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CIO Profile: Rentokil Initial's Bryan Kinsella

Rentokil Initial, one of the largest business services companies in the world with its £2.5bn yearly revenues, is taking its first steps into the cloud market, but they are steps that will leave a big footprint.

The firm is four years into a massive turnabout in its technology practices, an upheaval that started when its CIO Bryan Kinsella realised that actually the company had no real IT infrastructure to speak of.

Home grown business systems had spread across the company as it has acquired firms in the previous years, and lacked the necessary power for an enterprise technology infrastructure. These systems clearly needed to be replaced.

It is the flexibility, low hardware costs, and outsourced administration of a cloud infrastructure that is enabling the company to do this. Tt is moving from offering its staff cloud-based email through to running its entire HR operation as-a-service.

Fergal Harkin, Group HR, Operations Director at Rentokil said that each move the firm makes in the direction of the cloud brings the firm better systems and processes that are shared across the business.

"We may have under-invested in our infrastructure in the past, until our CEO initiated a change programme." he admitted. "Then we really started looking for answers to the problems in our business processes."

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Rentokil was already using Google Apps across the business, something that Harkin said was a way of becoming more comfortable with the cloud.

The company has now chosen to use Workday for its global human resources (HR) system. which supports 66,000 employees working in its 1000 branches in 58 countries.

Rentokil Initial uses other cloud solutions including Google Apps for email, intranet, and collaboration, Ariba, for procurement, and Cornerstone OnDemand for online learning and training.

Harkin explained Google is being used by the 20,000 Rentokil employees that need access to email.

"It gives you a degree of confidence, as an email client its as good as anything else," he said. "Google has really blazed the trail [for the cloud]".

The move to a cloud based system for HR functions has had immediate positives. "Payroll was a big element in our operating expenditure," he said, "And we had ineffective controls over it."

Workday was not the only supplier in the frame, and Rentokil was not specifically seeking a cloud solution. But, Harkin said that through the use of software-as-a-service, the firm was able to standardise its application set.