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Hovis Supply Chain Planning and IS Director Dominic Howson spoke about how his company is innovating with cloud technology and pushing for increasing automation.

2018 CIO 100 member was speaking to CIO UK  contributor Scott Carey at the 2018 CIO 100 celebration reception, which took place in at the Mondrian Hotel on the South Bank in London. Howson was recognised by the panel for his contribution to the delivery of cloud HR, providing a single hub of information for staff and increasing organisational transparency.

Howson discussed the drive to become a solely cloud-based business.

"We've been a cloud-only business for the last four years," he said. "Now it's about seeing where we can innovate. We're working with the three different big cloud providers - where it's development with Azure or Google or doing some desktop trials with Amazon and trying to be as innovative as we can."

He also noted the opportunities the brand sees in increasing automation. "For me, one of the other things we're looking at is a lot of process automation and robotics, and we've done quite a lot of that in the last 12 months," he added. "It's a really exciting opportunity for us, I think where we could really make some big changes to how people operate and put some value back into what some individuals do on a daily basis and take some of the monotony out of some tasks.

"That's something I'm really looking forward to in the next 12 months, and just continuing that whole cloud push, nothing creeping on-site, and making that work for us."

He sees robotics and automation as the next frontier for Hovis. "I think robotics is definitely the first step to intelligent automation, I think that is definitely something that can give us a lot of benefits in the next 12 months, keep clear though, we've got some big questions around what we do from an ERP perspective," he said.

"I'm a big cloud advocate, whatever we do next will be in the cloud, nothing will be on-premise. That's exactly where we're heading and I'm excited by those things - what could robotics do for us? But I don't want to talk about robotics, it's about automation and how we improve, how we make our business better."

And what did he feel about the value of CIOs getting together at events such as the CIO 100?

"It's actually quite inspiring, I can't save lives and I'm not going to win Nobel prizes but we feed the nation and I think that's quite important," he said.