Consulting on ‘The Fly’

The boss can’t help himself…

On a recent flight, he provided advice on a hostess’ sisters bookshop, and the industry changes impacting her from IT, and what choices her sister needed to make to bring back some growth to her business.  

He didn’t get paid cash for that gig, 

just a half bottle of Aussie Sparkling from a grateful Aussie…

We’re guessing most of you out there have consulted ‘on the fly’ before, so what were you given in return? 

Comment Below.



Is your business design holding you back?

Is your business design holding you back?

 All organisations are looking for ways to improve their performance. Private sector firms are striving to beat the competition by providing more value to the customer at the lowest possible cost. Government departments and not-for-profit organisations are under pressure to provide increased stakeholder-satisfaction with ever-diminishing resources. These challenges require an improvement in effectiveness – doing only those things that the customer/stakeholder values – and efficiency – doing more with less.
The key to meeting these challenges could lie in taking a more systematic approach to business design. In this article, I will introduce a business design framework that, correctly implemented, has the potential to vastly improve business performance. ‘Organisational Architecture[i]’ is a simple, yet very powerful framework that seeks to improve an organisation’s performance by establishing alignment between the organisation’s environment, strategy, organisation design and culture. It all sounds like common sense, but it is amazing how many failures and near-failures can be traced back to getting this wrong.
In this framework, core organisational design has three elements:
·       The assignment of decision rights within the organisation: How centralised or decentralised should decision-making be? Are decision rights more appropriately assigned to individuals or to teams?
·       The evaluation of performance: What is the optimum balance between objective and subjective measures? Should performance benchmarks be absolute or relative? Is performance evaluated on an individual or team basis?
·       The rewarding of individuals: What is the optimum balance between straight salary and incentive-based compensation? What incentives can be utilised when cash incentives are restricted?
While it is clearly important to get each of these settings right, it is compatibilityand balance that are the real keys to success.  Where organisations often go wrong is that they see a particular technique that is working well in another organisation (for example, management by objectives, zero-based budgeting, participative management, total quality management, etc), implement that technique in isolation, and then wonder why it didn’t succeed. 
The correct (that is, ‘effective’) approach to implementing a new organisational design is to start with the organisation’s environment and strategy, craft an organisational design to suit, and then use internal communication channels to establish a compatible corporate culture.
As I said, this is a powerful framework. It can be very useful for explaining why an organisation has failed, or is not performing as well as it should (and I’m sure we can all think of some case studies here).  But more beneficially, it can be used to create an environment for superior performance, thus avoiding failure in the first place. The framework is also very flexible – it can be applied to whole organisations, or on any business unit that is seeking to improve performance. (And that’s all of them!)
Of course the devil, as they say, is in the detail. Some of the more important detail as I see it is:
·       Is your strategy the right one for your business’s environment, and is it well understood by all?
·       Who in your business has the information required to make value-enhancing decisions, and can they be given more decision-responsibility? Are corporate policies stifling creativity?
·       How can these key individuals (or teams) be incentivised?
·       What cultural changes are required to support the new approach?
We’d be really interested to hear your feedback on this framework. Can you see potential in this model for improving your organisation, or business unit? Do you have a similar (or even a very different) approach that you use? While this model is already well developed, we are currently looking for ways that it can be built upon, and to that end your input would be greatly valued.

[i] The ‘Organisational Architecture’ framework has been developed by James Brickley, Clifford Smith and Jerold Zimmerman, and is described in their book, Managerial Economics and Organizational Architecture, fifth edition, Irwin, McGraw-Hill.
Article Written By: Cary Clarke

Senior Consultant, Information Professionals.  

Cary Clarke is an experienced finance executive with a strong track record of financial leadership and business improvement. He has overseen business improvements in the areas of planning and control frameworks, capital structuring, organisation design, business model redesign and technology implementation.

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Government taxes, industry policy and the increasing relevance of ICT

Recent noise from the current federal government on various topics is increasingly seen as just that…noise. But that doesn’t mean that some of it is not without relevance and will become more so in the coming years.

I am referring to the discussion on tax minimisation by large corporates and in particular global tech corporates. It is a topic being discussed amongst all major western nations. This includes Australia, the UK and the USA where these tech corporates achieve solid revenue yet are alleged to pay just a fraction of tax in comparison to what would be their apparent profits. Of course their real profits are a lot less than their apparent profits, hence their ability to pay reduced tax.

One way they can achieve these lower real profits is through having to pay for the intellectual property that their products and services utilise. Local expenses include payments for this intellectual property, which is paid to the overseas owner of this intellectual property. The overseas owner of the intellectual property is an overseas entity of the same global corporate, and could reside in a lower taxing nation. Hence, via these payments, which are effectively an internal trading mechanism, they lower their profits in higher taxing nations and increase their profits in low taxing nations achieving a net global tax reduction.

This is not a new concept. It has been used for as long as I have understood such things, and probably a lot longer than that. For instance, Ireland became a hub for a lot of software development activities through the early to mid ’90s. This was due to Ireland’s tax and industry development policies, supporting its plans to grow its local software development industry. Many global, or global aspiring companies took advantage and started building offshore software and intellectual property development capability out of Ireland at that time. This dynamic remains in play today.

What is changing however is the increasing reliance on intellectual property in our everyday lives, reflected via the increasing revenues of companies providing technology products and services. And these companies are now becoming the biggest companies in the world, and have the ability be as innovative with their tax practices as they do with their products and services.

It is a natural role for government to want to protect their revenue base, and perhaps natural from some sides of politics to kick those who are successful, but this ignores the real issues.

Senator John McCain, one time Presidential nominee asked a very valid question of Apple CEO Tim Cook, at a senate committee hearing last month on this very issue, asking “couldn’t one draw the conclusion that you and Apple have an unfair advantage over domestic based corporations and companies, in other words, smaller companies in this country that don’t have the same ability that you do to locate in Ireland or other countries overseas?”

If it does, and I think the answer is obvious, then this issue has implications beyond tax receipts, with implications for those who want an industry policy that support innovation, supports new entrants, by lowering economy of scale impacts, and lowering barriers for growth.

For instance, if a start up is forced to pay 30c in the dollar in tax, and its competitors pay 10c in the dollar, that is an extra 20c in the dollar that can be reinvested into RnD, into marketing, into customer service, and into investor returns, thus attracting more clients and more investors. The formula is simple. The start up has a steeper climb ahead.

The ability for some nations to produce tax policies which attract investment or industry development is not a new phenomena. Michael Porter published The Competitive Advantage of Nations in 1990. In my view this should form compulsory reading for all politicians.

This point seems to be getting missed in the current debate about whether these corporates pay their fair share. In Australia, it is common practice for states to compete for the attraction of head offices through the application of state tax policy, such as payroll tax. Yet, we seem to have forgotten that as a nation, we too compete with other nations, for our share of industry.

And in a world where the global value of technology based products and services are increasing, and where intellectual property forms a larger and larger share of these products and services, then the opportunity to move profits based on internal trading of intellectual property will only increase.

The question for government becomes less one of how do we punish corporates that are successful in navigating the existing regime (although that will always be an easy political play), to how do we construct a tax regime which caters for this new reality.

The new reality is that Intellectual Property has increasing commercial value and importance. And the ability a nation has to create conditions that encourage local development and retention of intellectual property will define its global advantage. Australian government policies have never been good at reflecting this understanding.

What they will understand is that tax revenues will come under more pressure as profit based taxes perform poorly. This will also distort the tax take between those with the means for international structuring from those that do not or cannot structure this way.

This bodes well for increasing the scope and rate for transactional taxes such as the GST to restore both equality and equity to the tax take. And hence rely less on profit based taxes as a result.

Protecting the revenue base is a defensive reaction of the type we are used to our politicians taking. So the above shift in tax policy is a certainty in the next decade.

Taking a proactive leadership role in repositioning industry policy to attract intellectual property development and exploitation is a whole other story. Yet, proactive leadership is what is required in an age when information and communications technology (ICT) is moving rapidly and creating industry and community change just as rapidly.

There are enough corporate corpses over the past few decades to show that being proactive and not reactive to these ICT driven changes is the only thing that gives a shot at survival.

It is this need to take proactive leadership by our politicians that will be a big test for Australia. Lets see how the next 10 years goes.

Article Written By: Mark Nicholls.
Managing Director, Information Professionals. 
Mark is one of Australia’s most trusted IT Change Management advisors. He also has other entrepreneurial business interests that he operates through MaidenVoyages.

 If you liked this blog check out our other material at
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What happens in the Bahamas?

I cant claim to being a fashion guru.  I hope I dress well enough but I dont know that industry from an industry perspective, fashion seems to be such a complex and multi-layered industry.

How they decide that “silver is in this year” or that “the 50s is making a comeback” is of a complete unknown to me.  But I am thinking that I should start working on that.

After all, the fashion industry is not so different from the technology industry.  Each year the IT industry decides upon its own “fashionable” IT investments.  This year we are being told that Big Data, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Cloud, among other are on the top priorities for IT decision makers this year.

Cloud was on the list last year.  BYOD has been a recent addition.  What will survive to next year, what will get dropped and what will come along new.  Should we be looking forward with anticipation?

Where do these IT fashions get decided.  It is a global phenomena.  What we get on the IT Fashion hit list in Australia comes from a global list.  Who decides this, how is it decided, and where?

The list doesn’t seem to come from the IT purchasers themselves, eg. CIOs.  They may have some influence but they don’t decide it.  Whatever the list contains, we know that the biggest technology industry players have got their marketing plans set based on the IT Fashion list.  And the IT Fashion list comes in a suitably substantiated way with the support of the major research firms.  Yes those research firms that receive some of their research funding from those biggest technology industry players.

So maybe that’s where this list comes from.  Maybe the big technology industry players and the big research firms gather, perhaps with a token top end CIO or two and they decide upon the IT Fashion list?

I think that this is what happens.  And my guess is that they do this at a lovely annual event in the Bahamas. 

Fair enough if that happens.  But lets bring it out in the open. 

Why not make an industry event from this, “The Global Technology Direction awards”.  We could have the nominees, and the winners.  We could have the life time achievement technologies, like the HP Scientific Calculator or the Relational Database.

We would all get to see what was coming, we could prepare, we could make some decisions and help our business colleagues reconcile the facts amongst the eventual hype.  How we invest in IT could be based on much more considered grounds and how well they suit our industry and business priorities.

But then maybe that would not work so well.  Cant let the purchasers think they have a choice.  Much better to have them follow the crowd, even if it is a global rent-a-crowd.


Mark is the founder of Information Professionals and Managing Director. He is one of the most trusted IT management advisors in Australia, and has managed, advised or reviewed some of the most complex IT and Change Management projects in Australia. A full outline of Mark and his Bio is available here.

What ever happened to e- ?

What ever happened to e- ? You remember don’t you?

The time when everything that had some technology element to it was referred to as e-something…. e-enabled, e-business, e-reader, e-marketing.
How time moves on. We rarely see this now. Not only the technology develops, but I suggest the terminology moves even faster. Along with the popularity of the iPhone was the i-everything but that is now not fashionable either.

I was at an Australian Institute of Company Directors event this evening. It was on Digital Strategy, the impact that technology was having on business, on competitors, on industry structure, on internal risk management and a multitude of other critical business impacts. But No, it was not about these, or at least not all of them. It covered some of this ground but not all. It covered, what used to be called e-marketing or perhaps what we could call Digital (Marketing) Strategy.

This is an important area. Social media, marketing, employee engagement, customer intelligence are all critical. But there is more to the impact of technology than this.

My fellow colleagues at the event asked two questions in particular that I enjoyed that were reflective of this bigger picture. One question was about Board capability and competence in relation to marketing, technology and the like. Another question related to competitor behaviour and business model design, and I shall add to that with own interpretation of suggesting a link to industry structure. These considerations are all crucial to forming a complete view of the digital/technology/information age related change impacts on all organisations, and indeed on the community at large.

These change impacts are happening in waves. One of the latest waves is on marketing. Not that marketing hasn’t been impacted before. It has. But now it is gaining pace and importance, and in some quarters, the Chief Marketing Officer is claimed to be a bigger technology purchaser than the Chief Information Officer.

And so now we have the Digital Strategy. The “marketers who do technology” are now getting so powerful they too can reinvent their own terms. After all the “technologists who do marketing” have been doing this for a long time.

There is a broader picture here though. There was a time in history when finance was not a skill or capability pervasive to all business people. Today you would not get far without it. This evolution is happening with technology. Eventually technology related skills and perspectives, and being able to apply these into every role and every part of the organisation will be standard practice. This remains some decades away.

But stay tuned, the changes are continuous and there are many many steps ahead, despite what we have already seen. And whatever happens, there is bound to be a new name we can call it too.

Written by: 


Mark is the founder of Information Professionals and Managing Director. He is one of the most trusted IT management advisors in Australia, and has managed, advised or reviewed some of the most complex IT and Change Management projects in Australia. A full outline of Mark and his Bio is available here.

Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry


Last week both myself and Senior Consultant David Ekert gave evidence at the Queensland Health Payroll System Commission of Inquiry. We are pleased to have been able to assist the Commission of Inquiry and to provide input into what we hope will be recommendations from the Commission to assist the industry to avoid similar situations in the future.
The full text of our witness statements and transcripts of hearing are available on the Commission’s website
Some points of interest from the hearings of the Commission and from the evidence given by us are:
  • This project has seen an approximate 10 fold increase in expected costs (including business remediation) to $1.2 Billion and caused hardship for thousands of health workers due to payroll issues.
  • The Commission sought evidence from Information Professionals to better understand the background to the appointment of Mr Terry Burns to the position of Program Director for the Project and his role in the tender process which resulted in the appointment of IBM.
  • I gave evidence as to how Information Professional Program Management, Quality Assurance & Account Management Standards provided us with an early warning of our concerns with that appointment.
  • My evidence includes these concerns being raised (on a number of occasions and at a number of levels) with the Queensland Government prior to that appointment.
  • We respected the right of the Queensland Government to make its own decisions on such matters as they did.
  • Our concerns and the reasons for our concerns are set out in some detail in our witness statements and transcripts on the Commission’s website.  We can provide you with a copy if you are interested.
  • Our role in assisting the Commission has received some media coverage, as per the below links.  Should you have any questions in relation to this coverage we would be more than happy to answer them.


It is still early in the Commission’s hearings and the full chain of events that lead to the project outcome is yet to be fully explored.  Once presented, we hope there are valuable lessons for the industry.
Meanwhile, Information Professionals’ has the experience, capability and systems, and is well suited to protect you from this (or anything close to it) ever happening to your organisation in the future.
We look forward to the Commission’s findings in the weeks and months ahead.
Best regards,
Mark D Nicholls
Founding Partner and Managing Director

Keep Your Organisation Successful

What do the ACC Sports probe, the NBN and Big Data have in common?

Each of these topics: The ACC (Australian Crime Commission) Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport investigation, the NBN (National Broadband Network), and Big Data are all very topical right now.  So what do they have in common?  I argue that they each relate to one of the latest emerging challenges associated with technology.
In Australia, the NBN is argued about every day, what technology at what cost and various options around how to do it better.  While most agree on the benefit, most arguments surround the cost and the approach being taken.  Just last week there were claims and counter claims about using Cable TV Coax as a stepping stone to a faster broadband rollout.  Albeit not as fast as fibre but quite possibly existing infrastructure that could be put to better use than it currently is.  Of course Telstra do use the Foxtel cable to provide cable internet to some degree.  In considering the best option to improve internet speed quickly across Australia, accurate data on the existing infrastructure is important.  But what happens if that data is wrong?
Well it is wrong.  How wrong I don’t know but completely wrong in some cases.  I recently moved home.  The new apartment block I moved into was ADSL only…no cable, ADSL over copper phone line.  On moving in, I plugged the usual array of cables in and Foxtel worked straight out of the wall…great!  Made we wonder what the Foxtel guy was going to do when he turned up.  He did show, and berated me for choosing ADSL over cable.  “I didn’t request ADSL” I said, “Telstra says that’s all the building has got”.  Well this bloke persisted, and I half paid attention, until he said “Give that a go”, pointing to my recently retired cable modem that he had plugged in.  He was right, Telstra was wrong, I had internet via cable! 
So how wrong are the records on what IT infrastructure exists in Australia?  Anyone who has developed business cases and considered investment scenarios know that you can change any decision with a few tweaks of input data. What impact could that have on sound investment choices, particularly a $40B investment choice? But in some respects, errors of this type in corporate data is quite normal.  So this should be expected and should (hopefully) have been catered for in every Business Case
But this use of data is a rather conventional one.  Big Data concepts take another step.  With Big Data, there is the promise that with increased data we can gain more information, more insights, make better decisions, see things that we could never see before, or if we could see them, we can now prove them as fact.  It can allow us to move beyond big monolithic data use, such as an investment case, and look at finer trends that we can apply to individual circumstance.
Big Data problem solving allows us to make decisions with more precision based on individual circumstances.  This more granular decision making can define how we treat certain customer groups, certain profiles of people, pulling apart the broader community and understanding the parts that make up one.
It could be used for instance to move beyond an Australia wide internet business case and look at internet use and needs by geographies, by profession, by family type and many more criteria.  Services can then be targeted more specifically to specific granular groups.  The more detailed the definition of the group, the more potential for more personalised services specific to each of our particular needs.  We could understand behaviours by a suburb, by a street, or an apartment block, or perhaps a family group.
The challenge when we get to this level of granularity is that error rates can skyrocket.  For instance, if there is a 5% error rate in the data stored about cable TV infrastructure in Australia, then for that 5%, the data is 100% wrong.  Let’s take my new apartment building.  Telstra’s records aren’t 5% wrong here, they are 100% wrong.  So if a marketer or a service provider or a government department was making decisions about people here based on that data they would be completely wrong.  If they told the world about that then they would misrepresent us.
So in theory, while Big Data concepts sound full of promise, small error rates on a big population group, can turn into huge error rates on a small population group.  So the quality of data and the assumptions and definitions about that data start mattering a whole lot more.
If the granularity of the data starts approaching very small groups, perhaps even groups of one, then at some point we stop being a statistic on customer behaviour and start becoming tracked, personally.  In this case, those using that data are no longer doing statistical analysis, they are starting to do personal analysis. 
If you stop to consider the type of data that is easily collected about you, then a picture can easily be built about you based merely on:
1.       Topics of interest and personal/professional relationships 
(from Phone calls and emails and other electronic communications)
2.       Financial situation and financial relationships 
(Banking and Financial transactions)
3.       Where you have been and who you have visited
(Location based tracking from smart phones)
Information gathered by a bank and a telecommunications company could easily be combined to create a picture of you based on the above.  So where should this line lie between you as a statistic and you being revealed and tracked as a person?  What rules should therefore apply to that data as it approaches the level of detail that says something about you?  This is an area of interest to policy makers, legislators and privacy advocates and understandably so.  Information at this level of granularity would need to have some obligations and responsibilities that go with it.
Data gathering and analysis at this level has typically been the province of intelligence gathering organisations.  They are regulated and trained in the appropriate use of such intelligence.  The recent Australian Crime Commission announcements have upset some that feel they have been unfairly smeared as guilty when they are not.  This has created debate about the way information of this nature should be managed and released. But these issues and the risks associated with them are moving beyond the specialised and highly regulated world of intelligence organisations and law enforcement.
Drugs in Sport
Big Data concepts will allow analysis by organisations (or groups of organisations) to approach analysis of a group of one.  And it is not currently governed by the type of control that the ACC operates under.  And as my experience of Telstra data shows, in some cases they can have the most basic of data very very wrong.  
Some people don’t care about privacy, they have nothing to hide they say and they stand for the greater good theory.  But what happens if the data held about you is wrong.  And what happens if that becomes public, or worse still, conclusions are made about you based on that flawed data. How do you defend that, and perhaps why should you have to?
With Big Data techniques, poor data integrity, lack of control and a lack of foresight by regulators about these emerging challenges, we may find that it is more than a few footballers and sports administrators facing reputation challenges in years to come.
It has been said that many technologies do not change human behaviour but accelerate or magnify the effects of it.  False rumours have been in society for ever and a day.  Will we now start facing false rumours, spread globally, and substantiated with specific facts…facts that are based on data that is fundamentally incorrect?  Is anyone looking forward to a magnified future that looks like that?

Article Written By: Mark Nicholls.
Managing Director, Information Professionals. 
Mark is one of Australia’s most trusted IT Change Management advisors. He also has other entrepreneurial business interests that he operates through MaidenVoyages.

 If you liked this blog check out our other material at
Post your thoughts and comments below…

SCOPE Spring Conference – Chicago – Report 2

What is the trend for the best performing Supply Chains today and into the future? – by Mark Hewitt

I attended the SCOPE conference in Chicago with an expectation to discover the next big thing. Was there a new gadget or technology that was going to revolutionize business? Perhaps something like barcoding was about to be superseded? Was there a breakthrough and something everyone must be doing for their organization to remain successful? What I learnt wasn’t what I expected. The more I reflect on the education sessions, the one on one meetings with exhibitors and time spent with other delegates, the more I realized there is a common direction to be embraced. 
I asked several delegates, “So why are you here?” and the answers were varied:
  • To introduce barcoding back into my Distribution Centre (DC )
  • We are evaluating a new Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  • I’m looking at slotting
  • To find a new transport management provider
  • To get current with what is out there
Over the two days, the questions were addressed although the answers weren’t what was expected.
The scene for the conference was set by Roddy Martin from CCI, Steve Sigrist from Newell Rubbermaid, Scott Mason from Stepan Company and David Ecklund from the University of Tennessee. With a show of hands, the delegates confirmed that, for most, their journey was somewhere between running projects for improvements to the early stages of Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). The end game being a complete end to end Supply Chain, where demand is shaped rather just met. Across the journey the enablers of talent and change management capability were identified as the areas that “keep the organization’s leaders up at night”.
S&OP, is where all players within the organization regularly come together with one goal and focus on business outcomes rather than traditional functional results (breaking silo thinking). Planning is underpinned with information. Driving the forum is the Supply Chain people, since they are more tuned with the management of an analytical basis for discussion (that’s what we do) and also having direct control of the capability to satisfy demand. In a Utility business, the customer facing component (which is Sales for many other industries), the forum would consist of members from the Program of Works as well as Field and Project Leaders.
The need to continuously adapt to how a business is conducted was uniformly accepted and driven by, amongst other influences, globalization and the technology used today for how we communicate and interact. I talked to Paul Schmuddle from Gateway Express whose business was created by recognizing both of these influences. From Flextronics’s Ronald Tarter presentation on the Global Marketplace, I learned more about sourcing across many emerging Asian countries.  Although China is still the dominate manufacturer it isn’t always the best choice.


It was “a given” to all in attendance that change was necessary, and that some part of our organizations back home was an “ugly baby”.

But what did that mean for our current priorities and what does the future hold for how the Supply Chain will best serve the organisations of tomorrow?  Report 3 will continue my own journey of discovery at SCOPE Spring.

Big Data – Business or Technology Problem?

Big Data – the technology challenge for our age, or part of the ongoing development of the art of management?  You get a strong technology push if you listen to the messages coming from the ICT vendor, enterprise software and consulting communities.

We have a different take on Big Data – we see it as a bigger challenge and opportunity than just transmitting and storing large amounts of data.
For many years now, the teaching of business strategy has been about looking at the environment, identifying the relevant signals and then acting on them.
We liken this to the historical challenges faced by the explorers setting out on sea voyages of discovery.  At the outset, they may not have known their destination – indeed the very nature of exploration is to see what’s out there.  However, they did not set out blindly.  The captain, navigator and crew all had their particular skills to help drive the ship, and in doing this they had to take in, act on and manage lots of signals – the weather, the sun and stars, their food supplies, enemies (and pirates!).
Isn’t this akin to today’s business planning and management?  Todays’ business managers have to do their job in a world where the data that’s available is growing exponentially.  Still, their challenges remain the same – managing the torrent of data and turning it into useful information.
So now, we come to big data.  The challenge for management is to both manage this data (and that includes the technology issues to do with bandwidth and storage) and to use it to their advantage.  Analysing and acting on Big Data enables more real time decision making, insight discovery and process optimisation.
How do we address the big data challenge??
Well, the storage vendors say “buy more”.  They may even be joined by the CIOs in saying this. The CEOs are saying “how will this benefit us”?  The CFOs, on the other hand, are saying “how do I pay for this – where’s the financial return”?  The HR managers are saying “who’s going to manage this – who has the skills”?  And the customers (and corporate lawyers) are saying “what about the privacy of my information”?
So senior executives can be forgiven for asking “What’s going on? Who else is working on this? What information is out there that I need and what would we do if we had it?”
This brings us back to the original question.  Is big data a technology issue or a wider management challenge?  We believe that the technology cannot be ignored.  However, we also believe that there are bigger problems to solve – management, skills, planning – to name a few.
That’s our thinking.   
What’s yours?  
Are you doing anything in the big data space? Do you have any successes that you would like to share?  What do you think is the biggest roadblock to embarking on your voyage of big data discovery? 



Written by Information Professionals – Senior Consultants, David Ekert and Tom Collins.

David is an experienced Program Manager, CIO, business manager and a CPA (Certified Practicing Accountant). David has a broad range of Finance, HR, IT and Program Management capabilities, having provided well considered opinions and trusted advice to others over a period of many years. David maintains his CPA and AIM memberships and keeps his knowledge current on emerging issues for his government and business clients.
Tom has over 11 years Organisation Development and Project Management experience leading and managing business improvement in large and medium size organisations. Tom’s key consulting expertise includes business process review, customer relationship management, change management, workshop facilitation, systems planning, development and implementation. 
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IT and finance issues…is this going to be an issue for you?

A topic that is gaining lots of interest of late is the financial treatment of IT investments. Sound boring, well maybe, but if you need to find funds from year to year, or one off for a crucial project then this topic may be crucial.

What we are working on right now is the financial treatment of IT costs as it relates to capital versus operational expenditure. This impacts many people, often in different ways due to varying interpretations.  And the impacts (and no doubt interpretations) will only increase as the use of service based IT (i.e. cloud based computing) becomes more prolific.

Is this an issue in your organisation? We will be keen to hear your views.

And don’t think this is a trivial issue to solve. Firstly there is the interpretation element, and the need to comply with accounting principles and perhaps tax and other regulatory requirements. Then there is the innovative financial structuring options available from finance experts which can package products and services to meet buyers financing requirements. And then finally, there is internal budgeting and funding policies and rules where central finance and treasury departments have long justified and funded IT in particular ways, and are used to constraining operational and capital funding based on the historical treatment of IT expenditure.

There is quite a few issues to understand. My views are:

  1. These issues do need to be understood to remove artificial impediments to organisations generating Return on Investment (ROI) for their business. 
  2. Cloud based computing will heighten the need for improved understanding of this issue.
  3. Financial structuring options will allow most things to be done, in most cases, offering ample flexibility
  4. Central financial and treasury departments will need to learn to adapt, otherwise they will soon be holding their organisation back

If you have your own view about this, or are seeing some impacts already across industry then let us know.  Tell us:

  1. Have you had or have you seen others experience roadblocks in this area?
  2. Are you aware of what solutions are being adopted?
  3. Do you think this problem will increase or decrease in the future?

We are in our Research phase on this right now, your input would be valued.

Post your thoughts and comments below…