With a market capitalisation of about $3 billion, IOOF Holdings is the quiet giant of the Australian financial services sector. Its CIO, Andrew Todd, is setting the course for an IT group that supports multiple brands that collectively represent the largest independent wealth management provider in the country.
Can you tell us about any projects using external IT providers?
Generally it’s our philosophy to run smaller projects in an incremental, agile manner. This often means breaking down a big project into parts that can be delivered independently. We want to have an ability to pivot on solutions or projects, so we try to ensure deliverables are limited in the commitment for further effort and, or, cost. Naturally, this is quite difficult to do.
A large project we’ve undertaken recently was to essentially upgrade our existing Lync installation with the new Skype for Business solution. Not only is this a Lync replacement, but it is also a replacement for the existing Cisco system used.
Additionally, we are leveraging this effort to replace the Cisco call centre system with Voxtron, a solution that integrates neatly into Skype for Business and meets the needs of the business team operating the contact centres. We’ve selected Nexon, who is performing the role of integrator, implementer, reseller and ultimately the outsourced operator and provider.
What input has the partner had into this project?
They have been involved in demonstrating and increasing our understanding of the solutions, proposing architectures, building the solutions to our requirements, running pilots and working with our procurement team to ensure the solution is commercially effective.
What does a partner need to do to impress you?
A reseller or systems integrator needs to impress the technology team at IOOF to win business. They need to be commercially sensitive and reasonable, they need to have smart people and demonstrate they can retain them. They need to manage relationships effectively and not just the “sale”. They must be open to really understanding our environment and that what we do is different than other businesses. No single business is alike.
When was the last time an IT service provider impressed you?
I would provide the Nexon and Skype for Business example as being impressive. We asked them to perform a lengthy pilot across a large number of users and different business operations. While there are always challenges, they solved the issues quickly, engaged effectively across a broad set of people and ensured we were getting what we needed. All the while they effectively managed the commercials associated with the pilot and our requirements.
What mistakes do IT service providers make?
A key mistake I see is over-commitment. Promising too much, saying that it’s all very easy and that they have done it elsewhere numerous times, and throwing “big names” out there. While that may be the case, they haven’t done it in our business, with our users and our technology environment.
A second mistake is responding to problems with, “We’ve never seen this happen before.” While our business and technology is different, the core is modern and common, and I’d say in almost all cases we hear this, the problem has in fact occurred elsewhere. This very quickly erodes our trust.
May 2009 – present
Chief Information Officer, IOOF Holdings
Dec 2007 – May 2009
Chief Information Officer, Australian Wealth Management
Sep 2004 – Dec 2007
Director, Head of IT, Pacific Business Systems
Aug 2001 – July 2004
Consultant and Technical Architect, Volkswagen Financial Services
1999 – 2001
Management Consultant, PwC