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Change in Perspective

Change in Perspective

Back in 1996 each AMP business unit had its own application development function headed up by an IT manager who reported to the unit's general manager. The IT managers also had a dotted line relationship to John Allen, the then general manager, group information technology, AMP. Allen's group was responsible for worldwide standards and policies. Then in December 1996, AMP and Andersen Consulting formed AMPlus, a joint venture business unit responsible for the application development function previously carried out by AMP's separate business units in Australia and New Zealand (see "Inside and Out", CIO, May 1997). The new unit combined some 700 of AMP's business and technology people with 100 specialist Andersen Consulting professionals. AMPlus was initially headed by Andersen Consulting's worldwide insurance industry managing partner, Dave Hoffman, who relocated from Chicago to Sydney to take up his new role. The IT heads of the business units subsequently reported to Hoffman, who in turn reported to AMP's then managing director, George Trumbull.

At the time, Allen, who was instrumental in establishing AMPlus, said the main impetus behind it was a lack of synergy between AMP's business units in regard to IT. However, there was another driving force. AMP had recently announced plans to demutualise in 1997 and publicly list in 1998, subject to a vote by members. Trumbull proclaimed that AMPlus would help strategically position the company in the fast changing financial services marketplace. AMPlus had been due to run until 2001, but was wound up a year earlier than the due date. Barnett says this was because it was simply a logical point for the contract to conclude. "Prior to demutualisation, it was essential for AMP to undertake several major change programs, including Y2K, simultaneously and in a very compressed period of time. It was an incredibly aggressive agenda that touched nearly every part of the business," she says. "We had to look at how we could drive down some of the business's basic costs in order to free up funds for these large change programs and there are very few organisations that could undertake such an agenda without help. But as it was, we completed it early and our requirements for the following two years did not involve anywhere near the same degree of change."

According to Barnett, AMP's current IT model, which it has globally branded as IT@AMP, is still a centralised shared service function, just without Accenture's involvement, and, she says, is one that suits AMP well, given where the business is at.

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