Bidwells is a Cambridge-based top 20 UK only property consultancy. From its agricultural beginnings in 1840 the company has diversified and today it is a full service property consultancy, providing strategic and technical advice on all aspects of commercial, residential and rural properties - from architectural consultancy to transport planning advice. Its clients range from Trinity College in Cambridge and the Crown Estate, to consumers buying and selling homes or seeking advice on HS2 rail related issues.
IT leader: Philip Van Enis, IT Director.
In role since: August 2006.
Reporting line: COO.
Board level seat: Operational board and reporting annually to the strategic board.
IT budget: 5% - varies year to year depending on planned projects.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 600.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 100%.
IT staff currently employed: 15.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 100% in-house staff - some technology is outsourced.
IT management team and reporting structure: IT Operations Manager reports to IT Director who reports to the COO.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: GIS and email.
Primary technology suppliers: Fujitsu are his primary infrastructure supplier, EMC, HP, Citrix and Cisco.
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Desktop virtualisation with Citrix, partnering with Riverbed for WAN acceleration.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Cloud is a good idea, but the weak point is the connectivity for a geographically diverse business like ourselves, and that is more of an issue than the security.
Unsurprisingly, the industry and conferences have jumped on the security as a topic of concern, but I am surprised more people are not seeing connectivity as an issue.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: In the four years since the IT Director joined Bidwells he has been rebuilding their IT as part of a major investment by the company.
We are currently moving to desktop virtualisation, but getting it to work across the WAN is more challenging than you’d think or the vendors would have you believe. I want to run it from the data centre, but we are doing a hybrid of virtualised desktops and apps in some cases.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: In the four years since the IT Director joined Bidwells he has been rebuilding their IT as part of a major investment by the company.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Next year we plan a major telephony upgrade and we want something that seamlessly links mobile to the office without us having to do anything. I’m not convinced unified communications fits together that well though.
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: We are trying to encourage the iPad for doing business. The real advantage is to sit in a client meeting and illustrate in more innovative fashion than in the past.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: Telephony, Mobile Apps, Delivery of virtualised Apps, Cloud Services.
Transformational inspiration sources: General sources from industry and best practice from peers.