Can adversity drive innovation?

By | Value Realisation | No Comments

What has become clear in the last few days is that things that we had previously though was impossible, are actually happening. Who would have thought 10 days ago that Australia would shut down its international boarders and seek to significantly restrict movements between states. The new normal for the world is the basis for innovation – consider what you though you knew to be a fact, it is often just a constraint of thinking. But how does this affect technology planning and strategy?

When we look at the short term we are often finding that assumptions around response planning has been unable to predict the impacts of this crisis. Digital supply chains are failing and we are needing to revisit the assumptions made for our existing plans. Directions by IT for staff to go down to Officeworks to pick up a screen and keyboard for your new work from home environment are being replaced with come to the office and take your monitor home as staff report that the shelves are bare at suppliers. Hotspot your laptop to your work mobile has been replaced with order a NBN service as network congestions hits mobile networks. Record highs reported by telco’s for voice traffic is changing our assumption about the role voice services play in these scenarios.

In the medium term we need to understand how the new work practices are changing assumptions that we made about collaboration and collaborative systems. We are seeing that the requirements of systems that supported face to face meetings are quite different from those that replace face to face activity. Systems that provide effective video collaboration between two people are not the same as those that can support effective communication between 15 people. Slack, Webex, Teams and Zoom may have previously looked like they were all solving similar problems, are being proven to be different on a regular basis.

Where some cloud providers have been able to keep ahead of the growth curve, others have not. When your scenario planning has now fallen down on assumptions that have proved inaccurate, it is vital to quickly identify the problem, and make a decision to remediate. The challenge is to make sure that these decision are based on knowledge and fact, rather than pivoting away from a poorly performing service to a completely failing one. Independent and experienced advice is key.

In the longer term it is all about understanding and preparing for the pressure of the recovery. Every year we see the subtle lift in business spirits on the break of spring, but the up turn from this recovery will be enormous. The pressure to delivery solutions at speed will be greater than we have experienced before and a disproportionate amount of this load will fall on the shoulders of your IT systems, infrastructure and capability. Decision support systems, data analysis and visualisation tools and massive changes to global supply chains and work practices will drive monumental change in core business systems. Poor advice by technologist due to inexperience of conflicted interests will deliver project and system failure. This has always cost businesses disproportionately to the expected implementation costs – add pressure, short time frames and lack of understanding and knowledge and we can reasonably expect some monumental stuff ups. Planning is essential, IT excellence is by design, not by accident.

IT Challenges ahead in responding to Covid-19

By | Mobility, Disaster Recovery | No Comments

With the share market convinced Covid-19 is fake news one day, and that the world is ending the next, the constant change that we endure on a daily basis within technology is starting to look like stability. However as remote collaboration and communication technologies that we have been deploying into the business for years start to get a real workout, a few questions have started to emerge:

A) Will the telco infrastructure hold up? – NBN is forecasting 70% increased traffic peaks during business hours, and a 40% increased peak traffic in the evenings. The former due to work from home traffic with a much more significant increase in upload traffic, and the later due to increase social isolation driving more Netflix and other video streaming and gaming platforms.

Firstly the good news, the 70% increase in peak traffic during business hours is not expected to exceed the current evening peaks. However due to the significantly different traffic profile of synchronous business traffic, we can expect some performance impacts due to the limited upload capacity in the network. The news is perhaps not so good for those trying to watch 4 separate UHD screens between 8 and 11pm where we can probably expect some avalanche congestion. These impacts of course will get significantly worse if/when the schools close and 3 million kids start streaming and remote learning on the network.

The less good news, many households have yet to make the transition to NBN and will be relying on hotspots from their mobile phone. As some mobile networks are already struggling with the existing growth requirements for their network backhaul, we already know that this will cause problems in some areas for some networks. The only solution for this is to make sure that staff have access to a wireline solution from home as quickly as possible. Our advice to organisations is to start at the most important staff, and audit their home access through a staff survey and identify where you have problems – a NBN install may take a couple of weeks, but it is important to remember this crisis is only just beginning and the prime minister is already suggesting that impacts will be continued to be felt for the next 6 months.

B) What are our OH&S responsibilities when we direct staff to work from home? I am not going to attempt to answer this one myself, but perhaps some of my LinkedIn contacts that are experts in this area may provide some thoughts. I will however provide insights into what I have seen a few organisations recently do to mitigate potential concerns. One company has been quite specific in their instruction to work from home with directions such as “If you are able to work from home…”, while others have directed staff to purchase required equipment (Chairs, monitors, keyboards etc) to support there work from home requirements.

C) Has the Cyber threat matrix increased with the larger volume of remote access activity? Well, quite simply YES. Unfortunately the Cyber thugs are all soldering on and there is evidence that they are ramping up phishing activity to take advantage of the disruption. Many IT organisations are cutting security corners to enable improved remote access throughput as many had not previously envisaged such a large cohort of staff working from home.  Conditional Multi-factor authentication (for example) should be enabled on all remote working capabilities, and the cyber gangs are looking to exploit those that have not.  At the very least the capabilities of your IT function to monitor the security event logs when remote access usage has significantly increased – while also dealing with the other pressures that we are putting on them, is likely far from ideal.

The IT function of all Australian organisations will be tested in the coming months, Beyond Technology is ideally positioned as Australia’s leading independent mid-tier IT management consultants to assist with IT review and strategic planning to ensure that you have certainty about your organisations ability to respond.

Pandemic Planning

By | Value Realisation | No Comments

With the general public seeming to be panic buying toilet paper and hand sanitiser many of our clients have been asking what should IT be doing to prepare. Although formal pandemic planning is quite an involved process, understanding your IT capabilities and governance processes is key to making sure that you are able to respond if required. With local authorities now predicting that peak risk of major disruption will be in August, we have come up with our top 5 questions that IT needs to be able to answer today.

They are:

  1. What percentage of your workforce would be able to simultaneously work from home with the existing remote access capacity? How many workers know how without instruction from IT?
  2. Has the technical architecture of your remote working systems been designed to provide the level of reliability required to support critical business tasks, or has it been design with a best efforts approach as you could “always drive into the office if it was important”?
  3. What IT capabilities are single man sensitive – does documentation exist to cover the recovery of failed key systems while key IT staff are on unexpected medical leave? Are security protocols robust enough to support mass remote working when key decision makers may be unavailable?
  4. What 3rd party suppliers or services are you critically reliant upon, and do they have a pandemic response plan in place? How easily is your off-site backup process disrupted?
  5. Is your IT support capability able to provide the required levels of service when a significant proportion of the workforce are not in the office? How many times are technical problems solved with a quick drop in to the IT guys desk?

Often these questions have answers that can surprise, and with the continuity of critical systems and IT services vital to the ongoing operation of any business we are finding many CEO’s are seeking to undertake an independent IT assessment to provide assurance that they are able to rely on those capabilities during an unexpected disruption. Fully understanding your existing capabilities and limitations, as well as reviewing your technical governance processes seems like a small step, however it can significantly improve an organisations ability to respond quickly and effectively to rapidly changing circumstances.

Top ten for 2020 and BEYOND

By | Predictions | No Comments

I wish you and your family happy holidays on behalf of the entire Beyond Technology team. Thank you for your continued support and I hope that the challenges ahead in 2020 bring you success and exciting opportunities.

With the start of a new decade comes an opportunity to think about what the twenties will bring. Many may point to climate change and increasing political uncertainty, however as a Technologist I have increasingly been thinking of the years ahead in terms of prioritization. Opportunities for technology to truly transform thinking, markets, and your business are endless – but our ability to consume and manage the required change is the challenge we face. In thinking of the year ahead, the BTC Team has identified key trends and 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 me at any time to discuss how Beyond Technology can help your organisation.

  1. Deciding what not to do – Focus and prioritisation is undoubtedly the theme for 2020, with a planning focus of what needs to be done first to support the initiatives of the future. If your organisations executive is yet to review or understand what your IT Strategy means for the business, then now is the time to act.
  2. Network Planning 2020 style – With the NBN build completing and the fibre wars largely ending the vision for the new corporate network is clear and its new capabilities are beginning to be assumed within strategy plans. Gigabit to the branch with carrier diversity being standard, SD-WAN is combining with uCPE to make virtual network functions deployable. This along with next generation security requirements and WiFi 6 (802.11ax) has the potential to create the perfect storm for network infrastructure upgrades that will drive large CAPEX requirements if not planned appropriately.
  3. Ongoing focus on IT governance Just ask the now Ex-Chairman and Ex-CEO of Westpac on the importance of IT Governance. The focus on Technology strategy and execution has never been higher, boards have continued to ask questions of organisations executive team on IT strategy, risk management and benefits realisation which has spurred on the deployment of more formal IT governance frameworks. Independent external advisers to boards and steering committees have become common place and IT governance frameworks based on the ISO/IEC 38500:2008(E) are the norm.
  4. Digital transformations – IDC reports that 85% of CEO’s believe they have only 24 months to execute their digital transformation before its too late. Second and third order digital disruption is generally focused on an embedded digital engagement capability, with organisations seeking more involvement of IT in defining the business needs. Boards and CEO’s continue to move away from the focus on the defensive play to instead seek out digital engagement and transformational opportunities.
  5. Security as an Immune system – With commercially motivated cyber attacks becoming increasingly commonplace we continue to evolve our defensive security posture. As always the trade-off between high security and high functionality continues to be a fine balance, however we need to embed security responses into the core of our environment. We have the conclusion that healthy living through isolation is not feasible and our systems need an immune system that can respond to the inevitable breach.
  6. User Experience Instrumentation Technology is now clearly expected to monitor and remediate the user experience rather than focus on the technology that provides it. UX instrumentation will increasingly provide the required insights that keeps the technology department on the front foot.
  7. IoT (Internet of Things) use-cases evolve With 1.3 billion services in use worldwide at the end of 2019 and Cat-M1 & NB-IOT carrier networks being available nationwide for a few cents a day, use-cases are continuing to evolve and we are starting to see the growing management overhead that this is bringing. New security obligations are being considered by the federal department of Home Affairs which will likely also add pressure to ensure that appropriate management automation is deployed from day 1.
  8. LowCode/NoCode Development initiatives spread – with digital initiatives seeking to exploit competitive advantages of from organisations system capabilities we are seeing more and more businesses considering bespoke development as part of their technology strategy. With offshore development team results often leading to disappointment, the LowCode/NoCode approach provides an attractive proposition.
  9. Increased penetration of integration platforms – The continued preference for replacing monolithic systems with an integrated best of breed approach has set the scene for a simplified approach to stitching systems together. Different circumstances require different approaches however the age of bespoke point to point integration patterns has definitely past.
  10. 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.

Organisations that are not deliberately planning their technology strategy will not be able to prioritise the avalanche of opportunity that they face today. To take advantage of transformation and digital innovation opportunities CEO’s must have confidence in their Technology capabilities. Those that don’t, must act now before being left with an uncompetitive legacy cost base and be in the dark compared to others that will be leveraging digital insights to exploit market opportunities.

Top 10 for 2019 and BEYOND

By | Predictions | No Comments

I wish you and your family happy holidays on behalf of the entire Beyond Technology team. Thank you for your continued support and I hope that the challenges ahead in 2019 bring you success and exciting opportunities. In thinking of the year ahead, I thought that I would share with you what the BTC Team has identified as the key trends and 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 me at any time to discuss how Beyond Technology can help your organisation.

  1. Compliance cost focus After a year where the Australian Privacy Principles were cemented into the consideration of many boards and the true cost of compliance to the requirements of the GDPR out of the EU became understood to those with clients or operations in Europe, many have predicted that our local compliance burden will soon mirror that of Europe. Armed with this prediction and observing the challenges in the EU we expect that a more mature approach to compliance will be formed in 2019 that seeks to avoid additional compliance costs by baking the consideration of privacy directly into the business processes and technology solutions. Those organisations that have taken this approach have successfully demonstrated an improved responsiveness of technology to the business and a reduced compliance cost.
  2. Less “Geeks” in the office  The importance of technology engaging with the business and aligning its priorities has never been higher, and with the ongoing simplifications efforts there are less a less technicians required to keep the light on. Technology departments will increasingly focus on IT business analysis skills and engage more directly with efforts to assist users to get more productivity from technology investments.
  3. Ongoing focus on IT governance The importance of technology strategy and execution has never been higher, boards have continued to ask questions of organisations executive team on IT strategy, risk management and benefits realisation which has spurred on the deployment of more formal IT governance frameworks. Independent external advisors to boards and steering committees have become common place and IT governance frameworks based on the ISO/IEC 38500:2008(E) are the norm.
  4. Digital Engagement transformationsAs second order digital disruption became common place over the last few year the organisations response continues to seek more involvement of IT in defining the business needs. Boards and CEO’s continue to move away from the focus on the defensive play to instead seek out digital engagement and transformational opportunities.
  5. Decline in MPLS networks With carrier diversity increasingly considered the best approach to business resilience the deployment of MPLS based networks is expected to see an acceleration in its decline.  With Hybrid Network and Internet based SD-WAN quickly maturing the use-case for MPLS networks will become increasingly rare.
  6. Initial 5G deployments With the battle lines drawn and the major telco’s all seeking new opportunities for better margins I expect to see the rollout of 5G technology this year primarily in the fixed line broadband replacement space. Although this will only be with Mid-band spectrum, the use of pole-top densification will ready the networks for mmWave deployment in the future.
  7. IoT (Internet of Things) With Cat-M1 and NB-IOT carrier networks being available nationwide at around 10 cents a day, new use-cases will develop and we can start to expect all new field assets to come standard with centralised telemetric capabilities.
  8. NBN Matures and 10G becomes mainstream – with the mainline NBN rollout due to complete in the next 24 months and a likely change of the federal government providing some blame shifting opportunities we expect to see the NBN offering mature significantly. With FTTC set to be the upgrade path for FTTN and with the completion of the HFC rollout we expect to see 1G consumer connections become feasible. Similarly with telco’s around the world starting to work with the retail equation of “double the price for five or ten time the bandwidth” and the market increasingly being able to distinguish between congested and contented bandwidth, we think that commercial users will increasingly deploy 10G connections.
  9. Further increased board-level oversight of IT operations – The importance of secure, reliable and efficient IT to support the competitiveness of businesses will 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.
  10. Security as an Immune system – With cyber criminal gangs proving to be the most digitally agile organisations on the planet we continue to evolve our defensive security posture. As always the trade-off between high security and high functionality continues to be a fine balance, however new approaches seek to embed security responses into the core of our environment. We have reached the conclusion that healthy living through isolation is not feasible and our systems need an immune system that can respond to the inevitable breach.

Organisations that are waiting to be digitally disrupted will simply not survive into the future. To take advantage of digital innovation and transformation opportunities CEO’s must have confidence in their Technology capabilities. Those that don’t have this confidence must act quickly before being left with a legacy cost base leaving them uncompetitive and be in the dark compared to others that will be leveraging digital innovation to exploit market opportunities.

Top 10 for 2018 and BEYOND

By | Predictions | No Comments

I wish you and your family happy holidays on behalf of the entire Beyond Technology team. Thank you for your continued support and I hope that the challenges ahead in 2018 bring you success and exciting opportunities. In thinking of the year ahead, I thought that I would share with you what the BTC Team has identified as the key trends and 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 me at any time to discuss how Beyond Technology can help your organisation.

  1. Robots building Robots – In what we see as being an escalation of the data wars (where organisations are seeking to leverage their ongoing investment in Data Warehousing, CRM, BI and BigData to apply competitive pressure to their market) vendors are increasingly deploying machine learning solutions where the hard work of process and data analysis is being skipped in favour of an outcome based approach. For example, the development of a system to control a self driving car where each detail of what to do for every unexpected event needed to be defined and coded would take many decades of development by large teams, whereas when the computer learns through watching – those events are not defined and deliberate defined actions taken, the computer makes a judgement call. The implications of this approach for many business processes will likely start being considered in the coming year and will provide an enormous opportunity for transformational innovation.
  2. SD-WAN continues to be the WAN technology of choice – During the uncertainty of forced NBN migrations over the next 24 months, the ability of the technology to intelligently choose between two alternate links to both improve resilience and bandwidth, together with it effectively re-engineering TCP flow control to more intelligently handle modern network dimensioning will continue to be compelling.
  3. Ongoing focus on IT governance – The importance of technology strategy and execution has never been higher, boards have continued to ask questions of organisations executive team on IT strategy, risk management and benefits realisation which has spurred on the deployment of more formal IT governance frameworks. Independent external advisors to boards and steering committees have become common place and IT governance frameworks based on the ISO/IEC 38500:2008(E) are the norm.
  4. Digital Engagement transformations – As second order digital disruption became common place over the last few year the organisations response continues to seek more involvement of IT in defining the business needs. Boards and CEO’s continue to move away from the focus on the defensive play to instead seek out digital engagement and transformational opportunities.
  5. EMM device management – As more and more organisations are managing hybrid device fleets the idea of a “Standard Operating Environment” is becoming less and less common. As the EMM technology capabilities continue to improve we expect to see less locked down SOE devices and more policy based management of all devices weather they are mobile phones or PC’s
  6. 5G planning and new NBN capabilities – Although it will take some time for the exact use-cases to be derived for 5G services, the higher bandwidth and lower latency will start to make an impact in technology planning in the later part of the year. We can expect that fixed line player will start to get more serious in there approach to bandwidth with clarity on reporting of contention and congestion being expected and the start of the commoditisation of 10G interfaces.
  7. Serverless Computing – We expect to see the beginning of a wave of change away from COTS business systems (Commercial Off The Shelf) towards bespoke development using serverless computing. Time will tell on how this shift is adopted in Australia, however it has the potential to be the current generation’s business users excel macro or access database.
  8. Further increased board-level oversight of IT operations – The importance of secure, reliable and efficient IT to support the competitiveness of businesses will 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.
  9. Security as an Immune system – With cyber criminal gangs proving to be the most digitally agile organisations on the planet we continue to evolve our defensive security posture. As always the trade-off between high security and high functionality continues to be a fine balance, however new approaches seek to imbed security responses into the core of our environment. We have reached the conclusion that healthy living through isolation is not feasible and our systems need an immune system that can respond to the inevitable breach.
  10. Digital Workplace Strategy – We expect to see deliberate development of digital workplace transformational strategies that will see to improve staff productivity and business processes. Although we think that material workplace change driven by IoT devices or BYOA (Bring your own Apps) is unlikely in the short term, we see real-time collaboration and digitally enhanced work practices to continue to drive workplace innovation and productivity.

Organisations that are waiting to be digitally disrupted will simply not survive into the future. To take advantage of digital innovation and transformation opportunities CEO’s must have confidence in their Technology capabilities. Those that don’t have this confidence must act quickly before being left with a legacy cost base leaving them uncompetitive and be in the dark compared to others that will be leveraging digital innovation to exploit market opportunities.

Top 10 for 2017 and BEYOND

By | Predictions | No Comments

I wish you and your family happy holidays on behalf of the entire Beyond Technology team. Thank you for your continued support and I hope that the challenges ahead in 2017 bring you success and exciting opportunities. In thinking of the year ahead, I thought that I would share Read More

Top 10 for 2016 and BEYOND

By | Predictions | No Comments
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas on behalf of the entire Beyond Technology team. Thank you for your continued support and I hope that the challenges ahead in 2016 bring you success and exciting opportunities. In thinking of the year ahead, I thought that I would share with you what the BTC Team has identified as the key trends and challenges that we feel our clients will be facing next year. Read More

Top 10 for 2015 and BEYOND

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We anticipate that 2015 will see next-gen security concerns, an increased focus on IT governance and emergence of the wireless carrier wars. Desk phones will begin to be phased out and organisations will focus on information as a corporate asset. Digital disruption will continue, with a focus on securing the device and empowering users.

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Are you getting value from your IT spend?

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No matter if your view of IT is as a cost centre or a potential strategic advantage, ensuring that you are receiving good value in your IT spend is critical. Reducing cost and improving service delivery through effective IT management and improved business alignment are key outcomes from undertaking an Independent IT review and health check.

  • We will assess your internal IT service delivery or external IT service provider to consider if improved services or technology architectures could provide efficiency or capability improvements.
  • We will review your technology roadmap, consider technology failure scenarios and insure that appropriate steps have been taken to mitigate those risks that are a real danger to the organisations wellbeing.
  • We will assess your business requirements, consider best practice, new technology architectures and service delivery models and provide actionable advice on how to improve your IT service levels and reduce cost.

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