Wood Mackenzie CTO and CIO John Linwood is leading the organisation's digital transformation, educating his fellow executives on the art of the possible brought by new technology and helping deliver far greater insight within the organisation with a focus on data science which in turn helps provide value for customers.
Name and job title
John Linwood, CTO & CIO, Wood Mackenzie
How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
I am leading a digital transformation of the business. This consists of five key areas. First using technology to significantly increase the scale of our revenue and customer base. In the last year this has included delivering a B2B eCommerce service, a range of mobile apps, improvements to our customer facing systems, delivery of data services and deployment of SaaS marketing automation. These have delivered increases to revenue, customer numbers, frequency of visits and time spent on our online services. The second initiative is driving Efficiency and Effectiveness through technology. The goal here is to make all of our staff more productive and to further enhance the quality and scale of our customer offerings. The third area is leveraging Data Science to process much larger data sets for our data analytics and deliver deeper insights to our customers. Fourth is to track digital disruption to the Data Analytics and Information Services market with a view to delivering benefit to us and our customers from that disruption and, where possible, to author disruption of our own. Finally I have a focus on Service Excellence which is about delivering scalable, secure, resilient, high performance and robust technology services to our staff and customers
How as CIO have you affected cultural change and / or behaviour in your organisation and to what extent?
Through educating my fellow Execs on the art of the possible brought by new technology, opening up new markets for our business (such as ecommerce), delivering our data and services in new ways to our customers and moving our product development towards nimble, incremental delivery. I have launched new services (mobile, blogs, ecommerce) and supported the move to digital marketing and improved customer engagement through technology.
Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s company performance
eCommerce - grown customer base and revenue as well as increased overall brand awareness.
Mobile - increased customer usage of our products and services and widened the typical usage curve in each market.
Digital marketing and Social technology - increased customer engagement, higher brand awareness, better understanding of our customers.
Efficiency and Effectiveness - delivered greater productivity for many staff across the business.
Describe how you have used organisational and third party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
Focus on Data Science is delivering greater insights into the data we gather as well as the analysis that we produce. It is allowing us to connect multiple data sets to drive new value for our customers.
Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
The Technology function is focussed around five pillars (Move the needle, efficiency and effectiveness, Data Science, digital disruption and service excellence) Each is tied to our overall business goals and aspirations. The Technology function is organised by Software and Systems delivery, Services (Digital Workspace, Service Engineering, Helpdesk, Service Managment), Architecture and Data Science functions.
Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
I own the digital strategy for the organisation (both defining and implementing it)
Describe how you use and promote technology to redesign the processes, services and organisational structures of your organisation to enable it to become more efficient and customer-focused
My role on the Exec is to drive our business strategy through technology. The future value of our business is dependent on technology. This is more than simply enabling the business to achieve its goals and aspirations, it is about shaping our business through the opportunities that technology opens up for us.
How do you engage regularly with your organisation (e.g. via a blog/seminars/newsletter etc.) about your team and the role of technology in the organisation and what impact is this having?
My Technology division has a structured internal communications strategy which consists of identified target audiences (the Exec, the senior leaders, all staff, the technology organisation, etc.) and both scheduled and ad hoc communications (monthly & weekly reports, blogs, emails (what is coming, technology updates, incident updates), town hall meetings, desk drops (e.g. pocket guide to using our technology services), Intranet site, brown bag lunches and workshops
How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
We are active on LinkedIn, online technology forums, we engage in developer communities and have links to startup incubators and academia. We have hosted tech events in our offices and contribute to blogs.
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?
We run workshops where staff can attend and provide input/ask questions. For our Digital WorkSpace project we have run a number of workshops to understand what our staff need across the business to be effective. We trial new devices out in the business to gather feedback. I present at the staff induction for all staff and at the company town halls and have Q&A sessions for staff to input.
Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
Over the last 18 months I have had a real focus on changing the culture of the Technology team. This has included changing our hiring approach, introducing more flexible working, bringing on board technology apprentices and changing out a number of staff, including senior staff. We are investing heavily in growing our technology function and this has allowed us to hire many new staff and part of that has been a focus on diversity. We have sponsored women in STEM initiatives too.
Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
I sit on the Exec and report to the CEO and therefore have a lot of influence on the business strategy and direction. Additionally I have moved Technology from being a back office function to become a partner to the business, helping shape solutions based on outcomes instead of simply implementing business provided specifications. I have done this through getting buy in on the Exec to the strategic value of technology to the business and taking an active role (along with key staff in my org) in the product innovation and prioritisation. I sit on the companies investment committee which signs off all capital investment and this gives me a great opportunity to influence the business too.
Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills, perhaps through mentoring, training or external activities
I am on a year long development program based on Patrick Lencioni's book "The Advantage" along with my colleagues on the Exec. This focussed on how to create a healthy organisation and high performance culture and teams. I have also done the "Extraordinary Coach" training based on the book by John H. Zenger. I have been on training around improving communication (SDI)
Are you investigating, tracking or experimenting with: Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence; Data Analytics; NoSQL; wearable technology; Enterprise Apps; Internet of Things; Automation and Robotics; 3D Printing; the Sharing Economy; Anything else?
Yes on Data Analytics, NoSQL, Enterprise Apps. Also Data Science capabilities and BI
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?
My philosophy here is to insource what is absolutely core or unique to our business and to outsource whatever someone else can do cheaper or more effectively than we can. Also where a skill set is too specialised for us to justify having full time I outsource that. As a result we use cloud, 3rd party vendors and contract staff whenever we don't need to do something in house.
Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
Yes. We try to use smaller vendors where we can as they are typically more responsive and innovative than the larger ones. Of course, like any CIO, I am swamped with spam email from vendors and so I am very selective about those that I engage with. I have also built relationships with a few technology incubators (such as Codebase.com) to engage with startups.
Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
We outsource where it makes sense to do so. Typically where a vendor can deliver for lower cost than we can (e.g. cloud services) or where there are specialist skills that we can't justify. We use a range of vendors covering productivity apps, networking, telephony, infosec etc. I have a vendor management team who focus on getting the best commercial terms and on holding our vendors to their SLAs. Strategic suppliers for us are Microsoft, AWS, AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Cisco, IBM, Salesforce, Red Hat. We have a number of smaller suppliers too.
Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
Online ecommerce (greater revenue & customer base), mobile apps (greater customer use of our services), Jabber & Yammer (better collaboration in the business), unified comms (productivity), enhanced video conferencing suites (collaboration), digital displays across our offices (information sharing), staff WiFi (moral), improved firewall, threat detection and intrusion management (improved infosec), tablets (productivity and moral)
What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
Verizon (enhanced networking), Pardot (Marketing automation), TIBCO Spotfire (data visualisation), Thomson Reuters (data distribution)
How do you rate the following as sources of innovative technology suppliers:
Analyst Houses - Occasionally use
Consultants - Often use
CIO Peers - Often use
Industry Body - Often use
Media - Often use
Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
How is cyber-security led and discussed by senior management?
Our Risk team produce a quarterly report which is discussed and debated at Exec. Our Infosec investments are discussed at our Investment Committee (5 members of the Exec)
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?
£20m capex, £9m revenue
What percentage of your budget is spent on:
IT operational spend ("keeping the lights on") - 26%
New developments (innovation) - 74%
What number of 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?