by Mark Chillingworth

CIO Profile: EasyJet’s Trevor Didcock on budget discipline and the sexiness of airlines

Nov 02, 20114 mins
IT LeadershipTransportation and Logistics Industry

See also: CIO Profile: EasyJet’sTrevor Didcock on snapping at the flag carriers’ heels CIO Profile: EasyJet’sTrevor Didcock on his IT strategy In pictures: EasyJet challenges flag carriers

A number of CIOs and commentators have been impressed that Trevor Didcock, CIO of easyJet can take so much cost out of the organisation on an amazingly small IT budget and with such a small IT team.

He reveals that his opex budget is less than one per cent of revenue, with capex at about 0.5 per cent.

“It is something we are proud of,” he says of the budget. “I have a tiny budget, but it is not about empire building and we do a hell of a lot. We don’t spend a vast amount and I don’t feel the need to expand it.” He jokes that he got used to cutting when he was CIO for the AA.

Lean practitioner The leanness of the operation is something some in government could learn from and fills Didcock with pride. He has a team of 68 people rising to about 100. Compare that to British Airways which has 1200 IT staffers, and Didcock doesn’t hasten to remind CIO that in their own opinion, easyJet is a bigger airline than Britain’s flag carrier.

EasyJet has an estate of 2500 desktop devices and all 7500 staff have log-on access to the company systems, which do not include an ERP system.

“I have no desire for ERP and it is nice to steer clear of it,” he says. EasyJet relies on Savvis for its WAN and telecoms supply, Agresso for financial management, as well as those stalwarts of the travel sector, the Sabre and Galileo reservations systems. Didcock and his team have just completed a new IT strategy document which he says has “gone down well” and its template is being used by other departments in the organisation.

Didcock joined easyJet in September 2010, sits on the airline management board and heads the ‘Turn Europe Orange’ transformation programme: a testament to the faith easyJet has in the ability of technology to improve business and services.

Didcock describes the board meetings as “dripping in detail” and the weekly airline management board meetings as requiring the CIO and his peers as having to have a “finger on the pulse”.

“It is a nice management team that is there to beat the competition,” he says.

That sense of independence that differentiates easyJet from the airlines that came before it comes through in Didcock too. The CIO is happy to be interviewed without a PR handler present and it is apparent that easyJet is an organisation that has shaken an established sector to its roots and plans to continue to do so.

During our interview Didcock reveals that a plethora of areas of the airline travel experience will continue to be unbundled.

“I seem to hit the jackpot of interesting things at interesting firms,” he says of his career that has included breakdown rivals the AA and the RAC, as well as confectionary giant Mars.

“There is something sexy about airlines. Stelios and Richard Branson have made it cool,” he says of what attracted him to the role a year ago.

“The role is full-on,” he says, but that is something he is used to, having been at the AA during its sell off into private equity ownership.

Away from the CIO cockpit Didcock has three children who need “ferrying around” and the restoration of his old house fills any spare time.

As easyJet continues to challenge the way travellers shop for travel it will keep IT at the centre of that challenge, just as its online presence enabled the initial take-off.

Didcock, like all pilots, has a challenging route to chart.