The 2016 business-technology priorities

Four technology forces will shape the business strategy in 2016, writes IBRS' Dr Joe Sweeney

In the view of IBRS, four technology forces will shape business strategy in 2016:

  • Mobility, the Post PC Era, and Future Workplace Innovation

Mobility and the desktop are being subsumed into the far-reaching topic of workplace innovation, that takes into account, not only the changing device ecosystem and post-PC era assumptions, but the impact on physical office space design and the nature of employment.

  • As-a-Service

As-a-Service has significantly changed Managed Services and traditional outsourcing models. This is because as-a-service is an outcome-based model whereby buyers only pay for usage. Additionally it facilitates quick response to the new business demands while controlling service expenditures.

During discussions with IBRS clients, as a service is by far the most pressing priority for senior technology executives. IBRS has identified a number of specific capabilities that organisations wish from as-a-services, and expects these to continue consolidating into ‘packages services’ from cloud vendors.

  • Security Leadership

Cyber-Security is a growing concern largely due to greater awareness of the problem stemming from mandatory reporting regimes overseas, and also from greater exposure to security threats.

Through 2016, the business demand for cyber-security will only increase, even while there is a lack of understanding and clarity on how to align security with business value.

  • Data Driven Business
Analytics in Australia will seek to identify where and how efficiencies may be gained, and how channels with stakeholders can be optimised. As line of business management is pressed to find savings, data analytic tools will be used primarily to support requests for resourcing. At the same time, the demand for data scientists (a role that will remain ill-defined) will skyrocket.

Business-Technology Priorities



Mobility, the Post PC Era, and Future Workplace Innovation

Technology groups take a device-centric view of end user computing, which results in short-term investments.

Long-held assumptions must be challenged and reviewed before any progress can be made in delivering a modern digital working environment (i.e. Digital Workspaces).

A move to an architectural approach of end user computing, will increase. A lot of room for tangible and measurable return on investment for mobility initiatives remains.

The upcoming desktop refresh cycle is an opportunity to modernise the desktop and rethink the digital tools workers use. The need for a self-service end user computing environment will arise from such change.


Technology stack investments will be under increased scrutiny in 2016, while non-IT groups will continue to carve out budget for new ‘innovative’ projects based on OpEx ‘as a service’ models.

This has the potential to place technology groups in a ghetto of “business as usual’ (BAU) spend, and also has the potential to increase project risks associated with innovation initiatives.

Mature organisations will create and communicate a service catalogue for business executives to engage with IT that enables innovation.

The public sector should prepare for IT budget cuts while ‘innovation groups’ will receive new budgets. Senior IT executives must re-position the IT group as an internal service.

Security Leadership

A lack of executive level security people that can frame a workable security stance, based on business risk appetite needs rectification.

Without a cyber-security workplace vision, public-facing innovation is threatened.

Delivering a ‘purpose-driven culture’ where security is viewed as a business issue. The technical aspects of cyber-security increasingly automated.

This will enable leading organisations to focus on offering new services, both internally and externally.

Data Driven Business

Organisation should take a more nuanced view of analytics, leveraging different tools and skill sets to different problems.

Organisations with a high level of maturity may use data analytics to provide higher-quality automated customer-facing services.

The 2016 business framework

Both business executives and IT groups find themselves in a race against competitors who have embraced new technologies and new business models.

This situation results in a mad dash between one hot new technology and another. In any race, having a skilled navigator and an accurate map is vital.

IBRS’s Business Priorities Atlas [see below] presents the highest-level view of Australian business priorities and the likely technological landmarks.

Business Technology Priorities Atlas

The Atlas may be used to stimulate discussion between senior IT and non-IT executives as to what, where, and when to invest.

In 2016, IBRS sees the following forces impacting Australian business priorities:

  • Belief in Digital Disruption: At an organisational level, many senior IT and business executives are being influenced by notions of ‘digital disruption’, ‘digital transformation’ and ‘innovation,’ even though the concepts are poorly defined. The common driving force behind these terms is the belief that business model competition is increasing due to the rapid commoditisation and consumerisation of technology.

According to the ‘digital dogma’, it is no longer sufficient for organisations to seek process improvements and efficiencies within the business: they must be prepared to reinvent the very nature of their business. It should be noted that innovation and digital disruption are not the same, but in the Australian context, they should converge to be almost interchangeable.

  • Changing Economic Outlook: Falling commodity prices are already adversely affecting national income. There will be knock-on effects across the entire Australian economy. In short, the gleeful race towards digital transformation seen in the USA and Europe will not directly translate into the Australian economic context because the circumstances are different.
  • Disruption & Government policy: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to power has increased the Federal Government's focus on innovation. This is expected to be a significant force on the market and will not be limited to the public sector. There will be a tension in driving forces for business and technology priorities in 2016.
As the concept of digital disruption and digital transformation take hold, it is vital that IT is not only aligned with, but synonymous with business.
IBRS' Business Technology Priorities Atlas
IBRS' Business Technology Priorities Atlas

Dr Joseph Sweeney is an IBRS advisor specialising in the areas of end user computing, including: mobility, future workplace strategies, enterprise solutions, collaboration, policy, organisational cultural change, and software deployment and licensing. He is the author of IBRS's Future Workplace Strategic Methodology and Enterprise Mobility Strategy Framework.

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