At Amnesty International, CIO John Gillespie has spent the past 12 months pivoting the IT focus away from building out and supporting infrastructure and towards driving value from the available tools.
His function's key initiatives here have included the deployment of standardised SharePoint sites, combining project management, document collaboration and reporting to 300 human rights projects; the move has reduced the bi-annual project portfolio analysis from two months to two weeks. He also implemented business intelligence to improve organisation-wide financial decision-making and to surface internal process activity data.
But it hasn't all been about exploiting the existing. The heavily decentralised charity has operations in 50 countries, with each run separately from the others and having its own autonomous IT department. Gillespie rolled out Office 365 to the wider organisation to enable enterprise-wide collaboration and shared systems, allowing many smaller Amnesty entities to benefit from the services and information available to HQ staff. It's a good example of how IT can reduce the cost and friction of a federal organisation by enabling easy communication, planning and collaboration.
Innovation, both business-led and IT-led, is also alive and well under Gillespie. For example, he made a reality of a business idea for a microplatform where the charity's supporters can directly help with research into human rights abuses by analysing documents and satellite images, making sure that the implementation was stable, secure, reliable and sufficiently scalable to support thousands of users. A further example is his implementation of a machine learning algorithm to determine which news stories are a result of press releases issued by Amnesty.