by CIO Staff

British Army CIO Jonathan Cole Q&A

Sep 10, 2015
GovernmentSecurity Software

Jonathan Cole took over the role as British Army Head of Information Superiority (Deputy CIO) when BrigadierAlan Hill, a 2014 CIO 100 high flyer was appointed by the Ministry of Defence as its Head of Operate and Defend last autumn.

Cole sees a business process management project as crucial part of the army’s transformation, while secure data transfer is high on the agenda to enable a new way of working.

Job Title British Army Head of Information Superiority (Deputy CIO)

When did you start your role? September 2014

What is your reporting line? To the Army Board Member who is both the COO and also part time CIO.

What executive boards do you sit on? Programme and project boards for business transformation and the delivery of new capabilities.

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation? Head of Security policy for the Army.

How many employees does your organisation have? 130,000

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business’s products? I speak regularly with divisional executives out in the business areas and I visit the business areas to speak with users. I also look at customer satisfaction surveys.

British Armytechnology strategy and IT agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology oriented start-ups? Yes

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside? No

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in? Provision of services that allow users to BYOD.

What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation? Business process management transformation, enabled by ERP and workflow tools.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation? Great efficiency of human resource, improved decision making for enterprise resource allocation, predictive modelling.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project? Encouraging senior level buy-in and persuading users to embrace the transformation.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation? Database access, WiFi, secured data transfer over different mediums, mobile coverage, user interface software.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation? Yes

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation? We need to be able to share the data across different tool sets, trust the master data, and value the services that enable us to analyse scenarios.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience? It raises their expectations of what the enterprise should be providing. When we are able to exploit these capabilities, it enhances their efficiency and effectiveness.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice? Shadow IT is inevitable. It should be seen as an opportunity to learn and drive innovation into the enterprise, and it is also providing a challenge to constantly improve what we provide the users. But it is also a risk to security of enterprise information and legal complaisance, so this needs to be managed.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? Within the next 1-2 years, we will make some important deals for our enterprise business press management capability, for our battlefield radio and computer system, and for our future fixed and mobile teleophony. Over recent years we have made a big deal with ATLAS (HP and Fujitsu) for our fixed IT, with Vodafone, BT and ATLAS for our mobile IT and telephony, and with GD(UK) for our battlefield radio and IT.

Who are your main suppliers? Vodafone, Oracle, HP, Fujitsu, BT, Microsoft, Rackspace, EMC, BAE Systems, GD(UK), Airbus, Deloitte, Gartner, and many others. In no particular order.

British ArmyIT security and budget

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months? No

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda? Yes

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces? Yes

Has this led to an increase in your security budget? Yes

What is the IT budget? This answer varies depending on how it is defined. Our annual running budget for the corporate systems is £50 million, plus we have much more allocated to our battlefield systems, and in addition to this, the Defence Budget also provides some services centrally.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year? Improve governance, drive efficiency, deliver mobile enhancements, change attitudes towards the value of information, improve security education.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation? Yes

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO? Yes

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme? No

British Armytechnology department

How would you describe your leadership style? Firmly centralised when appropriate, but decentralised and trusting of subordinates when possible. Personal in tone, but task-oriented.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision? Weekly management meetings.

How many employees are in your IT team? 200

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff? 80/20