SGN Director of IT Andrew Quail has sponsored Agile and lean delivery practices in a traditional "old school" heavy industry to break down the silos at the company previously known as Scotia Gas Networks, and is trying to move the organisation towards a new sourcing strategy and embrace digital enablers and drive SGN's digital transformation.
Name and job title
Andrew Quail, Director of IT, SGN
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
I am driving and facilitating the shift from an engineering and operational focus to a customer centric organisation that embraces Innovation our cloud amd mobility strategy and services are at the heart of enables this.
How as CIO have you affected cultural change and / or behaviour in your organisation and to what extent?
My sponsorship of lean and agile delivery practices within what was a very traditoinal, old school, heavy industry is forcing not only the IT department to collobarate and prioritise differently but is breaking down the silos between departments, forcing collaboration and stronger team work. With the themes of customer experience and innovation at the heart of many initiatives our historical approach of "why change things that aren't broken" is rapidly disapearing.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s company performance
I have defined the organisations digital strategy in conjunction with our wider Executive team. This has set out a short, medium and long term roadmap to driving technolgy innovation and significantly improved customer and employee experience. the specfic business outcomes that have been delivered as a result of this are; SGN is currently recognised by Ofgem as no 1 in customer service when it comes to dealig with emergency gas escapes. We have also won numerous Innovation awards and innovation competitions specifically around the use of robotics and smart networks. The adoption of these techneques into the organisation would not be possible without our digital transformation in particular our migration programme to public cloud.
Describe how you have used organisational and third party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
Our IT and Digital strategy could not have been defined nor delivered without partnership and insight from third parties, other organisations as well as other departments within SGN. We have relied heavily on organisations such as AWS, Microsoft, Delloitte, Kony and Hivemind to help us understand the art of the possible. We have encompassed their knowledge and experience and used numerous references and visits to other organisation to challenge current ways of working and culture. specific examples include; running an executive digital innovation day at Deloitte Digital Studio to educate on future trends such as AI, Robotics, IOT, and agree stratgeic areas for adoption and investment. CEO, CFO and wider Exec peer to peer connections in order to learn from the cultural chanage that Microsoft has gone through and applying some of this insight to SGN specifically through the use of productivity and collaboration tools and behavioral change. The numerous mobile products delivered to our field force in partnership with third parties such as AMT, Kony and IBM is transforming how our engineers work and is leading the way within our sector. This in turn results in quicker jobs, less disruption to customers and employees and ultimately improved custromer satisfaction and lower costs.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
I have transformed the department from a traditional design / build team and run to one that has shifted the entire emphasis of the team to business relationship and technology innovation delivered in a lower cost, faster, collaborative and incremental manner. This aligns directly to the shift across our very traditional, industrial organisation to place far more emphasis on customer intimacy and innovation (whilst continuing to deliver our regulated "core" outcomes). I have also put in place specific teams and I am working with niche suppliers on low cost, "start-up" solutions to facilitate new commercial opportunities facilitating revenue growth in our non-regulated business. This directly aligns to our overall company strategy of growing out unregulated business as regulated workload decreases.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
I am the Executive owner of the companies Digital Startgey. The wider IT department has facilitated the definition and delivery of our digital startegy by working differently and much more closely with our wider organisation. I initiated and delivered the company's digital strategy.
Describe how you use and promote technology to redesign the processes, services and organisational structures of your organisation to enable it to become more efficient and customer-focused
Like many organisations, the mega trends or nexus of forces are helping us to devolve IT to business owners thus providing faster, better, lower costs services. This can facilitate ideas and new services originating from outside of IT which engenders much more ownership and adoption. Our main emphasis at SGN has been our migration to cloud and the major emphasis in delivering best in class mobile services to our field force which makes up 2/3 of our workforce. The delivery of these new services has reduced opertiong costs by several million pounds and contributed to major improvements in employee and customer satisfaction. Typically we have used piloting and showcases as a means to have a "pull" approach to technology adoption rather than a "push" from IT. Our next wave of collaboration and productivity tools will continue to radically change how our field engineers work, communicate, learn and undertake thier jobs on a day to day basis. We have promoted these solution at every level of the porganisation from CEO down. We have used a number of customer and supplier away days to help employees understand the art of the possible and think about adoption within their specific roles. Better mobile solutions are resulting in improved data and information, reduced travel time and job duration and ultimately reduced operational costs. We are slowly changing the culture of our field force for a pure "industrial" field worker to an "infomation worker" who collaborates easily with other workers up and down the country.
How do you engage regularly with your organisation (e.g. via a blog/seminars/newsletter etc.) about your team and the role of technology in the organisation and what impact is this having?
I blog, use social tools such as yammer. I put a lot of emphasis on direct face to face communication through "let's chat" sessions which I do both with the IT department and across the wider organisation at least once a month. I will have informal and unplanned "drop-ins" to other offices with the sole purpose of hearing from colleagues as well as keeping them informed of whats happening. I run a formal, quarterly "town hall" meeting with the IT department to update on business performance and strategic updates. I will periodically write pieces for our company magazine or intranet when I want to deliver specific messages or updates. The adoption of agile stand ups has also helped my wider team engage with other colleagues to foster communication between IT and the wider business. i periodically join some of these sessions.
How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
I get great insight and share this through channels such as LinkedIn (I even get and share some CIO articles this way!). I use Gartner both for digital networking with other CIOs but more importantly for face to face interaction and learning from other CIOs and analysts around the world. I develop and maintain a number of other networks through suppliers such as IBM, Clicksoftware and Microsoft which also facilitates learning and leading practice around the specific products, services used inside and ouside of SGN.
How do you bring the organisation together to explore and discuss technology and its challenges and to develop stronger alignment of the technology function with the full business?
I have run several digital days and innovation days with our Executive team to a) help inform of the art of the possible and b) to gain a common view of the areas to place focus and investment in order to meet business outcomes. Beyond our Executive team, our main way of bringing cross functional teams together is through outcome based agile work-streams. This forces a common view of business demand, technology opportunity, priority and status. we also have more formalised, monthly business review meetings with architecture, business solutions and our various business owners but our daily interaction through agile and lean delivery techniques are far more productive and successful in aligning IT and the wider business.
Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management e.g horizon scanning, technology strategy workshops, involvement in industry events and bodies
My Gartner CIO Exp service is a very good way of getting impartial yet specific advice on short, medium and long-term strategy. It also offers an excellent social networking opportunity with other CIOs. In addition to journals and magazines such as CIO, I also lean heavily on third party suppliers and partners to provide industry and technology insight. Our recent Deloitte Digital Innovation day with our CEO and Executive team was a very good example of this. I participate on a select number of "user groups" with suppliers or platforms hat are seen as being strategic such as our Clicksoftware work scheduling tool.
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
Since taking up my role two female senior managers have joined my leadership team (previously there were none). I have encouraged and supported them and the wider team in the recruitment of of a more diverse workforce, to the extent we are almost 50/50 male to female ratio within our IT team. I have worked with a recruiter of university graduates, FDM, to bring in younger "Millennials" who are naturally challenging traditional working and technology practices. I have brought in coaching experts in Lean and Agile techniques to develop a stronger cross-functional and self managed working environment. I have just secured Executive agreement to move and co-locate the entire IT department away from our part parent company (SSE) and base it closer to one of our customer and operational service centres. Thus, aligning with the broader business driver for better customer intimacy and promoting our recently relaunched company brand, values and culture. Since taking up my role, I have seen employee engagement scores increase year on year.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
Key to this has been having a very strong and close working relationship with our CEO, whom I report to, and our CFO. I have moved the relationship over the last 2 years from a trusted support provider and cost base to someone who is an advisor and can identify and facilitate additional revenue and / or cost reduction. The change in this type of relationsip with the CEO and CFO and the wider Executive team is probably the biggest single factor in me influencing the organisation and having a mandate for change. I also do this by running various stratagey days and product/service roadmap days with our Executive team, business owners and their teams. This is of course a two way process. A recent example was the presntation to our Exec of our mobile startgy and how this was inextricably linked with the development and delivery of new working practices (lean and agile) and the need for these solutions to have dedicated product owners and busines sponsors working side by side with IT. This example, was socialised and worked up at the grass roots and shared with our Board for buy in and approval. I also worked directly with our Director of Customer Service in the creation of the companies Customer Experiance strategy and presented this to our CEO. I actually initiated and funded this work on the basis that I needed to help him help me in defining what our company was going to invest in over the next 2 to 3 years and gain funding approval for this. So although not my direct responsibility, I initiated, facilitated and collaborated with te other Director in the development of his strategy. This had a large reliance on IT and Digital capability.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills, perhaps through mentoring, training or external activities
As mentioned, I am a member of Gartners CIO Exp programme which enables me to learn for a variety of leading analysts, researchers and advisors both on technology, management and leadership topics. I have also been part of Deloittes, "future CIO" development programme which included a number of mentoring sessions with leading UK CIOs. I am a member of both the Institute of Directors and the British Computer Society. This year I have also attended training days looking at management behaviour and working styles and I took part in a training session on unconscious bias. I have a formal, defined personal development plan which I have agreed and periodically review with our company's CEO.
Are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with: Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence; Data Analytics; NoSQL; wearable technology; Enterprise Apps; Internet of Things; Automation and Robotics; 3D Printing; the Sharing Economy; Anything else?
Our Innovation team has won numerous awards for its work using in-pipe robotics (video is available on our company website). They have also recently won a multi-million pound project to trial wider use of sensor technology and IoT to deliver "smart gas networks". We have initiated a trial "business modelling" project which is delivering prescriptive analytics using big data but the first phase of this finished this year with extremely positive outcomes. last year we put in place the first of our Devops toolsets and services and the migration programme to public cloud (AWS) will also be used as the facilitator to implement devops work widely as well as orchestraiion of services. We implemented test automation on our ERP service last year and will be rolling this out more widely in 2016/17.
How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach – e.g. from consuming services from the cloud or on-premise products through to spinning up in-house development teams for bespoke work?
We have a clearly defined technology startegy and a vendor strtagy which heavily informs and drives these decisions however these strategies are far more itterative than before and are not set in stone as we learn about new products, services, technology and suppliers. We have a very clear strategyand investment programme around moving out of our current data centre to public cloud and will assess SaaS offerings and their maturity on a case by case basis. We historically have had all development work outsourced to a third party butare bringing back in house services that are closely aligned to the outcomes associated to our mobile and customer service roadmap.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
As of last year, I have a rule of listening to a least one new pitch each month. This will come from ether our internal architecture team or an external supplier. Our architecture team spend approximately 20% of their time investigation future technical roadmaps which by default involves scanning the markets and assessing other vendors.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
In a word "Changing"! Last year we moved form a state of long-term established suppliers (IBM, Oracle, SAP etc) and universal, all you can eat, licence agreements to a three-tier vendor stratgey, emerging digital enablers, established but not stratgeic and declining. Most of our long-term partnerships now sit in the last two camps with us now working much more with diffierent organisations to enable our digital transformation. We have also moved form big "mega deals" with the traditional suppliers to much more low-cost , minimal commitment, pay as you consume, commercial offerings. Portbility and flexibilty are at the heart of our sourcing strategy now where-as 2 years ago, stability and reliability were king.
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Many have been referred to previously but in summary; cloud based mobile app services for customers and field force which have enabled significantly reduced operational costs and improved customer experience (this is not innovative per se but how we have applied this within a gas Netwok environemnt is), prescriictive analytics which is providing fact based recommendations on longer term and strategic business workloads, resourcing and organisation, we have supported the delivery of oppertaional technology innovation, in particular around advanced sensor technology in the network for pressure monitoring, leading to improved safety and reduction in gas escape / explosion and we have also supported the implementation of our award winning in-pipe robotics.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
Our main technology strategic deals this year have been the agreement to move the majority of services to AWS, thus driving our agility, flexibility and cost efficency drivers. Our agreement with Microsoft to migrate to O365 this year, will further push our productivity and collaboration agenda. We have made two strategic deals with niche providers around our mobility strategy, specifically Kony and AMT which will see us moving away from a large sale inflexible SAP mobile service and towards a much more portable, flexible and faster mobile service. There have been a number of deals with smaller niche service provider such as Okta and Content and Code which in isolation are not startegic but jointly are behind our digital transformation roadmap and the move away from traditional suppliers to digital enablers as per our vendor startegy.
How do you rate the following as sources of innovative technology suppliers:
Analyst Houses - Always referred to
Consultants - Often use
CIO Peers - Often use
Industry Body - Occasionally use
Media - Occasionally use
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
How is cyber-security led and discussed by senior management?
We have strong sponsorship from our CEO and an ongoing Security programme. I employed a CISO 2 years ago (there was no in-house security capability when I took up position). I am the Executive owner of Information security risk and s such I report formally to our shareholdres, our CEO and our Executive Board as a minimum, each month on security operations and our wider programme. Our CISO provides a more detailed security update to the leadership team and I have initiated a communications programme around our security team including a site on our intranet and I have employed a Security Analyst whose sole role is to communicate, train, enagage and recieve feedback from our wider business on information security issues including senior management. As part of the UK's critical national infrastructure, we are regularly updated by the Government's security services and this helps to keep information security high on our CEO, Board and senior management teams agenda.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What is the annual IT budget?
How much of your IT budget is capital and how much revenue?
£10m capital £26m revenue
What proportion of your budget is spent on:
IT operational spend ("keeping the lights on") - £20m
New developments (innovation) - £16m (including business driven IT projects)
What number of users does your department supply services to?
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?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
How many employees are there in your IT team?
89 internal employees
Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
circa 2 - 1 in-house and outsource including all support providers and offshore services