See also: Tesco's Mike McNamara on supporting a global business\nMike McNamara\u2019s corner desk faces out to the window and his PC sports a telepresence camera, which is used for two of every four quarterly reviews held by the CIO of retail giant Tesco.\nA meeting table dominates the room. This layout tells you something about McNamara. He is warm, engaging but with a mind as sharp as the pricing on the shop floor.\nMcNamara has no need to hide behind a huge desk and rule the IT empire like a retail Kitchener, and at the meeting table McNamara is at home, relaxed yet totally focused and like his organisation looking beyond the nondescript Cheshunt office from where Tesco has taken on the world.\nTesco is considered to be a bit of a darling in the CIO world; after all there are not too many global corporations from this, or any, shore that have a former CIO as their CEO.\nMcNamara\u2019s boss Philip Clarke formerly held McNamara\u2019s position until March 2011 when Sir Terry Leahy stood down as CEO.\nUnder Leahy Tesco undertook significant expansion in the UK and overseas as well moves into banking, telecoms and the internet.\nMcNamara sits on the Tesco executive committee alongside the chief executives of the four regional Tesco businesses and the services business that includes the new banking and telecommunications arms.\n\u201cPhilip is a brilliant retailer, not just a technologist,\u201d McNamara says of Clarke when asked whether there are any challenges to having the former CIO as your boss.\n\u201cYou don\u2019t get much by him. He has a great sympathy for IT and he can understand what it can do to make shopping easier and better for customers and our staff.\u201d\nCIO met McNamara as the company announced an eight-year extension of its relationship with Microsoft.\u201cIt is a long contract. It is about as long as we would sign,\u201d he says.\nMcNamara describes the deal as an \u201centerprise subscription agreement\u201d.\n\u201cSo we have unlimited licensing over the duration of the contract. It is important not to count them [licences] all the time when you are a large distributed organisation like us,\u201d he adds.\nMicrosoft will provide its Windows, Office, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, System Center, BizTalk and SQL Server technologies across the 14 countries that Tesco operates in, as well as to the rapidly growing Tesco banking, online and telecommunications businesses. The Microsoft Services Enterprise Strategy consulting programme is also in the deal.\nLong-term partnershipMcNamara explains that Tesco has had a long-standing technology relationship with Microsoft. The CIO began working with Microsoft when he was CTO of Tesco.com back in 1999.\n\u201cYou have to wear down a bit of shoe leather. There are a few companies that I spend a deal of time forming a relationship with and Microsoft if one of those,\u201d McNamara says of his vendor management style.\n\u201cWe have quarterly meetings, twice a year in the US and I know I can pick up the phone to speak to Kevin Turner [chief operating officer at Microsoft] if I wanted to. You have to put the time in to relationships and I know it works for me,\u201d he adds.\nMotorola, NCR, Oracle and Retalix sit alongside Microsoft as the core technology providers to Tesco, supplying in-store mobile, self-service tills, till software and checkouts respectively.\n\u201cYou end up with an ecosystem and you can encourage them to work together,\u201d the CIO says.\n\u201cWe have enough money to do what we want to do, so I have never felt constrained and during the credit crisis we continued to invest.\u201d\n\nAs anyone who has been into one of Tesco\u2019s hanger-sized supermarkets will attest, mobile connectivity disappears, but McNamara will end all that with wifi access for customers, the latest in a line of technology investments which he sees as part of the continuing technology journey that retail is undergoing.\n\u201cI spend a lot of time with our technology team to make our staff\u2019s role better and now it\u2019s about customer-facing technology. The reality is people check prices and social review and I think we should help them.\n\u201cThe difficult conversations will happen, you can choose to participate or ignore them, but the debate will happen,\u201d he says of security and access abuse issues that could arise with people using the wifi to download movies, or play fast and loose with the Tesco brand in store and on the retailer\u2019s network.\n\u201cIf you look at the role of technology, 14 years ago IT was a transactional process. Wifi is a real example of technology the customer will see, but it is not always the case; take our queue technology for till queues. We were an early adopter of self-scan tills and our supply chain is uber-sophisticated.\u201d\nTesco\u2019s supply chain has been vaunted by industry commentators as the edge that took it past rivals J Sainsbury, Asda and Morrisons to become the undisputed supermarket leader in the UK it is today. McNamara is proud of the supply chain.\n\u201cIn the UK we ship half a billion items to thousands of shops in a just-in-time basis. It is very sophisticated and I think we are innovators. We are now bringing the same attitude to the shop floor.\n\u201cIt will change the way we retail. Price transparency is important and it will change the way we trade.\u201d\nFly by wirelessMcNamara cites targeted promotions as a benefit Tesco expects to see from its wifi innovations, replacing the existing broadcast promotional methods it currently uses.\nHe added that the Tesco Clubcard App could provide authentication for regular customers to get access to the wifi. Again Tesco is lauded for its innovations in information management by analysts, consumers and suppliers and in-store wifi could increase the power of this already impressive tool.\nMcNamara believes shoppers want to use the information Tesco can supply via wifi to inform its consumption decisions.\n\u201cWhy shouldn\u2019t I know what are the best selling wines, shirts or television sets? These are the things that are on the internet and we can now bring into the store,\u201d he says of the Amazon-type experience Tesco shoppers will have via their smartphones.\nImproving mobile access to Tesco information will also benefit the store\u2019s 480,000 global employees.\nOnly 20,000 Tesco staff work in an office environment, while the majority of its employees are in the stores or the supply chain.\n\u201cMobile is a huge opportunity for us and it will change the equipment staff use to do their jobs,\u201d he says enthusiastically\nThe rapid expansion of Tesco into Asia and Eastern Europe is in no small part to the Tesco Operating Model, dubbed by many Tesco in a Box, which allows the supermarket to replicate its successful UK stores in foreign economies very easily.\n\u201cIt is far more than IT, but there is a bedrock of IT, it is about processes and organisation,\u201d McNamara says of the operating model. The latest Microsoft deal will modernise that IT bedrock.\n\u201cOne of the big jobs is about how we collaborate across all our operations. SharePoint is fantastic in that we can do a short video on a yoghurt fixture. That may seem trivial, but for sharing and learning the technology helps considerably,\u201d he explains.