by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2017 #26-50 Shane Riddle, The Heart Foundation

Nov 21, 2017
Technology Industry

Project failures early in Shane Riddle’s career taught him some very valuable lessons.

“Participating in some high profile technology projects taught me a very important lesson that technology is only part of the equation,” says The Heart Foundation’s CIO.

“As an IT professional, I can introduce state-of-the-art technology to a business but this is a guarantee of success. For technology projects to succeed, you need to address the culture change and business process.”

Riddle was previously involved in a global PeopleSoft rollout that he says was an example of a project focused on technology more than being a solution to a business problem. At the time, the unnamed organisation engaged IBM and built all the textbook processing with little consideration of the individual operational tasks.

“While business owners were engaged, the core decisions were made by technology personnel not the SMEs. Not allowing for the variances in processing and being arm’s length from the business owners, the great technology solution we had created failed in a dramatic fashion,” he says.

Riddle has certainly taken these lessons to heart and now has his finger on the pulse of innovation at the charity organisation as it looks to improve the relationships it has with its customers.

The Heart Foundation, like other charities, is operating in an interconnected data-driven world that is moving at an exponential pace. No longer is technology used to simplify and facilitate operations – it needs to readily and dynamically provide information to drive decision making with up to date and relevant data.

It is a source for differentiation and competitive advantage, says Riddle. But although the organisation is rich in data gathered over the past 60 years, its customer insights have been poor. They have been hampered by dozens of disparate systems, data flows and reporting processes, many of which are manual.

The Heart Foundation’s ‘single view of customer’ (SVoC) project is aiming to fix this problem by capturing and share about customers – with 50 unique definitions – from different sources within and external to the organisation.

The largest business transformation activity undertaken by the charity will present information as a single record and drive engagement by understanding customer behaviour and preferences. It is being rolled out in five stages where teams build logical gateways at each stage with measurable outcomes and fixed costs.

“We’ve collected a lot of information over the years. We touch people in a lot of ways and have collected rich information – we just haven’t been able to manage it and get the insights that we need,” he says.

Using design thinking methodologies, the project puts the customer at the centre of what the Heart Foundation does, says Riddle. By observing, understanding and learning from customer behaviour and information collected, the best engagement or journey can be mapped and personalised to fit with each customer while delivering on the organisation’s objectives.

From cradle to grave

Riddle’s goal is to create 25 million unique relationships with people across Australia.

“Every individual we want to interact with we will do so at a very personal level. We will understand more about what their needs are a particular time in their life,” he says.

“We’re moving away from using a typical financial lens to a ‘lifetime lens,’” he says. “For example with our JumpRope program, we interact with children as young as seven years old and we want to maintain that interaction until their last breath. Throughout their life journey their needs change and we want to able to adapt to those needs,” he says.

Passion in not-for-profit

Staff at charity organisations are more passionate than those working in the corporate sector where profit is the core driver, says Riddle.

“Not only are people here to do a job, they are here for the cause. It’s a good thing because everyone is pushing in the same direction. The challenge sometimes is making sure people are focused on the things that are going to deliver the best benefit or value,” he says.

The Heart Foundation is extremely risk adverse and with 82 per cent of revenue generation via donations, reputation and brand is everything. Despite having to jump hurdles, Riddle earned the support of everyone across the organisation for this transformative project.

“The ability to see the bigger picture was key to driving the SVoC project and getting board acceptance to move forward with the largest IT-based project ever undertaken. The board recognised that in a changing market understanding the customer is paramount to ongoing support to achieve our objective to fund life-saving heart research and work to improve heart disease prevention and care for all Australians,” he says.

Byron Connolly