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Why do most IT projects fail?

By STEFAN JACOBS, head of Applications Practice at Wipro Africa Modern Application Services

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The majority of IT projects fail. According to research published by The Standish Group, of more than 50,000 IT projects between 1992 and 2004, only 29 percent were deemed successful. This problem has not lessened – consultancies such as Forrester and McKinsey regularly note a 70% failure rate among transformation projects. So even though technology procurement and delivery is changing, why hasn’t the failure rate lessened?

It’s all about complexity. Complex projects generally have a poor success rate. ICT projects are almost always complex because they typically are a System of Systems: a combination of many different parts, the sum of which is invariably larger. A system of systems can describe any transformational environment:  solutions require integration and collaboration between many technology components, business processes, and workforces.

No wonder CIOs have a headache and easily one of the hardest jobs in the business world today. Compounding matters are the loud voices in the rest of the enterprise, demanding services that match their expectations. Organisations have seen, heard and tasted the potential of digital technology, and they look toward the CIO to deliver at very short timelines. It’s no longer 3 years – it’s 3 months! They like the sound of micro-services, proofs of concepts and scalable deployments. Such terms even make digital sound easy. These are steep expectations to overcome in the face of complexity.

Complexity doesn’t go away, but its risks can be mitigated through good design, automation, and experience. This is primarily why the choice of Systems Integrator (SI) has become an overruling factor for successful ICT projects in the medium and large enterprise worlds. Small businesses can usually find all they need in standard services, but the more complex an organisation, the more it needs customisation and integration of its systems. Complexity begets complexity.

Normally one would look to vendors for guidance and clarity. Yet the vendor market also has a complexity issue. The nature of modern services means that there are many combinations to create a solution. It’s not a new situation and has defined the space of SI’s  for many years. Yet the rise of choice and variability among vendor products has increased this tenfold.

Hence the importance of partnerships and alliances between vendors and systems integrators. The more familiar an SI is with vendor solutions, including those still be tested by R&D, the better they can simplify things. If the SI can draw from a deep and wide pool of experience, usually gained from staging multiple technology projects across the world, that is also an important factor. The right SI must be able to communicate with every part of the client organisation, from the highest levels down to the coalface. Finally, the SI often invests in the training and costly certification of skills – it should be able to tend to those with an international mindset, yet strive to localise those skills within its customer companies and customers.

Such criteria have long counted towards identifying a good SI and solution provider. But they are more important than ever before. Projects today are driven by customer/user experiences. They often involve platform strategies and are orientated towards services and components. And they are unique: the beauty of digital is that every organisation can have its own journey. But how to do that without reinventing the wheel depends on the right solutions partner.

In an integrated world, the successful SIs are close to vendors, customers and trends. These require more than big marketing claims. They require depth and experience beyond being a solutions middleman. The CIO who chases that requirement when selecting transformation partners can avoid the 70 percent of ICT project failures.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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