Keith Hopkinson is pushing biogenetics company Genus ever nearer to transacting with the customer in near real-time – transacting on the farm itself. He has turned apps that used to be back-office into front-office systems, equipped the sales force with mobile devices, and started rolling out a raft of new mobile software.

When did you start your current role?
2009.

What is your reporting line?
CFO.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
No, every month.

Are you a member of the board of directors?
No.

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No.

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
I have carried out and advised on corporate procurement projects.

How many employees does your organisation have?
2,600.

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?
Yes.

What number of users does your department supply services to?
2,600.

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
I hold regular meetings with company professionals throughout the business and around the globe to stay current with business developments and opportunities.

I organise my direct reports to have dotted reporting lines into each of the divisional leadership teams within the business.

And I personally accompany sales staff on customer visits to gain greater customer insight and search for new opportunities to apply IT technology.

Genus technology strategy and agenda

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

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

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
Championing the roll-out of mobile technology into the sales function  initially smartphones and latterly tablets.

What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
Carrying out the mobile strategy drawn up in 2013. The sales force is now enabled with mobile devices, and a first raft of new mobile applications introduced. Further application developments are in the pipeline. This has led to new opportunities and innovations coming from the business  very much pull now rather than push.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
It will allow us to transact with the customer in near real time  transacting on the farm. Applications that are currently back-office are being moved to front-office, leading to greater efficiency, faster transacting, greater customer buy-in and information, and new additional services offered to the customer.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
In this regard, I have been a technology evangelist, providing a vision to senior management and the C-suite, and partnering with them to deliver the vision.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
Mobile devices, networks, security, application development.

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

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
• Strong data and process governance, ensuring consistent and timely data, available to the business from a single source via data warehouse and Cognos toolset.
• New opportunity here is to make the information and data analytics capability mobile.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
It is bringing about a revolution in improving operational speed and efficiency, which also improves the customer experience. It also brings about greater access to information and new services, further improving customer experience.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
We work closely with the business so that shadow IT remains a non-issue. IT must always be proactive in redefining the IT footprint so that IT ensures a continuing complete service to the business. 

We have not embraced BYOD within Genus. This has been important to ensure Genus applications continue to work on all the devices used within the business, and that Genus data is protected and IT security in general is assured. That said, we continue to be proactive in embracing new forms of device and technologies, and continue to provide and support appropriate device choices to the business.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
• Applications: Oracle ERP and CRM, Cornerstone HR, Interact intranet.
• Hardware: Dell servers and PCs, Samsung tablets, Apple tablets and phones, Motorola phones.
• Infrastructure: Cisco DMVPN network, IBM SAN, EMC backup, Bright Software for high-performance computing.

Who are your main suppliers?
Oracle, Dell, EE, Apple, Microsoft.

Genus IT security and budget

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

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?
Yes.

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

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?
Yes.

What is the IT budget?
£8m.

How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?
2%.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
To continue to deliver mobile strategy, and to embark on a company-wide ERP reimplementation.

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

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

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?
No.

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No.

Genus technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Committed, inclusive, strategic, with good emotional intelligence.

A recent personality profile put it like this: 'Keith Hopkinson is systematic and logical, a planner and thinker who has an inherent need to get things right. He has drive and determination, is a self-starter and has the ability to express ideas in a positive way. He works hard to build good relationships.'

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I've expanded my senior leadership team (SLT) and brought in new talent over the last 18 months.

I also meet with each direct report monthly on a one to one, as well as a monthly SLT meeting. Each member of the SLT has a dual role, ensuring strong connectivity into the SLTs within the business.

How many employees are in your IT team?
42.

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

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?
No.