In investigating how the business model and business operations could benefit from automated decision-making and machine learning, Matthew Butlin has been able to match the next five years’ supply and demand. A process that would have been too complex to be done manually in such detail now allows the recalculation of scenario planning. It has identified shortfalls in future supply and the business has been able to purchase product to bridge the shortfall. The direct benefit is turnover, but, even more importantly, providing better information and a more stable supply to customers strengthens relationships.

Job title
Chief Information Officer

Company name
BerryWorld Group

How are you influencing the products, customer experience and services your organisation offers to its customers?
In the process of looking at our business model and main business operations to benefit from automated decision making and machine learning. We have managed to use some algorithms to help us match the next five years supply and demand. This would have been too complex to be done manually to the detail we can provide and automating the process allows the ‘recalculation’ of scenario planning possible which manually the time/complexity required to do this would be prohibitive. Ultimately this allows us to be more proactive on planning. Our phase two of this is improving data quality to use more analytics for better decision making and price optimisation.

Define the key business outcomes that you have delivered over the last 12 months and their impact on your organisation’s performance
Allowing the business to plan to a much more granular degree has allowed us to see several shortfalls in supply that we have been able to purchase product in the shortfall where we do not have our own product. The direct benefit is turnover but customer relationships are more key here where we are able to provide better information and a more stable supply to our customers.

What has been your involvement with innovation at your organisation – in particular, with products, business model and technology – over the last 12 months?
In terms of business model innovation we are underway on creating a new business model with as much automation as possible where we think this will be successful in some geographic markets. The CEO has asked that the CIO leads this.

On technology innovation we have prepared a prototype of a virtual reality view into our supply chain for both new starters and B2B conferences.

We have fully embedded R in a number of business processes that we have created in the last year.

How have you delivered cultural and behavioural change as a CIO within the IT department and/or more broadly across the organisation?
I drove to implement a continuous improvement programme across the organisation which we are part way through. Within IT we now hold daily standups and review any issues from the week from a root cause analysis perspective. This has led to people and teams looking closely at their own areas of improvement.

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?
We have used our business social media Yammer to informally update the business on progress made whether business as usual IT or developments on software applications. We have tried doing this more innovatively of late such as GoAnimate.

We also contribute to the updates the companies that all the subsidiary companies do as well as being represented on the larger companies management teams.

I have presented to the Group our strategy which incorporates data (how I interpret digital) at its core. This will also be communicated to the other boards.

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?
We work with IT vendor market when we have a business goal that requires a specific piece of technology. We are currently working with a small IT vendor to look at solving a data sourcing problem as an example.

How have you tried to develop the diversity of your team?
Starting at recruitment we seek to find diversity to bring us a broader set of perspectives on business or technological issues.

In IT we have a headcount of 30 representing an age range of 25 years and representing eight countries.

Describe how you organise and operate IT and how this aligns effectively with business strategy and operations
IT is centralised and the only group department. The groups activities are centred on development and innovation which IT supports. The subsidiary businesses are supported by IT on a more operational basis.

As part of the BW Group senior team we developed a business strategy. Once this was underway and a direction was set this allowed me to create an IT strategy and operation to mirror this.

What strategic technology deals have you made in the last year and who are your main suppliers and IT partners?
Most technology deals were already complete but we have made further investment in Azure and Office 365. We are working with a vendor to source additional data that we need for improving our business process, feed potential automated decision making and be the start of a new business model.

What are your key strategic aims for next year?
To bed in our new starters. To insure we are on track from a business strategic, an IT strategic and operational basis.

Look at improving our data in the areas we would need so that we can begin automated decision making and process improvement.

How are you preparing for any impacts Brexit might have on your organisation?
Conducting full review of IT cost base and potential impact on costs.

The organisation is likely to be affected by any trade barriers and labour supply as our product being fruit we import from the EU and source a considerable amount of labour for picking the UK crop from there. So we are actively lobbying through our trade body.

YOUR ROLE

When did you start your current role?
2016

What is your reporting line?
CEO

Are you a member of the executive leadership?
Yes

Are you a member of the board of directors?
No

What other emerging roles does your organisation have and what is their relationship to you?
None as yet

How often do you meet with your organisation’s CEO or equivalent?
Bimonthly

How many people at your organisation does your function supply services to?
400

CIO INFLUENCES

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

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

IT SECURITY

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

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

Does your organisation have a designated security professional – CISO or otherwise – and what is their relationship to you?
Not currently

RECRUITMENT

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Yes

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Yes

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No

How many employees are there in your IT team?
28

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

TECHNOLOGY

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

  • cloud
  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • IoT
  • Machine learning/artificial intelligence

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

  • data analytics/business intelligence
  • ERP
  • IoT
  • Machine learning/artificial intelligence

What emerging technologies are you investigating or expect to have a big impact on your sector or organisation?
I think IoT, deep learning and cognitive computing. As ever challenging to get good quality data to base intelligent tools on.

THE EU

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

Does your department include technology staff from the EU?
Yes

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