Radius’s diversification from fuel cards into the adjacent markets of telematics, vehicle hire and corporate charge cards has put technology and innovation at the heart of everything it now does, both in how products are developed and delivered to customers. Dave Roberts’ implementation of a five-week development lifecycle has enabled constant evolution and improvement of the products and services.
Radius Payment Solutions
How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Since joining Radius in 2014, the business has transitioned from a Fuel Card company to a Technology Driven organisation with diversification into the adjacent markets of Telematics, Vehicle Hire and Corporate Charge cards. Technology and innovation are now at the heart of everything Radius is doing, both in how products are developed and then how they are delivered to our customers. The implementation of a five-week development lifecycle has enabled constant evolution and improvement of the products and services. The IT Development team make use of the latest applications to develop unique features for web, tablet and smartphones. These are designed to be both intuitive and fast, which is how Radius has differentiated against competition. Customer feedback drives the direction of the continual product development.
Velocity is the group’s Web portal for interacting with its customers. Continuously developing both the content and usability of this system is critical to the future of Radius and is a key focus of both senior management time and financial investment. There are over 30,000 regular users of Velocity, with the numbers increasing monthly as new functionality is introduced.
The Technology team has been developing industry-leading features over the last 12 months, which includes; real-time SMS transactional text alerts, an integrated fuel and MasterCard reporting suite, online invoice collection and a unique fraud detection system that overlays vehicle and fuel card data.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
The IT Department has increased from 42 staff in August 2014 to a team of 105 IT professionals in December 2016, with a significant proportion of growth over the last 12 months. This expansion has enabled the implementation of best practices, selective sourcing of systems and providing the capability to develop world-leading software solutions. An example of a measureable benefit to the organisation was the launch of Kinesis Telematics in March 2015. In the first year of trading sales reached 10,000 units and continues to rapidly expand with 45,000 units at the end of December 2016. This significant growth makes Radius one of the world’s fastest growing Telematics businesses with increased capital value to the organisation.
The IT Security, Risk and Compliance team have been responsible for the reduction in viruses, malware, phishing and whaling attacks with the introduction of Mimecast, Malwarebytes, McAfee Endpoint Protection and RandomStorm. The security risks have been significantly mitigated, together with an IT Security education and awareness programme for all staff across the business.
There have been process and governance improvements in the way that projects are executed at Radius. The contribution of IT to the organisation has been re-enforced with a number of quantifiable benefits. All IT projects are documented via a mandate and prioritised based on their Return on Investment (ROI) calculation. The ROI calculations are helping to demonstrate how significant the cost savings and efficiencies are within the business.
What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
The IT Department was re-structured in May 2016 to provide room for innovation with a dedicated team focused on product innovation and development. An excellent example of Radius’ Innovation and Technology Leadership has been the development and product launch of Kinesis Telematics. Kinesis is a service that provides customers with data about their vehicle and driver performance. The interface has been developed with the key focus of usability whilst giving access to cutting edge telematics technology combined with fuel data and has disrupted the telematics industry.
There is a mixed resourcing strategy of permanent and contract staff to develop the Kinesis product. The platform is innovative in its application of technology in a number of areas including the use of highly scalable architecture, high speed asynchronous networking technologies and ‘NoSQL’ database technology.
To maintain the necessary growth of the Technology team, we opened the Radius Technology Centre in Manchester City Centre. Manchester is now the centre of a growing technology community with a strong university student population. The new city based office is the innovation hub for the company and entirely focused on software development. It has been located to take advantage of the rich seam of talent and keep Radius at the forefront of changes that are occurring within this critical part of the business economy.
Business model innovation during 2016 included the streamlining and parallelisation of the invoicing process and moving to an invoice collection model, thereby encouraging more customers to access services via the customer portal. There was also progression with the introduction of an incremental ETL model, which provides near-real time access to company performance data, enabling more informed decision making via Tableau, the Group’s Business Intelligence platform.
How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
There have been significant cultural and behavioural changes across the IT Department and wider organisational over the last year. The changes have ranged from how the IT department is structured, the diversity within the department, the methodology used to manage and implement projects, the IT Development lifecycle, software testing process, and Security awareness and compliance.
The IT department has had a shift in mind-set from supporting ‘users’ to enabling ‘customers’. IT is now seen as a trusted Business Partner with a focus on customer service excellence and helping to drive product innovation.
Achieving the Cyber Essentials Plus certification in October 2016 was a milestone event and demonstrated the standards being upheld across the business. In a similar manner, the journey towards ISO27001 and EU GDPR compliance has changed the cultural and behavioural attitude across the organisation, requiring best practices to be adopted in all areas of the business.
How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
With the business being driven by Technology development it means that there is a high degree of digital literacy across the Executive team and Board members. I have regular interaction with the CEO and Board regarding IT strategy and innovation. I deliver the CIO quarterly report at all the Board meetings and provide monthly updates to the Executive team detailing progress across the department with IT Development, Projects and IT Security, Risk and Compliance awareness.
How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
A core element of the IT Strategy has been to shift from a CapEx to OpEx model. A ‘Cloud First’ Strategy has been introduced to identify and target the services that lend themselves easily to Cloud Computing and therefore enabling the transition to the OpEx model. The Group’s Cloud strategy has included the adoption of solutions such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Office365, Oracle ERP Cloud Financials, Cisco Meraki Wireless Networking, Cisco Umbrella Threat Protection, and Backup Technology Enterprise Cloud.
Working closely with Amazon Web Services, we have reduced the IT costs with a move towards Reserved Instances. This still enables Radius to have the benefit of scalable and flexible Cloud Computing but with an upfront financial commitment for the service.
We selected Cisco Telephony and Contact Centre as the global telephony solution for the group in 2016. Cisco could offer all the functionality needed from a telephony system that would serve the entire Radius Payment Solutions group across all geographies. The Radius team worked closely with Cisco, Natilik and Pure IP, to architect a solution to provide enhanced functionality for the Call Centre environment and back-office staff.
We have worked closely with Oracle during 2016 as part of the selection of Oracle ERP Cloud Financials, which will provide Radius with financials, procurement, expenses, inventory, billing and pricing modules. The business goal was to migrate to a system platform that would scale with the significant business growth expected in the upcoming years. The partnership with Oracle has developed during this period, as they have become embedded within the Radius business to understand the existing challenges and help provide the solutions that will address the organisational requirements. This has been achieved through onsite workshops and a collaborative approach to the solution development.
How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
Radius Payment Solutions is an equal opportunities employer and the IT Group has a wide scope of diversity including age, gender, religion, race, physical abilities, education and life experience. I am particularly passionate about supporting Women in Technology and we have increased the number of women in the IT department from 2% in 2014 to 17% in 2016. I recognise that this still needs to be greatly improved and we will continue to strive towards improved gender equity in 2017. The IT team encompasses individuals not only from the UK but also across Continental Europe, Africa, South America and Asia. There is a healthy balance of new ideas, technologies, wisdom, knowledge, skills and maturity that make a strong and well-rounded group. The IT department includes individuals with PhD’s and others who are starting out on their education journey achieving technical and academic accreditations through organisations such as Microsoft and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
The IT Department was re-structured into four verticals; Innovations, Core Development, IT Security, Risk & Compliance and IT Operations. The underlying driver for the re-structure was to create room for Innovation with a dedicated team that could focus on introducing new services and creating unique intellectual property for Radius.
The IT Department’s Mission is to be a Business Partner with demonstrable strategic direction for Technology that aligns with the business goals and objectives. The aim is to differentiate Radius in the industry by providing innovative solutions that technologically set us apart from our competitors. The ability to deliver and execute is largely dependent on having the right technology and the right IT resources in place. The Technology team is highly experienced in the design, development and implementation of world-class solutions. The core IT strategy is presented as four pillars of guiding principles:
- Innovation and Technology Leadership – Quick to adopt technologies that allow us to respond rapidly to our business needs. Maintain a clear strategic direction of Technology. Continual Technology Improvement.
- Flexibility and Agility – Establish a flexible, future-proof Architecture. Minimise legacy issues impeding our ability to react to the needs of our business. Consolidate the Technology platforms in order to gain flexibility in resource planning. Enable on-demand solution development.
- Differentiating Solutions – Focus on an industry leading core product suite. Deliver solutions that provide our business with a competitive advantage. Selective sourcing and leverage existing IT solutions where requirements do not align with our core expertise.
- Quality of Service – Establish a quality mind-set, building intuitive solutions. Invest in building world-class infrastructure, leveraging Cloud computing capabilities. Build business and development processes that allow us to exceed customer expectations. Operate with transparency as a trusted Business Partner.
The strategic direction for Technology has been aligned to the overall business goals and objectives of continued hyper growth and expansion. The adoption of a selective sourcing model, backed up by strong governance, has enabled IT to be flexible and scalable to the demands of the business.
What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
There have been three strategic technology deals negotiated during 2016 with Oracle and Cisco. The deals included the introduction of Oracle for ERP Cloud Financials and Oracle Device Appliances with Oracle 12c Enterprise Database licensing. The Cisco deal was to provide a global Telephony and Contact Centre platform. The combined savings of these projects exceeded £4.1 million against list pricing.
Microsoft is a key supply chain partner, providing a group wide Office365 subscription and Enterprise License agreement. From an IT Security perspective, Radius have worked closely with ECSC, PwC, and ContextIS to aid with Cyber Essentials Plus certification, ISO27001 progression, and EU GDPR readiness assessments. The Telematics platform is hosted with Amazon Web Services, which now benefits from significant cost reductions with the recent implementation of Reserved Instances. Interoute is the IT partner for the global wide area network, along with compute resources providing maximum redundancy and service availability within Tier4 managed data centres.
What are your key strategic aims for next year?
The key strategic aims for 2017 include the delivery of Oracle ERP Cloud Financials for the Radius business in Singapore as a production pilot and a global foundation design. The platform will then continue to be implemented across many of our European entities in 2017, replacing the existing Finance, Billing and Pricing System that processes over 40 million transactions per year. The entire programme duration is estimated to be between 18 to 24 months.
Another key strategic project in 2017 is to migrate from Oracle 11g Standard Database edition to Oracle 12c Enterprise Database edition employing a multi-site fault tolerance architecture.
IT Development will continue to be focused on enabling the white labelling of Telematics to the large corporate partners, thereby accelerating our growth in the Telematics market.
From an IT Security perspective, Radius intend to have fully achieved ISO27001 by the end of Q2 2017 and ensure full compliance with EU GDPR by the end of 2017.
The IT Infrastructure and Operations group is focused on a global rollout of a new Cisco Telephony and Contact Centre system, along with connecting all offices to the global wide area network.
How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
Potentially a significant impact of Brexit would be that highly skilled EU workers will no longer be able to freely enter the country and offer their services. Given that there is already an IT Skills shortage across Britain, Brexit is likely to worsen the skills gap already impacting businesses. Radius has IT staff from EU nations, who potentially will need to obtain immigration permission and sponsorship under UK immigration rules to remain in the country. It is important to keep staff informed of the legislation changes and the commitment that Radius will provide them as valued employees.
There has already been an impact on the cost of IT equipment as a direct result of the Brexit outcome and the associated influence on the foreign exchange rates. An allocation for the increased cost has been provisioned in the IT Budget.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Are you a member of the executive leadership?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What other emerging roles does your organisation have and what is their relationship to you?
Digital Director, reporting within the Marketing organisational structure.
How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
The Executive team work very collaboratively and I interact with the CEO daily. More formal interactions are then scheduled as Management reviews and the quarterly Board Meetings.
How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
What is your annual IT budget, or your spend as a proportion of the organisation’s revenue?
What percentage of your budget is operational spend (ie keeping the lights on) and how much new development (ie innovation, R&D, exploratory IT)?
65% Operational - 35% Innovation
Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:
- CIO peers
- Industry bodies
- Analyst houses
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?
Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
IT Security, Risk and Compliance Officer, who reports directly to me.
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 or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- enterprise applications
- devices (mobile)
- devices (desktop)
Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?
- data analytics/business intelligence
- enterprise applications
- machine learning/artificial intelligence
- devices (mobile)
- devices (desktop)
What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?
Does your department include technology staff from the EU?
Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?