With Darryn Warner, IT has registered some notable victories with the business. His technology enabling programme ensures that all customer-facing processes engage the customer and deliver a great customer experience – the customer satisfaction rate has since risen to over 80%. He has also delivered a back-office transformation that integrated an acquired business, and standardised finance, HR and procurement processes so effectively that one division saved millions of pounds. And he made the company’s key Ministry of Justice contract a success with a brand-new infrastructure and the migration of 100+ legacy apps to an outsourced IT service, saving the business around £500,000 a month.

Job title

How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
I am influencing in several ways. IT supports our sustainability agenda, which is key to how our organisation does business with its customers. I also sit on the group’s innovation board, which is helping our five divisions look for different forms of innovation and how to improve the customer experience – this has resulted in a number of new capabilities to improve how we bid and how we deliver operational excellence to a multitude of stakeholders.

Both the sustainability portal and the newly launched knowledge centre portal go a long way to showcase the products and service we offer and how they bring better to life.

Looking more internally we have a technology enabling programme, Heart of House, which is looking to ensure that all customer-facing processes and their support IT are designed to make that experience as fulsome and efficient as possible, even if it makes the back-office processes more burdensome. That makes it easy for us to engage the customer and deliver a good customer experience – these are at the centre of a related IT behavioural change programme that has seen customer satisfaction rise to over 80% in 2016.

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
I have supported the delivery of a back-office transformation that has integrated an acquired business, and evolved and standardised finance, HR and procurement processes. It has helped one division save several million pounds and increased the timeliness and accuracy of key management information.

I have also delivered the mobilisation of a key Ministry of Justice contract, where Interserve now looks after 25% of the UK’s offenders who come out of prison, and supports their integration back into society. The outcome provided them with a brand-new infrastructure, needed as part of its separation from the MoJ, a service desk and the migration of 100+ legacy apps into an outsourced IT service via Sopra Steria. This allowed the business to save around £500,000 a month and provided the platform to drive cultural and behavioural change for around 2,000 users.

What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
I have supported significant innovation in product, business model and technology fields. Examples include the development of new Formwork and Falsework augmented reality and virtualisation capabilities that allow customers to view those products in situ around construction sites and enhance a solution before it is deployed.

Technology innovation has linked IoT in our FM business to deliver a smart building in a box, where we can quickly collect data for a set time period and use it to suggest areas where we can make a customer’s buildings more efficient. We have also explored nanotechnology to deploy protective coatings on certain surfaces to reduce maintenance and cleaning requirements. Use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has also proved compelling, as we have identified scenarios that include roof inspections and rock surveys, and then analysing the data in the cloud.

From a business model perspective, we continue to look at ways we can partner better with the business, and have deployed dedicated helpdesks to key contracts that offer more autonomy locally, and give flexibility and responsiveness at an enhanced level of satisfaction. The helpdesks blend finance, HR, IT and procurement activities, and are designed to enhance the customer experience and put emphasis on being close to the customer at every opportunity.

How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
I have effected cultural and behavioural change in many different ways. Working closely with the IT department across our federated organisation, I have promoted a number of different initiatives that comprise holding regular town halls to bring the IT community together, encouraging back to the floor activities for myself and my leadership team (where we take different roles at different levels through the IT organisation), and supporting some key communication and engagement initiatives that allow us to connect with our people better.

Other initiatives have included regular management cascades, an employee engagement forum where we select representatives from each of the functions to work more closely together, and use of a tool called Thymometrics that lets us gauge the satisfaction of the IT organisation as a whole and use it to change behaviour.

Outside of this, the focus on being a more customer-centric organisation is paramount. We measure customer satisfaction, gauge positive and negative feedback from our customers, and make field visits (recorded with video and photographs) across the hundreds of locations we have across the group. We also interview key personnel at those locations, which has helped the IT organisation think about the consequences of its actions on customers it engages with.

More broadly, working in the centre of a organisation with a number of significant in-flight change programmes running across the divisions, I have the opportunity to influence each division about what they are doing individually. I also connect them to their peers where they appear to be doing collective activity. This happens predominantly in the finance, HR and procurement spaces, but we also have a number of customer initiatives that have allowed us to drive more singular behaviour across teams, as they come together on their shared goals.

I am particularly proud of our support for our sustainability agenda, where we are looking at some significant improvements in water and energy management. It has been championed by IT at different levels across the organisation.

How have you worked with your CEO and/or board to communicate whatever ‘digital’ and IT means to your organisation/sector and improve digital literacy at the highest levels of the organisation?
I consistently work with the CEO, the plc and executive boards, and our divisional boards to ensure that the digital message and the broader exploitation of the technology agenda are understood. Communicating what it can mean for them, their customers, suppliers and the community at large is front and centre of our thinking.

I take the various business change activities across the group and categorise them into stories that can be easily understood by the boards. I am also sharing collateral – be it a view of the cyber-threat landscape, Harvard insights into culture, innovation ideas via different audio and video media – to help improve their understanding of technology and its potential.

How have you worked with the technology and IT vendor market to achieve your business goals? How have you been able to influence IT suppliers and successfully manage your partnerships/relationships with large IT companies, SMEs and startups?
I continue to work closely with the technology vendors to support our business goals. We have three strategic partners we work with on a regular basis. I brief them as to the current challenges that we have in running our business, but also what we would wish to bid for in the future, and how it can influence what they bring to the table.

We engage those organisations both as a technology partner and more broadly a business process and innovation partner wanting to tap into their network and make use of their connections in our customer base and the supply chain. We have worked to influence some of those suppliers in tailoring their products to make them fit better with what we are trying to do. Efforts have included influencing BT to deliver commercial propositions to support cloud-based call centre activity. We have also worked with a number of small startups to support some of the internet of things-related FM activity we undertake.

We find both types of organisation more and more receptive to what we are trying to do. Managing partners is a fundamental capability of our business going forward, not just because they are technology partners but because of their importance in the digital age.

How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
Diversity in all its forms is fundamental to the group’s business. We operate in a variety of environments and geographies, in numerous roles, for a wide range of clients. To do this effectively we need an equally diverse workforce that understands our customers’ needs and stimulates innovative solutions. Interserve values the benefits it gains from an international workforce with a rich diversity of skills, cultural backgrounds and gender. Our goal is to recruit, motivate, develop and retain outstanding people that reflect that diversity.

We are committed to ensuring that every employee has equal opportunity to develop and progress at every level in the organisation based on personal contribution and ability. The aim over time is to realise the benefits of diversity in the development of our management and executive leadership. We will continue to monitor the extent to which our staff  believe we are meeting this objective, and are committed to taking action where necessary or helpful to promote equal opportunity.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
IT is organised across Interserve through a federated structure and as a group-wide shared service. It’s aligned effectively with our business model, which focuses on winning and delivering work. The IT organisations within our divisions are focused on how technology can support the front and back-office processes that go with that.

The group capability is split into two aspects. One provides the commodity IT shared service that delivers a service desk, second-line and third-line support in hosting and storage, network service, end-user services, collaboration and communication services. Divisions predominantly support IT aligned to front-office and back-office business processes. This works reasonably well and I focus my IT directors in the divisions on trying to take advantage of those more intimate relationships with the business and customers to drive value-added IT thinking.

Another aspect of the group organisation is a strategic function that helps the divisions to generate their technology roadmaps, provides and curates our information security thinking, and drives the people agenda across those divisions. It also looks at governance and financial controls, which are linked to the IT investment activities.

We also have a set of group-wide strategic programmes that touch different technologies in different divisions and are aligned to where the group wants a degree of consistency in its business processes.

What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
Our strategic technology deals remain ever evolving, but in the last year we have signed an IT outsourcing agreement with Sopra Steria for a significant set of technology services that support our Ministry of Justice contract. It’s a multiyear deal with room to expand across other parts of the group if need be.

We have also signed a deal with Vodafone, which has been formalised as a secondary suppler in our network and telecoms ecosystem and offers us a choice away from BT. We have worked with HP through 2016 and have selected it as our implementation partner for an end-user transformation which will deploy Windows 10, Office 365 and a variety of supporting components across the group.

What are your key strategic aims for next year?
Our strategic aims for 2017 are to support the major business initiatives and achieve revenue and profit growth. A number of different programmes are focused on back-office efficiencies and they will manifest themselves in the deployment of Dynamics 365 to potentially three entities within our group.

We are constructing a new UK headquarters near Birmingham Airport that will transition parts of four divisions into it in the first quarter of 2018, so the IT fit-out and IT standardisation and modernisation across the silos are significant. We are also showcasing our operational technologies to our customers as we build and run our new home. The HQ will be a ‘smart building’ with significant IoT presence, and will also drive a significant amount of behaviour change.

In addition, we have a datacentre rationalisation programme and are deploying a new end-user experience. We are also working to improve the group’s information security position through training and awareness campaigns, and preparing for GDPR legislation due in May 2018, where we need to have significantly more insight into how personal data flows across our estate and how it is secured and protected in each of its states.

Finally we have an IT shared service that needs to continue to improve its customer satisfaction ratings and become much more customer-focused, so there are key strategic goals aligned to those activities.

How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
We have no specific plans for Brexit at the moment as an organisation, and we will continue to watch the situation evolve through 2017. We are reviewing our procurement deals in the context of changing currency markets and the strengthening of the dollar, and will be looking at the impact on the labour pool as the legislative changes become clearer.


When did you start your current role?

What is your reporting line?

Are you a member of the executive leadership?

Are you a member of the board of directors?

What other emerging roles does your organisation have and what is their relationship to you?
While we don’t have chief digital officers or data officers, we have a head of digital services in our support services business that has a dotted line into me. There is also someone accountable for coordinating innovation activity across the group; my role is to support that individual and the innovation board in matters of cross-divisional engagement and technology innovation.

How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
I meet with the CEO on a regular basis and present to the executive board and plc board frequently through the calendar year.

How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?


What is your annual IT budget, or your spend as a proportion of the organisation’s revenue?
Around 1% of revenue.

What percentage of your budget is operational spend (ie keeping the lights on) and how much new development (ie innovation, R&D, exploratory IT)?
75% keeping the lights on, 25% on change – no specific R&D budgets.


Rank the following sources of advice/information in order of importance:

  1. CIO peers
  2. Media
  3. Industry bodies
  4. Analyst houses
  5. Consultants


Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?

Are you expecting an increase in budget specific to security in order to tackle the cyber threat?

Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Our organisation has a chief information security officer; he has a team of people that include those more technologically oriented as well as those focused on behaviour and change. Our divisions also have information security leadership roles, which are also split between pure information security activity and the IT activity that goes with it. The CISO currently reports directly to me and has a dotted line into our company secretary.


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 or planning to bring skills and the ability to react to needs in-house?


Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next year?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • ERP
  • CRM
  • IoT
  • security
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • devices (desktop)
  • networking/communications.

Which technologies or areas are you expecting to be investing in over the next one to three years?

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • ERP
  • CRM
  • IoT
  • security
  • machine learning/artificial intelligence
  • social
  • devices (mobile)
  • devices (desktop)
  • networking/communications.

What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
We are exploring a variety of emerging technologies. I mentioned earlier artificial reality and virtualisation in our equipment services space, where we can allow customers to visualise the impact of our products on their construction sites and modify the designs accordingly to be functionally efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

Our support services division is utilising data lakes to bring together complex data sets across different customers and in different aspects of FM and to use that to drive better customer engagement. We have some IoT trials going on and our smart building in a box initiative, but also some key sensors and beacons trials on both construction sites and FM jobs. We would expect artificial reality to give us a market-leading differentiation in our equipment services business, and our internet of things and big data initiatives to help us win and deliver work more efficiently.


Does your organisation do a significant amount of trade with the EU?

Does your department include technology staff from the EU?

Are you or have you been looking to the EU to recruit key skills?