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CIO50 2021 #26-50: Karl Wright, Datacom Group

  • Name Karl Wright
  • Title CIO and CISO
  • Company Datacom Group
  • Commenced role August 2020
  • Reporting Line Chief Financial Officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 120 staff, five direct reports
  • Karl Wright, chief information officer and chief information security officer at Datacom, is considered the resident champion for customers, people and technology, marrying the two to adapt in a world where the new normal is constantly evolving.

    With over 30 years’ leadership experience in the information and technology space, Wright has accumulated a vast range of expertise from software engineering, to people and process management, and cybersecurity.

    Datacom’s pandemic response group (PRG), Wright’s experience and expertise served Datacom well in its response to COVID-19 and the support needed to enable customers and more than 5000+ of its own Datacom’s staff to work remotely.

    Wright has (multiple times) expanded Datacom’s contact centre services part of its business in Australia and recently in New Zealand to operate thousands of additional people to provide immediate expansion of essential citizen services. Over the last year, Datacom’s contact centres have had to quickly ramp up and down capacity to meet a short-term demand for staff for the provision of citizen services.

    Rapid response

    With Australian government agencies suddenly being deluged with calls about health, and essential services, Datacom’s contact centres were asked to add more capacity at a time when staff were being sent home. The organisation needed to add 2,000 staff to the roster in a matter of weeks instead of the usual timeframe of six months. The team had to set up a remote contact centre using our cloud desktop as a service (DaaS), relocate storage arrays to support new workers, bring in compute blades from around Australia, and, of course, set up networking, firewalls, and virtual private networks (VPNs) in record time.

    Wright has described a focus on customer needs (and value) and an ability to prioritise as being critical to a successful pandemic response and any crisis. His mantra, ‘leadership, triage, prioritise: make decisions and move quickly. Essential services come first, then those whom essential services rely on. Everything else falls into place.

    Wright has also swapped out collaboration toolsets from on premise to cloud in a short time to support work from home with robust networks and security. He has reconfigured and added new technology to adapt to new processes, simplified legacy landscapes to enable greater digital agility and simplified how Datacom staff collaborate and add customer value.

    His role has also entailed the consolidation platforms and landscapes to support a complete strategic review of Datacom’s operating model including Salesforce, NetSuite, Microsoft, telephony, contact centre platforms and automation platforms, supporting the centralised services of Datacom, and business expansion.

    Demonstrating influence

    Wright is a seasoned CIO and CISO sought after for his opinion and leadership on most major business continuity programs in the company, outside of direct traditional CIO domain. With more than 6500 people across New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, and Malaysia, his global outlook provides significant expertise on each of the executive and operational leadership teams his sits on, influencing, collaborating and leading group wide initiatives and thought leadership.

    Wright is an active supporter of the LGBTQI+ community and Datacom’s diversity and inclusion efforts. He is also an active and direct sponsor for Take2, a social enterprise that teaches groups of prisoners how to code, reidentify themselves and improve their lives, supporting their reengagement and skills for future employment.

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