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Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding partnerships and acquisitions with the specific aim of expanding reseller businesses to include managed services have been prominent. Specifically there have been a number of investments, acquisitions and partnerships to transition resellers into service providers. This type of consolidation can be beneficial by enhancing offerings, assisting with collaboration and evolution, as well as providing access to new skills and products vendors have been lacking. Investments have also been made to educate traditional resellers on the benefits of becoming managed service providers with a focus on obtaining new customers and channel distribution of managed services. This flags a shift in customer demand for service-based value models which can be specifically targeted to individual business needs, and will ultimately be positive for both vendors and their clients.

Conclusion: Hiring is costly, time-consuming and fraught with risk. Hiring decisions can impact organisations in either positive or negative ways. A critical step in the hiring process is onboarding. First impressions matter and new hires need to be made to feel welcome, engaged and enabled to ensure they can settle in quickly and are able to start contributing as quickly as possible.

Given that a critical issue in Australia is the availability of highly-sought-after IT skills1, it is particularly important that organisations can attract and retain the IT skills needed to support the business. Of course, successful onboarding is important in all aspects of an organisation.

Onboarding should be a clearly defined process with a checklist of exactly what should be done, and what should be repeated for every new hire. The process starts before the employee’s first day and extends to a period after the employee’s first day, possibly up to six or even 12 months.

Successful onboarding is not just HR’s responsibility but the responsibility of every hiring manager or supervisor, and their colleagues. And success will be judged by the employees in how well the process made them feel welcomed, helped them understand their role and engaged them, and contributed to their productivity. Lower turnover rates should also be a goal of improving onboarding.

Conclusion: This month, discussions regarding technologies used to facilitate highly specialised business functions have been prominent. Tailored solutions which focus on the performance of tasks, such as case outcome predictions, automated insurance claims, water monitoring for farms, sensors in apartment foundations to identify faults early and health risk identification, are amongst those discussed. These new solutions and frameworks can be beneficial for customers by automating tasks to address resource and skills shortages, as well as being cost-effective. However, these can be sensitive markets, performing very delicate functions that do warrant a certain degree of caution for vendors and customers when adopting, and a great deal of diligence afterwards. Investment in infrastructure because of expanding platforms, networks or associated equipment, training and consolidation with existing business operations are amongst the issues that may arise. Wrapping new solutions and service elements around other core services and operations can become a complex task. While customers do demand advanced offerings, vendors must find ways to increase value to clients by ensuring they acquire or have access to resources and skills that can be leveraged to support these new function-based solutions and associated issues.

Conclusion: Successfully hiring new employees can bring lots of benefits to an organisation – improved productivity, employee morale or business outcomes, to name just a few. Equally, poor hiring decisions can be extremely costly to an organisation. Having to dismiss someone who was recently hired but proves to not be a good fit for the role can impact the organisation in many ways, and usually at a higher cost than the direct costs associated with the actual recruitment process.

HR tech is a rapidly growing field of software solutions that are designed to help improve the recruitment process, with the ultimate goal of helping organisations improve their hiring outcomes.

Organisations wishing to improve their hiring effectiveness or efficiency should consider the emerging new recruiting solutions and how they may help address any identified problem areas in their current recruitment efforts. But caution needs to be taken, especially for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that may be built on historical data that results in bias, for example giving preference to particular genders.

Conclusion: This month, there has been increased discussion regarding security services; in particular, the growth of the Australian security service provider industry and benefits associated with procuring locally. Now that customers recognise security as a basic function, a strong local security services sector has evolved. Local vendor expertise within the Australian market, regulations, customer demands and the security environment as it pertains to Australian businesses is invaluable when establishing mechanisms to avoid and respond to security incidents. Security is a necessity, but vendors must be prepared, and more importantly understand the local market, as well as businesses, to ensure customers can avoid, continually educate staff about and respond to security incidents effectively.

Conclusion: The apocryphal ‘three envelopes’ story about the executive starting a new role is a cynical view of leadership transition. However, at its core, there are some uncomfortable truths about how people respond to crises early in their leadership. Digging deeper, there are lessons to be learned from these scenarios, suggesting more productive ways to deal with these issues as they arise.

It is critical for transitioning digital leaders to understand that people, culture and politics are the most powerful forces in an organisation. An ability to manage change and form collaborative relationships is a much stronger predictor of success in a digital transformation role than any digital or technical experience.

Conclusion: This month, attention has been drawn to vendors and managed service providers requiring customer transformation or migration to new frameworks and associated customer reluctance to do so. For instance, platform enhancements may necessitate migration to new systems or upgrades because of an inability to support ageing systems. Old platforms may simply not be compatible with newer resources, technologies or procurement models. However, these types of enhancements can be disruptive or costly for customers if they are not prepared for changes. Further difficulties can arise with existence of intertwined, hybrid systems within enterprises or systems which perform critical functions if changes interfere with business operations. Simply removing the capacity to access ageing systems and associated support is not sufficient. Businesses must prepare in advance when investing in products and services, in conjunction with vendors. The development of strategies and sharing responsibility for forward planning, education and engagement, as well as support for shifts, are necessary. The provision of other resources or advice from vendors, or obtaining services from third-party specialists dedicated to transformation strategy development and implementations, can also be beneficial. Whilst vendors must evolve, customers must also be prepared to make these changes and understand what kind of impact it can have on their operations.

Conclusion: This month, the high activity in mergers and acquisitions has continued. However, there has been additional discussion on the impact of these acquisitions on the industry in general, as well as the high volume, and whether this type of activity could have a negative effect on the Australian market – in particular, if the current regulatory frameworks governing mergers and acquisitions are sufficient to protect competition and avert potential misuse of market power. It is critical that regulators are aware of industry trends and how new practices may affect the market, as well as be open to feedback from vendors that have direct experience with circumstances regulators may not be familiar with.

Conclusion: Relationships at work between managers and employees are important and can influence the success and effectiveness of individual teams or whole organisations. Both managers and employees need to understand the bias that can occur between a view a manager may take about an employee they have invested in and ‘hired’ or selected, versus an employee that is thrust upon them or that they inherit from another manager; for example, employees that join an organisation as the result of an acquisition.

When managers are ‘invested’ in the selection of employees, a relationship exists that reflects on the managers’ judgement and decision-making skills, having believed that they have made good hiring decisions. No such relationship exists when the managers have no involvement in the selection of the employees but are assigned to managing the employees.

The more that managers understand this, the better they can focus on avoiding viewing employees differently. The more that employees understand this, the better they can recognise potential issues, and work to improve their career prospects by ensuring they work for a manager that has ‘chosen’ them, or at least learnt to understand their abilities and contributions.

Conclusion: The IT skills shortage is likely to worsen. In addition to technical skills, technology leaders and workers overwhelmingly recognise the value of creativity in the workplace, yet they lament their inability to effectively cultivate creativity. Creativity can unlock innovation in the enterprise, generate high levels of employee satisfaction, and make a significant contribution to corporate profit margins as well as national economies.

Creativity can be taught and strengthened, in individuals and in teams. Studies in neuroplasticity are demystifying the biology behind training the brain, demonstrating that even ‘set in their ways’ workers can improve their creativity – and productivity – using relatively simple techniques. Neuroscience is showing that we can still teach an old dog new tricks.

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