by Hamish Barwick

Q&A: Qantas CIO, Paul Jones

Dec 14, 20114 mins
IT ManagementMobileSmall and Medium Business

While Paul Jones has been CIO of Qantas for less than a year, he has spearheaded a number of IT projects at the airline including a freight enterprise resource planning (ERP) replacement.

Prior to joining Qantas, Jones was based at US fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, Mars, where he held the role of IT head for its global chocolate division.

What does an average work day involve for you at Qantas?

I don’t have an average day but most of the time I’m spending is on strategy and transformation work we have underway. I’m also looking at customer projects and activities as well as coaching and mentoring people in the leadership team.

What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?

Technology is a critical component of an airline’s business so the first challenge is ensuring on a daily basis that the operations are robust and technology is serving its purpose.

The second challenge is around making sure we have a clear IT strategy and that this is cascading through the whole organisation.

Lastly, ensuring the right people are doing the right roles with clear objectives aligned behind that IT strategy.

What are some of the major projects you have been working on?

We have several customer, business and internal projects underway at present.

For customers, we’ve launched the faster, smarter check in program and made some enhancements to to ensure we’ve got the best travel experience for people online.

We recently went live with our Freight Future program which has replaced all of the core systems for our freight business including the enterprise resource planning [ERP].

Another example is Project Marlin which is around upgrading the maintenance systems for all of our aircraft types starting with the A-380. As maintenance staff get around the aircraft, they use iPads to see images of what maintenance is required and it makes their job a lot more effective.

We’ve rolled out 30 iPads so far for the A-380 and we have plans to deploy more devices to the rest of the fleet.

Qantas is also in the middle of an internal campus program at Mascot, Sydney, where we want to transition the way people work through bring your own device (BYOD) which will allow staff to connect their own smartphone or tablet to the corporate network. So far, it’s been rolled out to 50 staff.

We’ve just gone to market for a request for proposal [RFP] for email and collaboration. Within pockets of Qantas we have some social media pilots happening with products such as Yammer.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

It can be a balancing act in an environment where you need to constantly reduce IT costs and maximise the investment in business change.

Another challenge is the end user world where there is the expectation from airline customers that they can connect any device.

You can no longer control everything and say ‘here are all my standards’. I have to find ways of adopting and embracing devices because that’s what customers and staff expect.

The third challenge is making sure you have the right capability and talent to ensure your organisation is ready to make the changes needed.

What is your favourite gadget?

My Apple Macintosh. That’s because my children like to video conference form home using the Mac and they’ll be on it with me for 30 minutes showing me what they’ve done at school.

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