Royal Mail Group CIO Catherine Doran helped set up a digital lab to experiment with the rapid introduction of new online capabilities, and with a rapidly expanding technology function has helped embed a new enterprise culture which has received widespread acclaim across the business.

How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
The IT function operates a partner model to effect the interaction between IT and other business functions. The business facing directors sit on the executive management teams for their business function, hence being an integral part of how strategy is devised, planned and realised. Together with the COO and CCO, I am a member of the Strategic Change Forum, which is the group that determines the what and the how of upcoming change, taking account of priorities, resource needs and interdependencire. In the lead up to and post the IPO in October 2013, RMG devised a strategy which places customers at the heart of our thinking and doing. This has seen an explosion of new offerings - from a programme of product simplification, through a relaunched website,a rolling programme revamping customer journeys, major uptick in parcel tracking; SMS messages for customers re parcel arrival, 2D barcodes for our corporate letters customers (mailing houses). During 2015 we have extended the hours of our mail centres, so that customers are able to take advantage of later acceptance time (LAT), to speed up time between delivery into the RM network and receipt by the end customer. We are also trialling Sunday delivery inside the M25, to better meet the needs of our customers. We offer Local Collect via the 11,500 Post Offices or vie our delivery offices, all for customer convenience. All of these initiatives rely on deployment of technology, which is my accountability to deliver.

How as CIO have you affected cultural change and / or behaviour in your organisation and to what extent?
Given the considerable growth in the scale of IT at RMG (quadrupled in number in 18 months), the issue of culture is very germane in the function. Starting two years ago I set up a group called the 'Culture Crew', comprising people from different part of the function, of varying seniority and verying tenure with Royal Mail to work on the task of defining our desired culture, and determining what actions we could take to help make that a reality. For the first year, we struggled to gain real traction (interest, yes, real engagement, not so much) so last year we went back to the drawing board. We set up a series of workshops to which all staff were invited (including contract staff and staff from third parties who work in our buildings) and invited people to enumerate what they like about the culture, what they would like to change and how they would measure success. We used the newly lauched RMG values and the umbrella (there are three - Be positive, Be part of it, Be brilliant) around which to organise our thinking. To make the process real,using a third party to help get the ball rolling, we created 31 practices (voted for by the community, from a starting set of 50), which we printed on a calendar and distributed to all staff. Each day, all 500 people adopt the appropriate practice and take steps to demonstrate that practice (behaviour) during that day. This creates a 'that's how we do things around here' mindset. We have supported this with a very active communications programme, including use of Google+ to promote real time interaction. We also engaed our key supplier community, on the grounds that it will promote better working relationships and increase understanding. This was very well received. RMG has a company-wide culture change programme, where I am on the steering group and members of my team are in the working parties. Our approach to defining and embedding the culture we want has received wide acclaim across the business and several other functions have requested our support in getting their culture change programmes off the ground. I believe that culture is hugely important and that the tone is set from the top - hence I have been active in this regard from the outset.

Q16: Are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with: Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence; Data Analytics; NoSQL; wearable technology; Enterprise Apps; Internet of Things; Automation and Robotics; Artificial Intelligence; 3D Printing; the Sharing Economy; Anything else?
Data Analytics, wearable technology, automation, 3D printing

How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach – e.g. from consuming services from the cloud or on-premise products through to spinning up in-house development teams for bespoke work?
Through consideration of the nature of the requirement , the security needs, cost, speed. We seek to be pragmatic and results oriented.

Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
We are very largely outsourced. We use a stable of suppliers that we selected through competition 18 months ago, our approach is a best of breed model. We use Computacenter for desktop, ATOS for data centres (but we also use Microsoft for Outlook, Accenture for our EDW and Capgemini for our website). App Management is done by Capgemini and HSL, App dev is done by a series of companies that we select via a framework agreement

Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Created a digital lab so that we can experiment with the rapid introduction of new online capabilities, to test their attractivenes in the market. This has creted the ability to experiment in a controlled, regret-free way. Built and implemented a SIAM capability, using Servicenow. As we have transitioned to our new service providers this has given us the capability of monitoring oru service end to end (new for us), putting us in the driving seat and allowing us to prevent outages from occurring, through active management (deeply unsexy, but a real boon to our business).

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
As we seek to enhance our place in the online world, we have acquired and invested in several companies - eg Storefeeder, NetDespatch etc. We seek to partner with / acquire companies that have technology capabilities in the delivery / logistics space to accelerate our ability to go to market.

Rank in order of importance your sources for innovative technology suppliers
1. Consultants
2. Industry body
3. Media
4. CIO peers
5. Analyst houses

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
No

When did you start your current role?
September 2011

What is your reporting line?
CEO

Are you a member of the board of directors?
No

What is the annual IT budget?
£380m

What percentage of your budget is spent on:
IT operational spend (“keeping the lights on”) - 40%
New developments (innovation) - 60%

What number of users does your department supply services to?
27,00 desktop users, 110,000 PDA users

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
No

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
No

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No

How many employees are there in your IT team?
Circa 400

Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
No

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
500 : 2000