The past year has been a busy one for Radius Payments Solutions, a global payments firm specialising in fuel cards and telematics solutions. The company has acquired a telecoms business, introduced a new vehicle insurance business and extended its global reach with product launches in the US. It prides itself on being a technology-first enterprise; as such CIO Dave Roberts has been integral to the direction of the overall business strategy, and has been recognised as a high-flyer in the 2019 CIO 100.
Historically IT had been viewed as an overhead cost to the business, but over the years has evolved into a priority to ensure the firm keeps its competitive edge.
"Radius is now a technology-led business that has diversified its portfolio through the use of technology and modern ways of working," Roberts told CIO UK.
The Crewe-headquartered payment and fleet services firm quickly grew from its formation in 1990 to a top privately held British business, offering a range of services including fuel cards, fleet management, telematics, and analytics for fleet performance and management. In 2016, Radius established a base in Manchester city centre, where staff work on software development and improving the company's products suite.
The evolution of this IT function has also provided the organisation with a differentiator relative to others in the sector, and Roberts attributes this technology-centric approach to a doubling of the EBITDA performance of the firm in the last five years.
Innovation on board
According to Roberts, the Radius Board of Directors (of which is he is a member) is technologically astute, meaning that it's easy to communicate the utility of investing in tech. The wide-ranging scope of the technology function - "innovation and product development to security, risk and compliance to IT operations and core enterprise business systems" - means that it's essential that the CIO takes a place at the table in order to better formulate digital strategy.
"It's important to create an environment that supports innovation from a cultural perspective," says Roberts. "It can be very difficult to start to innovate when you still have the responsibilities of managing the 'BAU' [business as usual] activities on a day to day basis.
"It's for these reasons that I believe that in order to innovate you need to make room for innovation within your organisation, and allow teams to experiment and accept that failure is sometimes part of the innovation process."
It is no surprise then to some that Roberts is an Agile and DevOps advocate.
"Adopting an agile DevOps methodology of working is important to help deliver results in a timely manner and increase the speed to market for products being developed. Applying DevOps to innovation means that you can provide scalability and improved resilience as you mature and growth your products and services," he says.
Roberts is also acutely aware that developing the diversity and talent pipeline of his technology function is in the organisation's interests. In his tenure he has overseen an increase in the number of women on the team from 2% to 20%, although he is aiming for a 50/50 gender split. To make this a more realistic possibility, he has focused on accommodating a range of lifestyles in the workplace.
"We are providing more flexible working environments that enable people to balance their personal and family commitments alongside work," he explains.
The technology team is multicultural, spanning backgrounds from the UK, Ireland, continental Europe, Africa, South America and Asia, and Roberts stresses that there is also a great variety of skill levels represented - from those with MBAs to staff embarking on careers as a trainee or apprentice.
"This level of diversity creates a healthy balance of new ideas, technologies, experience, knowledge, skills and maturity that makes a strong and well-rounded group of technologists," says Roberts.