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A well-travelled CIO

Nadia Cameron | Jan. 21, 2015
How Qantas’ tech chief, Luc Hennekens, is ensuring the airline’s IT function is at the forefront of business innovation.

"We'll work with suppliers that support that and most have."

The fourth transformation initiative is what Hennekens calls 'Project Beehive', and which sees Qantas integrating its six help desks into a unified support function that provides better internal customer support to its 30,000 highly mobile staff via mobile devices.

Tactical moves
CIOs often have to juggle the demands of strategy with day-to-day IT delivery, and Hennekens is no different to any IT leader trying to keep the proverbial lights on.

"If you let it go, one day you'll end up with issues and have to spend lots of money to fix it again," he says. "We have made that mistake in the past."

Two major projects nearing completion are set to address this: One focused on overhauling workplace technology including networks; and one to update the data centre.

Both are due to be completed by mid-2015 and once done, it will see the airline running email, intranet, internal social media and Office 365 in the cloud.

The key to balancing tactical work with innovation is to design simplicity into platforms right from the start, Hennekens says.

One of the ways he's achieving this is by investing in systems to run IT. For example, invoicing data is now being channelled into a system that allows IT to break down costs by function. In addition, data is fed in from all major cloud providers for seamless integration.

"You want to have some level of control and understanding of who's doing that and if it's adding value, or costs will go out of control," Hennekens adds.

Customer agenda
Ask any CEO today what's on a par (or more important) than cutting cost, and you'll no doubt get 'customer centricity' as a reply.

Hennekens has wholly embraced the challenge to become more customer oriented, and says Qantas needs to fulfil the emotional connection travellers expect at every touchpoint of experience.

"We need to understand those customers and how the things we do impact on their experience, and then make that experience a really good one," he says.

"We have to become like the grocer in the corner shop who knows all their customers by name, what they like and dislike, and who knows something didn't quite work for that customer last week, so they get a bit of a discount next week.

"But you can't do that in that way as a company with 30,000 staff."

Technology is making sure the intelligence Qantas has on its customers ends up in the hands of the people on the frontline, Hennekens says.

"That's where mobile is already having an impact," he says. "We are using mobile technology to make sure the data we have today is in the hands of the staff."


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