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Bidwells IT director managing growing portfolio

Mark Chillingworth | April 12, 2013
"We are more profitable now than when we were in 2006 as we have been more efficient," says Philip Van Enis, IT director of Bidwells, a property consultancy that is coping well with the drastic slowdown the property industry has witnessed during the downturn.

"We are really well supported. I've worked with HP, IBM and Dell, and Fujitsu is the most rewarding and I don't say that lightly. The quality of the engineering in their equipment is excellent and it contributes significantly to our operational stability." EMC, HP, Citrix and Cisco are his other key suppliers.

Van Enis considered cloud-based solutions as part of the transformation he has been leading, but for the moment has kept his IT firmly on the ground and for good business reasons.

"Cloud is a good idea, but the weak point for a geographically diverse business like ourselves is connectivity, and that is more of an issue than the security. Unsurprisingly, the industry has jumped on security as a topic of concern, but I am surprised more people are not seeing connectivity as an issue.

"Also with vendor consolidation, suddenly everyone out there is a cloud vendor. We did an analysis of the cloud for us and I didn't see it as that much cheaper," he explains.

Of greater concern than putting the Bidwells application portfolio into the cloud is the need to modernise the information management within the Cambridgeshire organisation.

"Email is our core tool. The challenge is about how we share our information a lot more efficiently internally and we want to work together more efficiently and help the organisation cross-sell.

"A lot of our information is in our heads or in a file structure, so Big Data is an interesting subject for us, as we are drowning in information. So for the next year I am planning on improving the information management now that we have caught up on the infrastructure. I am also very interested in how social networks work and why they work.

"Part of the difficulty for an organisation like Bidwells is that our information is in documents and land-based data and I look at the GIS (geographic information systems) side of technology and [information management] is not going there.

"As an example, current GIS systems are powerful but still operate in a traditional fashion. End users expect seamless and easy-to-use solutions that mirror the experience in their consumer lives outside of work.

"Organisations building corporate applications are under more pressure to provide tools and solutions that will engage their intended end users elegantly from a variety of devices (desk and mobile) as well as fulfilling their functional requirements."

Making a difference

Van Enis reports to the COO of Bidwells and sits on the operational board of the company. He also has the additional responsibility of reporting annually to the strategic board.

"We have to make a real difference to the organisation," he says of IT's role within the business. "My team really want to make things better and that is an important ingredient - to want to change the world and how we do things.


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