As 2016 kicks into gear, three CIOs provide insights into what their key objectives and initiatives will be this year.
For John Halls, head of architecture at superannuation and pensions e-commerce company, Superchoice, moving all infrastructure to the cloud – hosted by Amazon and a private cloud provider for production services – is the number one project in 2016.
“We are in the proof of concept stage but we have to be 100 per cent in the cloud by the end of the year,” Halls told CIO Australia.
Superchoice’s software is ‘white-labelled’ by superannuation funds, payroll companies and banks, and processes 23 million contribution payments for 2.5 million employees in Australia and the UK.
Moving everything to the cloud is enabling Superchoice to move to a complete opex cost model for IT infrastructure services, and provide the flexibility to spin up servers at peak times when most organisations are processing superannuation contributions.
“In this day and age, it doesn’t make sense to go out and spend what will probably be $5 million on hardware. I can run a $1 to $2 million project in the cloud and save $3 million. If I went out and bought $5 million worth of kit, in five years I’d have to go out and spend another $5 million,” he said.
Superchoice runs about 80 applications company-wide at the moment, which will expand to 120 by the end of the year and will be delivered via the cloud, Halls said.
“Every application has a single responsibility … like a mobile app on your phone. Instead of doing five or six different things, each application does one.
“Our applications are small and simplistic and the reason for that is expediency. We have to tailor our services and put bundles together [for clients] so if the bundles are small and simplistic, it’s a lot easier to join things together than it is to split them apart,” Halls said.
Meanwhile, Halls said that creating value-added mobile services to employers will also be a big focus for the organisation this year.
The introduction of Superstream – a standard for processing superannuation data and payments electronically – and other changes in government policy, mean that some of the company’s traditional services have become commodified.
“Mobility is massive for us. In superannuation this is an untapped market, and can potentially lead to new products and services that will increase revenue,” he said.
For example, providing employers instant notification services on the status of superannuation payments on mobile devices will be a focus, he said.
Robert Irving, director of IT at the University of New England, said a key strategic objective for the university this year will be to achieve digital leadership in the field.
“This is broader than just IT, so we are working through what is required from an organisation perspective to achieve this strategy,” said Irving.
Irving said he will focus specifically on developing an IT strategy to support the university’s recently released strategic plan.
Other projects include consolidating IT resources across the university, moving its data centre to an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model, and replacing an in-house identity and access management solution with Microsoft Forefront.
The university will also focus on ensuring Skype for Business is successfully adopted by staff and students across the university.
Rick Coenen, CIO at Sussan Group, said a top priority for this year will be to continue to transform the retail group’s 25-year old legacy systems. This includes the rollout of new systems at 500 stores across its three brands - Sussan, Sportsgirl, and Suzanne Grae.
These systems include point of sale (POS) application, Aptos (previously Epicor Retail), and E-tivity employee scheduling, time and attendance. The company is also refreshing its POS hardware.
Technology innovations in e-commerce will continue to help drive business growth this year, said Coenen.
“I will continue to lead and drive a ‘digital is the new normal’ culture throughout our group, specifically focusing on customer engagement, customer service and support, order fulfilment and 'click and collect',” he said.
Meanwhile, Coenen expects to wield greater influence across the organisation this year by breaking down complex IT issues, in a language that everyone can understand.
“For me, communication and education in simple and easy to understand ways at the executive and senior management level is key to this. Clearly, a strong track record, respect and credibility are required for people to accept what you are saying,” he said.
Superchoice’s Halls said he would have a greater influence on the business simply by delivering on budget, and proving that investing in technology is a smart move.
2016 will be an exciting year for technology teams operating in the legal sector, said Corrs Chambers Westgarth's CIO, Berys Amor.
"At law firms like Corrs Chambers Westgarth, technology will play a fundamental part in the way legal services are delivered to clients.
"A few years ago, technology teams were more focused on the day-to-day running of the internal IT systems infrastructure, hardware and software, but we are now proactively helping to come up with innovative delivery models for clients as well as working alongside partners, laywers and business development as a one client focused team."
Amor said there was a real opportunity this year to help the firm differentiate its client offerings and to drive change throughout the industry.
"At Corrs, we are focused on developing and championing bespoke technology solutions and cloud-based platforms that will improve efficiency, productivity and ultimately drive growth for our clients," Amor said.
The firm is developing a crisis management app - Crisis Covered - that will make collaboration, knowledge sharing and reporting much easier for all parties, she said.
"At the end of last year, prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull pledged to make Australia a world leader in innovation and as Australian-based independent law firm, we will be doing all we can to lead the charge."
Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnolly