As super funds become more complex beasts, so must their trustee offices. They will need to at least consider the possibilities of cloud computing if they are to keep up, argues RAGAV JAGANNATHAN, general manager of Microsoft solutions at the IQ Business Group. If you have anything to do with the typical Australian superannuation fund’s trustee office, you have probably asked yourself a version of the following questions – • How can I improve collaboration within the trustee office team and find, use and share information promptly to improve responsiveness to member needs? • How could the office better manage, track and report on organisational initiatives and projects, including where third parties are involved? • How can trustee board and sub-committes secretarial processes be improved?
• How can the ongoing cost of IT be reduced and made more predictable? Cloud Computing capabilities, especially Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, address these questions by converging delivery speed with agility to respond and flexibility to adapt to Trustee office requirements, while reducing ongoing IT costs.
While share registries and banks are utilising more electronic media, the superannuation industry is only starting to embrace technology as a viable, efficient and cost effective means of • Communicating with members, and • Improving internal processes around document management and distribution, task management and control, employee collaboration, project reporting and initiative management. To some extent, underutilisation of technology in the trustee office (in particular, the not-for-profit funds) has its roots in a misplaced reliance on third party administrators (TPAs) to fill the above needs. In many cases, both the TPA and the trustee office are unhappy with the arrangement. With Generation Y expected to comprise more than 43 per cent of the workforce by 2020, there is going to be far greater demand for new communication, collaboration and content management accessible via the internet from anywhere, anytime. This is the instant generation demanding instant access, instant response and instant gratification. Given this future, what is holding the super industry back? The answer lies in two key areas:
1. Business processes Business processes represent one of the biggest barriers to new technology adoption on two fronts: • Traditional processes that propagate manual workflows simply because “we have always done it that way”. • Technology gaps, or technology implementations that fail to deliver the goods, resulting in businesses resorting to manual, paper based processes. For example, in most trustee offices an inordinate amount of time and effort is consumed in preparing material for board meetings, to the extent that several days each month may be earmarked as a ‘no go’ zone for working on strategic initiatives and fund operations. In many cases, the real problem is not correctly defining or understanding what it really is that we want the technology to do. Hence the requirements for collaborative websites/portals are not well defined. So how does the industry get over this hurdle?