Mike Sturrock has taken a logistics organisation rich in data but poor in using that data, and transformed it. DX Group is now integrating its customer intelligence into its deliveries as well as implementing end-to-end traceability of items and flow control in its hub facilities to maximise throughput, minimise forklift movements and optimise delivery vehicle routing.
CIO DX Group.
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What other executive boards do you sit on?
Does your organisation have a CDO?
No. I and the head of marketing (who reports to the sales and marketing director) drive the digital agenda.
What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
I'm responsible for all programmes of change across the organisation, such as the transformation of the property estate, the building of new hub facilities and the consolidation of the operation into fewer, better equipped locations.
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?
I spend significant time in our operation ensuring that technology is supporting high-quality and efficient service and I also sponsor several major customers so I spend time with them to ensure we provide a service that delights them. I also contribute to several industry conferences every year, providing some thought leadership on the direction of the logistics and delivery industry as well as absorbing others' ideas.
DX Group 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're partnering with a company rolling out 2,000 locker banks to the UK to deliver e-tailer products to those locations and move away from manned parcel shops in a few locations to lockers in many locations. The unique element is our ability to integrate the intelligence we're building up about our customers' habits to offer them alternative delivery locations if they're not at home instead of putting a card through the letterbox and having to come back the following day. It's more convenient for the customer and more efficient for DX.
What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
We're moving to scanning of all freight, full end-to-end traceability of items and electronic tracking of cages and trunk vehicles, plus flow control in the new hub facilities to maximise throughput, minimise forklift movements and optimise delivery vehicle routing that will also give customers more accurate delivery windows and the flexibility to change them. We're about halfway through the programme, with new technology on the road, new operating procedures at the hub, and optimised routing in the pilot phase.
What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
It is improving service and predictability to our customers, reducing costs through using our assets and people more efficiently, and winning us new customers as our reputation grows.
How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
I have a business background in many industries, underpinned by 25 years in technology. I bring all that to bear and offer DX a vision of what's possible and what the future could be like. Then I support my colleagues with a collaborative and coaching style to make that vision a reality. I employ very capable people; I create the environment for them to be successful and support them to achieve that success, which they do time and time again.
What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
A solid integration platform that allows rich business process management lets you to take information bound for one system and use it in another in creative ways. For instance, to identify if a customer may not be at home, we can look up that customer and see if they've used one of our locker banks before; we can then enable a workflow that changes the driver's handheld to direct the item to the same locker bank, whilst telling the customer via their chosen channel where their parcel is.
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?
Our organisation is rich in data but was very poor on the quality and usage of that data. The vision I laid out is as follows:
1. Clean existing data within the organisation.
2. Ensure that all projects play their part in putting in place the validation of any data coming into the organisation or created within the organisation to ensure it is complete and accurate.
3. Create a data governance group with owners for all the major data groupings.
4. Implement a single business intelligence platform and consolidate all processing into a single DX warehouse.
5. Create such rich and timely analysis that this becomes a product in itself which our customers are willing to pay for (a number of new customers say they've come to us because of the analytics we provide).
We have already completed these first five steps; the remaining ones are:
6. Combine richer data sources from inside and outside the organisation to help streamline the operation further. Speed and location of our vehicles, national traffic flow data, etc. We aim to do this in 2015,.
7. Look at opportunities to provide data sets for free or for purchase, as we look for commercial opportunities in the sphere of big data. This is a key aim in 2015.
How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
We use social media as a medium to communicate with our customers. Alongside voice, email, website and text, it's an equal partner. We're undertaking an overhaul of our whole customer experience capability and implementing a unified messaging platform and enhanced processes within our customer experience teams.
Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Everyone in DX is vetted and we manage a lot of sensitive items (all the legal documents in the UK, every passport, credit cards, jewellery, etc), so our systems have to be as secure as our operation. This imposes some restrictions but my strategy is to make those restrictions as light as possible. So BYOD is OK for email but not for accessing the core operations systems and holding customer or product information.
There is no shadow IT. That's not through my diktat but through delivering the very best service, being flexible and innovative, and being the department people want to work with because we deliver value and speed.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
I have just signed a five-year deal with my major datacentre supplier, Attenda. This deal helps me drive a lot of value into DX, with large-scale virtualisation of infrastructure, continued retirement of old systems and the move of some key services to the cloud.
I've also signed a deal with TalkTalk Business and replaced my entire WAN infrastructure to 88 sites across the UK, recabling all of them, replacing all Cisco hardware and redesigning the MPLS network. This five-year deal delivers 10 times as much bandwidth as the previous incumbent for a 25% drop in cost and very high reliability.
I've signed a deal with a Danish firm called Transvision to provide its routing optimisation toolset, which we're integrating into our operational systems to give delivery vehicle routing with maximum efficiency and timed delivery slots
Who are your main suppliers?
• TalkTalk Business
DX Group 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 with the revenue as a percentage?
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Over the last 24 months we've fixed the DX technology foundations. The coming year will be about getting ahead. In 12 months we'll have new collection point and timed delivery solutions in the market, and the technology team will continue to deliver a huge portfolio of programmes and projects (we currently have 51 formally constituted and governed projects under way, each with a positive NPV). Last but not least, the bedrock of everything we do is rock-solid service and we will ensure that nothing we deliver in 2015 undermines that.
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?
DX Group technology department
How would you describe your leadership style?
In the run-up to Christmas I gave a presentation to my department that went something like this:
One day this chapter of our lives will come to an end. We'll move on to other jobs. For myself and for each one of you I want to be able to look back on this chapter and think the following:
1. I worked hard.
2. I overcame some tough obstacles and delivered work that was of value.
3. I learnt some good stuff that took my career forward.
4. I worked with some great people.
5. I had a few laughs.
I do all I can to make all of these things happen for me and for all of you. However, I can't do it all. If you share that vision, then I encourage you to make sure these things happen for you and for those you work with.
That encapsulates my style. I'm passionate about people and providing the environment where they can achieve their very best. I devolve almost all authority and decision-making to the lowest possible level, taking myself out of the day to day (which would only cause a bottleneck and slow things down). I coach and develop the team and give them opportunities that give them new skills and job satisfaction.
Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I have a leadership team of four people. Two I recruited, one was at DX when I joined and one was the IT director of Nightfreight when we bought that company three years ago. They are all superb individuals. I've worked hard to build a cohesive team. We don't always agree on every point but there's no agenda's going on, no splits or factions, and there's lots of creativity and energy between the five of us. I develop them through continual coaching, offering different experiences (eg, my head of solution delivery did not have much experience of implementing complex contracts, so I teamed him up with one of our lawyers and gave him the task of preparing the contract with our offshore development company).
I also fund some executive coaching for all four of them with the same coach. an individual I have used for many years myself. I knit the team together through frequent events. We have a day offsite each month to help develop our strategy as well as manage progress, and each one of these events ends in the pub. Twice a year we go sailing together for a weekend. These events give us some downtime.
How many employees are in your IT team?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
80 in-house and about 100 with our partners (30 of whom are in India).
Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?