CIO Richard White has been with the shipping brokerage firm Clarksons for nine years.
Clarkson is the world's leading provider of shipping services, it has 42 offices in 16 different countries. Clarkson operations are divided into four areas: broking, financial, support and research.
In 2013 the company had around 1020 employees. It reported profit before tax is £25.1m and revenue is £198.0m.
When did you start your current role?
Have you completed an MBA?
No, Bsc Hons and various small courses such as ITIL, Prince 2
Order the following sources of advice/information by value to you:
- Peer Group
Technology strategy and spending
What is the major transformational IT project that has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
I have listed below two example projects for you which change the way we view and interact within our industry.
SeaNet Project Background and Business Objective::
• Every vessel over 300 gross tonnes is IMO regulated to require an AIS transmission. This gives a signal to port masters etc of information such as the Vessels destination, longitude and latitude.
• By taking these co-ordinates and the IMO number (unique identifier of a vessel) we are able to project all trading ships worldwide. This has been enhanced by a new technology utilising low level geo stationary satellites which can pick up these radio wave transmissions so we can project ships mid ocean.
• The innovation comes from combining the two methods of receiving this data (land based and satellite) into one dataset. This data can then be enhanced further by combining it with fleet data and trade data so that these vessels can show trade flows, owners movements, vessel utilisation and port congestion. The AIS data is also transmitted in multiple messages and not in sequence which has resulted in a series of custom algorithms to be written to combine the messages.
• To combine Land and Satellite AIS data and store this in a meaningful database that is capable of receiving/recording in excess of 21,000 positions per minute.
• The positions are projected into a series of geospatial objects that are then projected onto a number of different mapping tools. The data is stored in such a way that projection on nearly any mapping tool is possible.
• To position vessels within pre-defined geographic polygons that map out world ports
• The system uses a series of complex logic to determine where Ports and Berths are throughout the world by looking at the congregation of vessels over a period of time. Identify vessels within berths which are commodity/cargo specific. This will allow trade and commodity flow analysis that has never been achieved.
• Automatically identify non moving vessels using heuristics to predict storage vessels, port congestions and utilisation of world fleet
GAIN Project Background and Business Objective:
• We wanted to achieve a system that would allow us to record our fixture information and to then enable analysis of trading patterns, trade movements and commodity changes in the shipping market.
• We reviewed applications already available only to realise that no other company has looked to harness the power of the data in the fashion required
• It was then decided to take our in depth knowledge of the shipping industry and combine it with our financial systems and processes to enable advanced analytics and in depth market data. Internationally we had over 15 bespoke systems, some of which are legacy. The challenge comes in when we needed to create a common platform to get all systems to work with. Another challenge was the size of the data. We had to deal with heavy loads of data and process this efficiently.
• To incorporate company wide databases into a single system and incorporate it with the companies financial systems. These databases include commodity data, our fleet database, port and country information. As all these different databases came from disparate systems, we were required to develop a common interface to ensure all the different formats would combine into one usable format for GAIN.
• To create complex algorithms to detect fixtures that potentially breach anti-bribery legislation and also to detect fixtures that don’t fall in line with governmental rules (e.g. Iran sanctions).
• Heuristics to determine world trade movements value and economic indicators.
• To be able to portray world trade demand.
• To be able to portray and predict potential future trends in market rates and movements.
• To enable real-time calculations and analysis.
What impact will it/does it have on the organisation?
Both of the projects have allowed us to communicate and serve our clients like no other competitor. We can pinpoint market weaknesses as well as opportunities on a global scale day by day whereas other market sources can be quarter by quarter. This has driven the business to appreciate the advantages of entering, maintaining and using shared data within the organisation.
What new strategic technology deals has your organisation struck and with whom?
We worked with Vodafone on a one off specific data roaming mobile contract to enable our users to travel, present and view all market information seamlessly on our Ipad applications/devices without risk of weighty roaming charges.
Coraid have been an invaluable partner in ensuring the vasts amounts of data are stored reliably and able to meet the demands of the applications, their support is second to none.
With our email systems receiving 60k messages per day, combined with Seanet data of 21k position updates a minute the need for fast, reliable and geo locationed disks was key to ensuring business continuity. We partnered with Coraid on providing our resilient storage system.
Name your strategic technology suppliers?
HP, Coraid, Microsoft, Global Crossing, Vodafone
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
I sit on the Executive board as well as IT Steering Committees within the group. To maintain and extend our industry leadership, we work towards a clear strategy, based on six key objectives; Breadth, Reach,
Trust, Understanding, People and Growth.
Below are a few examples of how we strategically aim to achieve these in 2014:
Breadth and Understanding
Continue with Seanet and GAIN to enable understanding of the shipping markets.
Continue the delivery of our market and third party data via dashboards allowing the data to be usable and accessible without the headache.
All systems have been built on 3 tier structure which has allowed our remote/mobile platform to continue to be built easily and inline with office based tools. Information is delivered both to our users working remotely (IPAD, Citrix) and clients (Web, IPAD).
People and Growth
Training both for IT systems and Company information such as our range of services, key individuals etc is a key business objective. We had 240 Joiners and 180 leavers in 2013 therefore knowledge transfer is key to keep the knowledge and breadth of our offering alive. This will be delivered via electronic registered systems allowing managers to see who has completed what and when.
The group will grow (Currently 1080 Permanent members) and diverse into other areas and therefore systems will need to be adapted to meet the business needs.
Would you describe the CIO role as a transformation leader in your organisation?
Yes, working with the business to provide business solutions has transformed the way we serve our clients.
Describe the transformations you have led / been involved in, how did they transform operations, customer experience or the organisation?
Globalisation/Standardisation of email, voice and video: This programme standardised all 24 existing offices (and 12 new ones since standardisation), enabled sharing of information to serve our pacfic and atlantic clients seamlessly and a platform to build our new applications. Video has enabled our teams to have virtual presence with each other (Shanghai can see and communicate with the London team etc)
Seanet allows us to inform our clients of global trade, shipping activity on a realtime basis whereas current port authority data can be up to three months delayed.
Created a Patented (PCT/GB2011/001323) product which tracks/records when messages have been delivered/read to avoid demurrage claim issues which protects our clients.
Clarkson Global/SIN provides our users and clients with an easy to retreive and analyse data system combining market and third party information
Beyond technology, can you describe a business transformation programme that you own or contribute to?
I sit on the main and exec board. This has allowed me to contribute towards new ventures, tightening of compliance and best practice procedures. I also am driving the Clarksons Training academy onto electronic, easy to access platform which will cover all areas of shipping (as well as IT).
What key technologies are being considered to enable transformation?
elearning, mobile development, AIS, Data Dashboards
What percentage of your applications / infrastructure is run from the Cloud?
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?
Social networking is just starting to come onto the shipping scene, we have embraced this but under controlled policy driven measures. Mobile delivered platforms is a key driver for us but these are under controlled conditions due to the sensitivity of our data.
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?
We have a steering group to address this as well as discussions in place at the executive board.
Where do you seek transformational inspiration from?
CIO and User groups, Peers, Exec
The CIO role in the business
Who do they report to?
Does the CIO have a seat on the board?
How often do you meet with the CEO?
Does your organisation have a digital leader and what is the difference in their responsibilities to yours?
The IT department
How many staff make up the IT team?(What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff)
41 in total (31 inhouse / 10 contract)
Describe the CIO’s management team, do you have direct reports that develop the relationship and services between the business and IT?
I have 5 Direct reports: User Support, Infrastructure, Database, Development and Broker Liaison (This is where we have ex shipping staff which are 50% shipping 50% IT. It enables easier development of applications saving time with the brokers to only key requirements, more user business related training and issue assistance.
How many log-in accounts do you issue across you organisation?
99% is via Active Directory (1153 accounts)
What is the primary technology platform?
Trading system, Email, Website