by CIO New Zealand

CIO100 2018 #31-100: Doug Stuart, IBM

Mar 28, 2018
Big DataCareersCEO

IBM has moved to an Agile office environment, in keeping with our worldwide vision for a Workforce of the Future,” say the technology company’s New Zealand CIO Doug Stuart.

“In particular, moving our Auckland office into a new location in Wynyard Quarter afforded a great opportunity to redesign our workspaces to be open and flexible, and to facilitate team collaboration,” says Stuart.

“It’s part of a move toward agile working principles and enabling design thinking – which puts the customer experience at the heart of everything we do.”

As part of this redesign, IBM rationalised internal hosting services including cloud email and telecommunications, which involved greater capacity while reducing costs and avoiding upgrade/refresh expenditure (a significant CTO initiative) by decommissioning equipment and firewalls.

“We now operate completely from wifi and mobile phones in our new Auckland office. We’re also facilitating the use of cloud-based collaboration apps like Box and Slack to enable New Zealand employees to easily interact with international colleagues in real time.”

Internally, we are using our AI technology in our HR applications such as chatbots and employee engagement surveys, he says.

Stuart says the agile transformation is an organisational and cultural change.

“It was driven by Human Resources and we looked after the technology enablement aspects of the project. Within the IT Team, employees are now completely aligned into squads, and those squads manage the service delivery of product,” says Stuart.

IBM also regularly runs industry and community events in their client centre and Innovation Hub.

New technologies include the employee wireless system, a guest wireless system, and a Wireless Interactive Presentation System (WiPS) enabling any employee to easily connect to presentation screens around the office.

“We also moved to a self service Help Desk, with lots of tools online to help provision workstations and resolve issues. The Help Centres Help@IBM, Mac@IBM or PC@IBM are the central resources available when researching a particular technical problem.

“Finally, a new print service was introduced “Print at IBM” – a secure cloud ‘follow-me’ print service where staff ‘badge-in’ at the printer where they want to release their job. New Zealand was the first country to start this rollout and was recognised by the global project team for an efficient and seamless implementation.”

Stuart says the IT team uses Slack channels, the internal website IBM Connections, and direct emails for employee announcements.

Locally, Stuart says IBM NZ operates regular executive and employee roundtables when the regional CIO visits New Zealand. These provide a forum to discuss how the agile transformation is progressing, and identify any issues or challenges that need to be addressed.

“We’re now operating out of agile workspaces and focused on increasing the adoption of agile principles – to empower teams to embrace innovation,” he says. “Squads focus on team priorities and they’re empowered to manage their workload.”

He explains IBM is centralising resources and processes to deliver a consistent outcome across the globe. “Our small local team needs to have quite a broad understanding of all the services we support.”

The IT team, as with all teams at IBM, have always embraced diversity. Stuart does a lot of coaching on agile transformation and all IBMers are encouraged to take formal agile training programmes online.

Stuart says IBM provides self-directed online training through its internal Think Academy. All IBMers are expected to complete at least 40 hours of self-initiated learning every year.

Stuart says the biggest learning in his career is “to always embrace change and innovation”.

“New Zealand is such a small market, and the advantage of that is that we can be very innovative, piloting or trialing new technologies quite quickly,” he says. “We can easily promote new programmes and encourage uptake.

“Many years ago we had a token ring network and were among the first in the world to move to ethernet. By the end of that refresh, the worldwide standard had changed, making us noncompliant. It’s important to move fast, but being first is not always best!

“You need to be thinking several years ahead – you’re making a decision that could lock the organisation into five plus years of depreciation. At the end of that period you should be ready to progress onto newer and better technologies.”