Conclusion: This month, a number of high-profile systems outages were reported, again flagging risks associated with operating complex IT environments and business functions which rely on these systems. Seemingly minor incidents, or a combination of disparate problems, can result in serious and costly system failures. These problems are exacerbated when issues impact on a company’s service delivery mechanisms and their own customers. This month, a power surge which triggered a global systems outage at British Airways left 75,000 customers stranded, at an estimated cost of $135M. A failure at Westpac left online users unable to access funds for 24 hours, following a similar week-long online and mobile banking failure in November 2016. The Australian Taxation Office has experienced serious service disruptions as a result of three outages in recent months, related to two separate service providers. A review of two failures by service provider Hewlett Packard Enterprise found a number of issues contributed to ATO system collapses and an inability to respond to them, including monitoring systems used to detect operating errors that were not activated, and access to recovery tools required to resolve problems being stored on the network which failed. These types of incidents highlight the impact of unexpected failures and inadequate response measures as well as the need for both vendors and customers to prepare for such events.

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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding skills gaps and talent shortages in ICT services have been prominent. Difficulties obtaining staff with specialist skills are expected to be apparent throughout 2017, and managed service providers are adopting a more strategic approach to obtaining and retaining qualified staff in key industry areas. The past year has seen a noticeable increase in acquisitions and collaboration between firms to provide services in high demand and maintain market relevance. However, vendors have recognised the need for long-term and strategic solutions to avert, rather than respond to, expected skills gaps. This has resulted in new positions being created dedicated to sourcing and further developing workforce capabilities that are sufficiently flexible to cater to a highly volatile and fluid industry, while providing environments that attract staff. A shift in perceptions of talent acquisition from an expense to a long-term asset investment is also required to ensure vendors can maintain a quality skills base.

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Conclusion: This month has seen a sharp increase in outsourcing agreements and a broader range of services adopted by customers. Due to globalisation and thus access to new markets and overseas resources through collaboration, vendor offerings are becoming more diverse and tailored to individual customers. This allows for the adoption of stronger digital models from diverse markets, not focused on particular technologies but on business processes and changing customer experiences (CX). This pattern is emerging globally, spanning both large and small businesses. Worldwide, there has been an increased emphasis on CX and recognition that a focus on customer needs as well as a capacity to adapt is necessary to maintain customer engagement and remain competitive in the industry.

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Conclusion: Too often the CIO or program/project executive will focus on the more tangible aspects of developing a new ICT system, bunch of processes, environments and the like only to have the new initiative fail as a result of risk averse and increasingly change weary and cynical employees1. Successful leaders need to spend increasing time and effort on getting all stakeholders on-side at all levels to implement and make sustainable positive change.

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Conclusion: This month, strategic focuses and plans for managed service providers have been prominent. As the current market remains highly flexible and prone to change, vendors must plan ahead while providing customers with tangible business responses to evolving markets. In particular, areas such as security, analytics and digital transformation are set for increased growth this year, as well as associated, offshoot industries that support areas in high demand.

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Conclusion: This month, financial results reporting for the first half of the 2017 financial year have shown steady growth for many IT managed service providers. Vendors that have acquired other companies to enhance or expand service offerings often report positive outcomes, provided those businesses can be successfully integrated with existing operations. Without carefully assessing potential acquisitions and developing a solid transition plan, difficulties can arise because of unsuccessful integration and restructuring efforts. A stringent consolidation plan is required for vendors to incorporate acquisitions and fully exploit specialist products and skills obtained from these investments. It is critical for vendors to assess their own service capacities, capabilities of potential business acquisitions and determine how they can be consolidated to improve service offerings.
In addition, careful planning is required for acquisitions that require business transformation, as well as other potential shifts, such as different target markets or strategic objectives. These efforts can be complex and expensive, but highly beneficial for vendors. There is a need to provide unique, innovative and efficient solutions to customers in a fast-paced and competitive industry, and acquisitions can facilitate this type of market differentiation.

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