TelstraSuper CMO on tackling digital strategy and a brand refresh

Executive general manager of marketing shares how he has fostered a relationship with IT, plus new operating models required for a digital rethink

TelstraSuper has given its brand a makeover and relaunched its website as part of efforts to bring the superannuation firm up to speed with member needs.

TelstraSuper executive general manager of marketing, Jean-Luc Ambrosi, told CMO the brand refresh and digital overhaul had been tackled together despite each being aimed at different problems and new opportunities for the business.

The brand relaunch, including new logo, was about leveraging the strength, heritage and innovative standing of the Telstra brand while freshening up the group’s image for the digital age. TelstraSuper is a corporate superfund with about 100,000 members and more than $18 billion of funds under management. Membership is open to any Telstra Group employees.

“Our brand was built for paper, and didn’t adapt for digital. But we are a digital-first brand, so it’s important to have a brand that reflects who we are,” Ambrosi said. “We wanted to keep that equity that exists around the current brand, the trust and relationship. But it’s also important to show our brand and what we do is evolving.”

The decision to launch a new digital presence, meanwhile, signalled TelstraSuper’s ambition to provide more relevant online experiences to its members, Ambrosi said. The first step was to change the CMS platform and employ something that provided more personalisation capabilities. This led to an investment in Sitecore’s digital offering.

“We found we had technology platforms that didn’t allow us to evolve,” Ambrosi explained. “We wanted to create tools and assisted paths but couldn’t do it. So we decided to change all our technology. And that was a great opportunity to rethink digital.”

Ambrosi is the executive sponsor driving digital initiatives, but he stressed the importance of decisions being organisation wide. As a result, marketing, financial planning, IT and operations were all involved in discussions about technology investment from the get go.

“If you are an organisation that’s heavily reliant on digital, decision making has to be organisation wide,” he said. “The decision making was made between technology and marketing, as it had to be done in unison. We had to be supported in what we do so that the interface we love integrates into the overall technology strategy.

“We worked with our technology team on the changes we were making in the platform but also around way of working. We introduced agile for example, which was a foreign concept to us before.”

Once teams are aligned on objectives, it’s easier to share the workload, Ambrosi said. “Both I and the technology lead wanted to create that efficiency and flexibility, and move to a different operating models for the website. What has been different is how we engaged our teams.”

The difficulty was how to take a team on an agile project while still accomplishing business as usual work, Ambrosi said. The answer was engagement and training.

“What’s critical to digital transformation is taking the people along the journey, so they understand why they are doing it and how they do it. Once they understand how the change works, they embrace it,” he said. “The biggest lesson for me is you can have as much planning as you want, but you can’t underestimate the people side and change management component. It’s critical.”

Prior to the technology rollout, TelstraSuper also researched where the brand sat compared to competitors, and where competitors were expected to move to. On top of this, the group looked outside the superannuation space to understand key trends that could disrupt the industry.

TelstraSuper is starting with a basic personalisation online, and Ambrosi said the first iteration of the new website was aimed at making it quicker and easier for members to connect with their super online. Content has also been simplified with the aim of making it shorter, sharper and more user friendly.

“It’s important we take the organisation and team with us,” Ambrosi said of the changes afoot. “The next step is that as people go through our website, we present more relevant information. It’s a step-by-step process. As we do personalisation, we don’t want to appear to be big brother. It’s all about member relevance.”

What should help TelstraSuper achieve an increasing level of relevance is a solid database and warehouse architecture, Ambrosi said.

“We have been able to build a segmentation model that’s organisation wide to start analysing and pushing information,” he said. “The next step is the integration of information across the entire organisation.”

For Ambrosi, the changes unveiled in February are just the start. One short-term priority is embedding more automation around communications and follow-up activity.

The wider objective is to expand capabilities to provide individualised content to members across all segments, stretching from millennials to retirees, he concluded.


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