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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.

But even once you have convinced IT professionals that they are consultants rather than a support service, how does Faiers encourage creativity and innovation? You can't train people in innovation, although you can support them to be so.

"I don't think innovation is something you need to be trained in, I think it's something you need to be passionate about," says Faiers. "The bit that needs training is how to translate tech into something that's business-orientated. If you like tech and you're interested in, for example the new iPhone, and what could be possible with the HTC Vive, then you're halfway there. All you then need to do is merge that passion and enthusiasm to translate that into something that's business beneficial. It's not rocket science.

"I would never stop creativity. I'd rather somebody came to me with 10 horrendous ideas and then one absolute gem, rather than them waiting for me to give them all the ideas. You should also do some things just because you can and to inspire other people about what's possible. I don't think that's a bad thing."

Management style

A lot of this speaks to management style - a critical part of any leader's armoury. We asked Faiers to comment on his style of management.

"I'm very keen to develop and experiment. I like a fast-paced environment, so we can develop and launch something and then improve once it's live. But I'm also a great believer in empowering the team. I employ experts and let them get on with the job, give them the tools they need, and listen to them.

"And I believe in raising the profile of what we do in the wider business so people understand the value of involving us at the beginning."

Impacting the business every day

The eBusiness team employs around 20 people. And they employ a roster of key agencies including a mobile and innovation tech agency. The future is full of big opportunities, projects, and models. But how is the team's change impacting the business day-to- day?

"There's two examples I would use," says Faiers. "The first of which is replacing a critical internal system. I won't go into details now, but it represents a significant milestone in terms of our approach and our interaction with the wider business.

"In the old days we would've understood the business requirement and then gone away and developed the tool. We'd have rolled it out and handed it over to the wider business. That's totally different now - we've got multiple stakeholders at every level across the relevant business functions. We've also got our colleagues in Central IT and Global Supply Chain, all working together on one project. It's a really positive step forwards.

 

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