Kevin Connell is re-energising customer service delivery at Southern Housing, bringing a number of different offerings together in one programme that incorporates digital services, mobile working and telephony. The focus is multichannel digital-by-default solutions rather than a predominantly telephone-based service, and it will make change management simple and business process-driven. When did you start your current role of group IT director for Southern Housing?June 2014. What is your reporting line?Group director of corporate services. Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?No, we meet approximately every two months. Are you a member of the board of directors?No. What other executive boards do you sit on?Corporate services management team. Does your organisation have a CDO?Yes. What different responsibilities does the CDO have?Development of group digital strategy, aligned to customer service strategy. What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?Membership of strategic group corporate services management team, incorporating HR, FM, communications and secretariat. Leadership development responsibilities. How many employees does your organisation have?900. Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?No. What number of users does your department supply services to?900. How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?Regular formal engagement with all levels of the organisation, including biannual visits to all group offices. Annual group-wide IT customer survey to provide formal feedback on customer experiences. Membership of group investment board to review capital investment requests and how these align with group strategy. Membership of sector-specific IT leadership group that reviews business trends on a quarterly basis and helps to shape product development. Southern Housing technology strategy and agenda Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?Yes. Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?Yes. Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part inI have implemented outsourced network support systems, resulting in lower costs, formal service level agreements and increased systems availability. What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?I am leading on a programme of work to change the way we deliver customer services. These were originally made up of a number of different projects, and I have brought them together as one programme, incorporating digital services, mobile working and telephony. What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?It will enable service delivery that customers want to receive through value-for-money multichannel delivery. The vision for this programme is inherent in that of the service vision for our residents, helping deliver value as prescribed within our corporate strategy. It will be the focus to moving to multichannel digital-by-default solutions and away from a predominantly telephone-based service. Change management will be simple and business process-driven rather than IT-focused. At a lower level we are putting customers as the forefront of service provision. We will be delivering a CRM capability to give a holistic view of all customer, resident and property-related contacts in one location. This will provide full view and transparency of service provision and current status including services delivered by third parties through contract arrangements. It will provide the basis for flexible service provision with the drive towards integrated mobile device access and the springboard to analysis and contextualising of data to inform future service provision, including resource management. This project will play a key role in helping save £1m a year, as identified within the group strategy. This project will be central to achieving technological efficiencies in service delivery. How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?I have successfully engaged with the group's executive team, demonstrating the value of taking a programme approach to save cost, quicken delivery and drive greater efficiency. I have taken a collaborative approach to business engagement, ensuring a feeling of ownership among senior stakeholders and that the programme is seen as business-led, not IT-driven. Finally I have used my sector experience to aid stakeholders' understanding of what is achievable and how CRM capability can deliver enhanced customer experience. What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?In relation to delivering capability that will support group strategy, cloud, mobile and integration technologies are key to enabling the transformation of customer services. Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?Yes. What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?Dashboards will be interactive in nature and show comparative years of date to provide greater insight. They will deliver significant cost savings to the business by significantly reducing the number of hours to manually produce. Self-service BI will give different types of users and consumers of data across the business the ability to drill down into data and identify potential operational problem areas as they arise, as well as the ability to analyse key trends and patterns within specific datasets and draw out better insight. It also allows for a reduction in MI time in producing bespoke reports. A business partner model will be aligned with each business area across the group. Data and system owners will provide a focal point that has responsibility for change and ownership of data and systems. Throughout the process of building the dashboards and introducing the business partner approach, we have started to identify key data and system owners that will help improve our data quality. A prioritisation process will ensure the MI team are working on the key priorities for the group. MI champions throughout the business will be fully conversant with dashboard reporting, which will enable them to draw out insight on a local/regional level and reduce MI time spent investigating data queries. How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?We are putting the customer at the forefront of our thinking to ensure we are a customer-centric rather than property-centric organisation. Mobile and social networking are key trends that we are actively responding to. The transformation programme referenced above has mobile and social networking at its centre. The group has adopted the principle of being digital by design and deliver digital services first. Through a structured programme over the next year, we will be looking at all the ways we can use digital technology to help us in the way we work and in the way we provide our customers with services. There are four key areas where you will see some changes soon:1. In the way we use our knowledge – the digital data in a CRM system.2. The tools we use and the way we work – digital mobile working.3. The ways in which we deliver all our services – improved online service channels and providing broadband.4. How we use digital tools to communicate – improved communications tools both internally and externally. Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?I have implemented and deployed a mobile device management (MDM) solution that allows the group to adopt a flexible approach to mobile devices, where the size of the device is unimportant because the operating system is securely managed. This actively supports the use of BYOD in a controlled and secure manner. I have developed a process which ensures that shadow IT is not a factor and there is clear visibility and examination of all IT service requests and investments. The centralisation of all IT costs has provided the group with a full view of this area and the knowledge that this data is accurate. What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?Easynet for implementation of a new wide area network, providing enhanced performance and resilience across all the group's offices and schemes. And Softcat for deployment of a storage area network to replace an ageing solution. Who are your main suppliers?Microsoft, Kelway, Softcat, Easynet, O2, Orchard Information Systems. Southern Housing IT security and budget Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?No. Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?Yes. Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?Yes. Has this led to an increase in your security budget?Yes. What is the IT budget?2014/15 £3.4m revenue, £3.5m capital projects. 2015/16 £3.5m revenue, £4.2m capital projects. How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?3%. What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?To provide a modern, resilient IT infrastructure that delivers a set of foundations to build on. These foundations will extend beyond technology and include the continued development of standard policies, processes and frameworks seen commonly within IT estates. To move from a fragmented estate to a target IT estate using standard IT integration technologies, via the use of a service-oriented architecture. Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?Yes. Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?Yes. Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?No. Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?No. Southern Housing technology department How would you describe your leadership style?I am a highly experienced CIO/IT director with a strong focus on strategy, client service and maximising resources. I partner with senior business leaders to provide innovative solutions that deliver tangible business benefit aligned to business strategy. I have a proven track record in implementing global application projects with first-class governance and processes, and have significant capability in successfully managing vendor relationships and is naturally effective with the ability to inspire teams and influence at board level. I am a highly inclusive leader and ensure my teams are suitably diverse. I have had significant success in developing talent within my teams and helping individuals achieve great success. Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and visionIt has been a key part of my approach to give individuals within my leadership team accountability for the delivery of major pieces of work. One of my team is developing our architectural strategy, another is leading on developing our group project methodology, and another is leading on the development of our service management framework based on ITIL. All of these areas are key to the delivery of my vision for the department and our ability to support the group's strategic objectives. How many employees are in your IT team?35. What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?90% in-house, 10% outsourced. Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?No.