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Digital Transformation

Microsoft Cloud streamlines global growth for QIC

QIC has a long proud history. We were created in 1991 by the Queensland Government and since then have evolved to become a global, diversified alternative investment firm dedicated to delivering investment outcomes for clients.

The strategy of the firm is anchored in growth; growth for clients, growth for the firm and growth globally.

To support that, QIC needs reliable and secure information systems that can support rapid expansion, that can flex and scale internationally, and also provide anytime anywhere access for our people to the intelligence and insights that are essential to a successful financial services business.

We understood we needed to modernise our technology infrastructure – to move away from buying, building and operating computer systems – and to adopt a global cloud-based architecture that can support teams across Australia as well as in the US and Europe, and anywhere else we might expand in the future.

As a financial services business we had a lot riding on this and carefully built out the business case for technology transformation over six months. The close alignment with the business strategy meant we were able to get strong support from the executive and board. They understood why this was so important, and the strong endorsement from the board was really important to the success of this project.

As a company, we are less focused on the operational aspects of our move to Azure and more focused on harvesting the technical innovation that the cloud brings and being able to put that in the hands of QIC staff.

In the past we had data centres in Brisbane that provided services delivered to virtual desktops. It worked well enough in Australia; and when we started to expand into the UK and US we just extended the modus operandi.

But as we continue to go global and growth accelerates it was clear that approach was limiting and expensive.

We are expanding dramatically – for example our US plans will mean another 200-300 people coming on board. That sort of rapid global expansion needs a different technology strategy.

The in house system that we had in the past could not be easily rolled out to different jurisdictions as QIC grew – it was a business inhibitor. We realised that the best approach was to use secure, trusted, global cloud services.

We selected Microsoft for multiple reasons – its global reach, global presence, and architecture on a global scale provides scope for us to expand. If we want an operating centre in Asia then we just add another point of presence without having to redesign and rethink.

Wherever our people travel to, wherever the business expands we now have the cloud based information systems to support them. And we’re able to support sudden and dramatic expansion of the business – technology is no longer a blocker.

My team of 35, working with Microsoft, SMS and MOQDigital has taken control of QIC’s transformation programme and the transition to the cloud.

Microsoft Azure has allowed us to create points of presence in the US, in Europe and Australia to support teams internationally and keep pace with QIC’s growth plans.

We have gone live with our first cloud application – a document management system called QDocs based on SharePoint online.

We’ve transitioned that off HP and into SharePoint and will make it accessible to teams all over the world. QIC has around 1,000 users internationally and that will only grow.

We’re also rolling out more Office 365 services – Outlook, Skype for Business, Microsoft InTune for mobile device management. The remainder of the applications in the Brisbane data centre will be transitioned to Azure by the end of the year.

Azure and Microsoft’s array of software supports rich collaboration among the QIC teams. Not just domestic teams – but the large team coming on board in the US for example. We like the idea that Skype, Exchange, One Drive and SharePoint are there for the business, and will support greater workplace flexibility and employee mobility.

Whichever jurisdiction our staff are working in they can access up to date information securely and communicate and collaborate with colleagues.

We’ve also decided to transition to Windows 10, completing the Microsoft ecosystem at QIC, and taking advantage of its enhanced security and mobility features. Windows 10 gives us greater integration and it completes the story for end-user productivity, computing mobility, global cloud reach and we like its firm posture on security.

It really lifts user capabilities and we’ve just completed the transition.

Because we are a financial institution systems security and resilience is critical. We performed an extensive review of the security of both Azure and Office 365, and it’s in line with our needs as a financial service provider. We’ve added a few extra layers as well.

Azure and Windows 10 meanwhile provide us with a secure, controlled environment for our teams to access QIC systems, whether that’s from home, at a client’s offices, in a Starbucks.

Three years from now this will be a really scalable and flexible global platform that will support QIC’s growth plans sustainably and also meet the needs of a diversified user base.

It also positions QIC to be a leader in cloud security practices, and a quick and early assessor of technologies such as blockchain, analytics and big data as they begin to really impact the financial services industry.

We now have technology tightly integrated with the business so that we can respond swiftly to changing business needs and strategy and rapidly and effectively translate technology transformation into benefits for QIC and our customers.