Success of Innovation hinges on shared agenda

Posted on July 20, 2017

2 Innovation In Ict Models A Joint Responsibility A

How is collaboration driving novel new models for project scalability and ROI in a complex economy?

Could the success of cloud innovation hinge on a shared agenda between industry and providers?

These questions were top of mind during a Roundtable for ICT and leadership representatives from mining, construction, education, banking and government recently. They joined Vocus and Business News to discuss where they perceived success in the future of cloud and connectivity was heading. 

The Roundtable provided an opportunity for all to share their views on the future of connectivity, cloud and big data and to discuss how they thought big business and telecommunications could work together to help maximise innovation in a strained economy. Some interesting themes emerged.  

Vocus Group Chief Executive, Enterprise and Wholesale, Mick Simmons said the forum gave him the opportunity to kick off critically important discussions around the ongoing, shared IT agenda for the future of digital innovation across the next decade.  “Priorities for innovation in the commercial and public sectors are being driven by a continuous discussion around how telecommunications, ICT and cloud services are evolving to deliver better business outcomes and drive innovation,” Mr Simmons said. “Organisational leaders are recognising the need to proactively plan for increased reliance on connectivity, and are placing even more value in data management. There is also more demand for flexibility and scalability in service design, pricing models, and collaborative delivery.”

“People are now starting to understand that it’s not just the ability to move and store vast amounts of data, but also the ability to crunch and analyse this data quickly and output it to where it can be most useful via the fastest and most cost-effective route,” he said.

What new trends are emerging and how will they change the industry over the next 5-10 years?

Roundtable participants agreed that the recent focus on big data and the need for speed has now shifted to a focus on actual connectivity and better channeling, usage, storage and accessibility of that data. 

Cheaper and faster processors, increased network capacity, and more efficient data storage have helped build this momentum. The next 5 to 10 years promises to be more transformative than the mainframe era from 1960s to the 1980s –  possibly even more than the personal computer phase, which encompassed the development of the Internet and the rise of the smartphone.

How are global developments driving local trends?

So how is this evolution relevant to the local ecosystem when applied in an Australian context? Are the same global challenges relevant here at home?   

The purpose of the Roundtable was to consider the global opportunities presented by developments in ICT and cloud innovation, discuss the challenges in the data driven industry in Australia, and thrash out some ideas about how to best drive innovation that would harness these benefits in the face of some clearly identified and immediate curve balls. What about connectivity challenges, networks, geography and the generally slow uptake of ICT and cloud/cloud services in industry, coupled with a very volatile and cyclical economic forecast? 

Shaping more innovative models – A collaborative approach?

Mr Simmons said that more businesses were identifying that vastly better future connectivity would be critical to their survival. “These solutions need to offer more choice in flexibility of services and the ability to be faster without compromising security,” he said. It’s this increase in demand and scope of services that is driving new business models. We're seeing all the gains now. We've had the wave of internet disruption and digital disruption – they are yesterday’s news, now ICT and cloud for IoT are driving the next disruption. 

“This next wave of disruption is already bringing new content and new applications and it’s driving companies like Vocus to align with industry.” 

“To share this agenda for innovation and change with ICT leaders is really the only way innovation will be possible with the imminent commercial and economic challenges we have ahead of us,” he said.

"ICT is at a reasonable level of maturity; it’s taken decades to get to this point"

Giles Nunis
CEO and Government CIO, Office of Government

So how should ICT leaders working with industry to drive the agenda for innovation in ICT?

Office of Government, Chief Executive and Government CIO Giles Nunis said government had published a cloud strategy.  “ICT is at a reasonable level of maturity; it’s taken decades to get to this point,” he said. “Government cannot afford to keep putting money into infrastructure but what cloud offers us is a way to keep the technology modern and more resilient.”

Mr Nunis said cloud also allowed a paradigm shift around cultural thinking as it was an early, low cost entry point and the recently launched Landgate service would not be possible without cloud and service providers who supported it.  

Maca Mining and Civil CFO Peter Gilford said his company had seen similar benefits and believes that the future for the application of cloud services in his industry is bright, “One thing cloud allows in regard to innovation is it’s a very cheap entry point to try before outlaying a lot of money,” he said.  “There are a lot of applications out there at the moment which can be cloud based that don’t require much, or any, capital at all. Historically you might see the data at the end of the shift or 12 hours later,” he said. “If someone is overloading a truck, now we’ll see it in real time and can make adjustments. We’ve been able to go and try that with one excavator at a very small capital cost (and see the benefits).”

“With everyone being cost conscious and the economy the way it is, how many companies allow staff to spend time on things that aren’t immediately tangible?”

Andy Rhodes
Group IT Manager , Silvestro Building Group

Silvestro Building Group IT Manager Andy Rhodes pointed out that there were roadblocks to innovation. He said it was important to the business to give staff up to two hours per week to work on developing their own ideas, before giving them the opportunity to pitch to a higher level within the company. “I let them work on whatever they want and give them time to talk to others,” he said. “If they’ve got a good idea we do a business plan, present it to management and try and get it off the ground.” 

He said management plans like this could help bring departments together and promoted cross-pollination of ideas.  “With everyone being cost conscious and the economy the way it is, how many companies allow staff to spend time on things that aren’t immediately tangible?” Mr Rhodes said. 

Mr Nunis said methods such as this worked well in government too. “We have to ensure collaborative environments that allow for us to deliver our services more cohesively and technology is the only way to allow this to happen,” he said. 

P&N Bank, CEO Erik Fenna said universities were another area were innovation and collaboration could be sought.  “Look at the impact that universities have had all around the world in social structures, politics, fashion,” he said. “Whatever students want now is what they're going to bring to the workforce in a few years. It's also what they can bring to all of us as consumers over the next few years, so it might be wise to keep a bit of a closer eye on what is happening at universities.

“The IOT has predicated a greater need for reliable connectivity and networks”, Simmons says, “And at the core of this is an increased reliance on data control and an industry-wide recognition of effective data utilisation as a business advantage. ICT leaders now understand that it’s not just the ability to move and store vast amounts of data, but also the ability to crunch and analyse this data quickly and output it to where it can be most useful via the fastest and most cost-effective route.” 

“A fundamental shift toward more agile project design and stagnant budgets (largely driven by economic influences) is prompting smart companies to consider new models, and it’s incumbent on ICT leaders to share these models for the betterment of the industry. It’s critical that we continue to foster innovation, and the cornerstone of this is for the agenda for innovation in ICT and cloud to be shared between ICT leaders and cloud services providers now. 

Many predict collaborative network design and hybrid cloud solutions will dictate a better future but a key challenge shared by the group, was understanding how to scope and best fund current needs with future needs in mind.

Most participants believed that adapting to digital convergence has become critical to survival. All believed digital and network adaptation would be a matter of competitive differentiation for their organisation, with many already at in the process of implementing a strategy to align their organisation to digital convergence and the changes they expected it to bring. To this end, all participants discussed the importance of the carrier sharing (or partnering) to offset risk. 

Best practice planning for digital convergence – How do I plan to build a more robust network?

Look to your network provider if you want to shift some responsibility for running the network, be completely open about what you are trying to achieve and don’t skimp: Sometimes the cheaper option will come back to bite you and give them an excuse to pass the buck. Many IT Managers lack the skills in-house to be able to look at re-architecting their network. Finding the right people is hard.

To plan for this, start assessing specialist partner services firms to help you align the longer-term strategy. Both for digital convergence and network re-design.  

Engage services partners who will help build and manage critical services that keep the engine running (while you get back to innovating and driving strategy!) Ensure your network architect has a rollout plan to evaluate and respond to the potential impact of IoT on your data network. Consider also resourcing out some integration expertise – someone responsible for insuring integration of new initiatives (e.g. cloud, edge computing, IoT, SaaS, mobility, security and DDOS etc).

Start with a review of where you’re at now Start the process by investigating how you can:

  • Digitise every corner of your operations
  • Move CapEx investment to OpEx to improve cash flows and reduce debt
  • Communicate with your customers, employees and suppliers in new ways
  • Deliver new and existing services online
  • Review and audit all your legacy applications

Plan ahead to create a better network model in your organisation 

In the new world order, legacy applications can be heavy baggage. While you need to keep your core applications running, you have to do it smarter and there’s an increasing emphasis on innovation for working, communicating and interacting via new technologies. 

New delivery models are well recognised as key strategies for:

  • Bringing greater business focus to the ICT function: moving from ICT technology to business technology by having your ICT team concentrate on unique business or service delivery opportunities 
  • Separating technology from service delivery: given technology is now a commodity, differentiation depends on innovating services to remain competitive 
  • Moving at internet speed: because, according to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data, those born digital and highly Social Gen Y/Z now represent 40% of the workforce – and typically your customers and community – so traditional deployment time-lags are no longer an option 

Many enterprises are adopting a Hybrid ICT infrastructure to fulfil these maturing needs. At Vocus, our approach to ICT service delivery is based on a combination of:

  • The essential legacy services that form the backbone of your operations – enhanced by new ways of accessing them, online delivery and new communications channels 
  • Private and public cloud options – selected on the basis of appropriate security, data sovereignty, availability and reliability 
  • Increased reliance on external Service Providers, as technology becomes more specialised and maintenance of in-house skills becomes less viable. Sharing of risk is now critical in the development of an ICT strategy  
  • Managed Service options that eliminate repetitive manual processes, reduce the need for internal monitoring and management tools and leverage Service Provider expertise and economies of scale Balancing your risk profile and compliance obligations – corporate, legislative and industry – which must be accommodated within the mix 
  • A key success factor in many new customer wins for Vocus recently has been a deeper engagement with customer businesses who have been increasingly frustrated with dated approaches to solutions. 
  • A critical ingredient in success for these customers has been stepping back and talking through the medium to long term goals of and mapping out the path to achieve these goals. It’s challenged us and required a new way of scoping and delivery but it is delivering far better outcomes for Vocus customers. Learn more about these success stories here

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