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Open for business

Page 4 Let change into your heart and business will flourish

The people factor

Page 5 Its not just IT systems that need to be fleet of foot

Tooling up

Page 8 Spend wisely to get your systems in order

July 2011

BusinessTechnology

Distributed within The Sunday Telegraph, produced and published by Lyonsdown which takes sole responsibility for the contents

Grace under pressure


Do businesses need the power and agility of a sumo wrestler to survive in todays markets? A special report on agile systems

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

Foreword

Business Agility in this issue

Agility the core enabler of business


There is plenty of theory to help businesses on their way to becoming agile but what they really need is a new way of thinking
In a business world often dominated by management speak it is refreshing to present a trend that requires little textbook reading to understand and apply. Agility, as it applies to organisations in general, is simply the capability of a business to adapt and react quickly to change in the market, and has arisen as a concept thanks to the constant disruptions we now see in the business world. Everyone who has been running a company since the dotcom boom and bust will have encountered much ongoing change that is an order of magnitude higher than in the steadier world of before. There is certainly a feeling of loss of control as events take hold. It has been remarkable, for example, just how quickly customers have taken over the driving seat in their relationship with providers, mainly through the internet and booming social media sites. But the point about business agility is that many steps can be taken not only to protect the company against change, but also to increase sales and improve customer relationships substantially. This is not to say that agility does not have a growing battery of business think. There is plenty of theory on its application in manufacturing and the supply chain, a sector that was among the first to face the double challenge of more turbulent times and a demand for much shorter delivery times and product life-cycles. Agility has now evolved across all sectors, with concepts such as self-organising, operating at the edge of chaos, and dynamic decision-making. Older initiatives have their place, such as business process re-engineering (focusing on core business), lean manufacturing and total quality management. But agility is possibly now the core enabler. Agility has a special meaning in the information technology sector, where agile methods in software refer to the rapid prototyping of working systems for users and mirrors the key characteristics of business agility, such as collaboration, empowering individuals and responding to change (instead of following a plan). But there is no need for most organisations to delve too deeply into the theory to get the benefits of agility, as there are many IT tools now that can be applied straightforwardly to address processes that are stifling innovation and speed. The rapid growth of cloud computing, for example, is allowing companies to make use of agile functionality for staff in areas such as HR, sales and customer service . The key is to look for ways that truly transform the capability of the company, often across departments, and not just for a basic gain. Getting from A to B faster may be OK, but what if you cant also switch from A to C? Agility is not only a technology story, but one that also encompasses a willingness to change the way that people are allowed to work to achieve the responsiveness needed to move with and anticipate the way markets are going.

Contributors
Publisher Bradley Scheffer brad@lyonsdown.co.uk Managing Editor Lucie Carrington lucie@lyonsdown.co.uk Editor Marc Beishon Creative Director Dan Angel studio@lyonsdown.co.uk Production Manager Nicki Sitaras nicki@lyonsdown.co.uk Project Manager Aiden Neville aiden@lyonsdown.co.uk For more information on any of our supplements please contact us: Telephone: 020 8349 4363 Email: info@lyonsdown.co.uk Online: www.lyonsdown.co.uk Marc Beishon Is a technology, science and business journalist and editor covering healthcare, IT and sales and marketing for corporate audiences and consumers. Marc has worked on IT and healthcare magazines and on New Scientist. Paul Bray Paul Bray writes about a wide range of business and consumer topics, for The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, Britains Top Employers and many other publications. Sue Tabbitt Sue is a freelance journalist who has beenwriting aboutthe business impact of technology and telecoms forover 20years, covering a broad range of topics for national titles including The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, as well as the specialist business and technology press. Rod Newing Rod Newing is a freelance writer and journalist writing on general business, management, technology and health issues, mainly in the Financial Times.

Contents
Jack be nimble
The secrets of business agility

4 5 8 11 13

The people factor


Get the most from your workers

Up in the clouds
Technology to make you agile

Customer cares
Harnessing the power of the punter

Lead Sponsors

In association with

What next?
How to build an agile strategy

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

Agile organisations
And if the Beckhams then commission you to build a mansion youll need all the innovative, collaborative project skills you can get. And those businessas-usual houses could still need radical change, say through green legislation. Look at the video recorder that lasted 25 years or so. But I bought a Flip videocam recently that was discontinued soon after and only lasted a few years. Today a product life-cycle can be vastly shorter from idea to its time on the market and no amount of cash in the bank will help a company innovate if it does not have an adaptable, agile culture, Richards contends. Indeed, the transition to agility started primarily in manufacturing, as companies realised that their usual forecasting models could not cope with rapid changes in demand and in the supply chain, as markets became increasingly volatile. They began to build networks that were far more sensitive to market change, often involving partners. Then over the past ten years or so there has been much activity on two fronts, notes Richards. Agile methods have become a specific discipline in software development an agile manifesto was drawn up to help produce much better business IT through fast, nimble project teams. And the way projects of all types can be improved has been the subject of methodologies such as PRINCE2. What this means is that the expectations for projects are changing from trying to map out everything in great detail to being much more pragmatic and adaptable, he says. Instead of going for perfection, agile working means setting and always hitting shorter deadlines, bringing in new features and shifting out others mid-flight, removing obstacles such as inflexible suppliers and most importantly, truly understanding what the customer wants, be they internal or external. Its not easy, as apart from confronting change and seeing it as an opportunity and not a problem, which is a big cultural barrier, organisations are still far from using systems such as customer relationship management software for best advantage. Only three in ten business projects are deemed a success, says Richards, with companies still spending far too long on feasibility studies, after which the opportunity may have passed by. Were living in a world now where a business can put up a new website in an hour, he adds. And at the top, leaders have to make a fundamental break with traditional command and control, says Hlupic. But when they do let go and foster informal networks or selfoptimising networks of passion as we see them then employees become much more engaged as they have the opportunity to truly help develop the company strategy. But what leaders must do is set a common purpose and values for the strategy. This is also called emergent leadership which is about facilitating and enabling rather than directing and controlling. Hlupic cites the German arm of consulting firm CSC, that grew its profits by 1,700 per cent and increased employees by 23 per cent in the first year of such a change and during the recent recession. Such agility is also well set out, she says, in Vineet Nayars book Employees first, customers second, published last year, in which the Indian entrepreneur showed how he overcame barriers to change at his company, HCL Technologies, by promoting a collaborative culture of trust among his key knowledge workers and dismantling the hierarchy. I see agile approaches happening mostly among knowledge intensive departments such as research and development we still need to keep more traditional methods say on the factory shop floor, to maintain quality, for example. But once it starts in a company it tends to spread out in a ripple effect as groups become happier and more productive and in about a year we can see an overall change to a more collaborative culture. The way forward lies in the kind of agile project methods that Richards works with, and in wider organisational models and tools that promote collaboration and culture change. Hlupic and colleagues have developed a six box model an ecosystem for sustainable performance where the use of IT and in particular social media can underpin all six drivers in the model, such as promoting better relationships among workers, involving them in company strategy, and sharing resources like business and customer information. The paradox is that when leaders let go of power like this they get more back as they are recognised as natural leaders who are more engaged with their employees and with business success, concludes Hlupic. Employees first, customers second: turning conventional management upside down, by Vineet Nayar. Harvard Business Press, 2010

Agile people

The inspiration of innovation


Agile businesses are better places to work and are best for getting the most out of employees
forums in which staff from each operational area worked together to create ideas and solve problems within the business. In an agile organisation, individuals must also be agile, as well as the systems and the organisation itself. They must embrace new responsibilities, learn new areas, work with new systems, seek new sources or knowledge, reach out to new suppliers and customers and decide for themselves how to contribute to achieving the overall vision. Insurance giant Aviva, which in 2009 became a single global brand, bringing together 46,000 people across 28 countries under one identity, has seen the potential in encouraging new ways of thinking. In its Systems Thinking initiative, business systems are designed by the employees to improve customer service, cut costs and errors, and increase renewals and crossselling. We encourage our people at all levels to think innovatively,says HR director John Ainley. They are the people who understand the systems intimately and who understand what the customer really wants. Avivas annual Customer Cup tasks employees across the group to form teams to generate ideas to improve the customer experience, which they then submit as a business plan. It motivates employees to think in more depth about the customer experience and many of the ideas are delivering benefits to both the customer and the business. It unifies the company around a single brand promise, adds Ainley. However, according to Career Innovations Jonathan Winter, not all organisations recognise the role of individual employee agility. Individual creativity and initiative cannot be compelled or written into a job description. They also fail to realise that agility involves helping people to feel secure during change and that can hold a business back.

Embrace agility and change will follow


In a tough business world only organisations that are fleet of foot and quick to welcome change will have the resilience to survive
By Marc Beishon What are the main challenges facing CEOs around the world right now? As a survey carried out by IBM with 1,500 global business leaders has found, there are two standout issues: fast change and growing complexity. Its a double whammy for many organisations not only do they need to adapt to market changes happening at a pace unheard of before, but there is also great complexity in managing both internal and external factors, from the needs of the Generation Y, younger workers, to technology changes through to turbulent economic conditions and rapidly growing, emerging markets. As Vlatka Hlupic, professor of business and management at Westminster Business School, says organisations are now starting to embrace the concept of agility to help meet these challenges. The more popular term is probably resilience right now, but its about adapting and responding to change. The only way to do so is to become less centralised and change the culture from command and control to a collaborative, distributed and knowledge-based approach. Much of the business thinking that organisations have taken on board is now 20 years old hands up whos still using total quality management, business process reengineering and the balanced scorecard but they were designed for more stable times. Most companies are still structured in hierarchies and focus on quantitative factors such as their share price or market share agility means a shift in mindset to a collaborative culture where qualitative factors are also a high priority. And its necessary because business as usual is just not an option any more for many. Keith Richards, a consultant working on the frontline of agility with clients, develops that theme by noting that work tends to be divided into business-as-usual and new projects and agility applies to both. You might be building houses for an estate which youll have done before but now you need to build them faster and with a complex and changing supply chain.

By Rod Newing An agile organisation is very different place to work from a traditional one. Control is replaced by trust, structured working hours disappear, managers stop taking all the decisions, staff are not told how to do their job and productivity is no longer measured in working hours. Goal- and task-orientated staff draw on the knowledge and expertise of other people, says Samantha Kinstrey, managing director at technology specialist 2e2 Training. Agile organisations encourage home and remote working during hours that suit the employee and the task. Managers encourage their people to make decisions and focus only on what they deliver. As long as work is done on time, it doesnt matter how and when people do it. Employees working in an agile organisation thrive on challenges, responsibility, teamwork and freedom. Being inflexible can be stifling, says Kinstrey. But agile businesses create a working environment that has creativity, innovation and enthusiasm in their DNA. This is a far cry from traditional workplaces, where research shows that many employees are unhappy. According to research company Career Innovation, 55 per cent of employees are dissatisfied with their level of achievement, 55 per cent want a complete change of direction and 54 per cent are not satisfied with the way their skills are being used.

In an agile organisation, employees control when, where and how they work most productively for different types of work Winter
An agile business tackles some of those issues. Such organisations no longer rely on isolated individuals to create and implement new ideas instead, spontaneous selforganising teams make collective decisions without management guidance. Individuals work in a highly competitive environment, within international matrix management structures and go from project to project, says Jonathan Winter, founder of Career Innovation. They control when, where and how they work most productively for different types of work. Office space is designed to encourage creativity, inspiration, team formation and faster decision-making. Take Allianz Insurance, which created a programme to promote individual motivation and innovation. It encourages employees to submit ideas to improve the business and its products and services so far more than 20,000 ideas have been submitted, 17,000 have been implemented and cumulative benefits exceed 11m. Employees receive a percentage of the costs savings resulting from an idea they submit. Inspiring employees and engaging them in improving your business is a challenging task, says chief executive Andrew Torrance. The programme allows employees to feel a sense of ownership in the evolution and progress of the business. This is a key motivator and in turn challenges the business to adapt to new ways of doing things, because innovation is now at the heart of everything we do. When recruitment firm CBSbutler experienced a slowdown and increased competition in many of its sectors, it decided it needed to become a more agile business. Encouraging people to innovate is key, says managing director David Leyson. So the company designed a new reward system for staff and introduced a number of initiatives including quarterly innovation

Golden rules of agility


Define the project objective in less than ten words. Start with the end in mind; it will help you to kill a project going nowhere. Build a team with those who say can if you get the right people you are half way there. You need collaboration and team spirit. Go slow early to go fast later build from firm foundations and ask yourself: Is it safe to move on? Look backwards to go forwards learn your lessons, both good and bad. If it doesnt work do something else. Love change you need to anticipate change and embrace it. How do you feel when a customer says, Ive changed my mind? You should be happy. To be understood, seek first to understand. Facilitation is a core competency you need big ears, big eyes and a small mouth. Collect actuals this is the oxygen for your project. You cant control what you cant measure. Start now and build a metrics database. Use the right communication channels the written word is a silent killer. Go visual and use workshops. Work hard at controlling what you cant control continuously manage external risks. One more day? No. Well catch up? No. Time focus is your greatest weapon. Use time boxes not milestones, and if you are going to fail fail early. Source: www.keithrichardsconsulting.co.uk

Working out socially


BT is using social networking to take flexible working to new levels
Given that open collaboration is a key characteristic of an agile organisation, its not surprising that some companies have embarked on a corporate social media strategy. Take BT, which has been a pioneer in flexible and remote working, and which employs many knowledge workers. Its company intranet hosts both formal and informal content, including a growing social media presence. Tools include BTpedia, a corporate Wikipedia started in 2007 that now has several thousand articles that are not subject to formal content policies. No articles are owned by senior managers and the wiki is simply accepted as part of the information furniture, says Mark Morrell, BTs intranet manager. Then theres Podcast Central, a podcasting platform for video and audio files which is based on the YouTube experience. In addition there is a blog platform called Blog Central with more than 500 blogs, some team-orientated, others individual blogs and some by senior managers. The vast majority are active. There are also live online CEO chats with Ian Livingstone, BTs chief executive. And now BT is rolling out a Facebook style profile page for each employee, which will help people find and work with the right experts for projects. Morrell says: We dont allow anonymous blogs or wiki articles. People are happy to be named and be responsible for what they say. Its a sign of our maturity. Having this information published online and having senior people up there on the site makes managers more approachable, brings people down to earth and removes barriers. When youre engaging with a line of communication that someone in your team has triggered, you have to be more agile in thinking and behaviour. You have to be quicker to respond and aware of the channels themselves. In the future Id love to see the situation where at least half the people in BT contribute content and their views via some kind of social media tool. Were nowhere near that at the moment, but were ahead of many organisations. Marc Beishon

No amount of cash in the bank will help a company innovate if it does not have an adaptable, agile culture Richards

Employees working in an agile organisation thrive on challenges, responsibility, teamwork and freedom

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

Industry view

Industry view There is an opportunity to operate with a reduced physical footprint, lowering costs and fulfilling the green agenda while improving productivity and peoples work-life balance Osborne, O2 Unify
Change isnt easy, but if these organisations can get all the help they need from a single trusted source they have a better chance of arriving at a more competitive, efficient and versatile proposition. And if they can access everything using an operational expenditure model, where there is no longer any need to predict the capacity they might need, this can be very liberating for them. BD: O2 Unify brings the flexibility of 2e2, together with the scale and predictability of O2. O2 Unify can manage and transform ICT complexity. O2 manages 22m end users in the UK on the UKs best network - http:// stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/ telecoms-research/bbspeeds2010/Mobile_ broadband_charts.pdf. Combined we offer a unique capability as the worlds of consumer technology, cloud and ubiquitous networks rely on each other. Many businesses are grappling with these trends - with O2 Unify we leverage expertise from our combined heritages. How do you see the future? BD: The consumerisation of IT, whereby users have more control over the technology they use at work, is very exciting and challenging. For businesses, there is an opportunity to save on the cost of equipment while delivering greater flexibility and productivity, provided there is a strategy for managing all of this. PO: The growing power of networks will continue to accelerate change. Weve seen the rapid proliferation of 3G and WiFi networks over the last three to four years, and well see a further step change as we move to LTE, 4G and fibre to the home, enabling full-powered computing irrespective of the location. Will more offices close? PO: Yes.There is an opportunity to operate with a reduced physical footprint, lowering costs and fulfilling the green agenda while improving productivity and peoples work-life balance. I dont even think employees will need to come into an office a couple of times each week purely to show their face. Engagement, collaboration and loyalty can be encouraged through greater use of video and online social networking. In the future, well see more CEOs broadcasting short videos to the workforce over the web, which individuals can watch when its convenient for them. There is great scope for personalisation of this type of initiative, too. We cant know everything that is coming down the line, but O2 Unify is a fair way into the journey and is well positioned to show other businesses whats possible.
www.o2.co.uk/corporate/o2unify www.2e2.com

Firing on all cylinders

that users need access to in order to complete whatever it is they are trying to do. In the public sector, for example, there are numerous different ways citizens can contact their local council, yet typically each department will have its own database system for customer communications thats managed separately. There isnt a single, consistent place where the organisation can view everything together, which is vital if it wants to create a customer service experience that is truly responsive. Where everything else is equal, the level of customer experience is what sets an organisation apart, so companies need to free up budget to facilitate this by making savings elsewhere. What other barriers have prevented organisations from being more agile? TB: Security has been a demon issue, preventing data being made available freely. But there are ways to get the security right. Its easier once you have a single, consolidated framework that allows you to manage data in a meaningful way.

BD: We use salesforce.com, a cloud-based customer relationship management system. This works on both desktops and our sales teams smartphones, providing a central repository that everyone can access from anywhere. Our preferred partners can also access the system, allowing us to work together and share information across the same platform, so that our initiatives are aligned. Its another example of where were leading by example. How far does the cloud model address concerns about security? TB: If systems are fairly generic, companies dont tend to mind where they are being run from, so if its a server running Microsoft Office and delivering email why not place it in the public cloud where its available to all workers anywhere? But for large enterprises or securityconscious organisations, a hybrid scenario is likely to be more appropriate, where more sensitive applications are run in private clouds over which they have greater control. Moving standard applications into the cloud can happen fairly quickly. Setting up a private cloud, however, will need trusted advisers to ensure an optimum, secure design. BD: Some of the biggest opportunities in cloud computing involve bespoke mash-ups of applications, for example enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management systems enhanced with map capabilities. Examples in the public sector include systems for reporting potholes or police applications to report incidents. Were working closely with partners to roll out these kinds of semi-bespoke applications, in recognition that no two organisations needs will be the same. Mobile access means endpoint security is important too, but we have the right solutions to alleviate these concerns. What is it about the O2 Unify joint venture that will appeal most to businesses? TB: Together, were offering fixed communications, mobile services and IT solutions all on one bill, which is a significant step forward. Most companies until now have had fairly irrational portfolios of systems and services. They might have over 100 IT suppliers from whom they have bought individual products over the years, a situation that is costing them more than it needs to because theyre paying for everything separately.

The road to increased business agility is paved with complex IT decisions. O2 Unify has the map references and engine power to expedite the journey
Ben Dowd
O2 Earlier this year, telecommunications giant O2 launched a pioneering joint venture with 2e2, the fastest growing IT service provider in Europe. The result, O2 Unify, offers businesses the opportunity to source and join up all of their IT and communications solutions and services from a single provider, on a single bill. Ben Dowd, business director of O2 , Terry Burt, chief executive of 2e2, and Paul Osborne, managing director of O2 Unify, tell Sue Tabbitt about what increased business agility means in practice, and the optimum blend of technologies that can pave the way for transformative change. How would you define an agile enterprise? customers and reacting quickly, innovatively and effectively to what theyre saying. What else are these organisations doing differently? PO: There are accepted best practices. These include more distributed decision-making across the company, supported by high-quality communications and information sharing. A culture of innovation is important too, so is creating heroes and providing a lot of encouragement. TB: Today, most businesses spend 70-80 per cent of their budgets just keeping the lights on, leaving only 20-30 per cent for innovation. More agile organisations operate at a ratio closer to 50/50. Given that people and property make up 90 per cent of the costs of running the average business, the goal must be to make staff more productive and free them from the shackles of fixed office work. The latest technologies all support this. Before, companies had huge support contracts for PCs. Now they can say to employees, heres 400, get your own device. The result is a reduced need for property and a lot more flexibility. With their own tablet device connected to the corporate system, employees can work from anywhere. BD: Our own organisation is a great example of agility in action, not only in the way weve created the joint venture, O2 Unify, but also in the flexible way our people work. We have consolidated our operations into a single campus in Slough, where IT and communications have come together to create a flexible working environment, as part of our own Tomorrows Workspace initiative. Were operating with 550 fewer desks at our headquarters despite having the same number of people; weve achieved a 53 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint; and have saved over 3m in overheads. Crucially, our people are much more productive now, because they can work so flexibly. We make extensive use of hot-desking, video calls and conferencing we live and breathe all of this. We offer tours of our offices every four to six weeks to show other businesses what weve done and the sessions are always over-subscribed. IT companies often talk about the need for an agile infrastructure. What is this, in tangible terms? TB: Regardless of the type of access device, there must be a flexible underlying infrastructure to provide the applications, content and services

How important is the role of cloud computing, potentially, in enabling much of this? BD: Its removing a barrier to entry for companies that want to change and become more agile. Its one of the areas were most excited about in our joint venture, O2 Unify. By coming to O2 Unify, businesses can access all of these innovative new services in one place, with the flexibility of 2e2 and the predictability of O2, leaving them free to innovate with their business models. TB: Cloud services will gradually revolutionise the way organisations buy, manage and access IT. Once an application or service has been propagated in the cloud and made available anywhere in the world, it supports the whole concept of consolidating everything in one place, making it available to a large audience at low cost. Cloud services will play an important role in delivering mobile working, converged communications and advanced collaboration in a flexible enough way to allow full remote access.

Terry Burt
2e2

O2 Unify
O2 Unify brings together the full spectrum of advanced information and communications technology (ICT) solutions - from converged fixed, mobile, voice and data services to managed networks, cloud-based services and flexible-working solutions. In addition to greater simplification in purchasing and running complex ICT systems, and lower costs, the ability to source everything from a single supplier provides an unprecedented opportunity for organisations to transform their agility by harnessing the right technologies that straddle the traditional IT and communications boundaries.

Paul Osborne
O2 Unify

PO: An agile organisation is one that anticipates and identifies changes in the market and is able to respond swiftly. The businesses that are most successful are those that are really listening. Its easy to say that customers are a companys number one priority, but this means listening to

Weve achieved a 53 per cent reduction in our carbon footprint; and have saved over 3m in overheads Dowd, O2

Most businesses spend 7080 per cent of their budgets just keeping the lights on, leaving only 20-30 per cent for innovation Burt, 2e2

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

Agile IT
By Sue Tabbitt

An agile company is not simply a flexible one. It is also nimble, swiftly exploiting that flexibility in response to new needs, opportunities and threats. Merely deploying a mobile software package will not transform a companys agility. It may be one of a number of enablers, but a single product alone is unlikely to make a fundamental difference. The wrong technology choices, on the other hand, can paralyse companies. Start-ups and smaller operations benefit from being fleet of foot because they dont have entrenched ways of doing things and back rooms full of cumbersome legacy systems and locked-in data. Freedom from these constraints doesnt come easily, but technologies can help.

Tooling up
While simply throwing money at the latest technology is no guarantee of business agility, deploying a few choice technologies can make the transition a lot easier
took years to implement due to the complex interconnectivity of systems. Virtualised, utility-based, cloud-delivered systems support major change on demand.

Agile IT
business intelligence up the corporate agenda. While the value of meaningful management information has long been appreciated, the process of gathering, collating, analysing and delivering it back to the people who need it remains clunky and inefficient. Compared to the lightning-speed Google searches that consumers expect in every other aspect of their lives, their ability to quickly call up information about their own company is typically limited. Nobby Akiha, senior vicepresident of marketing at business intelligence specialist Actuate, says: Employees expect to have the answers they need at their fingertips, and to be able to manipulate information and content by themselves. This requires software which can consolidate the latest data from across multiple systems in real time, delivering this back to authorised individuals with access to user-friendly analysis and reporting tools presented through a personalised web portal.

Agile architectures

Given how quickly the goalposts can shift in business now, organisations must be prepared for anything. Rigid IT infrastructures and pre-defined, capital-intensive development projects do companies no favours here. The only way to cater for the unknown is to have an IT architecture and development approach that allows for and embraces change. One way is to abandon the traditional approach to building huge, all-singing-alldancing software systems. In a service-oriented scenario, software is built as a series of selfcontained components that can be mixed and matched to achieve new functionality as needs dictate. Agile development approaches, meanwhile, involve creating and deploying new applications bit by bit. As well as allowing the customer to request changes at any point in the process, it means they no longer have to wait until a project has been fully completed before seeing the results. Whats more, the customer is free to say at any point that a system is good enough and that work can stop, notes Martin Rice, CEO of agile development company Erudine.

Cloud services

Open source development

While an agile development approach can be adopted whatever the software development tool being used, there are those who argue that employing freely available open source development tools maximises companies freedom to innovate. Bertrand Diard, CEO and co-founder of open source IT integration company Talend, says: The structure and licensing fees imposed by traditional software vendors are probably the strongest impediment to agility of IT and therefore to business agility.

Cloud services take virtualisation to the next level. In the most common example a public cloud externally hosted capacity is shared across many companies, allowing each party to gain from the associated cost efficiencies and on-demand access to apparently unlimited resources. More conservative versions (private cloud environments) allocate dedicated resources to a certain company a privilege they have to pay for. While cloud computing is not a guaranteed way of avoiding a messy, locked-down IT environment and overly prescriptive business processes, the right services are likely to offer a quick and easy step on the ladder to more freedom. This is because cloud services change the economics of IT provision setting up new business ventures and projects is no longer risky and costly from a technology perspective, as resources can be switched on and off as needed, for a simple, nominal service charge. There is no capital outlay. At the same time, centrally hosted IT services make it easier for companies to allow their staff to access systems and collaborate when outside the work environment, enabling more flexible and dynamic working. Cloudbased IT provisioning also paves the way for companies to interact and collaborate more creatively with customers, suppliers and business partners.

New choices

Companies looking for something a bit special as they start perusing the tools available could do worse than consult Gartners cool vendor list. Every year, the analyst firm looks beyond the big names for signs of real innovation in the technology community, and many of the technology vendors making it into Gartners 2011 selection offer solutions directed at the agility theme. But with so many products and services to choose from and the need for a solid business agenda to propel everything in the right direction, companies should take independent advice. For the broadest view of the technologies available, approach an independent systems integrator that is capable of looking beyond the big claims to determine how the various products and services will fit together and address the strategic needs of the business which, after all, is what this whole exercise is all about.

Mobile/flexible working

The web

Server virtualisation

One of the most hyped enablers of IT and business agility today is cloud computing (see article, p9). This model of delivering IT is based on the principle of server virtualisation. Here, special software allows multiple IT server boxes to be treated as one single, elastic system, giving companies unprecedented flexibility in how they allocate processing, memory and storage resources to different applications and user groups. It means resources are less likely to be wasted and new resources can be applied on demand, with flexible scalability to support growing projects. Virtualisation is the single most effective component in the agile enterprise as it allows resources of all sorts (such as applications, laptops and data) to connect to each other without having to be specifically configured for the purpose, says Ewen Anderson, managing director of Centralis, a specialist in such systems. Before virtualisation, major changes

Intranets and extranets are nothing new, but the opportunities to harness web and browser-based forums for use with employees, customers and suppliers continue to grow. Once a software application can be driven via a simple web browser, say from a cloud system, the scope for flexibility and agility is enormous. The clever stuff is managed centrally, where it can be updated regularly and rolled out quickly and on a huge scale without concern for the users access device or location. But the vital part of the picture here is ubiquitous broadband. If the communications fail, productivity can grind to a halt.

Mobility and the ability to be more productive outside the office are central to a companys agility. If employees are out of the loop when they step away from their desks, their productivity can drop alarmingly. Web-based data access coupled with the proliferation of smartphones and tablet devices means employees can now be fully empowered when on the move with full access to email, project content, customer information and more, from the slimmest of devices in the remotest of places. Agile business is about the death of the traditional office and ending the tyranny of nine-to-five working, claims Philip Ross, CEO of The Cordless Group and a consultant specialising in the impact of emerging technology on the workplace.

at IT systems integration specialist 2e2. The ability to collaborate and share data in one place will be transformative for complex supply chains. Advanced collaboration environments hosted in the cloud offer significant potential here.

Ahead in the clouds


Cloud services can help clear the way to greater success as Comic Relief has found
Comic Relief is inherently agile. The business employs from 200 up to 300 staff depending on the time of year, often using fixed-term contractors to keep its costs and liabilities low. Were very agile. Our funding model and the focus of our activities on our campaign activity around the month of March forces us to be, says Marcus East, head of future media and technology. Its both in our DNA, and in the systems that we put in place. Using a cloud computing infrastructure we can quickly scale up and down to accommodate our marketing or fundraising activities in a way that we wouldnt be able to if we had a fixed one. Charitable donations peak on Red Nose Day night, when there might be more than 200 transactions per second. But we need that capability for only a short time, and cloud computing solutions make that possible. These include a unified communications and collaboration environment. Cloud avoids traditional procurement situations, says Chris Ingle, a consulting director at market analyst firm IDC. For new and small companies, it offers a way to scale up and enter markets quickly. For more established businesses, it provides an opportunity to expand geographically or roll out new services at speed. Cloud computing is not about technology, according to Andy Burton, chair of the Cloud Industry Forum. The organisations remit is to increase the comfort of companies moving to the cloud, whether these are small, medium or large enterprises, or public sector organisations. The only thing special about doing something in the cloud, he explains, is that both the hardware and software are deployed virtually elastically, across flexibly thrown together systems, enabling huge scalability. Whether this results in improved business agility is down to the vision and strategy of the company making use of these systems. In fact, the public sector, which currently has a lot to gain from transforming its business processes to improve efficiency, particularly through shared services, is at the forefront of real innovation with cloud computing. Pilot projects are exploring how the cloud can be harnessed securely to share patients medical records between different types of medical institutions across the country, for example, to improve efficiency and continuity of patient care. Moving common business processes into the cloud breaks down boundaries between organisations, notes Nathan Marke, chief technology officer at IT systems integration and cloud services provider 2e2. The Baby P case highlighted what can go

Communication and collaboration


Remote team-working is now so embedded in everyday working practice that critical decision-making happens more frequently on the fly than in meetings. Unified communications, web conferencing and enhanced collaboration platforms help enormously here. Such tools allow remote teams to see the same content without having to email a copy to everyone, and to dynamically bring new participants into a conversation. Enhanced collaboration across the supply chain is a particularly exciting area, says Nathan Marke, chief technology officer

Social networks

Agility is about empowering people at the point of need, a theme that is driving dynamic business intelligence up the corporate agenda

Love them or hate them, social networks have become a part of business. Facebook has joined LinkedIn and Twitter in encouraging followers of companies, individuals and events, and fostering casual interaction, feedback and common-interest networking via its pages. Harnessing or mirroring such tools will become increasingly essential in the pursuit of agility when promoting enhanced employee and customer collaboration.

Dynamic business intelligence

As well as harnessing technology, agility is about empowering people at the point of need, a theme that is driving dynamic

wrong when related public bodies arent easily able to collaborate and share information. Real initiatives to address this sort of thing are starting to happen. For Marke, the ability to let users serve themselves online with live status informationis one of the biggest opportunities for business transformation, addressing the need for companies to cut costs (responding to customer queries is expensive), while extending a better experience to customers. Take the online service of Dominos, the pizza company, he says. There is a tiny app that tracks the whole process of making,

cooking and delivering the pizza, so the customer can see its status from the oven to their door. Its a simple example, but it shines a light on the opportunity for cloud to transform the supply chain. If all parties along a complex supply pipeline bought into the same single centralised system, there would be a single, definitive version of what was happening, which any authorised party could view at any time. As businesses become more global, say as firms continue to expand into markets such as China and India, this kind of facility will be an important enabler.

10

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

11

Industry view

Agile customers

Are you ready for the cloud?


More and more businesses are looking to cloud computing as a way of improving IT efficiency and reducing costs. But determining whether or not cloud computing is right for the business and addressing the security issues associated with the cloud are proving knotty problems for some organisations. To assess how widespread these concerns are, 2e2 interviewed 200 IT directors in large organisations about their readiness for cloud computing. Its clear from the results highlighted here that, by and large, organisations understand the cloud concept. What they dont quite get is how it fits into their existing IT architecture. Vendors and service providers must address these concerns. Meanwhile, businesses must ensure they understand their IT environment its strengths and weaknesses inside out. Only then can they develop a strategy for rationalising their IT and determine what role the cloud will play.
Enterprises need to be looking at a complete end-to-end picture when investigating cloud computing. This requires looking beyond the features, capability and assurance levels of the cloud solution to making sure it can be accessed quickly and securely via a next-generation network. After all the hype cloud computing is now really beginning to get traction, and not just in the smaller enterprises; a recent international survey by Ovum of more than 100 multinational corporations found a 60 per cent increase in the take up of cloud services among large organisations over the last year. In this survey 72 per cent of respondents identified speed of provisioning and 76 per cent noted flexible capacity and demand management as clear advantages of cloud-based services. Cloud computing offers the ability to better adjust IT resources to cyclical trends and the advantages are clear increased capacity at peak times, such as the retail peak over Christmas, means increased competitiveness, while reduced IT resources during lulls cuts costs. However, organisations are not fully realising these advantages yet. A total of 58 per cent of respondents in the same survey noted that security remains a barrier to the adoption of cloud computing and we believe there is a clear link between these security concerns and the use of the public internet for delivering cloudbased services with 69 per cent of respondents stating that the use of the public internet was a significant or major barrier to uptake. In order for cloud services to really penetrate the enterprise market, robust and secure hosting environments need to be combined with resilient, high performing and secure next-generation networks, and both need to be ensured with stringent service level

Gotta keep the customer satisfied


By Paul Bray

Fig 1 Are you concerned that the complexity of your IT system makes cloud computing too big a risk for you at the moment?
Organisations realise they have complex IT environments where services and applications are interlinked. They are worried that by putting one service in the cloud it could also risk other, critical services that they have retained in-house.

No
32%

Fig 3 Do you fear that by moving to the cloud you will lose control of your organisations IT systems
Managers are concerned about the notion of trusting an external service provider to deliver IT efficiently and securely. But cloud computing doesnt have to equal less control and organisations should explore the different cloud models available.

Spreading the word


Getting up close and personal with customers has been a rewarding experience for Debenhams
They say your customers are your best advocates, so department store chain Debenhams has recruited thousands of customers as online ambassadors, promoting the company to more than a million of their friends. Every till receipt carries an invitation to complete an online feedback form. Customers who accept are also invited to share their shopping experience with their friends via Facebook, Twitter or email. During the first year more than 12,000 people have done this, reaching 1.5m friends. Its hugely cost-effective considering the number of people youre touching, says strategy manager Kate Whittaker. Customers dont appear to mind promoting Debenhams in this way, she says. When the company offered discount vouchers for distribution by its online advocates, thousands were redeemed, so they must have been passed on. About 12,500 people a month complete the online survey, which uses GoRecommend from Empathica. We definitely get a lot more feedback now that were actively encouraging customers to tell us about their experience, which gives us a really good steer on how were performing, says Whittaker. The survey has replaced Debenhams mystery shopper programme and shows that real customers can be more demanding than the professionals. Stores that got full marks from the mystery shoppers for having everything in the right place can seem lacklustre and uninspiring to actual customers. Debenhams is already acting on their suggestions. PB

Yes No
44% 56%

Yes
68 %

Fig 2 Are existing contracts delaying your move to cloud computing?


Many organisations have three to five-year fixed-term IT maintenance contracts. They will be worried that if they migrate to the cloud now, they will remain committed to legacy contracts that they wont use.

No
43%

Fig 4 Would a hybrid model that combines in-house, managed, hosted and cloud services benefit the organisation?

No
9%

Yes
57%

Adopting a hybrid, or blended, cloud model is often seen as a way of eliminating some of the concerns of cloud computing, such as security, caused by external service providers.

Yes
91%

Cloud computing relies on resilient networks


Hosting applications and data within a cloud computing environment not only creates organisational agility but also enables businesses to make better use of their IT resources. However, with so much attention being given to the cloud environment, the network used to access it is often overlooked
Cloud migration: is your network up to it?

agreements. This isnt just about security IT is about delivery of service and if applications are moved further from their end users then performance will suffer if this isnt managed correctly. The best way to secure the cloud computing environment, and to ensure application performance, is to ensure that the prime access routes are via the organisations own internal network (wide area network), not the internet. By placing services in a secure cloud environment within the wide area network, and using the established methods of data separation, data becomes intrinsically safer, and performance is not only better, but can also be managed by advanced application performance management networking tools. The Ovum survey also found that telecommunications providers are emerging as trusted partners for cloud computing. A year ago, 37 per cent of enterprise users rated telecommunications providers as credible suppliers, but this has increased to 49 per cent in 2011. This is attributed to their capabilities in both managed hosting and managed networks. Investing in cloud computing enables innovation and agility for the entire organisation, but the business cannot halt to facilitate it. Organisations need a strategic path and migration strategies to help them realise a seamless transition and guarantee application performance. Overall, cloud computing enables organisations to become more agile and consume services, rather than fund IT departments and infrastructure.
Neil Thomas is cloud and virtualisation product manager at Cable&Wireless Worldwide www.cw.com/cloud

The world of communications is ever changing. Traditional media such as phone, letter and email have been joined by text message, instant messaging, web chat, and now the many-headed hydra of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. All these offer a challenge to businesses but opportunities, too, for agile organisations seeking to build closer links with their customers. When fibre-optic cable operator Virgin Media Business looked at offering a more personal service to its customers, it decided the best approach was asking them what they wanted. So last year the company introduced quarterly customer surveys. More than half of customers said they would prefer to use email for initial contact rather than telephoning, and a third opted to receive status updates by text message. So Virgin Media Business restructured its customer service teams to include dedicated staff handling email and text. Larger customers found contacting general customer service teams with complex queries was not ideal, says customer service director Phil Stewart, so they were given a personal identification number (PIN) that routes their query to the last person they dealt with. The businesss customer service score leapt from 6.5 to 9.2 out of 10 as a result. The fourth item on customers wish list was more use of Twitter. A four-person team was set up quickly nicknamed the Tweam to improve the companys Twitter presence, which focuses on blogs and generic information rather than directly promoting the company. A key learning point for us was the importance of having teams who specialise in one medium, says Stewart. Empathy and adopting the right tone are fundamental especially on Twitter, which is so public so weve had to find and train the right people. Stewart himself receives about 40 emails, tweets and LinkedIn messages a week. Its a fantastic way of making direct contact with customers, he says. I always respond personally: customers are quite impressed by that. Designing customer service around the customers agenda rather than the companys is crucial, agrees Sholto Lindsay-Smith, managing director of brand agency Uffindell. The agile organisation needs to respond to customers using the medium they want, when they want it, he says. Agile organisations consult customers about what they want, observe their behaviour as they navigate websites and work through customer journeys with focus groups, Lindsay-Smith adds. Results can then be tested and refined using prototypes and pilots. According to Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service: Consumers like to be involved in the creation of products and services, and social media gives them a direct opportunity to contribute. Asda and Starbucks already do this, she adds. New media and new attitudes mean customer communication has become more of a two-way process. You need a change of mindset from mostly outbound to mostly inbound contact, says Helen Rutherford, director at ICT life-cycle services provider, 2e2. It requires a big shift in

Smart firms are making it their business to build closer links with their customers and its the agile thinkers that are quickly seeing increased success
management attitude. Traditional functions may need to be restructured, she adds. In the past, half my marketing team would have been running events and attending trade shows. Now Im recruiting digital marketing people. As an organisations contact centre takes on an even more critical role, staff will need extra training. They need to know how to adopt the right tone of voice in emails, instant messaging or social media; cope with rudeness and aggression (more prevalent in written communications); and know when to switch channels if a query becomes too complex. Social media poses particular challenges, especially loss of control. The nature of customer communication is fundamentally changing, says Causon. In the past people grumbled to their friends: now they can grumble to the world. The balance of power has shifted to the customer. Although it may be valuable for organisations to have their own Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, they should also monitor what is said about them and their industry in third-party conversations over which they have no direct control. Tools and services for this are mushrooming some of them cheap or even free. Be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately, says Tyler Turnbull, joint head of planning at digital marketing agency Publicis Modem. Recently I tweeted Any suggestions for a new TV? Two minutes later I had a reply from Samsung. That was very impressive. Direct communication with customers is good, but reducing the need for it can be better, and certainly cheaper. According to analyst ContactBabel, it costs 15 to answer an enquiry face-to-face, 4.80 by phone, but little more than a penny for online self-service. About 45 per cent of enquiries are for information and 41 per cent of contacts are to complete a transaction such as paying a bill, says Rutherford. All this could really go online. More intuitive website design, pages of FAQs that evolve to remain in tune with what customers really want to know, and automation of straightforward transactions such as missed dustbin collections, are all part of the solution, she adds. The most effective examples are those that benefit business and customer in equal measure such as US bank Chase, which lets business customers send a scan of a cheque instead of going to a branch to bank it, or UK local authorities where residents can send in photos and GPS co-ordinates of potholes from their mobile phones. When pure self-service isnt enough, more radical measures may be necessary. The challenge, especially with social media, is getting enough resource to cope with volume, says Turnbull. For common issues that dont involve personal information, you can have customers answer some questions for you. The customer forum approach works well for technical or factual queries, he says companies such as Dell and Best Buy are very good at it but it requires careful monitoring. Its also helpful to seed the discussion to show the kind of common queries the company receives, Turnbull adds.

12

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

13

Industry view

Joined-up thinking
Integration has to be at the heart of any business thats why Oracle is helping companies change their approach to IT

take an approach to their use of IT that is no more common sense than that home assembly model? It is impractical for users to attempt this integration, but for large end-to-end vendors, such as Oracle, which provides hardware and software systems to industries around the world, it can be very straightforward as the company can develop and acquire the individual building blocks and provide pre-integrated solutions. CIOs and IT directors then also have the benefit of a single point of contact to deal with across their entire IT estate. By taking an integrated approach to technology provision, business can deliver true agility. New ideas can be implemented more quickly and competitive advantage can be achieved. A recent research report from Oracle, Performance management: an incomplete picture, showed that on average businesses can take nearly 18 months to identify and correct a failing process or initiative, simply because they must wade through the complexity of their systems. Technological advances and consolidation in the IT industry have enabled organisations to get the tools they need for the job at hand. Working with one trusted partner, rather than dozens of competing vendors, provides an agile integrated infrastructure, designed and built to work together. Oracles product strategy provides flexibility and choice for customers across their IT infrastructure. And even small improvements in IT can bring about major changes for the business. Shaving days or weeks off the decision-making process by having business intelligence systems which truly provide what their name suggests, in a challenging economy, can have a dramatic effect. The key to business intelligence and the value it can deliver is in providing employees with live data, relevant to the decisions they must make and ensuring that data talks to other critical systems.

Now for the smart thinking


You know you need to be more agile but where do you begin? Introducing agile systems in just part of your business could make all the difference
By Marc Beishon

Agile strategy

A changing workforce

Many organisations today still see IT as a cost centre a bottomless pit into which they must keep shovelling their budget. A progressive minority, however, see that IT can deliver real, quantifiable value. At the heart of the value IT can deliver is business agility. The rapidly changing business climate means companies must find ways that enable them to adeptly sidestep obstacles to success and react quickly to challenges and opportunities when they arise. Of course the IT industry is not without blame in having contributed to a widening turning circle for many businesses. There is cash in complexity a fact which is inextricably linked to the perception of IT as a cost centre. In recent years, we have seen a period of significant focus on best of breed systems the best customer relationship management (CRM), the best enterprise resource planning, the best hardware from multiple vendors and with very little integration between them.

If there is little integration it is the equivalent of a group of brilliant people who will not work or communicate with one another
A result of this has been IT staff spending 60-80 per cent of their time and budget just keeping the lights on and servicing the inherent complexity in such a piecemeal approach to buying and bolting on new systems and applications. Furthermore, this situation means that IT departments are unable to fully use technology to drive growth and improve performance. To redress the balance, businesses need to become more agile. Having the best systems in

place sounds like a fine approach but if there is little integration then it is the equivalent of a group of brilliant people who will not work with one another, or even communicate with each other. A retailer that wants to link customer payments with incentive schemes, for example, may be unable to achieve this easily without having CRM systems in place that talk to its finance system. It can be done, but not without heavy investment of time and resource.

Creativity, communication and collaboration within the organisation are essential, from ensuring that colleagues can work seamlessly with the same data sets to making sure they can interact with colleagues as easily as they do with friends in their personal lives. It must all be joined up, or the risk is that data begins to gather and age in silos. This goes beyond just employees suppliers and customers also want to be able to communicate with an organisation in a way that best fits their needs and an organisation needs to be able to respond in the same channel. This multi-channel approach is impacting on businesses and ultimately their systems. No longer can a business continue to implement isolated systems without the integration layer.

If an organisation is classed as truly agile, all departments from shop floor up to boardroom should respond as one to make changes that outsmart the competition, or to respond fastest to rapidly changing market circumstances. That kind of transformation is rare in medium-sized and large companies. The trend in recent years has been to avoid big bang -style reorganisations of the sort that may have been attempted in the 1990s and the dotcom boom, and instead introduce lower risk changes to departmental systems. Often such changes offer a relatively simple contribution to business change such as saving costs, automating a process or complying with financial regulations or the green agenda. But they can have an organisation-wide impact too. And what all have in common these days is technology which is there to help make agile transformations. Systems such as the new wave of cloud computing platforms, mobile technology and collaboration systems can make a difference. Selling is a good place to begin to be agile. Its also a business function that is often neglected when it comes to implementing new systems. Thats partly because salespeople are often hard to tame, but also because it is poorly understood at board level very few FTSE 100 CEOs come from a sales or marketing background. But sales is the engine of any company, and properly managing whats happening on the front line can have a profound impact across the company, from customer service to product development, and even at board level, where having a good understanding of what business is forecast can be vital. The buzz phrase now in selling is sales enablement, which refers to the tools and methods that sales directors can deploy to build sales performance around replicable best practice, usually found only in a few top performers. It can span everything from prospecting to forecasting to knowledge management across the sales force, and for software, the key tool is usually the customer relationship management system (CRM). But many companies are still using pretty basic methods that can stifle agility. Phil Codd, chief markets officer at software testing services provider SQS, faced this situation in his northern European territory. I was receiving data mainly from many different

spreadsheets, with the inevitable hit and miss in accuracy, and they were only filed weekly, so they were not bang up to date, he says. About a third of our business comes from prospects who are not really on our radar, so daily information is much better for acting fast on these leads. Whats more, while I could look at an individual salespersons pipeline, I couldnt get a quick picture of a target sector or country. We have built targets up around countries so I could roll up a bunch of numbers for a quarterly forecast but that was about it. Codd turned to cloud CRM business Salesforce.com and consultancy Saaspoint to implement quickly a new sales system. Data is now continually updated and he can get snapshots of industry sectors, countries and other parameters at a glance, with a marked increase in accuracy, tracking of salespeoples visits, which helps build better profiles of clients, and a shared knowledge management system where his sales force can bounce ideas around. The next phase will be using it for better marketing and campaigning. Human resources is another business function that is ripe for agilityinducing systems. It is a key department in that it spans the entire organisation and, as with sales, it has traditionally been neglected in the technology stakes. Software providers have wised up to this and a new generation of talent and performance management systems is finding favour in many companies and making it possible to engage and develop employees far more than previous payroll and personnel systems could, and crucially, these systems are helping managers deploy people in an agile project environment. More agile companies are much better at setting goals for employees that align with the organisations strategy, and enjoy better shareholder returns, according to cloud-based

HR systems provider SuccessFactors. Its research found that only 17 per cent of organisations know all of their top-performing employees and are looking to develop them for future roles, and just 12 per cent who do monitor staff goals and their execution have an IT system that delivers the information needed for goal management and execution. Consulting firm McKinsey notes that multinationals, in particular, struggle to manage talent as they try to share resources and knowledge across a number of business units and countries. Software that helps HR and business departments to recruit, set goals, identify skills, develop people and above all allow employees

Knowledge of the market, prospects and events can empower agility for any business, and the tools are there for any size of business

to collaborate better could be a cornerstone of an agile strategy. Another area that affects several departments and often also works across multiple partner organisations is logistics. According to cloud system provider Deltions MD Denis OSullivan, businesses have been crying out for real-time visibility across the supply chain to iron out customer service problems. Cadbury is doing this with Deltions CarrierNet cloud system. Keith Newton, customer logistics director at Cadbury, says: The implementation has enabled us to move from a series of unlinked systems to a web-based interfaced solution that has totally eliminated a number of areas of failure. It links all internal logistics and planning teams at Cadbury, all tier-one, thirdparty logistics service providers, all second-tier hauliers subcontracted to them, and customers via alerts, SMS and emails. It is no coincidence that since implementation we have recorded a number of 100 per cent customer service days, which is a significant achievement for a large, fast-moving consumer goods company such as Cadbury. In-house development for such systems could be hugely expensive and difficult, as it was for companies that first pioneered mobile technologies for workers such as field engineers and salespeople. Now theres an app for that, as they say. And in manufacturing, consultants now talk of supply chain transformation, such as at Tata Steel, where modules from JDA Software allow the business to foresee production problems such as materials shortages. That boosts the timely delivery of orders to more than 85 per cent, with a central information hub that understands the exact status of each order. Manufacturing and the supply chain were the areas where agile business really started to take off true agility means that when there is a rush on a particular product, material or brand, the maker knows about it at once and can react. Such real-time knowledge of the market, prospects and events can empower agility for any business, and the tools are here for any size of business, from the superb merchant and collaboration services from Amazon and Google, up to the large-scale intelligence-driven private clouds now in operation in multinationals.

Introducing agility

Integration is key

If IT systems were engineered to work together from the outset, requests from the business would take hours to implement rather than days, weeks or even months. If you think about how most people buy cars, they do not buy different parts from different companies and then charge somebody with piecing them together at great additional cost. So why do businesses

So how can businesses achieve agility? The answer lies in provisioning. Businesses need to work with hardware and software companies and strategic partners who have already done the legwork for them. The infrastructure needs to be ready to go, no matter what challenge the business places on it, and staff must be freed up to focus on growth, not maintenance.
Alan Hartwell, Oracle VP Technology Solutions & Channels UK region. www.oracle.com

Putting it into practice


l The public sector has much to gain from an agile IT system. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, a consortium of ten organisations, is using Wax Digitals web3 procurement system to make it easier for staff to select goods and services and place orders quickly and simply. It also allows streamlined financial control and authorisation, and accelerates the supply process to nearly always next day. l Project management is a function which benefits greatly from agility, as Vodafone is discovering with the Projectplace webbased communication system. Finally we have a central system for storing files, working on them and retrieving them, always in real-time, says Vodafone global programme manager Alexander Gottschlich. Any project member can access it, and most importantly, the latest version is always available. l The Green House, a small Northampton-based environmental services business (left) , manages about 500,000 scheduled collections a year through its recycling division alone. In the past, all these transactions would have been carried out manually, with multiple telephone calls routinely taking place between the company, its suppliers and clients. This was a time-consuming, resource-intensive and expensive process, but now it manages its collections through Salesforce.coms Service Cloud, into which it has integrated a large number of workflows and approval procedures.

14

Business Technology

July 2011

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

an independent report from lyonsdown, distributed with the sunday telegraph

July 2011

Business Technology

15

Industry view

Agility in action
Civica is using the expertise of O2 Unify to help its public sector clients drive down costs amid a climate of cuts
As an IT services company serving the public sector, Civica is under more pressure than most organisations to be agile. Not only does it operate in intensely competitive and rapidly changing markets today, its customer base is beset with its own not insubstantial challenges. Following the latest round of cuts to public funding, organisations right across the sector have no choice but to try to do more with less while meeting a whole host of other government targets. To maintain its position as an IT innovator, Civica has branched out in recent years from software provision and related support to cloud-based solutions, fully managed IT services and business process management. To adapt to the shifting priorities of its public sector clients, meanwhile, the company has had to embrace new commercial models that help make public sector money go further. Public sector expectations of their suppliers are high, yet their ability to finance new investments is considerably restricted, says Civicas managing director John Hood. To stay ahead, we have had to adapt at an extremely fast pace. One part of this strategy is expansion through merger and acquisition. Over the last 12 months, Civica has selectively supplemented its portfolio, for example with electronic document management skills and processes, enabling the company to offer customers an end-to-end digital post room solution. Previously, although we had electronic document management software, we used a third party to complete the solution. It was a need to save costs that necessitated the acquisition. Civica proactively exploits its diversity

and differences born of being a company built through acquisitions, to field a range of perspectives and backgrounds across a broad geographical area. Our newer offerings around cloud computing and our business process services are all delivered remotely, Hood explains. Efficient, consistent delivery relies on our ability to move our people around and effectively maintain teams, no matter where individuals are based.

Innovation

Virtual teams

It is about people having greater access to each other, achieving more for our clients while cutting back on travel

Of Civicas 900 UK employees, more than half are notionally based at home, travelling between clients and the companys various office locations. To ensure they are fully productive and connected to the rest of the business, while reducing the need for so much travel, the company has recently invested in an advanced communications environment, hosted in the cloud. The pioneering solution is one of only two known deployments of Microsofts new Lync 2010 cloud-based unified communications environment which combines instant messaging, voice-over internet protocol and video-conferencing. This enables all forms of team communication to be co-ordinated in a single place while all but eliminating the need for a fixed-line telephone service because calls are now conducted over an internet connection. The solution, which is still being fully rolled out across the company, will transform Civicas ability to deliver innovative services for its customers while keeping costs down. For example, it will vastly reduce the need for home workers to travel between the companys 14 locations, reducing associated costs by 25 per cent. Phone-based meetings, and web and video conferences can now be set up dynamically, and are free because they take place across the network. Remote teams (such as the marketing department, which is spread across four different offices) can share documents centrally across the network and chat spontaneously using instant messaging, with the option to escalate interactions to a phone call or conference as needed. This will have a profound impact on our ability to move work forward, accelerating productivity and with maximum efficiency, Hood notes.

The transformation wont stop there, either. Whats even more exciting is that we could easily extend the facility to our customers, at no real extra cost, transforming interaction with our clients, he continues. Currently, if Im dealing with a housing association, I could be spending two days a month on site with the CEO; if they had access to Lync, we could have shorter, more regular meetings every day, achieving more while saving time and money. It is additional agility benefits like these that Civica is now working towards with O2 Unify, which implemented the Lync solution. O2 Unify brings together advanced communications expertise with deep systems integration and business transformation skills through a single point of service provision. O2 Unify is helping to drive out the additional benefits that are possible from having this innovative collaboration and communications environment, Hood explains. Ultimately, this initiative is about people having much greater access to each other at any time, achieving more for our clients while cutting back on travel and achieving a better work-life balance, he adds. It is making us more responsive, improving the quality and consistency of service internally as well as externally. As a technology company, its important for us to stay ahead and use upto-date tools, as it means we attract the best people. In order to maximise the potential of these tools, however, we needed a vision for whats possible. In 2e2, the systems integration side of O2 Unify, we have had access to the best skills available. Lync is brand new technology from Microsoft so it was crucial that we had a knowledgeable team steering the implementation; 2e2 brought expertise in advanced Microsoft technologies backed by a full professional services team experienced in business transformation and enterprise agility. In addition to its credentials as an advanced communications provider, meanwhile, O2 offered us the size and commercial scale to really put its shoulder behind the roll-out. Together, the two parties have been able to provide a complete, end-to-end solution which is rare in a situation as complex and technologically advanced as this.
www.civica.co.uk

Cloud cover for legal firm


With a brief to help barristers and lawyers access IT resources, Scomo found a solution that fits the bill
Having trebled in size in five years,Scott Moncrieff & Associates LLP Solicitors (Scomo), a network of independent legal consultants, was looking to improve consistency and continuity in business practices and boost the firms brand. Its consultants are self-employed and geographically dispersed and need to access applications from multiple locations. As such, the answer was found in the cloud. K-Cloud, powered by strategic partner 2e2, implemented and now manages Scomos new practice management and email platform which links consultants with each other and the administrative office. It enables consultants using different hardware and software to access the same IT resources via any internet connection. A dedicated help desk supports both systems and ensures efficiency, consistency and compliance. Across England and Wales, Scomo provides an umbrella for experienced legal consultants, the majority of whom are solicitors or barristers. In return for a percentage of consultants fees, Scomo provides office services, including IT, compliance with regulation and support through file review and team meetings. Its running costs are relatively low because most consultants work from their own premises. Scomos previous bespoke practice management system (PMS) did not integrate with other parts of the business, provide management information or show percentage of work complete, explains practice manager Helen Jones. This made life difficult for the accounts department who could not predict their workload and therefore not enable them to align sufficient resource around billing on case closure. Flexibility came at a high price. Scomo has a significant legal aid practice and whenever the Legal Services Commission changed the way particular types of case were funded, the billing system had to be reprogrammed, which was extremely costly. This and other factors highlighted the need for a more adaptable and comprehensive PMS. Microsoft Exchange Enterprise Edition allows all remote workers to access email, voicemail, calendars and contacts from virtually anywhere, anytime, from a browser window from any internetconnected computer, their mobile device and even a basic telephone when no internet connectivity is available.

Industry view K-Cloud takes care of IT


Familiar systems accessed from any internet connection Implementation and support A single help desk number for all systems Enhanced processes, efficiency and brand Better access to financial information Predictable IT costs and reduced capital investment through a scalable subscription model

A one-stop help desk supports both systems, Jones says. The help desk provides IT support to consultants and Scomos administrative services. All help desk queries are logged. If no easy remedy is available problems can be escalated. Information is gathered about the nature of questions which will help to identify training and other needs. Moving email and practice management to K-Cloud and 2e2 has produced significant benefits to users, supporting consultants, management and Scomos structure and strategy. Users can access email and IRIS PMS from any internet connection. They have one help desk number for problems with either system. We have passed this responsibility to K-Cloud and 2e2 who listen and respond to our needs. The more they understand how our business works the better the arrangements can be, says Jones. Consultants are required to use the K-Cloud system and their Scomo email address which provides greater sense of firm identity. Our innovative IT arrangements help attract business and talent, observes Jones. New joiners pay a one-off fee for access and initial training. K-Cloud and 2e2s flexible training options include induction for new consultants and commissioning top-up training on specific subjects such as billing procedures. The new PMS gives management immediate access to financial information including billing patterns, work in progress and unit performance. The monthly payment model enables clear budgeting for IT costs. Licences can be transferred as consultants leave and join, enabling Scomo to maintain its business at no additional cost and to expand with no extra capital investment. Jones says that Scomos independent consultants now have a more positive view of IT. We are looking to explore the potential of the new system, particularly around improved workflow and efficiencies as well as introducing a single login for email and IRIS. With 64 users now successfully using the K-Cloud service, the focus of K-Cloud and 2e2 is to help Scomo innovate through further advances in technology. A roadmap of functional changes to the PMS, including the adoption of further applications through K-Clouds SaaS, is now being discussed and agreed. As Jones explains, by treating IT as a utility rather than an in-house business support function and devolving the responsibility for day-to-day services, Scomo can focus on its growing business, confident that all users can rely on scalable, accessible systems and fast, responsive IT support. This arrangement means that we can concentrate on law while K-Cloud and 2e2 take care of IT.
www.2e2.com

Benefits of the cloud

The new face of communication


The latest HD videoconferencing technology can benefit any organisation by saving on the cost of travel and cutting carbon emissions
The way we do business has changed almost beyond recognition over the past decade, but one thing hasnt diminished: the value of face-to-face contact. At a time when were overwhelmed with information via email, social media and other communications, face time still leads to the fastest decisions and closer and more productive business relationships. Until recently, video-conferencing was seen as a costly poor relation to a real face-to-face meeting. Although video communication has existed for years, the assumption has long been that for the important stuff, only in-person meetings will do. But weve moved on. For the worlds weary business travellers, the advent of effective, affordable, high-definition, real-time video has heralded a new age of commerce reducing the stress of disruptions, anonymous hotels and departure lounges. The latest report from Forrester Research found that up to half of business travel can be replaced by video communications. The report focused on data from the European division (2,500 employees) of a Japanese consumer electronics giant, which implemented LifeSize HD video communication solutions across 47 offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia.* The results revealed a 392 per cent riskadjusted return on investment, a saving of more than $1m on the travel budget each year, and a reduction in carbon emissions of up to 12 per cent. Thats a tangible business benefit for any organisation. Forresters research proves that many businesses are already using video technology and its becoming mainstream in business; in five years time we may wonder how we managed without it. And to this point, it no longer costs a fortune to equip mobile workers with the right tools for business on the move, ensuring faceto-face interaction no matter where they are. So when business travel is essential, LifeSize delivers high-quality, interoperable and affordable video communication solutions to maintain productivity anytime, anywhere. * The total economic impact of LifeSize HD video-conferencing solution, March 2011
Mike McCarthy is major accounts manager at Enterprise Business, LifeSize www.lifesize.com

A dedicated help desk supports both hardware and software and ensures efficiency, consistency and compliance
Moving to K-Cloud
Having selected the IRIS Law Business PMS and Microsoft Exchange Enterprise Edition for email, the next decision was how to deliver them. Cloud computing was the ideal solution, avoiding the need to invest in expensive hardware and software that needs to be maintained and updated. K-Clouds software as a service (SaaS) subscription model underpinned by 2e2s IT infrastructure and systems supports Scomos continued growth and its flexible business model. Both the PMS and Microsoft Exchange Enterprise Edition are managed by K-Cloud and 2e2. David Fazakerley, K-Clouds chief operating officer, explains: Although it would be straightforward to purchase either or both systems, applying a single managed service and subscription model to both systems enables Scomo to combine the latest systems with a flexible service and payment model that suits their unique structure and business model.

Switching to cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Enterprise email meant that Scomo did not require on-site servers but could operate a pay-per-user model. Scomo has set a rolling three-month limit for live emails, with the balance moving into an archive on a monthly basis. Scomo is required to keep client files for a minimum of six years and lengthy litigation cases need access to email trails over many years. The archive will be user friendly and searchable and Microsoft Exchange Enterprise reduces compliance risk in a way that makes sense for the business. Exchange Server incorporates features specifically designed to help business comply with corporate, regulatory and legal requirements.

Implementing the PMS

For the worlds weary business travellers, the advent of effective, affordable, high-definition, real-time video has heralded a new age of commerce

The main implementation project was the switchover to the IRIS PMS. This included training groups of consultants in different parts of the country and providing additional training for systems administrators. Scomos structure and the variety of systems deployed by its consultants raised important challenges. Unlike conventional law firms where everyone uses the same hardware and software, our self-employed consultants use different operating systems and software and have different levels of IT competence, explains Jones. Whereas some people could access the PMS easily and immediately, others required support from K-Cloud and 2e2 to install the software and get the system up and running.