by Rodney Fletcher

CIO100 2017 #31-100: Simon Clarke, Trustpower

Mar 29, 2017
Careers IT Leadership

For Simon Clarke, GM Business Solutions Technology at Trustpower, last year’s head office shift of ~500 people, the move to activity based working and the transition of its IT infrastructure to the cloud, were major business transformations that have had a significant impact on how the company operates.

“During 2016 we moved our head office into the Tauranga CBD. As part of this move we adopted an activity based working (ABW) culture and environment,” says Clarke.

“ABW essentially means that no one person owns or is designated to a space/desk and you work in various locations throughout the day, depending on your activity or what you are doing.”

“At the same time as the office move, we also transitioned our old on-premise IT infrastructure and application environment to the ‘hybrid cloud’,” Clarke says.

Both the move to ABW and the transition to the hybrid cloud have been significant culture and business transformation initiatives, which fundamentally has changed how the company works and does business.

“We have seen tangible examples of increasing our product ‘speed to market and improving our customer service and the more intangible benefits associated with significantly increased collaboration between our people”.

“The move to ABW and the new hybrid cloud environment has also created significant opportunities to experiment with new technologies” Clarke says. “Our IT evangelists have been having a lot of fun trailing low risk and new technologies that make things better for our people and for our customers”.

“The software development team have also been familiarising themselves with the new Microsoft Azure environment and the services and the opportunities that that platform presents.

“A number of work programmes have been established across the business to focus on fast business improvement opportunities, automation and general system enhancements. We are also running a customer digitisation programme that is focusing on serving our digital customers and lowering current cost to serve” Clarke says.

“On top of this we’ve also been doing some great work with Gentrack (our strategic CIS software partner) to implement more CRM capability into their product that supports our multi-utility product strategy and provides us with the utopian “single view of the customer”. We think this capability will give us a competitive advantage”

Clarke’s team are key drivers in the above initiatives.

“Another part of my team also operate our internet service provider (ISP) network and we’ve also been investing in that area to support the significant growth in our ISP customers”.

However, while there is plenty going on in terms of investing to support growth. running a ‘rock solid’ IT and ISP environment is core business and ‘our license to operate’,” says Clarke.

“We have dedicated teams and capable managers running both the IT operations and ISP operations teams. Teams delivering change in systems and/or processes (big or small) are separate structurally from the operations teams.

“We have created a dedicated enhancement team with dedicated capital funding that focuses on prioritising, improving and optimising existing systems and processes. This focus has delivered significant benefits over the past 12 months. We also have a dedicated team focused on proactive solution definition and solution delivery for all key system and process changes, the value of which normally arrives over a long term horizon.”

Clarke presents regularly at town hall meetings, writes blogs, posts on Slack channels and presents at other team meetings and numerous forums.

He says the team also has an open collaboration site, where all information (reports, work programmes and so on) are shared. “Transparency and communication are important to get everyone engaged and authorised”.

“We have a company-wide ‘leading our future’ programme that helps develop the leadership potential and capability of our people. Many of the business solutions and technology team members have been (and are currently on) this year-long course,” he states. “That helps raise the profile of our team and we are seen as business leaders.”

“At a more functional level, our staff are also supported to attend development courses and conferences. We have also taken students as part of the Summer of Tech programme and have a company graduate recruitment programme.”

Rodney Fletcher