BPAY Group CIO Angela Donohoe: Lessons for a Winning Tech Strategy

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
Angela Donohoe has led BPAY Group’s Business Technology Services division for the past five years, through the most transformative period in the organisation's history.

“For me, technology strategy is vitally important for every business,” says Donohoe, who was included in CIO Magazine’s top 50 IT leaders in 2020.

“Almost without exception businesses have a critical dependency on technology for their products and services, for their internal communications, and for their communications with customers and their broader business ecosystem.”

While there’s more work to be done, the BPAY Group CIO says the organisation has learned some key lessons while building its technology strategy, which enables the execution of the broader BPAY Group business strategy.

Understand what the business is trying to achieve

“The technology strategy has to be business led,” Donohoe says.

“If a business needs to be more agile, support new ways of working, set up in new locations, needs new products and services, or is facing external threats, then that business context and where the business wants to go has to be understood. This is also the case when a business needs to reduce its cost base, is losing relevance with its customers, or can't attract staff.

“This context has to set the scene for the technology strategy and what it needs to focus on.”

However, some organisations don’t actually have a clearly set out business strategy. In that case, the architects of the tech strategy need to make a set of assumptions about the business and its direction in order to build it.

For BPAY Group, an ambitious business strategy that focuses on people and culture, and adding value for a range of customers through innovative products and services, has provided clear direction for the development of new technology strategies and priorities.   

Listen and consult

Consult with business leaders and employees and listen to what they have to say.

People who have to work with the technology provided and deliver products to customers and stakeholders that rely on that technology, need to be consulted.

“The results they aspire to, and the problems they want solved, have to be acknowledged, understood, and be deliberately factored into an actionable technology strategy,” Donohoe says.

“Technology leaders have to care about the opinions of business, as well as contribute ideas, and develop valued relationships through the tech strategy development process.”

But it works the other way too, she says. “It's always more successful if the business sees the technology strategy as important, and there's broad participation from employees in its development.”

Provide guidance and insights

Organisations expect technology leaders to provide guidance and insights on what technology can do for the business. “There needs to be some education, a focus on innovation, the sharing of  possibilities, and helping business leaders appreciate how these possibilities could be turned into future business value,” Donohoe says.

Technology leaders need to understand what the business would like to see delivered from the technology,  and be able to present opportunities and solutions to the problems that need to be fixed.

Importantly, keeping pace with emerging technologies, building technology capability, developing external partnerships and building an agile experimental culture is key to future relevance and successful business results. “These areas should be addressed in the strategy, and where the thrust and focus need to be,” Donohoe says.

Understand the risks

Technology leaders need to understand the technology and cybersecurity risks that exist for their organisation and be able to communicate these in business terms because they will often be a big influence on what the strategy should consider.

“You look at risks that are present in the business today, and those that are likely to arise during the term of the strategy. The pace of change and greater awareness of risks is influencing business attitudes towards the need to upgrade or replace systems,” says Donohoe.

Access to a wide range of cloud infrastructure, platforms and software services can solve some risks and also introduce others. Understanding business risk appetite for change and transformation will also be essential to gain business support for a new tech strategy.

Cybersecurity risk, monitoring, mitigation and response has to be very specifically considered and addressed in the strategy. This includes identifying the nature of the risks for the organisation and what new technology investment is required to help mitigate the risks.

Communicate well

From the start, the need and value of a tech strategy should be established and communicated effectively to the Board, senior leadership and across the organisation. Creating different ways for people to contribute through surveys, focus groups and interviews will aid engagement and diverse opinions.

Once agreed, keeping the tech strategy at the forefront, providing regular reporting on progress, and adjusting focus or priorities as required, will be important. This will enable the technology resources and capabilities to optimise the value delivered to a business and its customers.
Published by BPAY Pty Ltd (ABN 69 079 137 518) email: marketing@bpay.com.au. The BPAY Scheme is managed by BPAY Pty Limited.  When you use BPAY payment products, the BPAY Scheme is paid fees relating to processing costs and BPAY Scheme membership.  Contact your financial institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the Product Disclosure Statement.  Any financial product advice provided by BPAY Pty Limited in relation to BPAY payment products is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on such advice, you should review the Product Disclosure.

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