De Beers is a group of companies that dominate the  diamond mining, trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. De Beers is active in every category of industrial diamond mining: open-pit, underground, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea. Mining takes place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada.

The company was founded in 1888 by Cecil Rhodes, who was financed by South African diamond magnate Alfred Beit and the London-based N M Rothschild & Sons bank. In 1927, Ernest Oppenheimer, a German immigrant to Britain who had earlier founded mining giant Anglo American plc with American financier J.P. Morgan, took over De Beers. He built and consolidated the company's global monopoly over the diamond industry until his retirement.

When did you start your current role?
October 2012

Have you completed an MBA?
No

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

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

Technology strategy and spending

What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
Integration with Anglo American.  This primarily covers HR, Supply Chain, Finance (and related support functions of Tax, Legal etc) as well as IM (IT) integration from a strategy, sourcing, governance and operating model point of view.

What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
Complete change to how De Beers does business, now part of a LSE listed organisation, previously private.  From an IT point of view bringing together 10+ different IM organisations under a single leader (me) for the first time in 6 years.  First time the organisation has operated as a single Global entity.

What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
Still under negotiation so we cannot disclose until mid 2014 - however we are working with three potential providers for services in (1) Networks and Communciations, (2) Service Desk, Data Centres and Workplace Computing and (3) Application Support (initially Global SAP).  Should this go ahead we will have an integreted sourcing model with Anglo American.

What is the IT budget?
$80m ($60m operating expense, $20m capex) - This includes managed businesses and joint ventures (approximately 60/40 split respectively).

IT operational spend compared to the revenue or company turnover as a percentage?
1% - differs slightly when you look at the manufacturing business (Element 6 - 2%).  1% average for a mining company using Gartner benchmarks.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
(1) Supporting the business growth initaitives (mine and operations expansions)

(2) Increase value delivered by IM through (a) remodelling core diamond trading systems and (b) asset optimisaiton activities in mining.

(3) Drive out cost in IM through integration with Anglo American - primarily through strategic sourcing activities.

(4) Improve talent in the organisation through stronger recruitment and retention planning.

Transformation achievements

Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
Not quite yet - we are turning a corner, prior to my appointment IT (as it was known then - we changed this to IM - Information Management) was primarily a back-office infrastructure and applications team.  2014 will be the year where we push to the front office with some key initiatives.

Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
Year 1 of the role was really about building the Global IM function and getting organised around global sourcing initiatives.  Overall these will deliver around a 5% saving off an already low baseline (1% of revenue - remember De Beers is not only a mining company but has trading, marketing and manufacturing).

That said however we were instrumental in the move of the diamond trading organisation to Gaborone from London, this is underpinned by the core diamond system technology and the overall initaitive was delivered 2 months ahead of schedule, on budget and without any major systems issues.

2014 will be a year we we start to drive this in earnest with business expansion activity in mining and operations, transformational activity in diamond trading (major underpinning diamond trading systems) and also with business process transformation underpinned with a new global analytics platform.

Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
Contribute to the diamond trading business process redesign (a direct report is a steercom member) as well as the global business process framework (I'm a steercom member).

What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
In diamond trading we are looking to redesign a solution that is currently operating on a 25 year old AS400 platform.  We are yet to make any technology choices.  The business process framework will leverage a Microsoft BI stack interfacing through to various data historians and ultimately process control and scada systems.

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?
We have a programme where we enable personal devices (phones, tablets etc.) to access email and intranet (via Good).  Also personal PC access to business applications is facilitated through a Citrix solution.  We have harmonised this soluton globally over the last twelve months and the feedback has been extremely positive.  We have acheived a 90% customer satisfaction rating for all IM services in 2014, up from 76% in 2013 (when I joined).  We are behind with social media right now (internally and externally) but are evaluating a Jive implementation based on Anglo Americans platform.

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?
Shadow IT has been a huge focus in 2013 and we have succesfully integrated Exploration, Information Security and various 'Business Analyst' roles in other functions into IM.  The biggest challenge remains in mining where there is still a divide around operational technology vs. information technology and in 2014 we are planning to drive clarity around this boundary and deal with the governance and operational issues associated with it.

Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
My 10 years of experience working in Procter and Gamble are still a great influence in terms of taking mining companies forward, mining well behind in their thinking and operating models.  In addition I continue to leverage peer networks, Gartner events, vendor events to understand (1) where we are in relation to the rest of the industry and (2) where we can improve.

The CIO role in the business

Who do they report to?
CFO and dual reporting line into De Beers CFO and Anglo American Group CIO

Does the CIO have a seat on the board?
No

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?
No - we are working on the definition of Digital De Beers right now and this is being worked between myself, the CMO and the Head of Communications and Corporate Affairs.

What percentage of IT budget do you control and what percentage of IT budget does your digital peer hold?
100% of what is defined as IT budget.  The brand based website budgets are with the CMO and the external websites are shared with IT and the Head of Communications.

The IT department

How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
Total team including Joint Ventures 330.  Made up from 220 permanent and 110 contractors.  Direct responsibility (excluding JVs) for around 150 permanent and 75 contract.

Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
Four Business Unit Leaders - Business Relationship Managers (SA and Canadian Mining Business, Trading and Marketing and Element 6 Manufacturing).  1 Corporate Functions leader - Business Relationship Management facing Global HR, Supply Chain, Finance and Communications - he also leads the Strategy and Assurance function.  1 Global Head of Infrastructure, 1 Head of Information Security, and 2 Strategic Change Programme Directors (Sourcing and Infrastructure Transformation).  The 3 Heads of IT for the Joiunt Ventures whilst not directly reporting to me also sit on my leadership team and we are fully aligned on overall strategy, governance and major project decisions.

How many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
10550 including JVs (direct responsibility for 5500 in the managed businesses)

What is the primary technology platform?
SAP for Mining, AS400 in house bespoke system for Trading