Rentokil Initial CIO says Google cleans up IT mess

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Rentokil moves further to the cloud

When Bryan Kinsella was two years into running his own consultancy, he vowed he would only return to the corporate payroll on three conditions: if his new employer was in a service industry, if it was global, and if it was in trouble.

Luckily, he says, he found all those ingredients in Rentokil Initial, the £2.4bn-revenue facilities and support organisation that includes corporate laundry, washroom services, parcels delivery, office landscaping and, of course, pest control, for which it once held a Royal Warrant.

Lucky for him, perhaps, but lucky for Rentokil too. A proven problem-solver in senior roles at ICI, BPO giant Vertex, and at airline solutions provider Sita, Kinsella arrived just as the aggressive global merger-and-acquisition strategy begun by former chairman Sir Clive Thompson was threatening to pitch the group – once voted Britain’s most admired company – into chaos.

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On joining Rentokil in June 2007, Kinsella’s first look at the group’s worldwide IT infrastructure revealed that there wasn’t one. The smaller acquisitions that had any kind of IT setup – Kinsella calls them ‘Mom and Pop’ concerns – had been allowed to keep their existing hardware and software setups, and each divisional umbrella was allowed to set its own goals and choose its own technology to go with it.

Add to that the fact that Rentokil operates in more than 50 countries, and to say that nobody was speaking the same language was true literally and metaphorically.

“We were buying and growing companies without strategies, and businesses were operating very much within their own geographic environments,” says Kinsella. “There was, historically, very low investment in IT, and when I joined we were only spending between half and one per cent of our revenue on IT.

“Because of the lack of investment, and because we had an IT manager reporting to a financial director, we were carrying an unnecessary level of risk. We had to sort that out.”