Industry NZ eyeballs total view of customer

Establishing a "360-degree" view of information is the underlying mantra at Industry New Zealand (INZ). Its attitude to clients is no different, says IMT (information management and technology) manager Phil Hayward.

Establishing a “360-degree” view of information is the underlying mantra at Industry New Zealand (INZ). Its attitude to clients is no different, says IMT (information management and technology) manager Phil Hayward.

The government’s business assistance and development arm wants to be able to see every point at which the organisation “touches” its clients.

Hence Industry NZ is knee-deep in its implementation of Pivotal’s CRM (customer relationship management) application suite. About 50 “base users”, primarily from the customer contact centre, business growth and regional economic development advisers, grants and awards administration, and the BIZ small business advisory, were given access to the system before Christmas, says Hayward.

The aim is to allow “pretty much” the rest of the organisation’s 100 staff access to the system this month. Privacy is key, he says, and INZ has put much work into building levels of security so that staff can see client basics but not details unless they are authorised. This principle applies even more so for training partners and other suppliers, who can enter the system via the internet.

The system will be used for client management, handling the 16-month-old organisation’s various grants and awards schemes. (INZ was established in October 2000, its board appointed by the Minister of Economic Development, Jim Anderton. Described by Anderton as a “jobs machine”, INZ’s remit is to develop businesses, sectors and regions, attracting high-growth projects and encouraging positive public attitudes to entrepreneurship and business success.)

“Because we’re in set-up mode, we know the business will change and evolve,” says Hayward. Staff can see, for example, progress on grants or who the client contact is. The main objective is the much-coveted single view of the client to allow consistent delivery of service, says Hayward, something he thinks would ideally be applied on a “whole-of-government” basis.

Because INZ has effectively been building its own databases from the ground up — though it brought across some data from MED — it is easier to maintain consistent data and achieve the single view of the customer.

The benefit for clients is that anyone contacted at INZ can immediately tap into their history — INZ can get a picture of the customer in the context of an business development lifecycle, and thus be able to offer advice on matters such as capital investment, Trade NZ help or training in preparation for an export drive.

Hayward arrived halfway through the process in July 2001, after six years in the electricity industry with companies such as TransAlta. He says the organisation knew that typical private-sector reasons for buying into CRM, such as upselling products and maximising profit per customer, would not apply directly.

However, he notes that while INZ doesn’t sell products as such, it is driven to “sell” its services to achieve its primary directive of aiding economic development. “We use it in a very similar way to private enterprise, just not to make money — well, not for us anyway; to make money for them.” Using taxpayer dollars most efficiently means tracking whether money spent was being targeted correctly and not being duplicated, he says.

INZ’s almost hybrid attitude to service — refreshing, says Hayward — would surely be praised by a recent 11-country report (not including New Zealand) on government CRM by consultancy Accenture, which suggests commercially developed CRM principles can be critical to the success of government agencies. Agencies, many of which are already collecting customer interaction data, are mostly using the information for public relations purposes and internal staff cost management than streamlining processes or improving basic customer service, says Accenture. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they appear loath to segment customers into classes or groups the way a private-sector organisation would.

Pivotal was chosen after 19 responses to an RFI, nine to an RFP and a shortlisting to three, because it offered the most flexibility and functionality— in short, “bang for the buck”. It also fits INZ’s infrastructure, exclusively Windows 2000 and Intel.

The organisation, which has a total budget of over $80 million, didn’t have to justify the investment based on what’s gone before, Hayward says, because nothing has. It only had to prove it could do its job better, using technology, which was a “no brainer”. A clearer return on investment will be seen when INZ ties in external information such as economic growth statistics and regional fluctuations to measure the results of what it does — something it expects to do this year.

Computerland was chosen as Industry NZ’s IT infrastructure partner, after a search last year.

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