects

What’s Next?

Snowflake's strategy is evidence of a seismic shift in data analytics architecture. Along with Domo, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and other Cloud-based data platforms that take advantage of highly scalable, federated architectures, Snowflake is empowering a flip in how data can be leveraged. To take advantage of this flip, organisations should rethink the structure and roles within BI / analytics teams. IBRS has noted that many organisations continue to invest heavily in building their BI / analytics architecture with individual best-of-breed solutions (storage, databases, warehouse, analytics tools, etc), while placing less focus on the data scientists and business domain experts. With access to elastic Cloud platforms, organisations can reverse this focus - putting the business specialists and data scientists in the lead. 

Related IBRS Advisory
Workforce transformation: The four operating models of business intelligence
Key lessons from the executive roundtable on data, analytics and business value

The Latest

To cater for organisations with requirements to keep data in-country, VMware has opened a Sydney based Point of Presence (PoP) for Carbon Black Cloud in the AWS Sydney data centre. Carbon Black Cloud offers end-point security, which provides behaviour based analysis of devices. 

Why it’s Important

The market for end-point security based on behavioural analytics is growing quickly. However, it relies upon hyper scale Cloud or Cloud-like resources. The paradox is that risk-averse organisations that can benefit from this type of endpoint protection are reticent to allow as-a-Service solutions not based domestically to have access to sensitive information about their staff activities. By opening a Sydney based PoP for Carbon Black Cloud, VMware removes a policy barrier to this type of end-point security. 

Who’s Impacted

  • Desktop / digital workplace leads
  • CISO / security teams

What’s Next?

Carbon Black Cloud is one of a growing list of technology offerings in end-point security that leverage Cloud computing and AI. This market will grow rapidly as remote and hybrid working environments become a permanent part of the economy. And rightly so. In principle, IBRS does not see that data geolocation (keeping data domestically) significantly improves an organisation’s security stance, though it may provide regulatory compliance. Latency issues, especially for high-volume services, are also a consideration.

In practice, many organisations still need to address legacy policy regarding information management, and so the trend towards vendors setting up local data processing operations will continue..  

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Embracing security evolution with zero trust networking
  2. What is the security agenda for 2019?
  3. When it comes to security, when is enough... enough?

IBRS advisor Dr Wissam Raffoul, who specialises in transforming IT groups into service organisations, said legacy tech stacks had a lot of 'single point failures' which could bring whole systems to their knees.

Full story.

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

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Conclusion: Despite decades of investment in new technologies and the promise of 'digital transformation', workforce productivity has languished. The problem is that technological change does not equate to process nor practice change. Put simply, doing the same things with new tools will not deliver new outcomes.

The mass move to working from home has forced a wave of change to practices: people are finally shifting from a sequential approach to work to a genuinely collaborative approach. And this work approach will remain even as staff return to the office.

The emerging wave through 2020 and beyond is process change: continual and iterative digitisation of process. Practice and process changes will be two positive legacies of the pandemic.

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The Latest

13 Nov 2020: Google Cloud announced preview availability of a serverless Database Migration Service (DMS), which enables clients to migrate MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases to Cloud SQL from on-premises environments or other clouds. 

Why it's Important 

Refactoring applications to take advantage of Cloud-native databases is one of the fastest cost-optimisation opportunities for organisations migrating to Cloud services. Cloud-native databases offer cost-efficiencies in both technical terms (e.g. storage costs) and operational savings (e.g. auto-tuning and scaling). However, the cost of migrating can be a sticking point in the development of business cases, especially where specialised outside help is required. 

Google DMS addresses the above by simplifying and reducing the cost of database migration. It eliminates the need to provision migration-specific compute resources.

Azure and AWS have their own database migration approaches, and even though Google’s solution is in its infancy, it has a solid road map.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • Enterprise Architects
  • Cloud Migration / Strategic leads

What’s Next

Organisations with Cloud migration strategies should be comparing how to not only optimise the cost of running Cloud databases, but also the cost and agility of migration. This consideration should not rest upon one use case, but assume that an increasing number of databases will be migrated over time, both from on-premise and from other Cloud providers.  

Close ‘like-for-like’ calculations suggest that Google’s MySQL database services are lower than that of both Azure and AWS, though direction comparisons are difficult given the number of possible configurations. Therefore, while Google is not a major Cloud player in the ANZ region (compared to AWS and Azure) it can be considered as an option for cost-optimisation in a multi-Cloud setting.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

10 Nov 2020: Microsoft has announced the general availability of its Data Loss Prevention (DLP) services. The DLP services are being rolled out to Office 365 customers with E3 and E5 licensing (see details on licensing below). Microsoft also introduced additional features for its DLP service, including: 

  • Sensitivity labels for DLP policies
  • Dashboard within Microsoft 365 compliance center to manage DLP alerts 
  • New conditions and exceptions for mail flow rules

Why it’s Important

The rapid introduction of collaboration tools has opened new vectors for data leakage. This was a particular worry of participants in IBRS’s recent Teams Governance Peer Roundtable, with 67% of executives having data leakage concerns. The current approach to reducing data leakage from products such as Teams is to block sharing and collaboration with external parties. While this does limit data leakage, it also eliminates one of the key benefits of new collaboration tools: the ability to create borderless work environments. 

What’s covered

E3 licensing provides DLP for Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive. However, organistions will need E5 licensing for access DLP for Teams Chat and Devices/ Endpoint.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Office 365 or Microsoft 365 investments. 

  • Desktop / digital workplace lead
  • Office 365 deployment leads / administrators
  • Information management teams
  • CISO

What’s Next?

Microsoft’s general release of DLP, under existing E3 and E5 licensing levels, is a potent step to addressing collaboration’s woes. While Microsoft’s DLP is not as feature laden as dedicated competitive offerings, it requires no additional budget. Effectively, Microsoft is pushing DLP down into the broader market, to organisations that may not have previously considered such solutions. Along with Microsoft Information Protection (MIP),  Microsoft DLP should be investigated as a priority feature for Office 365 deployments, especially where Microsoft Teams is being deployed with guest access enabled.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest
9 Nov 2020: Adobe announced a commitment to purchase Workfront for USD1.5b. The deal will bring Workfront’s marketing workflow and collaboration solutions into Adobe’s portfolio of ecommerce, content creation and delivery solutions.

Why it's Important
Adobe is the leader in the marketing technology landscape, with a wide portfolio of solutions for content creation and delivery. In the last three years, Adobe has aggressively pursued design and ecommerce automation through AI and related technologies. The addition of Workfront to its portfolio brings collaboration and workflow into the mix. The likely result being AI powered decision-making into marketing workflows.

Who’s Impacted
Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • eCommerce / marketing technology leads

What’s Next
Workfront and Adobe have a history of collaboration and there are cultural synergies that will likely make the merger relatively seamless from a customer perspective. In the near term (2-3 years), Workfront clients will not see a significant shift in product direction nor licensing. However, as Adobe leverages its AI capabilities into Workfront, expect to see new capabilities that benefit Adobe Marketing Cloud, Experience Manager and other products in the Adobe suite. Longer term, Workforce clients (many of whom are already Adobe clients) should prepare for the more assertive licensing audit activities for which Adobe is known.

Related IBRS Advisory

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding a heightened demand for managed security services have been prominent – in particular, around vulnerability and penetration assessments, mitigation frameworks, response and recovery protocols, as well as response consolidation and training. Customers have long recognised the need to ensure systems are protected from inappropriate access. However, internal business preparedness, recovery and continuity plans have caused vulnerabilities in the past. A greater number, frequency and awareness of security incidents have prompted vendors to integrate security services with a customer’s business operations and business preparedness plans, with a focus on response and continuity. This has resulted in the provision of high-quality offerings, delivery models and ongoing support, with an increased customer adoption and integration with existing business operations.

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Conclusion: To respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, organisations are left with no alternative but to improve their internal efficiency to continue meeting their committed service levels while facing a constant drop in headcount1. However, sustaining the efficiency gains once acquired requires high-availability and efficient services that meet business operations imperatives. This demands avoiding outages that require significant manual effort to recover services while dealing with possible embarrassment in the media. IT organisations should develop a risk profile for every critical service and alert the possible exposures to business executives. The focus of the risk profile is to avoid increased overheads while maintaining service levels. The outcome should be a mitigation strategy that is acceptable to business executives, clients, business partners and government agencies.

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Conclusion: Organisations using Microsoft Server licences should consider leveraging the full potential of recent developments in the AWS licence suite. For more than a decade, AWS Cloud services have provided different organisations reliable data servicing and fewer downtime hours. AWS suggests that it offers clients more instances and twice the performance rate on SQL servers compared to other Cloud providers. Clients will need to have a performance rating in mind to validate these services for their own use.

Over the past decade, AWS has sought to innovate its processes and features following customer feedback. For example, the AWS License Manager was developed after customer feedback as a one-stop solution that manages usage limits and enables IT licensing optimisation across a variety of software vendors and across hybrid environments. It is important for customers to compare this licence management solution with other Cloud providers to validate the additional benefits.

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Conclusion: All organisations need to identify the value of their procurement portfolio. That is, to document and regularly review the portfolio to understand both the criticality of the contracts to business and the triggers that decide whether the technology is meeting the need and when actions need to be put in place to limit the risk to the business in the acquisition process.

With an improved situational awareness of the procurement portfolio, organisations then need to ensure alignment with the business strategy. The alignment can only be achieved with regular independent reviews, and by effective governance processes to ensure that the risk associated with procurement planning is contained.

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Conclusion: SAP ECC on-premise versions required ownership of ERP infrastructure and multi-year licensing. The business cases for such investments considered ERP systems essential to remain competitive in IT service industries, logistics and resource-intensive sectors.

The next stage of the SAP journey recognises that Cloud infrastructure associated with S/4HANA can remove the large capital investment and reduce operating costs. Even with this infrastructure saving, the data migration risk remained with CIOs looking to identify a reliable data migration method. Any data migration considered to be high risk should be avoided in the current environment. Many are unfamiliar with the best method to migrate from on-premise SAP solutions to SAP S/4HANA in the Cloud.

SAP and its partners are now making this data migration journey not only more transparent but achievable in a timeframe that is measured in months not years. This is being achieved through Cloud platforms that can interrogate and integrate legacy data, then present migration paths in real time whilst retaining the data integrity before, during and after the migration.

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Conclusion: ‘Voice of the customer’ (VoC) programs often involve the collection and analysis of data through feedback, research and analytics. This can provide an organisation with a strong view of customer desires, pain points, improvement opportunities and new product opportunities. However, this approach does not provide insight into whether these desires, pain points and ideas are shared by your employees. It also does not tell you whether these ideas are easy to implement or if they are achievable. In part, these are the reasons why only 24 % of large firms think they are good at making changes to the business based on insights captured through their VoC programs1.

Many organisations invest in employee engagement programs and initiatives, without realising the full benefit (i. e. action) of this investment2. This paper explores how, by capturing the voice of your staff as a component of your VoC program, organisations can increase the practical value of insights collected, expedite the road to implementation and focus on targeted, achievable action.

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Conclusion: At the start of 2020, businesses had carefully-devised strategies in place which had been put together the year before. The onslaught of the global pandemic has either put these strategies to the test or caused them to be scrapped completely. The coronavirus has imposed changes everywhere we look and across different industries. Some businesses were forced to close shop. Others have been on a path of fast-tracked innovation and transformation. Before the pandemic, organisational behaviour had been structured to usher in growth and expansion. Although these are still valid goals, another factor has been added and that is survival.

With an economic crisis looming, consumer behaviour will inevitably change. Building and rebuilding the business requires its executives to be resilient and agile. A change in mindset is key. Alternative perspectives are relevant in pivoting in this new normal. After the period of adjustment has set in, managing IT may look different from how things were previously done.

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Conclusion: As organisations strive to enhance customer experience, complemented by marketing and sales activities, success will be contingent on IT and business professionals using data literacy skills and being able to implement systems that make it easy to do business with them and understand their buying patterns.

Unless IT and business professionals acquire the data literacy skills needed, and make the right data available, efforts to better engage with customers and prospects will fail to achieve expectations and opportunities will be wasted.

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Conclusion: Security breaches by insiders, whether deliberate or accidental, are on the increase and their consequences can be just as catastrophic as other types of security incidents. Organisations are typically reluctant to disclose insider security breaches and as a result, these breaches receive relatively little media attention. The insider threat may therefore be perceived as being of secondary importance in an organisation’s cyber security program. However, given the consequences, organisations need to ensure that this risk is given sufficient executive attention and resourcing.

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Conclusion: Passwords will continue to be part of the landscape for the foreseeable future. Organisations, driven by the concepts of defence in depth, must implement techniques that enhance the security of the authentication process. Both products and processes can be enabled or added to help secure the creation, use and storage of passwords.

Each of the techniques mentioned can be used on their own to enrich the security. Some or all of them can be combined to further build the security. Most of them have little associated costs apart from deployment and perhaps training, but the cumulative impact on the robustness of the authentication process is significant.

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

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Conclusion: Cyber incidents and the protection of information have now taken enterprise and national significance. 

Organisations will need to learn to operate securely in a zero trust world. With an ever-increasing number of cyber-related incidents, cyber security risk has evolved from a technical risk to a strategic enterprise risk. The risk of a compromise for most organisations is increasing with the acceleration of digital transformation, adoption of technologies such as Cloud services, analytics and IoT. The threat landscape is further compounded by increased regulatory and compliance requirements.

A cyber compromise is almost inevitable and organisations are now focusing on improving the resilience of their organisation to a cyber incident. Many organisations now have cyber resilience programs in place which not only protect and defend their key information assets but are also well placed to respond should a cyber incident occur. Our cyber strategy, roadmap and implementation advisory are designed to assist on your cyber resilience journey.

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Conclusion: As-a-Service solutions offer organisations agility, flexibility and scalability but the graveyard of unused software piling up should ring alarm bells. Neglected software utilisation and compliance will be factors that should drive a new Software Asset Management (SAM) investment. The impact of an unmanaged Cloud SaaS or IaaS solution will be quickly revealed during audits. At a time when management is a focus, this should be an easy win.

Organisations will need to quickly identify if they are running single or multi-tenanted instances and whether production and non-production environments are being managed efficiently for the purposes of SAM product selection.

Selecting a SAM tool should be proportionate to the cost of non-compliance. Unmitigated software licence costs can be eye-watering. Consider these factors when selecting your SAM product for Information Technology Asset Management (ITAM):

  1. Data points
  2. Software overspend
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Compliance

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Conclusion: Governance committees face a number of challenges that can undermine their effectiveness. These challenges include groupthink, a focus on individual responsibilities rather than organisation-wide benefits, trust issues and a lack of knowledge of emerging issues and opportunities. Appropriately qualified and experienced independent external advisors can play an important role in overcoming these challenges.

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Conclusion: People are and will be using passwords for the foreseeable future despite the numerous efforts underway to dispense with them. Managing them and particularly resetting them are ongoing costs for organisations.

Passwords are also a significant contributor to breaches. They are either captured during credential-grabbing efforts, leaked in a data breach or just too easy to guess.

Yet there are excellent guidelines in existence to assist people to minimise the possibility of passwords being cracked or guessed. Some involve implementing good policies, and most involve making it easier for users to create, remember and use passwords.

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Conclusion: In the modern world, no organisation has ICT entirely in-sourced. As a result, procurement, contract and vendor management have become strategic processes that allow organisations to align their ICT capability with the business strategy to achieve the desired outcomes, both now and into the future.

It is often the case that effective planning for the procurement of technology capability is compressed or constrained such that procurement is not able to effect ‘big step’ change. Or the commercial approach means the agreement is based on a fixed term, which results in the procurement not being a strategic exercise. More often than not, the procurement delivers constraints that limit the business’s ability to achieve the desired outcomes. These constraints limit the business’s ability to be agile in terms of elasticity, or how well it can respond to disruption in the market.

The technology options to meet business demand are not the same today as they were yesterday, and they will undoubtedly differ tomorrow. The challenge is to ensure ICT procurement is responsive to the business strategy, and that vendors share in the advantage a strategic alliance brings to the business. Procurement needs to be effectively planned and clearly aligned to the business strategy to ensure the strategy is delivered effectively.

This paper is the first in a four-part series on how to ensure procurement meets the business need, gain an understanding of strategic versus tactical procurement, and will define the steps necessary to avoid the pitfalls that cause procurements to under-deliver.

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Conclusion: Many organisations are engaged in implementing digital transformation programs to provide enhanced customer services, e. g. with new products or to reduce operating costs, or both. Unfortunately, many programs fail, sometimes repeatedly, until they achieve their set objectives. What is important though is when failure occurs, use the lessons learned to try again.

Delivering a transformed organisation is hard as it is inevitably accompanied by:

  • Redesigning business processes to meet today’s business imperatives
  • Implementing enhanced information systems
  • Encouraging employees to acquire new skills and be innovative
  • Actively minimising the business risks

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Conclusion: Growing use of SaaS-based, low-code application development platforms will accelerate digital process innovation. However, embracing citizen developers (non-IT people who create simple but significant forms-based applications and workflows) creates issues around governance: including security, process standardisation, data quality, financial controls, integration and potentially single points of failure. There is also a need for new app integrations and service features for its stakeholders that need to be addressed before the potential for citizen developers can be fully realised.

If governed properly, low-code platforms and citizen developers can accelerate digital transformation (or at least, digitisation of processes) and in turn alleviate the load on traditional in-house development teams.

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Conclusion: This month, there has been an increased focus on the impact of external environments and customer demands on managed services providers and their offerings. An increased demand for hybrid working solutions, remote operations and connectivity solutions has driven a greater demand for associated services such as security, Cloud and platforms. Customers have been searching for targeted and combined solutions to help address business needs and increase operational efficiencies. For those vendors that put an emphasis on meaningful customer relationships and interactions, maintaining open and clear communications and the capacity to adapt to client needs is critical. A customer with a heavy reliance on legacy systems for key business processes may find this raises challenges or is simply no longer feasible in the current climate. Service providers must be ready to work with clients that need to adapt or completely overhaul in order to provide the necessary support in difficult times. 

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Conclusion: As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia, many businesses’ income has been reduced, approximately 800,000 people have been made redundant and the IT budget has been significantly cut. IT organisations are left with no alternative but to improve their internal efficiency to continue meeting their committed service levels while facing a constant drop in headcount. To survive under these budget limitations during the next two years, IT must focus on efficiency quick wins that opt to reduce costs, automate highly manual activities and mitigate critical risk that may lead to service breakdowns, which in turn require significant human effort to rectify. The quick wins should be implemented within 18 months to realise the desired effect. An efficiency improvement task force should be established to make it all happen. 

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Conclusion: The coming global recession will see ICT budgets cut, or at least constrained, in the 2021 financial year through to 2023. CIOs are now inundated with advice that boils down to this singular direction for efficiency and mostly, for survival. Although sound, this advice does not take into consideration that many CIOs have long been practising cost-efficiency. Many IT shops are already cut to the bone.

IT projects will be on the chopping block. Hence, it is crucial to prioritise now – before the cuts are mandated – which IT projects can be shelved for a few years without unacceptable risks to the organisation. It is important to note here that postponing or cancelling projects is being framed as a business risk decision. The CIO’s role is to put forward the risks of delaying or killing off a project, not to be the sole arbitrator. 

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