Analysis

How Confused.com enabled staff to take ownership of its digital transformation

The price comparison website's CEO tells IT Pro how cloud enabled its digital transformation

Confused.com logo

Despite being an internet company, Confused.com still needed to undergo a digital transformation.

Such is the rapid rise of AI and cloud computing, the 16-year-old price comparison website only adopted a cloud service five years ago. And the tricky part was not about introducing new technology to the business, it was about introducing it to the workforce.

"We have always been tech geeks at heart and we make sure we are using technology to help customers," says Louise O'Shea, Confused.com's CEO. "I hate this idea that if we have contractors in or we outsource something, then where is the knowledge share? Where is the ownership?

"You want your team that's with you every day to feel proper ownership of what is going on, you don't want them to think 'oh that's something that is going on over there and I don't need to know about it' or think that someone else is doing all the sexy exciting things. That's not fair."

Those doing the "sexy exciting" things, were engineers from Microsoft Azure who helped to migrate the comparison site's data to the cloud. But rather than gawp in amazement from afar, or just accept the new tech would be Microsoft's problem, O'Shea and the Confused.com management team, wanted the staff to take ownership and sought to educate them.

Confused.com is a small organisation which employs 200 people, all of whom work in Cardiff, South Wales. Only a third of its staff have technology-based roles and earlier in the year the company launched a school of tech.

"I was very clear with the staff," says O'Shea. "I said: 'look, as an employer, it is my responsibility to make sure you guys are educated in technology because it's changing what we do as a business and changing what you do in your day to day job, very, very quickly'. I wanted to make sure that they had the skills while they were at Confused.com or if they left, to succeed in the future."

"We wanted them to understand what the technology can do and the possibilities, because they are the ones that will spot where they can use it in their own day to day job. The engineers in the business know how this works, but you've got to bring these two parties together."

Part of the learning curve was to partnering the staff with an engineer to both understand the technology and take away any fear.

"They are the ones that are close to what they are doing every day and can see the opportunities. If they can understand what the engineers do, then they can spot those opportunities easier. We've already had some successes with 20% of our staff going through that program," noted O'Shea. 

"Ownership is really important. If people don't own it, they are just going to say' it's someone else's thing, so I'm not going to touch it'."

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