Interserve is a support services and construction company. The company has moved away from providing civil engineering services to support services for public institutions such as schools and hospitals and corporate buildings such as offices and businesses. The company has expanded to become one of the biggest providers to public services, which operates across Europe, Asia and the Americas. The company provides services to a range of industries including justice courts, aviation, central government, the retail sector and educational institutions.

Interserve provides services which encompass all stages of the construction of buildings and facilities. These include the hiring of equipment, undertaking maintenance contracts and providing staff and support for the project. In addition to construction service, Interserve also offers consulting and private finance initiatives (PFI) for its clients. Some of the company’s notable clients include the BBC, Sainsbury’s, NHS and the Ministry of Defence.

In 2011 Interserve reported pre-tax profit of £67.1 million, an increase of 5% from the previous year. The company has its UK headquarter in Reading and employs around 5,000 people globally.

Interserve’s group head of IT, Gary Long has previously worked for tyre manufacturer Bridgestone/ Firestone.

IT leader: Gary Long, Group Head of IT.

In role since: 12 years with organisation, Group Head of IT since March 2008.

Reporting line: CFO.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Monthly.

Board level seat: No.

IT budget: The IT operational spend compared to company turnover as a percentage is between 1-2%.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 9,000 log-in accounts.

Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 18% of total global workforce.

IT staff currently employed: Total global IT workforce of around 200.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: Mostly in-house, interim resource used for specific project work and some outsource with small hosting contract.

IT management team and reporting structure: Each operating company has a divisional head of IT. The divisional head of IT owns the relationship and service responsibility for its business, local structures exist to manage and develop focused business IT solutions and services.

Direct reports consist of:

  • Technical shared services organisation operates at plc. Head of Services reports to my role.
  • Additionally at Group centre is Technical Lead, Strategy & Architecture (reports to my role).
  • Overseas business have local structures, IT leads report through to me via local structures.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Microsoft Dynamics & Dynamics AX, Mentor, Maximo.

Primary technology suppliers: Microsoft, IBM, VMWare, HP, CISCO, BT, Vodafone, Avaya.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Extension of WAN contract with BT and migration to 21CN, otherwise mostly enhancements of existing services: IBM, Vodafone and Microsoft.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Currently less than 5% although this is expected to increase significantly over the next two years.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: Technical, cultural and organisational change from federated technical service delivery to a central in-house shared service model. Project involves integration of multiple technical infrastructures, services and organisation structures to a new central model.

Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Project budget was re-baselined after a review of the project delivery approach – more external services were commissioned due to an increase in the pipeline of internal project work to support our business growth.

Project timing was adjusted to take account of opportunities presented to enhance the scope of technical integration and to take advantage of newly identified opportunities for service enhancement.

In both instances the business felt that greater benefit could be leveraged by taking a pragmatic approach to the business case.

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: I am involved in many change programmes which enhance our business and support our company’s growth plans. Some may classify as transformational but I think this term is widely over-used so would not fall within my definition.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year:

  • Enhance the shared services strategy and review of sourcing, plus expansion to our overseas operations where benefit can be identified.
  • Enhance our collaborative working strategy.
  • Support our strategic, sustainable business plan.
  • Support the development of our social media strategy.
  • Development of the Groups Information Security and Business continuity programmes.

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: Mobile is enhancing our operational productivity and driving innovative thinking and ways of working, at the same-time it’s challenging some of our traditional ways of providing technical services and support. Exciting times with huge opportunities.

Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: We take a pragmatic approach, we look to protect our IP by focusing on information security, but we stop short of restricting our users too much. We take a risk based approach to new developments and services, whether this be BYOD or widening our corporate use of social media.

Technologies being considered to enable transformation:

  • Further virtualisation.
  • Design visualisation.
  • Mobility Apps.
  • Iaas and SaaS.
  • Communications technologies to enhance collaboration.

Transformational inspiration sources: Other industries and other non-IT leaders, also to learn about other organisation’s journeys and look to ‘do it better’.