Thomas Cook Group owes its past to the man whose name its holds. Thomas Cook was a cabinet maker that organised rail journeys for temperance supporters in the 1840s and then major tours to see the Great Exhibition in London of 1851 by the late 1860s foreign travel was being organised. Today’s Thomas Cook Group was formed from the merger with My Travel Group in 2007 and in 2010 the company announced that it was merging with The Co-operative Travel to create the UK’s largest travel supplier.

IT Leader: Gary Edwards, Group CIO

In role since: Since 2009

Reporting line: Reports to the Group CFO & CEO Shared Operations

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 31,000 staff, 1200 IT suppliers and 32 different datacentres

Primary technology suppliers: Accenture, Lufthansa Systems, Capgemini

Significant strategic technology deals been struck in the last 12 months: Renewed Accenture deal includes technology infrastructure outsourcing and business process outsourcing across Europe.
Capgemini; to move Thomas Cook IT to an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year: The first is to simplify the group’s application usage, and Edwards says he can halve the 1000-plus sales, middle-and back-office applications. The second focus is on the technology infrastructure itself, including the consolidation of the group’s 32 datacentres into something more manageable. A third focus is on improving operational excellence – developing IT balanced scorecards, improving tools and people development.

Technologies considered by the leader to offer their organisation potential: “Innovation is an area where we can get deeper and richer around CRM,” he says. “The people who work in our stores know their customers but it’s different when you’re in a contact centre or online. We need to ensure we have a more personalised relationship.”

How do you see technology transforming your organisation in the near future: Edwards is focused on providing the infrastructure that can help cope with increasing the flexibility of what he calls an almost endless inventory of flights, hotels and excursions.