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The Australian Economy entered 2021 with great optimism following the Government’s plan to accelerate a nationwide fast recovery.
With 89,000 new jobs created in February 2021 along with unemployment rates down to 5.8 percent, the businesses backed by the Federal Budget 2020 are proving they were worth the bet.
For NSW Business Chamber (NSWBC), the not-for-profit membership organisation and advocacy group for business owners and employers, there has never been a more important time to shine as the business sector is called upon to do the heavy lifting in the economy.
Conrad Mackenzie, Chief Digital Officer for NSWBC describes its mission as “nation building” as it outlays its objectives to build a role in the Australian community through strong advocacy and an association with high value services.
For the not-for-profit, its membership is always under threat thanks to information platforms like Google and niche providers of business services.
“In the age of the internet, many people ask: why do you need a member organisation to help you?” says Mackenzie.
The answer to this question is something NSWBC has been working on for the last three years, undergoing significant transformation to make sure it is able to improve existing services and increase value to its community.
Mackenzie says: We reinvented our membership model so it is now free to join and we launched our new ‘Business Australia’ offering. “The more members we have, the more meaningful our advocacy in government.
“The integrated technology ecosystem we have created ensures members can engage and share information with us and we can do the same with them.
Mackenzie and his technology team combined Adobe Experience Cloud with a new Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, event management and data lake platforms all integrated via Microsoft Azure. This gives NSWBC a holistic view of its members as they log in online or engage in other ways.
Since going live in 2020, NSWBC has increased its business membership by 40,000 – a growth few membership-based organisations could claim.
As Mackenzie describes, investing heavily in technology by commissioning market leading platforms in his mind, is a common theme in all successful companies.
“Capability to grow as the future unfolds is vital. It is challenging to make those bets, but it forces you to mentally retool your enterprise so that it can create new ideas,” he said.
“You’ve got to give people the freedom to experiment and turn those ideas into services.
“We need to get used to failing and trying new ideas. To do this you are going to need flexible platforms and the data to tell you whether that approach is working or not.”
To support its new strategy and target operating model, NSWBC needed to completely refresh all its technology components. That involved retiring old, fragmented systems that were supporting over 50 offices across the nation, outsourcing all its infrastructure and replacing its core application platforms, including its CRM.
Mackenzie says the Dynamics 365 platform was chosen based on the organisation’s desire to “grow into it” and for its ability to integrate into a complex ecosystem of platforms to drive more personalisation, reporting, and services.
“The CRM is at the heart of the operating business and will be fundamental in supporting future member services and delivering a new capability – which is multi-tenancy,” he added.
“This allows us to assist other State Chambers where appropriate and ensure the national Chamber network is as strong as possible.”
NSWBC worked with IT service provider and consultants, ASG Group, to implement the new CRM.
Mackenzie, a technology leader big on culture, said: “Our partner in this transition needed to have a strong Australian focus, not too big, not too small, capable, and have a solid relationship with Microsoft.
“Along with the right culture and values, ASG brought three key things to the implementation that I valued very highly. They brought a strong focus on process and design, outstanding agile project management, and extensive technical and product skill and experience.”
At the same time Mackenzie was leading a project to consolidate ten payroll solutions for NSWBC’s recruitment business.
“ASG provided a stable and professional team that allowed us to increase the scope of the changes we were making across the business.”
Supporting Australia’s comeback
With Australian Government heavily backing the private business sector, the diversified services provided through NSWBC’s Business Australia platform, which includes help to find government grants, legal documents, and energy reduction assistance, will greatly position members to capitalise on new opportunities.
“Our vision is to support a better Australia. As a technology leader, that is tremendously satisfying,” said Mackenzie.