INSIGHT: What’s actually behind “keeping the lights on”?

Ovum proposes three classes of business activity: Utility, Assembly, and Delivery.

Pundits often claim that 80 per cent of an organisation’s IT budget is spent on “keeping the lights on” rather than on business activities that enable it to differentiate and compete.

On the whole, this figure is nonsense, because for most organisations the proportion of IT spend that goes into supporting business activities that are non-differentiating is far closer to 50 percent than 80 percent.

However, it is clear that IT has a mandate to drive down the cost of non-differentiating activities in order to make resources available to invest in the activities that enable the business to compete more effectively, both in terms of the cost of the product or the service it offers, and the ways it engages with customers, partners, and just as importantly, employees.

Ovum advises clients to classify their business activities into three categories and apply different approaches to each.

This approach builds on the thinking behind “pace layering,” in which applications are classified according to their rate of change by looking beyond applications and systems to the higher level business activities they support.

Ovum’s model proposes three classes of business activity: Utility, Assembly, and Delivery.

Utility activities are those that may be essential for the operation of the business, but do nothing to differentiate the product or service the organisation offers, or the way in which it interacts with customers, partners, or employees.

Assembly activities relate to the process of creating or manufacturing the product or service the business offers.

Finally, Delivery activities are those business processes that take place at the edge of the organisation, where it interacts with the outside world.

Each class of business activity has different rates of change, brings different levels of differentiation to the organisation, and requires a different approach to investment and innovation.

The classification process is intended as a tool to enable organisations to select the approach that is most appropriate for each type.

By Gary Barnett - Research Analyst, Ovum

Kiwi health firm welcomes NZ Apple Watch release

New Zealand health and safety app Blerter is now available on Apple’s wearable the Apple Watch, officially on sale in New Zealand for the first time.

Blerter is a new concept in health and safety designed to “empower individual responsibility”, safety-first team collaboration, and real-time situational and hazard awareness.

Making the app available on the Apple Watch was the logical next step, according to CEO Richard Gill.

“Blerter allows managers to inform staff of changing hazards and for staff to report health and safety issues up the chain to the appropriate manager,” Gill says.

“Making all of that available on an iPhone means the staff are safer when working on site but having the alert functionality available on the Apple Watch adds a whole new level of usability.”

Gill says that the Apple Watch Blerter app allows users to receive instant haptic notification of alerts, hazards and other messages.

“It’s easy to miss an alert on your phone when you’re working on site, but having something strapped to your wrist buzzing away is a lot harder to ignore,” he adds.

For Gill, keeping track of who is on a work site is one of the biggest headaches of any project - with Blerter on the Apple Watch, staff can check in and out of sites as they move about during a project.

“We often see situations where staff from several teams are working across multiple projects for different clients,” he adds.

“If there is an incident a lot of time can be taken up trying to work out just who was on site at the time.

“With Blerter on the Apple Watch, a lot of that frustration is taken away.”

Also, staff can be notified of hazards or even changing requirements on the job quickly and easily through the app and staff who find something that poses a hazard can report it by sending a “Blert” – a quick message with a photo of the problem.

“Typing out a text message isn’t the easiest thing to do in many industrial situations, but by using the Apple Watch’s voice to text capability, sending Blerts becomes quick and painless,” Gill adds.

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