Alan Hill joined the Royal Signals in 1984, as a young officer he served in UK, Germany and many other overseas locations. He has commanded an Electronic Warfare squadron, an Arctic Warfare squadron and more recently the 3rd (UK) Division Signal Regiment and 11 Signal Brigade. Staff appointments have included coalition communications planning and the tactical and technical development of counter-IED work; Directing Staff at the Defence Academy teaching the technical aspects of Short Range Surveillance; and Commander Joint Force CIS (Middle East). He is responsible for the communications support to UK world-wide operations and to the Permanent Joint Operating Bases. He is now assigned to Army HQ as Head of Information Superiority responsible for Army CIO activity.

What the judges said:

“His job title is exactly what the Army needs in terms of understanding the power of information and technology,” Jerry Fishenden

“To envisage and sell the BPM concepts into the Army is very impressive and he is doing this at a time when the Army is under extreme pressure,” Ian Cox

“I was impressed with his communications skills across a very wide range of user groups and with such a wide diversity of needs from frontline troops to back office support staff and technical people in between,” Mark Chillingworth

What is your job title?
Head of Information Superiority

When did you start your current role?
Sep 2011

Have you completed an MBA?
No

Order the following sources of advice/information by value to you:

  1. Peer Group
  2. Consultant
  3. In-house
  4. Vendors
  5. Analyst

Technology strategy and spending

What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
Underway within the Army is the transformational use of process driven thinking.  By applying the principle of Business Process Management to the battle field we are getting the critical process owned by the right people, with a clear responsibility to define their information requirements, which can then be enabled efficiently through technology.  These -end-to-end processes could entail collection of imagery from an unmmaned aircraft, transmission to a HQ for analysis, target selection, target action and target damage assessment.  Time and safety critical issues can then be addressed.

This is also coming into the business space to help in running the £10.5bn organisation in the most efficient way possible.

Getting the business change owned at the right level is quickly followed by BPM technology sitting alongside and complementing our existing systems.

What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
The high-level business processes within the Army will be able to be  measured and owners held to account.  But more importantly it will create real decision support capability and agile planning speeding up our outputs, getting far better outcomes and tracking real benefits.

What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
Modernising our private cloud capability in order to be ready for a growth in requirements. Potentially this capability will form part of the wider MOD private cloud.  This has been done with Oracle and Microsoft.

Name your strategic technology suppliers?
Oracle, Microsoft, HP, Fujitsu, Atlas

What is the IT budget?
£95M across the Army but this does not include some specific major IT enabled projects.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Putting Information at the heart of the Army, by getting an Information 'Line of Development' in every change programme and  business-as-usual process.

Transformation achievements

Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
The CIO role is transformational in the Army and this requires considerable energy from a great team.

Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
Driving innovation in how we use mobile devices, e.g. in education and training, accident investigation.

How we operate the Army business  - through BPM.

Introduction of MOSS as a the main collaborative tool, through a comprehensive training programme, desk level engagements and publishing "DII for Dummies" - how to use the enterprise systems effectively, and it has proven very popular.

Piloting the use of social media in the extranet.  Sounds simple, but this is a strictly hierachical organisation so getting ideas from the youngsters can be very difficult.  Social media within a protected social media 'bubble' is how we are tackling this.

Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
Army 2020 and Future Reserves 2020.  These transformational programmes shape the Army to be ready for the challenges that might arise in 2020.  This involves downsizing the regular Army, increasing the size of the Reserve, rebasing a large proportion of the Army, and ensuring that it is equipped appropriately.  Information runs through this programme in many ways.  There is the challenge of moving IT to match the rebasing in the most cost efficient manner; establishing digital means of supporting regular and reserve soldiers, and for the challenge of recruiting Reserves there is the needs to create a web portal that meets their particular needs and makes them feel immediately and constantly part of the team even though they may be at home or in their day job office.

What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
EBPM technologies, mobility options, cloud capability, SaaS.

What percentage of your applications / infrastructure is run from the Cloud?
All Army applications are run from our private cloud.  There is the internal part, which is entirely run by the Army, and the external part, which is outsourced.

How is the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and social networking impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation at present?
Use of personal devices on military operations is not allowed for extremely valid security reasons.  But we are considering how to take forward advances in BYOD for education and training.  The customer or soldier expectation is set by commercial standards and we strive to match these wherever possible.

Do you have a plan in place for how to deal with shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives, place the right controls around employee choice and engage with the organisation on this issue?
There are no options for BYOD in order to join the enterprise network at this stage due to the security challenges and costs.  But for those not on the enterprise system regularly we now have a very strong offering through the extranet.  We allow limited use of the internet for business under strict guidelines and look out for shadow IT indicators.

Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
I seek transformational inspiration primarily from my CIO peer group mainly through personal meetings or publications such as CIO.  I also use the IET to watch for commercially viable technical innovation.

The CIO role in the business

Who do they report to?
COO

Does the CIO have a seat on the board?
Yes

How often do you meet with the CEO?
Quarterly

Does your organisation have a digital leader and what is the difference in their responsibilities to yours?
Not yet.  But digital is becoming far more important as the Army understands better how it needs to connect to individuals and to enable efficient working.  My team and I are creating an irreversible momentum in modernizing the Army's digital environment.

What percentage of IT budget do you control and what percentage of IT budget does your digital peer hold?
In control all of it either through cash control or approving authority.

The IT department

How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
160 staff in total.  This is a mix of military  and civil servants - IT and Information specialist, with 53 outsourced posts for those areas of expertise that can not be found in house.

Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
There are four direct reports.

The 'requirements' area sets governance, strategy and policy whilst also developing relationships across the Army by helping business areas think through innovative ideas.  They manage the Army's customer view to the enterprise for the 4 security domains on the network., and deal with all Information Management and Exploitation matters.

The 'deployed operations' area plans network and information architecture solutions for deploying troops to set up and support an operational HQ with at least 4 security domains.  This area also procures and manages tactical narrowband and broadband communications equipment, surveillance equipment and electronic countermeasures to support operations.

The Army 'software house' runs private internal and external clouds.  They build bespoke applications to support management information requirements using COTS software components.  Key to engaging staff across the Army is our extranet (ArmyNet) which sees 98,000 logins per month on average.

Finally, 'security' cover all aspects of policy, governance and some delivery for physical security; personnel security - everything from open Facebook accounts, internet scams in senior officers' names, high threat to individuals, and vetting; information security - including Data Protection for the Army, leaks, insider threat, and a 24 hour warning and reporting cell.; and the last element of accreditation of non-enterprise systems.

How many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
60,000 for the enterprise system and in excess of 100,000 for the extranet, which is available to regular and reserve soldiers, their families, and civil servants.

What is the primary technology platform?
Enterprise infrastructure named Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) which is deliverd to us as a service.