Welcome Break Director of IT David Willock has been with the motorway service operator Welcome Break - the second largest in the UK behind Moto - for over a decade and was also recognised in the 2014 CIO 100. Willock has been developing and implementing the "Starbucks Card" at Welcome Break, which sees up to 300,000 transactions a week on the company's sites using the prepaid Starbucks service, and he says Welcome Break hotels and sites also register 4.5 million minutes of BT WiFi each week, something all completely free to Welcome Break customers. Willock also likes to help his team succeed, which is something that gives him "terrific pleasure".
Director of IT
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
The Finance Director, a main board member
Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Yes, part of our Senior Leadership team that meets weekly to discuss business performance.
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What other executive boards do you sit on?
Senior Leadership team - team of 11 including all the heads of functions including the IT Director, Commercial Director, and so on.
Does your organisation have a CDO?
What different responsibilities does the CDO have?
Responsibility for Digital marketing is jointly held by Commercial and IT Directors. Commercial tends to focus on customer relationships and content management, for example via Facebook, and digital screen content in our sites. The IT Team focus on the underlying technologies to deliver.
What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
Member of the Senior Team responsible for business leadership. Chairman of the Pension Trustess - responsible for managing the Welcome Break Pension Funds.
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?
The Senior Leadership team meetings cover every aspect of our busienss; finance, operations, commercial, HR, IT etc. I'm involved in strategic discussions and decisions. We also have various service and project meetings across the business. We have Quarterly Conferences in our business where all the leaders and sites get together to present strategy, results etc. I spend time out in our business - on sites - with site leaders. We internally review and report on IT service problems every week. I am part of this process and have clear visibility of the challenges and actions we are taking to resolve. There is plenty of communication between IT and the rest of our business - we are very much immersed in this business!
Welcome Break 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?
The introduction of BYOD across our business. I describe this in more detail below, but we have over 200 employees benefitting from this. We've also introduced internal social collaboration as part of our Business Execution suite, also more details are in my answers below.
What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation?
There have been several! We have developed and implemented the "Starbucks Card" functionality into our IT systems. We are the first Starbucks Fanchisee in the world using non Starbucks IT systems to have done so. It means that Starbucks customers visiting our sites can pay for their Starbucks drinks and food using the pre-paid Starbucks Card. Those customers can also top up their card with funds or indeed activate a new card in our Sites. This is a big deal - every week our business manages 200,000-300,000 individual Starbucks transactions. With our Director of People (HR) we've continued our journey to imporve "Business Execution" across the business working with our partner Success Factors and their software for HR, Recruitment, Goal Setting, E-Learning and employee collaboration. We are one of the leading customers for the Success Factors "Jam" product for employee collaboration.
What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Starbucks Card: we expect to see sales growth as a result of this initiative. The wider Starbucks Business actively markets the use of Starbucks Card, and Welcome Break sites are now included in this. Welcome Break is the largest Starbucks franchisee partner in Europe - we have nearly 60 Starbucks stores in the UK, six of which are innovate Drive Thru's. The Business Execution solution is transforming the way we recruit, onboard, career manage our employees and give them a voice across our organisation through the use of "Jam". This is similar to an internal "Facebook" where text, picturees, videos etc can be posted. Everyone across the organisation is visible on Jam!
How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
I am the "IT Sponsor" for all major business projects that have an IT impact. I work closely with all the other Directors across our business on the highest priority projects and activities. I lead from the front, expecting clear processes to be followed to ensure all parties are clear of the solutions, timescales, costs and benefits - and driving progress through regular reviews and communication. We also try to have a lot of fun and celebrate success!
What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
It's often not the specific technologies but the way solutions are developed and implemented across the business. For example Starbucks Card - our Epos system is an integral part of the Starbucks Card operation - it's not bleeding edge: instead, we've developed (in conjunction with Starbucks, our suppliers and their suppliers) a fast and robust process. Led by our business colleagues we've trained the solution across all our Starbucks units and monitored their progress with frequent operational follow ups. Another example is our leading edge Customer Self service solution in our 25 KFC units. This solution enables customers to order and pay for their KFC meal, and then go to a separate collection point for their food. It has significantly improved average spend per transaction across our KFC business by cleverly "up selling" additional products to customers - and they love it! This isn't the most up to date technology, but it is fully PCI compliant, and robust, and customers love to use it!
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?
Another major project (Finance & IT) is the major change in our EIS solution from an older Business Objects to a modern Cognos based solution. Our business is multi-brand (Starbucks, KFC, Burger King, Subway, Harry Ramsden's, Waitrose, WH Smith, Shell, BP, Ramada, Days Inn). We run Catering, Retail, Fuel, Hotels and Gaming. We cut our P&L by Site, but also manage business performance by each of the above key brands. We are moving toward standard KPIs across every level of our business using the new "KPI Reporting" tool, part of which has already been launched.
How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Mobile: this has had a significant impact in business operations over recent years. We have about 200 company iPads and iPhones in the business and a further 200+ BYOD users who have secure access to certain key Company systems via their own devices. This has completely changed the access to key information and speed of communication within the business. Our Welcome break website has also seen major growth on in its mobile usage in recent years. Social Networking: we are the biggest Motorway Service operator in the UK when it comes to Social networking. We have a large presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. I'm not responsible for the day to day management of our customer communication via these media. We are also one of BT's biggest WiFi partners in the UK! Every week more than 4.5 million minutes of usage takes place at our Welcome Break Hotels and Sites. This is huge, and it is free to our customers! We continually invest in the infrastructure to enable capacity to meet customer demand which continues to grow apace.
Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
BYOD: we own this and have managed it very well across our business. As I said above, over 200 employees can securely connect their own mobile devices to get access to email, calendar, MIS data, Accounting data etc. This works extremely well.
Shadow IT: most of my colleagues stick to the view that IT should be sourced and managed by the IT Dept! Although there have been some instances of this not occurring, it tends not be be a huge problem. When it does occur, we work with those colleagues to ensure we are covered regarding PCI compliance, IT Security, DR etc, as well as helping to implement and manage the suppliers.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
Examples in the last few years - Vodafone: for mobile and fixed line communications and Mobile technology - iPads, iPhones Success Factors/SAP: for Business Execution BT: for Wifi Change++: for Cognos / KPI reporting We are also reviewing our Wide Area networking provision.
Who are your main suppliers?
15 Strategic suppliers including Retalix (Epos), BT (Wifi), Vodat (our Award Winning EFT solution), HP (IT security/technical), Guestline (cloud based hotel solution), Retail Response (break/fix maintenance), Phoenix (WANs), Vodafone (mobile/fixed-line technology), Shell (Epos in our Forecourts), Success Factors (Business Execution), Change++ (KPI Reporting/business intelligence).
Welcome Break 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?
Overall including capex and revenue, greater than £2.5 million pa
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?
(i) To strategically review key elements of the IT provision especially Epos, to ensure we have a fit for purpose IT infrastrucure for the next 5+ years.
(ii) To continue to work with the business to develop & implement solutions that drive up sale and profit and reduce costs. (The programme for 2015 has been agreed and underway).
(iii) To ensure a robust IT infrastructure is provided and improved.
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
Welcome Break technology department
How would you describe your leadership style?
Driven, detailed, engaging, strong communicator, combative, collaborative. I look for talented people, ensure they have clear direction and support - and then work to help them succeed. I encourage an open and challenging culture where feedback is the norm and anyone can discuss an idea, regardless of hierarchy. And we like to have fun! I love to recognise people for great work - it gives me terrific pleasure to do so.
Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision.
I have recently changed my structure and promoted two talented individuals to "Head of IT Projects" and "Head of IT Service Delivery". With these and my other direct reports we have regular 121 reviews covering progress, issues, successes etc. I believe in "Heart, Mind, Body & Soul" and so 121s are an opportunity to really ensure all is well with my direct reports. We have development reviews aimed at improving performance - through coaching, work assignments and where necessary - courses. We also have clear succession planning, including succession to me.
How many employees are in your IT team?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
All in house. We have over 55 suppliers (15 of whom are strategic) to support us.
Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?