The John Lewis Partnership is an employee-owned UK business which consists of John Lewis department stores and Waitrose supermarkets. John Lewis made nearly £400 million profit in 2011. Annual profits are distributed amongst the 68,000 employees in the partnership, normally a percentage of their salary.

John Lewis has 28 full line department stores and 259 branches of Waitrose. The partnership’s most lucrative store is its flagship branch on Oxford Street, London. The department store section of the partnership has retained its sophisticated image whilst branching out its marketing range by introducing cheaper clothing ranges into the stores. The group also has subsidiary companies, manufacturing business Herbert Parkinson and its own Partnership credit card.

The IT director for John Lewis Partnership Paul Coby was previously CIO for British Airways. Since joining John Lewis, Coby has adopted an ‘all-channel’ retail, whereby products can be ordered both by staff over the phone or by customers online. Currently, a technology system is being developed that enables quicker and more effective home delivery. Coby is also planning to introduce a new web platform and has introduced a new desktop automation system. The company has deployed OpenSpan technology at two of its contact centres in the UK which deal with thousands of customer calls a year.

IT leader: Paul Coby, IT Director.

In role since: March 2011.

Reporting line: Managing Director.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Often - at board meetings, one-to-ones, other meetings several times a week - the MD, FD Commercial Director and I are co-located in the same space.

Board level seat: On the John Lewis Management Board.

IT budget: £50 million capital investment per annum, around £50 million revenue.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: Around 25,000 users since all JL Partners - including shop-floor Partners have log-ins to ePOS.

IT staff currently employed: 300 JL Partners.

IT management team and reporting structure: Six direct reports; Two Heads of IT Delivery, Head of IT Operations, Head of IT Resourcing and Planning, Head of IT Architecture, Head of IT Relationships.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: eCommerce, supply chain, warehouse management, customer datawarehouse.

Primary technology suppliers: Deloittes, Cognizant, Zensar, 2E2, Computer Centre.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Customer database with Deloitte, testing with Cognizant.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Not much now but we are planning some major moves...

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Business process design for the transformation of John Lewis from a successful multi-channel retailer to a genuinely omni-channel retailer.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Deliver the major business transformations around ERP and ERM.

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: It is last century - we are planning some major transformational changes.

Technologies being considered to enable transformation: ATG for eCommerce, Sterling for Order Management and SAP or Oracle for ERP.

Transformational inspiration sources: Apple for customer facing technology, Google for partner facing technology, US retailers for process and supply chain, airline industry for omni-channel, and Roman history.