Tag Archives: technology

To Succeed in Transformation, Stop Funding Projects! #OIC2016

Here’s a generic (far-fetched, but relevant) scenario:

  • CEO: “I want predictive analytics.”
  • CIO: “Ok, I hear you.”

The CIO shares the request with his team.

  • CIO’s team to CIO: “In order to provide predictive analytics, we need to upgrade our ERP system.”
  • CIO to his team: “Ok, we’ll upgrade the ERP.”

A dialogue goes on about funding between the CxOs.

  • CEO: “Here’s $5 million to put towards your project.”
  • CIO: “Thanks. I’ll meet with my staff about getting this project done.”

In this scenario, the conversation quickly shifted from a high-level need for predictive analytics to an implementation choice of upgrading the ERP. Someone, somewhere, will get a chunk of the funding to implement various systems, technologies, or practices – including that ERP system. Unfortunately, this has become a glorified game of telephone, where no one is paying attention to the original goal of providing predictive analytics for the executives. Here’s the problem: the disconnect has already happened. The IT team works hard to achieve the goal of the project – upgrade the ERP. Months later, they host a small party to celebrate a successful upgrade to their ERP. Of course, steps or tactics are required to deliver business outcomes. In this case, the company needs to upgrade their ERP to deliver predictive analytics. Unfortunately, as happens at many organizations, the focus shifted from the business capability onto the tactic, and through no fault of their own, the team lost sight of the original goal.

Let’s consider this scenario with agility added to the mix of project execution. Early and often, choices are made where the project’s path can be altered irreparably. In our example, the conversation veered off-course when the main objective shifted to become the safe delivery of the ERP upgrade. If your target was set based on a technological choice intended to achieve an outcome, and not the specific outcome itself, then you risk making decisions and taking actions that don’t contribute to achieving the original goal. At each step, remember to ask yourself, “Are we on the right track to deliver the business outcome the executives expect? Did something change?” Even further, are these questions being asked in the context of supporting a capability or are they in the context of deploying a project? Context matters because the answers will drastically differ depending on the actual goal.

Working sessions and meetings could result in pivot points that might change the course of the project. If you start the project with smaller pieces (milestones) in mind that are defined in the context of the capability evolution (business outcome), then the pivots are made to stay in alignment with executive expectations. If you are measuring success based on the achievement of the capability evolution then you won’t lose sight of the project’s original intention. You’ve changed your mode of thinking. The project still exists, but it will be funded through capability evolution. When procuring technology to support the evolution of the business capability, you’re buying/enabling abilities with a business outcome-driven mindset, not just technology for the sake of technology.

Gartner1 states that “by 2017, 60% of Global 1000 organizations will execute on at least one revolutionary and currently unimaginable business transformation effort.” The ability to track strategy as it relates to concerns, business drivers, influencers, and issues is directly related to projects making or missing their mark. A capability-based approach to project execution is your answer to tracking strategy. According to Gartner, “almost 90% of transformation projects miss their mark.” Organizations that fund business capability evolution will close the gap between strategy and failed implementation. It’s important to detach your thoughts from legacy constraints because, when you’re tied to implementation, your scope can become very narrow. Looking at questions or concerns from a capability perspective is an abstraction of thought. Don’t focus on “how” you do it. Focus on “what” it is that you’re doing.

The Enterprisers Project states that “when faced with a business challenge, business leaders often have a good idea where they need to go and how they must evolve. But there is often a mismatch in how prepared they perceive their organization to be, and the cold, hard reality within their walls.” Let’s take a step back and look at the initial conversation about the request for project funding. When trying to get funding, stop talking about projects or technologies or roadmaps or backlogs. Instead, focus the conversation on capabilities. If you talk about, and lead with, capabilities, then to some degree, technology ends up being what enables everything. You’re bound to get much farther in the conversation and become the bridge between reality and perception.

Business leaders seek to manage complexity and create visibility into and traceability of their business and IT landscape, but what does that really mean to the funding and evolution of business capabilities? Keeping a focus on capabilities that are delivered is critical to success.

Speaker in the Spotlight with Rocco Labellarte #FutureofWork

In conversation with…


Rocco Labellarte, Head of Technology and Change Delivery
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council

Rocco Labellarte is CIO and Head of Technology and Change Delivery for the Royal Borough Windsor and Maidenhead, a unitary local authority in Berkshire.

His work experience spans commercial and public sectors, at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Unilever, Calvin Klein and several local authorities. He was ranked in the top 20 UK CIOs by “Computing” in late 2014. He has delivered various models of shared service, an end-to-end hybrid cloud solution and translating digital innovation into hard business benefits.

We recently caught up with Rocco and asked him a few questions around the Future of Work. 

  1. What are the top 3 biggest challenges and/or opportunities you see in the FoW space?

    a. Simplifying how we communicate and collaborate at work. Making the tools more intelligent, optimising the time we spend in dialogue, providing more time to be productive.

    b. Re-defining the boundary inside and outside of work. Technology allows work to spill over into our non-work space. It is not about limiting where and when we work, rather, making us more effective at doing our work, in work.

    c. Developing the skills necessary to transform existing business processes and technologies into consumer-style solutions – commoditised, standardised, simple to use, reliable solutions that eliminate back office processing. End-to-end automation of business.

  2. What is/are the main FoW innovation project(s) you’re currently leading to benefit your organisation?

    We are developing a blueprint for local government organisations called “Council as a Service”. It will deliver three game-changing benefits: a transformational “all-in-one” Email, Case, Record, Document and Meeting Management collaboration solution; simplified automation of business process workflows and a 40% saving on back office case and document management systems.

  3. What are you looking to achieve by participating in the event?

    Networking, exchanging ideas, getting to see who had delivered real innovation, and what the future holds.

  4. Which specific recent FoW project/ key initiative have you led or been part of that you’re particularly proud of?

    We recently completed the first full implementation in the UK of a local government hybrid Cloud infrastructure environment, as reported in the July 2014 blog of Government Digital Services (GDS).


Rocco will be speaking at the Future of Work Summit, taking place on the 24th November 2015, at the Amba Marble Arch (formerly known as the Thistle Marble Arch) in London. To hear from him and 25+ fantastic thought leaders in the FoW space, make sure you register for your FREE pass here.


Technology Adoption – Tips and Ideas to Make it Happen #FutureEdTech

Guest Blog with Blackboard

Institutions recognise how new technology can enhance the learning and teaching experience for staff and students. Increasingly they are looking to technology to support them in achieving their strategic goals such as:

  • Improving the quality of the student experience and positively impacting student performance, satisfaction and retention
  • Responding to the rising expectations and the increasingly diverse support needs of the student population
  • Extending institutional reach and developing new markets through flexible delivery
  • Reducing administration burden on academic staff by improving efficiency and effectiveness of academic administrative processes
  • Enhancing student employability and digital literacy skills through exposure to discipline- specific software, resources and online practice

However, at Blackboard we know that there are obstacles to the adoption of technology that institutions must overcome. Change of any kind is daunting, particularly when dealing with long-established methods and systems.

That’s why we have prepared a small book that shows how to make it happen, suggesting practical tips, ideas, resources and real-life examples. We’ve built the story around six key characteristics required of a successful adoption project:

  1. Leadership from the top
  2. Institutional commitment and investment
  3. Robust and reliable infrastructure
  4. Effective and available support for academic staff
  5. Ability to demonstrate the benefits to the student and staff experience
  6. Evidence-based decision-making and a continuous cycle of improvement

Come visit us at Future Edtech 2015 to sign up for your free copy!

Or visit www.blackboard.com for more information.


Want to find out more about our views on the future of Edtech? Blackboard International’s Senior Director of Industry Management, Dr Demetra Katsifli will be taking part in the Industry Leaders Panel Discussion: Supporting Student Experience and Success in the 21st Centurylive at Future Edtech at 10am on 2nd June.



Technology – The Key to Transformational Change in HE? #FutureEdTech

Guest Blog with Tribal Group

Technology has dramatically changed our lives over the last decade. Mobile technologies are more common than ever, and interwoven into every aspect of our daily lives. They guide our decisions and instantly connect us to our social circles. Technology has clearly transformed the way we communicate and do business at a fundamental level.

A recent survey The Digital Transformation of Business conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, polled 537 executives and delivered surprising insights into the transformative effects of technology on business operations, These included how:

  • Mobile is enabling new business scenarios
  • Cloud computing is driving business agility
  • Big data is helping companies innovate
  • Social channels are transforming core business processes

The survey found that business leaders are not simply deploying the four technologies to boost efficiency or reduce costs. They are embracing these technologies to develop new business models, develop new revenue streams and to drive better customer engagement.

As technologies such as social media and mobility drive engagement across education institutions, executives are looking at ways to take advantage of the deluge of information generated by these interactions to drive better student engagement and increase operational efficiencies.

“Today, we are faced with the most radical change in distance learning, technology, and logistics since the invention of the printed book.”

Institutions embracing the change

Gartner reports 25% of CEOs expected to appoint a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) by 2017 to help drive their growth objectives and drive digital strategies. What’s more, 20% of large enterprises had already appointed a data officer to lead their digital strategies by 2014. Deakin University’s new Chief Digital Officer William Confalonieri is working closely with Tribal to optimise its Student Management Systems, including SITS and Enterprise Service Desk, to drive new innovations in student service, student engagement and operational efficiency. Williams’ role is to help the university capitalise on the risks and rewards of the digital economy using a blend of business strategies and technologies to achieve this goal.

Working with the University of Wolverhampton, Tribal has delivered a proven analytics model capable of predicting student success to within 70%. This new product, Student Insight ,is self-learning and has enabled the University of Wolverhampton to reduce student attrition, while driving improved student engagement and will ultimately lead to increased student satisfaction.

These are just two examples of how Tribal is working proactively with our customers to deliver new technologies and innovations to support their digital initiatives and drive greater efficiencies.

Delivering new technologies and innovations to support our customers’ digital initiatives

As a company responsible for delivering systems to support the future needs of our education customers, we see our research and development investment as critical to enable our customers to differentiate their services and lead in what has become a very complex and challenging environment. Whether it’s developing new technologies that deliver predicative analytics to identify students at risk and understand the interactions between an institution and its customers (the student), or investing in existing products to enable anytime, anywhere access via our mobility strategy, we work hard to add tremendous value to our customers.

In addition to our technologies, we have also evolved our service offer to deliver new possibilities such as our Business Transformation Service. This innovative programme leverages our experience of over 150 implementations worldwide and the thought leadership gained from working with these customers to deliver change management and consulting in the delivery of new business models that take advantage of the new digital economy, enabling customers to realise their optimal operating models.


Want to find out more about our views on the future of Edtech? Managing Director, Market Development Jon Baldwin will be taking part in the Industry Leaders Panel Discussion:Supporting Student Experience and Success in the 21st Centurylive at Future Edtech at 10am on 2nd June.




What is Adaptive Learning? #FutureEdTech

Guest Blog with Brightspace by D2L

Adaptive learning
has become one of the most talked about technologies in education. Gartner Canada Inc. recently named adaptive learning as the number one strategic technology to impact education in 2015. With this anticipation brings different perceptions—and even some confusion—about what adaptive learning is and its role in shaping teaching and learning.

This post is the first in a series dedicated to adaptive learning. First up, let’s establish exactly what it means.


”Adaptivity” is the “adjustment of one or more characteristics of the learning environment.” These adaptive actions take place in three different areas:

  1. Appearance/Form: How the learning actions—such as content, the addition of text, graphics, and/or video, etc.—are displayed to the learner. Most of today’s adaptive platforms call this “content consumption” and expect knowledge to be obtained by simply reading the content.
  2. Order/Sequence: How the learning actions are ordered and branched depending on the learning progress, such as pathways.
  3. Guidance towards Goal/Mastery: Actions of the system that lead a learner towards success. This allows for changes according to the most optimal learning outcomes, level of difficulty, and the learner’s increasing knowledge or skill level.

The value is different for everyone

The whole idea of “personalized learning”—and by extension, adaptive learning—is to help meet the needs of each student’s learning process. However, students still rely heavily on their instructor’s feedback and guidance to confirm that they’ve met the requirements.

With growing classroom sizes, this can be difficult to scale. That’s where technology can help.

The adaptive technology landscape today

In our survey of the adaptive technology landscape, we found that there are many solutions focused on adjusting learner pathways. These may be different pathways students can take within a learning environment. They are typically organized as pre-set categories and applied in a rules-based method with a decision tree. Students might take a test on the first day that will be used to create their individual path and content.

Adapting to a learner’s style and pace is another frequently applied model. While its value remains largely unproven, many adaptive platforms highlight its benefits. Most recent adaptive technology is data-driven and captures ongoing data from students’ actions. These systems use their results, creating learning actions and pathways that change and improve over time for each student.

The real opportunity can be found in taking the results of students who have completed adapted online courses and feeding those back into the system. This makes pathway learning transferable. What helped a student on the far side of the world can become valuable to a student next door.

Our view: it’s about exploration

At its core, adaptive learning allows students to select the steps or pathways they want to pursue rather than having it dictated to them. Effective technology can assemble and adapt the whole learning management system, not just a single piece of content at a time.

Join Brightspace by D2L at Future EdTech 2015. They’ll be speaking on ‘Leveraging technology to support student retention‘ at 14.00-14.30 on the 2nd June.



Next Generation Infrastructure Q&A with Rocco Labellarte, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead

Rocco Labellarte is Head of Technology and Change Delivery at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and is appearing on the Industry Leaders Panel at Next Generation Infrastructure on 23 September in London, alongside the CTO of Framestore, and Heads of Technology from Mercedes F1 and Government Digital Service. We caught up with Rocco to chat about his experience and projects, as well as his expectations from the conference. Here’s what he had to say:

Rocco LabellarteRocco Labellarte: I am discussing Migrating to next generation infrastructure – Mountain or molehill? at NGI 2014. I believe it is an opportunity to underline the essential move toward IT being all about enabling business outcomes. IT becomes the toolbox; how businesses use that toolbox to achieve their desired outcomes becomes the more fundamental question.

Ovum: What are some of the challenges of your job?

RL: The 3P’s: people, politics and people! Joking apart, being able to manage multiple stakeholder groups, communicate really well and bridge the language divide between what technology can deliver and what people want, makes up 70% of my job. It is a challenge, the rules are what they are, with each employer being just a little bit unique, and you have to adopt the frame of mind that “these are the rules you are going to have to play by, so get used to it”, otherwise you will find yourself stressed out in next to no time.

Ovum: What skills and qualities would you most value in your successor?

RL: The ability to be concise, energetic and with a sense of humour. Knowing what they are talking about helps too. A broad understanding of technology, a sound grasp of business essentials, a delivery mentality and the ability to work with people at all levels of the organisation.  If you convince people you know what you’re saying and you get them on board then they are more likely to trust you to just get on and deliver.

Ovum: What one thing would you implement tomorrow if you knew you were guaranteed to succeed?

RL: A time machine. Hindsight is a fabulous gift we’ve all been given; the trouble is we always get after the event. It is what translates to experience and learning for the next time. If we had a time machine, we’d be able to learn from our mistakes, go back in time and avoid them. That would be fun.

You can view all of the topics to be discussed at Next Generation Infrastructure on the event agenda, and you can discuss these topics and more with Rocco, and all our speakers, by registering today (enterprise end-users can claim a complimentary pass).

OIC speaker interview 4: Laurent Lachal, Senior Analyst, Software – IT Solutions, Ovum

In the latest Ovum Industry Congress speaker interview, we chat to Laurent Lachal, Ovum’s Senior Analyst in the Software – IT Solutions division. Laurent is leading the Cloud Computing in the Enterprise track at OIC, including a presentation on ‘PaaS – a 360º view’, and is a specialist in the Cloud market.

Laurent-Lachal-2013Laurent Lachal: At OIC, I am most looking forward to interacting with cloud service providers and consumers, especially during one to one analyst clinics that are freely available.

Ovum: What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise, and how can you prepare?

LL: The IT industry likes fashions. Fashions have a habit of coming back. Workflow, for example, was all the rage in the mid-90s then faded away, only to reappear in the mid-noughties as business process management (BPM). Similarly, the industry, which has been talking about the “digitalization” of economies, industries, and/or enterprises for a number of years, seems to have found a new interest, largely cloud computing-centric, in the subject in 2013. I expect this interest to remain sustained in 2014. Both cloud service providers and consumers will continue to struggle to cope with the need to:

  • Define balanced (public, private, and/or hybrid) “cloud first” strategies at both technology and business levels
  • Shift from cloud-enabling IT with a focus on cost control and automation, to cloud-centric transformation with a focus on making it easy to innovate
  • Become cloud brokers that aggregate, integrate, customize, and curate third-party cloud services
  • Understand, manage, and bridge a variety of cloud-centric digital divides including line-of-business (LoB) executives versus CIOs, shadow versus official IT, and developers versus IT operations divides.

Ovum: In relation to your area of expertise, what 2 pieces of advice would you give to end user organisations to prepare them for the coming changes, if any?


  1. Cloud computing is a long-term that redefines the way in which enterprises relate to their IT assets (in for example, the way they design and provision assets), their IT departments, their IT vendors, as well as one another because it makes it easier for them to share, and via public clouds it massively democratizes IT, disrupting whole industries and supply chains. Get briefed on the latest developments and the implications for your vertical sector. Find out if and where cloud services are already being used in your jurisdiction and others, and discuss the strategy and policy implications with customers and stakeholders. Cloud adoption is a two-way street. It is not just about whether cloud computing is ready for you, it is also about whether you are ready for it.
  2. Many executives regard technology evangelists as “drive-by shooters” who cruise by their offices firing so-called “silver bullet” solutions, creating panic and confusion with a barrage of innovation. The adoption of cloud services can cultivate the kind of decentralized decision-making environment that is an ideal target for “drive-by shooters”. The best defense is flexible enterprise ICT strategic thinking that includes an awareness of the big-picture trends in the ICT industry and the preparedness to get a grip on the logic of ICT management. A strategic perspective is recognizing that cloud services are primarily a business and organizational-level challenge and will therefore require a strategic, outward-looking, top-down response rather than a rigid, inward-looking defense of the enterprise ICT perimeter.
  3. A major challenge is to avoid the temptation to impose the full baggage of legacy IT expectations, requirements, and regulation on cloud services. It will be important to value the cloud for what it is, a new and potentially useful IT innovation in IT delivery, rather than regarding cloud computing services as conventional enterprise IT applications. Many of the benefits of cloud computing stem from the fact that it is a commoditized, standardized, take-it-or-leave-it service environment. Successful early adoption of cloud services will require an acceptance of its limitations, astute selection of appropriate opportunities, and a preparedness to solve the new problems that will emerge.
  4. Keep control under control. Try not to clamp down on employee-driven cloud shadow IT too hard in the name of security and governance. IT as well as business executives need to give user experience and user empowerment the same priority as governance to keep up not only with public cloud convenience and flexibility, but also their peers. They need to train employees on the advantages, not just the dangers, of public cloud services.

Enterprise utilising Cloud technology can claim a complimentary pass for Ovum Industry Congress. For more details, visit the OIC website.