Managing data and understanding processes are key elements for business success, according to the CIO of Diageo.

Brian Franz, the CIO at the drink's giant, which owns brands including Smirnoff and Guinness, told the Gartner Business Intelligence 2011 Summit in London that these factors were more important than having a global ERP system. This is despite Diageo having a large SAP footprint across the world.

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"The key is not to have a global instance of SAP. The key thing is understanding the process level and the technology is secondary to it," said Franz.

"Common processes will give you the control in the world. The SAP footprint is so we can respond quickly to regulatory change in the UK for example. It's [the processes] becoming more automated, faster and cheaper."

Franz said that having a global IT operating model, with and end-to-end global function and a regional presence, is one of the things that works well for Diageo.

"Trying to create a level of ownership in the organisation really will yield the results. If you don't [get the ownership] it is really difficult to get the return on investment you really need," he advised.

Furthermore, he believes that the fact that most of the company's IT, around 70 per cent, is outsourced helped the drinks company cope through the recession because of the "variable cost structure".

"There was a time when it was very difficult [working with strategic partners in the outsourced model], but when the economic downturn hit it was a blessing in disguise to have partners. The outsourced model has allowed us to scale back costs in some areas and to dial it up in others," Franz explained.

Diageo also believes that enabling a digital world and a flexible workforce can play a crucial part in a company's future success.

Franz said that enabling a digital world means having the tools to collate customer data into one place and making it available for use by stakeholders, such as marketeers, while also ensuring compliance.

This can be a very large amount of data that needs to be made sense of. For instance, one Diageo marketing campaign for its Smirnoff brand, conducted on Facebook, generated more than two million interactions on the social networking site.

Meanwhile, to enable a more flexible workforce, one strategy Diageo has adopted tit pushing its internal email to any mobile device.

However, Franz added: "We won't provide the devices or support them, just push email to them."