Rod Carr's great project at Centrica has been hundreds of smaller incremental changes, mainly mobile-related, such as mobile maintenance management for windfarm engineers, a mobile expenses app, and shoals of small tactical apps across the oil, gas and power fleets. As a result, staff remain engaged with their work as they feel they have some influence and control over the processes they run, and the organisation is developing fast, low-cost habits for change, with 30-40% of cost being taken out of some processes, along with higher performance and better safety behaviours.
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?
Does your organisation have a CDO?
What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
How many employees does your organisation have?
Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?
How many 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?
Internally, via a significant peer network and constant visits to our operating sites. Externally, by tapping social, online and media to gauge customer perception of services.
Centrica 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 decided that mobile was not gathering enough pace in the organisation (amazingly, shadow IT was not delivering fast enough!), so we decided to start pushing apps out to mobilise corporate processes, such as collaboration and HR self-service. It's small scale at the moment, but it's already starting to change thinking in the HR and comms community within the company.
What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
Not so much a major project as hundreds of little ones. We're not so good at the 'big hit' change programmes, so we focus on building a high volume of small incremental changes. Most are mobile-related. Examples include mobile maintenance management for our windfarm engineers, a new company-wide mobile expenses app, and literally hundreds of small tactical apps across our oil and gas and power fleets.
What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
First, our employees feel that they have some influence and control over the processes they run, and they can see their thinking reflected in the apps they help build. This is hugely positive for our culture and helps employees remain engaged with their work.
Second, we develop fast, low-cost habits for change. We are seeing processes running at 30-40% less cost, along with higher performance and better safety behaviours. It's a total win-win: better asset returns and happier, healthier colleagues. Our pace of change is increasing as a result, but (importantly) without sacrifice of quality or safety.
How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
Three aspects of my style fuel this. First, a willingness to take calculated risk helps everyone (inside and outside IT) to challenge convention and look for better ways of working. Second, a constant 'it's ok to fail' narrative helps maintain momentum when it would otherwise be easy to lose pace. Third, being outcome-focused helps maintain focus on our business performance rather than technology itself.
What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
At the end point, mobile channels, whether customer or internal. Within the firm, anything that supports (ever) increasingly rapid cycles of development is a fundamental fuel for transformation. Cloud platforms are the go-to of choice to support transformation.
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?
Do it online, do it cheaper and make the outputs available to everyone through multiple channels. Develop better tools for people to use, and use those tools as a way of increasingly data quality and the value that we derive from the insights provided.
How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Mobile is changing the way we manage our operations and the daily working experience of offshore and onshore engineers. Social is playing an increasing role in supplementing and enriching the daily experience of our engineering and management community, through the use of tools like Chatter and Yammer.
Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
Shadow IT is not a problem. The risks can be offset through sensible policies and controls, and the very fact that our business is taking the initiative to solve problems with technology is great. We have a good network within the company and part of my daily dialogue is about encouraging, rather than discouraging, my peers to take control and develop their own 'shadow' IT – the more the better.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?
Our strategic partners are Vodafone, HP, Fujitsu and Microsoft. We have a range of deals with them, but most important we have a long-term shared vision of how we operate together and how we succeed together.
Centrica 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 to the revenue as a percentage?
What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
Drive the pace of change and help our business innovate.
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?
Centrica technology department
How would you describe your leadership style?
Inclusive, driving, supportive and challenging.
Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision
I've given them the support to be courageous and to drive change in their business areas, while providing air cover and risk management to allow them space to deliver. At the same time, we ensure that their roles are challenging with a degree of stretch, to help them develop their own leadership skills. My team feel more like peers than subordinates.
How many employees are in your IT team?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?