Blog posts from 2010 - Differentis

Consumer technology: Mobility

By Mark Helme


Date 19 December 2010 Tags ,

We’ve been talking for a few months about how to manage the consumerisation of IT, and what that means for the IS organisation (balancing choice and the need for security for example).

It does seem to us that there is one well established consumer technology still underutilised by corporations, both internally and in the way they deal with their customers: mobility.

Although creating the 3G network came with a $100bn tax bill (yet to be recouped) mobile continues to advance apace. Smart phones have larger screens, better web browsing capabilities, and longer battery life; faster network speeds and ‘all you can eat’ data packages mean that mobile usage encompasses more than just voice and text services.  However, the way forward is not obvious. Just putting a brochure on-line didn’t exploit the capabilities of the internet (think of Amazon’s feedback, reviewers, and recommendations); just putting on-line services onto a mobile device isn’t exploiting the peculiarities of mobile either. It needs rethinking to make a big difference.

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Why capturing requirements in an Outsourcing Contract is difficult

By Mark Helme


Date 30 November 2010 Tags

The job that a contract has to do ought to be simple, even when the suppliers have to manage lots of complexity to deliver the services.

A contract will say what responsibilities the supplier takes on, and what they will be paid for doing so. Of course there are caveats and exclusions, and assumptions, and customer provided elements, and all the usual paraphernalia of a contract, but ultimately it comes down to the question: What is one party obliged to do for the other?

The problem is writing down exactly what you want and exactly what is supposed to happen when things go wrong. We’ve talked before about contracting with suppliers to sign up to outcomes, not inputs ( here ), and last time whilst addressing target setting and performance management we said that there was a real danger that the targets used to drive behaviour could backfire, sometimes spectacularly. People chase targets, in particular if they are likely to suffer financially from not hitting them.

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Enterprise Portals – they’re easy, aren’t they?

By Pete Buffham


Date 19 November 2010 Tags

The propagation of portals continues apace. Often viewed as a panacea, portals are seen as a simple way to transform an organisation, providing much needed freedom of access, and helping to improve compliance processes.

It is possible to offer an almost instantaneous intranet, with built in functions such as collaborative working, document, content and knowledge management, straight out of the box.

The road ahead may look clear and straight but how can you be sure you’re not going to be led down a blind alley?

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Heavenly designed Service Centres are no earthly good

By David Marsh


Date 19 October 2010 Tags

In the scramble to save costs, claims made for ‘Shared Service Centres’ (SSCs) and ‘Utilities’ continue to entice. We’ve suggested in the past you look at these with a certain scepticism and it’s now time to explore our concerns.

We’re absolutely not denying that SSCs can produce dramatic improvements in process consistency, reduce error rates, and all at lower costs; there are many fine examples here and abroad that vendors will invite you to see.

But while you may be impressed by the destination, what you should know is that the journey can be no fun at all.

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If you are not smart sourcing, what are you doing? (2/2)

By Mark Helme


Date 19 October 2010 Tags

Last month we looked at IT outsourcing, and suggested a few rules to help navigate what in any event are tricky waters. We emphasised getting clear about the objectives and outcomes that were desired by entering into a long term contract.

As a significant industry, IT Outsourcing has also attracted a range of ancillary service providers – consultants, advisors, lawyers, and so on, who seek to protect and support their clients, as well as earn a crust. And Differentis is one such company. We are however sceptical about much of what is written, for two reasons. Firstly many pieces of advice appear to be based on anecdotes, which whilst potentially interesting (because “real” rather than “theoretical”) may simply be misleading. Business writers often lack a healthy scepticism, and their standards of evidence fall a long way short of science, and are therefore less than fully reliable.

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