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CIO50 2020 #26-50: Tim Aynsley, Mercury NZ

  • Name Tim Aynsley
  • Title Head of ICT
  • Company Mercury NZ
  • Commenced role May 2019
  • Reporting Line General manager – retail and digital
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Technology Function 20 staff, along with 10 to 30 contractors depending on work demands, 10 direct reports
  • Tim Aynsley’s responsibilities at Mercury reflect how the fast paced, and constantly evolving digital landscape is impacting ICT leadership roles.

    “Change occurs on so many levels and technology is constantly accelerating the pace of change,” says Aynsley.

    “Quite simply, as technology leaders we need to be effective enterprise change leaders in order to ensure that our business achieves its strategic outcomes.”

    This insight he strongly applies at Mercury.

    Six months into joining the energy company as head of ICT, Aynsley finds himself being part of the new retail and digital leadership team.

    As part of the change, he also took additional accountabilities as a direct report to the general manager retail & digital.

    The range of technology-enabled initiatives that he has led during that time of transition shows how Mercury is responding to shifts in the very competitive energy retail market.

    He says the team is forging through with an insights driven culture with the introduction of an advanced analytics platform and data engineering/data science capabilities. 

    This will help Mercury get richer insights around their customers such as churn propensity, segmentation, lifetime value (LTV), and profitability.

    The formation of an analytics centre of excellence across ICT and business analytics teams is also breaking down traditional silos and empowering teams to make smart and timely decisions, he states.

    A related programme covered intelligent automation. This led to deploying an AI driven chatbot and RPA capabilities into the Mercury environment.

    These deployments make it easier for their customers to engage in their channel of choice.

    After some initial anxieties, staff are embracing the use of the new platforms to eliminate mundane manual tasks, and free up people to focus on value adding activities.

    Aynsley says change management continues to be a key component of this programme. 

    Mercury is also looking at the experiences of other organisations in this space in order to ensure their workforce builds the capability to support a highly-digitised business in the future.

    “This initiative and strategy were driven by the need to continually simplify and streamline the way Mercury operates and serves customers,” says Aynsley. 

    Today, there is a regular cadence of releases that are helping the teams work smarter and that in turn helps Mercury keep energy “affordable and wonderful for customers”. 

    Mercury is also working towards the further digitisation of their customer journeys.

    Aynsley says this initiative introduced a range of end to end digitisation capabilities leveraging their SAP e-commerce platform. 

    “This platform, combined with insights from advanced analytics and a strong market brand, has redefined our customer acquisition strategy.” 

    Mercury is now making the bold move away from high cost, outbound acquisition sales tactics that typically attract customers with a high churn propensity and lower customer lifetime value (CLV). 

    Using the new capabilities, Mercury now has an inbound, digital first strategy for customer acquisition, making it simpler and easier for customers while also lowering acquisition costs, he states.

    His team is also working on the digitalisation of their operations and maintenance (O&M) capability. 

    Generation assets, such as hydro dams and geothermal plants are at the heart of Mercury’s 100 per cent renewable energy portfolio, he explains.

    “This initiative has seen the co-creation of a strategy and multi-year roadmap that will enhance asset performance by applying analytics to O&M decision-making and planning,” says Aynsley. 

    “The work is seen as the important first step in the modernisation and digitisation of the generation business operating model.”

    This initiative required the reshaping of the way ICT engaged with the key generation senior managers, building trust and leveraging the unique capabilities offered by both teams.

    Aynsley recently reshaped the ICT organisational structure and operating model, moving it to become product centric to deliver more sustainable strategic value.

    He explains that his team has a broad enterprise remit from strategy through to execution, including enterprise architecture and strategy, security and technology risk, ePMO, ICT service and commercial management, digital platforms, and data and analytics platforms.

    He has also taken a lead around promoting health and wellbeing within ICT and across Mercury.

    He has established a people council within ICT to provide support and focus on this issue. 

    He notes how the current ICT team is one of the most culturally diverse within Mercury. 

    “Recruitment protocols are now in place to further improve gender diversity,” he states.

    “I promote a balanced leadership style, starting with people but equally comfortable dealing with the strategic, delivery, risk and commercial aspects of the role.”

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