Change in Perspective

Change in Perspective

Barnett started out in IT, or data processing as it was more commonly known then, 25 years ago as the Australian Guarantee Corporation's first trainee programmer. After subsequent stints with Lend Lease and DMR Consulting, among others, she joined AMP in 1996 where she initially worked in John Allen's corporate team establishing AMPlus and became head of planning and architecture. From there, she was sent over to the UK to take up an IT strategy role, which she held for two years before returning to Australia to assume her current position. Barnett describes herself as driven and very results-oriented and also considers herself, direct, open and approachable. According to one of her colleagues, she knows where she's going and what she has to do get there and has great emotional intelligence that is reflected in her ability to recognise her own shortcomings. "I am fairly self-critical," Barnett says, "but after a few years in a leadership role of this size you have the chance to work on a number of your deficiencies. For example, I used to be uncomfortable with public speaking and presentations. However, due to the nature of this job, I have to do quite a lot of that, so I've had the opportunity to improve those skills. Working on things you like to avoid was part of the advice Paul Batchelor [AMP's chief executive] gave me when he appointed me to the position last year.

"AMP is not necessarily the sort of company people would think of in terms of a career in IT. However, I've been here five years, which is the longest I've worked anywhere. It's an interesting company and one that provides tremendous opportunities. I like the variety of my role and there's a still a lot for me to do and contribute." vFirst to Mark IT At the time of its launch, John Allen described the AMPlus model as the first of its kind in the world and very innovative. Both he and Dave Hoffman admitted that the arrangement was a showcase for Andersen Consulting and predicted that others would follow suit. Accenture seems unclear as to how many actually have, but according to its Web site, in October 1997 it teamed with Prudential Assurance in the UK to form PruTech, a new IT organisation comprising Prudential's 800 IT staff and some 150 Andersen professionals. According to Accenture, Prudential had taken stock of its technology organisation and found it wanting. In particular, its key operational systems were inadequate to support the company's business objectives and needed substantial upgrading. After evaluating the options, it decided that an in-house change program would not free up enough internal resources or inject the additional capabilities needed for implementing business unit change programs. At the same time, outsourcing was incompatible with Prudential's culture and would result in a significant value-added tax cost.

According to Hoffman, AMP also looked at outsourcing along with a continued use of a consulting model, but decided only the AMPlus co-sourcing or partnership model could deliver the kinds of changes AMP needed in the required timeframe.

Writing in Andersen Consulting's Financial Services - Ideas magazine in 1998, Robert Pitt, a partner in the company's Financial Services Technology practice, said that in deciding which IT transformation model is right for it, an organisation needs to answer the following questions:

Is the desired IT capability a strategic asset?

Who is best positioned to bear the risk of delivering the needed change?

To what extent does the existing organisation need to be replaced?

Who is best able to take service management responsibility in the long term? "The decision also depends on cultural considerations and even political and regulatory issues," Pitt wrote. "In such countries as Japan and Germany, for example, it would be difficult to use anything but the consultancy or partnership transformation model. In all three cases [outsourcing, consultancy, partnership], however, companies cannot succeed if they try to separate technology challenges from their strategy, people and processes. They must take an integrated approach."

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