Allan Farrell joined the business as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the summer of FY18 to spearhead an ever-growing technology team, all working toward the common goal of assisting and accelerating the business’ colossal ambitions to scale out.
“Upon joining, it was immediately obvious that the firm’s ambitions were being driven by innovation in a major point of differentiation – our API’s. They drive significant value for clients such as Compare the Market, The Times, Lloyds Bank and others across multiple industries. These solutions are provisioned on a scalable cloud-based platform that are fully resilient, where we pay on usage, and enable us to scale up or down quickly depending upon business and client demand.”
“Moving into 2019 and looking further ahead, those ambitions remain where new business is being won and we continue to grow at pace, though our approach to technology has evolved.
Our new technology strategy is totally business driven. We need to be extremely agile, and speed to market is key as we have a multitude of opportunities for product, subscription models and user experience innovation. Our approach is to use strategic partners to quickly source expertise and to partner with best in class technology providers to buy the technology required to drive our business forward. Previously our internal business applications were built from the ground up and now we are looking to buy best in class technology platforms that will power our strategy forward.
We have adopted three key principles to guide us through 2019 and beyond: cloud-first, buy not build and configure not customise. Why does this matter?
Being in the cloud not only enables us to be resilient and scale up or down our computing power on demand, but also frees up key resources to move away from technology operations into driving innovation for our clients.
Buying technology means that we can leverage top class software that has all of the in-built features we need to drive quote to cash processes, new products, subscriptions and new digital customer experiences very quickly, and without technology team’s intervention.
And finally, it is critical to configure the out of box and not customise. The increase in technology spend required to make bespoke changes, the increase in ongoing maintenance cost as a result, and the impact on quality and time to market can be significant. The most desirable approach is to optimise ways of working and change business processes to enable teams to work with new software out of the box.
By using this approach to configure best in class technology platforms that essentially work out of the box, we can bring world-class experiences to our customers and clients in record speed. This allows creating new products and services and bringing new innovations to our clients to essentially be sales and marketing driven. Our technology strategy aims to make the whole company extremely agile and able to respond to the forces that create market opportunities: cloud, mobile, information and social.”
"We at ELLO Media are creating something special where we can worry much less about technology stability and compliance and focus on enabling innovation with a laser focus on customer experience, because ultimately our customers are at the receiving end of everything we do.”
What does ‘cloud-first’ mean?
Cloud-first is a way of thinking, and a strategy that more businesses should be adopting. In essence, a cloud-first approach allows businesses to bring their applications to consumers much faster.
Cloud-first businesses seamlessly design their applications ready for the cloud, meaning they are no longer developed on their own on-premise technologies but rather on the cloud where there is no management of infrastructure, servers or storage to worry about. This not only reduces costs substantially, but provides the ability to collaborate better through these applications – delivering seamless experiences across multiple channels.
What are we doing about ‘cloud-first’?
Looking ahead, all of our technology decisions will be geared towards minimising the dependency on our internal resources. The building, managing, and maintaining of the hardware and software that delivers our world-class consumer products requires a huge amount of time and resource from our internal teams.
The cloud-first approach is a far more intuitive and simplistic approach for us as a business to adopt, as it will streamline our processes and remove the possibility of human error. This approach will also naturally improve the scalability of our infrastructure which will protect and support our ambitious growth plans.
What does ‘buy not build’ mean?
The mentality of “we can build this ourselves” shows ambition within a business, but it can severely impact success if the technology they are trying to build internally is outside of the business’ core competency.
The main advantage in buying technology over building it yourself is that a third-party will have significantly more resource as well as a more up-to-date platform to deliver your requirements efficiently and effectively. It is also in their best interest to focus all their efforts on maintaining, innovating and optimising their software to keep up with market demands and changes.
How is this changing the way we operate?
Whenever there is a new requirement within our business, our technology and enterprise team will start by looking at solutions that fulfil at least 80% of the needs specified in the requirement. Next, we will see if we can manage the 20% with process and/or people change before building and maintaining custom built software.
What does ‘configure not customise’ mean?
A customisation is an extension, feature or modification of a software feature that requires custom coding or implementation, whereas a configuration uses native tools within the system to change its behaviour or features such as adding fields or modifying drop-down lists and buttons.
Customisation can often be costly and may complicate future software upgrades because the code changes may not easily migrate to the newer version. Wherever possible, businesses should avoid customised technology and instead use configuration to meet their goals.
How are we configuring our behaviours?
The key functions within our business such as the online customer experience, user journeys, product subscriptions and price configurations will be managed by configuring rather than by customising solutions. This will reduce our dependency on internal IT resource for development, deployment and maintenance and will decrease time to market by having these key functions available.
"2019 will be a monumental year for ELLO Media. With ambitious growth plans, new technology in place and a suite of new products and functionality on the horizon, we are confident that we will achieve our business goals and continue to shape the way UK businesses approach customer loyalty."