At architectural practice Foster and Partners, the technical strength of the user base – these are people who are experts in their field, know what they need and know how they want to apply it – means Barry Smith positively encourages BYOD and shadow IT, while continually changing the way services and technology are delivered. Currently, it's all about implementing cloud-based automated workflow management for business processes, but 3D printing and visualisation are both on the near horizon. When did you start your current role?April 2008. What is your reporting line?Senior partner responsible for information and design systems. 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. How many employees does your organisation have?1,300. Does your organisation carry out significant trade in the EU?No. How many users does your department supply services to?1,300. How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?We have established members of the technology function in relationship management roles, looking after the interaction with all teams and design studios in our business. We also host regular technology forums, focusing on a specific technology or supplier, and bringing people from the business to those forums to generate healthy review and debate. Foster and Partners 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 inWe are continually changing the way we deliver services and technology. For instance, we are making use of Service Now, a cloud-based workflow management tool, to deliver automated workflow management for business processes. We also have s strong focus on mobile. Following an initiative called 'the unwired office', we are seeking to put mobile first as the means of access to systems, whether from a handheld, iPad or laptop. What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?We are currently reviewing our use of design tools and ensuring that we have the best tool set in place to enable the outstanding design that our studios deliver. Having the right technology and right technology partnerships in place is critical here. Foster and Partners has also been pioneering in the way that architectural practices use 3D printing and visualisation technologies to articulate design concepts to clients. What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?Being more mobile means our people can be creative and effective wherever they are. Having the right design tools means we can take great ideas and make them a reality in a detailed design, and having 3D print and visualisation technology means our team can showcase their work to clients. How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?We have a technically strong user base – people know what they need, they are experts in their field and they know how they want to apply it. So my leadership style is collaborative and inclusive, I aim to identify objectives and then bring the right people together to ensure they are met. What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?Over the last few years we have seen the power of consumer-level technology in the workplace, from Drop Box to Apple TV. When we find something good we grab it quickly and take advantage of it. For instance, every meeting room in Foster and Partners has an Apple TV – it's great technology and anyone can use it. We are big fans of Apple for how it has transformed the device market and created a GUI that people just 'get'. We have also been impressed with Microsoft over the last couple of years. Its 365 platform is outstanding, Lync enables the mobile workforce and OneDrive is a great, safe and secure way to provide a dropbox experience with a tie in to corporate systems. 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 thinking is shifting to how we can use technology to make the right data available to people in their roles, to make the best decisions and create the best designs. We are not heavily into analytics, we are focused on supporting creativity. How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?We use Twitter and Facebook to engage with customers and people interested in our work. Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?We have a whole company of people doing shadow IT in a daily basis. Our role is to support those experts with an outstanding technology platform that underpins it all. My approach is based on recognising that our organisation works that way and ensuring the IT team are supporting it every step of the way. For BYOD, we encourage it. We provide a separate Wi-Fi network for staff to use for any private devices they have. We recognise that our workforce is young and that they make use of mobile technology in their lives. We have been championing the view that providing Wi-Fi for staff to use their own devices on is nearly as important as providing coffee! What strategic technology deals have been struck and with whom?• Proact for managed storage services• Talon for wide area file sharing• Secure Data for security services Who are your main suppliers?Bentley Systems, Adobe, Autodesk, Proact, Secure Data, Lenovo, Newforma. Foster and Partners 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?£5m opex, £1m capex. How much is the IT operational spend compared to the revenue as a percentage?3%. What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?• To provide the right design systems and technology to support BIM (building information modelling).• To deliver greater mobility to the workforce.• To deliver better knowledge and information.• To review and improve business support systems to ensure we are at our most productive.• To provide a secure environment to work in.• To deliver a global infrastructure so that we can undertake business where our work is. 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?Yes. Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?No. Foster and Partners technology department How would you describe your leadership style?I am a mix of directive, coaching and democratic, depending on the situation and the people involved. I get satisfaction from seeing a team deliver something and seeing people develop. I have a strong development ethos and like to see people in my team grow. Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and visionOur IT management team has been developed over time and is a mix of long-standing employees and newer hires, recruited for their specialist skills or approach. We have been developing the team with agile training, personal coaching, Institute of Leadership and Management training and access to resources such as Gartner and ITIL. How many employees are in your IT team?40. What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?100% in-house. Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?Yes.