Genus PLC is an animal genetics business which specialises in products using bio technology and are used by cattle and pig farmers. The company’s heritage has its roots in the Breeding and Production Division of the Milk Marketing Board. As the demand for beef and pork increases, Genus has developed technology that can be applied to pig and cattle breeding to keep up with growing consumer needs. The company’s strategy for long term growth is to develop natural animal genetics, which can be provided to farmers on a global scale.
Genus sells its products in 70 countries and has operations and labs in 30. The business has its headquarters in Basingstoke and research laboratories based in Madison, Wisconsin USA. Overall the company has around 2500 members of staff, which contribute to making its bovine business the largest cattle breeding business in the world.
Genus has two divisions, ABS which makes products aimed at the advanced breeding of cattle and PIC makes similar products for the breeding of pigs. Genus acquired ABS global in 1999 and PIC in 2005. Genus PLC reported profits of £23.3 million in its 2011 financial statement. The porcine branch of the business reproduces 100 million slaughter pigs a year.
The CIO of Genus, Keith Hopkinson has previously held head of IT roles at IMI Norgren and Cargill Meats Europe. Since joining Genus, Hopkinson has developed a new strategy for the business with a global approach, which included in investing in high performance computing, and a new Customer Relationship Management System which allows for advanced information available to sales teams about customers and contacts and leads. The high performance computing is similar to systems employed by universities for research and has helped to analyse the rapid growth of genetic analysis which the company relies on.
Recent developments at Genus include the establishment of a global data centre in Wisconsin and a data research centre in Minnesota. Hopkinson aims to implement a programme to decrease the amount of time taken to make business decisions within the company by introducing a Business Information Program. This aims to consolidate and integrate information from the companies' IT systems in a more succinct manner.
IT leader: Keith Hopkinson, CIO.
In role since: 2009.
Reporting line: CFO.
How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Regularly.
Board level seat: No.
IT budget: £7 million, 1.8% of turnover.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 2,500 users.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 92% of the workforce. This number is planned to rise to 100%.
IT staff currently employed: 32.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: Outsourced functions account for 50% of IT operational spend.
IT management team and reporting structure: Direct reports who also report into regional business teams. This sets the tone for the IT function as a whole.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: ERP.
Primary technology suppliers: Oracle, IBM, Microsoft.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Unified communications, HD videoconferencing, global intranet, off-shore global software development.
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: Unified communications project, involving the creation of a global email system integrated with Microsoft Lync. This project has had a dramatic effect on the efficiency of our internal communication around the globe, improving our ability to act as a truly global business. This is a key foundation that is supporting our wider business strategy.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Procurement: I have led a successful initiative to assess the value of creating a central purchasing function within the global organisation. As a result, I have been asked to lead further global procurement initiatives on behalf of the business.
Supply Chain: having been involved throughout my career in supply chain operations at companies where a world class supply chain was key to commercial success, I have lead and facilitated design workshops at Genus to create a vision for a future best-in-class supply chain. This vision is now being implemented, with myself and IT providing a major contribution.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: We are carrying out a strategic review, engaging with business managers at all levels within the organisation, to define our IT strategy for the next three years. This follows the successful attainment over the last three years of the strategic objectives set out in 2009. I believe a central plank of the forthcoming strategy will be the move to mobile working, providing both applications and information, increasing employee productivity and improving customer service.
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: This is not an issue at present as we have sought to embrace and encourage use of technology and new ways of working within, rather than outside, the corporate environment.
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: By demonstrating a vision for the future that embraces technology and addresses business needs, executives continue to buy into the necessary standards and controls surrounding the deployment of IT equipment.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: The biggest transformational technology for us over the next 12 months will be mobile applications.
Transformational inspiration sources: Discussions within IT and the wider business, reading articles, and attending events such as the CIO Summit to talk with fellow CIOs.