After two years as interim CIO at London's Metropolitan Police Service Richard Thwaite is the latest transformational CIO to depart the role. Thwaite is the second CIO to depart the UK's largest police force since 2012. Over the last 12 months a number of CIOs known for delivering major transformations have left the role, these include Trevor Didcock, formerly of easyJet, Ian Cohen the former JLT, FT and Mail Group CIO, James Thomas has left UCLH and Willem Eelman the former Unilever CIO.
Thwaite was responsible for some major changes in the use of information and technology within the Met police and has created a strategy for enhanced digital services to beat officers that will mobilise policing in London. Prior to joining the Met Thwaite had led major transformation programmes at banking group UBS and car manufacturer Ford.
"As a CIO one of the things I was keen for the vendors to do is come with a solution to a problem that is part of a service and delivers a business outcome that offers you and your organisation a unique offering," he says of a common failing he saw as a CIO and one his CIO peers describe regularly to this title. Thwaite is not alone amongst experienced CIOs in believing the skills and knowledge of a CIO can drive change that benefits both parties.
"Thirty years plus in technology on the buy side is a fantastic amount of experience to have on the sell side, and to be a CIO you have to have that experience. If you've never worked on the sell side and learnt what drives the cost of a sale and how to go about delivery, then it’s difficult to be a complete CIO. It’s a level of understanding I didn't really appreciate," he says of his new world. "Yet if you are buying millions of pounds of services, it is essential. Businesses are becoming Eco-systems of small and large vendors.
"We have developed a programme service offering that enables us to come into an organisation and make decisions at pace," he says. It was his-own experience as a CIO that has shaped it.
"As a buyer of services I noticed that I really only talked vendors that came to me with a solution, rather than bodies or technology. As a CIO I want the outcome guaranteed and that will be part of our remuneration, rather than over promising and under-delivering," he says of his and many CIO's experience of existing consultancy services.
"It's really important for vendors and suppliers to come to you with outcomes. It's really important for the vendors to move much further towards solutions CIOs needs rather than technology they want to sell. Technologists create a product and think everyone must need it.
"Talking to CIOs there is a frustration on what the industry needs, so for me it’s about an outcome based approach rather than a convoluted solution," he says.
Thwaite knows the team at Chaucer from his time leading the business technology at Ford, the size of Chaucer - 200 people- and its pace appealed to Thwaite.
"It is keen to grow, following a management buy-out. Sixty percent of its business is in IT so they needed someone with a lot of client side experience and that was the opportunity," he says of his decision to leave the political world of the public sector.