CIO100 2017 #31-100: Kevin Angland, Mercury
In late 2015, the (then) Mighty River Power executive team was restructured to reflect the emphasis of the new business strategy, and to position the organisation for the rapid pace of change in digital customer experience.
This led to the creation of two new executive roles; GM Digital Services and Chief Marketing Officer.
Kevin Angland came on board under this new structure, to take on the newly-created GM digital services role.
In June 2016 the company also brought together Mighty River Power and Mercury Energy under a the new Mercury brand.
“We rebranded the entire organisation behind the Mercury brand, with our CEO Fraser Whineray talking about becoming customer-led business rather than a generation-led business,” says Angland.
His remit is a shift also from the traditional CIO and CTO model.
“I have overall responsibility for the strategic direction, leadership and management of all customer operations, digital and technology capability at Mercury,” says Angland, who was CIO at IAG prior to joining Mercury.
His team has over the past few months embarked on major initiatives in line with the business transformation programme across the new brand.
To deliver the new brand the ICT team had to support/deliver changes to more than 200 different IT systems, completely redesign the Mercury website and the "My Account" customer portal, and develop (automated) digital capability in order to communicate the re-brand and associated e-bike offerings to more than 300,000 Mercury customers.
As part of the rebrand, Mercury implemented an Airpoints partnership with Air New Zealand.
The work on this included building data feeds, matching and de-duping capability between Mercury and Airpoints; delivering the joint digital onboarding capability and base rate earning calculations on the core ERP system; and supporting all ongoing digital marketing campaigns.
Following the brand launch and air-points go-live. Mercury has seen a lift in customer numbers with monthly growth in customers leading all other market participants for seven consecutive months since the brand launch and the partnership with Air New Zealand.
These programmes were Mercury’s major initiatives to deliver projects in an agile manner. What stood out for him was the significant collaborative effort across many parts of the organisation to deliver the two projects.
“The cultural change brought about through these initiatives is now evident in most other project delivery teams,” he says.
On the business technology front, Angland and his team are implementing a core ERP system upgrade that includes database, operating system and software version plus a move from on premise physical infrastructure to public cloud (AWS) hosting.
They are also on a system upgrade and business process changes for the Asset Management and Works Order system (Maximo) that is supporting the generation sites across the Mercury portfolio.
Angland’s team is also deploying emerging technologies and partnering with startups to strengthen their focus on customer-led innovations.
“Innovation at Mercury is a mixture of internal development, and partnering,” he explains.
“To date most innovation has been of a continuous improvement nature. We have not run internal hackathons or structured innovation sessions.”
Over the past year, the technology team delivered online chat to support customer self service capability (via the Mercury website). This was developed under an MVP (minimum viable product) proof of concept approach, and is now been refined/modified, based on the POC feedback for production go live this year.
We have worked with Plugshare, a US agency to develop the Electric Highway App (mapping of all EV charging stations), to the NZ market, he says.
The team also developed and delivered an online solar analytics capability, a first in New Zealand, to allow solar customers to understand their generation/usage and buy-back opportunities.
We have now reviewed our core-platform decision and recommitted to SAP (currently being upgraded/re-platformed, and shifted to the cloud) and this will ensure we are able to meet business expectations around reliability/resilience/risk mitigation.
“On the flip side most other business applications have been migrated to the AWS cloud to deliver better availability/resilience/BCP outcomes and to reduce the ongoing capex refresh burden from running an in-house datacentre,” he explains.
We have a dedicated resource pool dealing with operations/production support as a first priority, which is about 20 per cent of all resources, he states. “This ensures appropriate balance between the run/support function and the build/change function.”
Being a member of the executive team provides Angland regular opportunities to collaborate and engage with all teams across the business.
Angland chairs the Mercury Portfolio Review Group, comprising the EMT, which reviews, approves and prioritises all business-technology investment.
As well, he provides updates to the board every quarter on the broad subject areas of strategy, financial, operations, people and project delivery.
“We hold strategy workshops with the Board every six months and these include digital and technology capability,” he says.
He and his team keep the organisation updated on their programmes through the Mercury weekly Team Talk online newsletter to all staff.
He also sends out a weekly weekly newsletter to ICT staff and other ‘opt-in recipients’, and participates in the Yammer groups for individual blogs.
Another area he is focusing on is diversity.
“In developing a new operating model for ICT, based around cross functional agile delivery teams/squads, the structural change required has provided the opportunity to recruit more diversity into the new leadership team,” he says.
The recruitment process also allowed him to build an ICT leadership team that includes at least two succession candidates for his role and others across the organisation.
“We have also implemented formal one-on-one monthly conversations for all staff across Mercury to focus on personal development and building a more constructive and engaged culture,” says Angland.
“This focus has seen some early results with staff engagement score across the ICT function lifting 5+ points at a time when significant organisational change has been occurring.”