Top Ten for 2024 and Beyond

With the start of a new year comes an opportunity to think about what opportunities that technology could bring organisations over the coming 12 months. With generative AI seeming to hit the headlines as much as the per capita recession, I have increasingly been thinking of the year ahead in terms of prioritization. Opportunities for technology to truly transform thinking, markets, and your business are endless – but our ability to fund, consume and manage the required change is the challenge we face.  

In thinking of the year ahead, the BTC Team has identified key IT trends and technology challenges that we feel our clients will be facing next year. As independent IT management consultants, we not only see a variety of different industries suffering the same issues, but it’s our job to help you identify and form the solutions. Please feel free to contact us at any time to discuss how Beyond Technology can help your organisation with independent actionable advice that is free from conflict of interest.

Of course Generative AI has to top the list for 2024, with the technology industry increasing its billions of dollars of investment on a daily basis, the future opportunity for business will be as transformative as the industrial revolution. The challenge for 2024 is going to be to build the foundational infrastructure and optimise your IT function to be ready to be a proactive partner of the business in the deployment of AI and digital capabilities. Moving forward IT planning should have one eye focused on being ready, and the other on reducing technical debt to improve operational resilience and agility. Undoubtably each of this years top ten will have some component that will link back to AI readiness.

1.  Carrier diversity and operational/cyber resilience no one ever learns without making mistakes, unless they can learn from others. Optus in recent years has been exceedingly generous with its learning moments and the analysis of what went wrong in their recent catastrophic network failure has been a very useful moment for boards and executives across all organisations. Many company’s have already deployed dual-SIM mobiles for their emergency response teams and true carrier diverse SD-WANs is looking like the go-to architecture for 2024.

2.  Digital Supply Chain risk assessment and management has become a regular topic in most board discussions. With the majority of the big publicised data breaches being initiated through an outside channel, everyone has recognised that your people and your partners can be there undefended weak link in their cyber defence. 3rd party audit rights, attestations and mandatory assessments have become a common response and we can expect this trend to intensify in 2024.

3.   Strategic Cost optimisation & Frugal Cloud Architectures – As interest rate and inflation pressures continue to bite business through 2024, the expectation that the rate of IT budget growth will reduce should be considered. Organisations should seek to leverage cost optimisation opportunities while maintaining the push for resilience, security and agility improvements in a appropriately frugal manner 

4.   Data & Analytic transformations – As organisations have continued to digitise and collect more business data, both the opportunity and the risk has steadily increase. While most organisations now understand the risk of storing everything for ever, the growing capabilities of AI engines in analytics have doubled the need for deliberate planning on your data & analytics transformation journey.

5.  AI, Privacy and Cyber Governance Policy – As businesses seek to exploit growing AI opportunities the requirement for staff to undertake Structured Experimentation will require both planning and risk mitigation strategies. The need to consider your technical and control policies across your technology environment will also become increasingly critical with the new privacy regulations and cyber security obligations expected in 2024.

6.  FinOps is the framework that connects the business to the spending priority on IT capabilities and provides a path for governance and accountability with continuous and iterative practices. With the cloud procurement practices of IT teams often be compared to moving from buying beer by the bottle (on-premises procurement) to the installation of a Tap directly into the bedroom of an alcoholic, it is not surprising that cost control and purchase decision governance is a big topic for 2024.

7.  AI, Privacy and Cyber Governance Policy As businesses seek to exploit growing AI opportunities the requirement for staff to undertake Structured Experimentation will require both planning and risk mitigation strategies. The need to consider your technical and control policies across your technology environment will also become increasingly critical with the new privacy regulations and cyber security obligations expected in 2024.

8.   3G shutdown and Windows 10 EOL– although some may feel like the impending 3G shutdown might feel like the Y2K bug of last century, for some industries it poses a very real danger. It is not so much a concern identifying 3G only devices, but ensuring that older 4G devices supporting machine to machine communication that are deployed in remote locations are able to operate on the frequency bands that have coverage at those locations.  Planning for the scheduled Windows 10 EOL should be nearing completion and 2024 should be used for the migration or retirement of those devices.

9.  Priority Planning, deciding what not to do is often just as important on identifying the opportunity landscape. The more that the IT function properly engages with the business the truly limitless appetite for more information, more automation and improved capabilities is increasingly uncovered demonstrating the insatiable demand the business has. Maintaining focus and prioritisation is critical to success in delivering your improvement and remediation projects.

10.  Improved technical governance and further increased board-level oversight of IT operations – The importance of secure, reliable and efficient IT to support the competitiveness of businesses will continue to be a focal point for many boards. Data custody has become an increasing concern as increasingly complex supply chain and IT environments threaten to affect the “line of sight” of organisations to its information. Boards will continue to ask questions on their risk levels for data integrity, information protection and privacy compliance. We expect many more organisations will opt for Independent external review to provide appropriate oversight directly to the board.

Navigating Business Challenges Through Strategic IT Assessments

Organisations, whether they are small businesses or large corporations, are always up against new challenges in the quickly changing business environment. These difficulties include risk management, operational efficiency, and technological advances. Performing Strategic IT Assessments is an essential first step in getting past these obstacles. Beyond Technology provides specialised methods with its IT Rapid Assessments and Independent IT Strategy Assessment, made to fit the particular requirements of every organisation.

The Importance of Strategic IT Assessments

IT systems are the foundation of every business operation in the modern digital era. But over time, these systems may become antiquated or out of step with corporate objectives. To find out how well your current IT infrastructure supports your business objectives, you need to conduct strategic IT assessments. They point out inefficiencies, risks, and areas that could use improvement. Businesses can make sure they are not just surviving but thriving in their respective markets by ensuring alignment of IT capabilities with business strategies.

Our Method for Rapid Assessments

Beyond Technology’s Rapid IT Assessments are a great option for companies looking for a quick and efficient way to analyse their IT environment. These evaluations aim to provide quick insights into the most important components of your IT infrastructure. Beyond Technology assists businesses in prioritising and addressing the most pressing IT challenges by concentrating on key performance indicators and quickly detecting possible problems. For organisations that need quick feedback to make well-informed decisions, this service is ideal.

The Depth of Independent IT Strategic Assessments

When it comes to a thorough and unbiased evaluation of IT systems, Beyond Technology’s Independent IT Strategic Assessments are unparalleled. These assessments offer a comprehensive review of your entire IT landscape, from infrastructure and security to software and service delivery. By maintaining an independent stance, Beyond Technology ensures that the advice provided is free from vendor biases and solely focused on optimising your business’s IT performance. This in-depth analysis helps in crafting strategic plans that are not only technologically sound but also aligned with business goals.

Tailoring to Diverse Business Sizes

Beyond Technology’s services are scalable and flexible because it recognises that every organisation has different needs and challenges. Beyond Technology’s methodology is adaptable enough to offer insightful information to any size organisation, be it a large corporation with intricate IT systems or a smaller one with little IT resources. Their team of specialists delivers solutions that are transformative and useful by utilising extensive experience in a variety of industries.

 IT Assessment Case Studies

Media Industry Transformation

In one case, a media company hired Beyond Technology to strategically evaluate its IT capabilities and technology divisions in order to realign the cost base of its business. It was suggested by Beyond Technology to reorganise these departments into an integrated technology services team. This reorganisation led to more productive work teams that more effectively met improved service level agreements. It also brought about the adoption of advanced remote management tools and procedures that were more in line with business requirements. As a result, a sizeable 25% cost reduction was accomplished right away, eventually amounting to 30% of the prior budget for IT operations.

IT Service Delivery in Education

Another strong example concerned a regional school with unique challenges in providing IT services. These obstacles included increased running costs, inadequate communications infrastructure, and trouble hiring and keeping qualified employees. A thorough remediation plan was presented by Beyond Technology, encompassing a prioritised roadmap for resolving infrastructure problems, selective outsourcing, and team reorganisation. By re-engaging IT with organisational stakeholders and addressing the immediate issues, this strategic approach laid the foundation for long-term improvement.

Actionable Outcomes

Giving pragmatic advice is the ultimate aim of Beyond Technology’s IT assessments. In contrast to conventional reports, which frequently wind up collecting dust on shelves, the focus is on providing useful suggestions that can be put into action. This method guarantees that companies have a clear plan for utilising technology to increase success in addition to understanding their IT strengths and weaknesses.

IT assessments are vital because navigating the complicated world of IT in business demands a strategic approach. Beyond Technology is a shining example for companies looking to maximise the potential of their IT infrastructure thanks to its customised Rapid and Independent Assessments. Their proficiency in managing a range of business sizes and dedication to practical results make them an invaluable partner.

Learn more about Beyond Technology’s Independent IT Assessments and help you navigate your unique IT challenges for your business.

Are Cyber Security self assessments useful?

In the world of cyber defences, our government often talks up self-assessment tools to be part of the community’s cyber security solution. I am often asked by boards and executives “Are they useful?”, and of course the answer is “well, it depends on what you are using it for”. Self-assessment tools are obviously flawed for any sort of governance objective, however clearly any thought given by your CIO or IT manager to understanding their circumstances and defences is better than none at all. Independent expert assessments, audits or health checks are always going to be the better choice as they don’t suffer from the key dangers of self-assessment processes. A false sense of security that is given by an inaccurate self-assessment is often more dangerous than no assessment at all. We have reviewed countless self-assessment reports, that not only paint a rosier picture than reality, but also hides a complete misunderstanding of the goals and objectives of required security controls.  

Often a more important question for executives responsible for cyber resilience and security governance is not about the importance of independence, but the difference between a “Review” and an “Audit”.

So how does an Independent Cyber Security Review and an Independent Cyber Security Audit differ? This can generally be found in the intent and therefore the focus of the advice and recommendation that should be part of the deliverable. Audits will often target testing controls and confirming compliance, whereas Reviews will similarly consider controls & capabilities but will focus on the gap analysis of these capabilities to the business’ requirements, and the opportunity assessment for improvement. Cyber security is a constantly moving target, and to win the arms race you need “actionable advice” on where to focus improvement efforts not just a list of controls that are not effective.

As Beyond Technology is Australia’s leading Independent bespoke mid-tier technology advisory, we provide both independent Review and Audit services and will often combine a review and audit process to produce a hybrid outcome that benchmarks capabilities and confirms governance, while providing “actionable advice” on your improvement roadmap. If you know of an organisation that need assistance with independent cyber assessments or audit – then let them know that Beyond Technology can help.

Network Outages and Single Points of Failure

The recent Optus outage has been a stark reminder to many boards and executives of the importance of understanding your cyber resilience. In our increasingly digital environment, a network outage caused by a technical failure or a malicious cyber event can cripple businesses and let customers down. Knowing your technical single points of failures and deliberately planning to eliminate them, or knowing the workaround ahead of time should be standard in any business. As many of our clients can attest to, understanding your carrier network architecture and the use of appropriate levels of technology and carrier diversity  is critical in todays software defined and NBN based wide area networks.

As a leading independent technology advisory, Beyond Technology is ideally placed to help organisations gain a clear understanding on their technology weak points by undertaking a Cyber Resilience Assessment. Armed with this knowledge that is free from bias and conflicts of interest, your organisation can then develop its Cyber Resilience Strategy and Action plan to mitigate failure risk of your business critical digital systems.

For those organisations that directly felt the pain of the Optus outage, and those who felt lucky to have been reliant on a different carrier – Now is the time to act. Don’t wait for the inevitable next major event to occur or expect regulators to step in and magically make carrier and technology services fail-proof. Get expert assistance to know your vulnerabilities and plan to avoid critical business impacts. Customers have a right to feel let down by Optus, but not knowing or planning for your single point technical and supplier vulnerabilities is something that you have control over.

If you know of an organisation that need assistance with a Cyber Resilience Assessment or Response planning – then let them know that Beyond Technology can help.

Network Transformation Planning

As Beyond Technology nears the end of a very large (700+ site) network transformation program, I have taken time to look back and consider why the program has been so successful and how we have been able to assist our client to materially change their digital agility and readiness for ongoing business productivity improvements.

An organisations network is foundational, when it is poorly performing its almost impossible for the IT function to build or maintain credibility with the business. When the architecture is legacy, or the operational strategy is non-ideal, the IT function can’t respond quickly enough to the business, is constantly on the back foot with regards to security, and never have the budget or time to be proactive in delivering improved capabilities to the business.

When your Network, Telecommunications and operational strategies are aligned with the digital aspirations of the business – you have a highly performant, scalable, reliable, efficient, secure and cost effective foundation to build your broader digital business evolution. 

The telecommunication landscape and contemporary network architectures is fundamentally different to where it was just 5 years ago.  The fundamental evolution of the industry through the NBN build, Covid impacts and the global cyber security degradation has left technology leaders without lived experience to assist in the navigation of the transformation objectives. Both carriers and network vendors are struggling with the shifting dynamics of the market and clients are finding that they have a limited window to decide on the optimal transformation approach and how to get the most out of their budget.

We have found that our experience and expertise has provided our clients the air cover that they need to shift their focus from the weeds of the network transformation, to the truly unique value add opportunities in their business. Having the confidence that the network transformation program will deliver them the correct balance of cost/risk/performance/agility has provided the opportunity to engage with the business on specific and impactful digital transformation projects that rely on the solid network infrastructure foundation.

The network transformation agenda needs to reduce operational complexity (more people managing the network is not an option), improve reliability (24*7 high avaliability is always mandatory), improve performance (bandwidth requirements keep growing and network destinations keep changing), improve security (network threats grow every hour), and reduce/avoid costs (do more with less, rinse and repeat).

Advice needs to be trusted, vendor agnostic and independent. Unfortunately conflicts of interest are rife in the technology industry. Sometimes these are obvious (its no surprise when your managed service partner only recommends a technology that they support) and sometime not so obvious (when advice is effected by secret commissions or just technical bias).

If you know of an organisation that is having its telecommunications contracts up for renewal in the next 12 months, considering the lifecycle replacement of network infrastructure, or is looking towards a digital business transformation agenda – then let them know that Beyond Technology can help.