If pizza be the food of success, eat on: Colin Rees's IT team ate 2,800 slices of pizza, 700 chicken strippers and 1,200 chicken wings during its monthly meetings to celebrate IT successes during 2015. It's quite a feast, but then the big wins include a Pizza Legends website for customers (300,000 created to date), one-touch ordering, and an interactive pizza tracker. As for this year, Colin's hitting The Button - a physical device you just press anywhere in your house for your food to be delivered.
Name and job title
Colin Rees, CIO, Domino's Pizza.
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
Over the past five years we have been embarking on a journey of digitalising the customer experience. This started with the ordering process and now over 75% of our customers are online. It extends through to the delivery of the pizza with the real-time tracker which updates the customer in near real time on the progress of their order. This has had a major impact on the stores and customer experience, Domino's stores used to be very noisy places with lots of phones ringing, lots of shouting on the progress of the next order; this has changed and now our stores are much quieter, with fewer phones. Digitalisation has created a number of challenges – for example, on the phone it's very easy to manage the customer's expectation if the store is very busy (I am sorry sir we are really busy tonight, it's going to be 35 minutes – is that ok ?). We have responded by creating tools for the franchisee that enables them to manage their customers' expectations digitally.
How as CIO have you affected cultural change and behaviour in your organisation and to what extent?
I think it's important for CIOs to recognise the qualities that they bring to the board table: they are typically great planners, good at designing and implementing process, and can easily assimilate data for making good decisions. In Domino's, my board look to me for help in these areas. One example would be the introduction of a balanced scorecard to the company. I ran the initiative on behalf of the board. To do this I ran a series of workshops including with my fellow board members in order to work out what was really important to us as a company; this was then turned into the balanced scorecard.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
Well, 2015 was a very busy year. We completed the roll-out of our new web platform, which performs significantly better than the old one and is going to generate us an additional £50m of sales in 2015. We then enhanced that site by making it mobile-responsive so that those customers who don’t want to download an app can still order. We also introduced the award-winning Pizza Legends site; this enabled our customers to create and share their own pizza creations – so far there have been over 300,000 legends created, although only 180,000 made it past the profanity filter.
For our stores we rolled out a new version of the EPoS system across over 800 branches. The update provides a series of improvements but the most significant are a new Makeline screen, which Is much easier to read and can handle more orders, and a new Dispatch screen, which uses mapping technology to provide driving instructions to the delivery drivers.
Describe how you have used organisational and third-party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
I guess the most significant area where we use third-party information would be our geospatial analytics team, who use a whole host of external information to provide insight on where to locate our stores. Location of the store is critical to our customers: having your pizza delivered hot makes a huge difference to the taste.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
We think of the Domino's organisation as three separate units. First, operational systems, which aims to be the lowest-cost provider of technology to our franchisees and stores. Second, marketing systems, which provides the technology for our e-commerce platform and aims to provide the simplest and most efficient customer experience. And third, corporate systems, which supports the rest of the organisation with technology needs, finance systems, HR, etc, and is intended to help Domino's operate as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Each of these areas has a senior IT person who liaises with the relevant departmental director in order to understand their needs for coming year. This is built into a roadmap and the teams then work together to deliver the initiatives. I then have teams that look after infrastructure and support, who run the systems after the initial implementation, an architecture team and a security team.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
I guess I am the main thought leader in terms of the company's digital strategy. However, this can't be done in isolation. The best digital plans need to be activated through great operations and marketing, so I work very closely with both the relevant directors. In 2015 I started a plan of educating our board on what it means to be a digital organisation. One of the key elements of this was inviting our CEO to come to a recent Gartner symposium to soak up first-hand some of the new thinking occurring in the world of IT.
Describe how you use and promote technology to redesign the processes, services and structures of your organisation to enable it to become more efficient and customer-focused
Within the corporate business we are in the process of redesigning all of our processes which support the supply chain and finance team. To do this we are using the introduction of an ERP as a catalyst for business change. The approach we have taken is quite novel: we have selected a product (in this case Microsoft Dynamics) and then gone through all the standard business processes and asked the business if there is a reason why we couldn't or shouldn't change the business to follow the process.
We go live in July, but so far it's looking good and the bonus is that we are likely to introduce the system with almost no customisations. I am taking the lead in this very significant business change, which has involved a great deal of work with the PLC board to ensure they understand the implications, benefits and risks.
How do you engage regularly with your organisation about your team and the role of technology in the organisation, and what impact is this having?
Keeping the organisation up to date about the team and the role of technology is a very important task. For us there are two significant audiences: franchisees and corporate.
For our franchisees I publish a monthly newsletter on our extranet. This brief note talks about the service we have delivered, including any significant issues or outages plus a brief intro on any new systems we are developing. I think it's very important that problems and challenges are communicated as well as the good news – if you don’t do that, then the whole communication loses credibility.
In addition we host a series of regional meetings through the year where I present to the franchisees on IT, and hold a Q&A session so that they can air any frustrations or ask any questions. Lastly, a select group of the franchisees from each of our major markets take part in a quarterly IT forum. In this session we go into much more detail. I bring in my senior team to talk about what they are working on and we actively prompt the franchisees for their opinions on priorities or the value of systems changes.
For the corporate audience, we have created a 'success wall' in the office where we post pictures of recent IT deliveries so that anyone who walks through can see them, in addition every win for IT gets a short post on our intranet to explain to the whole company what we have done.
Once a month I host a pizza lunch for the entire IT team. During these we celebrate some of the big successes of the team during that month. In 2015 the IT team has eaten over 2,800 slices of pizza, 700 chicken strippers and over 1,200 chicken wings during these events!
I hold a monthly steering group meeting which covers at a higher level the service being delivered, and progress on the portfolio of projects. It is also a forum to discuss any new or innovative projects which we might want to kick off. And lastly IT presents updates on the most significant projects at our monthly all-hands meeting, which is attended by the whole company.
How do you bring the organisation together to explore and discuss technology and its challenges and to develop stronger alignment of the technology function with the full business?
I have covered some of these in the section above. Certainly our franchisee sessions generate a huge amount of discussion around technology and how we are helping the business succeed. One of the other key things I have implemented is co-location of our digital marketing team within IT. This has massively improved collaboration between these teams and is part of the reason why the digital team's output has increased fourfold in 2015. My personal style is to floor walk, so I will often go for a wander around the building and just chat to people on what they are doing. I think this keeps me close to the business and helps me understand any frustrations that are building.
Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
This is an increasingly difficult task. The short answer is that I keep one day a week clear in my diary and most of this time goes on keeping up to date. I use a variety of sources including CIO magazine, the CIO magazine's events (which are excellent), Gartner, the internet and supplier briefings.
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
It's been a great year for people in Domino's IT. Because of the major growth we are seeing, we have been able to create a great many opportunities for people here, and this has allowed us to change the shape and of the team. In 2015 we brought in more apprentices than ever before. We also employed for the first time three graduates, and enabled more people than ever before to progress their careers through role moves, promotions or simply through enhancing their skills. Doing this has a big impact on the culture of the organisation. Our more experienced people now have the responsibility for coaching and assisting more junior members; this broadens their experience and gives them room to grow as professionals.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
This is quite a difficult question for me to answer really. I see myself as part of the leadership team first and then as a technology leader second, and because of that most of what I do is about influencing the organisation through my relationships with my peers on the board. Perhaps it's easier to answer with a couple of examples.
One way I am influencing the organisation is through a programme I have called the Store Of The Future. Working with the rest of the organisation, we are envisioning how our stores will look in 2020. IT is facilitating a series of workshops where we assist the business to envisage how some of the processes in the stores may be impacted by new or developing technology. The output of these workshops is then turned into a creative video which will provide a vision for our future business processes and associated technology.
The benefits of this exercise are: first, it gives us another opportunity to brief the business on new and emerging technology; second, it encourages the business leaders to really think about how technology may disrupt their areas either for good or bad; third, it provides a clear illustration of a future vision which both IT and the business teams can align with.
Perhaps a second less techy example would be the business strategy development programme. This is the process that Domino's goes through on an annual basis to refine and update strategies and plans for the following year. My fellow directors asked me to create and lead this programme and I have done so for the last two years now. It gives me a fantastic platform to really understand and influence the direction and strategy of the company, and of course uses some of those core skills such as planning and process which IT people are generally pretty good at.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
Probably the most significant thing I do to develop my own management skills is to create the time to do so. I book one day every week in my diary with no meetings; in fact, I typically spend the day out the office. I use the time in a variety of ways, but I find that quiet contemplation solves many a problem, and I seed that thinking from a variety of sources including: reading the IT press, peer networking events, talking to my peers in other industries about what they have done, and most of all by continually asking and looking for feedback that can improve my skills.
What new technologies are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
We have just started a trial of The Button. This is a simple button that will be magnetic and stick to the fridge; if you hit it, it will order your favourite order, payment will come from your saved payment method and it will be delivered automatically to your address. We are also kicking off a big data analytics project in 2016, but it's too early to say much about that.
How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
As a principle we outsource commodities and insource areas where we can drive competitive advantage and this guides most of these decisions. Beyond that we will look at the capability, the solution cost, security implications and any future opportunities which might spin off from the exercise. Some of the bigger items, such as our decision to move to the cloud, is more of a strategic decision based on the belief that it will lead to lower costs, higher capabilities, and better security in the future.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
All developers have unlimited access to online training and they are encouraged to take time each week to do the training. We have recently started to support a local IT geek night by providing some free pizza. It's a great opportunity for the team to learn about different technologies.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
Quite simply, we outsource commodity items where a competitive market exists and insource where competitive advantage can be obtained. We believe in long-term partnerships in supplier relationships.
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Lots really. I guess the ones we are most proud of are the Pizza Legends site and one-touch ordering (the ultimate in ordering simplicity, it allows a customer to order their favourite basket, pay on their saved payment card and have it delivered to their best delivery address with just one click.
The team also managed to realise a version for the Apple Watch, which is awesome. Then there's the Dom enhanced pizza tracker. Dom is a new character that helps you track your pizza as it comes to your delivery address; it's animated and interacts with you while you are waiting for your food to arrive.
Then there's the pizza button. It's my personal favourite and currently on trial. The Button is a physical device that you simply have to press anywhere in your house for your food to be delivered.
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
It's probably our deal with Columbus, the change management group, and Microsoft to implement an ERP system across the enterprise. The combination of partners brings a huge wealth of experience and will significantly improve our operations over the coming years.
Rank in order of importance your sources for innovative technology suppliers
1 CIO peers. 2 Analyst houses. 3 Consultants. 4 Media. 5 Industry body.
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Is cyber-security led and discussed by senior management?
When did you start your current role?
What is your reporting line?
Are you a member of the board of directors?
What is the annual IT budget?
How much of your IT budget is capital and how much revenue?
Roughly 60/40 capital to revenue.
What is your budget's operational/development split?
About 50/50, although it changes year to year.
How many users does your department supply services to?
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?
Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
How many employees are there in your IT team?
Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
60% outsourced, 40% in-house.