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CIO100 #31-100: Chris Trigg, Southern Cross Health Society​

  • Name Chris Trigg
  • Title Chief digital officer
  • Company Southern Cross Health Society
  • Commenced role April 2016
  • Reporting Line Nick Astwick, Southern Cross Health Society chief executive officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 140 staff
  • Related

    Chris Trigg says his biggest career lesson in recent years has been to keep coming back to user experience.

    “It doesn’t matter if you’re developing a new mobile app, a web interface for your customers or a new system for your internal users – you have to think about the user experience,” says Trigg.

    “I’ve seen so many cases where a business exposes its internal processes or system limitations to its customers through apps and services and it makes for a poor experience. I think this also applies to information security in the workplace.

    “You have to take a pragmatic approach to giving your teams the right tools,” says Trigg.

    He and his team are now applying this insight at Southern Cross.

    “We have been working hard to create a better experience for internal communications and collaboration. We’ve retired a number of cumbersome, legacy applications that led to people finding alternatives.

    “Having a user-centric view helps you create a better experience and helps people work in a way that’s far more aligned with your information security strategy.”

    Meeting challenges head on

    Trigg is the first chief digital officer at Southern Cross Health Society, and says there are three key focus areas in the role - to drive digital transformation for the Society, ensure the digital platforms team have the right capabilities to lead the business through the transformation; and accelerate delivery for the organisation.

    “My first significant challenge came early in my tenure,” says Trigg.

    “Southern Cross had to consider whether to retain its legacy platform, Diamond, or go to market for a replacement health insurance system. The ultimate decision was to keep Diamond at the core and build new APIs and new platform capabilities on top of it.

    “Over the past 12 months, the Southern Cross digital platforms team has continued to improve the resilience and simplification of data structures within Diamond and the team have executed a proof-of-solution on a new platform to accelerate digital transformation across member processes and services. A programme to build out this platform capability is now fully mobilised.”

    Meanwhile, the organisation has continued to deliver on its digital-first strategy to improve members’ experience.

    More than 80 per cent of claims are now submitted electronically, making the claims process faster and more efficient, he says.

    The organisation is transitioning from being a provider of health insurance to health and wellbeing assurance: empowering Kiwis to live their healthiest lives, he says.

    As part of that strategy, Southern Cross has begun marketing its new workplace wellbeing product — BeingWell — to business clients.

    BeingWell aims to help businesses look after the wellbeing of their employees by better understanding the state of their health and wellbeing, and providing initiatives to improve it.

    BeingWell was born out of the organisation’s internal wellbeing programme, Switch2Well, which was created 10 years ago.

    Southern Cross decided to take the benefits and lessons from Swtich2Well and bring that experience to the business community.

    A project team was formed to focus on mobile app development for BeingWell whilst developing a new corporate reporting portal and BeingWell content hub. The key challenges for the digital platforms team were working with a new external partner and the integration developments required to create the platform, he says.

    In order to raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing programmes and BeingWell, Southern Cross hosted its second Wellbeing Now conference in November 2017.

    Approximately 500 attendees from businesses of various sizes attended, with speakers from the likes of Air New Zealand, Simpson Grierson and a host of other organisations discussing their wellbeing initiatives.

    Trigg is one of the eight members on the Society’s executive leadership team and he reports directly to CEO Nick Astwick.

    This ensures the digital strategy and team’s focus is aligned with the overall strategy of the business, in particular the shifting towards insurance to a contemporary, digital health and wellbeing assurance business.

    He says a key decision that has changed the way several of the teams work was to embed agile working approaches across the organisation.

    About 150 employees, mainly in the digital platforms department, were trained through a two-day course and the organisation recently hired its first enterprise agile coach.

    “At first, this was seen as an IT issue but the leadership team quickly realised the organisation needed different roles, capabilities and processes to enable agile to be successful,” says Trigg.

    “We’ve had great support from the board and leadership team as we’ve embedded agile and they’re seeing the benefits of more rapid delivery and reduced time to value.

    “We’re also operating with a pace and agility that hasn’t been seen here before – and it’s great seeing people in the organisation embracing that change in pace whilst retaining our unique customer culture.”

    Southern Cross uses Yammer and its intranet to update staff on news as well as encourage social engagement. Trigg and other members of the leadership team regularly interact with staff on Yammer, allowing for approachability and accessibility.

    After each financial quarter, members of the leadership team give short video updates on the progress made in their respective areas and then take part in a question and answer session on Yammer.

    Summing up his experiences, Trigg says Southern Cross feels like a very different organisation to the one he joined nearly two years ago.

    “We have a very clear strategy and have the whole senior leadership team focused on the execution of the strategy. We’ve also invested in our people to ensure we have the right skills and capabilities to be a contemporary data-driven digital business.”

    Nick Astwick, Southern Cross Health Society chief executive, says Trigg has been instrumental in driving Southern Cross Health Society towards achieving one of its three strategic pillars: ‘Digital first’.

    “The steady growth of digital platforms that Chris’ team manages has significantly contributed to cost savings.”

    He and his team are at the forefront of making sure that members get a rich digital experience and I am extremely proud of the progress that has been made, says Astwick.


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