IT Business Value of South East Water

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Introduction

The IT strategy sets out a clear mission, vision, and goals, options for achieving these goals, and defines a plan for attaining them to get business value. Therefore, IT tasks should be solved in the general context of business tasks’ management and should be considered a full-fledged strategic asset of the organization. The creation of business value through the utilization of recent technologies is one of the primary ways to ensure the competitiveness of the organization nowadays. This paper will analyze the IT business value concept, information system (IS) frameworks, and IT business management application at the South East Water organization (an Australian company).

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Detailed Analysis of IT Business Value

Increasing IT investment presented an opportunity for researchers to assess how information systems and technologies influence the creation of IT business value and what are the specific principles that facilitate information systems’ strategic management and governance. It is reported that IT usage has a positive impact on an organization’s diversification, operational performance, and value creation (Maes et al., 2012). Nevertheless, the clear guidance to answer the questions of how, why, when, and where to apply IT systems and how they should be managed is still present. Information Systems (IS) has a crucial role in the efficiency increase of the company, its operations, supply chain management, which result in better sustainability of the business (Zeng et al., 2020).

The evaluation of IT business value is a complex process of defining the influence of technology, people, and activities on the organization’s overall performance. The application of various technologies has unique principles of strategically managing and governing information systems. For instance, big data users face the problem of the massive amounts of multi-structured data located in different separate systems (Varun et al., 2018). To navigate through the process, it is suggested to ask the right questions, recognize patterns, make informed assumptions, and predict behavior. Companies should find the right people to execute these thought processes, namely astute and intuitive analysts, aware business users, shrewd executives (“Value in big data,” 2020, sl.7). When the right people and solution process are found, the IT business value can be created and supported with the examples of proper cost management, identification of root causes of failures, fast calculation of risks, and other benefits (Thusoo, 2017).

Similar rules apply to data analytics that helps an organization optimize customers’ information user data analysis, energy optimization, and distribution, and automation, depending on the business area. The governing principles of the IT business value creation and development are defined differently by the existing frameworks. Still, one point essential for business executives is applying IT governance collaboratively with the IT department and the managers (Lindros, 2017). The Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology (COBIT) framework states that governance should be established by Evaluating stakeholder needs, conditions and objectives; choosing main Directions through prioritization and decision-making; and Monitoring performance, compliance, and achievements against the desired direction and goals (EDM) (De Haes et al., 2013). Thus, a systematic approach towards the management and governance of information systems is required to get stable IT business value.

IT Frameworks to Analyze South East Water IT Business Value

South East Water, one of the Victorian Government’s retail water companies, serves drinking water, sewerage, trade waste, recycled water, and water-saving services for citizens and businesses in Australia. South East Water is widely known for its innovative solutions that require extensive usage of IT models that facilitate business value creation. To formulate and critically apply theoretical IS knowledge to analyze IT business value in the organization, the COBIT framework with other models will be discussed.

COBIT Framework Regarding South East Water IT Solutions

COBIT, a framework created for the organization governance of Information and Technology aimed at the whole business, is a relevant model that helps to assess the general strategy and actions of South East Water. Five main principles of COBIT 5 may allow the organization to manage information and technologies holistically, address stakeholders’ needs, and cover all operations of the organization. The first principle is “Meeting stakeholder needs,” which implies the necessity to establish information systems relevant to the organizations’ main stakeholders (De Haes et al., 2013). South East Water serves residents and businesses in Australia and is owned by the Victoria Government; thus, it should provide IS for these stakeholders. The government has to track its revenues and expenditures from South East Water, while citizens and companies want to monitor their energy and water consumption and be sure that it is safe. Therefore, the company created IT initiatives, such as apps that address network performance and fault management, AquaTrip® technology that gathers big data and analyzes it, Aquarevo, which helps customers to track their resources consumption in houses (Cade & Hutchings, 2016).

The second principle, “Covering the enterprise end-to-end,” requires establishing clear roles, activities, and relationships to govern the resources, risk, and benefits (South East Water, 2020). South East Water has a team of engineers, analysts, information technology people to manage the IS as needed by stakeholders. The third principle, “Applying a single integrated framework,” can be established at South East Water because it deals with various data flows that include the implementation of new infrastructure and user reporting solutions. This principle can be linked-to ISO standards used in the company to develop a united IT business value. “Enabling a holistic approach” rule that includes regulations, policies, processes, and other features is implemented in the organization based on different holistic plans, such as Biodiversity Master Plan, that can be integrated into the IS application (Cade & Hutchings, 2016). The final principle, “Separating governance from management,” must be introduced to ensure that South East Water executives plan, run, monitor, and evaluate the IS solutions separately (De Haes et al., 2013). Thus, it is suggested to focus on COBIT recommendations to assign different roles to manage data and IT systems.

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Victorian Government ICT Governance Framework

Victorian Government ICT governance framework can be combined with the COBIT 5 framework to fully cover the South East Water management of the information systems as the organization is government-owned. The authorities of Victoria aim to support ICT projects based on their framework to be informed about actions being made by project leaders and use trusted methodologies to integrate new initiatives. The government aims to assess ICT projects and their “capability, gateway processes, independent assurance and increased accountability through clearer governance and transparency” (The Victorian Government, 2016). To ensure that South East Water projects comply with standards of End-to-end IT project delivery framework that includes activities, stage gates, project management templates, governance, monitoring, and control tools (“IT project management policy and guides,” 2020).

There are several projects that South East Water develops according to the ICT governance framework nowadays. “Digital Utility Core Capability” is one of them and can be presented as an example of framework usage (“Victorian Government IT Dashboard,” 2020). Activities of the project include meter management processes, billing, alerts & alarms systems establishment. Stage gates are indicated within the project management templates, including meter exchange system establishment, IoT platform upgrades, and billing system integration. Governance, monitoring, and control can be combined with COBIT principles to address accountability, role clarity, authority, transparency, and commitment of all stakeholders from the authorities and the company’s side.

Challenges and Recommendations

Delivery of end-to-end business projects that create IT business value has its challenges and issues that should be resolved before or in the process of the initiative’s implementation. It is highlighted that a continuous improvement and evaluation of actions are needed to prioritize IT management capabilities and projects that are the most relevant and to identify strengths, weaknesses, and risk features that projects are bringing (Souza et al., 2014). Thus, it can be recommended for any company to use a structured mindset and tools that help navigate IT business value creation.

It is also clear from the evidence and analysis of South East Water IT solutions that another challenge is the separation of governance and management of IT systems, which is usually ambiguous. To overcome the issue, it is necessary to establish roles and responsibilities for employees and executives who oversee IT management, according to frameworks, such as COBIT, to divide their areas of work and activities.

Finally, it is suggested to address the issue of standards implementation, such as ISO, to ensure that information flows are secured and have untied standards across the organization. Here, one can recommend utilizing the required ISO guidelines of IT management, as many companies use other ISO standards to show their compliance with universal work principles (Patón-Romero et al., 2017). Overall, it can be concluded that the creation of continuous IT business value can be achieved by using frameworks and guidelines that are presented internationally to ensure that IS is appropriately managed and executives can find ways to overcome significant obstacles.

References

Cade, L & Hutchings, K. (2016). South East Water Corporate plan 2016–21. Web. 

De Haes, S., Van Grembergen, W., & Debreceny, R.S. (2013). COBIT 5 and Enterprise Governance of Information Technology: Building Blocks and Research Opportunities. Journal of Information Systems, 27(1), pp. 307-324. Web.

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IT project management policy and guides. (2020). The Victorian Government. Web.

Lindros, K. (2017). What is IT governance? A formal way to align IT & business strategy. CIO. Web.

Maes, K. & De Haes, S. & Grembergen, W. (2012). IT Value Management as a Vehicle to Unleash the Business Value from IT Enabled Investments. International Journal on IT/Business Alignment and Governance, 3. Web.

Patón-Romero, D., Baldassarre, M., Piattini, M., Guzmán, G. (2017). A Governance and Management Framework for Green IT. Sustainability, 9(10), 1761. Web.

South East Water. Reconciliation Action Plan June 2020 to June 2022. Web.

Souza, J., Ribeiro, C. & Santos, D. (2014). Is the Implementation of COBIT 5 Processes a Wicked Problem? COBIT Focus, 2(8). Web.

Thusoo, A. (2017). Creating a Data-driven Enterprise with DataOps: Insights from Facebook,

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Uber, LinkedIn, Twitter, and EBay. O’Reilly Media.

The Victorian Government. (2016). Information Technology Strategy Victorian Government 2016–2020. Web.

Value in big data slide (presentation). (2020). University course.

Varun, G., Chiang, R., Ting-Peng L. & Dongsong Z. (2018). Creating Strategic Business Value from Big Data Analytics: A Research Framework. Journal of Management Information Systems, 35(2), 388-423, Web.

Victorian Government IT Dashboard. (2020). The Victorian Government. Web.

Zeng, F., Lee, S. & Lo, C. (2020). The Role of Information Systems in the Sustainable Development of Enterprises: A Systematic Literature Network Analysis. Sustainability, 12, 3337. Web.

Patón-Romero, D., Baldassarre, M., Piattini, M., Guzmán, G. (2017). A Governance and Management Framework for Green IT. Sustainability, 9(10), 1761. Web.

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