For Trevor Attridge, delivering operational efficiency across projects is the norm, but he has delivered more than just faster and better – the business's relationship with its clients has also improved.
Name and job title
Trevor Attridge, CIO, MEC Global.
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Working directly with account teams to ensure current needs are met and exceeded, delivered by existing thinking. Hackathons to define and realise the future.
How as CIO have you driven cultural and behaviour change in your organisation, and to what extent?
I wear many hats, one of which is purely focused business operational change. Our change initiatives focus on the people and process, using technology to support and accelerate change within our operations. These initiatives range from complete country-wide engagements touching all facets of the business, to others which focus on specific areas deemed important by the business.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation's performance
Delivering operational efficiency across each of these projects is the norm, but we have delivered more than just faster and better. The impact on our relationship with our clients which we measure on an annual basis has improved, and, just as importantly, we have accelerated our businesses to our 'defined future state' through these initiatives.
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 business is all about leveraging data to drive effectiveness and efficiency for clients, provide intelligence and insight to find or create valuable audiences and successful outcomes. We are uniquely positioned to blend and use data from both digital and traditional channels, externally derived and internally created, to help clients achieve significant and lasting improvements in marketing effectiveness and profitability.
In action we work in close partnership with our clients to understand their target or potential audience through qualitative and quantitative research, applying analytics, modelling to define targets. We activate these through the smart use of data across multiple channels (online, mobile, traditional TV, outdoor) to craft and create touchpoints, helping inform and educate customers through the purchase journey with insight and understanding of our biases and motivations. In partnership with our sister agencies, we are even able to measure successful outcomes right to the physical shopping basket!
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
Our operational technology is outsourced to key strategic providers, leaving our retained organisation to focus on driving and creating business value. Where engineering resource exists internally, the focus is on creating an "invisible data infrastructure" giving us the agility required to respond to customers' rapidly changing needs and desires.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
At an agency data an analytics perspective, I sit on our global board.
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
We start with the people and processes, using a combination of formal and informal organisational elements. Once commitment and understanding of change is known, we embark on leveraging existing and creating new technology services to activate and support. Change teams are in place to help support and deliver this into the business and ensure adoption, with a feedback loop to our delivery teams allowing for course correction through the lifetime of the initiative.
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?
Various methods, predominantly through the cascading of messages and progress through our change managers in the business, steering group updates and good old-fashioned newsletters to the entire organisation.
How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
Participation in industry-focused forums and events keeps me both engaged and informed. These are organised and run typically by industry bodies and focus on key issues we are facing now in the future. At a professional level the events organised by CIO magazine provide the platform from which I can be informed and participate in dialogue affecting like-minded professionals.
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?
My approach is both bottom-up through the change workshop I help facilitate and run. This gives a true understanding of what our teams on the ground need to perform their daily roles. At a regional and global level we use forums and steering groups to understand the wider business challenges and direction. It is this combination of top down and bottom up which ensures we are focused on the key strategic priorities, with a solid understanding of these impacts these will have (both positive and negative) in the business.
Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
Our digital and data teams are at the forefront of understanding. The diverse geographical and discipline nature means that, through sharing, I get a great insight to the markets as a whole. Industry publications form an essential part of day-to-day understanding and keeping me abreast of the pulse of technology, Social networking tools such as LinkedIn may be 'noisy' but do provide nuggets of information, particularity through peer recommendations.
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
We provided a data training programme lasting over the course of six months, culminating in hackathons. These events not only complete the ninja training in key analytical and data areas, but focus on the mind through yoga sessions and communication with strength development index workshops.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
Participating, celebrating and recognising success is an important part in helping to drive change. This is a great by-product of the workshops we run across the organisation. It is this tangible end product which really helps people overcome the fear of change and makes the entire strategy far more real and impactful. We also use innovation labs and awards to help drive teams to focus on delivering. It gives us market advantage and change that sticks.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
Mentoring both for me and others in the organisation has proven over the years to be critical, and taking an open-minded approach to areas such as mindfulness has really helped me to maintain balance in life and work. Working in the community helps keep me grounded as to what's really important in life – even when those client demands are coming through thick and fast.
What new technologies re you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
Driving innovation is a critical part of our job for clients. Knowing and being able to leverage all of these technologies is an imperative for us. AI and predictive analytics projects have now been running within the organisation for over two years. Market readiness and applicability to our clients' problems are now the only thing stopping us activating these at scale.
How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
Governance and security play a massive part in what and how services are provisioned, with the focus on privacy continuing to drive this. That aside, speed to market, value and scale will then drive our decision-making process.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
A significant amount of time and investment goes into the upfront process. Forging strategic partnerships at scale with ongoing dialogue is then our focus. Over the course of the year we will evaluate the market. However, this is more to ensure there have been no significant events affecting our strategy. We will at times perform red-team activities to completely challenge our approach.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
Buy utility at scale, build and partner for innovation.
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Data platforms that have delivered significant value to our clients' bottom line, Enabled optimised investment negotiations with our suppliers and given operational efficiency to the teams. Our hackathons have also delivered day-to-day institutional knowledge to the teams, built cohesive innovation groups which span regions, and provided the platform to activate technology change for our clients' advantage.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
High-performance analytics with HP Vertica are embedded within our stack, giving us capability to activate insights against data at speed.
Rank in order of importance your sources for innovative technology suppliers
1 Consultants. 2 Media. 3 Analyst houses.
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Is cyber security led and discussed by senior management?
When did you start your current role?
Four years ago.
What is your reporting line?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
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?
Being developed for 2016/17.
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?