Severn Trent Water CIO Myron Hrycyk touted mobility as a "critical and a central factor to transforming an organisation" when he spoke at CIO's Big Conversation in London this week.

Hrycyk, twice a leader in the CIO 100 and described as a serial good CIO for process reorganisation by columnist Richard Sykes, said that "it's absolutely spot on that that the biggest benefits of mobility are productivity and efficiency" at the BlackBerry-sponsored CIO Mobility Council.

"Business-savvy CIOs are in a fantastic position to make transformation through mobility happen," Hrycyk said. "Technology was seen as critical to our transformation programme.

Hrycyk, who recently took up a dual role including chief procurement officer duties at the utilities company, said that his new responsibilities give him a slightly different perspective on things. He also explained how when he joined Severn Trent in April 2008 the company had just received a £35.8 million fine by the regulator for deliberate misreporting, with the CEO demanding Severn Trent go through a necessary transformation.

"But it's not just about the technology; it's about the way we organise the business and want our people to work," Hrycyk said.

"We wanted mobility to make people think differently about how they did their jobs and collaborated with others."

Hrycyk explained to the audience of CIOs how Severn Trent also needed to give their staff a new building to enable them to work in a more mobile way. The company moved into a new £70 million building which paid for itself after they were able to move out of 14 other sites.

"The office is designed to accommodate 10 people for every eight workstations, and this has led to far greater efficiency and productivity.

"It's also created a vision where 98 per cent of our employees don't have fixed-line phones anymore, when previously they all did. Aside from the legal department, HR and some PAs, everyone from the chief executive down is using a mobile.

"It was a about moving from a 'mine to own' to 'ours to share' mentality.

"Our people wanted to work in a mobile way; they were already well ahead of what we thought we should give them.

"The mobility programme has decreased our opex rates, and also made working for us more attractive so our retention rates have gone up."

Hrycyk said that Severn Trent now have 2,000 employees out in the field armed with 3G-enabled laptops, which has driven up efficiency and productivity. He also plans to push the hotdesking further to accommodate 12 staff for eight workstations.

"We just need to make sure our workers have the right devices," he said, "while mobility's also started to help the gender imbalance in the workplace."