CIO implements cloud-based applications

By Merri Mack
Wednesday, 07 July, 2010

Having been CIO of South East Water in Victoria for six years has not diminished Marcus Darbyshire’s excitement for the job. In fact, he says he has the best job in the company. How many people can say that and actually mean it? Voice&Data’s Merri Mack finds out why.

Darbyshire was the IT Operations Manager for the utility for five years before taking up the role of CIO. Working with smart people, always having interesting and challenging goals ahead and having IT as a recognised centre of excellence for the utility are just some of the reasons for Darbyshire’s happiness. One suspects making a difference by using technology in an innovative way for his customers is also a key motivator for his job satisfaction. He enjoys the enterprise-wide view and being jointly accountable for bottom- and top-line growth.

The successful implementation of a transformational unified communications solution and virtualising the data centres, and plans for replacing the ERP system and implementing a new CRM system are the major projects engaging him this year. Darbyshire is eager to maximise the value from the company’s investment in document management, project management and collaboration tools from OpenText and Microsoft.

South East Water’s CIO is experiencing increasing levels of sophisticated cloud-based applications entering the company’s application portfolio. “Each month I’m seeing an old application being replaced with a new cloud application. Software as a service is really getting traction now,” said Darbyshire. He is also excited by the prospects of data deduplication for reducing costs from archiving and recovery.

South East Water is one of three Melbourne water utilities. Servicing over 1.3 million people, the water utility manages $2 billion of infrastructure and assets, has over 800 employees and has a combined IT budget of around $12 million a year. In addition, South East Water provides IT services to other utilities in Victoria and interstate and also in New Zealand through its alliance business.

Unlike other organisations that suffered cutbacks during the GFC, South East Water has been trying to increase its efficiency while servicing a growing population in south-east Melbourne, which is creating increased demand for IT services. This meant that Darbyshire and his team had the challenge of quickly recruiting and integrating 30% more people into new IT project teams.

When recruiting, Darbyshire emphasised that the right cultural fit for his IT team was vital. “Our company’s vision is about providing innovative solutions for a better future. It’s critical that my team help our business deliver the strategic priorities and solutions that our customers are demanding,” he said.

Darbyshire is very excited about how social media is being used in enterprises to better engage their customers and communities. He works closely with the marketing and communications team to ensure South East Water is a leading utility in this area so it can more effectively engage with its customers. “Our customers have great ideas which we can use and feed back into our business and strategy,” said Darbyshire.

Darbyshire is conscious of having before- and after-work hobbies, creating a balance between work and pleasure and between mental and physical activities. He is a regular at the gym most mornings and is a fervent photographer; in fact, he is so passionate about photography he said, “I’d almost give up my day job for it - except the pay’s lousy.” A further interest is being an active technology blogger; and because he wants to be the best leader possible, he is an avid reader of personal development books and websites.

Marcus Darbyshire is the Chief Information Officer at South East Water. He is the past IT Operations Manager and has also been an IT Project Manager for the utility. As CIO he has delivered reliable IT operations and successful IT projects while engaging his clients with innovative technology solutions, strategic planning and effective IT governance.

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