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How Halfords and Sainsbury's geared up for digital transformation
Is your IT function a force for change? Are your people capable of implementing genuine transformation in the business? And are you as a leadership team ready to face the challenge of the digital future?
These were just some of the questions discussed at Wednesday night's IT Leaders Forum, hosted in Birmingham by Reed Technology Leadership Practice. Guests at the event were treated to presentations by two of the UK's leading retailers: Halfords and Sainsbury's.
IT leaders from both companies were on hand to explain how they grasped the nettle of change, and how their IT functions had become catalysts not only for efficiency and security, but for genuine business transformation.
Anna Barsby, CIO at Halfords, introduced her IT leadership team as the people who have led the company's technology transformation efforts over the past few years. They had, she said, been instrumental in equipping the retailer with the right infrastructure and people to deliver on its strategy.
"It's important to understand that the journey is as much a cultural one as a technical one," she told guests. "It's an engaging place to work - we are embedding some key values into the business: we work with fun, with confidence, with a smile – both in the shops and the IT support centre – and with togetherness."
Those four behaviours are forming the basis of Halfords' plans, first through its three-year ‘Getting into Gear' programme, which prioritised improvements to networks and infrastructure. Following that, the focus is firmly in line with the business strategy of ‘Moving up a Gear', where, Barsby explained, "the emphasis has changed towards the front end: data, analytics, apps and the user experience."
Meanwhile Richard Brinson, Chief Information Security Officer at Sainsbury's, explained how a supermarket with 1500 stores, 160,000 employees and 26m customer interactions a week had updated and improved its digital architecture and customer offering.
"Our vision is simple: it's a long term approach that means that we as IT leaders aspire to become a world class digital and technology function that delights our customers and delivers business value at pace," he said.
The Sainsbury's team shared insights on how digital and technology is rapidly becoming hardwired into the business, not only to meet the current challenges, but to anticipate and meet those of the future. "Such developments are imperative if we are going to continue to succeed and compete in a tough marketplace," said Brinson.
"To deliver on the most exciting parts of future strategy, D&T must play a central role across all parts of the business, from new world-old world systems, security, architecture and end-user experience."
"This has been a great evening," said event organiser Kevin Dainty, Business Manager at Reed Technology Leadership Practice. "There was an amazing amount of useful information shared by two leading businesses and we will be using LinkedIn to pass on some of these insights over the coming weeks."
The IT Leaders Forum is supported by Reed Technology Leadership Practice. It was established to allow IT specialists who work within a managerial capacity to develop their knowledge and professional networks. Membership of the forum is controlled to ensure maximum benefit for participants.
For information on future IT Leaders Forum events, or to discuss your career or recruitment needs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org