With its in-store, online and mobile strategies underpinned by technology, Boots and its IT director Jonathan Vardon find the High Street in good health
With its in-store, online and mobile strategies underpinned by technology, Boots and its IT director Jonathan Vardon find the High Street in good health, read the full
CIO Profile of Jonathan Vardon here
July 22, 2013
1. On Walgrens deal and outsourcing
"IT's job is to boost business performance. If it doesn't, then we may as well shut up shop. It is a partnership. For the US they have an opportunity to get into the UK and European market and they have the option to buy the remaining 55% stake in three years' time. It is a partnership. For the US they have an opportunity to get into the UK and European market and they have the option to buy the remaining 55% stake in three years' time," Vardon explains of the merger between these two dominant global retail player'. "Historically we have gone too far with the outsource model and that had made us too reliant on our partners. Having an in-source service means I can get the business close and at every level. We are already seeing small and medium changes becoming easier. We have some fantastic capabilities that have been with us over a period of time, and bringing in some very high calibre people into the business has made a massive difference. The evolution will be to break out of a complex legacy to be a platform for growth."
2. New and old technology
" We have had a busy year looking at our partner model and we are about to go on a three-year sourcing transformation journey. I'm looking at a framework model for our mobile strategy at present to drive convenience for customers. Mainframe is relatively cheap to run and support, but it becomes a complex estate to support and therefore costly, but SAP can be costly to run. It all depends on how you run your partner model so that everything depends on the business benefits."
3. Investment opportunities
"The last couple of years there has been a huge capital investment in IT to really put it at the front of the organisation's transformation. Not only will this continue, but we are significantly increasing our investment in 2013-14 when compared to 2012. IT has never worked more in partnership with our business teams. We have done a lot of work on pharmaceutical management systems. Boots and IT has been guilty of point-to-point solutions. For IT it's a chance to really drive through changes in anger. What we are seeing is the huge volumes that we are putting through at the moment. " The leadership understand the complexity of the IT estate and the very old ways of working and there is a great recognition and expectation of what IT can do.
4. Partners and engagement
"Mainframe is relatively cheap to run and support, but it becomes a complex estate to support and therefore costly, but SAP can be costly to run. It all depends on how you run your partner model so that everything depends on the business benefits." "How our partners work and engage with us is my key decision-making process. We have 12 business processes that our partners support and there is a lead partner for each of these giving us one point of contact when there is an issue or a question."
5. Board level
"We [the executive board] meet every Monday for two to three hours and we cover everything off, week to week and IT has the best seat at the table with the discussions on stores and supply chain. That shows the recognition of IT's importance and Boots has a very supportive culture for IT." "Now the strategy for the next three years is a platform for growth and for ensuring IT is all about the customer. All our KPIs are about how we help the stores to trade, increase sales and ensure there is a feelgood factor for stores, customers and colleagues. We do a lot of work on where the organisation is going that involves partner forums. At these we score partners and they score us and we recognise and reward those that are doing well."
6. Rationalising and modernising the Boots estate is no small task for Vardon
"Boots has got a complex legacy estate, it's not what I'd call simplified. I hope to get to a 50:50 sourcing model through the academy and we are working with colleges and universities to up-skill these graduates. They will provide the flexibility and agility Boots will need. "I don't worry about BYOD. At the leadership level there is a plethora of devices and it's pleasing to see. Boots is the one organisation that won't see a shift to online like others. We have a fantastic store network that our customers like as it offers a real opportunity to try out the products and experience them.''