How to Use Mobile Solutions to Be More Strategic

Mobility isn’t just about fulfilling the need for instant BYOD gratification amongst your employees.

If done right, mobile solutions can further strategic endeavours that improve business processes and value. Application management, a team approach and hardware planning are ways mobile solutions can help inform the greater business-IT strategy.

Mobile solutions meet application management

Even if you develop and host enterprise applications through an outside provider, the IT team can use them as a chance to drive more business value. Staying on top of application management and development can help the CIO and IT managers become more innovative, as they will have the first say in configuring additional features or back-end integration. Capabilities around mobile apps and cloud can further help the IT application management team tap into unmet needs and opportunities for innovation.

Getting others involved in mobile solutions

The implementation of mobile solutions in organisations often stalls because too many aspects of the project fall on the shoulders of the CIO and his or her team. Governance of a mobile solutions project should extend to other departments such as legal, human resources and security teams so you can address issues of compliance and reimbursement for mobile device expenses. Other business units should also be involved in your mobile solutions roadmap, as each one will likely have different aims and business processes it is looking to improve. Not only will this free up the CIO for other tasks, but it will ensure that the strategic needs of the different parts of the business are being considered as mobile solutions are implemented.

Using mobile solutions to guide hardware decisions

If you listen to some advocates, mobility is going to swiftly expunge the traditional desktop from the enterprise landscape. Do you believe this at your organisation, or would you rather PCs and iPads co-exist? These questions are important to ask, because introducing mobile solutions into the enterprise will have an impact on hardware purchasing and volume licensing decisions a few years down the pike. For instance, you can start plotting a road map for when you will stop purchasing traditional hardware and letting employees work solely from their own PCs. As a full-scale IT provider in everything from volume licensing and mobile application management to hardware procurement, Datacom can help you take these areas into consideration as you plan your mobility strategy.

Datacom Saves Cape Australia Money and Time with Unified Communications

What happens when four businesses become one?

Four disparate IT environments was the outcome for Cape Australia, which supplies maintenance and repair services for the mining and industrial sectors, when it acquired four businesses in 2007.

With operations spread out across Australia and a presence in 27 other countries, Cape Australia needed a way to integrate this tangled technology, which involved incongruent systems and modes of operation.

Consistent collaboration

Cape Australia decided to move forward with a strategy for bringing together its multiple IT environments, aptly named “One Way.” Started in 2009, the One Way project involved Datacom’s work from design through to implementation to deliver a single suite of applications to all users in all locations.

Key in the project was a Microsoft stack of unified communication and collaboration technologies to fuel better communication among Cape Australia’s employees both across the country and the world. Datacom implemented Microsoft Exchange 2010 for the email messaging service and voice mail consolidation. Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 enabled video conferencing, instant messaging and desktop sharing. For better information sharing and collaboration, Datacom brought in SharePoint Server 2010. To round out the unified communications piece of the project, Datacom replaced more than 30 branch networks with an integrated IP telephony solution with a solid voice system.

In addition to the UCC piece, Datacom implemented a new server and storage infrastructure, security solution and management tools.

An outstanding outcome

The UCC implementation quickly helped Cape Australia to save time and money in several ways. Each staff member has saved between one and two hours a day thanks to the improved productivity available through the new unified communication and collaboration tools. The video conferencing and online communication tools helped cut executive travel expenses by up to 50 per cent, while IT administration and operational costs have also been cut by half. Telecommunication costs and national call charges were reduced by 100 per cent.

Cape Australia appreciated the best practice knowledge, trusted partnership and professionalism Datacom brought to the project, said Jason Cowie, former CIO and Executive Manager of Business Services for Cape.

“Datacom provided us with best practice knowledge for the design and implementation of the infrastructure and Microsoft technologies that we were seeking to deploy. As our trusted partner, Datacom provided continual suggestions throughout the project on possible improvements to the initial design to enhance integration and user adoption.”

IT’s Role in Performance Measurement and Management

By Peter Wilson

The creation of dashboards has increasingly fallen on the shoulders of IT. Yet this department has traditionally had more experience managing technical performance over business metrics such as project schedules and the budget. What is IT’s role in organisational performance management and how do you transform from simply being a metrics report generator to being an innovative creator of new business metrics? Undertaking a four-step process can help CIOs define their department’s role in managing and developing best practices for organisational metrics-based performance management.

1. Workshop it internally. Partner with your CEO and other members of the executive team to champion an organisational metrics initiative that involves an analytic framework and plan for implementation. The effort will need internal sponsorship at the executive level to drive employee-wide education on how the right metrics can be used to drive better results. Everyone on the team should be across the organisation’s information needs, desired outcome and the steps toward achieving it: What types of performance will be measured and how will it be done, for example? How will IT performance be tied to organisational goals?

2. Focus your metrics on the big picture. A mistake many organisations make is focusing on lag indicators. Do the metrics focus on the big picture, assisting in expectation management, or are they just trivial metrics reported because they are easier to measure? Performance management systems add real value when you can use them to change course mid-stream to minimise damage or maximise peak performance. Real-time data is the key here; it can help IT better react to application response times and help desk queues, for instance.

3. Develop and implement new business metrics. Your metrics should reflect what is driving your business strategically. Your guiding questions when determining these metrics include: Where is the business going, how will it get there, what indicates success? You will likely have a combination of IT and business metrics, such as resource allocation and customer satisfaction. Each metric should have a plan to back it up covering how it will be used and a course of action to correct any poor performance. Using 90-day action planning broken into 30 increments with granular plans is one way to use these metrics to manage performance.

4. Don’t report metrics – react to them. Reporting data or the metrics adds no value. The value comes from interrupting the combination of results, identifying the root cause and then implementing clearly defined service improvement programmes across the business. The key for IT will be to learn how to interrupt poor performance and even predict future states by analysing both trend and real-time data.

IT’s role in performance measurement and management is ultimately to advise the business what is working, what could be improved and what can be immediately corrected so it doesn’t spiral into a bigger problem down the road. By initiating this metrics programme from the IT department, you’ll showcase IT as an innovative department that is in tune with, and highly motivated to enable, the key business drivers of organisational success. You’ll also get a great education on the different groups within your organisation and what they are trying to accomplish. That’s not just IT leadership, it’s businessleadership – and it will be much appreciated by the powers that be.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s CEO of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.

Do Australian CIOs Need to Think About Public Relations?

By Peter Wilson

The current tenure of CIOs in Australia and New Zealand averages 3.8 years, according to a new Gartner survey. That’s compared to a global average of 4.6 years. Why are CIOs in Australia and New Zealand stepping aside or getting shown the door faster than CIOs in other countries?

Perhaps CIO turnover is high in part because CIOs don’t spend enough time communicating their successes to their organisations. They are at the pulse of the enterprise, yet boasting about their wins doesn’t always come easily. And as we all know, you often have to remind executives and other departments at your business what you’re doing to get the proper recognition for your role. Part of the CIO’s time should be spent packaging up the good works done by the IT department and letting the organisation know what has been accomplished.

This is just the internal public relations – CIOs who want to elevate their profiles and become not just business leaders, but industry influencers as well, should also make their wins known to those outside the organisation, including your business’s customers. If it doesn’t give away any company trade secrets, it’s not a bad idea to get coverage in the media for your IT success stories. Of course, you’ll want to avoid doing this without the consent of your CEO and your in-house marketing team. Making an unauthorised end run to the media might backfire, resulting in a quicker exit than you had hoped for.

How does the IT department set about doing something that doesn’t come naturally? Start small and simple. It could be as easy as creating a list of projects on which the department is working and circulating it around the business. This also helps offset departmental complaints about why you’ve prioritised one business unit’s project over another’s.

If you’re not ready for press releases and newspaper articles, throw your project plans and successes up on the company intranet or circulate a company-wide email (or get the marketing department to do these tasks). It helps create buzz about what the IT department is doing – it also helps if you come up with a fun name for your projects or programmes. Customer testimonials are also essential for not only improving your brand within your organisation, but for getting potential clients to sit up and take notice of your company.

When you are ready to step into the real limelight, prep your entire team first. Get them excited about sharing the good word about their work. Once they have a few talking points, go out to networking and industry events, vendor and client gatherings and trade shows. Share your IT innovations on LinkedIn and other social media sites. Pitch thought leadership positioning stories to IT and technology publications and web sites. Better yet, get to blogging about IT on your own, either through your company’s web site or your personal one.

This isn’t shameless self-promotion; it’s letting the world know about the great things IT is doing and giving full credit to all involved parties. If a firm gains a reputation for using IT strategically to drive business achievements, it increases the valuation of the company and it attracts talented workers. The alternative is to do something incredible and have it go unnoticed and unappreciated. When CIOs do that, they can’t be surprised when they are eventually let go for not having a positive impact on the fortunes of their organisation.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s CEO of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.

Shaping Your Mobile Device Management Strategy: Part I

Now that mobile device management (MDM) isn’t a matter of when your organisation will need it but how you’ve managed to get by so long without it, the smart CIO is the one actively working on an MDM strategy.

With many employees using personal laptops, smartphones and tablets, IT executives and managers are faced with difficult issues covering the gamut of procurement and contracts to support and repair. Through a proper MDM strategy, your organisation will be able to not only manage myriad devices, but also boost employee productivity while ensuring data security and keeping costs low. Besides creating and enforcing MDM departmental procedures, you can select software and tools to help your department manage their mobile devices.

Of course, the right policies and the right tools will differ based on every organisation’s unique situation. But as you shape your own MDM strategy, consider these guidelines:

1.    Protecting corporate and financial data is always the top priority. You can’t boost worker productivity and, in turn, improve operations if you’re constantly putting mobile devices on lockdown due to security breaches. Most IT departments forbid any confidential corporate data on an unencrypted device or network. Barring your employees from conducting business on the hotel’s convenient open wireless network may be the source of some consternation, but it’s your safest bet. And when employees need to use a corporate or personal credit card online, they’ll need to use some other device, plain and simple.

2.    Provide the right communications applications on mobile devices. Too often employees are not given the tools they need, and, as such, they’ll use their personal email addresses or social media accounts. While the CIO’s role is certainly not to thwart proactive employees, he or she must ensure business is conducted securely and with the proper tools. If your organisation provides the proper communications software — for instance, extending your unified communications platform to mobile devices —, your employees won’t have to use personal applications to conduct business.

3.    Find a vendor that manages technology and support top to bottom. A good IT outsourcer can source the right MDM tools and solutions for your organisation, leaving your employees the freedom to use their mobile devices for work, not constantly work on their mobile devices. Your vendor should handle the MDM software recommendations and implementation procedure. They should also be able to tell you everything you can do with your MDM solution, such as monitoring and reporting.

As your organisation evolves, so must your MDM strategy. But establishing a solid foundation for your MDM strategy now is your best shot to handle the vagaries of the mobile device world.

Why It’s Easier Than Ever for Australian CIOs to Be More Strategic

By Peter Wilson

In the early days of Australian IT, CIOs who wanted to deliver strategic value to their organisations came up against a brick wall. IT had a very specific function in those days and it was mostly operational, not strategic, in nature.

Today, it’s easier than ever for CIOs to achieve results that drastically transform their companies for the better. Here are the top three reasons CIOs are able to add more strategic value in 2012 than their predecessors could.

1. Greater expectations and increased CIO empowerment

It wasn’t too long ago that many companies didn’t even have a CIO. The Management Information Systems department often reported directly to the CFO, a talented financial executive who, unfortunately, didn’t have the foggiest idea as to how computers might be used to build competitive advantage. Today, the CIO is treated with respect and often attends board meetings. The executive suite and the board have, more often than not, grown up with computers and understand their potential. Plus, they’ve seen companies thrive through smart use of IT, and they are willing to vest CIOs with the authority and the resources to deliver strategic value. This fundamental shift in perspective from “IT as necessary evil” to “IT as growth enabler” makes it much easier for today’s CIOs to define a strategic vision and chase after it.

2. Agile development processes and off-the-shelf software

Ages ago, CIO responsibilities were largely curtailed to keeping existing systems running. Even when ground was broken on new IT initiatives, custom software projects often took years to implement. By the time the software was done, the business had changed and the software was often no longer aligned with the strategic objectives of the business. Today, software projects can be defined and delivered at a fraction of the price, as well as order of magnitudes faster, than in prior decades. Agile development methodologies, outsourced development and robust, off-the-shelf software solutions that can be used as a starting point have made it much easier to create a strategic solution that drives positive business results. “It can’t be done by then” is no longer part of the CIO’s lexicon, and the ability to get great things done quickly makes it possible to deliver on the promise of IT’s strategic potential.

3. A seismic shift in human-computer interaction paradigms

It’s hard to build something strategic in a static environment, but when the world is changing at a rapid pace, opportunities abound to create strategic IT assets and use IT to drive enhanced revenues, profitability and competitive differentiation. With the Internet still presenting incredible opportunities for strategic IT initiatives, and social, mobile and cloud convergence transforming the way business is done, a CIO that can’t find strategic IT projects to be done might well be accused of IT malpractice. Couple those changes with rapid globalisation and evolved approaches to supply chain management and customer service, and, make no mistake, there is plenty of opportunity for CIOs to build strategic valuefor their employers.

Switching gears: transitioning from tactical mode into strategy mode

Are you strategic enough in your approach to IT? We’ve helped our clients seize the opportunity to conceptualise andimplement visionary IT projects. Seismic changes in technology and its role in everyday life have created opportunities for even the most tactical CIO to transform the IT department into an organisational superpower that strategically enables business success.

The key takeaway here is that CIOs have no good excuse not to deliver strategic value to their organisations. Australian IT is no longer just part of the value chain. For many forward-thinking companies, it is the value chain.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s CEO of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.

Why Bring Your Own Device Needs the IT Department

By Lauren Fritsky

A recent CIO article asks readers if the Bring Your Own Device trend has made the IT department redundant or if it might have this impact down the line. The author makes the case that Bring Your Own Device might siphon control away from the IT department and keep it tightly clenched in users’ hands. End users can’t just walk into work and start accessing corporate applications on a whim, however. IT is still as relevant, if not more so, in this BYOD world for a few key reasons.

IT understands why users want to bring their devices to work

The CIO article makes the claim that BYOD has taken off because internal hardware and support aren’t good enough at many organisations. This could be true in some cases, but the overwhelming sentiment seems to point to users wanting a more streamlined experience that mimics their personal computing environment. Users have fallen in love with their devices, not just what these devices can do. Bring Your Own Device likely springs more from the desire to incorporate a beloved possession into one’s work environment than a perceived failure on the IT department.

IT manages compliance with company policy

Bring Your Own Device isn’t a free-for-all. Any organisation considering BYOD will likely require employees to review and sign a user device policy, something Datacom recommends when working with companies implementing this programme. This agreement will typically outline which devices employees can bring in, which applications they can access and which employees can access them.

IT links the device to the company system

Employees can’t bring a smartphone or tablet in and instantly access all their work applications. They need IT to hook up personal devices to the network and identify specific support needs for different devices.

IT oversees security and access to apps

The IT department is charged with issuing password protection, allowing and denying access to certain apps and decommissioning devices that are lost or stolen. It’s also their responsibility to keep track of new users to ensure proper user settings are in place and that corporate data is wiped if an employee is leaving the company.

IT elevates, not demotes, its position with BYOD

Rather than looking at Bring Your Own Device as decreasing the need for the department, a case can be made that this move enables more strategic IT. The department stays on the pulse of what users want and can assume a crucial role in creating policy for additional technology initiatives going forward.

What do you think: Has BYOD had a positive or negative impact on IT?

The 5 Attributes of a Great CIO

By Peter Wilson

Did you envision achieving greatness when you got into IT management? What has stopped you? If you want to be a great CIO– and I know most of you can be –, you’ll need to reprogram some of your previous thinking about the role of technology at your organisation and your role in using it to enable long-term business results. Here’s what separates the great CIOs from the average ones.

1. Builds relationships effectively

Many of us know our IQs, but what about how we measure up in emotional intelligence? You could have a smart, capable team, but if you don’t know how to lead, delegate and highlight the strengths of each person effectively, your department will fail. Relationship building starts here, at the team level, and extends to how you interact with leaders and stakeholders at your organisation. You could have superior technical prowess, but if you don’t know how to convey the importance of your strategic IT ideas to the greater business, what’s it worth? Knowing how to massage relationships with key leaders in the organisation is necessary for total financial and strategic buy-in.

2. Focuses on customers

At the same time a great CIO is forming strategic relationships with key people in the business, he’s focusing on how to use technology to benefit the external customers. About 20 per cent of a CIO’s time should be devoted to speaking with business units and customers. Face time with customers lets CIOs discover what’s working and what’s not, what the customers want and what they hate; this can lead to new commercial opportunities and help you stay on top of the competition. A great CIO will always have the customer in mind when focusing on the end result of a strategic IT project, whether that involves boosting productivity, satisfaction or experience.

3. Resists the hype

Great CIOs develop a set precedent for how IT projects are prioritised instead of being persuaded into implementing a technology because one of the business leaders thinks it’s a good idea. They fact-check the problems before working on an obvious solution: how is x leading to y, what are the actual consequences of y, are there multiple ways to approach it? The great CIO conducts an assessment of each IT management decision, including its benefits and alignment with strategic goals, to understand how each technology solution fits specifically into his business. Instead of following the herd, he keeps the right technical hands on deck and in his partner relationships so he can draw upon a continual source of wise advice.

4. Says it right

Clear communication skills are crucial for any great leader regardless of industry, but for the CIO it’s even more vital. Great CIOs can translate the complexity of a business problem and the way technology can solve it in a way the rest of the business not only understands, but can explain to others. This isn’t about dumbing down information; it’s about clearly communicating the business impact in a way that actually gets the rest of the organisation on board and wanting to take action.

5. Fits everything together seamlessly

The ability to instinctually know when to use leverage in the business separates the great CIOs from the good ones. Approaching strategic IT decisions in this way transforms technology from a solution into a tailored opportunity that enhances the business model’s performance. In some situations, this might involve using technology indirectly or not using it at all. These specific, carefully-timed moves will improve speed, agility and performance and look seamless to the end user or customer.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s Managing Director of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.