Simon Liste, main information and facts technological know-how officer, Pension Safety Fund


Simon Liste, chief info know-how officer (CITO) at the Pension Safety Fund (PPF), appears to be back on the progress his crew has manufactured above the past two several years with fulfillment. When he past spoke with Personal computer Weekly in Could 2020, Liste was making use of his organisation’s commitment to the cloud to defeat the difficulties of a speedy shift to remote performing.

The PPF safeguards the financial futures of near to 10 million people who belong to far more than 5,200 British isles outlined reward pension schemes. Just one of Liste’s key roles given that assuming the CITO purpose at the organisation in direction of the end of 2018 has been offering a a few-year strategic program to assistance this get the job done, like a shift to the cloud, disaggregation of the PPF’s help model and a tougher stance on cyber security.

Now, with most of that function entire, the PPF is moving into a new three-12 months strategic plan. Liste suggests his organisation is using the sturdy foundations it is now constructed to assistance get ready for a new wave of electronic-led companies.

“We’ve arrive a very long way from wherever we have been,” he claims. “We have been transforming and altering, but we have been executing that although the aircraft was nonetheless in the air. But it is been genuinely good. I consider everybody’s embraced the adjust.”

Liste claims that when the previous 3 several years have been concentrated on transforming the perception of IT across the enterprise, which include how it’s utilised by the organisation and how it could reward its users, the new approach aims to acquire digital transformation to the subsequent phase.

“There was usually a bridge option for the following three years,” he says. “Our operate now is about interconnecting. And engineering and digital is just one of the strategic pillars for the enterprise going forward.”

Embracing the cloud

When Liste final spoke with Computer Weekly, he spelled out how he’d introduced IT administration again in-house. He’d disaggregated the guidance product to spread provision throughout a sequence of suppliers, minimizing the degree of probable risk from being around-reliant on 1 provider.

Liste also outlined his drive for a cloud-1st approach to IT implementation, employing technologies and vendors such as Microsoft 365, Azure, Groups, Zoom and VMware. He claims the tempo of the change to the cloud has quickened significantly during the previous two several years.

“We’re about 90% there now – and that is not just testing and development, that consists of creation,” he states. “We’ve got dwell vital enterprise useful resource preparing systems sitting down in the cloud.”

Lots of of the PPF’s cloud products and services are centered on Microsoft applications. Liste claims making use of the Microsoft stack, which includes its details analytics resource Energy BI, provides his enterprise on-demand from customers entry to reliable applications that assistance ongoing digital transformation.

“There’s no level reinventing the wheel when you have extremely thriving solutions and options out there,” he states.

“Technology is now about enabling the business as opposed to just currently being a-side-of-the-table conversation. It is at the forefront of conversations about the foreseeable future of the business enterprise throughout all of our services”

Simon Liste, Pension Protection Fund

“Our target is the appropriateness of products and services. Everything’s usually about value. The digital system we’re creating is really an financial investment for the organization, but we also believe the return on expense is heading to arrive back rather rapid.”

Liste states the notion of technologies has been boosted throughout the earlier two a long time. Whilst responding to the coronavirus pandemic was a significant challenge, he states the govt crew has viewed very first-hand how a mix of cloud-primarily based companies and the tactical use of information can deliver big advantages for the PPF, its employees and its users.

“The engineering came into its have throughout Covid-19 by supporting the organisation,” he states. “Luckily, our staff members had been capable to operate from house, to collaborate nicely with inner stakeholders and the high-quality of the services for our users was preserved.”

Choosing very good partners

When the PPF is a heavy person of Microsoft items, Liste is eager to assure his organisation is not hemmed into an above-reliance on a solitary supplier. Owning by now overseen a shift to a disaggregated hybrid product managed by the company’s inside technological innovation group, Liste says any opportunity new service provider will have to meet up with some key requirements.

“It’s all about engagement,” he says. “Any seller we operate with have to acquire into our values. After all, it’s not just about what you do, it is about how you do it as well. So, we’re regularly reviewing who we’re doing the job with. We’re normally tough our companions and producing absolutely sure they have an understanding of it’s a partnership.”

The PPF not long ago onboarded a few strategic companions in security and network style and design. 1 of the important specifications for that operate covered values and ethics. Liste claims sustainability is at the core of his small business ideas. Any associates need to also have a powerful range and inclusion (D&I) commitment.

“We’re incredibly selective about who we perform with and we make absolutely sure they mirror our values all around what we provide internally inside the organisation. We do a seller assurance programme as perfectly, where by we examine our associates. If you say you abide by D&I, clearly show us that determination,” he says.

“What’s your real strategy for sustainability? How will you adhere to our security necessities? We know what we believe that. We’re not perfect, but we do anticipate the associates we operate with to travel that exact same agenda. There’s a responsibility for organizations to maintain their associates to account and make absolutely sure they’re performing what they say they will.”

Strengthening cyber defences

Liste has also expended the earlier two yrs supporting to bolster the PPF’s cyber defences. 1 vital aspect has been assembly the requirements involved to Cyber Essentials Additionally, the extended model of the Nationwide Cyber Protection Centre’s (NCSC) certification programme, which consists of a palms-on specialized verification.

“When we last spoke, we had been searching at maturing our protection profile,” he claims. “NCSC modified the needs previous yr and so we recertified. All our initiatives here are about supporting and securing collaboration internally and externally. Accessibility to info is remaining built less complicated, safer and more seamless.”

“All our attempts in this article are about supporting and securing collaboration internally and externally. Obtain to facts is remaining manufactured less difficult, safer and far more seamless”
Simon Liste, Pension Protection Fund

As section of the PPF’s efforts to make the most of facts, the organisation continues to rationalise inner hardware and storage. Liste states going to the cloud and minimizing the motivation to conventional in-dwelling IT also assists the organisation meet sustainability targets.

“We’ve rationalised and we’re actually reducing the footprint. We have moved absent from the standard way of wanting at datacentres and catastrophe restoration. Because we’re shifting so considerably to the cloud, we’re obtaining rid of a person of our datacentres. And that ties into our commitments all around sustainability,” he states.  

“We’ve focused on provide your individual unit and giving options all around portability and accessibility, but securely. So, know-how is now about enabling the business enterprise as opposed to just currently being a-facet-of-the-table discussion. It’s at the forefront of discussions about the long term of the company throughout all of our products and services.”

Providing digital providers

Though the progress the PPF has made in quite a few parts over the past two years is remarkable, Liste recognises the motion forward has been slower in other folks. Again in 2020, he pointed out extended-phrase plans for the digitisation of providers and the creation of multi-channel alternatives. Two decades on and Liste says there’s nonetheless a lot get the job done to do below.

“If I’m trustworthy, we’re not where we wished to be, since I wished to introduce automation and synthetic intelligence (AI) – so points like internet chat and chatbots – to lead and guideline the members a good deal more,” he says.

Liste claims the obstacle of offering the magnitude of transform jobs relating to cloud solutions, moreover the issues related to dealing with Covid-19, indicate some of all those multi-channel abilities are likely to be shipped through the following 12 months.

“We’re not that much at the rear of wherever we need to be, but there was a ton of legacy code and technological personal debt that we had to handle. We have rationalised – so now, if you’re a member, it’s much easier to engage with us and speak to us by way of electronic kinds. There is now a ton much more to do in terms of workflows and automation,” he states.

“But we’re heading to be definitely pushing AI and chatbots. And that is the concentrate for the next 12 months and over and above. We want a chatbot that can help our users get the solutions to their thoughts routinely. So, placing AI-led intelligence into our back-conclude will be the following stage of the providers we’re giving for our users.”

Making enthusiasm for IT

Liste suggests the objective for the upcoming three years is to change the IT operating model and to improve the digital capability that sits outside the house the technological know-how office.

The PPF’s new strategic approach aims to adjust how the organisation uses details. Although the IT crew will concentration on creating the proper platforms to guidance this approach, there will also be a huge amount of money of perform to make certain individuals throughout the organization are at ease with new methods of doing work.

“Like just about anything, alter is a private point, so some people today are a great deal extra adaptive, and others just take a little bit much more time to adapt. But from a worth-generation facet, I think there’ll be efficiencies and time financial savings, and there’ll be exhilaration,” he suggests.

“We’ve been holding town corridor conferences with people outside the IT division to build their enthusiasm. What we’re looking at is they want to use extra technological know-how since they know it is likely to make their functioning existence less complicated and extra successful.”

As men and women throughout the organization come to be cozy with electronic and info, Liste hopes line-of-organization models start off producing some of their individual IT conclusions, with assistance from a main technology device. Liste’s vision, therefore, is to put facts at the main of the way that the PPF operates – devoid of creating complex difficulties.

“We’re not just talking about technological innovation as a different conversation,” he says. “By the finish of this a few-yr strategy, I hope we’ll see that there’ll be complex capabilities that are sitting down outdoors of technologies. The governance controls are even now centrally managed, but you will see the use of information and digital will have developed throughout the enterprise itself.”