Whitbread PLC is a multinational hotel, coffee shop and restaurant company headquartered in Dunstable, United Kingdom. Its largest division is Premier Inn, which is the largest hotel brand in the UK with around 630 hotels and over 40,000 rooms. Its Costa Coffee chain has around 1,600 stores across 25 countries and is the world's second-largest international coffee shop chain. Its other brands include the restaurant chains Beefeater Grill, Brewers Fayre, Table Table and Taybarns.
"We’re in a really competitive environment and the biggest thing is to make sure we can help grow sales and improve customer service and cost control. We are very much in the loop [of management strategy] and each year we have a pipeline of activity we build with the business,” Andrew Brothers says.
“Our attitude to technology is that you’ve got to be in it to win it, but it’s not about technology at any cost. We’re asking things like ‘How can we use mobile and social networking?’
“We shouldn’t ignore what’s out there in terms of the channels that ‘Generation Y’ is using. We have to ask what a future market wants and today’s students and young people are going to be the corporate foot soldiers of the future, the same people who are a large part of our estate.”
Brothers runs a majority-outsourced IT operation at Whitbread with finance and accounting handled by Steria, Ceridian managing payroll and HR and Cognizant looking after helpdesk operations. It’s a lean and mean operation with 70-80 outsourced staff and fewer than 50 in house, and, following some downsizing, five out of seven of his direct reports are in new roles.
The panel were impressed with the low Opex operated by Brothers and the attitude towards mobility demonstrated a CIO and organisation that understood its brand and how the key audience for that brand will want to interact with the organisation via mobile technology.
IT leader: Andrew Brothers, Group IT Director
In role since: With organisation since June 2005, IS Director since August 2009.
Reporting line: Managing Director, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants.
How often does the CIO you meet with the CEO: Monthly.
Board level seat: Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants Management Board.
IT budget: £40 million Opex, £20 million Capex.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 25,000 users.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 75%.
IT staff currently employed: 63.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 20% in house, 80% out house.
IT management team and reporting structure: Six direct Management reports: Head of Customer & Business Solutions / Head of Infrastructure & Service Delivery / Head of Programme & Change / Head of IS Procurement / Head of Costa Systems / Head of International Integration & Systems.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Oracle Primary technology suppliers: Oracle, Serco, CSC, Fujitsu, Micros.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: CSC for data centre.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 20%.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: Implementation of Group CRM; enabling ability to target customer segments.
Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Yes.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Process simplification.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: To enable the future growth objectives of Whitbread through use of technology.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: Currently looking at programme to implement BYOD.
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Engage with organisation on these issues via a Group IS Council.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Virtualisation, cloud.
Transformational inspiration sources: External organisations in same or other sectors. Individuals with point expertise.