The steel industry is still booming – it grew by four per cent last year – and with the 2012 Olympics being held in London, the UK market looks as buoyant as ever. Corus, the world’s eighth largest steel producer by volume, announced its first ever profits in 2004, and continued to do well in 2005. Its pre-tax profits for 2005 were £580m, a rise of two per cent.

Bruno Laquet, Corus CIO, says it is continuing its IT consolidation and the company is really seeing the benefits. “We are continuing to do what we said we would. The company-wide 'Corus Way' programme aims to make us the best supplier for the best customers. It is about the spirit and attitude of the company, using world class processes and going for selective growth in new markets.”

Laquet says IT is making very good progress. Work on the IT infrastructure is split into four domains: datacentres; end user computing; networks; and collaborations. A global leader has been appointed for each domain and there is a synergy programme aimed at consolidation. Laquet says it is still difficult on the applications side as there are so many old legacy systems to deal with. “It is difficult to remove some of the mainframes from the environment, but it is too costly to maintain them.” Corus uses SAP and is putting all its business processes on to that platform. “Bit by bit we are moving the old to the new world. It is a nightmare, but we are getting there,” says Laquet.

The company already had 15,000 SAP users, but they were in silos for 20 different product environments. “Now we are concentrating on master data management,” Laquet comments. “We have global business process owners who are empowered to organise master data and drive the migration plans. We can’t address it all at once, it will keep us busy for years. But it is a key project, and our executive committee is very supportive.”

"“Bit by bit we are moving the old to the new world. It is a nightmare, but we are getting there"

Bruno Laquet, CIO, Corus

Unlike mining companies or manufacturers, the steel industry is fragmented. Even Mittal, the largest steel producer, only has five per cent of the market, so there is some consolidation going on at the moment. “There are a lot of people very active in the market, and Corus intends to play a big role,” says Laquet. “Especially in the UK, where the 2012 Olympics construction market will be very much steel driven. We are the leader in quite a few domains here, so intend to capitalise on those.”