Darryn Warner, Chief Information Officer (CIO), discusses how Interserve’s customer focused IT roadmap will deliver real business value through standardised and more efficient ways of working.
What’s the biggest IT challenge Interserve is currently faced with?
I’d have to say it’s making sure we have the right IT to support the business. Over the last few years our IT planning has been left up to the Divisions, often resulting in solutions which focus on the immediate task at hand: a contract, mobilisation or project.
While this has allowed us to get the job done, it means we’ve now got a number of systems which tend to do the same thing. With this comes the complexity of trying to get all these different parts to work together.
As the business grows, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to operate these disparate parts.
How do you plan tackle this?
We’re investing in modernised IT services and in providing better technology to meet our future business requirements.
As part of this, people will benefit from simplified and standardised ways of working together, and the business will benefit from a robust infrastructure better able to support Group-wide initiatives such as SustainAbilities, Building Information Modelling and innovation.
What has driven this decision to invest more in IT?
There’s no doubt that using technology to gain competitive advantage has become increasingly important for any business. For us at Interserve, it’s now almost impossible to separate IT from what we do; it’s at the heart of every business process.
Investing in IT essentially allows us to run our business more effectively. As an example, by understanding our data better and being able to predict trends, we can be more proactive with our decisions and more responsive to our customers. At the end of the day, this helps us to improve our customer relationships and retain work.
So it’s about increasing profitability?
That’s a key driver, but it’s not just about money.
Our people are at the heart of these investments. As consumers, we’re surrounded by modern technology on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of us find the technology we interact with in our personal lives quicker and easier to use than the devices and systems currently available at Interserve.
This creates frustration, but also the appetite for things to be better.
We’re seeing this expectation particularly within our graduate community and in some of the younger people coming into the organisation. It’s becoming more and more apparent that to attract and retain top talent we need to offer people IT that’s modern, easy to use and accessible.
People expect to be able to find the right expertise, to ask questions, to share information and collaborate all at the drop of a hat, and it’s our challenge to satisfy that expectation.
How do these drivers reflect your upcoming priorities?
My first priority has been the creation of a fit IT function. To achieve this we need to be structured in the right way, interacting well with our different stakeholders, appropriately skilled and working collectively towards the same goals.
Leveraging our scale is another top priority. Across the group we spend at least £50m per year on IT. In order to get the most value from this investment, we need to buy IT products and services with the whole organisation in mind, not as individual contracts or Divisions.
We’re also doing a lot of work to understand and improve the IT systems our business currently uses. Using our strategic relationships with partners like Microsoft and BT, we’re standardising some of these services while making savings through a significant amount of spend.
Last but not least, we’re helping people become more productive through the use of more appropriate technology and modern ways of working. To do this, we’ll be spending time with individuals and teams to learn about the processes, systems and tools they use every day and, where possible, use new technologies to make people’s lives easier.
Training, guidance and on-going support will be a big part of this culture change.
Where does Office 365 and SharePoint fit?
We’ll be moving all our users to Microsoft’s Office 365 service over the next few years and this is a big part of our ‘desktop modernisation’ programme. As well as an improved email service, people will benefit from modern devices, a suite of productivity tools to support finding expertise, easy information sharing and improved collaboration. The programme will also deliver a much needed upgrade to the latest version of SharePoint, the platform that our intranet, IRIS, is built on.
The highlight for me is the move towards more intuitive virtual collaboration and social ways of working. The new version of IRIS will be integrated with Yammer, helping us to break down barriers and making collaboration with peers, suppliers and customers much more seamless.
So we’ll all be on the same platform?
Yes, that’s really the centre of why we’re moving to Office 365. For the first time everyone will share a common platform, and access the same set of productivity tools.
Our technology roadmap will also equip all staff with the right device, applications and connectivity required to do their jobs, wherever they are in the world.