Orridge Information Systems and Services Director Simon Kniveton sits on the board and is able to help drive technology forward from an executive level, but he says nothing is better than spending considerable amount of time with customers to learn more about their needs and see where technology can help.

Name and job title
Simon Kniveton, Information Systems and Services Director

How are you influencing the products, experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
By being the industry leading inovator. By spending on average two days a week with customers, also by expecting my senior team to also spend considerable time with our customers and future prospects. This results in unfiltered feedback from Customers. I then personally direct the product development strategy.

How as CIO have you affected cultural change and / or behaviour in your organisation and to what extent?
Having encouraged a multi cultural team my role is now to protect them from business politics and allow them to integrate well, innovate and flourish

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s company performance
In our Tourism and Leisure business which now leads the way in Visitor Attraction Management systems, online ticketing systems and Epos systems, I have digitally disrupted the industry by leading the way with a shift to cloud based integrated solutions optimised for Mobile and Multi Channel whilst taking advantage of RFID, IOT and Mobile emerging technologies. This has resulted in considerable revenue growth, more reliable solutions and improving margins in a competitive market. In our Retail Service Business, we have delivered our in house developed Next Generation ERP system leading to operational efficiencies as well as pioneering our development of voice led wearable technology for our field workforce to enable workforce productivity gains.

Describe how you have used organisational and third party information to provide insight that has benefited your organisation, its customers and products or services
Using our Data Mining and Analytics tools has enabled us to identify root causes to inefficiencies.   Introducing in house custom developed data mining tools for our customers via their client portals has allowed them to access up to the minute data that would typically be unavailable through their own in house systems. We have also introduced  live data feeds covering progress onsite which is available 24/7

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
I have separated out a team to focus purely on Client Driven development, without the usual internal distractions, they are able to be responsive and innovative for our clients working extremely closely with our various international and UK sales teams, Account management teams and operations. We then have separate internal groups focussing on backoffice operations. This enables us to be agile and responsive to customer needs and operational enhancements.

Describe your role in the development of digital strategy in your organisation
Visionary, Leader, Communicator and Enabler

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
We start with the Customer or the Internal User of the service or process and work with them to identify and refine the efficiencies.

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?
Regional Roadshows, Roundtable sessions, Newsletters as well as sitting in ocassionaly on other dept's team meetings

How do you use social networks to engage in conversations across the industry about the opportunities and challenges technology is creating?
CIO networking events are extremely useful, as well as Senior exec and board level meetings with our clients, for me the CIO role is now more than ever about communicating and listening to your customers and users

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?
By holding a seat on the board and making the important discussions happen. Sometimes this leads to working groups to drive technology forward. Most importantly of all is spending time with customers and prospects to ensure that our solutions are increasingly technology led and help our customers improve their own performance

Describe how you keep up to date with developments in technology and IT management e.g horizon scanning, technology strategy workshops, involvement in industry events and bodies
Have an open door policy to Vendors to ensure we keep abreast of the latest developments. Always make time to meet with senior customer contacts. Always make time to support the business in transaction negotiations identifying technology transformation opportunities as a key differentiator.  Regularly attend the leading industry events and bodies to learn and network.

Provide an example of how you have developed the diversity and improved the culture of your team
Successful diversity starts with the Leader and is demonstrated by the diverse team I have in place. Some of my best hires have been through taking advantage of diversity.

Describe how you collaborate and influence the organisation and its leadership team
By providing the tools and opportunities to collaborate. With regards to the leadership team by being an active member of the board and driving the transformation agenda. By playing a key strategic leadership role in the business.

Tell us how you have developed your own management, leadership and personal skills, perhaps through mentoring, training or external activities
By not being afraid to hire members of my leadership team that are smarter than me. By pursuing self education such as Open Univerity programmes, as well as undertaking numerous modular training components. Externally, having honed my entreprenerial, innovation and leadership talents by establishing and growing several other business's before joining the group I am with now.

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?
We are investing in Data Analytics, wearable technology, Enterprise Apps, IOT and RFID

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?
I always look at it from the Customer/Users perspective. What does this technology solution mean to the consumer and how can we best deliver it reliably and with the least reasonable impact on the user. Cloud delivery works very well where large scale consumer access is required to the applications. Our in house development teams are now multi disciplined to enable working across cloud and on-premise infrastructure.

Do you give yourself and your team time each month to assess or learn about technology vendors outside of the established providers?
Yes, My senior team and I are encouraged to explore technology vendors through their own efforts and that of consultants to ensure that we are leveraging the best solutions out there on behalf of our customers and organisation

Describe your sourcing strategy and your strategic suppliers
Once a member of my senior team has identified a suitable supplier, we will typically trial them or the solution for a short while, we will also set aside time for bedding in the relationship with that supplier, especially if they are strategically important.

Describe the technology innovations that you have introduced in the last year and what they have enabled
In our retail business: Voice wearable technology, our next generation in house developed ERP system, our cloud based client analytics and data mining platform. In our Tourism and Leisure business: Digital disrupting the industry by leading the way with a shift to cloud based integrated solutions optimised for Mobile and Multi Channel whilst taking advantage of RFID, IOT, wearable and Mobile emerging technologies

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? What uniquely do they bring?
Telerik, AWS, Complete security and network infrastructure move away from Cisco to a new more innovative provider bringing security, increased reliability and scalability

How to you rate the following as sources of innovative technology suppliers:
Analyst Houses  -  Occasionally use
Consultants  -  Often use
CIO Peers  -  Often use
Industry Body  -  Always referred to
Media  -  Often use

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

How is cyber-security led and discussed by senior management?
Led by myself supported and monitored by independent consulting and discussed at board level supported by regular refresher training across the organisation

When did you start your current role?
2004

What is your reporting line?
CEO

Are you a member of the board of directors?
Yes

What is the annual IT budget?
Circa £1m

How much of your IT budget is capital and how much revenue?
35% capital

What percentage of your budget is spent on:
IT operational spend ("keeping the lights on")  -  55%
New developments (innovation)  -  45%

What number of users does your department supply services to?
4000

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?
32

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?
95% in house