David Bulman, who recently left his role at Virgin Atlantic Airways after more than three years running the airline's technology estate, was researching wearable technology and was also investigating replacing the ticket reservation – something he likened to having open heart surgery while running the marathon. When did you start your current role?November 2011 – left role February 2015. What is your reporting line?CEO. Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week? Yes. Are you a member of the board of directors? Yes. What other executive boards do you sit on? None. Does your organisation have a CDO? No. What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation? I'm responsible for all technology within the airline, both operational and new change delivery. How many employees does your organisation have? 155. Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU? Yes. What number of users does your department supply services to?10,000. How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?Our management board spends a day together every week. As well as an in-depth operational review of the airline's last week, we spend a considerable time on departmental tactical issues and strategy. I can speak about customer issues as much as my peers can discuss technology issues. It is easily the most aligned executive team I've been a part of. Virgin Atlantic Airways 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 inWhere to start? I'm one of two executive leads around innovation. Most visibly we did a major POC around wearable technologies in customer-facing roles. Using glasses, smartwatches and handheld, we were looking at which promoted a better customer conversation, by inserting small bits of information relevant to what the customer wanted to know. Interestingly, once our staff became comfortable, the glasses were the best perceived tool by disappearing into the background with the agent able to maintain eye contact with the customer. Fascinating stuff, and now moving into production. What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation? We're in the middle of replacing our reservation system. For an airline this is open heart surgery while running the marathon. What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation? It will impact almost every part of the organisation. From accounting to engineering to frontline check-in agents, all touch the reservation system and reservation data on a daily basis. It is truly transformative. How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?This is manifold, from leading our executive team to agreeing that a reservation system change was necessary to pulling together disparate parts of the organisation into a cohesive decision on new platform and direction, and then pulling together and leading the team performing the change. What key technologies do you consider enable transformation? Clearly, anything touching business process has been and will be a highly enabling set of technologies. Mobilisation of our legacy is also having an impact, as it allows the movement out from behind a desk to being available anywhere. Digital/mobile contact with our consumers remains key. However, I'm an advocate of wearables being subtly transformative. By inserting data interactions into everyday work life we can enable staff to be much more productive and even innovative in how they deal with customers and work issues. 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 in the early stages of creating an enterprise data vision and platform. This isn't just technology, as it has to be about how we use data to accelerate decision-making and improving business process. How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience? We have a dedicated social team within Virgin. For both outbound communication and dealing with customer issues in real time, it is having a significant impact on how we relate to our customer and employee base. Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?There is no shadow IT. It's all around creating the ability for the organisation to enable itself with technology as it sees fit, with our help or on their own. Creating an enterprise data vision is a key part of this. If you have a cohesive data layer that allows applications to plug in and out easily, then you can free your organisation to do as it sees fit. I'd love to say I'm there now, but we have more of a road to travel on this point. What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom? Our technology partnership with Delta around reservation systems is clearly key. We have just consolidated both application support and physical hardware outsourcing with TCS. I'm moving major parts of our office productivity out to the Microsoft cloud. Who are your main suppliers?TCS, Microsoft, Oracle, HP. Virgin Atlantic Airways IT security and 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. How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?2%. What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year? It is a very very long list. Reservation systems, loyalty platform, website, mobile, enterprise data, productivity… Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation? Yes. 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? No. Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?Yes. Virgin Atlantic Airways technology department How would you describe your leadership style?Collaborative, both with my peers and my direct reports. I am happiest when I'm working as part of a team. This requires both coaching and perhaps more importantly listening to those around you. Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and visionCommunication, communication, communication, perhaps followed by listening, listening, listening. How many employees are in your IT team? 155 FTE employed, roughly 400 outsourced. Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU? Yes.