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Primed for change

Primed for change

CIOs from New Zealand’s largest ICT using organisations harness an arsenal of leadership and technology tools to succeed in a constantly evolving business environment.

Digital and analytics

Russell Jones, ASB
Russell Jones, ASB

Read more: AsureQuality moves global IT systems to the cloud

Digitalisation is top of mind
for all organisations, providing opportunities for organisations to provide more channels for their users and create new business models.

At Progressive Enterprises, national IT manager David
 Morrison says a new IT team structure was implemented with
this in mind. “Whilst there was no functional change to the team, the IT organisation’s view is to move from a BAU-centric team to a strong project/change capable framework. The Countdown IT team develops for the unique systems within the NZ business and bespoke applications the wider Woolworths group consumes, like online fulfilment.”

At ASB, for instance, Russell Jones says an initial focus this year has been towards increasing digital connectedness.

“We have seen a little bit of growth in our browser-based application, but this flattened off towards the end of the year.

“But we continued to see massive growth in our mobile application. Over the last year, we have increased our mobile registrations by nearly 40 per cent, and are seeing over 7000 active new mobile users a month.

“It is a tremendous switch. We
are now doing almost as many transactions on our mobile fleet as we are on browser-based applications.”

This year, ASB has continued to improve and add functionality to all online banking products, and added a new mobile application for business customers. The bank has also done a major new release on its core banking platform, moving a complete product set from the existing Unisys system across to the new SAP system.

“We have probably doubled the workload on our SAP core banking system during the year,” says Jones.

Read more: 'CEOs and CIOs should collaborate to jolt the executive team out of cyber-risk complacency'

“We have moved all of our main digital delivery on to a four- to six-week cycle, when they used to run on a quarterly release cycle.

“If we compare year on year, there are a lot more features going out. We are doing more, and we are managing to do it faster. Speed is an important focus for us, and we are continuing to push hard to keep moving faster.”

The move to digital platforms is also linked to the ascent of
the use of predictive analytics, as seen at Air New Zealand.

Delivery of an enhanced
CRM, customer intelligence, and recommendation engine will provide customised offers and engagement with Air New Zealand customers across multiple channels including Web, email, mobile, and call centre, says its CIO Julia Raue.

The platform will provide a 360-degree profile of each airline passenger; sophisticated identity resolution algorithms to tie together data across channels; and machine learning and predictive analytics 
to help marketing, sales, and call centre employees make decisions about, for example, the next best offer and which channel to engage with a customer through.

The Ministry of Social Development is investing in ICT systems and infrastructure that will allow more effective use and better management of its information assets, says its CIO David Habershon.

“This includes the establishment of a data hub, which will use enhanced analytics tools to target service to those New Zealanders most likely to have adverse outcomes,” he says. This will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the specific needs of individuals, provide the foundation to deliver tailored services, and support frontline decision-making.

The customer experience

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CIOs talk about taking in the customers’ perspectives as a prime focus – more so when the organisation is pushing
for additional uptake of online services. Expectations of customers are also driving this focus, with expectations of accessing channels of their choice, and expecting services to be consistent,
whatever these might be.

“BNZ’s large change initiatives continue to be aligned with being more innovative with payment capabilities across multiple channels; enriching the customer experience and ensuring we make the most of our customer data and in turn provide our customers with better information so that they can be good with money,” says BNZ’s CTO, Aaron Toatelegese.

“Focusing on usability so that capability can be adopted quickly is key.”
“We continue to be customer-led in introducing technology
to our business, for example, to improve our customers’ digital retail experience,” says Simon Kennedy, group CIO of The Warehouse Group. “At the same time, we need to drive efficiency and productivity; while being mindful of evolving technology risk and the compliance landscape.”

The core focus

Victor Vae'au, NZ Defence Force
Victor Vae'au, NZ Defence Force

Security is the overarching layer above all these initiatives.

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“Cybersecurity risk
 and focus is high, and increasing,” says Winston Fong, vice-president ICT at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

“The security focus is growing exponentially up to board level,” says Thomas Hyde, CIO at Beca.

“Even industry is struggling with how to be effective at
this. It has to be a combined government effort, with strong support from that technology sector,” adds Victor Vae’au of the New Zealand Defence Force.

“Organisations like government need to decide what premium they put on cybersecurity, because it is a very expensive skill set; it is very scarce at the moment,” he states.

Jones of ASB says part of the role of the information security team is to increase internal awareness of cybersecurity risks.

“It is a constant investment in keeping our awareness and capability up to scratch. There is obviously a lot of internal capability that needs to
be built and maintained,” he says.

“It is a bit of an arms race: No sooner have we addressed a threat, you learn about a new exploit and a new way that people are hacking or phishing or testing your defences. So you are constantly on the lookout and questioning whether or not you are up to speed.”

Clearly, CIOs will have their hands full over the next 12 months as they grapple with a raft of changes and initiatives; working increasingly
with their business colleagues and external partners.

Read more: Parliament TV goes digital

“The challenge in my opinion, is to create an ecosystem of strategic alliances... to take on more partnership and strategic risk,” says Vae’au, “because transitioning
to a new operating model is fairly easy – but transforming it to extract value is quite another story.”

He shares a key pointer for maintaining focus when leading through these programs: “You have to make sure your changes are relevant to the desired end game of your organisation.

“In our case – it is ensuring clarity of ‘why’ we do everything we do. Is
it going to better serve the sailors, soldiers, and air people in conducting the business of Defence? Anything else is misspent energy.”

Next: Top business trends of 2015 - the leading business and technology trends noted in our CIO100 research

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