Tim Price has been chief information officer of Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) since 2007. He was previously geographical information systems officer for ILC before becoming CIO, and has been with the organisation for 13 years.
Price sat down with CIO Australia to discuss his work on a website project for the Voyages’ tourism operating platform, getting Indigenous training and employment outcomes and the ongoing challenge of managing change within the organisation.
What does an average day for you involve at Indigenous Land Corporation?
Look, really there is no such thing as an average day at the ILC. We are a relatively small organisation from a staffing point of view, managing ground-breaking projects across Australia including in some very remote locations in one of the most dynamic policy areas there is — Indigenous Affairs.
A good example of this is the work which has been generated following the $300 million acquisition last year of Ayers Rock Resort by the ILC. As part of that acquisition we acquired the Voyages’ tourism operating platform to provide training and employment outcomes for Indigenous people from across Australia. Voyages will continue operating the tourism businesses, including the Ayers Rock Resort flagship, and the ILC is setting up the National Indigenous Training Academy at the resort to operate the training platform.
There’s a lot of refurbishment going on at Ayers Rock Resort, so I’m involved with the project management for parts of this, making sure information and communication services align with our business requirements.
There’s a lot of working with the business to manage expectations and making sure we bring the business along with the technology [so] it needs to ensure we get the most out of it. This includes getting the business processes lined up to get the best from the technology.
I spend a lot of time making sure that the IT teams and specialists have everything they need to get the most out of their skills and the technology. I’ve spent a bit of time flying at the moment, particularly to Sydney with the Voyages’ project work.
I liken it to surfing at the moment. Sometimes you feel like you’re out in the surf and there’s a big wave coming up behind you and you just have to make sure your board is waxed down and you have to trust your instincts and your abilities and jump on. Sometimes you get dumped by a wave and you just get back on your board. But it’s exciting and a privilege to be part of what’s going on within the ILC and being part of the Voyages and Indigenous tourism and training activities.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role as CIO?
I think it’s mainly ensuring the business comes along with the technology. It’s very easy to get distracted by new technologies. It is managing expectations, particularly around the consumer technologies that are coming onto the market, like iPads, and making sure that if we do go down that path, we go for the right reasons. And again, the technologies are implemented along with the business processes and the people expertise so we get the most out of them.
I think another challenge is understanding how we can use social media to meet two business challenges: One of which is using social media to recruit and retain Indigenous people. We’ve got a number of projects on the go looking at that. We’ve got a major website platform upgrade going on - consolidating our websites across Voyages and the ILC under the one platform, and better using online resources for how we interact with our clients and, in the case of Voyages, it is how we get the most tourists out to the resort and use that to maximise profits that go straight into our employment and training programs. So, understanding how best to use those is one of the main challenges we face.
The other one is just the amount of change that is going on in the organisation and the amount of change that has been driven by IT within the organisation. We spend a lot of time making sure everyone’s brought along and there is consistency in expectations and understanding what it really does mean to implement particular technologies. The new website and online technologies are examples of that. We consider that, within our IT teams, change is our constant state. Managing that change within the organisation, but also being a part of positive change is always an ongoing challenge, it takes a lot of leg work.
What are some of the major projects you are working on at the moment?
As I mentioned, we’ve got a major website project for Voyages. What we want to do there is to set a new era, a new way of how travellers will book our travel products — the Ayers Rock Resort, Home Valley Station in the Kimberley and the Mossman Gorge Centre just north of Cairns, which will open in August.
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