Interviews with Ross Dawson and Hugh Bradlow on key trends in cloud computing
04 Business insights
Jodie Thomson writes
TAPPING THE FORCES OF
channels, like phone, email and instant messaging. Success for businesses also means planning for the future and positioning to keep up with developments as they appear. International technology expert, Ross Dawson, and Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer, Hugh Bradlow, share their views and advice on how to plan for doing business in this new landscape and how the new technology will benefit and boost performance. ThE DRiViNg FORCES The transformation in the technological landscape has been fuelled by a range of factors, many driven by the needs of businesses themselves. Technology expert Ross Dawson describes these forces as ‘inexorable’. ‘The amount of data we have is growing exponentially and it’s very difficult for businesses to manage their own storage,’ says Dawson. ‘There are more and more computing resources available, with software coming out at a fast pace. The faster pace of competition is driving change.’ Underscoring the practical requirements are the heightened expectations from both customers and businesses. ‘As a society we have greater expectations of companies and the level of service they give, the degree of engagement,’ Dawson says. ‘And we have greater expectations for our software and tools.’ New technologies like cloud computing and unified communications are just some of the new services responding to these drivers for change. ‘The shift to the cloud is the result of these inexorable forces of change,’ Dawson says. ‘And unified communications is really bringing together the multiplicity of communication channels we have today – phone, email, instant messaging. The vision and potential is that we have communications coming to us on the right channel to suit how busy we are, and tying into the teamwork we’re doing at the time.’
It’s hard to fathom a workplace without the internet, but just 20 years ago it didn’t even exist. Today, the internet is an intrinsic and essential element in every business, and new technological developments are continuing at a rapid-fire pace.
For businesses, these new technologies bring a wealth of benefits, from cost efficiencies, to increased revenues and superior performance. Taking advantage of the new technological landscape means a shift in thinking and working, and understanding the full range of products and services available. Among the new technologies for businesses is cloud computing, or internetbased computing, where shared resources like software and data storage are provided to users on demand. There’s also unified communications, the streamlining of all the available communication
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SiX STEpS TO SUCCESS
For businesses, the challenge is understanding the new technology and realising they’ll have to make significant shifts in the way they think and work to take full advantage of it all. Ross Dawson describes this process in his six steps to success, which covers everything from more flexible approaches to working, to new technology strategies. driving the success of businesses,’ Dawson says. What this means is giving people the tools and technology to be able to work on the move. ‘You must facilitate this connection, inside and out, any time, anywhere, wherever they are,’ Dawson says. ‘And it enables individuals to live a richer life. Another key driver of this is that people have expectations of a greater work-life balance.’ people and a lot of money to make this happen,’ Dawson says. With cloud computing, that role changes and becomes more strategic. ‘A lot of this can be dealt with easily and effectively but, at the same time, accessing the cloud means you have extraordinary business flexibility, you can move into new markets, take on new products, improve customer service, far more quickly than before,’ Dawson says. ‘People working in IT need to take on a more strategic role in helping executives understand what the potential is. They need to be able to clarify the business opportunities afforded by technology.’
01 BREaThE iN ThE CLOUD
The first step is being aware of the way cloud computing works. ‘It’s the idea of breathing in the cloud,’ says Dawson. ‘The analogy with air reflects that it’s all around you, it’s pervasive, an unlimited resource. The cloud of computing resources is all around us and if we can tap that and breathe in to access that vital resource on which a business feeds, it will give us the resources and energy to grow.’
ROSS DAWSON ross dawson is a leading international keynote speaker and strategy leader focusing on the future of business and technology.
02 ENaBLE DiSTRiBUTED WORK
The second step involves a shift in the way we’ve traditionally worked and organised the workplace. The key, says Dawson, is flexibility. ‘We have moved beyond the traditional, hierarchical organisation, beyond having clearly defined roles. Now an organisation is about how well the people can communicate and collaborate, to tap into these to respond to unforeseen situations, to take advantage of opportunities. Thinking of your office as the workplace is now an old concept which needs to be thrown out.’ The result of new work practices like these are increased efficiencies and productivity. ‘It creates this imperative of speed, where being faster to market and more responsive to customers is
03 BUiLD a SUppORTiVE CULTURE Along with the tools and technology, a shift in thinking and workplace culture is required. ‘Enabling effective processes and ways of working is critical,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about creating a culture that supports the ability to work effectively. When people are not in the office, there should be confidence the work is being done, supported by mutual trust.’ In this new culture, relationships are more important than ever. ‘As technology connects us more, the human relationships should become more important,’ Dawson says. ‘You can’t get away with a less supporting and trusting culture. If you don’t have those cultural aspects in place, you’re negatively impacting on your ability to compete.’ Again, the key is flexibility, both personal and organisational. ‘There’s a give and take needed, and it’s not about monitoring people, about micro-managing,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about trying to see people are being productive and engaged.’
STRaTEgiC The IT department plays a major role in this shift to new technologies, and requires its own transformation. ‘The technology function has usually been about buying PCs, installing software and maintaining it, and it often requires quite a few
05 CREaTE FLEXiBiLiTY
aND SEiZE OppORTUNiTiES With distributed work and an enabling culture in place, the next step is to build access to more resources. ‘Crowd sourcing is an example of how you can start to explore and find resources and new capabilities,’ Dawson says. ‘It’s about using the new capabilities you have and drawing on them, being able to research where you can find the new right opportunities. With more flexible ways of working and bringing people together in teams and building partnerships, as you see opportunities you can jump on them right away.’
06 UNDERSTaND aND Tap
04 MaKE TEChNOLOgY
ThE FORCES OF ChaNgE What every business needs is a deep understanding of the forces of change and what’s needed to tap into them. ‘There are ongoing, forces of change – a business can not be run as a steady state,’ says Dawson. ‘Every business needs to take advantage of changes.’
06 Business insights
ChaLLENgES, SOLUTiONS aND ThE FUTURE.
Telstra’s Chief Technology Officer, Hugh Bradlow, shares his thoughts on how businesses will benefit from the new technological landscape.
hOW WOULD YOU DESCRiBE ThE ChaLLENgES aND ChaNgES FaCiNg BUSiNESS CUSTOMERS iN TERMS OF TEChNOLOgY? People recognise the benefits of technology in terms of three things – productivity, a deeper relationship with customers, and access to information. The problem they have is that they’re scared of technology migration because there’s a cost associated with it. They’re scared of lack of expertise and the lack of time they have to devote to getting technology infrastructure right. They’re scared of obsolescence and they are also challenged by new compliance requirements, like security regulations, carbon emissions, and power management. WhaT DOES ThiS NEW TEChNOLOgiCaL LaNDSCapE LOOK LiKE? We’re all reliant on the network like we’ve never been before. Twenty years ago the internet basically didn’t exist, but today if you told people the internet was going to be shut off it would have a severe impact on their business. Because of the network, people have been able to develop cloud services that they can offer in a shared fashion. This means smaller organisations have the opportunity to avail themselves of technology that previously only big organisations could afford. The last thing is that computing is fundamental to most businesses, but it’s always been a capital infrastructure cost. Now it’s becoming a utility model through cloud services. hOW CaN ThESE NEW TEChNOLOgiES iMpROVE pRODUCTiViTY FOR BUSiNESSES? There are three things here – mobility, presence and information. We’re used to the notion of mobility in the voice environment where everyone has a mobile, but now everyone can also mobilise their internet by hooking it up to a broadband network. The second part is presence, the notion of people being able to get in touch with each other. For example, telephone tag means wasted time, but with new technologies like unified communications, you can ensure the person you want is available and you can reach them on the right medium. Presence is about the overall context in which a person is operating, and therefore enhanced connectivity. The third thing is access to information. Business relies on information, and the ability to get that information, from wherever you are, through whatever device you have with you, is extremely important. hOW CaN CLOUD COMpUTiNg BENEFiT aND iMpaCT BUSiNESSES? You can achieve cost variables. Instead of putting upfront capital for computing infrastructure, you can hire it on an as-you-go basis, which makes it operating expenditure rather than capital expenditure. It also reduces cost because you get economies of scale, from sharing that large infrastructure, and being able to utilise the IT skills that businesses have in-house. The second thing is, if you have peak and low times in your business, you can ramp up your scale very quickly. You can pretty well turn the knob and say you want an extra 500 servers to deal with peak load. You can also buy applications of what’s called ‘software as a service’, saving you the need for specialised IT people. For example, in our software service, T-Suite®, we have an application called Workforce Guardian, which helps to ensure compliance with Australian regulatory requirements for employing people and which is updated as the legislation evolves.
CaN YOU giVE SOME EXaMpLES OF WaYS BUSiNESSES aRE USiNg TELSTRa’S CLOUD SERViCES aND UNiFiED COMMUNiCaTiONS TO gaiN a COMpETiTiVE aDVaNTagE? One good example of a cloud service is the Microsoft Exchange. This is a Microsoft suite of their key tools for collaboration and exchange that businesses need – a calendar, contacts, Sharepoint, office communicator. Nowadays when I get an email, there’s a bubble beside it in the inbox that shows me whether they’re available and I can click on it and it will give me the option to call them and then it puts the call through for me. People want that capability.
HUGH BRADLOW hugh Bradlow is telstra’s chief information technology officer.
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In terms of unified communications, you can make the phone and PC on your desk work in unison. Office Communicator is a good example. If I want to call someone, I find their name in a directory on my computer or even from their address on the email. It allows me to see their status, and do things like work on the same document while having a conversation. ThE EVaNS aND haRCh COMpaNY iS a CUSTOMER OF TELSTRa. hOW aRE ThEY BENEFiTiNg FROM ThE NEW TEChNOLOgY? They’re using what’s called IP Telephony, which uses the same basic technology as Voice and IP
with additional enhancements to make it more reliable and secure. You have the full functionality of a PABX but don’t have to maintain it yourself, so you save on staff and resources. You also get increased features for the end user, so, for example, if you wanted to call me I can set it up so it rings my mobile and desk at the same time. It’s a much more flexible overall system. hOW DO BUSiNESSES BEST pOSiTiON ThEMSELVES TO KEEp Up WiTh ThE RapiD DEVELOpMENTS iN TEChNOLOgY? A business of any size can get economies of scale by going to a large-scale provider who can provide
all the capabilities without them having to own the infrastructure. They need a strategy for doing that. Next, they need to work out who they want to manage this for them. They can do the integration themselves, or they can partner with a large organisation such as us, with the skills and knowledge to provide that capability. There are very few organisations in the world with a group like mine that is dedicated to understanding this obsolescence question, the question of what comes next? We have 70 skilled professionals who are looking at these questions on a daily basis.
New technologies bring a wealth of benefits, from cost efficiencies, to increased revenues and superior performance.
ROSS DAWSON AND HUGH BRADLOW RECENTLY INSPIRED AUDIENCES AT BUSINESS INSIGHTS LIVE, THE CONVERGENCY. TO SEE HIGHLIGHTS VISIT TELSTRA.COM/BUSINESS/EVENTS