In an organisation that is as much a church as it is a charity, Martyn Croft is a 'technical evangelist'. He provides users with the means to get online and fully engage in an increasingly digitally focused society.

When did you start your current role?

What is your reporting line?
To the secretary for business administration, who sits on the board.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?

Are you a member of the board of directors?

What other executive boards do you sit on?
The Salvation Army Trading Company.

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No. Digital media is much more focused on our public outreach and our presence as a church and charity.

How many employees does your organisation have?

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?

How many users does your department supply services to?

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Because of the diverse nature of our operations both geographically and in the business sense, the importance of maintaining and engaging personally with individuals throughout the organisation is paramount in ensuring that we can apply the innovation and efficiency of information technologies to the work of the movement.

Salvation Army technology strategy and agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
Promoting the use of Chromebooks to increase outreach to our service users, clients and community as an easy-to-use, cost-effective way to start to address issues of digital exclusion/inclusion.

What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
The past two years has seen us invest in a wide area network to connect all locations where the organisation works. This includes our corps (churches), homelessness centres (lifehouses), and officers' quarters as well as our administrative centres. This is putting digital services at the heart of our community work and increasing access, skills and confidence for our beneficiaries living in a society increasingly focused on digital services.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Giving people easy and safe access to technology and the internet has become ever more important as government attempts to encourage people to engage digitally rather than using paper or face-to-face meetings. By providing people with the means to get online we can enable them to fully engage in society and feel comfortable using these services with a trusted organisation in a friendly and supportive environment. As a church and a charity we aim to remain at the heart of our communities, even in a digital world.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
It's been important to evangelise what is possible, and to look to the opportunities that can be created by the application of appropriate technology. Working in an organisation that is a church as well as a charity I see my role very much as being the nearest thing to a 'technical evangelist'.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
Network connectivity, bandwidth and cost-effective, easy-to-use devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and thin-client endpoints delivering virtual desktops and applications.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
Like many organisations we're probably data-rich and information-poor. Our short-term goals are to illustrate the power and ubiquity of information for transforming our mission. Insight and knowledge will become key to our operations.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Mobile assists us to communicate with our distributed workforce in a way that is increasingly effective. We are adopting an enterprise social network (IBM Connections) across the whole organisation and I expect that to change the way we interact with each other in conducting our business.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
We actively encourage BYOD, which can be an attractive proposition for many charities, and have re-engineered our network to obviate many of the security challenges. A consequence of this stance is that it becomes easier to accommodate what could be termed shadow IT by demonstrating the facility with which solutions can be accommodated. The IT department can become faster in responding by embracing the solutions within its gift to deliver.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
Selecting a partner (Redcentric) to deliver our wide area network was key for that project, and our gradual adoption of VDI (with a small number of companies) has helped us build resilience and facility to accommodate BYOD and other means of easily accessing our corporate systems.

Salvation Army IT security and budget

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?

What is the IT budget?

How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Ensuring that our staff and operational centres are well equipped with the knowledge and ability to use technology to further the mission of the organisation.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?

Salvation Army technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Transformational and technical.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I encourage all my staff to learn, share and explore the technologies that we currently use or may be able to use to support the work of the organisation.

How many employees are in your IT team?

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?