Given the decisive shift to mobile in the travel industry, it is significant that Kevin O'Connor leads Carlson Wagonlit's mobile business. Not only did he develop and launch the company's mobile offering, opening up new territories in the process, he has also driven through a complete IT transformation, globalising the corporate functions. When did you start your current role?November 2012. What is your reporting line?CEO. Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?Probably every two weeks, but this is as often as I need to. I talk to the other business leaders daily as well. Are you a member of the board of directors?No. What other executive boards do you sit on?I serve on the executive committee, run two of our subsidiaries (one headquartered in Canada and the other in Israel) and serve as chairmen for the one that has a board. Does your organisation have a CDO?No. I effectively fill the role. I also run our mobile business. What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?I drive transformation. I have just driven and managed the biggest project that the company has ever had, the transformation of our global IT capability, and I am co executive sponsor for the transformation of our finance and HR operations. I also manage our mobile business, being both chairman of the board and an active executive of the business. How many employees does your organisation have?18,000. Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?Yes. How many users does your department supply services to?All 18,000 internal employees (in 50 countries) and all our clients, including the 5,000,000 travellers that we service. We support all our internal staff and all our clients as well. How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?I am a member of the firm's executive team, reporting directly to the CEO, so I am party to all major decisions. I engage daily with my colleagues, who run our various businesses globally, and the functional and regional IT heads who work with them day to day all report to me. I have significant client exposure, especially with our largest global clients, and I run one of our businesses myself. Carlson Wagonlit technology strategy and 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?Yes. Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part inThere is a significant move to mobile in our industry. I lead our mobile business, having developed and launched our mobile offering, winning international awards including 'most innovative established company' and 'best user experience' in the past year. We have now also launched a new business venture in a segment we did not previously play in, in Japan, and are planning our entry into China. From within, we have also undergone a complete IT transformation, globalising our functions, etc. What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?At the end of 2014, we completed the two largest projects ever undertaken by the firm. One was to establish our internal IT capability and globalise it (it had previously run more independently in the 50 countries and across the different businesses), and the other was to globalise and improve our security capability very significantly. Both projects were initiated by me and driven by me and both completed on time, successfully. I am now co-sponsoring two other transformation initiatives globally, one for HR and the other for finance. I also manage our mobile business. At the beginning of 2013, our stated goal was to make IT a competitive advantage for us by the end of 2014. This has been achieved and it is driving both internal efficiency and new and improved client offerings that are helping drive revenue. What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?It has positioned us very well for the new age we find ourselves in. We deliver better products and services to our clients, more securely, and we innovate and bring products to market much more quickly. We have moved from a defensive position to a very offensive position. Our technology is seen as a significant differentiator by our clients. How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?My role was to provide the vision and the plan for achieving it, to attract and develop the transformational leaders to execute the plan, and then take it forward and provide ruthless, flawless execution, which I did. What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?Agile methodology, highly secure virtual private cloud, significant big data analytic capabilities, total security and secure mobile for our staff and clients. 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 are just rolling out our new, transformational data analytics product to our clients. We use big data analytics to provide better service and new products and services to corporate clients (the actual enterprises) and their individual travellers. How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?They are key, which is why we are investing heavily in mobile. We want to provide our clients what they want, where they want it, when they want it, on the device of their choice, quickly, attractively, effectively and securely. This means mobile. Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?I see these as separate issues. We combat shadow IT by providing the very best IT so that our users want to use us. We also embed IT throughout all our business so that it is accessible and responsive rather than being a centralised, hidden away, distant monster. That removes the need or desire for shadow IT. Our users have handed over their IT to us voluntarily. We embrace BYOD. We don't push it, we don't fight it, but we make our systems work on it and it has taken a life of its own that we support. What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?We acquired WorldMate, the mobile travel business, two years ago. We also have key relationships with Oracle, HP, Microsoft and others. Who are your main suppliers?Oracle, HP, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and SuperNAP. Carlson Wagonlit IT 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?$200m. How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?10%. What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?To make IT an even bigger competitive advantage, to make IT and the IT organisation the agents and drivers of innovation, and to make the user experience (for internal users and for all our clients) the very best it can be and to exceed their expectations. 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?Yes. Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?Yes. Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?No. Carlson Wagonlit technology department How would you describe your leadership style?Visionary, inspirational, empowering. Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and visionI have hired the very best people. Each of my leaders has clear responsibilities and authority; each has a mandate to innovate and transform. They have been encouraged and supported in building strong teams below them so that they are personally freed up to be inspirational leaders themselves rather than being stuck in the weeds. We ensure that our IT leadership team spend a week away at least every two months to discuss strategy, new opportunities and how we will be better leaders leading a more effective team. How many employees are in your IT team?800. What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?Over 95% in-house. Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?Yes.