Driving digital transformation and focusing on the customer via digital touchpoints were ubiquitous themes for CIOs in 2015. And with handfuls of Chief Information Officers also still in role in spite of the onslaught of the Chief Digital Officer and the accompanying predictions from some analyst and research houses about the demise of the CIO, we look back at what CIOs told CIO UK about digital transformation, as well as the CIOs taking on the CDO responsibility. [See also: Chief Digital Officer - What's the CDO role and how much do CDOs get paid?]

"We need to exploit the opportunities of digital technologies to deliver services that provide the right information, at the right time, in the right place, in the most effective and efficient way to meet the needs of those users, whoever and wherever they are."
James Findlay, HS2 CIO

"We are built on being disruptive and therefore we encourage and embrace innovation throughout the business, actively investing in creativity throughout the organisation."
Graham Benson, Rentalcars.com CIO

"Our transformation strategy to make Telefonica the leading digital telco in the world means we are disrupting every element of our business and with it every part of technology."
Phil Jordan, Telefonica CIO

"I have personally witnessed or suffered at the hands of digital transformation across large organisations."
Dominic Shine, News Corp Global CIO

Sarah Flannigan, National Trust

"Technology alone can't deliver transformation, clever application can. For us, data analytics is king along with innovative digital and mobility technology to be used by visitors as they travel to, from and around our properties."
Sarah Flannigan, National Trust CIO

"The real challenges are coming from selling the idea of digital to the company, but not the board because they are already on board, and finding out how to use digital technology to rethink completely the way we do things."
Malika Mir, Ipsen Chief Information and Digital Officer

Nick Burton, Belron

"We went to Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo among others. It was a real eye-opener for people to see the focus and approach of these companies on issues such as mobile first. Desktop access to our service was at a plateau and the Silicon Valley trip really helped gain traction with the digital focus and brought it to life. This helped cement the fact that we can't not focus on this, and digital is a top four strategic focus."
Nick Burton, Belron Head of Digital and Innovative Technology

"The capability to track patients through their digital journey will open up the possibilities to reform the way in which care is provided, the quality of the care itself and the patient perception of the provision."
Richard Corbridge, Health Service Executive CIO

"Are CIOs and companies being courageous enough in their digital thinking? Are they really crossing industry boundaries and creating new markets, or are they limiting their digital vision? At the moment CIOs are still optimising and not disrupting."
Gartner Fellow Dave Aron

CIOs on being the Chief Digital Officer

"Driving forwards a digital, social and mobility-focused strategy is at the heart of the CIO's role."
Adam Gerrard, Yodel CIO

Sarah Wilkinson, Home Office CTO

"The segregation of technology and digital is not helpful. There needs to be a single agenda and they need to be tightly integrated. The CDO concept, in my view, was a necessary transition state. There are a lot of new digital capabilities being brought in, mapping, customer journeys, UX and interfaces."
Sarah Wilkinson, Home Office CTO

"I own group digital strategy and work with local CMOs to implement it."
Andy Caddy, Virgin Active CIO

"A lot of the work a CDO would do is covered by my role, which is more digital product than IT."
Sharon Cooper, BMJ CTO

"We dont have a separate CDO, the CIO is also responsible for digital."
Claudette Jones, Edinburgh City Council CIO

"We do not have a CDO. More accurately, we do not have a separate role for a CDO as I fulfil the role within my position as director of ICT."
Geoff Connell, Newham and Havering councils CIO

"I don't believe there is a difference between the CIO and Chief Digital Officer; I am carrying out a wide range of things that would be expected of a CDO."
Steven Capper, AECOM CIO

"We don't have a CDO. My responsibility has broadened to take on the evolution of the company's digital developments. I collaborate strongly with the business leaders to help them deliver customer-centric changes to the websites, applications and brand-new social media experience for our customers."
David Cooper, British Gas CIO

On the next page, see what CIOs were saying about digital and the CDO in 2014 >>

Digital, CDO and the customer experience - 2014 CIO review

Does your organisation require a chief digital officer? As the number of CDO appointments increased in 2014 CIOs offered their opinions on the CDO role, and the responsibilities of the CIO in digital leadership and defining the customer experience.


"The Post Office caters to everyone from pensioners who prefer using serviced counters, to eBayers with an enthusiasm for self-service. We have a strong sense of community and, in line with our social purpose, we have to be digitally inclusive, too.

"I take inspiration from my teenage sons, who in their 30s and 40s will expect a different Post Office from what we have today. There is a wider acknowledgement that IT will enable the transition."
Lesley Sewell, Post Office CIO

Stephen Kneebone, Nissan CIO

"We have identified that digital excellence as a key priority, in the automotive world Nissan is seen as a challenger brand, in digital we are positioning ourselves as leaders.

"The pace of digital in automotive is faster than retail. After all we compete in general retail for consumers, so it is to be expected," he says of the competition for consumer-spend in a slow economy.

"We are redefining the retail experience so that it is seamless between digital and the dealer.

"It is easy to say, but hard to deliver. Digital is very much a team effort with a cross functional team. You don't get far if you are not operating as a team."
Stephen Kneebone, Nissan Europe CIO

"The old website was hard to navigate, so I took control of the web team and have aligned them to the customer access programme. We set some clear principals by engaging with a group of local citizens in workshops, which was really interesting.

"If you align digital to communications, it becomes messaging. But really, digital is about process re-engineering, and that's not the bag of marketing and communications. Look at mobile, it's spread widely around the organisation."
Mark Gannon, Nottingham City Council CIO

"Digitisation is at the heart of what we do, but I think unlike others we recognise digitisation isn't changing society – society is using digitisation to change itself, and it's all customer led."
Daryl Wilkinson, Nationwide head of digital development


"I had a small team to coordinate the digital effects of the organisation and it is liberating as I'm not from IT and it allows me to get more done. As IT, you are seen as a cost centre, barrier or having resource issues. But it did feel quiet unsettling not to have a big team at first, but it's been a nice transition and there is less fighting over budgets. IT gets a bad press, though, as too many people trying to serve customers don't see the point of technology, so I see the CDO role as one of connecting technology with the rest of the organisation."
Richard Boulderstone, British Library CDO

Sean Cornwell, Travelex CDO

"If you put digital in a silo and park it that's how you fail. Actually this is really about a journey the whole business goes on, both internally and externally - how these different groups embrace digital and interact with it."
Sean Cornwell, Travelex CDO

"Now is the time to bring the digital revolution to insurance; transforming the way people can buy and use our products every day."
Andrew Brem, Aviva CDO

"The difference is that the CTO role was more about delivering products, this is still about delivering products, but there is a greater focus on strategic decisions so I am working with marketing, sales and editorial to create a blueprint for the digital business."
Jora Gill, Economist CDO

"Personally I consider new CDO roles to be fads. Some of these are springing up because they are missing from the traditional tech organisation, not because of a structural problem."
Chirs Taylor, News UK COO

Dr Carolyn Brown, University of Durham CIO

"Ability to influence business strategy is what the CIO has always been about, and the CDO just a new way of emphasising that.

"A good CIO always had to look at a good piece of technology and good piece of business and put it together to build a product for the customer.

"That's the exciting part of the job. The CDO as I've seen it described is what the CIO should be doing, putting things together and taking the business forwards."
Dr Carolyn Brown, University of Durham CIO

"It's not about roles, it's about digital culture. Business leaders need to become more like digital leaders; and there needs to be a transformation of business leaders also.

"There really need a chief digital awareness officer."
Keith Hopkinson, Genus CIO

"Is the CDO good news or bad news? I'd say it's no news.

"Organisations need people or groups of people to work out what digital means for the business – some will need it and some won't. Groups of people coming together to affect change, a good CIO will be able to do that.

"We would welcome a CDO coming to work at the Bank of England, and we need to set up our technology in a way which accommodates change."
John Finch, Bank of England CIO

Customer experience

Anna Barsby, Halfords CIO

"Our new website is about the experience of life on the move. We also have a new store format rolling out which have screens in them, with an App that enables customers to enter their car registration number and the App tells you the exact part they need.

"Omni-channel retail should be seamless; it's just about a single customer view. Customers order wherever they like and we must deliver wherever they like.

"Also we've got them thinking what the customer journey is, not what their job is, as it's not about the systems. This has helped change the culture and it's now firmly about the customer and what the customer will see in 2017."
Anna Barsby, Halfords CIO

"If you digitise and 'applify' some of this content, you're hiding some of the complexity from the customer, removing it from their experience – and it's simpler and quicker to do it this way and using Agile development methods you can roll it out a lot faster."
Daryl Wilkinson, Nationwide head of digital development

"We are now spending as much on customer needs as on internal operations."
Mike Sturrock, DX Group CIO

Bill Wilkins, First Utility CIO

"We are trying to make the consumer feel good about this experience, not stressed. People are initially disengaged about their energy usage, I was the same. You take energy for granted. There is a trigger event like a house move and then you worry about your energy.

"Ultimately this business is about the customer engagement strategy. To most consumers the only engagement they have with their energy providers is when the billing takes place – and even then it may be a direct debit."
Bill Wilkins, First Utility CIO

"A relentless focus on using technology to improve the passenger experience is one my three guiding lights.

"We need to find a way to collaborate at an operational level and a better passenger data level which gives a better experience but at the same time allows airlines to protect their commercial sensitivities.

"There's nothing to stop us from a technology perspective, it's all there. It's about how we collaborate as a business; it's about culture and process."
Neil Clark, Heathrow CIO

"Everything was originally done for the PC-based web, now there's a huge trend with two thirds of our online communication coming from a smartphone, and these users can solve their own problems. So for us, it's about doing things in a more customer-focused frame of mind. My team is an integral part of what it is that we can do to make our customers lives better.

"It is about customer service at the end of the day. The winning telcos are the ones that are all about the customer experience and it is the same for us."
David Cooper, British Gas CIO

"Our customer base is changing and that is the major piece. As CDO, I have a user focus, looking at the needs of the customer and how they are evolving.

"The whole area is a good place to be and I think it has unlimited potential. People certainly want, in this digital world, to make real connections, so having a physical manifestation, as well as the digital is really important. We talk of the BL Buzz."
Richard Boulderstone, British Library CDO

Graham Benson, M and M IT director

"Consumers now are more tech savvy than they were three years ago, so if you have an App serving mobile phones, then a mobile site for tablets and your standard website it is a high cost of ownership. It is also hard to drive a ubiquitous user experience."
Graham Benson, M and M IT director

"Less than 15% of customers in the UK trust their operator. To put that into context, the industry is less trusted than banks and journalists.

"There is a huge market for an operator willing to take the moral high ground, by not just delivering on technology but trying to make customers' lives better."
Graham Baxter, Three UK Chief Operating Officer

"We are working towards a single view of every customer across the organisation - the levels of change are amazing.

"It will make a real difference for customers and it will all come together. You will be able to log in to your account and you will see a single history of your contact and transactions with HMRC."
Mark Dearnley, HMRC Chief Digital and Information Officer

"When you go on Amazon you don't need a solicitor to pay for that book. It's a sign of our times that we need solicitors for so many things."
Paul Shetler, Ministry of Justice CDO

"Customer experience, for me, is the most interesting. We have to be very clear that the customer experience will be like from order to ownership.

"We have set up a brand leadership team, which I am a member of, which is defining the customer experience and the impression of what the customer wants that to be. Of all the touch points, how can we support all of those in IS?"
Stephen Kneebone, Nissan Europe CIO