by Byron Connolly

CIO50 2016 #26-50: Aidan Coleman, Charter Hall

Nov 24, 2016
Technology Industry

Before Aidan Coleman joined property investment and funds management firm, Charter Hall, the IT group positioned as a division that “kept the lights on” with little capability and track record of project delivery.

“Charter Hall had experienced rapid growth over the last decade – a factor that was contributing to an immature strategy,” says Coleman says. “My task as incoming CTO was to establish a clearer strategy and identify opportunities for improvement and in doing so, transform the IT capability.”

With little history and track record of successful project delivery, investment in IT was well below what was required. The business’ appetite for change was low and the ‘corporate attention span’ did not align with large transitional programs.

“Structurally, we in IT were not set up for success. I needed to convince the board, CEO, and executive team that we required targeted investment back into the operating platform over 3 to 5 years, which may require us to trade-off earnings growth in the short-term for longer-term sustainability.

Alongside his CEO and executive leadership team, Coleman established a strategically-focus business improvement program – dubbed EnterpRISE – across 7 key business capabilities. These included core property management and financials; fund and corporate reporting; human resource management; digital marketing of funds and properties; customer experience and relationships; asset fund and group forecasting; and business intelligence and analytics.

“For each capability, the executive team agreed the ‘strategic target’ to guide and inform focus, investment and priority, as well as ‘what great would look like’ for Charter Hall, says Coleman.

Coleman then established a framework for prioritising enhancements, growing investment, measuring success and steering the delivery of the target business capabilities.

“Together with my CFO and the finance reporting team, I established the financial reporting and tracking framework and benefits realisation approach which provided clarity, assurance and buy-in at board and CEO level,” Coleman says.

The result? Charter Hall’s IT group has redefined its relationship with the internal business and external customers. IT is now being recognised for the depth of skills and talent of the team and its ability to create a culture of innovation.

One of these innovations includes ‘retail centre wifi’, which has provided new communications and marketing channels for team teams. It has delivered data insights that are informing how the organisation design its centres, runs in-centre events, and picks the right retailer mix.

A customer tenant portal provides a two-way communication channel for office tenants which the organisation previously had no relationship with. This provides an engagement channel that has never existed before, delivering value-added services to building occupants while fostering the sense of community that reinforces advocacy and supports retention, says Coleman.

A transactional banking platform has automated processes that were previously very labour intensive.

“This streamlines the end-to-end payments process – makes it easier for our customers to deal with us and easier for our people to do their jobs and ultimately fast-tracks cash to bank for our funds which delivers increased interest revenue,” says Coleman.

These innovations contribute directly to the organisation’s overarching business strategy to deliver a stronger value proposition to its customers, says Coleman.

“For example, Retail Wifi is the gift that keeps on giving. Our shopper customers love it and it provides a continuous communication and marketing channel for Charter Hall and our retailers while delivering vast insights on how our shoppers are using our centres,” he says.

Byron Connolly