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The sharp-eyed CIO

Tim Mendham | Aug. 19, 2013
Neill Rose-Innes has a strong focus on the business as CIO and GM of operations at Mortgage Choice. But he says acquiring and retaining customers is what it's really all about.

The franchisees run their own show, and are the prime ongoing contact with the customers. But they rely on Rose-Innes' IT operations to give them the 'tools of trade'.

"One of our key activities is capacity building for franchisees and our own teams. The franchisees prospect for customers, and draw on our online mortgage comparison products to give them leads and find solutions for their customers. Keeping franchisees happy is integral to our operations," he says.

To this end, he chairs an advisory board that comprises 10 representatives of the franchisee community.

"We need to keep on top of our franchisees' needs, and give them a full service offering.

They own their own operations, and occasionally you'll have one who pushes the boundaries of the proposition, which is great. They are seeking more customers with a broader range of services and products. We need to keep pace with their aims, understand them, and give them the tools they need to increase their business ... and ours."

This means he is looking at systems that offer greater efficiencies, more automation, that are more intuitive and multidimensional. Analytics — both rear view and predictive — play a large part, and he is a big user of Google Apps.

"We're moving to cloud —tools and systems, core repositories of our knowledge base — not just for an improvement in 'total cost of ownership' but also to increase the productivity of our sales team and the franchisees."

He reports to the CEO, who expects all c-level executives to "have a view and express it".

"We have a good working consultative relationship, a 'trust and challenge' relationship, and we're all integrated at c-level," he says. This means he works closely with the general managers of distribution and marketing.

The move to digital marketing means a more integrated strategy is important, he says. He needs to understand the pressures they are under, and he understands that some might think the formal IT department is slow to respond. But he thinks it would be "a major distraction to have marketing want to have its own IT department".

"The requirements of sales and marketing do change, but that will be incremental, not immediate. We develop the underlying architectural support, but we also need to be flexible and agile," he says.

"The pace of customer serving will only increase, along with changes to customer behaviour and interactions. We need to leap from 'here to next week', not to tomorrow. That's the way we can fulfill our 'hearts and minds' customer focus strategy."

He says that the consumerisation of technology is "a good thing" —something corporates need to deal with. Most users don't want system change, he says, but when it offers opportunities, then you need to be there, ready and able.


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