With fashion retailer Paul Smith's wholesale business model under intense pressure from direct channel and e-commerce rivals, Lee Bingham's challenge is to replace it with direct market and digital opportunities. He is reducing and consolidating data sources and analysis platforms to deliver a cleaner and more agile approach to data management and analysis, and underpinning business transformation projects with cloud-based services and solutions.

When did you start your current role as head of IT at Paul Smith?
July 2004.

What is your reporting line?
MD/CEO.

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Bi-weekly.

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

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No.

How many employees does your organisation have?
1,200+.

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

What number of users does your department supply services to?
700+.

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Direct interaction and validation programmes with the business user community allow IT to ensure that its services and developments are applicable to purpose and business scope.

Paul Smith 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
The wholesale market is the greater percentage of our business model and this is being severely disrupted by direct channel and e-commerce. The challenge we face is to replace the wholesale erosion with direct market and digital opportunities.

What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
Replacement of both ERP (enterprise resource planning) and PoS (point of sale) system across the global business.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
Significant in terms of operational and procedural optimisation and functionality.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
Leading a multiyear, multivendor tender process for both systems has been a significant undertaking for me while ensuring the delivery and continuity of business as usual services. I am pleased to have successfully concluded the processes and moved into implementation. 

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
The most significant technology enabling our business transformation projects will be cloud-based services and solutions.

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?
Consolidation is key to our information and data analytics strategies. Focusing on the reduction and consolidation of our data sources and analysis platforms will enable a cleaner and more agile approach to data information management.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Significantly. As a brand we have a significant mobile and social strategy in place that supports and underpins key routes to market and public positioning of the brand.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Shadow IT has proved challenging and difficult to manage in specific areas of the business. However, it has also allowed the business to define certain process and criteria that has since been adopted into managed services. BYOD strategies are still under review and pending an evaluation and acceptance by the business.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
• Server.next  Microsoft technical adoption and rapid deployment program
• PoS  Cegid
• ERP  Prima

Who are your main suppliers?
Microsoft.

Paul Smith 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?
No.

What is the IT budget?
£6.5m.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
To migrate and optimise all business processes to a new ERP and PoS solutions. To reduce cost, increase efficiency and maintain business-as-usual stability and availability.

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?
Yes.

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No.

Paul Smith technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Technically innovative and aligned to business process.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
The senior management team are critical to the success of the business IT services. I have developed a team of seven individuals from both internal development progression and external recruitment to encompass a balanced set of business and IT skills and knowledge. Allowing the competencies and responsibilities to be shared between the team and developing a core set of cross-responsibilities as a management team is our key to success.  

How many employees are in your IT team?
42.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
95% in-house.

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?
Yes.