As the global interim CIO of the Cover-More Group, Nicki Doble (pictured), took on the mammoth task of executing the company’s global technology strategy in the thick of the pandemic.
"Essentially what I was brought on board to do was to pull together the global technical strategy and help APAC because they were operating as a bricks and mortar IT area and we needed to move them into being a digital IT shop. It’s important because, predominately, Cover-More sells its products either through partners or through direct websites,” Doble said.
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Supporting the business from a global perspective amid the pandemic, she says, forced the technology strategy to accelerate “rapidly.” The work Doble had planned for the business in 2021 and 2022 was brought forward to this year because they needed to be “more globally competitive” for when the markets reopen.
“We were focused on ‘how do we get the products we’re selling in Ireland over to Australia’ and vice versa?” she explained. “We needed to diversify our sales channels and also ensure that if we’re doing something good in one region, are we replicating that in other regions?”
While the products were there to be sold, Doble says the sheer demand for them presented a problem for sales, with technology unable to keep up.
“We’ve got a propriety software called Impulse which we use with our partner websites and essentially demand was up… we couldn’t develop fast enough to meet what the sales team were asking us to do and that was because there was probably a bit of an old fashioned approach with IT as to how to do that,” she said.
“We went towards… more of a continuous delivery type of technology model. That reduced a lot of the inefficiencies that were happening, which meant that we were able to release large technical releases two to three times a week, or on demand, as opposed to once a month.”
But spearheading such a global transformation, especially during a global health pandemic, requires a clear vision.
“To succeed, you need to create a culture of change and you absolutely need to make sure people know what your vision is, what you’re going to do to help them get there, and they need to know that you’ve got their best interest at heart,” Doble said.
“Coming in and going ‘this is where we’re going to go and, as an executive, I’m going to provide you with that cover in order for you to get there’ is vital because often when we try and change, if an organisation is not ready for it or they don’t have the stomach for it, usually the first thing that goes wrong, it becomes a bit of a blame culture.
“Once people know you’re there not to harm them but to protect them, people very happily adapt and change because they want to make their company better… they want to see the company become successful, so they want to believe that someone’s going to help them do that.”