CIOs are increasingly assuming the role of gatekeepers as new models of shared business services continue to evolve, according to Coca-Cola’s former director of global services strategy Doug Bonthrone.

Bonthrone, who recently retired from the soft drinks firm, said the market for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) will continue to grow. “But what we’ll see are new hybrid solutions incorporating elements of outsourcing and ‘insourcing’, under the CIO’s watchful eye,” he told CIO UK at the recent European CGMA conference.

The industry veteran, who at one point served as Coca-Cola’s CFO of bottling investments and regional CFO of Europe, Eurasia & Middle East, opined that the economics of shared services paradigm had not changed either side of the global financial crisis.

“However, I think data location strategy is going to become more and more important with plans being scrutinised at 10-year intervals at the very maximum. I think BPO providers have built up huge skills in certain areas. Yet, one of the big problems is the relationship between the company, its confidential data and the BPO services provider,” Bonthrone said.

“In light of such concerns, but with a need for driving down costs and bringing in new technologies in the background, we would see C-suite executives such as CFOs and CIOs drive hybrid solutions forward incorporating elements of BPO as well as captive shared services tied-in with the advised longer term shared services strategy.”

Bonthrone also said companies needed to be bold on the innovation front as the global economy turns a corner.

“In Coca-Cola, we had a saying; 'Don’t waste a good crisis'. If there is wider economic uncertainty then both you and your competitors are in the same situation. So by that argument, if the corporate psyche is to be brave, you could steal a march on the competition by re-examining everything from technology and hardware to logistics.

“No company operates in isolation; it’s always against competitors. So if you’ve got an innovation strategy that chimes with the business strategy and is bolder than that of the competition – then you are on to a winner,” he concluded.