Royal Mail is a postal service which serves most of the UK and Northern Ireland. Its parent company, Royal Mail Holdings also encompasses the company Parcelforce Worldwide. Royal mail delivers around 85 million items per year and is one of the UK’s largest companies. The group also has subsidiaries branches, Post Office Ltd and General Logistics Systems, an international logistics company. As of April 2012, Post office Ltd is owned by the UK government.

The company is currently a public limited company, owned predominantly by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. However, the company is set to become privatised with sale of shares. Royal Mail has around 150,000 employees based all over the UK. In 2011 Royal Mail reported profits of around £211 million. Royal Mail plans to take advantage of the growing demand for online retailing, by increasing the scope of Parcelforce Worldwide. In order to adjust to the changes in the business model, Royal Mail has modernised its programs and infrastructure. Recently there has been additional item tracking and sequencing technology installed to help the company reduce the amount of lost letters and packages.

CIO Catherine Doran took over the role from Robin Darque, who left to become head of technology transformation at Alcatel-Lucent. Doran previously worked at Network Rail and BT Retail. Since starting work for Royal Mail, Doran has review the company’s IT estate and has equipped all Royal Mail postal staff with a Postal Digital Assistance (PDA). This enables the company to track delivery items from the warehouse until they reach their destination. The technology has also improved security of items, as it enables the company to track proof of delivery.

The CIO 100 judging panel stated that Doran is doing all the right things for the Royal Mail organisation at its current juncture. It was agreed that her board level support to increase the IT head count was bold, but again, exactly what is required.

Richard Sykes is impressed with the resourcing agenda Doran is following and Ade McCormack agreed, adding that Doran must have impressive political skills to drive this agenda at the Royal Mail.

Mike Altendorf feels that the innovation will need to be seen, especially as the organisation modernises across the board.

Sykes said: "It's unusual in that she's very strategically increased her headcount for deliberate and well thought-out purposes. She also has a very determined approach to management of suppliers."

IT leader: Catherine Doran, CIO.

In role since: September 2011.

Reporting line: Report to CEO.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Weekly (at least).

Board level seat: Seat on multiple boards, part of the Group Exec Team. Not a main Board Director.

IT budget: £350 million per annum.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: We have 30,000 log in accounts.

Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 20% of the workforce.

Have deployed 55,000 PDAs to the front line staff to facilitate tracking of letters and parcel delivery. This increases the connected population to 60%.

IT staff currently employed: 125 people at present, currently recruiting to double headcount, increase to 350 by end March 2014. Royal Mail is a wholly outsourced operation, but we plan to grow our internal capability to support the Royal Mail transformation journey.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 5% in house, 95% outsourced.

IT management team and reporting structure: Nine direct reports – Four Business Engagement Directors, Director of Strategy and Architecture, Solution Delivery Director, Service Delivery Direct, Director of Business Operations, PA.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: SAP.

Primary technology suppliers: Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, HP, CSC, Capgemini, Accenture, PA.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Microsoft to upgrade the entire Windows estate, CSC.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 10%.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: Rollout of 55,000 PDAs to front line staff, this is the first step in a major strategic change for the business.

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: Royal Mail is developing an Intelligent Barcode for letters which will transform the Letters business, in terms of accuracy of processing, ability to track letters and, ultimately, provide the ability to pre-advise mail centres of upcoming workloads. This is a major breakthrough for the business and will affect all aspects of the operation. I am responsible for the delivery of the technology to achieve this, but am also part of the executive team responsible for all aspects of the programme. Beyond that, I am a key contributor/sponsor in all Royal Mail strategic efforts.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Delivery of the first phase of the intelligent barcode programme, delivery of the technology capability to support the Parcelforce multiple hub strategy, start the programme of work to re-procure our outsourced contracts (current set expire in 2015), continue to grow the IT function to support RM transformation journey.

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: Very much in the foothills. This is not a current priority.

Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Under review and discussion, no decision yet.

Transformational inspiration sources:  Interaction with peers from other sectors, keeping up with trends in the marketplace, use of high value publications such as HBR.