A 2% hike in employee engagement, a 10% rise in staff confirming they have the right tools to do their jobs, a 35% increase in the reach of corporate messages, and substantial growth in the number of customers using this housing provider's online services add up to an IT director in full control of his department, his technology and his vision. David Redpath has also completed phase 1 of an ERP implementation on time and to budget, and the benefits case is currently ahead of schedule.

Name and job title
David Redpath, information services director, Home Group.

How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Working as part of the change senior leadership team, reviewing and collaborating on all change proposals. Being part of the organisation's values steering group – the senior group responsible for developing the culture and embedding the organisational values.

How as CIO have you driven cultural and behaviour change in your organization, and to what extent?
Technological change has been closely integrated with people change and both have been shaped and delivered to support the organisation's culture. Home Group has four values which underpin how we work and the decisions we make: accountable, caring, commercial and energised, which the business has had in place since April 2012.

As part of project Switch, Home Group's project to update and replace all technology, internal people change specialists were engaged as part of the project board from the outset to ensure colleagues and culture were at the heart of decisions and plans. Colleagues were engaged in decisions in how technology could support greater role effectiveness. Mini pilots gave colleagues the opportunity to try out technology options and share these, which achieved valuable feedback and great buy-in.

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation's performance
Delivered 2% increase in employee engagement, 10% increase in colleagues indicating they have the "right tools" to do their jobs, 35% increase on the reach of corporate messages and a substantial (yet to be quantified) increase in the number of customers using online services such as our app and website.

Delivery of phase 1 of ERP has been completed on time and to budget, the benefits case is currently ahead of schedule and has been managed in such a way as to avoid any compulsory redundancies. The introduction of ERP has allowed the organisation to respond positively to the challenges posed by the 1% rent reduction introduced this year.

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 organisation has recently introduced a new knowledge tool to support the work our customer services team do in the contact centre. The purpose of the tool is to capture and display standard questions and answers that our customer service advisers can use to ascertain quickly and accurately the problem a customer has contacted us about.

The tool has a feedback capacity that allows us to capture when a problem cannot be determined by the question set, and a report is produced weekly detailing these customer journeys so that they can be improved. In addition, we then track these cases through to resolution through our third-party maintenance contractors to gain their feedback on the quality of the work diagnosis to improve further our ability to serve the customer quickly and accurately.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
Service management and change. The service management team is focused around the ITIL process model and concentrates on running the day-to-day business; within this, we do have small-scale change (bimodal approach) where we can deliver proactive/agile solutions that improve but don't radically change the business.

Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
I have led the introduction of digital thinking to the executive team. The new strategy has taken on board the ideas I have introduced around online services (digital first). I have led the team's exploration of internet of things, and how we could use sensors, wearables, etc to transform our care and support services.

Describe how you use and promote technology to redesign the processes, services and structures of your organisation to enable it to become more efficient and customer-focused
Our application portfolio affords us a unique proposition to support our business in the design and implementation of processes, services and organisational structures due to its bi-modal nature. On the one hand, we have implemented a tier 1 ERP platform to help our business adopt more standardised, repeatable processes for those business transactions which are run 24x7x365 and need to be robust and the identical, no matter who is triggering them or where from.

To complement this, though, we have introduced new platforms for both our digital presence and our in-house collaboration platforms. They allow for a more agile approach to serve the more bespoke, value-add processes and services our business requires, meaning we can move quicker and more reactively to the factors which affect our business and its customers.

How do you engage regularly with your organisation about your team and the role of technology in the organisation, and what impact is this having?
Although I do the normal communication through intranet articles, bi-monthly e-zines, etc, the big change this year has been the introduction of animations to tell the story of where the organisation is changing on the back of technology.

One example of this was when I designed an animation around the roles within the business, and showed a "day in the life" of a customer services partner (and others) now and what it will look like post-implementation of Oracle. The feedback from the business on this was amazing. It helped bring to life for them what technology would enable. The best bit about it was that it did not mention ERP/Oracle once, but just concentrated on what the implementation would enable, and how it would help to remove the frustrations of everyday life within Home Group.

The outcome of this has been a massive adoption of the new ways of working as we release elements of the new technology, the feedback being that the communications helped to shed light on what we were doing and why, and thus removed any suspicion that can lead to resistance. This is something that we are repeating, together with the standard intranet articles and old-fashioned roadshows across the country.

The most valuable approach is when members of my team go out and shadow roles within the business. This offers the opportunity to bring to life what the real issues of the day are and helps both sides understand what could be done to improve our services to the customer.

How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
I am active on a number of Linked In groups and use this as the focus on my interactions. I use Twitter to follow more Home Group-related topics. Given the nature of the industry (political aspect), I find following thought-leaders and industry insiders very useful when trying to predict the challenges that the organisation may face and proactively look to help.

One example of this would be the right to buy. Through my Twitter connections I was able to get a firm understanding about what the implication of right to buy would be on our organisation and brief the IT team. By the time the business came to discuss this with us we already had ideas for solutions for how we would interact with customers who would qualify and be interested in the scheme.

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?
We do a mixture of formal and informal. The formal approach is the group-wide business and IT steering group; this consists of key directors and heads of service who meet each month to review performance and discuss opportunities for improvement and change (both sides bring ideas).

Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
In terms of keeping up to date with trend, etc, I try and ensure I keep this varied. I attend a number of IT and research events and also make sure I and the team attend housing/social care events to understand the industry. I have led the creation of focused collaboration groups within the larger housing associations to share approaches/techniques in areas such as ERP and the internet of things.

Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
I have undertaken work with our internal recruitment team and specialist providers to attract talent from broad areas, including hard-to-reach groups. This has included specialist recruitment days that have targeted specific groups, ranging from former armed forces personnel to customer and client groups.

As part of our social purpose we are committed to giving opportunities to our customer and client, particularly those from a more disadvantaged background. 2015 saw three apprentices being employed in IT from our customer base in the north-east. The result of this is not only an opportunity for someone who in normal circumstances may not have been considered, but also and more importantly helps the rest of the IT team understand the customer's perspective, I ensure that we consult with the apprentices on a wide range of points to get the understanding directly from them; after all, they are customers and are best placed to give us an insight.

Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
Looking to create a more agile and collaborative leadership community in 2015, I instigated an overhaul of how the leadership teams work together. This included introduction of a change senior leadership team (primary focus to steer effective change and make resourcing decisions), an operational senior leadership team (forum to review and challenge operational effectiveness and realign resource as needed) and a group senior leadership team (macro view to ensure all types of activity align with and deliver the Home Group strategy). Part of the driver for my creation of this model was to ensure effective time management, clustering meetings at key points of the month. This model has been incredibly successful and the clarity of boundaries has led to improved working relationships between directors and greater collaboration.

Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
I have recently completed the high-performance leadership programme at Cranfield University. After reviewing a number of traditional leadership programmes I opted for Cranfield as I did not feel the traditional approach would deliver what I was looking for. The programme focus is more on the psychology leadership rather than the traditional techniques of leadership, I wanted to be pushed outside my comfort zone into areas that would really make a difference to my approach.

The programme has helped me to understand my leadership path, which is not the same as anyone else's, and has given me a renewed confidence in my ability as well as clarity about my purpose. It has reaffirmed my understanding of the responsibilities of a leader and has given me a range of tools from spiritual, physical, emotional and symbolical worlds that I would never have considered previously. These have helped me understand behaviours and in particular have helped me understand that I don't need to "control" all aspects, allowing me to "manage upwards" more effectively.

What new technologies are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
I am leading a working party on the internet of things. As a provider of housing we see massive potential for items such as smart appliances that could help in the reduction of breakdowns and so increase customer satisfaction. We are also investigating the adoption of sensors throughout homes for a range of uses, such as the provision of energy efficiency, stock condition information and potentially self-repair.

Our care and support services will also benefit from technologies such as wearables and sensors in our assisted living spaces. This is a massive area of growth for us given the pressure on health services and budgets. In particular we are exploring how the adoption of these technologies could reduce time spent in hospitals and help the NHS to maximise its budget.

How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
In 2014 I set out the IT strategy. This strategy provides a clear framework for the adoption of the best technological approach. From an application viewpoint we aim to deliver over 90% of our requirements through Oracle, with SharePoint (and Nintex workflow) used as a wraparound and catch for anything that can't be delivered quickly through Oracle.

In addition to this we have small agile solutions, which are generally cloud-based, serve specific purposes and have a small number of uses. These solutions are generally short term or for very specific requirements, but they must be able to integrate into our BI tools to avoid any duplication of information and to adhere to our principle of COUNT (capture once, use numerous times).

The strategy spells out a number of principles such as these, which used when deciding on the best approach. Our cloud adoption is slower than we would like as we have a number of Ministry of Justice contracts that dictate premise solutions. This means we have to consider these in any provision. Anything that does not touch these contracts follows a cloud-first principle, and we are on a "slow move" to cloud.

Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
We assign a team each week whose members update/share on areas of interest. A recent example was after we rolled out Microsoft Surface Pros to the workforce. One of the BRMs spent his downtime researching the features and benefits of OneNote, and how the tablet and Windows phone could be fully utilised. We then used our monthly lunch-and-learn sessions to distill this learning to anyone in the team who was interested. It involved everyone coming, armed with their tablets over the course of two lunchtimes, to have a hands-on learning experience about the new technology. This was so well received that the senior leadership and executive team have asked to have similar sessions in the coming weeks.

Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
We have a mixed sourcing strategy. We source our differentiating processes on a value-adding basis and our commodity processes on a least-cost basis. We currently retain an in-house team for services desk, design, and transition and application support. We have managed outsourced arrangements for patching, backups and network monitoring.

We have split all suppliers into three categories: strategic, tactical and commodity. We have five strategic suppliers covering:

  • Core application provider, including BI
  • SharePoint
  • Communications
  • Infrastructure, including managed service and hosting
  • Personnel

Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the past year and what they have enabled
The biggest-impact innovation we have introduced over the course of the past year has been the introduction of mobile case management for our care and support business. This is transforming the way people work and the way our clients are supported. We delivered an offline Oracle solution on Microsoft Surface Pro devices for over 1,000 users, moving from paper-based records completed after the client has left (and kept in offices) to real-time entry, done with the client and including an electronic signature, and centralised record keeping.

This has moved more of our support workers away from offices and into the field. It has delivered significant improvements in business intelligence and information provided to commissioners, and enabled cost reduction in excess of £2m a year to be realised on an ongoing basis.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
In the past 18 months we have struck two main technology deals. The first, with Oracle and Fujitsu for the deliver of Oracle e-business and CRM, will cover over 90% of our application requirements, help to streamline our interactions with customers, clients and partners, and help to drive our services online and towards a digital future. The ERP programme is on track to deliver on time and to budget, and is currently ahead of schedule on the delivery of the financial benefits, estimated at the end of the programme to be £10m a year. Together with the deal agreed with Microsoft's partner network for the delivery for Lumia phone and Surface Pros, the implementation of Oracle is driving the increased mobility and agility of the workforce.

We have recently completed our Project Switch, which delivered over 6,000 pieces of equipment to 4,000 workers and has set the basis for the introduction of mobile/offline case management, which allows more face-to-face time with customers and clients.

Rate how important your sources of innovative technology suppliers are

  • Always referred to: CIO peers, industry body, media.
  • Often use: analyst houses, consultants.

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
No.

How is cyber security led and discussed by senior management?
I take the role of chief information security officer and lead the information security group (we are IS0 27001-certified across the organisation), but day-to-day management of this is delegated to the head of information management, who has responsibility for MI, BI, data management and information security. The information security group meets once per month and is made up of senior directors across the organisation; it feeds up to the executive the security situation on a risk basis, with any high or critical risks flagged for approval of the mitigation plans.

When did you start your current role?
June 2012.

What is your reporting line?
CEO.

Are you a member of the board of directors?
No.

What is the annual IT budget?
£40m.

How much of your IT budget is capital and how much revenue?
£12m revenue and £28m capital.

What is your budget's operational/development split?
20%/80% (including capital spend).

How many users does your department supply services to?
4,000.

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

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

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
Yes.

How many employees are there in your IT team?
130.

Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
No.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
80/20.