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Providing guidance in a world of technology

May 21, 2021

The challenges of 2020 demonstrated that businesses with strong digital strategies can not only survive, but flourish. Yet with technology evolving so quickly, how can business leaders know they are making the best choices for their organisations now and in the future?

Standards Australia recently spoke with Jan Begg, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 40, IT Service management and IT governance. In addition to her role as Chair to the joint international committee, Ms Begg is also the Chair of Australia’s mirror committee, IT-030, ICT Governance and Management, which has played a key role in developing standards in this area for many decades.

Standards Australia: Firstly, what is governance of IT?

Jan Begg: Governance of IT is about the use of information technology in a business, and guides decision-making regarding an organisation’s investments enabled by IT or usage of IT to deliver business outcomes. It provides a framework of digital strategies that a board of directors or leadership team can use to help ensure an organisation’s information, data and technology decisions are aligned to the overall business strategy and will support business goals.

In the past, IT was regarded as somewhat separate from a business’s main function. Now, many businesses are reliant on IT decisions and IT strategy is no longer just about cost efficiencies. Board directors with digital knowledge are as valued as those with financial skills.

SA: Why are standards important in this area?

JB: They have always been important but more recently, with the advent of data being stored in the “cloud”, critical business services (such as payroll and HR) are being managed externally to the organisation and customers becoming more digitally-literate, so the need for standardisation has increased.

Boards and leaders need to stay up-to-date with technology advancements, so costly mistakes are not made, and businesses don’t get left behind. Standards can help with these critical business decisions. Recent international surveys reveal that digital-savvy leaders make better decisions that lead to improved results.

SA: Where does Australia stand on the world stage in governance of IT?

JB: Australia has been a leader in this space for many decades. Australian experts developed the first release of AS ISO/IEC 38500, Information technology – Governance of IT for the organization, a foundational standard in this space, and are active participants in its continued development.

SA: What types of stakeholders are involved in committee IT-030, ICT Governance and Management?

JB: IT-030 represents many organisations and experts. These include the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Governance Institute, Australian Information Industry Association, Consumers Federation of Australia, Department of Finance (Australian Government), ISACA, Project Management Institute, IT Service Management Forum, Women on Boards, NSW Department of Customer Services and The Institute of Internal Auditors.

SA: What is happening in Australia and internationally now?

JB: A major revision of AS ISO/IEC 38500 is currently underway. There is a very strong commitment from IT-030 members to provide up-to-date Australian views. This includes views from the representatives from non-executive directors like me and people who work with company boards. There is also involvement by a range of people with solid technology and business governance and management experience.

We are also very busy updating and revising standards around IT services management and IT-enabled business process outsourcing, reflecting new business models that provide services or use services from external suppliers.

SA: Generally speaking, what guidance can business leaders find in the series of standards about governance of IT?

JB: The standards aim to provide practical guidance and principles to assist in guiding Boards and managers in making critical decisions. This guidance aims to help leaders with achieving organisational efficiency, uncovering strategic opportunities, as well as better managing conformance and risk, digital transformation and data analytics implementation.


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