by CIO Staff

BP CIO Mike Gibbs Q&A

Oct 08, 2015
Energy IndustryIT Strategy

BP Global CIO Mike Gibbs is in his fourth decade in the oil industry, and with the current slowdown of the market is pursuing a two-pronged technology strategy of ‘operational effectiveness at our core’ and ‘new competitive advantage at our frontier’.

Currently in the middle of a two-year simplification transformation aimed a reducing BP’s IT operating costs by $250 million, Gibbs and his CTO organisation have been pioneering in their use of drones, having secured approval from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration to use the Puma unmanned aerial vehicle for surveys of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, the first time in history it has authorised the use of a commercial drone over land

Job Title Group CIO

When did you start your current role? November 2013

What is your reporting line? Group CFO

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week? No

Are you a member of the board of directors? No

Does your organisation have a CDO? No

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation? Indirect Procurement also reports to me.

How many employees does your organisation have? 3,500 staff and contractors. Approximately 7,000 additional FTEs deliver services from one of our Outsourced Service Providers.

Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU? Yes

What number of users does your department supply services to? 80,000

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business’s products? I have 34 years’ experience in the Oil Industry and have gained a good understanding of the business as well as our products and customers

BP technology strategy and IT agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology oriented start-ups? No

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside? Yes

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in? My CTO organisation attained approval from the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use the Puma unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for surveys of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska, the first time in history it has authorised the use of a commercial drone over land.

What major transformation project has been recently completed, or is underway at your organisation? We are in the midst of a two-year Simplification transformation aimed a reducing our IT operating costs by $250m. The major elements are in Sourcing – renegotiating our major multi-year contracts; Operational Efficiency – HW/SW rationalisation, virtualisation, and process simplification; and Organisation – reducing layers, simplifying work and doing less with less.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation? Staff counts will be reduced by circa 20%, job scope and will broaden, layers for approvals will reduce.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project? I proposed the transformation and set the targets, which at the time were beyond what my team thought we could achieve. We began working it as a team and eventually engaged the entire organisation for ideas for simplification. 400 ideas were submitted and we created a number of work streams to develop the best ones with oversight from the Leadership Team. I conducted more than a dozen town halls at our major sites around the world explaining the rationale and urgency of the transformation. My style is one of setting high goals and engaging people to achieve them with their best ideas.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation? The technologies that are underpinning our Simplification transformation are; remote collaboration – which enables us to consolidate staff into fewer locations and work globally without losing capability and virtualisation – which will improve utilisation and reduce server counts.

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? Our vision is simply building on the data and applications management strategy we’ve had for years using new technologies in the data capture, repository and analytics space. Data is captured once at the source, loaded into data bases which are fit for the application purpose and then further uploaded into data lakes holding both structured and unstructured data. We are working to hold duplication of data to a minimum, maintain fidelity and lineage using a common platform to be added to by all of our business segments with future applications. We currently have a few Big Data and Analytics applications running, several more in test and a lab in which to experiment.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience? A number of our retail businesses have used web sites for loyalty programmes which have driven more customer traffic at lower costs than traditional programmes. Current uses of mobile technology are primarily in refineries used by technicians and operators to capture operational data and schedule maintenance. Mobile payment technologies are being evaluated for retail.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice? Pursuant to our consolidation and simplification strategies we pull shadow IT into the IT organisation proper. This avoids information fragmentation, cost savings leakage and creating unnecessary data security gaps. We have a BYOD policy which supports Apple, Android and Blackberry devices. iPhones can be purchased by the company.

What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? IBM, TCS, Wipro and TCS are our strategic application development and support providers. HP and T-Systems are our primary infrastructure providers.

Who are your main suppliers? IBM, HP, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, T-Systems, Accenture.

BP security and IT budget

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months? Yes

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? $2.2 billion

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year? We are pursuing a bi-modal strategy; ‘operational effectiveness at our core’ and ‘new competitive advantage at our frontier’. We intend to add to our simplification transformation in our core operations to further reduce costs as well as delay capital spending in the current oil price environment. We will continue to move more applications to the cloud and offer more levels of service to match spend with business value.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation? No

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO? No

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have? No

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme? No

BP IT department

How would you describe your leadership style? I have a natural and collaborative leadership style focused on results through team building. However I have a directive backup style I go to in time critical or stressful situations.

How have you supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision? I support my team by extending professional respect for their roles and encouraging them to fulfil it only asking how I can help. We have developed our strategy and vision together as a team with the “What” we are going to do coming from me based on collaboration with team but the “How” coming almost exclusively from the team.

How many employees are in your IT team? I have 11 direct reports and 3500 employees and contractors.

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU? Yes