The application of technology, services and information in innovative and efficient ways is Jane Moran's contribution to her company's ambitious growth goal. She has rolled out the latest collaboration tools and smartphones to employees, used technology to drive sustainable growth, and driven core business services efficiency by implementing agile methodologies and DevOps ways of working – the effect is plain from the 99.8% uptime recorded for the core IT environment in 2015.

Name and job title
Jane Moran, CIO, Unilever.

How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
IT is at the core of everything we do, the way we interact with our customers and consumers. Through social listening and analysing big data, we deliver deeper insights and build rich consumer-profile data that enables our business to adapt our products to the changing tastes of our consumers. These insights allow us to personalise and contextualise our consumers' digital experiences with our brands. Our IT tools provide the e-science capability to design the next generation of products.

How as CIO have you driven cultural and behaviour change in your organisation, and to what extent?
As CIO I have driven Unilever's strong focus on agile working to enable a flexible workforce and ensure we have the latest tools to keep our employees connected and able to collaborate with colleagues across the globe, working from anywhere. By introducing Chatter as an internal messaging tool and setting up our internal video channel – U-view – I have driven new ways for teams to collaborate. We are also rolling out tools on mobiles to fully support agile working. For me, a big priority is also having focus and clarity on our vision and objectives for the year to make sure my teams and I are all moving in the same direction.

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the past 12 months and their impact on your organisation's performance
We have the ambitious goal to double the size of the business and at the same time reduce our environmental footprint while having a positive social impact. Our IT organisation provides the foundation for Unilever's sustainable growth, by enabling our people to be more effective and helping remove excess costs. By applying technology, services and information in innovative and efficient ways, we help Unilever reach these goals.

Last year The IT function focused on:

  • Driving employee effectiveness by rolling out the latest collaboration tools and smartphones. We also rolled out Workday and Cornerstone, two key technologies to help manage core employee information and learning in an agile way. We are also in process of upgrading our email and voice capabilities through the Microsoft Office 365 suite, including Skype for Business.
  • Driving efficiency in our core business services. Last year we achieved 99.8% uptime on our core IT environment. By implementing agile methodologies and DevOps ways of working, we've been able to drive cost and efficiency gains throughout our organisation.
  • Using technology to drive sustainable growth. Examples: Global Ultralogistik, the Unilever transport management system, coordinates the 10,000 trucks that deliver raw materials and finished products every single day.
  • Improving efficiency has squashed CO2 emissions by 190,000 tonnes and costs by 180m annually.
  • Exploiting information for faster, better decisions. Our data ecosystem is built on 2,000 data sources. Our master data is managed to give our employees trusted, joined-up data. Over 20,000 employees can access this data through Oneview via mobile, tablet or laptop.
  • Providing high-performing resilient IT platforms. We completed worldwide upgrades to our networks, infrastructure, and Wi-Fi, and cyber security environment.

Describe how you have used organisational and third-party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
The impetus behind big data is not only continuing, it is increasing at speed, with powerful trends driving new technologies that are completely reshaping business. The scope and scale of data has enabled us to add value to the decision-making process and define strategies that extend our competitive edge at Unilever. We are harnessing social, geographical and consumer data combined with tools like cognitive computing to really focus on our consumers' wants and needs.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
Our IT organisation is divided into business engagement teams that provide employee services and the entire infrastructure to make the workplace effective, creating and using information and insight for competitive advantage and investing in supporting technology to drive efficiency and growth. But not only do we provide employees and the business with the best possible tools, technology and information at the best possible cost, we also use technology as a driver for competitive advantage for Unilever. Our IT strategy supports Unilever's ambition of consistent, competitive, profitable and responsible growth. Last year we moved beyond project delivery to business delivery, working with our business partners to help simplify, clean up and scale our technology platforms to support business capabilities and drive competitive advantage for Unilever.

Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
Digital underpins all of our technology at Unilever – in fact, we're taking a digital and mobile first approach to everything we do. We've developed the digital strategy with our business partners and work with all areas in the business in a tight partnership to realise and embed 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
Everything we do in IT is aligned to the organisational benefits. Unilever is a technology-savvy company, and we are always keen to help exploit newer, more innovative technologies. We look at new ideas and innovations, but ensure we don't promote technology unless there is a strong business case.

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?
Every quarter we have a global town hall where we engage with our whole IT function around the world. Every month I send a leadership update email to my IT team and a newsletter featuring stories on cool new technology we are using, or how we are using technology to drive our sustainable growth agenda. I am just starting to write a regular blog on LinkedIn and sharing this on our internal Unilever news channel. Once a quarter we are also looking to invite external speakers in to talk to us about the technologies that will impact our business. These engagements help us keep connected as a function and give us the opportunity to look at the great work we are doing and be proud of how we are supporting Unilever to achieve its growth ambition.

How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
Social networks are a great way to keep on top of all the latest news, information and trends in the technology industry. We use social networks to share our latest thinking or share news on topics of interest to our business such as AI, VR, IoT and cloud computing.

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?
Our technology teams work with the business to jointly prioritise IT investments and consider new technology. We sometimes run IT fairs to showcase technology to the business. And our IT exec meets regularly to discuss:

  • New technologies and how they help/drive business.
  • Bringing in business partners/stakeholders to improve the synergy between their goals and how it can support them.
  • Attending our business stakeholders' leadership team meetings as members of the team to help achieve outcomes.
  • Having different levels in the technology organisation share their work with IT leadership and across the business.

Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management
It's really important for me and Unilever as an organisation always to be active and up to date with what's happening outside our company in the technology space. I do so by engaging in high-level ongoing conversations with all our software vendors, attending key industry conferences and talking with my industry peers, as well as keeping up to speed on the latest tech news.

Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
For some time now I have been an advocate and mentor for women in the technology industry. At the end of 2015 we reached over 40% women representation at manager level and above in our function. We ran a specific initiative to help us achieve this last year in India called '60 in 60', looking to make 60 female hires in 60 days. Last year we also ran a programme which looked at removing complexity and layers in our IT organisation so that we could enable and drive a culture of empowerment, speed and clarity on responsibilities and accountably across our function.

Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
I do so through constant dialogue at all levels of the organisation – from our CEO, my boss our CFO, and leadership team to conversations with managers and their reports. I drive meetings to discuss opportunities that might help my colleagues and other executives achieve their goals. I and many others in IT are also getting out into the business to see how our current technology and new technologies make a difference to driving our business forward. Having first-hand knowledge of the business problem we are solving will make a positive difference in how we apply the technology.

Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills
I regularly invite feedback from all levels. I constantly push my leadership envelope. I use coaches and mentors to challenge my thinking and ways of working. I am actively involved in external organisations and presentations that build my technical, leadership and networking capacity.

What new technologies are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with?
We are interested in machine learning/artificial intelligence, data analytics, NoSQL, wearable technology, enterprise apps, IoT, automation and robotics, 3D printing and the sharing economy. We have a dedicated team that looks into these technologies and pilots new technologies in the business.

How do you decide where to apply the best technological approach?
We have an IT strategy and underpinning reference architecture in place to drive our decisions, and key pillars that keep us honest.

Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
Yes. I encourage my teams to talk to a broad range of people and control this through our long-term reference architecture. We also invite in external speakers to talk to us on the latest technology developments once a quarter.

Rate how important your sources of innovative technology suppliers are
Often use: analyst houses, consultants, CIO peers, industry body, media.

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

When did you start your current role?
June 2014.

What is your reporting line?
CFO.

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

How many users does your department supply services to?
Over 100,000.

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?
Yes.

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
Yes.

How many employees are there in your IT team?
2,000+.

Are you increasing your headcount to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?
Yes.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
1:4.