by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2017 # 26-50: Mathews George, Energy Action Limited

Nov 21, 2017
Technology Industry

Early in his career, Mathews George’s focus was on large transformation projects that were too big to fail.

“[During one project] everything was okay until after a key personnel change within the team, I started to sense pockets of dissatisfaction with the way basic IT services provided to the employees,” he says.

“Assuming that the large transformation would give me enough brownie points, I kept going ‘as is’, which was a bit too long as I later realised. The impact of smaller IT services concerns with a large group of employees did not offset the productivity gains or revenue growth delivered to a few business units.”

George put an improvement plan in place to restore basic IT services and employee satisfaction to acceptable performance levels.

“The drain on resources required to run such an intense program could have been mitigated by an effort to understand and address employee needs alongside the obsession to transform customer experience,” George says.

“The icing does not make up for a tasteless cake under it.”

George tells CIO Australia that he has applied this learning by always keeping internal employee considerations alongside external customer priorities through appropriate governance, management controls and through casual conversations.

“Ultimately, an insight being available to a client is no excuse for a CEO’s phone not to be working,” he says.

These days as Energy Action Limited’s inaugural CEO, George has been tasked with speeding up IT service delivery across energy management organisation. The program has reduced the time to market for new services. For instance, an energy monitoring mobile app – an Australian first for businesses – was delivered in less than three months using agile methodologies, a microservices architecture and cloud infrastructure.

Staff satisfaction with IT services has risen from 68 per cent to 89 per cent, and profit growth has been maximised by organising IT to source technology capabilities internally and externally on demand.

George also introduced agile work practices, which have laid the foundation for significant cultural change across the organisation. Empowering teams to develop their own plan and reprioritise based on client impact meant more collaboration between IT and business stakeholders and fewer escalations to the steering committee. This change has resulted in projects completed on time rising from 53 per cent to 73 per cent within one year.

App takes energy monitoring to the next level

Energy Action helps businesses, government entities and not-for-profits of all sizes understand and take control of their energy needs. The mobile app – created by George and his team – lets customers access their sites’ energy data, recorded by smart meters, for usage, spend and carbon emissions. It sends alerts when consumption is higher than in previous periods, allowing them to take action to better manage usage and spend over time.

“This presents an innovative way for clients to access this data on the move, as traditionally many operations staff do not spend the majority of their days with access to a desk and computer. This technology has enabled these key users to access this data when and where it is best for them,” George says.

The app not only delivers insights directly to the client, it also creates another ‘moment of truth’ and increases client engagement, which “we all know is the final frontier of competitive advantage,” George says.

Putting words into actions

Although George is not on the executive team, he is part of an extended leadership team and provides regular updates to the board of directors on technology matters. He has regular meetings with executives and leaders within the business to discuss opportunities that could help the business.

“I am a strong believer that if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader,” he says. “I put those words in actions, leading by example but staying conscious that a good leader can’t get too far ahead of their team.”

Byron Connolly