Interview: Adare SEC, UK IT Industry Awards finalist

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Andrew Herd, Chief Digital and Information Officer, Adare SEC
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Andrew Herd, Chief Digital and Information Officer, Adare SEC

'Our USP is our ability to deliver transformational change in business process'

In modern times, information technology has become an essential and indispensable part of every business plan. Its usage is no longer limited to multinational firms that manage large-scale mainframe systems and databases, but also extends to small businesses that may only own a single computer.

The UK IT Industry Awards are the largest and most well-known event in the technology industry calendar. Owned and operated by Computing and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, the awards enjoy a level of professionalism and industry knowledge not seen at other shows.

Last year's winners were announced at a live awards ceremony on 9th November in London.

Adare SEC reached the shortlist for three categories: Best Financial Services IT Project of the Year; Best Technology Refresh Project of the Year; and Best User Engagement Project of the Year.

We caught up with Andrew Herd, chief digital and information officer at Adare SEC, to find out what makes his company different from other technology firms.

Andrew is responsible for building and delivering Adare SEC's digital transformation strategy, driving revenue and EBIT growth through new product development and developing the technology and change capability to meet the future needs of the business. Andrew is accountable for leading an in-house and offshore team of c110 technology and change specialists and providing oversight for all technology disciplines and the client and internal change portfolio.

Computing:  What is Adare SEC's USP?

Andrew Herd: Our USP is our ability to deliver transformational change in business process. One way we do that is through our DigitalExperience service, which is underpinned by our cloud hosted interactive communications platform. This is proving hugely popular with clients.  Once we talk to our clients about the challenges they have, we're able to quickly demonstrate how we can transform individual problems - typically centred around legacy paper-based processes - into digital experiences whilst saving money and time and improving the customer experience.

The service that we offer is consultative. We sit down with the client, talk about what they conceive the problem to be, and from there we map out the associated customer journey and customer experience. We're then able to demonstrate how quickly we can transform a problem into an advantage for them, generally making their business look more current and dynamic. There's not a client we speak to that doesn't have these legacy paper-based challenges.

What IT opportunities is Adare SEC looking forward to this year?

AH: I'm excited by the projects that we have in the pipeline in the digital transformation space, in sectors such as insurance, pensions & investments and more.

Our way of working and the speed at which we can move from consultation to implementation always surprises clients. Often, in larger organisations, the usual steps required to resolve operational process issues can be quite cumbersome. Furthermore, transformational projects of this nature often require a heavily governed project management process which can strangle innovation and initiative.

We can work in this way if the client requires it, however, with our DigitalExperience service, the process is completely differently. We'll look at a specific issue in isolation, build low-fi and hi-fi mock-ups to illustrate the end solution, and then we iterate the build process with the client, enabling us to fail fast in order to successfully reach the ultimate end-goal quickly. Our platform is pre-configured, so this allows us to commence build activity very early in the cycle. From initial consultation to building something live can be as quick as 10 to 12 weeks. What's more, because our platforms are cloud hosted and API enabled, we rarely have to interact with busy internal IT functions unless clients specifically want us to.

The task of digital transformation can be enormous and unwieldy to get off the ground, so as an alternative we are effectively helping clients to digitally transform one brick at a time - a strategy of incremental improvement. There is enormous interest in this rapid and collaborative way of working and the opportunities ahead are exciting.

How do you measure success?

AH: Obviously, as an organisation, the ultimate measure of success is the bottom-line, but client satisfaction is a key driver. On a departmental level, success is measured by whether we've delivered on all objectives that were established at the start of the year. And on a personal level, success is about our development over a long period of time. My primary goal is to help to re-pivot our business towards a digital future and so I look at the organisation holistically and ask questions such as - does the business feel different? Are we operating differently and generating new revenue streams? I believe we're doing that - so that, to me, is success.

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