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CIO50 2022 #26-50 James Robins, Peoplecare

  • Name James Robins
  • Title Chief information and digital officer
  • Company Peoplecare
  • Commenced role January 2019
  • Reporting Line Chief executive officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Technology Function 14 in IT function, 3 direct reports
  • Related

    Not-for-profit health fund, Peoplecare, has undertaken a major digital transformation program that has helped ensure the organisation continues to live up to its name in service of its 30,000-plus members.

    Chief information and digital officer, James Robbins tells CIO Australia that phone and face-to-face service have long been core to Peoplecare delivering the high levels of personal engagement that have come to define the brand.

    But over the past few years it’s become harder to maintain, demanding a new approach.

    “Staff turnover is high, hybrid work environments means new solutions are needed to share information, and face-to-face contact with members has significantly declined,” Robins says. 

    In response, he and his team created a new programme called ‘Moments that Matter’ with the aim of identifying key moments in individual member’s journeys while ensuring they’re aligned with the appropriate services across different channels.

    “We have enabled Peoplecare to deliver timely and personalised communications to our membership based on their needs in the moment that our members need us regardless of the channel they engage us on”.

    The organisation’s overarching digital strategy is made up of a content management system, integration platform and data platform.

    “Using these enablers, we have been able to integrate our systems to use business rules to interrogate our core backend system, and identify when best to communicate with individuals, over what channel and with what message,” Robins explains.

    “We are now able to implement functions and services that differentiate us from our competitors within the systems and platforms that we manage, rather than relying on the operator of our core backend system.”

    And while ‘mobile’ has become the primary channel for Peoplecare to engage with its members, everything is integrated with its website to help better understand what information members are seeking.

    Integrated experiences

    In fact, Robins and his team have brought significantly higher levels of integration across the board.

    For example, Peoplecare’s ‘Contact Centre’ system integrates in the same way (via the integration platform), helping call centre staff see more quickly what is already known about members, and a “seamless view” of all prior interactions via various digital channels.

    This has changed the way Peoplecare operates.

    “Instead of focussing on a member’s phone call reactively and in isolation and reacting to the member’s need in the moment, we now have a coordinated, cross-channel, continuous engagement with members that uses a data-driven approach to pro-actively contact them when we are able to help them,” Robins explains.   

    Further, whereas in the past a member would have one point of contact at a time with a particular department, now all parts of the organisation come along on the full life-cycle of the member’s journey.

    Having a coordinated member engagement model is more important than ever now with so many staff working across different environments, and with customer service staff becoming harder to recruit and retain.

    “And the ability to share cross-channel information on member engagement means that hybrid work practices do not hinder member outcomes,” Robins adds.

    This has seen him and his team help Peoplecare meet key KPIs across member retention, realisation of record-high NPV (net present value) results, and being rated by global research firm IPSOS as leaders in ‘Customer Service’ and for being ‘Easy to Understand’.

    First CIO

    A member of the executive team, Robins reports directly to Peoplecare’s CEO, and is part of a management structure that brings together a diverse range of leaders with remits spanning finance, HR, marketing and others.

    Its implementation coincided with Robins’ appointment as the organisation’s first chief information and digital officer in January 2019, where he has consistently championed the importance of ensuring that all of people, process and technology are part of all conversations and each solution.

    “By making technology part of the conversation, and not leading with technology as the solution, I find that conversations are far more productive and tend to drive towards the business outcome rather than getting sidelined by vested interests”.

    For example, he chaired a working group of senior leaders to develop  Peoplecare’s market segment strategy, bringing together cross-functional leaders from across the organisation and using data and research to target market segments and align them with the organisation’s brand and capability.

    Robins and his team helped Peoplecare apply collaborative working techniques to build a high-performing team of people that had not worked together closely before.

    This collaborative working group allowed each department to influence the market strategy and to understand how it could contribute to the organisation’s success, while also understanding the value that other departments were bringing.

    “[They] determined how to best leverage product, marketing, health services, customer service and digital/IT to allow us to focus on our target segment to drive growth and profitability,” Robins explains.

    “This engagement was key to enabling IT to been seen as a key contributor to business success rather than simply a service provider”.

    David Binning

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