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How one UK CIO changed IT from a support service to a business enabler driving innovation

Matt Egan | July 15, 2016
BSH eBusiness Directer Mike Faiers heads up a team that is driving change at every level of the business.

We asked Faiers how he addressed this schism. "I started by reviewing all of the systems and the processes. I then restructured the department, focusing on my experience of consumer-centric delivery.

"In the digital world we're dealing with the end consumer, but from an IT perspective we're dealing with our internal customers. They're the same people. You want to interact with them and give them the same level of great service. We shifted everything around to focus on this, asking how can we better understand our customers, and how can we help them?"

Changing mindsets

This is, of course, a core strategy for many digital leaders. But it is not easy to enact such change within an established and successful organisation. Faiers gave us some insight into how he drove through this shift.

"The biggest change was a change in mindset. In a traditional IT mindset we're the doers. We get something and we implement it. A lot of the change was to say doing it is the easy bit. We want to be the consultants and the experts that are involved in the ideation right at the beginning to involve us then because we can add value, rather than waiting until the eleventh hour and asking us to do something and we say 'No' due to policies, guidelines or not following the correct process. Then you're a firefighter. You are fixing problems rather than having a strategic vision from the start.

"The business had known IT in its previous form for many years, and people were used to the way we operated. It's taken a lot of work to reshape us and create what we are today. Now we have one department responsible for all the infrastructure in the building. All the networks, everything that goes with that, the devices, all of the systems, whether it's SAP or our own bespoke systems, e-commerce, innovation, digital, CI. Everything's in one team. 

"Our mindset is that we're consultants, we're experts, we advise and guide and add a service function to the business."

Selling digital to the wider business

Which is all very well within the eBusiness team. But how do line of business colleagues react to that? Is 'digital' seen as valuable a function as was IT? We all know of CIOs who have had to convince a wider business that digital is not just graduates messing about on social media.

"The important thing is relevance," says Faiers. "Making digital tangible and meaningful to the business. It's easy to sit in an air-conditioned office and look at apps. How do you make that meaningful to the wider business so they get the value of it?"

The key then is to innovate in such a way that you are putting strategic tools into the hands of business leaders, to help them solve problems and move their businesses forward. Innovation as a service.


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