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The business end of IT

Nadia Cameron | June 12, 2013
Foxtel CIO Robyn Elliott discusses innovation and IT investment at the media company.

Foxtel CIO Robyn Elliott
Foxtel CIO Robyn Elliott

Keeping the customer front and centre has been at the heart of Foxtel's IT strategy since the early days, says CIO Robyn Elliott.

The long-serving IT chief has worked for the media company twice -- the first time as it delivered 30 cable channels to 100,000 customers in metro areas, and this time for more than 11 years as viewers exceed 2.3 million and the company pushes 200 channels though cable, mobile and digital services.

"It has been a remarkable journey and one of the great growth stories in Australian business," Elliot claims. "We invented an industry -- it wasn't new overseas but we didn't have the on-demand TV business here.

As Telstra rolled out cable, the IT team created a 'cable passed homes' database, which was really our first customer database, so we'd know the people to market our services to.

"I can trace the history of our data warehouse and business intelligence to that database. Viewing customer data as an asset right from the start was one of the smartest things we did from a technology point of view. Information was going to be one of our key assets and customer data the bedrock."

Elliot is one of those forward-thinking CIOs who combines a strong work ethic and technology lineage with professional accreditation, strategic experience, and business nous. She first came into contact with IT during a commerce degree and quickly became enamoured with its program-solving nature.

This led into a graduate program at consulting group, Accenture, where Elliott worked her way up from junior consultant to partner delivering business analytics, project management and technology strategy in Australia and South-East Asia.

From there, she stepped into her first CIO role at a stockbroker/investment bank to pull a technology transformation project back from a near-collapse. "It was a tough role and I often say to wanna-be CIOs that you have to take the job no one else wants to get started," Elliott says. "You have to be able to back yourself and believe you can solve the problem.

"At that time in that role, the relationship between technology and the business departments was very bad. As a CIO, I needed to show there was a value being delivered by technology.

"We ended up with interesting projects directly related to the bottom line including connections between the internal advisers and their clients. We did early work on 'extranets' as we called them then, and using the Internet to connect companies to deliver investment advice directly to clients."


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