by George Nott

Q&A: AGL CIO Simon Moorfield

Aug 08, 2016
Business IntelligenceCareersDigital Transformation

AGL is in the midst of a digital transformation that is changing the energy giant’s customer experience as well as the culture of its IT team.

As it overhauls the way it engages with customers digitally, the company is seeking its first company-wide CTO, hiring scrum masters, UX managers and DevOps professionals and partnering with vendors to accelerate the change. It’s about to train its entire IT department in Agile methodologies.

The transformation is being led by CIO Simon Moorfield who joined the company in January following roles at Commonwealth Bank and GE Capital. In his first interview since being appointed, Moorfield sets out his lofty ambitions, how he’s going to achieve them, and the hurdles on the road ahead. He won’t settle for being the best IT team in the energy industry – “we want to have some of the best IT practises of any industry”.

CIO: What is on your to-do list for the next 12 months?

Moorfield: I am fortunate that the foundations around the core systems are strong, but we still have a lot to do. This includes building technical leadership skills and to help with this I am hiring a CTO along with two other key leadership roles that will have technology thought-leadership as key competencies. We’re also looking to accelerate our digital and data transformation, along with introducing contemporary delivery capabilities such as DevOps, Agile, using Design Thinking. And this is all being done while protecting our customers and shareholders by improving our IT security.

CIO: What on the list is the most critical?

Moorfield: Delivering on our digital and data transformation to help deliver a great experience for our customers. To enable that we need to embrace an Agile and DevOps transformation, we are embarking on building multi-skilled scrums capable of delivering vertical slices of technology aligned to business value streams. It is a fantastic technical challenge, and it is great that our business in empowering us to make it happen.

CIO: Your CFO Brett Redman said that AGL needed to position itself within a ‘rapidly changing digital environment’ – how are you going about achieving that?

Moorfield: We are accelerating our direct engagement with customers via our digital channels. Our customer is our focus so the customer experience is key. The way we engage with them must be relevant, we need to anticipate and have an intimate understanding of our customers’ needs and wants. We have partnered with one of the world’s leading design firms Frog design, and a leading management consulting firm KPMG to help set the program up for success. I can’t say much more at this stage, but it is very exciting.

CIO: What are the key challenges in doing so?

Moorfield: The war for talent, not just within IT but across the business. Many companies are embarking on digital transformations, and the reality is there is more work than there are people in the Australian market. And with technology in this space moving so quickly we are competing to attract the best people in the market.

We aim to build our AGL IT team, but also partner with the best technology companies. It will be great for our people, they will get to work with top class technologists in a model that is, we show, we do together, we watch. I can’t wait!

CIO: What are some of the key technology challenges facing the energy sector? How are they being overcome?

Moorfield: The energy landscape of the future is increasingly becoming about distributed energy services, and while the technology is available, the market and consumer is not quite ready, but that could change at any moment. We need to ensure we are building a future that considers distributed energy and the IT systems we build now need to be able to allow customers to engage with the energy they create.

CIO: What does the energy company of the future look like?

Moorfield: The energy landscape is rapidly changing as we transition to a low carbon economy. New renewable and near-zero technologies such as solar, battery storage and electric vehicles will play an increasing role in our energy mix. Customers are looking for greater control of their energy consumption and management. Distributed energy services and digital platforms can help enable this. AGL is focused on all of these offerings as well as providing services such as AGL’s industry-leading mobile energy app which enables customers to monitor their energy usage from their hand held device at any time day or night.

CIO: What from your past experience at CBA and GE can you bring to this role?

Moorfield: I am very fortunate to have held leadership roles in a great global organisation like GE, and a great Australian organisation like CBA. Both have a real focus on the customer and operate in the very competitive industry of retail banking and finance. A key learning at both organisations is success is built from great people.

I will invest in building our people capabilities, for example I have committed to train the entire IT team in Agile within six months. I want to build a strong team and a learning culture that looks externally and shamelessly learns from the best. This means not settling to be the best energy IT team, we want to have some of the best IT practises of any industry and then partnering with our business colleagues to deliver great customer outcomes.

CIO: What are the keys to success in the CIO role? Are you bringing about a cultural change?

Moorfield: I think listening, being highly collaborative, and passionate about how technology can deliver fantastic customer experiences are really important factors. Our CEO Andy Vesey and the leadership team are leading a cultural transformation across AGL. Specifically in IT we are focusing on ways of working such as using Agile, DevOps and Design Thinking, which will improve business engagement, speed and collaboration, all with a deep focus around the customer.”

CIO: What are your interests outside of work? Do you have a way of thinking that you bring into your current role?

Moorfield: I love spending time with my family and friends, it is what keeps me sane and happy.

“What has served me well in the past is being open, honest and always act with integrity, combine that with a real passion to inspire people to exceed their own expectations, it’s been a winning formula for me.