What impact can IT transformations have on your business?

As part of Deloitte’s eighth annual Technology Trends report, we sat down with Francoise Russo, CIO at Toll Group to get her take on the business potential of IT transformation. Here’s what she had to say.

The logistics industry is in flux. Existing players are being challenged by new, nimble market entrants.

Not only are business models in the industry rapidly changing, but new technologies are completely redefining what we can do. Until recently, Toll has been operating in a legacy environment of multifunctional teams working independently across the organisation, each requiring considerable support.

This changing environment creates an unrivalled opportunity for the IT function to step up, and work alongside the business to rethink what we are doing, how we are doing it and how we can deliver break-through performance.

A two speed model of change

Toll is embarking on a journey to become a completely new organisation, but at the same time, has the legacy of old systems and processes to be updated. This is creating a model of operating at two speeds of change: one agile, and the other transformative.

The first speed of change is still all about managing and transforming legacy systems, updating existing systems and integrating change into the broader business.

The second speed is the agile model, focused on creating ‘Centres of Excellence’ or places where we can take advantage of disruptive trends quickly, and flow these innovations throughout the organisation.

We are also seeing more convergence between IT and OT (operational technology). For example, telematics has now moved into the IT function.

Because of this convergence, the IT role is evolving to include working with technology manufacturers to develop prototypes, discussing specifications, and communicating the flow of information to allow business decision-making.

The right business and regulatory framework

It is important to stay close to the changes that are happening in the logistics industry, but at the same time, some advancements appear to be a way off from becoming reality.

There are some exciting opportunities that have the potential to revolutionise our industry, such as autonomous vehicles and robotics, but many of these need large scale commercial models to be tried and tested before they can be adopted. In particular, the associated supporting infrastructure and regulatory environment will need to be established before it can be used.

We are in discussion with a number of engineering and IT firms to understand mutual areas of interest. Proof of concept activities are another area that has good potential in an unbounded IT environment.

The IT function needs to evolve from legacy platforms. We need to be better at adapting, particularly given the phenomenal pace at which organisational and environmental change is happening. In my experience, large organisations often find it difficult to move with speed, and it can be a challenge to bring staff along the journey where the future model involves significantly rethinking the way that they have built their careers and skills to date.

Toll has a five year time frame to transform its legacy landscape, but of course we have a clearer vision of the first two and half years. None of it will be possible without the substantial commitment and support of the executive team.

The customer is at the heart of what we want to do

At the heart of our unbounded IT strategy is the customer model. It is really important that technology and trends are not ends in themselves: the end game is to offer better customer solutions to meet and exceed customer expectations. Every innovation is motivated by the need to pass solutions and value to the customer, so our business can stay competitive.

The Toll logistics business model is changing; essentially it is simplifying itself so that it is easier for customers to do business with us. This means shedding the layers of complexity that we have inherited through our acquisitions history, and seeking to standardise services across the business while minimising disruption to our clients.

Running transformation alongside innovation – our people are the key

The big question for CIOs going forward is how to transform alongside innovation, and harness the different speeds, cultures and people effectively, taking them along on the journey.

An organisation’s biggest asset is its people, so we have to integrate IT into the culture for the changes to be a success. This means engaging with our people; keeping things simple, communicating clearly and frequently, and finding role models to create grass roots change.

We hope that we can harness the team enthusiasm to be part of the solution, and develop them to make the most of the opportunities being created and be best equipped to build their future careers.

Françoise Russo was appointed to the role of Chief Information Officer for Toll Group in August 2016. Françoise has studied Psychology at University, followed by a Masters in Information Systems and an MBA.

Prior to joining Toll, Françoise worked for Procter & Gamble for a number of years, in predominantly global and regional roles. During this time, she worked on a number of Sales and Business Planning Solutions as well as various Interactive Marketing initiatives for the P&G Haircare New Business Development Division, when Digital Solutions were emerging as a tool for customer connection and engagement.

Following that, Françoise worked for Diageo PLC for several years, in a number of IT and Business roles. These included an eTransformation change programme, Sales and Commercial IT including Field Force Automation, the IT Director of Diageo Great Britain (Diageo’s second largest market), various Marketing IT roles including Digital Marketing Director and leader of an HR Transformation programme.

She then joined British American Tobacco in 2008, working in senior IT Leadership roles covering Sales, Marketing, Innovation, Manufacturing, Leaf, Supply Chain and R&D. As part of BAT’s Global IT Leadership team, she then moved to a role as BAT’s Regional CIO first covering Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, then also taking on Western and Central Europe. All senior roles have involved team leadership and talent development, strategy development and execution, business engagement, delivery of major transformation projects and often, restructuring and building talent to develop a future fit IT team.

Françoise is also a champion of increasing the Diversity in IT and was the Group IT sponsor for this in BAT, during which period the number of women in IT significantly increased.  

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