Customer-led and iterative innovation is the name of the game for AMP\u2019s CIO, Craig Ryman, and he\u2019s not afraid of taking transformative steps organisationally and culturally to achieve it.\nRyman was appointed CIO at the financial services group a year ago, taking over the reins from well-respected and long-serving IT leader, Lee Barnett. Like his predecessor, he has built a significant career within the organisation, working across almost every part of the business along the way.\nJoining AMP in 1997 as an ecommerce and business analyst, Ryman was involved in the group\u2019s de-mutualising transformation program, as well as renovating its corporate super business. He then moved into AMP bank, helping launch its Internet banking offering.\nFrom there, Ryman headed to the UK for three years, transforming AMP\u2019s investment management and pension businesses, as well as building its online super funds market. He also spent time in customer services.\n\u201cAll of these programs effectively enabled me to get a deeper understanding of the business,\u201d he says.\nHaving left the organisation to travel, it wasn\u2019t long before AMP contacted Ryman with another transformation program, this time installing a new operating model within the investment management business. The work saw about 75 per cent of all technology replaced in the division. Ryman says the first year of the four-year program was the hardest of his career as it strived to get alignment between project, technology and business teams on how to work together to create successfully performing programs.\n\u201cAt the time we completed that program, the AXA transaction commenced. We looked to merge the two companies and ensure one plus one equalled 2.5,\u201d he says. \u201cWe did that in nine months and achieved synergies and cost benefits that were better than any other part of the business.\u201d\nRyman was then asked by Barnett to join her team as an IT director and transform the IT part of the investment management business. Stints with AMP Capital and back in financial services eventually led to his promotion to CIO last January.\n\u201cPeople often talk about your perspectives being quite limited if you\u2019ve worked for one company for a long time, but I\u2019ve worked in all parts of this business, and it\u2019s a broad business,\u201d Ryman comments. \u201cI don\u2019t feel like I\u2019ve suffered any lack of opportunity or diversity by having a good, long healthy career at AMP.\u201d\nRyman\u2019s innovation agenda\nFilling the hole left by Barnett was always going to be tough, and Ryman says it was important to put his stamp on the CIO role by adjusting the operating rhythm and cadence of how IT operates.\nSo he did. Within six weeks, Ryman had held a leaders\u2019 summit with the top 100 IT executes at AMP and effectively launched a new vision statement and several strategic themes he planned to prioritise, all emphasising innovation and a progressive approach to IT. These align to the concepts of agility, efficiency, and people and partners. \u201cThese made it clear that innovation is not something that happens in small pockets, or just at our Amplify event every two years; it\u2019s a responsibility for all of us to think about,\u201d Ryman continues. \u201cSmall innovation for me is very valuable. We have 1000 people working in IT at AMP, and if they turn up to work thinking curiously and looking to innovate even within their small area of focus, it\u2019s going to add value to our customers and our business.\u201d\nWhile Ryman\u2019s simply articulated vision represented a change in focus, it energised the team and set the tone for AMP\u2019s business-led IT approach. At the same time, AMP\u2019s wider three-year customer transformation, kicked off by its CEO, Craig Mellor, and spearheaded by its first chief customer officer, Paul Sainsbury, is driving further appetite for change.\n\u201cSometimes you can get caught into visions and themes that don\u2019t result in any actions,\u201d Ryman says. \u201cImportantly, we followed that up with five strategic initiatives that really reinforce the things we want to transform from an IT capability perspective, beyond AMP\u2019s wider three-year customer transformation.\u201d\nOne initiative launched to drive sustainable, customer-led change is AMP\u2019s Innovation Day, held on the first Friday of every month. The activity taps into AMP\u2019s Net Promotor System (NPS) and voice of the customer data to identify go-to-market propositions that can be improved, then encourages staff to spend a day trying to fix them.\n\u201cWe\u2019ve had two of these now and it\u2019s been enthralling to see the kinds of problems we can solve very readily when you give people the licence to have a bit of freedom to go and do it,\u201d Ryman says. \u201cThey\u2019ve been self-organising as teams as well.\u201d\nAs an example, one team turned ad hoc statements for super clients that would take 24-48 hours to produce into a 10-minute exercise.\n\u201cYet this was posted on a board somewhere as an issue we needed to solve for much longer \u2013 it just took the right energy and culture to release that,\u201d Ryman says. \u201cThe important part of this process, and what excited our teams, was they were hearing first-hand about the customer\u2019s problems. They could look at that and realise they could solve it.\n\u201cBecause they\u2019re not potentially in the loop of these problems being surfaced, the initiative created two opportunities for me. Firstly, as we become a more customer-centred organisation, IT people that would potentially have been two steps removed from the customer are drawn in a lot closer. Secondly, we\u2019re actually solving problems very efficiently that would probably sit on lists and get prioritised at some later stage.\u201d\nIn addition, Ryman has challenged his broader architecture and business teams to think about solving problems differently by looking outside the typical tier-one solution approach. To do this, he\u2019s encouraging them to delve into open source technologies and capabilities, as well as cloud platforms and applications.\n\u201cIt\u2019s often not appropriate or at the enterprise level at that point in time, but it\u2019s changing the way they think about solving problems, and it\u2019s making them look up and out,\u201d Ryman says.\n Sustainable change\nProcesses are also in Ryman\u2019s sights. He says it\u2019s important to build enabling capabilities within IT that makes change an opportunity, rather than a threat, and calls an organisation that accepts and deals with change in both a sophisticated and focused manner, \u201cchange fit\u201d.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about making IT at AMP deliver and help reduce cost of change, increase speed to market, and do it in a way that\u2019s more customer intimate,\u201d he says. \u201cMy sense is if I get that operating rhythm right, then irrespective of what changes might come down from the business or from a technology sense, we\u2019ll have an organisation that can respond to that.\u201d\nAMP as a whole is stepping away from traditional design, build and implement techniques it used to deliver products and services, and embracing human-centred design. Ryman says this approach also lends itself to more contemporary IT delivery methods, and AMP has implemented an Agile program to better embrace iterative-based innovation.\n\u201cIt\u2019s about re-architecting our solutions, which enable us to create better customer experiences, more personalised, real-time, and delivered in a way that\u2019s creating engagement with products that those customers potentially wouldn\u2019t have woken up on a Saturday morning thinking about,\u201d Ryman continues.\nWhat these initiatives have also done is improve cross-functional collaboration. As the lead for workplace management, Ryman has also put AMP\u2019s customer experience digital and IT digital teams together on the same floor, as well as introduced more activity-based working spaces.\n\u201cIt\u2019s shaping different languages and how we talk, it\u2019s changing the energy on the floor, and it really is moving \u2013 albeit one step at a time \u2013 our culture into more of a dynamic one,\u201d he says.\n\u201cWe haven\u2019t got to the end game of one team, one set of KPIs \u2013 we haven\u2019t felt the need to do that yet as we\u2019re finding these techniques are working well for us.\u201d\nAMP\u2019s data strategy\nHand-in-hand with AMP\u2019s customer-centred play is data, and Ryman says advanced data analytics capabilities are particularly important for creating experiences that are personalised and engaging for customers.\nOne big project AMP\u2019s IT teams have worked on over the last 18 months is implementing a new customer experience management platform. The project included standing up a contemporary data and analytics platform, as well as implementing a master customer data management, giving the organisation a centralised data repository.\n\u201cIn a very complex organisation, that was a wonderful achievement,\u201d Ryman says. \u201cWe have also implemented a campaigns engine that helps us determine how to deliver next best offers and more personalised experiences.\n\u201cWhen we combine the three \u2013 analytics for more insight about who you are and what\u2019s relevant to you, clean data, and an ability to communicate with you via any channel in a way that\u2019s personalised and gives you a better experience with us \u2013 it\u2019s bringing AMP\u2019s aspirations to be customer-centred to life.\u201d\nThe next phase is better leveraging the data platform and delivering outcomes off the back of those investments that further improve AMP\u2019s interactions with each and every customer, Ryman says.\nFurthering innovation with the cloud\nAnother transformative shift for AMP IT has been around cloud computing. Ryman, who initiated the group\u2019s cloud strategy about four years ago, says his view of cloud has undergone a significant shift in recent years from cost-effective infrastructure to ultimate innovation platform.\n\u201cThe view we took back then, when cloud was top of the hype cycle, was that cloud was more than just cheap infrastructure, it was an operating model shift, and we needed to consider its whole impact,\u201d he explains.\n\u201cWe did that, and we were reasonably progressive in how we thought about it, as we looked at our entire landscape and looked at how cloud played a role in every part of that.\u201d\nAmong the benefits AMP chalked up from embracing cloud initially was reducing mid-range costs by about 30 per cent. But as Amazon, Microsoft and other players started putting software and platforms such as machine learning and DevOps in the cloud, Ryman sees cloud moving up the value chain for organisations.\n\u201cThis is accessible infrastructure and software now for anyone,\u201d he claims. \u201cWhat it enables you to do is to think differently and think more about IT as a platform, rather than just infrastructure and software.\u201d\nAs a result, cloud is now a great platform for IT innovation, Ryman says.\n\u201cUsing devops techniques and high-end automation, you can create highly stable environments that allow you to iterate quickly,\u201d he says. \u201cAnd you can do it very cost-effectively. That creates fertile ground for even the big corporates to do great experiments, but be safe about implementing them into production, because there\u2019s such high automation wrapped around it.\n\u201cWhen I look cloud now, it\u2019s not \u2018old news\u2019, it\u2019s almost \u2018new news\u2019, because this emerging capability is changing the shape of how you can do innovation in a really cost-effective manner. Corporations like AMP are going to leverage that.\u201d\n Going beyond business enablement\nWhatever the project or priority, Ryman\u2019s approach makes it clear just how far IT has gone from the days of enablement and support. In fact, during a presentation at the Optus Vision conference last year, Ryman positioned modern IT leadership as actively shaping how an organisation goes to market.\n\u201cMore and more today, tech has shifted its position in terms of strategic enablement \u2013 we\u2019re not just enabler of strategy, it\u2019s incumbent on IT leaders to help shape business strategy,\u201d he told attendees.\nHaving spent most of his career on the business side, it\u2019s not surprising Ryman finds it easy to frame projects and priorities in terms of the business outcomes AMP is trying to achieve.\n\u201cEven the big programs I delivered were really about not only hitting a budget and schedule, but also delivering sustainable business outcomes,\u201d he comments. \u201cI don\u2019t come at it as a technologist, and I\u2019m not a technologist for technology\u2019s sake. That said, I absolutely love technology and I think we\u2019re in a golden era of innovation and potential around what technology can do.\n\u201cMy perspective is that as the technology heart of the business, if we\u2019re not working side by side and helping them shape their strategies, and leveraging technology in a way that helps them deliver better outcomes, then we\u2019re missing the boat.\n\u201cAMP will be a far better organisation if the business leaders are experts in technology in their parts of the business, and are leveraging those for growth and outcomes.\u201d\nRyman points out society as a whole has become more familiar with technology, downloading apps and software upgrades in way that wasn\u2019t conceivable 10 years ago. That\u2019s another opportunity for CIOs to capitalise on.\n\u201cBroadening that interest and helping bring that into the workplace and shaping strategies is imperative for a CIO these days,\u201d he adds.