By linking diverse operations through a reliable and robust network, Martyn Croft has begun to create 'a connected army', which is increasingly sharing information and best practice across the workforce.
Name and job title
Martyn Croft, CIO, the Salvation Army UK.
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Given the wide range of services delivered by the organisation, we are deploying cost-effective information technology wherever possible to serve front-line mission.
How as CIO have you driven cultural and behaviour change in your organisation, and to what extent?
Connecting our diverse operations through a reliable and robust network has begun to establish 'a connected army', which is increasingly sharing information and best practice across its workforce.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation's performance
Building on our investment in network services to connect our staff and locations, we have extended our access to corporate information systems through existing virtual desktop infrastructure, enabling us to become essentially device-agnostic in our deployment of end-user IT
Describe how you have used organisational and third-party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
Using 'low-code' application development enabled us to design and deploy a cost-effective system to assess the uptake of practical assistance – eg food parcels provided from our centres.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
I believe that IT is driven by the need for information, and the small but highly skilled team of my strategic information department manages our IT services centrally.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
It's important that 'digital' doesn't simply translate to 'web' and vice versa. The discussion has to encompass all objectives.
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
Inevitably self-service can bring efficiencies, but the personal touch remains important in our relationship with our beneficiaries – eg the homeless.
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?
Old-fashioned newsletters and one-to-one meetings are being overtaken by my use of a global Salvation Army collaboration platform to communicate with peers and colleagues locally and worldwide.
How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
Probably poorly! There's lot's of conversations to be had, but I believe it's important to focus on what's highly relevant.
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?
Demonstrating commitment to the cause, and illustrating innovation often provides insight and inspiration to individual business units.
Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
With difficulty! Colleagues and peer groups are essential, especially those specific to the third sector.
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
Each member of the team is encouraged to develop specific areas of expertise and operate as a collegiate group sharing their skills.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
Meeting regularly, often informally, with senior leaders in the organisation provides the opportunity to influence, inform, and evangelise the use of technology in delivering the mission.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
Involvement in other parts of the business – eg as a director of our trading company – has provided rich opportunity to develop additional skills and insights.
What new technologies are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
Having started my career in statistics and expert systems, machine learning/artificial intelligence and data analytics are a long-held interest and a constant reminder that we are often data-rich but information-poor.
How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
Considering the options becomes part of everyday business, and as a charity it's important to be able to show value for money as well as technological agility. It's a balance.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
It's an important principle that I have always upheld, but it's got to be self-motivated. Doing the research is part of the job.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
As an organisation we're 150 years old. Our suppliers need to be with us for the long run!
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Chromebooks on the network have enabled us to deliver quick, easy, cost-effective access to internal and external web services for our clients and residents (eg homeless). Using this tech my learning technologies team have enabled residents to study practical courses delivered from our in-house online learning platform.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
We continue to work closely with our current data network services supplier, and we are embarking on a refresh of mobile and fixed telephony capabilities with another supplier.
Rate how important your sources of innovative technology suppliers are
- Often use: consultants, CIO peers.
- Occasionally use: industry body, media.
- Of little importance: analyst houses.
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
How is cyber security led and discussed by senior management?
The CISO sits in my team and reports to me and the senior management team.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Secretary for business administration.
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?
What is your budget's operational/development split?
How many 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?
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?