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Sue Johnston

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Sue Johnston is an IBRS advisor who focuses on strategy and governance of private and public enterprise ICT. She is an accomplished and innovative strategist with more than 25 years’ IT and business experience across the public and private sectors. Sue has held a number of senior executive positions with IT vendors and major management consulting companies and provides coaching to IT teams looking to change the conversation with their customers, their executive and each other. As a CIO, she has led the ICT function through significant transformation for organisations such as Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Auscript Australasia and TriCare Limited. Sue has also run a successful software development company and transitioned the company through an acquisition process. Sue chaired Innovation Committee in State Government which was responsible for generating, developing and funding innovative ideas and improving the skills and capabilities of public sector staff in pitching ideas and successfully executing innovation projects.

Conclusion: Organisations have been slowly and organically embracing virtual team management models over the past few years and there is every indication that this is the model of the future. Managing virtual teams and developing highly functional communities have been largely hit and miss. There are still many instances of dysfunctional teams exacerbated by the tyranny of distance. Systemically assessing the virtual distance within an organisation can provide insights and assist executive managers to develop and implement initiatives to significantly increase the effectiveness of virtual teams.


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Conclusion: Governments across Australia have been engaged in shared services initiatives for almost a decade. Unfortunately, while the benefits are clear in theory, in practice all large scale shared services initiatives in the Australian public sector have been problematic. While a number of state shared service programs have been significantly scaled back or completely abandoned, the promise of shared services benefits remains to be realised. Recently, the Australian government has commenced progression towards shared services. Most of the shared services projects were implemented as a ‘spin off’ and failed, while a ‘start up’ strategy may overcome many of the challenges of the previous implementations.


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Conclusion: A majority of organisations around the world and across Australia are implementing or trialling some form of Cloud service whether it be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. While Cloud services offer many potential benefits to organisations they can increase complexity in a number of areas of IT service management. Organisations may implement a hybrid Cloud model and deliver some services using public or private Cloud.

Business areas may subscribe to Cloud services for the provision of application services with or without the participation of IT. Identifying and managing the schedule of change with a wide variety of providers can be complex but will provide the CIO and the organisation with a clear view of who, what, when, and how changes will be made, the risks involved and the mitigation actions required.


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Conclusion: Moving services to the Cloud is a part of nearly all organisational strategic plans. Organisations today are either starting to trial services with one provider, moving from the trial phase to include additional services or heavily focussed on Cloud as part of their service delivery model.

Based on the learnings from organisations that are heavily focussed on the Cloud, CIOs will only be successful if they can successfully develop their maturity to be a competent customer of Cloud services. Developing an objective view of your organisation maturity level and actively seeking learnings from organisations that have already undertaken the journey will assist CIOs in developing an appropriate, actionable plan for their organisation.


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Conclusion: There are many benefits in off-the-shelf applications, whether they be onsite or SaaS,  available to organisations in terms of cost reductions, increased productivity, improving market share or customer satisfaction. For organisations that have traditionally followed a custom build approach, there are some key areas that need focus and executive management commitment to ensure the promised value is achieved.


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Conclusion: Project Management in organisations is commonplace. Reviews are essential, but often overlooked. Project reviews completed during the life of a project should include appropriate stakeholder groups and focus areas. Reviews that are inclusive of the groups not directly involved in the delivery of project activities and objectives can assist in identifying communication and brand perception issues. A clear and concise review program applied to projects can increase the likelihood of project success and improve the organisation’s brand image.


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Over the last 2 years, there has been an explosion of all things cloud. Infrastructure in the cloud, cloud services and of course cloud providers.

Many organisations are moving to the cloud, planning to move to the cloud or at least thinking about ways that they can leverage what the new wave of services can give them. Combine this with a very competitive commercial world where winning a portion of the available ICT spend is becoming harder and harder and you can see why no ICT company wants to be seen with yesterday’s present.


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Conclusion: Australian organisations in both public and private sectors enthusiastically identify and implement best practices from around the world. After considerable time and effort has been allocated to implementing these processes and tools the results are all too often less than satisfactory. There are many best practices, frameworks and tools to assist in the optimisation of IT but there are two key problem areas that if overcome, can make a significant difference in the benefits that organisations will derive from best practice implementation.


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Conclusion: There has been considerable research and media coverage on the role of the CIO and its relevance in the new digital era. Cloud services are making big inroads and traditional responsibilities are changing. This could signal the end of the role of CIO in organisations or, at the very least, dramatically change the scope of responsibility and divide the function. Over the next 3-5 years many CIO roles will be restructured into two roles and this is already occurring internationally and Australia wide. Organisations are making this change because they need to position for change and growth and they do not feel that the CIO can lead that change. In many instances the CIO either leaves the organisation or is allocated to run internal operations and a new digital chief is appointed for the more externally facing growth positions. Savvy CIOs will position themselves to lead this alignment activity, divest responsibility for low growth value activities and remain relevant into the future.


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Conclusion: Innovation is becoming increasingly important in the 21st century organisation, whether it be companies growing or keeping their customers or the public sector, trying to deliver services with ever decreasing budget – innovation will play a key role as established models for business processes become increasingly under strain. A crucial part of innovation is ideas management. Ideas management involves how to generate and capture ideas, how to select and progress ideas and how to diffuse ideas.

Many organisations focus on the tools and technology available to improve idea management within their organisation, but this ignores the other important elements including strategy, people and processes, resulting in a low level of maturity and often a poor performance of implementing ideas. Improving maturity across all the elements of idea management increases the opportunity to find the best ideas and get them implemented. While a high level of maturity across all elements may not be feasible or desirable, organisations should identify those areas that are important and ensure they optimise these.


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In the News

New cyber security rules reset $8b cloud marketplace - Financial Review - 26 July 2020

Philip Nesci, IBRS adviser and former CIO, has warned that agencies will need to get their information management sorted out to capitalise on the new rules. ‘‘Agencies need to identify their...
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Australia can build a culture of employee-led innovation - DropEverything - 24 July 2020

IBRS advisor Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses why it falls to individuals to look at improving their work in a post-COVID world. Dr. Sweeney comments on the need to build a culture of innovation that...
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Outdated work from home policies bog down Aussie businesses - Computer Reseller News - 6 April 2020

IBRS analyst Dr. Joseph Sweeney provides best practice-advice on working from home in the current pandemic situation. Dr. Joseph Sweeney discusses current working from home policies which are...
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Centrelink crashes under demand for crisis payments - Australian Financial Review - 23 march 2020

IBRS workforce transformation advisor Joseph Sweeney said many government departments had to navigate difficult IT environments that were only part-way through their digital transformations, with...
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Inside EY's security work at ANZ - Australian Financial Review - 3 March 2020

"There is more security work to go round than there are resources. So I don't think the market is that crowded. It's important to remember that security is not something you buy and then it's done;...
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