The McLaren Group at the McLaren Technology Centre in Surrey and is famous for its Formula One racing team. McLaren reported profits of £15.8 million in 2011. The F1 cars, driven by Jenson Button are made and produced by around 1500 members of staff. The McLaren Group consists of a group of companies developed by executive chairman, Ron Dennis.

McLaren subsidiary business include catering firm, Absolute taste and McLaren Electronics Systems, a manufacturer of components for motorsport.

Stuart Birrell, CIO of McLaren was previously CIO of Gatwick airport and Vice President of IT for the Europe branch of office supplies provider Acco. Birrell explained that data was of great importance to the racing team’s success. Technology is used to analyse every gigabyte of data from the cars and the data is then analysed in real time to make decisions on the cars performance. McLaren is set to invest in SAP HANA technology to speed the analysis of the cars performance. HANA has the ability to automate decision making, meaning the company would not need to hire as many PhD scientists to undertake the analysis.

IT leader: Stuart Birrell, CIO.

In role since: September 2011.

Reporting line: CFO.

How often does the CIO you meet with the CEO: Weekly.

Board level seat: Yes.

IT budget: £10 million per annum opex, £4 million capex. The IT operational spend compared to company turnover is 1.7%.

IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: 2000 users.

Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 85% of employees.

IT staff currently employed: 80.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 80% in-house, 20% outsourced.

IT management team and reporting structure:

  • Head of Enterprise Architecture.
  • Head of Applications services.
  • Head of Infrastructure.
  • Head of operational services.
  • Commercial Manager.
  • 2 x Programme & portfolio managers.

Primary technology platforms at the organisation: SAP currently being implemented to replace multiple legacy systems.

Primary technology suppliers: Dassault Enovia and Catia Engineering design platform. Vodafone – telephony. Microsoft, HP.

Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months:

  • HP – core server infrastructure.
  • HP – 3Par storage platform.
  • Microsoft – Hyper-V, Forefront security, SCCM and full management tools covering the infrastructure stack.

Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: 10%.

Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: A new SOA architecture was implemented to support sales and service of the new MP4-12C supercar. This directly connects the vehicle diagnostics and software back into our CRM, warranty and service tracker. Sales are logged using a web-based configurator directly into sales order processing for a direct make-to-order process. This has been a huge transformation for the company in how it supports both the retailers and its customers.

Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: Yes.

Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: I have initiated and am delivering several projects and business improvement activities which are changing how we work across the organisation.

We are currently working with the F1 team on designing the next generation garage. This involves looking at what decisions need to be made during a race at track-side, which can be made back at mission control. We will then develop the information requirements and technology to support that strategy.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Industrialise the operational service, realise the financial benefits of the investments this year, and support the business teams working on innovation projects.

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: Limited impact. We allow personal iPhones to access email but that is all.

Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: Our technology architecture has been transformed to enable BYOD. We are now creating the policies and operational strategy to support this. There is limited demand from the CEO, but I am working with the other MDs to build the business case.

Technologies are being considered to enable transformation: Microsoft Hyper-V linked with SCCM 2012 directly links to Azure which will give our business technology teams flexible and cheap resources on which to develop their products.

Mobile tablets and smartphones with good CRM are in early stages of roll-out for our sales and marketing teams.

Our websites are already hosted externally. IT have a governance role only, enabling the business owners to develop what they want but with limited partners onto restricted platforms.