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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.

"Innovation is a big work stream for us at the moment," says Faiers. "We run hacks. We do proof-of-concepts and try to be a really forward-thinking team. Getting the wider business to understand the possibilities of what you and they can do with digital."

And this helps the credibility play. The eBusiness department is now solving problems for functions throughout the company, and this in turns is changing a mindset in the wider business.

"The old idea is people sitting in an office and thinking: 'We've got a problem, how do we come up with a solution?' says Faiers. "It's totally different now. It's flip charts and white boards, and getting people in that have no experience of that specific issue, but have the skills and ideas to come up with a resolution. Some of the best ideas are off-the-wall.

"The transition is from IT guys that say 'no' because of processes, systems, and policies, to people you want to involve from the beginning and ask them their advice because they can help make it better."

Faiers is keen to point out that his eBusiness department couldn't have changed their wider perception without buy in from senior leaders.

"The support of our CFO and CEO really helped drive it," he says. "Buy-in from the very highest level."

But he must take some credit here, by taking early innovations and ideas to senior leaders, in order to help them to see what can be done rather than what must be done.

"Proof of concept is more than enough to demonstrate what's possible and the thought process behind something. Just because we say it's an innovation, it doesn't mean we have to go and build a lab. It can be as simple as wire frames and some mock ups to say 'If we wanted to, this is the route we could go down'."

So in order to change the external perception of the eBusiness team, how did Faiers change the mindset within the IT function? Same as ever: repetition of the right message.

"A lot of that change in mindset is due to determination. Repeatedly saying to people: 'IT doesn't exist anymore. We don't have IT'. Of course we have a service desk function and we repair computers and the traditional IT skill set is still there. It's a key part of what we do. But there's a lot more to us than that.

"A big part of the mindset change was about building a critical mass. We rebranded. We don't talk about IT anymore, everything is 'eBusiness'. We do a lot of rebranding ourselves so people know who we are. In the old world, people used to email the engineers or the guys on the infrastructure team directly, whereas now everything goes through a central service desk. It frees up their time to be more visible. To be consultants within the business."


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