Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has had a difficult recent history and like many businesses it faces some tough challenges in the near future.

In October 2012 Pascal Soriot took over as AstraZeneca chief executive, an appointment which market watchers hope will stabilise the company that lost its CEO in April 2012 and continue the transformation needed following the 28% drop in second quarter profits reported in July 2012.

AstraZeneca is Britain’s second largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. Listed on the London Stock Exchange, the company specialises in treatments for major diseases in six key areas of healthcare: cancer, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, infection, neuroscience, and respiratory and inflammation.

A merger between Sweden’s AstraAB and the UK’s Zeneca group formed today’s FTSE 100-listed organisation in 1999, and while Britain, Sweden and the US remain its core operating hubs, the company has a growing presence in emerging markets and is very much a global corporation, operating in more than 100 nations.

IT leader: Jon Kirby, CIO.

In role since: 2010.

IT budget: Core operating cost of $1 billion.

IT staff currently employed: 1300 in-house, 500 in UK.

Primary technology suppliers: Wipro, HCL, Computacenter, BT and AT&T for infrastructure, while Accenture, Infosys, Cognizant, support application development and maintenance, with other suppliers such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP supporting the overall environment.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: We have moved from a single provider outsourced model to a multi-source model with some level of in-sourcing, removing dependency on a single supplier and bringing the critical strategic and control layers into AstraZeneca, providing transparency across all activities. We’ve also implemented an incentive mechanism across the supplier ecosystem that is accretive to all parties based on absolute performance.

Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: We can have a conversation with the business on the cost and functionality it requires; IS can tell departments their infrastructure, application and storage costs. So then they have choices and they like that conversation. Our supplier partners are part of that conversation too.

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: We are an information-driven business, so we have positioned ourselves a lot more effectively now. Information is the core thing, not the technology, and that is what is driving the way we work. So we have a much more business- and information-led strategy rather than technology-led.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: For the next 12 months we will transform the service performance to make it a utility like electricity. Our architecture needs to make sure we can deliver the critical business performance to drive new solutions.

Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Selection of IS leaders from the business rather than IT

Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Cloud is a key part of my technology strategy going forwards. What is important though is the information management as confidentiality is something that is important to this business.