Imperial Tobacco Group is a British multinational tobacco company with headquarters in Bristol, United Kingdom. It is the world’s fourth-largest cigarette company measured by market share after Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco, and the world's largest producer of cigars, fine-cut tobacco and tobacco papers.

Imperial Tobacco produces over 320 billion cigarettes per year, has 51 factories worldwide and its products are sold in over 160 countries. Its brands include Davidoff, West, Gauloises Blondes, Montecristo, Golden Virginia (the world's largest-selling hand rolling tobacco) Drum and Rizla the world’s best-selling rolling paper.

Imperial Tobacco is listed on the FTSE 100 London Stock Exchange.

IT leader: René Hoondert, Head of Group IS.

In role since: 14 years with the company, of which two years as Head of Group IS.

Reporting line: CFO.

How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Once per quarter on average.

Board level seat: No.

IT budget: Global IS spend is just below £100 million annually.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: About 16,000 login accounts, which represents approximately 50% of our total number of employees.

IT staff currently employed: About 450 IS staff (FTE’s) on the payroll globally.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: That depends on your exact definition of 'outsourced staff'. Roughly I would estimate a balance of 75% internal staff (FTE’s on the Imperial Tobacco payroll) and 25% contractors/IS consultants not on the payroll.

IT management team and reporting structure: Group IS Management Team consists of nine people:

  • IS Director Manufacturing & Supply Chain.
  • Global IS Relations & Compliance Manager.
  • Group IS Corporate Services manager.
  • Centre of Excellence Managers for Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain and Manufacturing.
  • IS Directors Legacy systems in France & Spain.

Everyone in the Group IS management team is responsible for IS governance, stakeholder management, senior business relationships and ensuring IS priorities are aligned with business needs and priorities.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation:

  • SAP and QAD are the ERP solutions in use for Manufacturing, Sales & Distribution, Accounting and Supply Chain planning & execution.
  • Siebel for CRM / sales force automation and managing the relationship with the trade.
  • Microsoft solutions for Office Automation, personal productivity & collaboration.

Primary technology suppliers: SAP, QAD, Siebel/Oracle, Microsoft, DELL, KPNi and Info AG.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: Microsoft Office upgrade including collaboration tools and introduction of SAP Business Intelligence tools.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 5%.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: To establish transformation programmes, to set the strategic framework for IS in the company and ensure alignment with all of the business functions about IS plans and effective execution of these plans.

I don’t believe that emerging technology will make revolutionary changes to our company’s business model or transform the way that we operate. I do believe that technology can make a significant contribution to the efficiency of our operations and the way people interact and collaborate.

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 have introduced a BYOD programme this year, but the impact of this to business operations is not significant.

Transformational inspiration sources: The IS strategy is being influenced by the wider business strategy, innovations, emerging technologies and changes in the external environment.