by George Nott

CIO50 2017 #26-50: Shaune Rosser, Sydney Motorway Corporation

Nov 21, 2017
Technology Industry

The Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) is a private company limited by shares and established by the NSW Government in 2014. It was appointed by federal and state government to finance, plan, commission and operate Australia’s largest transport infrastructure projects: the Westconnex motorway.

The $16 billion WestConnex is part of an integrated transport plan to keep Sydney moving, the corporation says, easing congestion, creating jobs and connecting communities. The new motorway provides a critical missing link in the Sydney road networkand will support the city’s long-term economic and population growth.

At first, SMC’s IT strategy was focused on its critical business objectives and getting the entity established, extricating core systems from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services agency. Since the completion of this work, over the last year SMC – under the leadership of chief information officer Shaune Rosser – has conducted several significant transformations and innovation programs.

“Over the transition period, the major focus has been the stabilisation, optimisation and maturity of the IT capabilities and their delivery. That was a stepping stone,” Rosser says.

A core underpinning element of the IT transformation was the transition to a full as-a-service consumption based operating model.

“The utility based model has enabled SMC to focus on the delivery of services and business outcomes rather than managing traditional IT infrastructure and systems,” Rosser, in his first CIO role, says.

“Instead of talking about computers and applications now it’s talking about where we can bring benefit. We have it in order, now let’s talk about the ‘good stuff’ for our staff and customers.”

There’s also been a major ERP transformation, completed in July, and the adoption of theNISTCybersecurityFramework to better understand and measure organisational cyber risk and control effectiveness.

Innovation lane

“We have the trust. The way we deliver IT is humming. Now we have all our tactical IT, our operations in order, hitting as good as it can get – now let’s start focus on the digital and strategic transformations we can bring to the business,” Rosser says.

Rather than “developing continual PowerPoint packs and business cases” Rosser and his two person IT team (“the smallest IT team in history! We are very tight,” he jokes) jump straight into experimentation, standing up proof-of-concepts – in collaboration with external start-ups – to demonstrate benefits to the wider business.

The corporation has completed a number of proof-of-concepts using AI, including IT operations and services analytics, and a project around WestConnex tolling data and predictive maintenance.

“We are looking to apply AI in a number of areas such as traffic scenario prediction, optimising maintenance schedules and a digital project desk that can help manage and predict how the infrastructure program is tracking.AI can alert to traffic changes, proactively run real-time and near-real time scenario impacts and recommend the next best action,” Rosser explains.

The insights generated have provided data driven predictions and lead indicators which form strong evidence based platform for decision making and forecasting.

Working with start-ups in itself has also had a positive effect on the organisation, Rosser says.

“Working with trusted start-ups also brings a high level of enthusiasm and excitement to the teams which is contagious. They also bring about capabilities, insights and new approaches which are invaluable to the team and the organisation,” he explains.

As well as standing up the technology, Rosser and his team have also worked hard to thoughtfully introduce the innovations to colleagues.

“Introducing these types of capabilities in an organisation can be a cultural challenge however when people see what is possible and understand that this is a complementary tool to their day to day work, not a threat, it is fully embraced,” Rosser adds.

Road ahead

Despite it being a first-time CIO, Rosser has achieved much in his tenure so far. A major IT transformation, often within “heroic timeframes” and within the constraints of legislation, has been completed “on time, under budget with no major issues or adverse impacts”.

Having fully embraced innovation, the organisation is now set-up for the future, whatever it may hold (in November the NSW Government called for qualified parties to register their interest in the sale of 51 per cent of SMC).

“The transformation outcomes have positioned the conversation to the value and benefits IT adds, rather than IT being a cost centre. IT is now placed as an organisational strategic partner to deliver cost effective business outcomes and the enabler for agility and innovation,” Rosser says. “We’ve gone on a massive journey. It’s been great, I feel blessed to be a part of it.”