For cloud, Fairfax Media prefers a direct vendor engagement

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This article appeared in the December 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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For cloud, Fairfax Media prefers a direct vendor engagement
Robyn Elliott, Fairfax Media

Few industries have felt the effects of digital disruption to the extent witnessed by the media. Robyn Elliott has seen those changes up close, through 12 years as CIO at Foxtel, and in her current CIO role with Fairfax Media.

As a digitally based company, what role does the cloud play in your IT environment?

The vast majority of our IT services are now in the cloud, and everything new is cloud-based. So we have very little new investment in hardware. Our software is either purchased as a cloud service or developed in cloud.

What role do systems integrators and resellers play now?

We deal directly with companies like Amazon and Google; we wouldn’t put somebody in between. We haven’t had a third-party systems integrator for some time. We have looked a few times, but we just haven’t been able to see the value. The challenge for the third parties is that the speed of change in somewhere like AWS or Google is so great that I don’t know how they would stay relevant. AWS in particular keeps up with what we are using on their platform, and can give relevant advice.

When was the last time an IT service provider impressed you?

Our business exists in an environment of rapid change, and our best partners are able to be flexible when our needs change. Optus is a great partner who has proven they understand the two-way nature of partnership and our need for flexibility. They have worked with us to find solutions when business needs change. Optus has contributed to our business in ways beyond the technology relationship, such as partnering with the Australian Financial Review on the “True Leaders: GameChanger” content series.

What would a technology supplier have to do to impress you and win your business?

I am always impressed when a company looks to form a two-way partnership with us. The best of our partners find ways to contribute to our business success beyond just supplying technology. I spend more time with the companies who are commercial partners in our wider business, such as sponsors or advertisers, or those that support our social missions such as the Tech Girls Movement.

You’ve been a strong advocate for diversity. How do you ensure it is delivered?

The most basic element is to make sure that people who do the same job are paid equally, regardless of background or gender or other diversity elements. But then it is really making sure that performance reviews and promotions in recruitment have women treated equally. 

It is an ongoing challenge – there are not enough women in the mix in technology roles.

I do expect our partners to have similar ideas, and I do speak to them if I see an obvious problem in their conferences or the mix of teams they put forward. It is a challenge, but I expect them all to be working on it.   

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