"For me, digital culture is all about little and often," said Rentokil Initial IT Director, Dan McCormick, recognised recently in the highest echelons of the 2019 CIO 100. "Going digital is more about culture and breaking down silos as technology."
McCormick and his team have spent the past year accelerating the digital transformation journey of the company. This includes a focus across four key areas: adoption of a digital culture, automation, apps and BI deployment, and global serverless cloud platforms.
"We needed to accelerate deployments globally to realise the clear benefits available to us. Our TOM [Target Operating Model] moved us from projects, with a start, middle and end, to constant product teams with divulged responsibility," he added.
Since taking on responsibility of this digital journey, McCormick has introduced a number of technology and business model innovations since 2018 at the pest control and hygiene specialists. It has enabled Rentokil Initial to easily respond to different opportunities and work around driving efficiency across the teams.
"This required a conscious decision to build product teams for the medium to longer term," McCormick said. "We chose to align around our business colleague’s personas and aspects of our customer journey."
"Technology comes and goes but teams are constant," he added. "Team members are encouraged to think like a software company with adoption stats, UX, benefits value and not just functionality."
This meant that teams had to make decisions that would provide effective results for users, while also meeting the goals of lead executives in the company.
"As part of empowerment we had to build a culture where failing is safe as long as we learn something from each initiative that ultimately builds us towards the next adventure," McCormick explained. "We increased quality and transformed velocity, with our clear quarterly goals. For me and my managers this was also a tough time to learn how to let go and trust."
The inclusion of teams enabled further encouragement in the area of innovation. This included focus on creating dedicated innovation teams as well as initiatives to help gather the input of employees at the organisation.
"For the last three years we have been honoured to have a full day with the top 25 senior leadership team dedicated to 'going digital'. The agenda is always a balance between external and internal speakers," he said.
"To drive innovation and transformation we need our colleagues, suppliers and technology partners aligned to our shared business goals. To do this, I promote a culture of mixed teams working together."
Innovation from everyone
One initiative to foster innovation at the firm saw McCormick responsible for overseeing an event held at Google's London office to give colleagues inspiration for innovation across different areas in the business.
At the hackathon eight teams were given the opportunity to come up with their own ideas that would spur on creative thinking.
"From our first company hackathon I was struck by the consequential benefits of creating a digital culture in the company," McCormick said. "All eight self-organised teams produced and demonstrated incredible innovations using Google Cloud Platform, such as voice recognition and the vision API."
Two ideas were prioritised and have since been presented to the firm's executive team, with a view to breathing ideas into life within the business.
"In an era where there is a war for top talent, it can only be helpful," McCormick said. "For us it sent a clear message within our own company that innovation comes from everyone, anytime and it is more about giving the right people time together."
The firm welcomed the input of young talent, and gave those voices exposure to Rentokil Initial's most senior leadership.
"Having the Group CEO and many of his executive team in attendance was instrumental," McCormick said. "Not only to show the art of the possible, but also to show how cross functional teams can solve business challenges at pace.
"For the teams it was great exposure to the senior executives, with 1-2-1 time and the opportunity to show what they can do. Our CEO thought it was a great event and left with a desire to repeat but with broader cross-functional skills, experience and to set the problem statements."
And as part of developing young talent, McCormick recognises that his team needs to have a mixture of digital, business and management experience to support its IT expertise - and that recruiting and developing people from different backgrounds has a positive influence on how the team functions and will continue to do so.
"I am proud that our team has as much business and management experience as those with pure IT skill backgrounds," McCormick said. "My direct reports have increased from 28% female to 40% in the last year and we have a very strong succession pipeline," he said.