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Stories by Steve Hodgkinson

The right act

Governments and their public sectors are complex, diverse and fragmented organisations. The complexity is generally agreed to be beyond the wit of any central agency to manage, and most governments around the world have adopted devolved organisational models - with departments and agencies structured to deliver discrete sets of outputs but otherwise left to operate with a high degree of managerial autonomy.
The model has proved highly effective at improving the efficiency of the way discrete services are delivered. Agency heads are held accountable to their ministers for achievement of their business plans and targets. How they do it is largely their own business (subject to the requirements of legislation).

Written by Steve Hodgkinson09 Dec. 09 22:00

The shared services paradox

Governments and their public sectors are complex, diverse and fragmented organisations. The complexity is generally agreed to be “beyond the wit” of any central agency to manage, and most governments around the world have adopted devolved organisational models – with departments and agencies structured to deliver discrete sets of outputs, but otherwise left to operate with a high degree of managerial autonomy.
The model has proved highly effective at improving the efficiency of the way discrete services are delivered – with agency heads held accountable to their Ministers for achievement of their business plans and output targets. How they do it is largely their own business (subject to the requirements of legislation).

Written by Steve Hodgkinson04 Nov. 09 22:00

Sex and the public sector CIO

I was walking down the street last week mulling over how the public sector CIO role is evolving and I passed a magazine stand. A few of the lifestyle mags featured on their covers the usual articles about sex and relationships, and I’m thinking “How can there still be new stuff left to write about sex? Surely after 500 years of the printed word we must have run out of new things to write about sex?”
The trick to selling lifestyle magazines is to recycle and recombine wisdom about biological and relationship realities — without sounding like the reader’s mum or dad.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson05 Oct. 09 22:00

SaaS in perspective

Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is the most popular subset of a broader cloud computing trend. “Come on … forget the trials and tribulations of in-house IT … short circuit the whole legacy fiasco and just buy as much computing as you need, when you need it, from the internet! It’s cheap, easy and safe!”
Well, clearly this pitch appeals to a growing number of organisations. Salesforce.com, a leading SaaS exemplar, reports revenue of more thanover US$1 billion per annum selling its SaaS CRM offering to more than 59,000 customers. Not just small companies either, with more than 150 of its customers having more than 1000 users on the system. Salesforce claims to have captured around 10 percent of the CRM system market.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson02 Sept. 09 22:00

Cloudy logic

Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson02 Aug. 09 22:00

A storm gathers

I was asked to present on IT Trends at an AIIA event in Melbourne last month, and it was interesting to organise my thoughts on the 'trends' in the IT industry in 2009.
Climate change

Written by Steve Hodgkinson07 June 09 22:00

Click to crowd

I was at the IBM Lotusphere conference in January – a gathering of nearly 10,000 passionate Lotus fanciers in an unusually cold Florida winter. One of the major announcements at the event was LotusLive.com – IBM’s long awaited entry into the software-as-a-service and cloud computing arenas. LotusLive will formally launch mid 2009, offering ‘as a service’ access to Lotus office productivity and collaboration software as well as a cloud computing platform where users can store and share data and documents online.
LotusLive as an announcement was hardly a great innovation – in some ways it’s a year-late ‘me too’ following of Microsoft’s Software + Services strategy, Microsoft Live and Microsoft Online.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson02 March 09 22:00

Question everything and don’t look back

We could think of the catchphrase for the last few years as being ‘don’t question, don’t look down’. Worrying over petty details and looking down makes one aware of the dizzying height, causing a loss of balance. But, somebody looked down and we all fell off the global financial/property/technology boom tightrope.
We need a new catchphrase for 2009 - perhaps ‘question everything and don’t look back’ would be appropriate. Forget about unending growth and boom times, predictable asset appreciation and increasing ICT spend. Question the fundamentals and don’t bother looking back – it just slows you down with unrealistic expectations, disappointments and regrets.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson03 Jan. 09 22:00

Virtually a desktop

Many CIOs sympathise with Henry Ford’s famous “any colour as long as it is black” strategy for the Model T Ford. In the past the ‘Model T’ desktop suited both users and the CIO, but not any longer.
User expectations are rising. Consumer innovations are creating an increasingly digitally passionate and knowledgeable workforce. Why can’t I do at work what I can do at home? Organisational boundaries are also becoming more porous. Users increasingly expect to be able to work from any device and any location to access resources on both enterprise systems and the internet.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson06 Dec. 08 22:00

Cloud baiting

The cloud computing label has jumped the shark and is starting to cop a bashing from industry pundits — as is inevitable when hype overtakes substance. Baiting cloud enthusiasts may be good sport for contrary analysts and bloggers… but it is hardly constructive.
As the effects of the meltdown in the global financial sector spread throughout the economy, the cloud will become an ever more important strategy for reducing both capex and opex – giving CIOs new options for responding to budget pressures in recessionary times.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson03 Nov. 08 22:00

Culture clash, internet style

Security; Compliance; Reliability; Support; are four good reasons to button PCs down in the interests of corporate IT ‘hygiene’. Desktops, laptops and smartphones are an organisation’s digital perimeter — entry points for malware and inappropriate downloads. The only way to ensure security and reliability is to enforce a locked and standardised operating environment on each device.
Maybe! Just when the battle against undisciplined devices on the corporate network seemed to have been won, new skirmishes are breaking out left, right and centre. “Why can’t I have at work what I have at home?” ask users with unfettered internet access at home wanting the same at work. Many web applications require the installation of software and plug-ins, or otherwise violate corporate IT policies. ‘Computer says no!’ Dang!

Written by Steve Hodgkinson08 Oct. 08 22:00

Critical connections

Enterprise 2.0 is all about putting consumer market internet innovations to work — wikis, blogs, social networks and user-generated, mashed-up, content. Most of us are by now pretty familiar with the workings of Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube and Blogger etc.
The core value to organisations of these sorts of technologies is to lower the trade barriers at the borders, lubricating the flow of ideas both internally and externally. A wiki creates a neutral space outside existing organisational, technical or behavioural borders where people can digitally mingle, converse and share. The crowd can be invite-only or all-comers.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson16 Sept. 08 22:00

Are you what you Google?

Take a while to reflect away from the constant bombardment of digital information that flows into and out of our lives every day. Time to change down a gear, intellectually speaking, to something that requires more than a minute or so to read.
So much of our online media is dedicated to things that can be done in a minute. According to rankings by Alexa.com, the 10 most popular websites globally are (in order): Yahoo!, Google, YouTube, Windows Live, Microsoft Network, MySpace, Wikipedia, Facebook, Blogger and Orkut. Ten powerful engines for furiously finding, creating, publishing and spinning around the lightweight ideas, images, videos, stories, social chit-chat and trivial bric-a-brac of our digital lives.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson07 Aug. 08 22:00

Don’t panic!

The ‘Gershon downunder’ tour is the biggest ICT game in Canberra at the moment. What might the outcomes of Sir Peter Gershon’s independent review of the Government’s management of ICT be? My view is that the recommendations will, or ought to cover:

Written by Steve Hodgkinson09 July 08 22:00

Rudd Goverment’s new broom in ICT

The Australian Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Lindsay Tanner, has been on the front foot about the efficiency, or rather lack of efficiency, of federal government ICT. In April, Tanner invited Sir Peter Gershon to lead an independent review of the Government’s management of ICT.
Sir Peter was the architect of the UK Government’s 2004 Spending Review “Releasing Resources to the Frontline”. It identified cash and funding redeployment savings in excess of 20 billion pounds, triggering a major rethink of ICT management and procurement in the UK.

Written by Steve Hodgkinson06 June 08 22:00