When Clive Mitchell arrived at Bourne Leisure in 2011, the IT function had suffered years of underinvestment, was struggling to keep critical systems running and had little traction with the board. Since then the IT estate and function has been transformed, the department has regained the trust of the board, and its digital agenda has been elevated into one of the three key pillars of the group's overall business strategy.

When did you start your current role?
October 2011. I was also on secondment from PwC as CIO for Bourne Leisure for around nine months prior to that.

What is your reporting line?

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
While we meet formally every month, and more frequently as required, IT is one of the CEO’s three 'key business strategy boosters', as detailed in Bourne's business strategy. Our digital/technology-enabled business transformation agenda is branded internally as 'super systems support' and also has its own set of update cycles.

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No. We regard the digital agenda and CDO role as absolutely integral to the IT/technology strategy and our super systems support  business transformation strategy booster. As the business title of CIO is more widely known/used by our team and suppliers, we have consciously elected to retain this title for the moment. However, we are now discussing whether the role should still be called 'CIO'.

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
Our team culture is integral to our business success. This is also reflected in our consistent ranking in the Sunday Times Best Big Companies to Work For Awards; we came fifth last year and have been in the top 25 since we entered seven years ago. Bourne support has recently developed a strong set of values supporting and reflecting our brands which was initiated from the cultural development work initiated in IT. See https://bourne.team.careers/people/culture for further details.

We also believe passionately about genuinely investing in and developing our team members. Bourne is the UK national pilot site for the Ten Youth global project (apprenticeship and mentoring) developed from the research from the World Economic Forum. We sponsor and invest at all levels of education stack (within the IT department) from junior helpdesk roles to MSc and MBA, and have recently formed a number of relationships with tier one universities. The above example was initiated within IT and is now being deployed more widely across Bourne support and the brands with the support of HR and the brand training/culture teams.

Within the empowering and entrepreneurial culture at Bourne, at a senior level we place greater emphasis on ‘doing the right thing’ for Bourne and creating an empowering environment for our teams in which innovations and good ideas can flourish naturally, rather than a rigid and highly documented roles and responsibilities structure.

How many employees does your organisation have?

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?

What number of users does your department supply services to?
Up to 14,000+ external suppliers.

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Our holiday brands are Butlins, Warner and Haven, so taking my family on holiday gives me a good start! There is nothing more succinct as to what works well and what needs improving than direct feedback from your wife and kids (and I have four kids)!

Things that aren’t working as well as they need to get communicated really fast within the Bourne team culture, on social media and TripAdvisor too. As a senior leadership team we proactively encourage the sharing of things that are working as well as they need to (if we know about it we can fix it). Always being available to people (IT team and IT customers) when they need you is important (this is the ‘being there’ element of our Bourne support culture). My mobile number is available to everyone and on my email footer; if something is wrong and my team can’t sort it within expectations I get a call and quickly, regardless of the time of day or day of the week.

Guest feedback via social media is fast, and guests expect the response to be fast too, so being responsive to whatever is important to them in the here and now is important to me and my team.

Good news travels fast within Bourne too. The IT team getting recognitions for their hard work from our guests and team is very important, and engrained in our culture. We recognise our ‘IT team stars’ every month at our team meetings; while there is a financial element to this, for many the peer recognition is the longer lasting and more engaging element of the team star awards.

Spending time one to one visiting the sites (we have 52 across the UK) and, importantly, really spending time with the team (in their environment – ie with housekeeping and maintenance teams) not just the general managers and senior team – is critical to understanding what makes things tick (or where we need to make things even better).

Our CEO/CFO and brand managing directors also spend a lot of time on site visits, and keeping abreast of their observations and feedback is interesting and enlightening.

The annual Bourne forum gathers together all 52 general managers and heads of departments across the three brands. And with our 'super systems support' IT strategy being one of the three key strategic drivers for our business, we are never short of feedback and suggestions as to how our customers use are services (and more importantly – how they want to use them in the future).

Bourne Leisure technology strategy and agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology-oriented start-ups?

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
Bourne Leisure delivers one in six holidays in the UK, so changeover days are busy days for us. We have done a number of leading-edge trials using technology to transform the resourcing, cleaning, checking and maintenance process of accommodation in our estate using NFC (near-field communication) technology, smartphones, large-scale Wi-Fi and mobile working.

This is a hugely important and complex area of our business. It is also an area that even Disney have yet to tackle and is highly complex to do well. 

What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
In 2011 Bourne's IT function had suffered many years of underinvestment. It was operating at a low level of ITIL maturity, had difficulty in keeping critical systems running and was struggling to communicate the complex technical issues it faced at board-level.

Over the last four years the Bourne IT team has transformed the IT estate and the IT function itself at every level of IT operations and at every level of IT infrastructure. The speed, dedication and determination of the team has been extremely impressive and they have achieved more in four years than many IT departments achieve in eight years.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
1. The digital IT strategy is now one of three core areas of Bourne's business strategy.

2. The board has recently elevated the role of IT in the business's brands to 'leadership team level' to reflect the new importance of technology to Bourne's business and operations

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
The transformation was conducted at the speed required in the circumstances, and the IT department as a whole has regained the trust at board level that is required to allow the digital agenda to be a key component of the group's overall business strategy.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
Specifically for our industry and in the next two to three years:

1. Smartphones, Wi-Fi and 4G (and you need all three together).
2. (Near) real-time data analytics and the delivery of the data to the people that need it in (near) real time.
3. Cashless payments and 'totally cashless holidays'.
4. Teenagers! Their attitude is 'digital first and now'.

I also expect 3D printing to be transformative (and hugely disruptive) for many areas in a two to five-year timeline.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
The data analytics vison needs to be put in the context of 'what can this do for our guests, team and shareholders'. There is massive potential for each category. We have been progressing a digital marketing strategy for all three brands and for the group based on SAS digital marketing over the last three years this core application will take another two years to fully complete the 'digital guest insight platform'.

This has been done in addition to and in parallel with a number of very successful agile point solutions along the way (many of which have been based on the SAS answers agile solution framework).

Delivering our data analytics vision here requires access to talented 'data scientists' (as people like to badge them these days!) that understand our business as well as data. We regard our vision for working with these people successfully as an essential component to our data vision; we have therefore forged relationships with vendor organisations like SAS but also with leading business schools (eg Warwick) and universities (eg Reading) to ensure we are able to translate the vision into business insight and actionable information.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Massively and at every touch point of the 'team' and 'guest' experience. The rate of change here is huge (with huge potential) as is the mobile workforce enablement potential for our 14,000-strong team. We have invested early in the use of NFC technology (and have tagged up some 40,000 vans/rooms over 18 months). The growth of cashless technology and a 'cashless' holiday enabled by mobile/NFC/RFID technology has huge potential in the next two years plus..

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Shadow IT is a 'Gartner term' that we don't like at Bourne  it implies that shadow IT is bad, and we don't believe this to be the case. At Bourne we use the term 'brand IT' rather than ‘shadow IT’. The correct use, recognition and empowerment of brand IT has the potential to help drive change faster and deliver more innovative business ideas more quickly. We have recently changed the IT organisation structure to allow brand IT to be formally represented within the brand leadership teams, thereby giving the brand IT teams greater recognition and an improved governance structure to allow us to drive IT-enabled business transformation more quickly.

Bourne is a level two PCI merchant and as such has to operate within the PCI security governance structure. While we currently support BYOD for all users for email and cloud-based applications (eg our procurement system), we are currently looking to extend the roles/application access we support more broadly with BYOD and introduce a CYOD policy together with mobile device management in the first half of 2015 following trials in 2014.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
Over the last four years we have transformed our supplier approach from large number of ad hoc suppliers to a small number of genuine business partners that can work with us in a culturally consistent manner, and are able to act as a digital catalyst to accelerate our 'super systems support' IT strategy.

Who are your main suppliers?
Vodafone (WAN, ISP, DDOS), Versonix (reservations systems), Azzuri (telephony), Aim4Gain (ITIL and process improvement), GT consulting (recruitment), SAS (digital marketing and ‘SAS answers’), Astro (networking and LAN), Coupa (cloud procurement), IRM (cyber security), HP/SCC (servers/desktop), 3PAR (SAN), GeoPal (NFC-based mobile working and GPS tracking), Arqiva (large-scale Wi-Fi), Potts Mullarkey (holiday home ERP management system).

Bourne Leisure IT security and budget 

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?

What is the IT budget?

How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
1. To provide an empowering and enabling environment that allows the IT team to recruit and retain top talent, deliver an agreed (and ambitious) business transformation programme and BAU for 2015, and have some fun as well!

2. To provide the technology leadership that will allow the board to feel confident and enthused in investing the increased capital required to deliver the next phase of Bourne's digital IT strategy as one of the three core components of Bourne's business strategy.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?

Bourne Leisure technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Fast-paced, energetic, passionate (about what we are doing, and why I believe in what we are doing).

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
This is in three categories: technical/professional education/training, self-awareness and culture development, and Hods (heads of department) team building to create a high-performing team.

1. Technical/professional education/training encompasses Gartner EXP programme, positive encouragement of peer networking and peer company visits to see what leading companies are doing, and enrolling the entire IT department on an ITIL foundation course (we also have an in-house ITIL trainer).

2. Self-awareness and culture development consists of self-reflection and profiling (individual and group)  Thomas PPA, and an inspired leadership' group course run by Marcus Child (for the entire IT department).

3. For the Hods team building, there is coaching and mentoring with the Lane 4 performance consultancy, Bourne group cultural development involvement and values leadership development.

How many employees are in your IT team?
In total, 141 (106 in group IT and 35 in brand IT).

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?