ICT shifts to a customer-focused model,delivers gains from consolidation
Our Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has transitioned to a customer-centric function. We have adopted major infrastructure upgrades, focusing on specific competencies that are needed for our operations, business conduct and corporate functions.
This transition, achieved on the strength of the shared services platform, has enabled us to proactively meet the planned needs of Ma’aden’s businesses and quickly respond to their new and unanticipated challenges.
ICT was the first internal service function chosen to migrate to a shared services platform, and the new consolidated model began operations on January 1, 2016. A year later, the restructured ICT organization is in an excellent position to serve Ma’aden’s needs of tomorrow as the Group further strengthens its focus on operational excellence and new growth.
Strategy and initiatives
Our strategy is built on three fundamental goals of ICT as a service organization:
- cost and service delivery,
- customer focus and
- connectivity, ICT infrastructure and security.
We launched eight strategic initiatives that are helping us deliver value across the three objectives:
- Shared services
- ICT outsourcing
- Culture change for business process transformation
- World-class communication at sites
- Information security
- Enterprise-wide business intelligence
- Post-modern ERP
- IT and automation
Each of these initiatives offer significant benefits. The ICT shared services became a pilot project that others could draw lessons from. On outsourcing, we adopted a strategy that identified non-strategic ICT services to be outsourced in a cost-effective manner and strategic services to be retained within Ma’aden.
Business process transformation enables individuals to take ownership of their projects and manage data more efficiently. We helped streamline the business processes with common automation platforms that will enhance system utilization and offer more agility in realizing business improvements.
In ensuring that Ma’aden sites offer world-class communication capabilities, our focus in 2016 was on infrastructure consolidation. Our efforts are aimed at supporting the needs of workers living in remote areas to communicate better and to enable an increasingly mobile workforce to communicate securely. We are also identifying new and improved communications technology for the sites.
Information security is even more important. It involves protection of all of Ma’aden’s application solutions and data on Ma’aden and external servers, as well as on employee devices, and shielding these valuable assets from cyber-attacks.
Based on a business intelligence strategy developed in 2016, we are migrating businesses from the old platform to the most recent. These will be supported by advanced analytics tools.
Looking at the future, we are aware that Ma’aden’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) practices will need to evolve with the times. A desire for both greater business agility and functional advantage is the key driver for emerging solutions such as cloud computing, and Ma’aden’s priorities in ERP will align with these business requirements.
We are establishing an IT and automation strategy panel to support our three-phased approach:
- leverage and further strengthen the IT environment as a business advantage;
- develop advanced analytics and big data capability to improve business performance and
- explore advanced automation and robotics solutions on a business case basis.
Our key achievements in 2016 include a broad range of upgrades, provision of timely support to enable new operations, leveraging existing technology platforms, development of a new application in-house and cost control.
The recent infrastructure and information security upgrades include:
- improved network communications through a new strategic contract with our service provider and by fine-tuning our design;
- enhanced IP telephony, video and web conferencing capabilities;
- improved IT security and internet service by reducing our internet gateways from 15 to 6 and
- consolidation from four data centers to two.
We mobilized our staff to new operating locations, developed and configured new applications extensively and established the necessary ICT infrastructure at the new operations sites in Ad Duwayhi (gold mine) and the MWSPC facilities at Umm Wu’al in Wa’ad Al Shamal.
We are proud that Ma’aden ICT developed its first internally created application and implemented it for Human Resources to facilitate a 360 degree evaluation process for employees. This experience has built a solid foundation for similar developments in the future, some of which are already underway.
A key objective of the consolidation of ICT as shared services was to reduce cost. As we achieved the planned cost synergies, we managed to reduce ICT costs in 2016 by over SAR6 million when compared to 2015. With the active participation of our internal customers, we implemented a cost-saving license management program for end user licenses. We also managed to save costs by leveraging internal capabilities more effectively without outside system integrator support.
We implemented a new service desk platform called ServiceNow, clearing the way to introduce additional shared service functions in the future. We also enhanced our Oracle stack of technology through the first phase of our implementation of Oracle Engineered Systems, resulting in significant improvements in system performance.
Ma’aden hosted a Technology Innovation Day on August 29, 2016 which was attended by senior executives, hundreds of employees and several leading ICT companies. The event included a conference and an exhibition where the participating companies presented their technological innovations.