To give De Beers a single view of the diamond supply chain will involve Craig Charlton in figuring out how to join together a score or so of different businesses as far as data and analytics are concerned. But after he commoditised and cut the cost of core services and showed how he could position De Beers for the future, the board is backing his vision as an investment opportunity – and given him the budget to make it happen.

When did you start your current role?
October 2012.

What is your reporting line?
Dual - De Beers group CFO and Anglo American group CIO.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
CFO every other week, plus CEO and all other executive committee members quarterly (or when initiatives require).

Are you a member of the board of directors?

What other executive boards do you sit on?
Various project executive boards and I lead the IT executive board for the De Beers group.

Does your organisation have a CDO?

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
Global information security.

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?

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Senior leadership forums, regular meetings with each of the executive committee members, industry press, events and peer relationships. The nature of the business means there is limited direct connection with our customers (around 100 customers of rough diamonds).

De Beers 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 We have a very federated structure across the various businesses in De Beers.
This has led to significant fragmentation in our systems and data sources. We are starting to pull together a view on how we can connect the various sources to provide true insight into mining, sales and marketing trends, which should enable us to produce and sell more efficiently. It's early days but there is a rich source of data.

What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
In the second half of 2014 we embarked on major programme to digitalise our internal business processes. Sales and marketing are taking a lead, moving away from 30-year-old AS400 technologies that have served us well. We are also tackling HR with a cloud and analytical solution, and core mining with process optimisation and business analytics. This is a major undertaking and will require significant business change and introduction of technology; it will drastically improve the end-user experience. None of this would be possible if we hadn't recently completed the transformational work on our foundational systems with outsourcing to HCL, BT and Accenture for infrastructure and transactional systems support.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Much greater insight and accuracy to data and therefore decision-making. Greater productivity will take away mundane, repetitive tasks. It will also offer faster speed to action, with more up-to-date indicators available across the company.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
By getting control of the basics quickly (commoditising and reducing the cost of core services, and practical but robust governance), plus talking of a De Beers that is platformed for the future, we have proven we are an investment opportunity and this has allowed us to embark on ambitious initiatives. I think as well having a consistent message for the need for change (and ideas on how to deliver the change) has worked extremely well. In doing so we have increased IT capital investment almost 50% from 2014 to 2015.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
Best described as a healthy mix – industry-standard core solutions (infrastructure and SAP) surrounded by cloud-based offerings for corporate (HR, supply chain and communications) and more bespoke solutions for sales, marketing and mining.

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?
I alluded to it in the disruption question above: a single view of the diamond supply chain regardless of where you sit. It is going to involve figuring out how we join 18+ different businesses together from a data and analytic point of view. The technology is the easy part; it's the data standardisation and governance that's going to be fun.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
We have adopted a simple but effective approach to both internal and external social and mobile. As you can appreciate, social is critically important to De Beers from a reputational, sustainability, customer and marketing point of view. Here we monitor and actively engage in social communities. Internally, we have a social platform but are looking to renovate this in 2015 and for mobile we are use case-driven.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
We have two strategies. First, to work with the overt shadow IT teams to build strong governance (eg engineering) and to integrate where there is a need or appetite (eg information security). Second, to capture the covert, typically using governance and security as a hook but then to figure out how to draw them out, build on their ideas and integrate them into our corporate offering. The key to the latter is, if you don't have a credible alternative, then it is probably worth listening and figuring out how to work together, otherwise you are going nowhere.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
In 2014 we had a major focus on sourcing. We struck global deals with HCL (datacentres, service desk and onsite support), BT (voice, video and data communications), Accenture (SAP support) and renewed EAs with SAP and Microsoft and brought Dell in as our PC and server hardware provider. 2014 was a business year of negotiation and transition.

De Beers 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?
$85m ($55m operating and $30m capital), excluding joint ventures.

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?
To support mining and business expansions and restructures; to deliver the digital transformation programmes across corporate, sales and marketing and mining; and to deliver on the expectations of the 2014 sourcing strategy (costs and service stability).

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?

De Beers technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
A positive and uncomplicated individual who is comfortable with ambiguity but recognises the need to provide a clear focus for his organisation and then encourages them to deliver with excellence – consistently.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision?
• Ensure we have a mix of skills and experiences on the team that complement each other as well as create some healthy competition
• Remove ambiguity and outline clearly what we are trying to achieve (eg with a one-page IT strategy)
• Ensure consistent messaging to the exco on our strategy and initiatives to ensure support
• Give everyone the space to own and grow the initiatives themselves with my support where it is needed

How many employees are in your IT team?
Direct team is 150 permanent employees. Total team including joint ventures and contractors is 300.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
250 permanent and 50 contract.

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?